Things happen in WWE at times other than RAW. To find out about these things go read the SmackDown review by the awesomely talented Ru Gunn, and the staff preview and review of WWE Survivor Series 2015. Bask in my foolishness at expecting WWE to keep things simple.

I pried myself out of the hot tub long enough to watch Survivor Series last night. This was obviously a terrible decision on my part. I think we can all safely say that as WWE tournaments go this was no Deadly Game that we saw last night. A deeply unsatisfying event at every turn. Everything seemed very off. The semi final matches were both shorter matches that felt like they were just at the point where things should get heated and then they ended. The Divas title match just did not have the kind of hatred and rancor that was needed. There was effort there, and the match was better than some people are giving it credit for, but in the end it was a disappointment that never engaged a crowd that spent much of the night being placid.

Xavier’s hair and the New Day showing solidarity after Big E was knocked out of the match were highlights of the elimination tag match. Wade Barrett just acting like a total goof was a highlight of my month. Kudos to WWE for putting Tyler Breeze over clean with a complete no-BS finish over Dolph Ziggler. As I said in my preview I assumed they would give Dolph something to keep him looking strong before losing, but instead he went down clean for the pin.

When Undertaker debuted at Survivor Series, there was still a Soviet Union. Good times back then.

Good thing about the tournament final match: Reigns with a clean win over Ambrose. No swerve, no heel turn, no jealousy from Ambrose. Bad things about the tournament final match: The match. The post-match. Another very short match in the tournament. I’m okay with this sort of thing if it continues as a way of showing that WWE matches can end at any time, rather than hitting every single beat in the usual script. If this occurs I will go back and admit my wrongness before the watchful eyes of god and man. But last night felt more like someone paced the show wrong, and gave 20 minutes to the elimination match and about 14 hours to Wyatts/KaneTaker, only to realize they had to fit in three tournament matches.

Well faith and begorrah, everyone’s favorite fella is the champ now. I bet he wears a suit tonight when he comes out to let HHH tell everyone what a great plan HHH had all along.  Hopefully this bodes well for my chances of partying with happy Irish folks in Vegas at UFC 194.

WWE Monday Night RAW
November 23, 2015

The promo package is longer than Roman’s title reign. It is, however, so incredibly over the top that I can’t help but enjoy it. WWE is always so much more enjoyable in brief highlight packages than as an actual television program.

The show proper starts with the main event heels, the most important people in the company, the entire reason why millions watch every week. HHH and Stephanie McMahon. WWE will make sure you never forget who really matters on this show.

I love a disingenuous heel as much as the next guy, but the WWE faces are so weak and full of high-octane stupidity that the act ends up coming off as being smart and deserving of your respect. With John Cena the routine can be useful since he has the credibility and the promo chops to hold his own against the Authority. For Roman though he is so dumb and hopelessly naive that you end up wanting him to take the offer and have someone lead him by the hand to a better life.

Sheamus at least seems to be enjoying himself as the champ. I think his character gets some underserved dislike at times. He’s a solid annoying heel. He acts like such an obnoxious asshole, like the worst kind of guy at the bar on St. Patrick’s Day. He’s big and strong and doesn’t care if you don’t like him because he will kick your ass and his dad is probably a police officer so he knows you’ll end up catching the charge at the end of it all. Everyone hates that guy. He did not, however, wear a suit. I have failed once more at guessing what WWE will do next.

For tonight at least the crowd reaction was exactly what WWE was hoping for. That crowd was strongly for Reigns, didn’t like Sheamus, and wanted Reigns to get some revenge. Might just be a one night thing, but at the very least Sheamus is less likely to get anti-Reigns sentiment stirred up than Owens or Ambrose might have.

Undertaker 25th Anniversary Fact: Just 10 days before the Undertaker’s Survivor Series debut, the #1 song in America was “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice.

The Wyatt Family vs. Dudley Boyz

Bray Wyatt is the least deterrable man on Earth. He can lose feud after feud after feud, and the next night he’s right back on that gasping, cryptic horse. Even when they are kidnapping people and dragging them to whatever backwoods lair they live and do arts and crafts in they still can’t seem to get an advantage on anyone. Bray Wyatt is the ultimate case of telling but not showing. We should fear him and his beardy minions because we are told to fear them. They do nothing to cause fear, or demonstrate any particular ability to do awful things. But they have a cool song.

