SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
RAW VS. SMACKDOWN SEASON BEGINS…
Recap: After a video package recapping Baron Corbin’s attack on Braun Strowman at Crown Jewel (and Strowman’s subsequent loss), Baron Corbin came to the ring surrounded by security guards. The Raw locker room as lined up on the stage facing him.
He announced all of the champion vs. champion matches for Crown Jewel. He mentioned that Shane McMahon’s World Cup win would be addressed next week by Stephanie McMahon. He then turned to the Raw vs SmackDown Survivor Series match, announcing that he’d be team captain for Raw. He said he would not compete in the match, since his role was GM was managerial and that after Raw’s victory he’d surely become permanent GM. He announced Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntire as members of the Raw team. He then announced Braun as the third member of the team, saying that Crown Jewel was a teaching moment, and that Braun would learn to respect authority.
Corbin announced Alexa Bliss as the captain of the women’s team, and she said that like Corbin she would have no in-ring role. She was interrupted by Kurt Angle, who told Corbin he wanted to compete for Team Raw. When Corbin declined, Angle challenged him to a match, with the winner to captain Team Raw. After Angle called him an embarrassment, Corbin accepted the match. Braun Strowman then ran out, chasing Corbin backstage.
Later backstage, Charly Caruso asked Corbin if he was afraid of Strowman, noting that the had set up a makeshift studio in a hidden storage room. Corbin chastised her for revealing his location. Strowman then burst in and attacked as Corbin fled.
Later Charly interviewed Kurt Angle. Angle said a fire has been lit inside of him and that he would go on to Survivor Series as the Raw team captain.
Charly then caught Corbin again backstage. He told Charly that Kurt would instead face Drew McIntyre tonight. Corbin then left the arena.
After the night’s penultimate match between Bobby Lashley and Finn Balor, Drew McIntyre came to the ring. He stared down Lashley, who was persuaded by Lio Rush to leave. He then feigned helping a defeated Finn Balor to the back, but instead threw him into the ropes for a Claymore.
In the main event, Kurt Angle attacked Drew before the bell. Drew eventually gained the upper hand, but instead of capitalizing he mocked and taunted Kurt. Kurt was briefly able to take advantage of the overconfidence to lock in an Ankle Lock, but Drew powered out. He continued his mockery of Kurt, finishing him with an Olympic Slam followed by an Ankle Lock, winning by submission. The announcers emphasized that the match was humiliating for Kurt, and may have ended his career.
Evaluation: One upside of Crown Jewel is that it shortened Survivor Series season to two weeks, meaning we’ll get less silly Raw vs SmackDown inter-brand rivalry talk.
I assume Alexa’s managerial role is to give her time off for her concussion.
The Finn Balor segment worked in terms of ensuring Drew had heat against Angle, but further emphasized that Finn is basically just a punching bag at this point.
Forecast: The announcer’s reactions to the main event ensure that it wasn’t Kurt’s last match. It seems he’ll have another run. A rematch with Drew at Survivor Series seems out with Drew being in the traditional Survivor Series match. The rematch may make sense for Royal Rumble, or even WrestleMania.
SETH STILL GETS NO ANSWERS…
Recap: At the top of the second hour, Seth Rollins came to the ring with his Intercontinental Title and both tag titles. He likened Dean’s treachery to a “slap in the face” and said he didn’t have the “bollocks” to come out and face him.
Baron Corbin then came on screen to announce that Seth would defend the tag titles against Authors of Pain. He was alone, as Dean Ambrose did not appear. Seth put up a valiant effort, but lost to AOP, partially due to Drake Maverick interference.
After the match, Dean came to the ring and teased giving a reason for turning on Seth. Instead, he hit him with Dirty Deeds and left.
After the match, Michael Cole asked Renee Young for insight, and she essentially said he had none.
Evaluation: Being that Renee is acknowledged as Dean’s wife on the air, having her as a face commentator puts her into some awkward positions, as was evident tonight.
This segment was good. It got the belts off of Dean and Seth and created further desire in the fans for an explanation from Dean.
Forecast: Hopefully, putting the tag titles on AOP means they will get a good push. I’m cynical, however, based on how they haven’t been pushed as monsters since leaving NXT and relied on interference to win a handicap match.
MIXED RESPONSE FOR RONDA…
Recap: At the top of the third hour, Ronda Rousey came out to a big pop. A chant for Becky Lynch then began, however. Ronda did acknowledge the chant and showed respect for Becky’s victory at Evolution. She cautioned Becky to not mistake her respect for weakness, however. She said when Becky’s alarm was going off every morning for school, Ronda’s mom was pulling her out of a dead sleep by trying to break her arm. She mocked Becky’s time in clown college and former job as a flight attendant. Ronda then got intense. She said Becky may say she is “The Man,” but “I am the baddest bitch on the planet.”
Evaluation: Even as someone who is not a Ronda Rousey fan, I admit this was an excellent face promo. Her intensity and reactions were perfect. There was none of the weirdness I often criticize.
Forecast: It was striking here that even with a great Ronda promo, Becky not present in the arena, and the show being in England (theoretically not the friendliest locale for an Irishwoman), Ronda still didn’t get full-on cheers after the initial huge entrance pop. For parts of the promo, the fans were actually pretty quiet despite Ronda’s intensity. I would expect at best a 50/50 reaction for Ronda at Survivor Series, although she could benefit from the show being in her Los Angeles hometown.
Renee Young’s comments tonight mocking Corey Graves’ use of WWE cult-speak (asking him if he was awarded extra company stock for using Corbin’s “teaching moment” phrase) were interesting considering criticism of the cult-speak is so common among hardcore fans. I doubt she’ll get any heat over it, however, as Vince McMahon is likely too oblivious for it to register as anything other than a face announcer criticizing a heel announcer over his support of a heel GM….
If you haven’t watched last week’s House Hardy Halloween special on WWE Network, stop and do it now….