We’re back again. I’ve officially hit the over on the predictions of my time as Raw Reviewer. For the love of God share this with your friends. If I don’t get enough pageviews Rich will reassign me to weekly reviews of Jimmy Jacobs compilations.

One single question to ponder before jumping into this week’s show:

Is John Cena the reason WWE network subscriptions are so low, or is he the only reason they aren’t worse? There is a correct answer. I’ll tell you what it is later on.

Oh the whole happy family is here to start the show. Huzzah.

JBL says Vince has never looked better and I have to agree. He looks like being off TV has refreshed him some. I’m sure he still hasn’t slept since 1976 but he looks reinvigorated.

I still get a little giddy when they mention the traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series match.

How much would you pay for a 24/7 feed of Vince McMahon just being Vince McMahon?

If there was any reason at all to believe that WWE kept to their stipulations this would be a game changing moment.

I hate Dean Ambrose’s music. The first riff is good for getting the crowd up but then it is just terribly monotonous and unpleasant. I want it to end quickly which sucks because I want to enjoy Ambrose wandering around the ring like he got lost on his way to get a pretzel.

I’m at least unsure of where the story is going for the moment. That is a positive thing. Between the stipulation, Vince shaking Dean’s hand, and the self-satisfied smirking as he left they certainly did a good job of making Survivor Series feel like something could happen. It likely won’t, because it never does, but at least there’s something fun to think about. The fantasy booking will be hilarious. I hope Little Jimmy gets the pin and somehow takes over Raw.

I really need to figure out how to access the SAP feed on my tv. Because wow these three are just terrible. I hate to say the same thing every week, but really the onus needs to be on them to quit committing verbal atrocities.

Dean Ambrose vs. Cesaro: They played that terrible music through the entire break. I’m sorry for everyone in that arena.

And then Cesaro’s music. Somehow even more obnoxious than Ambrose’s. Can’t we just have everyone come out to The Brood’s old music? Maybe Christian’s music before he left for TSN? Cesaro makes a powerbomb a beautiful thing. The ease with which he tosses Ambrose is awesome. Shame he made the mistake of saying bad things about Cena. BLOOD! I assume Vince demanded they go to break instantly to clean Cesaro up. One of the real takeaways from Chris Jericho’s new book is how pissed Vince gets at bleeding on his shows. Also to takeaway from his book is that Chris Jericho is as shitty a drunk as a frat boy after a night of funnelling Old Milwaukee.

And sure enough coming back from break Cesaro is cleaned up and looking fresh. I’m not a vampire fan who can’t enjoy wrestling without blood but sometimes it really does help the story. Yes it is a piece of self-harm in the name of art, but so was Tom Hanks dropping 50 pounds to talk to a volleyball. Speaking of which no movie gets me more irrationally angry than Cast Away. Anyone else have a movie where the plot of the film gets you pissed off and in a mood? Please tell me. Don’t let me be alone on this one.

This match was a solid TV match. Things moved along nice and quickly, no real slow spots. I enjoyed it. Probably the most I’ve enjoyed a match in these last 3 weeks. Winner: Dean Ambrose

I don’t understand how the hell the same person who had me on the edge of my seat last week when talking to Cena could be so horribly wooden in that backstage segment. I know I’ve seen both Steph and HHH have charisma. This was as bad as my fourth grade Christmas Pageant. If the camera had pulled away you would have seen a disappointed nun and a roomful of parents trying to look excited to be there.

Jey Uso vs. Miz: I would be a happy man if the Network had a feed of all Mizdow all the time. Mizdow even slaps the leg when attacking nobody. That is Tom Hanks-like commitment. Now JImmy Uso is mimicking his brother’s moves. If Miz started to copy Jey Uso’s moves it would be the end of the universe. I have no idea what the end game is for Mizdow. He’s over in a Santino sort of way, but where the hell do you go with this character? Winner: The Miz

And from there we sprint right on into another match. I could get used to these sorts of shows.

Sheamus (U.S. Champ) vs. Tyson Kidd:  Why exactly is Sheamus wrestling twice? Don’t they have enough people on the roster to give everyone a single match? This match put me to sleep. I can’t say it was their fault. But what happened happened and it is on Tyson Kidd’s head.

