Last week Kalisto was insulted by being tossed into the garbage. This week, he looks to rebound by having a match entirely centered around a dumpster. At least he gets a match.
Chris Jericho – Highlight Reel
This will be Jericho’s final RAW before he goes on hiatus once again, and his last appearance was a good one. Jericho was on fire (sneaking in a Southpaw wrestling reference), the crowd was hot, and the segment had the fun atmosphere of a going away party.
Jericho seemed to be soaking in the crowd reaction for all he could as not many wrestlers can get away with a “cheer me on baby-y-y-y-y-y-y!
Miz interrupts to huge boos, and calls out the “little people” (ring crew) to transform the set from Jericho’s Highlight Reel to Miz TV. Jericho laments his Jeritron 6000 being so callously pulled to the ceiling. We all feel his pain.
Ambrose interrupts. Will he find motivation to feud with the Miz once again? The two certainly have cheap pops in common as they both couldn’t help mentioning the city in their promos.
Ambrose flips the script and has his Asylum talk show setup, shag carpet and all. He appears to be on Jericho’s side but the Canadian doesn’t let him forget the $15,000 light-up jacket Ambrose ruined.
Ambrose gives him a gift to make up for it: A ghetto version with christmas lights!
Miz takes a dirty deeds and the first segment is done.
It’s nice to see WWE at least pursue a consistent theme of shabby clothing in the Ambrose/Miz feud, but too much comedy won’t be good for Ambrose moving forward. He needs to be seen as a wild ass-kicker again. Miz can help him by providing the best heel heat around, but if Ambrose fails to take it to a higher gear again, he could be relegated to the mid-card for good.
Sheamus vs Matt Hardy
I figured 50/50 booking and the WWE’s preference of Jeff Hardy and Sheamus all but guaranteed the result, but they swerved me pretty good.
Matt continues to tease the broken gimmick in his still-image graphics and the odd cheer. He’s better in the ring than I remember. He doesn’t have the pure athleticism or charisma of brother Nero, but he makes up for it with good old fashioned psychology, elevating his move-set into an engaging match.
After Matt picks up the surprising pin due to a Jeff/Cesaro distraction on the outside, we get the handshake angle once again. This time however, Cesaro is incensed with the result while pale Sheamus goes for the shake. The broadcasters make mention of this, possibly signifying a face push for the pair, or even a split?
They shake and we move on.
Neville and TJ Perkins vs Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher
The incredibly efficient cruiserweight booking continues as WWE thrusts these four into the picture again, this time with everyone competing.
It’s a quick match with the usual assortment of offense, and a bit of synchronized attack from Neville and Perkins to start things off.
It’s over quite quickly with Aries picking up the clean pin on Perkins, bending poor TJ’s legs behind his head like Aries was breaking in a new sex doll.
The broadcast team described him as a “different Austin Aries”. Simple hype or gearing up for a title change at the PPV?
Dumpster Match – Braun Strowman vs Kalisto
Kansas crowd was playing along as Strowman received a mixed reaction instead of the deafening cheers after the Reigns beatdown. They even started a ‘Stroowwwman’ jeer.
We cut backstage before Kalisto’s entrance to see Angle pumping up the little guy while also asking if he wants to back out. Kalisto delivers a passionate speech about being treated like garbage, asking Angle if he knew what it felt like to be treated like garbage.
Angle then delivers the line of the night as he quietly slips in’…actually no I don’t’ in his classic deadpan, while Kalisto pours his heart out.
The match starts with Kalisto dodging Strowman’s lunges and retaliating with ineffective kicks.
Strowman gets him up in a vertical suplex position and impressively throws him across the ring…although he could have put him in the dumpster much easier. Chalk it up to arrogance instead of dumb wrestling logic.
Strowman ran and bounced off the corner as if they were bouncey ropes, and not the hard landing spot that usually hurts opponents thrown into them. Don’t see that often. Somewhere, Bret Hart’s sternum hurts.
After a few teases, Kalisto nails a reversal and hits a low dropkick to knock Strowman into the dumpster for the upset win. The crowd digs it.
Strowman angrily retaliates and lays out the wee jumper. He then delivers impressively viscous chokeslams on a prone Kalisto, lifting him flat off the ground and continuing to pound the Luchador outside the ring. He eventually put him in the bin and closes the lid ‘hard’…which sounded as loud as angrily closing a tent flap.
The monster wheels the bin up to top of the ramp amidst Angle and officials protesting. Strowman takes ages to look around, building tension, before wheeling the dumpster off the ledge. This was laughably made out to be a ‘frightening situation’, but the ledge was about two feet, or in other words, a fraction of the height wrestlers, (not to mention Luchadores) fall in the ring multiple times a night.
Of course it was made out to be ridiculously serious with Kalisto being carted away on a stretcher with a neck brace while the broadcasters turn solemn as if Owen Hart just died in front of them. They really need to stop evoking that.
Dana Brooke vs Alicia Fox
Last week, Emma instigated a bit of drama between these two, and now they must fight.
Emma also came out right as Booker T’s mic was turned down to just above zero. What’s with the technical issues Mr Dunn? Though I wouldn’t put it past Booker to be so ‘real’ he didn’t use the mic. He’s for the people. The people in the arena.
Dana won in less time than it took Strowman to wheel the dumpster off the edge.
Emma gave Dana an awkward hug and WWE creative must have felt the four minutes of random storytelling with no mic time was enough, as the segment ended.
