This is my first Raw review here at the new site and I’d like to thank anyone who followed me over from my personal blog or who has shared this new site on social media. What a Raw to review for my inaugural recap here on Turn Heel. Seriously, this was one of the most bizarre Raw episodes in recent memory.
Standard disclaimer in effect – these are my opinions on a TV show I watched. Feel free to disagree with me.
Okay, onward to the Raw 9/28/15 recap – wherein we see a company’s HR department evaluate an employee, Lana (Del Rey) appears on a sign making my night, and the hard sell on the Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar match hits a fever pitch.
WWE Raw 9/28/15 Recap
We get a cold open with the “spooky” Kane video package that aired back during the SmackDown lead-in. I don’t recap recaps so we’re live in Buffalo, New York for Monday Night Raw! John Cena is out to the typical boos from the crowd and we’re playing against tradition and starting Raw with a match. Cena is continuing the U.S. Championship open challenge. When WWE hashtags it #USOpenChallenge it sounds like some sort of obstacle course involving tennis. Cena cuts to the point and asks for someone to accept the open challenge.
Cue John Cena theme played on the trombone.
The New Day are out and cut a promo on Cena, which includes Big E calling Cena’s championship reign “booty” and New Day creates the new mantra of “Hustle. Loyalty. Booty.” Grumpy Cena has had enough of them and says there is a time to be entertaining and a time to be serious. He demands they pick a challenger and start the match.
Match #1: John Cena vs. Xavier Woods (U.S. Championship match)
FYI, that part above? Yeah, that took about twelve minutes of TV time. Almost immediately the ref tosses Big E and Kofi from ringside so we’re treated to a true one on one match between Cena and Woods. Cena has a standard U.S. challenge match with Woods, giving Woods a few hope spots before slapping him into the STF. This immediately brings out Kofi and Big E before Woods can tap out causing Cena to win by DQ. The three on one brings out the Dudley Boyz and the inevitable brawl ensues.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I wanted to like the U.S. Title being defended again, but this reeked of a way to get a six man match featuring the Dudleys and Cena made.
Match #2: John Cena & The Dudley Boyz vs. The New Day
We learn that Corporate Kane made this a six man match during the break. I wasn’t super impressed with this match as I tend to not care for six man matches in general. It played out okay for a set-up to get to the finish. Bubba Ray and D-Von were about to do the 3-D to Kofi and Woods pulls Bubba down from outside which allows Kofi to hit the distraction Trouble in Paradise for the pin on D-Von.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – They seem to be laying the cheap wins for New Day on pretty thick so I’m already leaning towards the Dudleys walking out of MSG on Saturday with the straps. Again, this match existed to promote that match and get Cena on TV. It wasn’t terrible, but at this point I’d like just the Dudleys win already or have New Day move on to new opponents as nothing that new is happening from show to show to keep my interest.
Triple H is backstage with Stephanie and they’re talking to WWE Human Resources Ashley, not to be confused with WWE Diva Search Ashley. Someone has “anonymously” filed a HR complaint of an “unsafe work environment” against Director of Operations Kane and Ashley is here to evaluate Kane’s performance. Kane appears and seems okay with this when Seth Rollins storms in ranting and raving about how upset he is that some “coward sent an anonymous email to HR”. No one ever said it was an email complaint, Seth. Stephanie tries to convince Triple H that this will work to take care of their Kane problem.
Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose is backstage with Roman Reigns, who faces Bray Wyatt in tonight’s main event. Ambrose starts to throw shade on Jericho and Orton when Orton appears out of nowhere and takes issue with Dean for considering him an “outsider”. I remember when being an Outsider was cool, but I digress (and probably dated myself).
Match #3: Mark Henry vs. Big Show
Wow, this match. This match was just painful to watch. Clearly the build for Big Show is to pit him against Cesaro a bunch of times and have him win and then give him progressively larger opponents each night until the Live at MSG event on Saturday. I say this was painful because Show slams Henry a few times and each time Henry sells it like he’s literally dying. I was beginning to think he legit has a bad back or something and it’s killing him to do the squash job here, but he’s a company man so he’s suffering to try in vain to get Big Show over before Saturday. Eventually, Show puts Henry out of his misery with the KO punch.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Up to this point I still wasn’t buying Big Show as a viable opponent for Lesnar. Henry was either legit feeling terrible or comically overselling in the ring, which left me feeling conflicted. If he was in that much pain, I felt bad, but if he was just overselling that much then they’re really trying too hard to get Show over.
Backstage, the Miz is having the finishing touches added to his face by a make-up artist. Miz TV is up next.
Miz TV (w/ Charlotte and Becky Lynch)
So, it’s another Miz TV segment to promote the Diva division. Yay. It breaks down pretty quickly with Charlotte calling out Paige, which has Miz objecting to Charlotte determining who the guests are on his show. Becky swipes the mic from Miz and throws it literally three-quarters of the way down the entrance ramp. This brings out Team Bella. Yay. Nikki continues her speech about how Charlotte’s win means nothing and blah, blah, blah.
