Maybe the start of football season is messing with WWE. Maybe it was the blood moon, or the discovery of water on Mars, or just the changing of the seasons. Whatever the case, last night on Raw things all just felt a little bit off-kilter. With WWE hyping this weekend’s MSG house show that will air on WWE Network and the Hell in a Cell Pay Per View coming up in just three weeks, there were a lot of storytelling opportunities on Raw, and instead, they dedicated a large portion of the evening to determining whether or not Kane was able to perform his duties as Director of Operations, or if he was a crazy person trying to kill Seth Rollins. The answer probably shouldn’t surprise anyone, but WWE must have believed that it would. That was just one of many odd things to take place last night in Buffalo, and we’ve amassed them all into an easy-to-read summary for your enjoyment.
10. John Cena Hates Fun
Losing his United States title for a month seems to have changed John Cena, and not in a good way. Once, he would have stood there and cracked jokes about Xavier Woods playing the trombone, and made fun of Big E’s dancing, and the crowd (well, parts of it) would have ate it up with a spoon. Now, all we get is a stony grimace and the threatening words “There’s a time for fun, and a time to be serious”. You’re right, John, there’s a time for fun, and that time is whenever the New Day is on television. It’s okay, John, I know there are three of them and only one of you, but come on, you’re not losing the US Title to Xavier Woods. Have a little fun with it! Even Triple H couldn’t help but dance along with the New Day last week. Are you less fun than Triple H, the man who invented the intense glare? It’s a good thing Heath Slater didn’t finally make good on his attempt to challenge you for the title, you might have ripped his head clean off!
9. The World’s Largest Waste Of Time
That’s right, fresh off of beating Cesaro last week, we got not one, but two different segments starring The Big Show! Because he needs to be strong before facing Brock Lesnar at the MSG House Show this Saturday, you know. Never mind that nobody in their right mind buys the Big Show being a threat to Brock Lesnar in 2015. Heck, he wasn’t much of a threat to Brock Lesnar in 2003, but at least he had relative youth and no history of losing horribly to Brock back then. The really sad part is, if the situation was reversed and it was Cesaro beating The Big Show last week and doing multiple segments this week to promote a match between him and Brock at MSG, people would probably be interested, both because it hasn’t already happened a dozen times, and because even though Cesaro probably can’t beat Brock, he’s got the whole “superhuman strength” thing going to would have fans itching to see if he could pull off some power moves against Lesnar.
8. Betray Me Once, Shame On You…
So Paige badmouths the entire Divas division last week (which earned her a positive reaction when she came out this week, because of course it did), and continued to trash talk her old friends from PCB this week, and the end result is…they team up to face the Bella Twins and Alicia Fox. Did her delivering another line about the Bellas allegedly sleeping their way to the top make everything okay again? That pretty much makes Charlotte and Becky Lynch either the most forgiving or the dumbest people on the planet, doesn’t it? And it’s most likely the latter, because of course, at some point during the match, Paige walks out on her team, because she doesn’t like them anymore! Just like last week! One might ask how this advanced the ongoing story line at all, and the answer, of course, is that it didn’t, it just killed time for another week.
7. Would A Finish Be Too Much To Ask?
It’s kind of amazing that two wrestlers as talented as Stardust and Neville could have feud that has lasted over two months, and all we notice is how many matches between them either never get started or end in two minutes thanks to somebody running in. From Stephen Amell to the Lucha Dragons to The Ascension to a surprising return from King Barrett, it seems like the entire world is conspiring to prevent these two from actually having a match that lasts any time or has a definitive end. Unless a re-match with Amell is happening soon, is there really any reason to keep dragging this feud out every week to have incredibly short matches with inconclusive finishes?
6. Stuck In An Infinite Loop
On the last episode of Smackdown, Kevin Owens and Rusev teamed up to face Dolph Ziggler and Ryback. At some point, Kevin Owens abandoned Rusev to be defeated, because he’s Kevin Owens and he doesn’t get along with anyone. Fair enough. This week on Raw, as fallout from that, Owens faced Rusev one-on-one. That match ended when Owens threw Rusev into Ryback, who was stationed at the announce table making fun of Owens’ perceived lack of fitness (ironically, Ryback is the last person who should be mocking anyone’s cardio). That drew Ryback into a brawl, which saw Owens team up with Rusev to take down The Big Guy, only to be interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, who came out to make the save. Obviously, this must lead to a tag team match between those four men. Feeling a little deja vu for some reason? You’re probably not alone.
