I’m sorry I missed last week. I think I left you in very capable hands. A weekend getaway stretched longer than planned, and I ended up not being in town or able to access Raw. Thankfully I don’t travel very often.

Before getting into the Review for this week, I have a favor to ask of you, beloved readers. And a proposition.

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No gimmicks tonight. This is the go-home show for Night of Champions. We have wrestling to watch. Let’s hope that the show is not booty.

WWE Monday Night Raw
September 14, 2015
FedEx Forum – Memphis, Tennessee

I guess I’ll pay attention to the recap of last Monday. I was busy playing 21+3 in Indiana while all of this went down.

I really don’t understand the animus towards Seth’s statue. I hope Seth calls in David Otunga and his coffee cup to sue Sting for destroying his property. Just because a man is a coward and has a whiny voice that does not give anyone the right to steal and wantonly destroy the man’s awards.

New Season, Same Opening Promo

What the Hell does a “Season Premiere” mean for this show?

We are getting a rare look into the mind of Stephanie McMahon and what wrestlers she actually knows are on the roster. I can only assume that she knows New Day because they called her booty and then had to lie to her about what they meant.

Weekly Reminder: Sting has less WWE wins than Mean Gene Okerlund. And he’s getting a world title shot. Nikki Bella may have known more than they she knew when she said winning and losing doesn’t matter.

Maybe that’s why Sting is being put on Raw tonight. He needs a win to justify him getting the title shot. After all, this is a man who has a WWE record on par with legends like Drew Carey.

HHH seems to have remained firmly in NXT HHH mode. Other than their approval of Rollins this entire promo for both of them was pure face. HHH busting out the DX intro. Could they truly be insane enough to try to transition to an eventual Rollins/HHH feud with HHH working face? My God I would love to watch that attempted. It would be like seeing a man try to fly with wings made of anvils. It is such an awful and obviously so idea that some part of HHH must be drawn to it like a moth to a Titus O’Neil hot tag.

Stephanie is mom dancing, HHH is dancing like the Pointy Haired Boss in Dilbert, New Day is in Afrocentric garb and Xavier has a trombone while JBL is firing off Memphis references as fast as he can. I truly, honestly, sincerely hope that the entire show is as utterly strange and detached from everything we know as these last 2 minutes or so have been. None of it makes any sense and much of it contradicts everything we know about these people. They might as well all be wearing goatees.

New Day vs. Prime Time Players

Big E making snow angels in the ring while Kofi hops all over him. Makes sense. Makes all the sense in the world. New Day is in a zone where if they had been around for the hatching of the Gobbledygooker we would speak of it as one of the great moments in WWE history. If Xavier had threatened to choppy choppy Val’s peepee it would be replayed once a month on Raw just to remember how awesome that moment was.

And now the BY GOD PRIME TIME PLAYERS have arrived. I just wish that Titus would have thought to wear a singlet tonight. A Titus hot tag followed by pulling down the strap in Memphis would have been so incandescent that the entire state of Tennessee might collapse into a neutron star.

Darren Young has become a quietly become a quality face in peril while all of us were enjoying Titus being Titus. He’s not a weak link in the team, or someone who needs saving at all times. But he takes the beating well and draws sympathy.

I wonder what it would have been like if Krusher Kruschev had been playing the trombone while Nikita and Ivan beat the hell out of Ricky Morton, while Robert Gibson was shaking with excitement in the corner.

This segment was sensory overload. Especially the ending when the Dudleyz arrived. But in the very best possible way.

I don’t know that the show can do anything but go downhill from here. This was pretty much perfect. Absurdity all around the skeleton of a really well put together tag team wrestling match. That’s what’s making this New Day/PTP/Dudleyz/ stuff such a blast to watch. These matches are all built around three teams who are doing tag team matches better than anyone in this company has in a long long time. Winners: New. Day Rocks.

I can’t help but feel like an elderly gentleman with too much makeup destroying a shoddily made statue is not exactly the sort of gripping season finale that inspires the people to keep watching.

Charlotte’s cyborg innards are beginning to show through her human skin facsimile. At least Ric Flair seems like he’s coherent for a second straight appearance. I think I understand why Vince is such a big fan of Charlotte. One of the things that I remember from Chris Jericho’s most recent book was him talking about working with Vince to craft the Jericho/Edge feud. Jericho recounts how Vince wanted the feud to center around DNA and how Jericho was born with better genetics, and how Vince loves the law of the jungle. Along comes Charlotte, daughter of a guy who Vince has always had a fascination with, and her character preaches about survival of the fittest and being genetically superior. It’s like she was built simply to get Vince behind her gimmick.

Paige vs. Sasha Banks

Sasha coming out to her own music. About damn time.

I like the way Sasha works the arm in most of her matches. It builds the character. She has a finisher that involves the arm. So she works on the arm because that will help her win the match. It’s so simple that I feel like I’m explaining sex on a porn set.

