When Jeremy’s Away, Matt Will Play – Labor Day RAW Recap and Reactions – September 4, 2017

So Jeremy is in Hungary, or Budapest, maybe Somalia, could be a Taco Bell on Ventura, I can’t even remember now… meaning you get me every day for two weeks (I know you’re thrilled).  And the WWE is in Omaha, Nebraska for the Labor Day edition of Raw.  Here’s how this show will go:  You’ll get a big open, followed up a tapering off throughout the evening because they’re up against 1) Raging alcoholism on a national holiday and 2) competition from the return of College Football.  Then again, on the East Coast this show doesn’t end until after 11, so you’re going to get the same from me.  So here we are.  You want some, come gets some.

You Can’t See Me……but You’re in My Yard??

Well, I hit that nail on the head, as Raw kicks off with John Cena, not for an opening promo, but for an actual match.  Don’t know why they didn’t at least find a way to have him ask for this one backstage and get it, but Jason Jordan will be taking on The Face That Runs The Place this evening.  And yes, in case you asked, his theme song still f***ing blows.

This crowd is actually hot as hell for Cena.  They play up the fact that Kurt Angle gave Cena the opportunity in his debut, as if that in any way is what is going on here.  They’re essentially turning Jordan into Curt Hawkins so that they can justify his swift heel turn before too much longer.  There’s also the fact that the Jason Jordan-Kurt Angle story absolutely sucks and has gone practically nowhere.  Serve him up as fodder to Super Cena for the No Mercy build.

Jordan hit a couple suplexes, but it wasn’t going to sustain in any meaningful way.  John Cena picks up the win via pinfall after an Attitude Adjustment.  So let’s get to that opening promo that we skipped to get some action in before kickoff on that Georgia Tech-Tennessee game.

So Roman comes to the ring so the two can exchange disrespectful words for a second consecutive Monday night.  I like the new Roman t-shirt.  It’s like a Johnny Cage “Shadow Kick” from the old Mortal Kombat games but for a Superman Punch.  Or it is just a shirt representation of the fact he hits like a million Superman Punches every time he goes to the ring?

Roman’s promo work still needs, well, work.  Cena, again, belittled Roman on every front.  How do I feel about it?  I don’t know, honestly.  And I don’t know how Cena feels about it.  He even seemed like he felt guilty about some of the things he was having to say.  I almost think this is an effort by creative/VKM to toss Roman in the deepest end of the water and see if he will finally learn how to swim, because thus far his ring work speaks for itself, but that intangible thing that guys like Cena have he continues to lack.  The personality doesn’t exist.  The ability to carry a promo for more than “This is My Yard”….mic drop…. is outside of his wheelhouse and no matter how long he’s given he never seems to put it together.  When you look like that, how is it this hard to talk like a bad ass and be confident about it?

And here’s your first of many Broken Matt Gifs:

The Creme Filling

  • Cesaro & Sheamus (The Bar) vs Rhyno & Slater: Seth and Dean on commentary, and the rematch for the belts will take place at No Mercy.  That card is going to be awesome, and I’m so glad I am headed West for that one.  Nice that the former Smackdown Tag Champs got some TV time, but it didn’t last long, as Sheamus & Cesaro win via Brogue Kick and Pinfall.
  • The Hardyz with a backstage interview from Renee Young.  Matt is definitely working the Broken/Woken character in this one.  Jeff is excited for the opportunity to have his daughter watch him win the Intercontinental Champion.  And Matt wants to the Miztourage to know their fate if they attempt any dastardly deeds:

  • Jeff Hardy challenges The Miz for the WWE Intercontinental Championship:  The Match opened up pretty technical, mostly Jeff hardy working various roll ups as the opportunities presented themselves.  After the third or fourth, Miz started playing defense, running from high flying opportunities and ducking outside the ring to avoid attacks.  After a scuffle on the outside, The Miztourage and Matt Hardy are all ejected, leaving just Maryse on the floor next to the ring.  Miz looked great when it was just the two of them in play, often proving incredibly aggressive as opposed to the normal “chicken shit heel” he often plays in the ring.  Hardy went for a Swanton Bomb but Maryse would shake Miz awake to roll out of the way.  Jeff landed hard, whether it was a work or not.  When he got back up, Miz went for a Skull Crushing Finale, that Jeff reversed into a Twist of Fate, that Miz reversed into a successful Skull Crushing Finale and the pinfall to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

  • Nia Jax is pissed because even though she dropped Alexa last week on Raw, Alexa will defend yet again against Sasha Banks.  Emma interrupts because she’s starting a new hashtag, #GiveEmmaAChanceAtTheWomensTitle.  Angle satisfies them both, scheduling a tag team match between Nia & Emma against Sasha & Alexa.  If Nia & Emma win, they will be added to the No Mercy match and it will be made a Fatal Four Way.
  • 205 Live Match-up – Cedric, Metalik & Enzo vs Gulak, Nese & Dar:  This was entirely recycled from last week, including the promo Enzo cut (save for the major push to get people to watch what is now The Realest Hour on Television).  I love these guys, but even I found it hard to give a sh** when it’s something they’ve already shown me.  Enzo picks up the win on Gulak following an eye gouge and that drop out kick to the chin thing?  Does it have a name?  I don’t know.  These other 5 guys are fantastic talents.  At least they’re keeping them on television.
  • Finn Balor has a(nother) bone to pick with Bray Wyatt, calling him out if he wants to play games.  Bray, in typical Bray fashion, delivers a verbose video screen promo that makes absolutely no sense in the grand scheme of things.  Remember when they were finally opening up to the possibility of giving him supernatural ability?  How much cooler would all of this be if they’d stuck with it?  Apparently Bray doesn’t think that he lost to Finn Balor at Summerslam because he lost to The Demon, and the Demon is a weapon, not a man.  I don’t see how that wasn’t Bray emasculating himself, but whatever.  They don’t know what the hell to do with Bray Wyatt and they need to hire someone in creative with half a damn idea.  The mosquitoes are moving in on all this stagnant water.