The rolling fireman’s carry on the floor helped wake me up a bit. It’s really a shame that his character is so inert right now as I actually like Sheamus. His character has an honesty to it. He likes to fight people, he has fun being in wrestling matches, and he doesn’t overthink any of it. He’s kind of like Tom Hanks in Big, playing games in his giant apartment just because he can. Also, Sheamus may have my favorite offense moveset in WWE. The forearms to the chest, the rolling fireman’s carry, the kick to the face, etc. Can we send him over to NJPW to work with Shibata to really up his beating the crap out of people game?

The match ends with the Savage/Elizabeth heel move of hiding behind the female manager. This leads to Tyson Kidd winning by countout. This ending leaves me unsatisfied. First off is the idea that Natalya is such a delicate flower that Sheamus has to stop himself before committing some horrible offense by striking here. WWE has had no problem with faces abusing managers presented as essentially helpless before. How many times has Paul Heyman, an out of shape middle aged agent, been beaten on over the past few years? Ricardo Rodriguez was always portrayed as a hapless manchild yet he was kicked in the head many times by the Fella in this match. But Natalya Neidhart, a trained pro wrestler and heir to the Hart Family legacy, getting hit while attempting to get to her husband who is barely bigger than her would send us to the fainting couch? Seems like an odd moment for Sheamus to find his conscience.

But that’s not my biggest gripe. Everyone’s reactions to this match expose the essential pointlessness of being a WWE wrestler. Sheamus is angry and ends up attacking Kidd after the match. Kidd is ecstatic at winning by countout. The three auditory assassins are screaming and crowing about how Tyson Kidd got a huge win there. Why? What does any of this lead to?

Ever since Dusty Rhodes last told us someone was “goin’ to the pay windah Tony Schiavone!” there has been no indication that being the winner of a match carries any financial incentive. Kidd doesn’t get a winner’s share of the purse for his devious plan. There is no reason to assume that his winning the match in this way counts towards any sort of standings that would help his career in any way. The only wrestler who seemingly has his wins and losses noted is Rusev, and that’s only because he hasn’t made them have to figure out how to count on both sides of the W/L record yet.

If one is feeling generous perhaps you could say that matches on this show have a meaning because the people in power at WWE are watching these matches to see who might be worthy of being granted favors by the all-powerful Authority. And that concept does at least have some plausibility to it. After all, that’s been the whole point of the Seth Rollins story. In that case what does Tyson Kidd gain here? He won a cheap countout victory that showed he can get his ass kicked and is very good at knowing what number comes after nine. Unless the plan is to make Kidd the “Master of the Countout” and have him always win like that there’s no reason anyone would think better of him due to that match.

So what’s the point of it all? The sad thing is that it wouldn’t take much effort to give most matches some meaning. Something simple like having 8 guys every month doing a mini tournament over three weeks on Raw to see who faces the I-C champ at the next PPV. Throw in some challenges where guys have an incentive to fight each other in pursuit of something. Not everyone can be fighting to be the “Face of the Company” or “Guy who loses to John Cena”. A lot of people are just wrestling because that’s what they do. Why not make it seem like there’s a reason for it all? It’s a small thing that won’t change the business but it could at least help give fans a reason to pay a bit more attention. Winner: Tyson Kidd by *sigh* countout. Yay Tyson Kidd. You’re gonna make it after all.

The action may be mostly pointless but at least they’re being quick about it.

Nevermind, apparently this is an interview segment.

Dolph is still getting some really strong reactions from the fans. I’d really really love to think that this whole angle with Team Cena is going to give him some momentum. Then I remember John Cena is the taker of names, destroyer of pushes, stealer of pops. And then I am sad.

I’m surprised Kane is not out doing some last minute campaigning. That sort of thing is not going to appeal to the voters.

HHH has mastered speaking in the tone of the condescending manager who thinks you’re the scum on his expensive shoes. It’s really wonderful to watch.

That was actually a really fun segment to watch. HHH knows exactly what buttons to push regarding the perception we have of him. And given what I said about John Cena a few paragraphs ago I’d say he also knows how to play off of the sense many of us have about Cena. Hell, I thought he was going to say “LOL” after saying “John Cena wins.”

So the strongest Survivor Series team ever is Seth Rollins, Kane, and Randy Orton so far? Can we please get Mercury and Noble as the last two.

Biggest surprise of the segment: the match they announced for Ziggler was not against Kane. Isn’t that the whole point of Kane being there? Fighting him is supposed to be the worst possible punishment that never really punished anyone.