5. Kane Really Sits Around The Ambulance
So despite looking crazy and paranoid and alienating everyone around him, plus getting a scathing performance review from Ashley from WWE Human Resources, it turns out that Seth Rollins was right, and Director of Operations Kane is also the Demon Kane, who is out to get entirely justified revenge on Seth. The fact that no one else was willing to believe that Kane might be screwing with Seth and/or have some weird split personality disorder going on suggests that absolutely nobody in WWE has watched their own program for the last seventeen years, because Kane’s done this at least once or twice before in his career. But more unsettling about this whole thing is that while Kane may be back in the Demon persona, he must have spent most of his time off away from the gym, because he’s clearly got the body of a Director of Operations. At a certain weight, spandex really isn’t the best choice for you anymore. Combine with the obvious wig attached to the mask (made worse by Kane having to do such a quick costume change), this latest incarnation of Kane is less intimidating and more just sad. Although he can heal serious injuries just by willing it now, so that’s something.
4. Six Man Tag Matches, Playa!
An old and accurate joke about Teddy Long, when he was General Manager, was that he loved it when people ran in during singles matches on his show, because it meant he could force them into a tag match and extend the show by another fifteen minutes or so. Apparently Smackdown was booked on the fly every week, which begged the question: if nobody interfered in a scheduled match, would Smackdown even have a main event most weeks? At any rate, Raw used that particularly tired method of extending matches not once, but twice this week. First, The New Day and Dudley Boyz crashed the Cena-Woods US Title match, leading to a six-man tag that was allegedly set up during the commercial break, and then six Divas started brawling during Miz TV, leading to yet another six-woman tag match made during the break. There was nothing wrong with the matches, but can we avoid using the exact same setup to make the exact same match types twice on the same show, please?
3. What Side Is He On?
Character motivations, a staple of the entire face/heel dynamic of wrestling, were all over the map on Raw. Should we cheer for Big Show because he’s being entertaining on the mic as he mocks Paul Heyman, or boo him because he’s facing Brock Lesnar? Is Paige a bad person for saying what everyone is thinking about the so-called Divas Revolution, or is she still friends with Charlotte and Becky against Team Bella? Wait, no, she abandoned them during the match and attacked Natalya. But she was knocked off the apron by her own team, maybe it was justified? Should we be on Kane’s side because he’s being funny and screwing with Seth, or should we support Seth because in the end, he was right and Kane was deliberately messing with him even though nobody believed him? Why is John Cena being kind of mean to The New Day for no reason? Why is Randy Orton being a jerk to Reigns and Ambrose, even though he knows there’s no way they can beat the Wyatt Family individually? Seriously, when Dean Ambrose is being the sane, rational one in your group, there’s something messed up going on in WWE.
2. Where’s The Main Event?
Specifically, the main event of Hell in a Cell, which is only three weeks away. We’ve had two Raws since Brock vs Taker III was announced, and we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of either man. In fact, the next time either wrestler is scheduled to appear on Raw is October 19th, which is the last Raw before the Pay Per View. In addition, Brock has that ridiculously heavily hyped MSG match with Big Show this Saturday, and he’s nowhere to be found. At some point, when you’re building the main event of your Pay Per View, shouldn’t you consider whether anyone involved in it can actually show up to promote it? And if they can’t, maybe you should consider using wrestlers who you actually have available to you every week? The main event of Raw featured Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns, two guys who should be the future of WWE and should probably be in the main event of Pay Per Views right now. Except they aren’t, they’re probably going to wrestle another tag match in the middle of the card at Hell in a Cell, while Brock and Taker, who can’t attend more than one Raw a month between contractual obligations limiting Brock’s dates and Undertaker being a really old guy who probably shouldn’t even be wrestling, will be in the main event.
1. MSG over PPV
A big part of the problem with Raw is that they’re focusing on the wrong thing, which would be promoting their MSG house show over the upcoming Pay Per View. Yes, the Beast in the East Network special from Japan was a refreshing change of pace and something they should do more often. But that show had a lot of unique things going for it that a show in MSG does not. The original special was in Japan, at a unique arena, and in addition to having Lesnar face a unique opponent in The New Day (even if the result was never in doubt), included a heavily-hyped NXT Title match between Kevin Owens and Finn Balor that was both an off-the-charts good match and featured a hotly-anticipated title change. Meanwhile, WWE runs several shows in MSG every year, and Brock is facing The Big Show in a match we’ve not only seen before, but which will probably not be very good. In addition, the rest of the card is exactly what you’d expect from your standard live event. WWE can air all the house shows they want on WWE Network, but they shouldn’t interrupt their ongoing build to Pay Per Views to do so, especially for a show that isn’t all that special.