SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Shield Reunion: I have mixed feelings about how WWE did the Shield reunion, but on the whole it was a Hit. I didn’t love the opening MizTV segment. The fake award show was silly. It wasn’t a great way to set up the official return of The Shield. Part of the problem was the poor tacked on scene at the very end of last week’s show. I didn’t like how this got started that much, but it was still cool to see them back together doing their thing. It set up the TLC match for TLC PPV with The Shield vs. Miz & The Bar. I wasn’t sure that felt like a big enough match for The Shield’s return, but it should be a pretty good match. Later in the show, we had them coming out to stop Brawn Strowman from destroying Matt Hardy. I thought it was interesting that they would involve someone else in the story. The beatdown was memorable and physical. Strowman feels more important than The Miz, Cesaro or Sheamus, so adding him to the match makes it feel like a bigger deal and put The Shield at a disadvantage which makes sense. And Strowman doesn’t have another opponent for the PPV, so this is a way for him to get on the show. The ultimate goal is getting Roman Reigns cheers once The Shield splits up and he goes solo. I’m not sure that will work. But, for now the fans are excited to see them back together.
On a personal note, my dyslexia wants me to type “Sheild” every time, so I was secretly hoping they would never reunite so I wouldn’t have to type it so much. But, that’s probably not WWE’s biggest concern and I will just deal with it.
Strowman vs. Hardy: Before The Shield could save Hardy from Strowman, Hardy had to be vulnerable to Strowman. This followed his victory in a good match. A year ago, I would not have guessed that I would actually look forward to Strowman in the ring. He has improved greatly over that time and has had many good matches against a variety of opponents including The Big Show, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and now Matt Hardy. This was a good match. It was well booked to allow the veteran Hardy to take advantage of the less experienced Strowman to get in a decent amount of offense. I usually would not like having a wrestler kick out of a finishing move in a random Raw match like this, but in this case it worked as Strowman is so dominating that it won’t hurt Hardy’s use of the Twist of Fate in the future.
James – Bliss: I still do not like the basis of this feud being Mickie James’s age. I still contend that WWE wouldn’t do this storyline with a 38 year old man. However, James gave a strong promo addressing the situation to start off this segment. Alexa Bliss was good as usual in her response. Many fans like her as she is so good at playing a heel, but the fans seemed to be firmly behind James in this exchange.
Kalisto vs. Amore: A part of this Hit is just for the fact that they took the Cruiserweight Title off of Enzo Amore. The match itself was solid to good throughout. The heel lumberjacks were booked poorly to try to help Enzo win even though they could never ever face him for the Championship. That made no sense. Kalisto was able to hit some very exciting moves to get the fans into the match since they didn’t seem too interested in it when it started. The big superplex spot got a huge pop from the audience and was pretty cool. I like Mustafa Ali, so I was glad to see him getting the role of the one who saved the match for Kalisto. I now understand that this match only happened because Neville walked out of the company. That is a shame and I hope that they reconcile. But for now, at least the Title is on a worthy Champion and hopefully Enzo’s role will be diminished, but I somehow doubt it.
Shield Reunion Replays: Ok Michael Cole, we get it. The Shield reunited on this week’s Raw. We saw it happen. We saw them take out Strowman. We didn’t need to see 75 replays of it throughout the show. I get that big news items, and even smaller news items, always get replays throughout Raw. However, this felt like going overboard to me. It felt like they showed 3 times the number of replays of the opening segment that they do for other moments on typical Raws. The show even ended with Cole saying something to the effect of “Kalisto is the new Cruiserweight Champion… on the same show that The Shield returned!”
Booker T: Some weeks, he is better than others. This was one of the worst weeks for Booker T on commentary. He waffled between being a babyface and heel more than usual (which is saying something). He was consistently inconsistent, even within a single sentence. He said more than his fair share of gobbledygook like talking about Mike Tyson losing in Japan. Enough is enough already.
Ali & Alexander vs. Kendrick & Gallagher: This is a case where WWE showed the issue with the Cruiserweights appearing on Raw and their own show 205 Live. If you aren’t watching 205 Live, what do you think about a match like this? You didn’t get the build up to it on previous Raws, the way you got the build up to other matches on this show. So, this felt cold. These are four talented wrestlers, but they had less than 4 minutes to showcase their skill in the ring. The ending also seemed to come out of nowhere and there may have been a botched move right before it with The Brian Kendrick hitting an awkward looking take down on Mustafa Ali before hitting Slice Bread #2 for the win.
Sister Abigail: Ugh. So, was this supposed to be Bray Wyatt using special effects to try to play mind games with Finn Balor? Or are we supposed to believe that Wyatt was actually possessed by the spirit of Sister Abigail? Either way, I don’t care. I guess I am pleased that she is still dead in body in the storyline, so that it doesn’t erase the entire Wyatt backstory. But, this was so cheesy. I wanted the supernatural elements in WWE to retire with The Undertaker. Balor himself should have reacted like this was Wyatt showing how depraved he is and the lows he will sink to to play mind games. Instead, he seemed genuinely concerned that Wyatt was actually possessed by an evil spirit. That hurts Balor’s credibility.
Women’s Fatal-Five Way: WWE should be embarrassed by the fact that nobody bothered to inform the announcers that this was an elimination match. When Bayley pinned Dana Brooke pretty quickly, I thought the match was over. I’m sure I wasn’t alone. Before moving on to the rest of the match, I should say that the set up for this match was terrible. I am seldom, if ever, a fan of the type of scene that we got with one wrestler after another coming to an authority figure like Kurt Angle to demand a match. So, I didn’t like the idea of these five women coming to Angle and demanding to be Asuka’s first opponent at TLC. What makes this particular instance even worse is that it undermines the idea that Asuka is this force to fear. I am ok with Bayley and Sasha Banks wanting the match, but the rest should be afraid of being picked by Angle to face Asuka. Corey Graves tried his best during the match to question why these women would want the match in the first place, but the Cole and Booker didn’t help. But, they were put in a difficult position. The match itself wasn’t good. They got one of the two best workers in the match taken out pretty early. The match was sloppy at times. Emma is the right winner under these circumstances, but the reason behind the match didn’t make sense to me and the match itself didn’t deliver.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 10/2: Shield reunion, Old Mickie James, Seth vs. Strowman, Reigns vs. Miz, Sister Abigail