Dolph Ziggler (Intercontiential Champion) vs. Seth Rollins: JBL really likes mentioning old timey magnates. I count three mentions of Rockefeller or Carnegie so far. Would it kill him to drop a Carlos Slim reference in there? You know a statement is bullcrap when even Jerry Lawler is compelled to disagree. Michael Cole saying Seth Rollins was a “Man of Integrity” with the Shield is one of those statements. Perhaps he forgot that calling them “The Hounds of Justice” was not intended to be true. JBL tells Cole to pay attention to the match. It is kind of telling when that is considered heel commentary.

Ziggler’s fluffy dye job is worthy of being in a match in 1984 at the Sportatorium. He could give Buddy Roberts a night off against the Von Erichs. Buddy could head out to a local Dallas cinema to watch Bachelor Party starring Tom Hanks. I hear you out there. You’re saying “why aren’t you talking about the match?” Because it is just there. It’s an enjoyable match to watch but it feels like watching two guys practice. Until that curb stomp. I thought Ziggler’s head was going to pop like one of Gallagher’s melons. Did you know Gallagher is a kind of kooky old racist? Memories of being entertained in my youth by the ritual murder of fruit have been tainted.

People love the RKO. Randy Orton should never actually wrestle. He should just run in, drop people, do the jumping splits, and go sprinting off into the night. Winner: Seth Rollins by getting dropped on his head

You can tell Orton was upset. He barely overexplained anything in that segment.

There is no forgive and forget. Except between the two guys who spent years beating the hell out of each other. And harassing and injuring each other’s families. But other than that NO FORGIVE, NO FORGET!

VoicesofWrestling.com - WWE Raw November 3What the hell was the deal with the eyes?

John Cena’s reading poetry again. This week I would like to imagine what it would be like if he read Natasha in a Mellow Mood by Tim Seibles. Imagine Cena saying “Last night I dreamed you spelled your code name on my shoulder with the waxed sprigs of your moustache” in a cheesy Russian accent. You’re not doing that. You’re imagining Lana whispering that into your ear. Well, you’re welcome.

I assume that the readership of this is 100% male. If I’m wrong I apologize for ignoring your desires as relates to WWE personalities reading seductive poetry about the Bullwinkle cartoon. If you have an example of what would be your dream combination of WWE wrestler and poem/song to whisper in your ear please let the world know in the comments.

Titus O’Neil vs. Ryback: VoW’s favorite wrestler gets mic time! Sadly it turns out he is still awful on the mic. The ring announcer really should have just announced Titus as “Dead Man Walking.”

I write this report in real time. So the fact that the Authority was “scouting” the match was not an influence on my earlier thoughts about the reasons for fighting. Plus this scouting was for a specific purpose. MY POINTS ALL STAND! *grumble grumble*

I’m enjoying the return of Ryback so far. I’m not sure where it can go given his inability to do much more than quick squashes but for the moment I’m content with that. Not everything has to be a 5 star match. Winner: Ryback

The Big Show is going to talk now. John Cena is the first name he mentions. He may have achieved Full Poochie.

“I’m so betrayed I don’t know how to say how betrayed I feel” Perhaps the way to say it is “I feel betrayed.” Just a thought.

Mark Henry vs. Big Show: Huge guys doing Irish Whips to each other just really looks silly. Moving at walking speed due to the other guy pushing you is just not terribly convincing. This is apparently the hoss fight portion of the show. It’s fun watching these two just running into each other. Big Show’s spear on the floor was beautiful. On second thought I know what Big Show should have said. He should have said this was the worst betrayal since Lotso abandoned Buzz and Woody in the trash compactor in Toy Story 3. Sometimes you just need to have big people fighting. I’m a fan of this.

Loved the many Gorilla Monsoon references leading up and in this match. Still think Gorilla and Bobby is my favorite commentary team ever. Winner: Big Show. But he sure looked like the loser when he got slammed into the steps.

Nikki Bella vs. Emma: AJ Lee comes down to ringside. I think we know who is about to be chanted for. What is the deal with Nikki Bella adding a “ah” sound to the end of her words? Is she The Count?

So recently there’s been a bit of a debate about whether or not women should be happy when a guy follows them and comes up to compliment them on the street. Erick Rowan obviously is of the opinion any woman should be flattered when a man decides to give them positive attention. Renee Young does not agree with this. I look forward to them having a 300 post Twitter fight on the matter. I feel bad for Emma. She looks dispirited and the dance has no passion behind it anymore. The whole shoplifting fiasco really messed with her. You could say her career ascent pulled an Apollo 13, so that just surviving is kind of a triumph.

