This Week in WWE: Reigns/Strowman, Orton/Hardy brawl before Hell in a Cell, while Samoa Joe reads AJ Styles a bedtime story
Robert O’Neill: Well, it’s Monday! Time for another week of Monday Night Raw! This week is pretty exciting because Renee Young got a full-time seat at the commentary table AND it’s the Hell in a Cell go-home show, so it should be a fun night.
Chris Novak: I, for one, welcome our new commentating overlord, Renee Young. Congrats to her on a well-deserved promotion to the commentator booth.
Robert O’Neill: The Pack (I guess that’s their name, that’s what Michael Cole called them last week) are in the ring to open the show, and they’re replaying what they did to The Shield last week. After the video ends, the heel locker room is surrounding the ring being praised by The Pack. Something tells me another pull apart brawl is coming.
Here come The Shield through the crowd, and they head right for the ring! They find some axe handles and go to work, and clear out everyone except The Pack, who retreat on their own. That was good.
Chris Novak: Fine with it. No real qualms thee. Nikki vs. Ruby will be a thing after a pre-recorded segment saw The Bellas see their locker room turned upside down. That should be fun, if nothing else. And hey, it starts the in-ring portion of the show.
Robert O’Neill: Yes this should be a good match, as it’s the best Bella against the best Riott Squad member.
Chris Novak: So, that turned out fine, as expected. It’s obvious that they’re trying to heat Nikki up for what’s going down next month at Evolution. Sucks that The Riott Squad have to be fodder for them, but given the composition of the roster… who else is going to take the L’s? Someone’s got to.
Robert O’Neill: Well, yeah. It’s not gonna be Bayley or Sasha and everyone else is tied up with stuff. It is what it is. The match was very good though.
Chris Novak: Agree.
Robert O’Neill: Big Show came out and then spent quite a bit honoring pediatric cancer patients for Connor’s Cure. That was nice. There was a video and all the kids were there.
Chris Novak: I’m such a sucker for that stuff. It was heartwarming, honestly.
Robert O’Neill: AOP squashed some local guys. One was named Ronny Ace, which is incredible.
Chris Novak: Ronny Ace had me LOLing, honestly.
You know what isn’t having me LOLing? This Triple H-Undertaker stuff. Trips is out for a promo. Let me phase myself out here.
Robert O’Neill: It’s weird because in a vacuum this stuff is all fine, but it’s 2018! We don’t need this!
Chris Novak: We don’t… we don’t at all.
Robert O’Neill: B-Team got their tag titles rematch against Ziggler and McIntyre and it… didn’t go well! The new champions retained, but got jumped by Ambrose and Rollins after!
Chris Novak: Now wait a minute they said… Anyhow, that match lasted longer than I thought it would. For the second straight week. That match was better than last week’s.
Robert O’Neill: Did you know Mick Foley and The Undertaker once had a Hell in a Cell match? If you didn’t know, they showed video of it on Raw! Foley will be around later to talk about the match.
Chris Novak: They used old footage for that segment. God.
Robert O’Neill: Kevin Owens is in action against… Tyler Breeze! But the match never actually gets underway because Owens beats Breeze down and hits an apron powerbomb on him, then says he’s going after Bob Lashley because Lashley took Sami Zayn out. I like the logic!
Chris Novak: You called it, Rob. You called it. I am absolutely here for this version of Kevin Owens. It’s the best version, so keep it coming.
Robert O’Neill: The newfound team of Bob Roode and Chad Gable AKA American Bobpha AKA North American Alpha AKA Ready Willing and Glorious are here for a match against The Ascension. And after a quick back and forth, Bob and Chad get the win! Not too shabby.
Chris Novak: Really still like this team and hoping they stick it out for a little while until the eventual turn happens.
Robert O’Neill: Time for Alexa and Mickie against Ronda and Natalya. This should be a good one.
Chris Novak: Some very good stuff here. Alexa and Mickie worked over Ronda’s ribs for much of the match. Rousey wound up winning after getting the armbar in. Now, granted, Alexa isn’t going to win. But, this is a good angle to go into the PPV with. It makes it SEEM like Bliss could win back the strap with Rousey not being 100%.
Robert O’Neill: Elias came out and got some good old fashioned heel heat by saying New Orleans is bad and so is Drew Brees. But Mick Foley comes out and talks about the Hell in a Cell match (he was in one, you know) and says he’s the special referee in the Braun/Roman match. Alright then. He also says Stephanie McMahon let him make a match for old times sake, and now Elias is facing Finn Balor.
And Balor got the victory after a solid match. He’s still in a weird holding pattern, though.