Probably best not to mention the ratings for the US Open Women’s final if you’re going to talk about how TV ratings for women’s sports show growth.

That was a nasty suplex by Paige. More of that, less hair tosses.

And for the finish Sasha Banks hits her finisher that involves the weakened arm. The great thing about pro wrestling is that every match can tell a story.There’s no reason why a wrestling match has to be a random collection of moves until someone gets pinned or a third person’s music plays and causes a rollup. This shit is pre-planned and collaborative. Any tale can be told. An epic event or a logical movement from point A to point B that gets the point of the match across. Yet the idea of a wrestler doing things that make sense within the story of the match and the character being portrayed is so rare that it is noticeable when it happens. I don’t know why this is the case. The company is supposedly telling stories. It takes no more effort to tell a story than to not tell one. The show doesn’t need to change. The overarching plots can still be as devoid of logic as ever. But having someone who uses a submission involving the opponent’s arm spend matches targeting their opponent’s arm can be done within that box set aside for a wrestling match and not make the show any worse, and possibly a bit better. This isn’t a real sport. It can be anything the creators want it to be. So why not make it the best it can be?Winner: Sasha Banks

Miz Goes to the Swamp

If you stop and think about it for a moment, Miz would have really been the perfect choice for a black sheep of the Wyatt Family. He’s well groomed, fashion forward, and quite urbane. Now that’s a black sheep of the hillbilly cultist clan if ever I heard one.

I’m going to give Miz the benefit of the doubt and say he was selling his nerves so well that he said the wrong PPV name on purpose.

Bray Wyatt telling Miz not to sit was probably the most imposing and frightening thing he has said in forever. That was some honest menace. Cutting through all the wordplay and saying his goal was simply to make people suffer, that was a Bray Wyatt who has a reason for being here. These one or two minutes may have been his best promo work this year.

I cannot even imagine how big a seller Luke’s current jacket would be at Harper’s Handmades.

The Wyatts took out one guy who may or may not be a blood relation to Roman Reigns already. Seems like it wouldn’t be too much of a sell to convince people that a bigger, badder Samoan is blood to Reigns as well. A Samoan who just may kill you.

Sheamus vs. John Cena

JBL either just spoiled the ending of Night of Champions or he told us Sting has no chance on Sunday. I am as amazed as you are by my ability to take a position and stand by it come hell or high water.

If they replaced the live feed of this match with a simulation of this match in WWE 2K16 would anyone really be disappointed? A John Cena match without stakes is so pointless that you can put it in a crib with your baby and have no fear of child injury. Give him Sheamus as an opponent, the guy who is the very definition of being in a holding pattern, and we exhaust the universe’s supply of shits to give.

This is a rehearsal for John Cena. He’s running through all the guideposts of a Big John Cena Match and making sure he hasn’t forgotten them since the US Title Challenge went on hiatus.

To give credit where credit is due, the way that Sheamus realized hitting himself in the chest while waiting for the Brogue Kick, and switching up to beating on the turnbuckle was a nice touch to get over the pain from Cena hitting him with the clubbing forearms to the chest.

In a match that mostly felt like pieces cut and pasted from better matches, the final sequence was actually fresh. Sheamus showing surprising agility to leap onto Cena’s shoulders, Cena adjusting into an electric chair flapjack, followed by counters into counters into counters. Winner: LOLCENAWINS

Love Ryback Tender

Ryback doing his Elvis impersonation was good. Ryback’s self-satisfied smile after doing so was awesome.

We are now watching a feud based on a nearly 10 year old self help book. Now I’m trying to think of some other feuds that could happen based on no longer hot literature.

  • Dean Ambrose could reveal the whole reason for his feud with Bray Wyatt was because Dean was a big fan of The Prayer of Jabez but Bray sticks to Joel Osteen books when he wants to read about the prosperity gospel.
  • Rusev will blame Dolph Ziggler for moving his cheese and changing the color of his parachute.
  • Charlotte hates Nikki Bella for spoiling the ending to Dear John.
  • Brock Lesnar grew violent and full of rage towards Seth Rollins when Seth said that he preferred JPod to Microserfs.

“You missed.” “You forgot a piece.” Ryback’s wit is sharp and should not be trifled with by anyone but a trained professional.

With Sami Zayn on the shelf, and Bayley still in NXT, Ryback is the most sincere person in the company. Sometimes that gets lost in the fact that he can come across as the real-life version of Drax the Destroyer. The idea of this freakishly strong man willing to embrace his own frailty and human weakness is the sort of thing that in more deft hands could be a story that made Ryback into a huge star with crossover appeal. Sadly I imagine most of the writers room having disdain and agents wanting to have Ryback keep chanting to be fed more. Winner: Rhonda Byrne

I don’t know what happened with that whole Stardust segment. Let’s just all take a moment and move beyond that.

Nikki Bella vs. Charlotte

Even Nikki Bella promos have trouble deciding if they’re face or heel. I don’t watch Total Divas, because even I have my limits. Can anyone who watches that show elaborate on whether Nikki shows and bipolar tendencies there?