Charlotte finally nails the point that’s been missing during this entire Diva division build. The “Diva revolution” isn’t about Nikki, it’s not about Charlotte, it’s not about any one of them, but it’s about all of them getting over with the fans and making the division mean something again. Finally someone got the core of this whole thing verbalized after how many weeks?
That’s immediately glossed over because out comes Paige. She calls out Nikki and Brie about only having their spots due to their boyfriends and a brawl ensues. The brawl ends with Paige, Charlotte and Becky back in the ring together. So we’re progressing by regressing here? Okay, then.
Match #4: Team Printed Circuit Board vs. Team Bella
Kane, under the watchful eye of WWE Human Resources Ashley no doubt, decided we needed a six woman match to settle things. Oh good. I already know where this is going to go. And before long it goes there! Nikki kicks Charlotte into the ropes and she hits Paige. Paige has had enough and starts to leave. This brings out Natalya who argues with Paige for a second and then walks down to the ring to be the third woman. Making it, I guess Team NBC, which is okay because USA Network is part of NBCUniversal so no legal troubles or adult site conflicts. But before Nattie can do anything Paige pulls her off the apron from behind. All of this, of course, distracts Charlotte who gets hit with the Rack Attack and pinned in the ring by Nikki.
Verdict: Thumbs Down, Down, Down – So many things. First, why bring Paige back to just have her “Kevin Owens” out which I saw coming the moment the show came back from break and the match was going on. It does nothing to build the feud with Charlotte since they were already being framed as enemies. Bringing out Natalya seemed unnecessary also. Other than making Team NBC, Nattie really would work better in a team with Paige and Emma as three “disgruntled and passed over employees”. Maybe they could get WWE Human Resources Ashley as their advocate. Anyway, this overbooked mess seemed to exist purely as a means to the end of Nikki getting a pinfall victory over Charlotte.
We then get a video package about the Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show match on Saturday that single-handedly does more to make this match seem like it means something than anything else up to this point. I’m beginning to think that WWE’s production team could make me believe a Fandango vs. Jack Swagger match is the most important match in the history of pro wrestling.
We’re back with Seth Rollins hanging out with WWE Human Resources Ashley. Kane immediately appears with a big red gift box. He offers Seth the box after Seth gets in a few obligatory “What’s in the box?” lines. It’s the severed head of the Seth Rollins Jesus statue! It lives! Kane claims he dug it out of the Baltimore landfill, and I quote, “It’s amazing what a man can do with a shovel and flashlight.” This understandably freaks Seth out and he leaves. Kane makes a “two heads are better than one” joke to WWE Human Resources Ashley, which seems like the wrong person to make a joke like to, and hands her the head of Christ which she seems rather unhappy to have been gifted.
Match #5: Braun Strowman & Luke Harper vs. Prime Time Players
The Prime Time Players are already in the ring so this does not bode well for them. This is essentially a squash match that one hundred percent existed for the visual of Strowman making Titus O’Neil black out. That finish came to be as Strowman began manhandling Darren Young. Titus came up behind Strowman, got pushed back and ate a Discus clothesline from Harper. Strowman was tagged in and put O’Neil out.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Okay enough match to continue the build of Strowman as unstoppable, but sad to see the Prime Time Players demoted to something like this. Again, I think this only existed so they have footage of Braun making a huge guy pass out so they can edit it into some future sizzle reel.
Match #6: Stardust vs. Neville
A relatively standard match-up between these two when suddenly Wade Barrett’s music hits. He enters and Bull Hammers Neville to earn a DQ win for Neville. He then Bull Hammers Stardust and lets everyone know he is back.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Pointless match that had no real finish and I think JBL is the only person excited that King Barrett is back. If Barrett re-debuted with a new gimmick or in some other spot I’d have been way more excited but here it just felt like filler.
Seth Rollins and WWE Human Resources Ashley are walking. Kane’s performance review is up next!
WWE Employee Glen “Kane” Jacobs’ public HR review
Just like most companies, when management needs to be reviewed after a complaint, the results of the inquiry are publicly announced in front of thousands of the company’s clients. At least I believe that is how that works, right? Anyway, WWE Human Resources Ashley is about to announce her findings to Kane in the ring when Seth Rollins’ music hits. Seth is out ranting and raving like a crazy person that is trying to tell you that Bernie Sanders caused the Bloodmoon so that the lizard people can have enough water for when they take over the planet. He also shows a cleverly edited video of clips of the Demon Kane being a monster. Rollins doubles down on the crazy and claims he had an audience with Pope Francis last week who said to him, and I quote, “Seth Rollins you are going to Heaven.” And yeah, this is all really happening unless I passed out like two hours ago and am dreaming about writing this recap of a show that is making less sense the more it goes on. But it gets worse, oh so worse.
Kane fires back with an even more cleverly edited video that showcases all of the instances of Seth screwing with Kane earlier this year. WWE Human Resource Ashley then announces that she has found Kane of sound mind and capable of his duties as Director of Operations. I didn’t know HR employees could declare someone of sound mind, but sure, why not. Seth is livid and enters the ring. This is when I notice a guy in the crowd that has a sign that says “Lana” and when it flips to the other side it says “Del Rey”. Back when WWE invoked Lana Del Rey by calling the Rusev / Ziggler feud Summertime Sadness I was hoping to see someone other than me reference this and thank you, sign guy. You are the lone instance of sanity I had during the three hours I watched this.