Chris Novak: Weird is one word for it, for sure. Anyways, here comes Strowman, who’s bent on finding Roman Reigns, this after Seth and Dean showed up before.
Robert O’Neill: Well, he found Reigns! And they brawled on the stage, and Braun threw him into the LED screens but Roman fought back and Samoan Drop’d Braun through the stage to end the show. Wow!
Robert O’Neill: I really don’t think this was a bad Raw, but it also wasn’t exactly good. It was just kind of… weird. A lot of the stuff didn’t really feel important, especially leading up to the PPV. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe The Shield/Pack stuff and Alexa/Ronda SHOULD feel like the most important things going forward. Either way, C.
Chris Novak: This Raw was so-so to me. There was very little to write home about but nothing super inoffensive either. Fell right in the middle to me so I’ll give it a C as well.
Robert O’Neill: Smackdown opens with an 11-bell salute in remembrance of the victims of September 11.
Chris Novak: Afterwards, Jeff Hardy is here to talk about his HIAC match with Randy Orton. After a relatively quick promo, it’s on to his match against Shinsuke Nakamura! You may remember he exists, and you MAY also remember that he holds the US Championship.
Robert O’Neill: He doesn’t have a match on Sunday, which seems weird.
Chris Novak: I’m not necessarily opposed because not every title has to be defended all the time, to be honest. Anyways, this match turned out to be a hoot until Orton showed up to throw Hardy off the top rope!
Robert O’Neill: Well that figures! Orton beat him down after the match. Sunday should be a lot of fun.
Chris Novak: I’m digging this build and I’m digging the possibility that this match opens up.
Robert O’Neill: AJ Styles cut an empty arena promo about Samoa Joe. They’ve been doing the empty arena promos lately and frankly, I enjoy them.
Chris Novak: I really like them also. There’s a different vibe and whatnot to them.
Robert O’Neill: Charlotte is in action against Sonya Deville. I wonder if we’ll see Becky Lynch!
Chris Novak: Match was fine but… as it has been lately, Charlotte got sloppy toward the match’s conclusion. Didn’t seem to be connected with Sonya. But again… that’s par for the course lately. Aaaaaaand THERE’S Becky! She was in a disguise the whole time!
Robert O’Neill: That was really well done. I hope she wins on Sunday.
Samoa Joe was on the titantron and read a story called AJ Goes Night Night. It was entertaining, but this feud is just about done for me. But the match will be good.
Chris Novak: That segment was incredibly entertaining, honestly.
Robert O’Neill: Rusev Day vs. The Bar time! The winner moves on to face The New Day at Hell in a Cell. Should be great.
Chris Novak: Turns out it WAS great! Went for a good amount. Rusev Day won after Aiden English took the ‘bullet’ or in this case, the Brogue Kick,’ which led to Rusev hitting the Machka Kick on Sheamus for the 1-2-3. That is some strong booking honestly, and furthers the narrative that Aiden is doing everything he can for Rusev to redeem himself.
Robert O’Neill: R-Truth vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas is the match I never knew I needed, but it was a real blast. Almas got the victory, but Truth looked good and we had some good banter between Zelina and Carmella.
Chris Novak: Short, simplistic stuff here. Glad they didn’t have Almas lose here as I don’t think he can afford to do such a thing. Nevertheless, the beat goes on.
Robert O’Neill: And now it’s time for the main event. Brie Bella vs. Maryse… in 2018.
But, look, the match is gonna be what it is. Neither one is the best wrestler. They’ll make it work.
Chris Novak: And so they did! This was more of a dog-and-pony show and that’s fine with me, to be honest. I mean… sure beats the alternative… nevertheless, Brie won by DQ after Miz got involved in the matchup. A lengthy-ish brawl ensued after that eventually saw Miz get punched in the face and sent over the top rope. They’ve done a real great job with this feud. Tuesday night was another step in the right direction.
Robert O’Neill: Smackdown was better than Raw, but I think that’s to be expected at this point. While I’m not as high on the Joe/AJ feud at this point (very TNA-esque), the match will be good. That’s where I’m at for everything going into Hell in a Cell in general. Go home shows are hard for me because I’m generally always interested and excited about the PPV anyway, so I’m not really the intended audience for the go-home show. The tag match and Hardy/Nakamura were both good enough to make this show a B+.
Chris Novak: Loving this Bryan-Miz feud as always and it was the highlight. The Joe-AJ stuff served its purpose and was done really well this week, too. The Becky-Charlotte stuff also excelled, and the tag match was very, very good. I’m going to give this a solid B+ too, but I thought about a higher grade too. SmackDown is so much better right now, it’s not debatable.