  • Women’s Tag Team Match – Sasha Banks & Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax & Emma:  Since the team of Nia and Emma can earn their way into the match at No Mercy, I am actually pulling for them.  I’m bored as sh** with Alexa-Sasha because even if Sasha wins she’ll lose it the next night on Raw and then get a rematch again and it’s a carousel of monotony burdening a women’s division flush with talent.  I’d be happier with Mickie James getting title shots than this repeated match up.  So Nia Jax did all the work in the victory, but Emma landed a blind tag when Nia went in for the running leg drop and stole the pinfall.  Either way, Emma and Nia Jax will be added to a now fatal four way for the Women’s Championship at No Mercy.  As you could expect, Nia laid out Emma post match with the Samoan Drop.
  • Braun Strowman cuts a ridiculously good promo in the back with Renee Young.
  • The Shield passes Elias Samson playing guitar on their way to the ring for their match.
  • The Shield vs The Good Brothers: We’re two people (Roman/Balor) away from this being the match I really want to see in The (Complete) Shield vs The Club, but this will do.  Gallows and Anderson are great, so I’m glad they stay pretty prevalent at the top of this tag team field.  Sheamus and Cesaro, rather than being on commentary, are just at ringside.  Ambrose and Rollins do work incredibly well together.  Sheamus and Cesaro try to distract them, but it is oddly ineffective and Seth Rollins rolls up Karl Anderson to get the win.  Anderson and Gallows toss The Bar out of the ring after the loss, but they get back in and lay waste to The Good Brothers.  They’ll likely have a match next week and then this will become a triple threat match for No Mercy.
  • The new Connor’s Cure promo video was fantastic.  Go get one of the new shirts, donate, go to your local children’s hospital in costume.  Do something for someone other than yourself.  DONATE LINK

  • Enzo, Metalik and Cedric are celebrating in the locker room, only to be interrupted by The King of the Cruiserweights.  Neville was informed by Kurt Angle that a Fatal Five Way will take place tomorrow night on 205 Live for a Championship opportunity at No Mercy.  Neville is the f***ing best.

A Mammoth Main Event

So not only are our two resident giants going toe to toe in the main event again, this time we’ve decided to put them in a steel cage.  Again, if it isn’t in the Hulu edit, find it on Twitter, because the Braun Strowman promo work for this match was another reason why he’s skyrocketed to the top of the card so quickly.  He’s a monster, but he’s also incredibly athletic and quick for a big man, and his promo work is just good.

Braun is on top early, pinning Show between the ropes and the cage and hitting him with running body attacks repeatedly.  On his fourth try, he eats a knockout punch before we got to yet another damn commercial.

When we return from the break, Show is in charge, throwing Strowman into the cage repeatedly and shouting “how’s that steel taste Strowman?”  Big Show to the top rope coming down with the big elbow drop.  WHAT?

I’m going to agree with the Omaha crowd, because this is awesome.  For two huge men, they put on a damn fine show when they work matches together.  Interesting fact from the internet, just to explain exactly how big Strowman is, he is 4 inches shorter than the World’s Largest Athlete, but he weighs 4 more pounds than Show.  He’s just a solid brick wall of a human being.

Show hit a Chokeslam, but couldn’t pick up the pinfall.  Strowman went for the powerslam, but got thrown into the cage again.  Both men to the top rope seemingly trying to climb out of the cage, because that’s how 400 pound guys tend to win cage matches.  Strowman pulls Show off the top of the cage back down into the gap between the ropes and the chain link, then lands the Superplex off the top (into a double reinforced ring that held steady under the impact) followed up by the Running Powerslam and pinfall as Braun Strowman picks up the win.  

Strowman cuts more promo after the match, then does the Running Powerslam into the side of the cage, which breaks away and Show is launched to the outside.  Strowman stands tall on the stage to close out the show.

Final Notes/Reactions

This really wasn’t a bad episode of Raw at all.  Honestly, I’d give it a B, mostly for working storylines consistently to build us towards No Mercy, but I’m going to bump it to a B+ almost an A- for the main event alone.  That No Mercy card is getting packed out.  They don’t really have to worry about competing with the NFL that night though, as Sunday Night Football for the 24th, sadly for NBC, is the Raiders and Redskins.  That game will suck.  Easy to win in the ratings when it’s Brock Lesnar or the Washington Redskins.

I wish Vince wasn’t so stubborn.  The number of Bullet Club shirts starting to show up at WWE televised events is astounding, and if they’d open the door to cross promotional opportunities, in particular allowing for a cross-promotion stable to exist, it would be a gold mine.  Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be able to lock down the trademarks and capitalize on all the merch sales if they did that, so it won’t ever happen.

The more of these gimmick matches they have (in steel cages, kendo stick on a pole, no DQ, Ambrose Asylum) the more I want to see the return of the Hardcore Title.  It was nearly as illustrious as the Intercontinental Title for as long as I watched wrestling before my break from sports entertainment, it would be awesome to see it come back and open opportunities for more superstars.

See you tomorrow night.  In the meantime, here’s some Matt Hardy to creep you out before bedtime.