With the Madison Square Garden televised house show out of the way, it is full steam ahead for WWE as they build to their Hell in a Cell Pay Per View. And because the main event for that show is Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match (and also because Raw ratings have fallen consistently for about a month straight), WWE made sure to promote the fact that Brock Lesnar’s “Go To Hell” tour would make a stop in Boston for Raw. What did he do when he got there? And what else of note happened on this week’s Raw? Well, if you really want to know, it’s a good thing we’ve got this handy list of things that you need to know about Raw last night.
10. Why Isn’t This Guy On Raw Again?
Ever since Vince McMahon made his odd “brass ring” comment and claimed that Cesaro was missing something that he needed to become a really big star, the Swiss Superman has been on a seeming mission to prove that he belongs in the main event. Between his incredible matches with John Cena and his intense feud with the also highly-talented Kevin Owens, Cesaro seemed to be riding a wave of postive momentum coming out of SummerSlam. And the fans seem to be getting behind him in the process, as a rising number of “Cesaro Section” signs have made their way into the hands of the Raw audience over the last few weeks. Then WWE decided to use Cesaro to make The Big Show looked good before his match with Brock Lesnar at MSG. And then they left Cesaro off Raw for the last two weeks, while making sure to co-opt the “Cesaro Section” movement and turn it into “Cena Section” signs, as evidenced last night on Raw. But look at this guy. How can anyone say he doesn’t connect with the fans? And can anyone blame him for being more than a little frustrated?
— DTAM (@DeathToAllMarks) October 2, 2015
— DTAM (@DeathToAllMarks) October 2, 2015
slide into ur dms like pic.twitter.com/cEIqdUHJnA
— DTAM (@DeathToAllMarks) October 2, 2015
9. Eat. Sleep. Destroy Big Show. Repeat.
There exist no worlds in which The Big Show would be the right guy to interrupt Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Fresh off getting destroyed in under three minutes at his MSG match with Lesnar on Saturday, Show came out to suggest that he “nearly had Brock”, a statement so obviously false that Brock Lesnar, who is made of granite and steel and contains almost no human emotions, broke down in laughter. For some reason, Show offered a handshake, and was, quite rightly, completely blown off by Lesnar. Who can blame him? The Big Show is completely not worth Brock’s time at this point, not when he’s got getting revenge on The Undertaker on his mind. Clearly feeling slighted, Show attempted to fire back with possibly the lamest burn in the history of lame burns, when he stated “I hope The Undertaker beats you again”. This attempt at schoolyard taunting was met less with anger and more with resignation from Lesnar. Obviously, he’d been insulted and would be forced to lay Show out with a series of power moves, which he did, but it was more with a sense of “Well, you said that, so now I have to do this” rather than any sense that he considered Show anything more than a speed bump in his path. Inconvenient, but quickly dealt with.
8. Whose Side Is Stephanie On?
This week we ran a list of the 10 WWE Superstars Who Need To Just Go Away, and we’re ashamed to say, we missed one. Stephanie McMahon, one of the most powerful people in WWE and a near-constant thorn in the side of every WWE Superstar, was in rare form last night, confusing everyone as to whether we’re supposed to like her or hate her. First, she berated WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins, who lest we forget, was hand-picked by The Authority to be their guy, for the simple crime of pointing out that once Brock Lesnar destroyed The Big Show, Seth was left without a tag team partner for his match later in the night. Then, she raised the ire of fans everywhere by completely shutting down The New Day, who she was all in favor of a couple of weeks ago, and who only wanted to be charmingly offbeat and maybe play her a song on the trombone, and puts them in a match against The Dudley Boyz at Hell in a Cell (which, unless there’s a stipulation coming, is probably going to result in the same finish as the last two times this happened). Finally, she showed up to pick on Seth a second time while setting up his match with Kane at Hell in a Cell, then suddenly turned and threatened to fire Kane if he lost. Would a little consistency be too much to ask, Stephanie?
7. The King Is Dead
Remember when Wade Barrett returned last week and there was some hope that he might do something meaningful again? You’d think we would learn after all the other times he’s come back or changed gimmicks and then done absolutely nothing for weeks afterward. And here we are, one week since he returned, and he’s on commentary for a two minute match between Neville and Sheamus, eventually distracting Neville so Sheamus can pin him. We were initially struggling with how to best relate the way WWE has just wasted former sure-fire hot prospect Wade Barrett to the point that fans are becoming apathetic about him. Fortunately, a picture is worth a thousand words:
6. Boss-ton Strong
Sasha Banks made her first appearance as part of the main roster in her hometown of Boston, and after some back-and-forth about baseball rivalries (sorry ladies, but New York and Boston both pale in comparison to the Blue Jays), picked up a victory over Team Bella by forcing Alicia Fox to tap out. Very quietly, The Boss has been amassing an undefeated streak since her debut, while setting herself up as the centerpiece of Team BAD. It’s likely that her role on Raw will see an increase in importance after this Wednesday, when she faces Bayley in a re-match from NXT TakeOVer: Brooklyn, in an Iron Man (Iron Woman?) Match for the NXT Women’s Championship. Once those two are done putting on another (likely) Match of the Year candidate, Banks will probably leave NXT completely in the past and focus her attention more on the WWE Divas title going forward. And yes, that’s a very good thing.