Trish Stratus is not exactly taking a stand on Twitter.

Working the arm, doing arrogant posing over her opponent…Nikki’s working heel! I look forward to returning from commercial and seeing her begging for crowd cheers as she tries to power out of a headlock.

The selling on the arm throughout the match was pretty solid. Kept the match focused and gave Nikki something to hone in on. That’s good for her, since she often seems to lose the thread of a match.


They’ve really spent the last few months getting over the length of Nikki Bella’s title reign, and her quest to eclipse AJ Lee, simply so that they could publicly erase Mrs. Brooks from their record books? Building up an angle that is so obviously designed to let the face win that any other alternative is pure Lugering, and then actually going full Lex? And then setting up a match that either gives up that 300 day reign at the first possible opportunity after settling a score with a retired wrestler or ends up cementing Charlotte as a failure in the eyes of the fans? Even if you have Charlotte win on Sunday you’ve taken the moment when it should have happened in front of the 4 million Raw viewers and passed on it so you can do it as a second chance in front of ¼ the audience.

This angle was a cake at ringside that ends the segment unscathed. A contract signing that ends with a handshake and all involved parties quietly walking to the back. I know that there a lot of times when I want WWE to break out of the old tropes and expected resolutions. But that doesn’t mean I want them to do so in a way that damages the storytelling.

Maybe it would be different if this was a feud with a super over heel against a plucky face who has been scrapping and struggling throughout the reign. There could be a story there. The face who has spent so long trying to stop the reign of terror. The heel bragging about the record within her reach. At the last the face has victory assured but taken away. The record broken, the face regroups, wins the title, and pledges to right this wrong by breaking the heel’s ill-gotten record. That could have been a story worth seeing out.

Instead there is a heel who acts like a face ½ the time, a face who has mostly natural heel tendencies who was wrestling in front of 200 people when the heel started this record breaking reign, and a record that has seemingly been mentioned only to remind people of who was about to lose her record. The heel breaks the record with the intention seemingly to have her lose the title in six days. All of this in service of what was supposed to be a revolution but has ended up being a way for Nikki Bella to try to justify her existence. What the hell was the point of this? What was the point of any of this? Winner: Vince McMahon’s petty grudges. Alt. Winner: AJ Brooks, retired in her 20s and happily married.

Showing one of Sting’s big moments to be the night he drove the Authority out of power on a night when the Authority has put him in his first ever match on Raw is a pretty good way of teaching your fans that stipulations do not matter.

Rusev vs. Cesaro

That last ending was so bad on all levels that I can barely get excited about Cesaro and Rusev together in the ring.

I expect this kind of behavior from Ziggler. He is a lout and not at all a gentleman. But Cesaro I would hope for better from him. Cesaro is a classy man, a paragon of European elegance. For him to be supportive of this kind of brutishness makes me sad. Not just for me. Not just for Cesaro. But for the death of aspirational manhood. Winner: Cesaro….but also Loser: Cesaro

How?! How in an angle with a possibly abusive giant misogynist and a guy who seems to get his thrills from sneak attacking the first guy does WWE still find a way to make the woman the evil one? I’m so confused I’m barely able to be annoyed. This is the kind of incredible bending of reality that you would need to create a world where people complain Donald Trump needs to promote himself more, Hillary Clinton needs to wear more pantsuits, and Chyna is the lead inductee into both the 2016 WWE and Wrestling Observer Halls of Fame.

Nikki Bella celebrates on Smackdown. I might still be so pissed at that booking that I’ll have to hack Ru Gunn’s review and insert extra ranting.

Sting (and John Cena) vs. Big Show (and Seth Rollins)

At last the long awaited rematch from Great American Bash 1998.

I’m very disappointed that no one has turned on Sting yet. Seriously, couldn’t Ric Flair come out and shake Sting’s hand and then sneak attack him just for old time’s sake?

Stephanie standing motionless with her arms crossed was giving off some not insignificant Chyna vibes. Maybe it was the outfit. Maybe it’s the fact that Steph now has arms that look like they could choke out a horse. Who can say?

I was hoping all the time left in this show was going to give us an impromptu Sasha Banks vs. Nikki Bella match where she wins the title. Or Sheamus lending Becky Lynch his briefcase so Becky can get a title match right now. What I wasn’t hoping for was a Teddy Long Special tag team match.

It seems fitting that on a night where two legends of WCW are squaring off that we have such a Nitro main event. Big names are here going through the motions, the one young guy is taking the bumps for everyone, and the ending is almost certainly going to be a cluster. If only there was more declaring of allegiances via t-shirts it would be so nostalgic.

Sting’s hot tag, though respectable, is no Titus hot tag. Though no one’s tag can ever be as hot as a Titus hot tag.

Sting wins! Sting wins! I love when someone finally gets that long-awaited win that you never thought would happen.


That’s it for another week. Just a reminder, please exercise your voice, make your desires known, and give generously.