THE SHIELD STAY UNITED…
Recap: The show opened with a limousine. Stephanie stepped out, and Baron Corbin quickly wished her Happy Birthday in a supplicating voice. Triple H then stepped out of the limo, startling Corbin. Triple H smiled and left, stating that he didn’t want to make anything awkward. Stephanie was unhappy with Corbin’s performance as GM. She specifically disliked his booking of himself in a title match last week. She threatened to bring back Kurt Angle sooner than expected.
A groveling Corbin said he was doing his best, but that the Shield was provoking him. Stephanie then instructed him to find two tag partners so that he could face the Shield tonight.
The Shield then came to the ring for a promo. They got a good reaction, but it changed to boos when Reigns took the mic. When the boos came, Roman and Seth laughed. After referring to Corbin as the “world’s biggest substitute teacher,” Seth called out Corbin.
Corbin came to the ring and said he was putting his foot down tonight. He said he’d toss the Shield around like rag dolls to impress his boss. He then said everyone in the locker room hates the Shield, including “these guys.” Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre then appeared.
Braun referred to their upcoming match as a 4-on-2, and Drew and Dolph explained that this was because Dean was beginning to “see the light.” They painted a picture of Dean Ambrose being used by Roman and Seth for help, while being deprived of titles and glory. They claimed that Seth and Roman saw Dean as disposable, and that if Dean left them to join the heels, the Intercontinental Title would be his. Throughout the promo, Roman and Seth insulted the heels, but Dean simply stood stone faced and silent.
Roman challenged the heels to come to the ring, but Corbin stopped them, not wanting to jeopardize the later tag title match.
Later backstage, Dolph Ziggler approached an seething Dean Ambrose. Dean initially grabbed him and told him to get out, but Ziggler calmed him down. Dolph sympathized that it would be hard to turn on the Shield, but assured Dean that if he was so inclined, all he had to do was give Ziggler a sign during the main event.
Later, Dolph and Drew retained their tag titles against the Revival in a very good match.
In another backstage segment, Seth Rollins approached Drew McIntyre and said he was being exploited by Braun and Dolph. He specifically stated that Drew had been carrying Dolph and that Drew was the one that deserved all of the Intercontinental Title shots that Dolph had received. Drew was silent. After Seth left, Dolph approached to ask what they were talking about, and Drew simply said it was nothing to worry about.
Later, Drew approached Dean and recounted his conversation with Seth. He said that Seth’s approach either means he was trying to create a four man Shield, or that he was attempting to replace Dean. He reminded Dean that Seth had stabbed him in the back before.
In the main event, Corbin revealed the Authors of Pain as his tag team partners. Braun, Dolph, and Drew sat on steel chairs on the stage to observe. A long match ended with Roman pinning Corbin with a spear. After the match, Seth and Roman celebrated in the ring while Dean sat outside the ring between his teammates and the group of Braun, Dolph, and Drew. After pausing to size up both teams, he joined the Shield in the ring to celebrate.
Evaluation: This was a good storyline woven throughout the entire evening. On an episode of Raw packed with filler segments, this needed to carry a large load, and it did so as best it could.
It was good to see Authors of Pain used in a main event capacity. They’ve been greatly diminished since hitting the main roster, so tonight is a good start to rehabilitating them.
I’m not sure what to make of Seth and Roman laughing at the fans boos in the opening segment. On one hand, it shows them taking it good-naturedly, but it could also be interpreted as too cavalier.
Forecast: It seems too early for a Shield breakup, and McIntyre’s push would get lost if he was put together with the stars in the Shield, so I expect the teams to stay configured as-is.
RANDOM THOUGHTS (AND A SLIGHT FORMAT CHANGE)…
Normally this column highlights three developments from the night’s episode of Raw. However, tonight’s show simply lacked three major developments. It essentially revolved around one major angle, with a huge chunk of the rest of the show filled with an extended Connor’s Cure charity segment, an extended preview of the movie Night School, and an extended video recap of the feud between Undertaker and Triple H. Since the show lacked three major developments, I have compiled an expanded Random Thoughts section below:
There was a bizarre moment in the Bella Twins & Natalya vs Riott Squad match that began with Brie Bella attempting the worst cover I’ve ever seen on Liv Morgan. It led to a two-count, after which Brie and Liv had what seemed like a 5-minute conversation in the middle of the ring, followed by them awkwardly stumbling to the corner. The craziness seemed to have been initiated by a prior Yes Kick from Brie knocking Liv silly, as the announcers told us after a commercial break that Liv had been taken to the trainer’s room (which was false, as the camera showed her being treated ringside on the floor). Before that commercial break, Liv was able to complete a (likely pre-planned) triple suplex spot. Brie has been sloppy in the ring since returning….
It made no sense at all for Konor to defeat Chad Gable tonight. Gable had been getting a small push, while Konor is well-established as a comedy act (despite being portrayed seriously tonight out of nowhere)….
Stephanie McMahon was an emasculating harpie in the show’s opening segment, but a warm, matronly philanthropist at the top of the second hour Connor’s Cure segment….
A theme I’ve thought a lot about lately is how politically correct corporate HR culture has “shaped speech, attitude and behavior more than music, film or television in contemporary America.” [This topic was additionally recently touched upon in this Bret Easton Ellis interview.] As I’ve touched on in prior columns, contemporary WWE television seems to be an unfortunate victim of this phenomenon….
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 9/17: Roman Retains the Title, Seth Retains, Kane to Corner Undertaker