SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
THE TEMPTATION OF DEAN…
Recap: The show began with Charlie Caruso interviewing Dean Ambrose in the ring. She recapped last week’s appeals by Dolph Ziggler, Braun Strowman, and Drew McIntyre for Dean Ambrose to leave the Shield. Ambrose admitted there was truth to the heels’ arguments. He contrasted his lack of titles to the titles held by his teammates, and referenced the speed with which Seth Rollins replaced him with Jason Jordan after his injury.
Charlie asked Dean if he ever considered leaving The Shield. Dean said, “Sure, I’ve thought of a lot of things.” He said maybe he already did and maybe he turned in his black uniform. He followed with, “maybe on the way here I ran Roman off the road and he won’t even be here tonight.”
Charlie said she doesn’t know if Dean was being sarcastic, and said that people were asking lots of questions. Dean asked if the questions related to people are wondering why he’s still in The Shield and whether he would abandon them and snap and get fed up because he’s such a lunatic. Dean speculated that maybe people thought he was waiting for the perfect time when nobody is looking or watching “to slip the knife right in their back.”
Charlie showed a clip from last week of Dean choosing between the Shield and the heels, and asked what was going through his head. He said to stop analyzing his head and judge him by his actions. He said he stepped up and stood by his brothers. He said the Shield wasn’t a brand; it was a brotherhood that would always ride into battle together.
Baron Corbin then interrupted. He accused Dean of whining, and gave him three match options for tonight: an Intercontinental Title match against Seth Rollins, a Universal Title match against Roman Reigns, or a non-title match against Braun Strowman. Dean declined all three and instead asked for a match with Corbin. Corbin instead selected Option 3 for Dean, a match with Strowman, to begin immediately.
Eventually during the match Braun gained the upper hand. After a powerslam, Braun picked up Dean rather than pinning him. Before he could finish Dean, however, Roman Reigns interfered, followed by Seth Rollins. Braun won by DQ.
Baron Corbin was angry with the finish, and announced that Reigns would face Ziggler tonight and Seth would face Drew.
Backstage, Seth Rollins approached Dean in the trainer’s room to see if he was ok. Dean became angry and threw his ice pack. Seth said Roman came out when he had to. Before leaving, Dean looked at Seth and told him he could’ve been Intercontinental Champion right now.
Before the Reigns-Ziggler match, the referee held up the title. Corbin again interfered, stating that the Shield didn’t make the rules, and that the title wouldn’t be defended until Riyadh. He said Seth’s match would also be non-title. The fans booed.
Roman won a solid TV match. Afterwards, he confronted Dean backstage. He said he figured Dean was joking around last week, but tonight needed to see if he really was still with them. Dean hesitated but then said he was alright. He told Roman had had his match handled. Roman said that maybe he did, but that the Shield couldn’t risk him being injured. Before leaving, Dean told Roman that if he weren’t such a nice guy, he might be Universal Champion.
In another backstage segment, Dolph told Drew and Braun that he could sense Dean turning on the Shield. Braun agreed and said that Dean was a tough competitor that would fit on their team. While looking right at Dolph, Braun said they couldn’t afford any weak links.
During Drew’s match with Seth, Dolph ran down to distract Seth, allowing Drew to get the win. The heels beat on Seth afterwards, but both Roman and Dean ran down to help, making it appear the Shield is still united for now.
Evaluation: The opening segment was mostly good. Dean looked crazy in a serious main eventer way rather than in a zany midcarder way. The line about running Roman off the road was tone-deaf, as they had to know it would be cheered by the Roman Haters.
I was right last week when I predicted that the “will he, won’t he” storyline with Dean would be more than a one night thing.
Roman’s interference in a match where Braun hadn’t cheated worked well, as it sent the message that the Shield may not have faith in Dean to get the job done.
Introducing dissension in the heel faction tonight with Braun’s implication that Dolph wasn’t pulling his weight was a nice twist.
This storyline was essentially the entire show again tonight, and they did enough to keep it interesting.
Forecast: While this was the go home show for Super Show-Down in Australia, the tag match there essentially fills the role of tag matches on New Japan undercards, teasing a later singles match while advancing the storyline. The bigger narrative is advancing the story leading to the Universal Title defense in Riyadh, where it still seems obvious Roman wins. It also still seems too early to split up the Shield again, as they still help with Roman’s reactions.
ELIAS GETS THE BIGGEST HEAT OF HIS CAREER…
Recap: After a backstage segment where Elias and Kevin Owens berated a backstage employee over providing Elias cashews instead of almonds, Elias went to the ring for his typical music performance. Owens sat with him. Owens said that he and Elias were a great team, unlike Cena and Lashley, who made no sense. Elias said they made no sense like a basketball team being in Seattle. The fans then lost it, booing nonstop for minutes on end. [I do not follow basketball, but apparently the old Seattle franchise moved to Oklahoma City.]
The two attempted to continue with a promo ripping on Cena, but the prolonged booing was too much to overcome. It was deafening. Lio Rush finally interrupted with his usual schtick and introduced Lashley. During his intro, he attempted to put over John Cena as the greatest ever, to a mixed at best reaction.
During the match, Lashley became distracted by Elias beating on Lio Rush. Owens took advantage to win with a rollup. After the match, the heels beat on the faces.
Evaluation: Sports team insults are generally throw away lines, but for whatever reason tonight it got an insane reaction. Elias clearly didn’t expect it. I didn’t expect it either for a couple reasons. First, I was shocked that many people follow basketball. Second, if Seattle fans are so passionate about basketball, it seems odd they lost their team in the first place.
Considering the amazing reaction, they should’ve called an audible to skip the elongated Lio Rush intro and just had Lashley run down. He surely would’ve gotten a huge pop. Rush’s annoying voice and laugh are not face-like and deadened what could’ve been a great reaction. Rush referring the Cena as the greatest ever was also not a good face move.
Forecast: Saturday’s match is more or less a pointless house show tag match, so anyone could frankly win.
BROTHERS OF DESTRUCTION TAKE OUT TRIPLE H AND MICHAELS…
Recap: In the main event, Shawn Michaels came out for a promo. He said that his emotions for flowing. He said that he originally intended to attend as a fan, but Undertaker making the match personal led to his being in Triple H’s corner. Michaels said that he had respect for Undertaker, but he’d take his best friend Triple H over anyone, any day of the week. He said that if Kane gets involved on Saturday, he’d dust him back with Sweet Chin Music.
Kane’s music then hit. As Michaels looked to the ramp, Kane appeared behind him and knocked him down. Undertaker’s gong then hit, and he appeared in the ring as well. Triple H ran to the ring for the save, but Undertaker and Kane eventually got the upper hand and hit stereo chokeslams on Michaels and Triple H. Undertaker than hit a Tombstone on Triple H before leaving the ring.
Evaluation: This was a very good go-home segment. It added to the rivalry, and was the first time in this feud where we’ve seen the wrestlers get their hands on each over. The crowd loved it.
Forecast: I still can’t see Undertaker taking a loss for someone like Triple H that doesn’t need to be put over, so I see Taker winning.
Michael Cole attributed this quote to Ruby Riott: “The only way to achieve greatness is to treat the entire world as your enemy.” I popped this into DuckDuckGo (not Google, because privacy matters) and got no results, so perhaps it’s an original quote. The announcers tried to play it as a heel thing, but I personally found the quote sapient….
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 9/24: The Shield Stay United, Extra Random Thoughts on Stephanie, Movie Plugs, Liv KO’d by Brie Kick