Honestly, I think I could get some enjoyment and happiness out of a Luke Harper vs. Bubba Ray singles match. Could be 7-8 minutes of fun hoss fighting. I loved that huge Rock Bottom that Bubba hit Harper with.

Let the two months or so of the Wyatts beating random midcarders commence. I wonder who will end up squashing Bray to get whatever tiny heat he builds up in this push. I hope its Sting. Winners: Wyatt Family

Undertaker 25th Anniversary Fact: It is possible that, while preparing for Southern Mississippi’s All-American Bowl appearance against North Carolina State, Brett Favre may have watched Undertaker’s Survivor Series debut from his dorm room.

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

A rematch of the Voices of Wrestling May 2015 Match of the Month. I’m sure this will be just as good.

One thing I notice about diva matches on RAW is that they are very ground based and slow-paced. No one is looking for ten rolling germans or 630s, but Becky Lynch has a wide array of suplexes, and Sasha is not afraid of going up the ropes. So why keep the match on the mat and so tepid. Those who can wrestle in an exciting way are able to use that to stand out. No one would have given a damn about Daniel Bryan, or CM Punk, or Cesaro, or Kevin Owens if they didn’t put on excellent matches week in and week out. We know damn well how good a match these two can put on. There’s no reason not to be able to create something that would get the crowd interested. I don’t know why this isn’t happening. Speculation is probably pointless.

I hope that the announcers talking up the idea of Charlotte vs. Sasha is a sign of Sasha moving to the front of the division. She has the charisma and ability to draw in people who have been rightly skeptical of the “Divas Revolution” as it has been presented to them so far.

Paige’s post match interruption was at least a woman complaining about something wrestling related. That has been hard to come by in this division lately. Of course, everything is forgiven if this somehow leads to a match of Saraya Knight vs. Ric Flair. Winner: Sasha Banks

New Day Jamboree

My holy neon god they’re riding pink unicorns to the ring. JBL immediately starts dropping names of long-dead cowboys. I can’t even be bothered by this because Kofi has his hair banded into a unicorn horn. Big E has stolen Kurt Angle’s tiny cowboy hat. BIg E is not having any more damn songs about tractors. Xavier is showing his skills on his rendition of “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Booty.” Kofi is so damn angry about country music he demands the crowd know that not just his character, but he himself as a man, really hates country music. Brock Lesnar Guy is in the front row and New Day don’t need no damn translator, they speak Spanish.

And now Xavier is yelling at Jimmy Uso like he’s a bad dog. Sin Cara’s mask is not made for speaking. Kofi is casting the word “SHAME” at the Usos and the Luchas like a malediction. Big E is so angry at this whole thing he is jumping up and down demanding this madness end. Everything is going wrong. This was the perfect celebration of the New Day’s anniversary. May this be the first of many. Winners: Booty

Charlotte is a terrible promo. I don’t know how the hell all of Ric’s kids turned out to be so devoid of charisma.

Mark Henry vs. Neville

Mark Henry was trying to have a nice friendly match, and Neville had to go and cheap shot him out of the corner.

Watching Mark Henry throw people great distances is always something joyous to see.

Strange ending there. The more I think on it the more I kind of like it. In no world is Neville going to actually put Henry out for an easy three count, or beat him down. It has to be shock and quick strikes and just getting Henry to be unable to counter for a split second. Yes Neville was able to hit the Red Arrow, but Mark Henry is still a behemoth. The idea that it was just enough to stop Henry for just that extra moment to separate a two-count from a three-count fits neatly in with the story they were telling. For a match that I’m pretty sure didn’t last five minutes they did a hell of a job making the most of that time.

We will miss Mark Henry when he’s gone.  Winner: Neville

Goldust & Prime Time Players vs. The Cosmic Wasteland

Titus entering Stardust’s set was wonderful. I don’t know why more people don’t end up stumbling into the random backstage lairs of WWE wrestlers. I mean there must be hardly anywhere to move between the random hallways for ambush interviews, Stardust’s planetarium, the Wyatt Family’s dark smoky room, the Shield Memorial Broom Closet, the standing awkwardly watching monitors showing different feeds stations, the Authority’s office…it’s a miracle anyone actually has a space to dress back there.