This was actually a better match than I expected. Nothing earth shattering but well put together. Given that we may never be rid of the Bellas the next best thing that could happen for the women’s division would be if they actually became decent in the ring.

Post match shenanigans happen. CM Punk ends up getting one of the biggest chants of the night. Sounds about right. Winner: Nikki Bella

Xavier Woods is now James Brown? That’s a thing I guess. Can he get the Funkettes from 2 Cold Scorpio?

Rusev vs. Zack Ryder: I can only assume both Rusev and Sheamus wrestled tonight on Raw because their post-show match takes place in another dimension. In that spacetime they haven’t wrestled tonight, the announcers are amazing, Bosom Buddies is considered the greatest tv drama ever, and Lana actually makes a convincing Russian. This is not our reality.

Dammit Zack! You better than anyone knows the only thing worse than being John Cena’s enemy is being John Cena’s friend. Why the hell would you want to get back into that abusive relationship? Some sort of New Jersey Stockholm Syndrome must have taken root. Winner: Rusev

Just so you know my duties end when Raw goes off the air. You want someone to review Sheamus vs. Rusev? Look to someone else.

The seeds of the possible Cena vs. Rusev match for Mania have begun to be planted. I look forward to Cena pinning Rusev at Survivor Series.

Dust Brothers vs. Los Matadores: Oh screw you WWE. You’re dropping this on me 165 minutes into the show? And putting Miz on commentary? I hate you so much right now WWE. Way to completely no-sell Miz’s entire gimmick there guys. This match was a bigger bomb than Cloud Atlas. Winner: Los Matadores. I think. I kind of lost focus on this one.

This show has been on for 450 hours now. HHH keeps telling me its over but the show is never over.

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins: Every time two guys do the whole wrap an arm around each other and punch simultaneously thing I just find myself wanting to watch Frye vs. Takayama:

Randy Orton has a real gift for the tiny things that can add to a match. Watching him scooting around on his back, trying to keep his eyes on Rollins while laying on the ground, or making sure to seem to be propelling Rollins into the corner when he misses a stinger splash. Those tiny things just make the match look better and easier to get lost in.

Speaking of the small things I really liked the superplex by Orton. It looked like someone being pulled over and down to the mat rather than someone jumping in concert with someone else. When the hell does anyone win with a backslide? That was awesome. Rollins made use of being quicker and younger to overcome Orton’s smarts to catch him with a flash pinfall. Given Kane’s experience with anger management therapy this would be a situation you would think he could be more helpful in resolving.

This crowd is just dying for the Orton face turn here. I know Orton loves to be a heel, but in the modern WWE Orton is the most Austin-like face they have. I know Ambrose is trying to be that role, but Orton has the credibility of a decade of nearly non-stop pushes. Punk was there for a while. But we’re back to Orton being the most credible face who seems to be the opposite of Cena. He’s the adult hero, violent and deranged, prone to attack anyone in his way. And capable of actually winning the big fight.

Two instances of blood on the same show? This will not make Vince happy.

Nice touch with Stephanie being the one who decides to have Orton murdered. A nice reminder that all of HHH’s power comes from being allied with and part of the McMahon family, but he is not a McMahon by blood. Just by name. The power in WWE, as it has ever since Buddy Rogers held the title, is with the McMahon family. HHH is just the functionary. He’s Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition, Steph is Daniel Craig, and Vince is Paul Newman.
Good way to write Orton out for the next few weeks and give him a reason to forgive and forget on Cena’s team. If they’re smart they’ll have Orton RKO Cena after the match just to prove a point.
Winner: Seth Rollins

And that’s our show for tonight. Lots of stuff happened, and I’ll give them credit they have me interesting in Survivor Series more than I’ve been interested in a show since Summerslam. I don’t think anyone is going to mind the lack of Lesnar on the show. Though wouldn’t it be a thing if Lesnar joined Team Cena in order to try and get Paul Heyman into power?

Lastly, the correct answer to the question at the beginning. Yes, Cena is the drag on network subscriptions. You disagree?

Final Thoughts: 

That’s all folks. Enjoy Rusev vs. Sheamus. I’m all wrestled out for the week. See you next week. Share this with your friends, family, etc. and I will be in a deeper debt to you than Tom Hanks in The Money Pit.