Enzo, Cass, and Seth Rollins vs Samoa Joe, Gallows and Anderson
Mic problems continue as someone forgot to put a windscreen on the tiny talker as he comes down to the ring spouting that same promo word for word. The crowd had been great the whole night and enjoyed repeating it, but these guys need something new. I’d welcome a split just to see Cass develop more personality other than yelling ‘S-A-W-F-T’.
Apparently their opponents felt the same as they surprised them from the crowd for a quick pre-match beatdown. Taking Enzo out of commission.
Seth comes out for the Austin run-in but doesn’t conjure much fire. Cass helps him out and gets a better reaction before comforting his little butt-nugget partner. (Joe’s words, not mine).
Balor is the surprise replacement for Enzo to face his former Club buddies. McMahon infamously is not a fan of factions, and tends to keep strong individuals out of their former groups to push on their own. The announcers mentioned “they weren’t in Japan”. Perhaps a little dig that WWE does whatever they want regardless of success wrestlers had elsewhere?
Rollins seems injured. His run-in was weak, and he tagged in to deliver an extremely underwhelming punch off the top rope before immediately tagging out. Could be protecting him.
Rollins then completely dispels my theory by eventually whipping out his usual death-defying offense later on. Maybe he doesn’t warm-up before matches?
Rollins picks up the win with his new finisher: A Rainmaker variation using a knee instead of clothesline. It’s not great. There’s an alarming lack of quality finishers in the WWE at the moment as too many rely on fireman carries or other elaborate setups that don’t add much impact.
Was this to promote Balor or split Cass from Enzo? It seemed to do both while adding a bit of fire to Rollins/Joe for the PPV.
This was an entertaining match that made everyone involved look pretty good.
The show has had a great flow so far, which means this is the point you realize the three-hour running time and wish they went back to two.
Alexa Bliss vs Sasha Banks
Bliss comes out for a promo, making fun of wrestlers that talk about WWE being their dream and other sappy crap that causes her to almost vomit. The crowd laughs and then breaks out the ‘what?’ chant. Bliss riles them up and wins with “Alexa Bliss is the best say what?” which they fall for and award a smattering of applause to.
Bayley’s music hits to a low reaction. She takes Bliss’s promo about ‘dreams’ seriously and talks about beating her in her hometown. Bliss is happy she’ll beat Bayley in front of her hometown and father.
Banks comes out and Bliss calls it part 3000 of the Sasha/Bayley sideshow. Sasha calls her a troll doll wannabe and talks about their upcoming match tonight. Bliss says she’s already no.1 contender and doesn’t need to wrestle someone as ‘unhinged’ as Banks.
After the commercial we get the actual match but after a quick flurry of offense, Bliss decides she’s had enough and walks away for the count-out. Bayley comes off commentary to confront her but Bliss runs away…only to run back and strike when Bayley turns her stupid-idiot back on her! Bliss then runs again as Banks comes to the rescue.
Bliss looks to be rising to the top of the division and has the potential to do great things. Bayley was a bit clunky on the mic but it fits her girl-next-door-trying-her-best style. Banks cut to the chase a lot better with great insults and attitude. She needs to embrace her dark side again and stop playing the blandly positive face. That’s Bayley’s job.
Curt Hawkins vs Apollo Crews
Hawkins has been facing mystery opponents, and getting squashed for his efforts. This time, it’s Apollo Crews who gets zero reaction from what I heard.
Crews demonstrates his impressive athletic offense and starts winning over the crowd. He would probably do well in Japan with his believable look and acrobatics.
He grabs the win and Titus O’Neil comes down to celebrate and take a selfy. Crews looks cautious.
Jericho and Ambrose vs The Miz and ???? ?????
The backstage plot-line had Miz desperately searching for a partner as Angle would force him to fight alone if he couldn’t. Of course no one wanted to join him but he was overjoyed to receive word of his very special mystery partner.
He’d have to wait longer than he liked as the mystery man chose not to show for the majority of the match.
For a handicap match it was booked pretty well. Miz was dominated when it made sense but managed to get the upper-hand with dastardly heel tactics such as hiding behind Maryse.
Ambrose eventually sets up Miz on the broadcast table for a dirty deeds but the lights go out and Wyatt appears as the mystery partner. He lays a nice beating on Ambrose including a stand-up Sister Abigail into a wall. Jericho comes to help but gets beaten for his efforts. They eventually end up back in the ring with Wyatt posing over Jericho. Miz tries to join the fun and eats a Sister Abigail for trying to be friendly. Wyatt talks about following the buzzards and the show is over.
The show had a few entertaining moments but felt like it was in a holding pattern due to the sudden Superstar Shakeup throwing a wrench into previous plans. Bray Wyatt’s appearance is nothing more than a confusing surprise unless WWE is building him for another push after unceremoniously giving his title to Randy Bore-ton and swapping him to RAW. I’d be shocked to see him win the Smackdown championship at Payback and the lack of any real hype for the House of Horror’s match seems to confirm it will be a nothing result.
It was a fun show to say goodbye to Jericho, who continues to amaze with his comedy and in-ring work. Hopefully he taught a few lessons to the rising talent as we might not see him hit these heights again.
The Hardys/Seamus/Cesaro build was handled well with the second week handshake hopefully building to an interesting conclusion at Payback. We’ve heard rumors of McMahon wanting Jeff to get a singles push, so a split could be coming. How they tie this in will be the kicker.
Bliss looked like a budding star and it’ll be nice to see Banks and Bayley evolve their relationship in some way. Perhaps Bliss will take the belt and elevate someone else with a feud while the two battle over no.1 contender status.
Not a great show, but I’ll cut the creative team some slack while they rebound from McMahon’s spontaneous superstar shakeup.