5. Kevin Owens Knows His Role
Ever since the Attitude Era, the concept of the “cool heel” has plagued professional wrestling. It makes it a lot harder to be a bad guy, because the fans have become so cynical that they won’t cheer for completely good guys, and they’ve also gotten better at recognizing and appreciating heels who do excellent work. Kevin Owens, despite being one of the best wrestlers in the world, seems to have found a way around that problem. Despite the fact that Owens has shown himself away from the ring to be a very good person who loves his family (watch his appearance on Unscripted with Renee Young or on the recent WWE 24 – NXT special to see Kevin at his very best), when he steps through the curtain, he is Kevin Owens: Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Really Bad Guy. When fans cheer him, he calls them idiots. He tries to convince the referee that every pin attempt was a three count, even if it barely got to one. He sets up for cool spots and then doesn’t do them. He takes a count-out loss not because he’s scared, but because if there isn’t a title on the line, he doesn’t care about trying hard to win. And when he’s in the ring with the Lucha Dragons, he makes sure you know that he has no respect for either of them. Due to a fairly subdued crowd during his match with Sin Cara on Raw, you can audibly hear Owens direct several nasty comments at Kalisto at ringside, including shouting “Twelve year olds have no place at ringside!” to the diminuitive luchador. Oh, and then, just to completely mock the entire Lucha Dragons act, he did this:
4. Seth Don’t Get No Respect
Seth Rollins is a jerk with a gigantic ego who talks too much. He also was and is entirely correct, Corporate Kane is clearly playing mind games with everyone in an attempt to mess with Seth and cost him the WWE World Heavyweight title in revenge for Seth breaking his ankle months ago. And yet, everyone’s treating him like he’s being unreasonable. The Human Resources employee brought in to evaluate Kane apparently stopped watching Raw thirty seconds after delivering her verdict, because Kane quite clearly is a psychopathic monster bent on destruction. Stephanie McMahon didn’t seem to care about her hand-picked Champion being stalked by the Demon, and in fact basically dressed him down for bothering her with the whole issue in the first place. When he refuses to tag with Kane he’s treated as a whiner, and when he takes precautions to ensure that he’s completely safe from whatever Kane may have planned, he’s laughed at for being so worried. It’s like the entire WWE except Seth Rollins has forgotten that Kane has been an evil demon from hell whose true power resides in his mask for nearly two decades now or something.
3. With This Ring, I Attempt To Save This Angle
Well, with Lana injured and Dolph Ziggler apparently off accidentally kicking John Cena in the face to make us all worry they’re crossing Total Divas story lines into Raw again, it seems like Rusev and Summer Rae may have finally escaped the black hole of a feud they were trapped in. So, of course, they kicked off an entirely new ridiculous story line, with Summer Rae suddenly proposing marriage and Rusev claiming he will only marry her when he once again has a title belt. The whole segment was so over the top that it almost had to be intentional, and the commentary team certainly seemed to think it was supposed to be a comedy bit, but Rusev and Summer Rae certainly did put their all into trying to make it work. Cheesy bits can always work in pro wrestling, and Rusev certainly looks to have the acting ability to play a gruff and serious but also comically obtuse heel, but it’s the eventual pay-off that is the most intriguing. Will Rusev win a title again? Will we get another very special episode of Raw featuring a wedding? More importantly, who’s going to interrupt the nuptials and ruin everything?
2. The New Day Are Bad Guys
Look, we all love The New Day. They’re hilarious, they’re creative, and Xavier plays a mean trombone. But in the process, we’ve forgotten that The New Day are not good people. They don’t actually care about you, they care about themselves, and they care about winning titles. Also, they’re all incredibly skilled wrestlers and oh yes, there’s usually more of them than there are of you. Last night, The New Day decided to get serious, and the results were frightening. Despite failing for a second time to capture John Cena’s United States title, by the end of the show The New Day managed to stand tall over the semi-conscious bodies of Cena, Dolph Ziggler, and The Dudley Boyz, showing that when they get real, they may in fact be the most dangerous stable in WWE. Indeed, John Cena may soon regret telling Xavier Woods that “there’s a time for jokes, and a time to get serious”. Well, as of last night, The New Day are serious, and they showed that they’re willing and able to do whatever it takes to get what they want.
1. The Best Stuff Happens After Raw Ends
You may not have noticed, but WWE has added a lot of original content to the Network recently, with a lot of it airing immediately after Raw goes off the air. For example, in recent weeks, they’ve had a special airing of the NXT Takeover: Brooklyn panel that took place on SummerSlam weekend and featured present and former NXT wrestlers discussing the evolution of the developmental territory. They also debuted shows like the incredible Table For 3 program, where three Superstars literally eat dinner and talk completely out of character. And let’s not forget the monthly Stone Cold Podcast, which had Edge and Christian last month and will feature Brock Lesnar in two weeks. This week, the post-Raw offering was the newest episode of WWE 24, their E:60-style documentary series, once again looking at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn and following the NXT roster before, during, and after the show, and it is an absolute must-watch. Upcoming shows include Breaking Ground, which will go backstage at the WWE Performance Center and looks to be everything we’d hoped we were getting out of the disappointing new season of Tough Enough. It looks like WWE’s original programming is finally coming into its own, adding extra value to the already extremely-affordable WWE Network.
Also, if you aren’t watching the Raw Fallout videos that go up on YouTube after the show, you’re missing out on some of the best promos in WWE. They’ll make you ask “Why can’t they get this kind of freedom during Raw?” Here’s Becky Lynch showing off why she won’t be irrelevant in the Divas division going forward. Make sure you watch it all the way to the end, and you’ll fully understand why there’s a rallying “Ride or Die” chant going around the Internet towards the popular Irish bombshell.