Anyway, Seth in the ring with Kane and has had enough and Pedigrees Kane. He then gets a chair, hits Kane with the chair seven times, and then tries to break Kane’s ankle with the chair like he’s Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kane is Brian Pillman. A trainer then enters the ring to tend to Kane and calls for help. Seth mocks Kane the entire time the paramedics strap Kane to a backboard that he’s too tall for. For an ankle injury. Rollins continues to taunt Kane as he’s stretchered out and then shown being loaded into an ambulance. All this with Rollins creepily laughing on voice over. Totally weird.
But, wait, it gets more weird!
The ambulance abruptly stops and the interior turns red. And then smoke pours out of the back doors and out emerges Demon Kane. Demon Kane is limping, selling the leg injury like he’s a zombie. Then he stops, stomps his bad foot, and is fine. Demon Kane, or Dean McCain if you’re JBL, comes out to the ring and receives a chair shot from Rollins that he no-sells. Rollins eats a chokeslam but exits the ring before Dean McCain can Tombstone him. Dean McCain is left in the ring staring lovingly at the WWE Championship belt and ah, really guys? We’re going to do this?
Thankfully, Bray Wyatt is in a smoke-filled room to bring us back to reality. Bray is claiming that he’ll leave the rest of the Wyatt clan in the back and take on Roman one on one to finish their feud.
I’m imagining right now WWE Human Resources Ashley is preparing herself for the massive HR paperwork she’s going to have to deal with Tuesday morning after that attack on Director of Operations Kane and the likely counter complaint some anonymous emailer will file against Dean McCain.
Hey, the Buffalo Bills are here!
Match #7: Bo Dallas vs. Randy Orton
Bo Dallas is here to throw shade on the Bills for not having a Super Bowl title. But Randy Orton appears down the entrance ramp and squashes Bo Dallas to send the Buffalo Bills home happy.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Another pointless squash match that does nothing but get the Buffalo Bills on TV and kill time. Orton has been off TV for a bit so I guess this was here to get him established on the show again but this otherwise felt like a throw away house show segment.
Match #8: Kevin Owens vs. Rusev
The weirdness continues. A heel vs. heel match that is happening because of Owens walking out during a pointless SmackDown tag match. Ryback is out on commentary and only mentions The Secret twice. Almost immediately Rusev and Owens are outside the ring and Owens throws Rusev into Ryback. Ryback then goes after Owens and the match is thrown out. Rusev and Owens then inexplicably work together to attack Ryback which is the one thing that will cause Dolph Ziggler to appear – and he does! Ziggler clears the ring and the heels wander away.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – The Rusev / Ziggler feud needs to end like yesterday. I want the rematch clause match between Ryback and Owens to happen before Hell in a Cell, but I’m not optimistic about that now. The only plus to this segment was getting to see the “Lana” *flip* “Del Rey” sign a few more times.
Paul Heyman is walking!
Paul Heyman promo
Paul Heyman is out to assist that promo video in making us care about Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar on Saturday. Heyman does his standard, better than anyone on the show for the most part, promo and then Big Show appears. Show claims he’s going to knock out Lesnar and that Lesnar is not happy that he has to face him. Heyman isn’t having it and leaves and Show continues to express his dominance over Lesnar as Heyman leaves. I’m still not 100% on board with this match, but at least they finally did something beyond just feeding Cesaro to Show every night to work the same match in an effort to promote Live at MSG. We’re clearly not going see Lesnar before Saturday so, barring another Cesaro squash victory on SmackDown, this felt like the “go home” segment for the build to Live at MSG.
Match #9: Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt
Finally, the main event! Bray Wyatt enters with Harper and Strowman. Reigns calls him on this and Bray sends them back. What ensues was probably the match of the night, insofar that at least there was a decent back and forth in the ring before things broke down. And when things broke down they really broke down. They end up getting a double count out and brawl into the crowd. The crowd brawl continues on for an Attitude Era length of time. We get a bunch of surreal moments where they’re pounding on each other and we can hear random fans yelling at them saying things like “Hit him in the face”. At one point, Bray Wyatt grabs a WWE Tech Guy and uses him as a projectile and throws him into Reigns. Immediately following that Wyatt rams Reigns through the timekeeper’s barricade. Wyatt slowly climbs up onto the announce table and poses, and then eats a spear from Reigns as they both lie in the rubble of the announce table. Raw goes off the air with no commentary and just random sounds from the crowd.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – I actually enjoyed this as it reminded me a bit of some of the better brawls during the Attitude Era. I’m hoping this was either some definitive end to the Wyatt / Reigns feud or this directly leads to that. The fact that neither guy really pulled out ahead on this makes me think it’s probably not the blow off, but it did a great job of making each guy look strong. WWE Human Resources Ashley will probably have at least a half-dozen new complaints to field tomorrow morning thanks to this match alone.
So, that was a Raw that happened… I think. I’m still not certain that I didn’t hallucinate large portions of this show. See you Wednesday for some sanity and NXT!