Where the hell have PTP been? I’m trying not to give into the worry, but I’m afraid PTP may only exist so long as I am watching and believing in Titus and his hot tags.

If you play a replay of Titus’s final segment in that match while sitting in your snow-covered car, within 30 seconds your vehicle will be completely clean, and you will have a sunburn. That’s how hot Titus was there. Winners: PTP/Goldust

WTF are Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter on About?

The damn young people going on Grindr to hate on Mexamerica. Zeb has no love for haters.

I bet Del Rio has a magic mirror like the one Hulk Hogan had where only he could see the Ultimate Warrior in it. Every day when Alberto looks in it he sees La Sombra’s dreamy mug.

No one in the world should ever be this excited to see Jack Swagger. Even Jack Swagger isn’t that excited about himself.

I will say Del Rio looks like he was chiseled out of freaking marble.

So who do I cheer for? The angry xenophobe or the delusional old guy and the Mexican aristocrat who seems to be stuck in a bad buddy cop movie with a partner he doesn’t like? Really everyone is awful Winners: People who like putting their hands over their hearts

Paige vs. Charlotte

This crowd has been more alive than last night’s audience. See if this group is engaged with this match, and if these two will give them anything to engage with.

It started out good for a few moments, but quickly turned into front facelocks and weak armbars. You do that and you get a JBL chant for your efforts.

Charlotte’s double bump after getting pulled off of the turnbuckle looked good.

The amount of headscissors in women’s matches feels like some sort of odd fanservice thing.

I don’t mind Paige keeping the match grounded and submission based, since that makes sense for her. She’s trying to prove a point and humiliate her opponent. What I don’t get is why Charlotte is so lackadaisical in her offense. Outside of maybe the first 30 seconds or so there has been no urgency in Charlotte’s efforts. And as I type that yet again a scissorhold by Charlotte keeping both her and Paige laying on the ground. This is not what is needed here.

The biggest cheer and reaction of the night went to the heel tossing the face champion into the steel steps and putting her in her finisher on the announce table. That is not a thing that you want happening. Winner: None, Double Countout

The One. Man. Baaaaaand.

Please please please send out the Honky Tonk Man. I beg you oh wrestling gods.

In most cases I enjoy a Ryback appearance, especially when it portends mindless violence. But I had really worked myself into a shoot expecting the Honker. This is a time when I did not want more feeding.

The official ranking of wrestlers with guitars:

  1. Honky Tonk Man
  2. George Ringo “The Wrestling Beatle” 
  3. Greg Valentine as part of Rhythm & Blues
  4. Steve Austin
  5. That dude in NXT
  6. Santino Marella 
  7. Heath Slater
  8. The Rock
  9. Van Hammer

Jeff Jarrett is not ranked because I’m still pissed off at the way his match with Raven ended on 4/30/03. Winner: Honky Tonk Man

Kevin Owens & Tyler Breeze vs. Dean Ambrose & Dolph Ziggler

Dean is still over enough that his being tagged in put an instant stop to a “Fight Owens Fight” chant that had broken out.

Owens is always true to the Kevin Owens character. That is worth so much in the inconstant world of WWE. He knows his job is to wrestle, so he wrestles. He knows his job has nothing to do with how much time he spends in the ring, or if he saves Tyler Breeze or not. So he doesn’t worry about these trivialities.

This match was actually a hell of a lot of fun for a match 150 minutes into this show. Lots of action, Dean Ambrose flying around like he was shot out of a cannon. I may be getting sleepy and easily entertained by things, but I’m going to bust out snowflakes for this one. Winners: Dean Ambrose/Dolph Ziggler Rating: ***¼

That Hardee’s ad felt like one of those skits in SNL after the musical guest has played their second song of the night. You’re not quite sure what’s happening, and it is either hilarious or horrid, all depending on how drunk you are.

Roman Reigns vs. Rusev

I missed Rusev. He makes it look like he’s trying to hurt the other person at all times. That shouldn’t be such a surprise in wrestling, but alas such is not the norm.

For some reason I am really fixated on Roman wearing the damn flak jacket tonight. Watching Rusev lay in kicks right to Roman’s chest it just seems ridiculous to allow that kind of ring attire. Though I suppose there’s a case to be made that if there’s no rule against such protective clothing it is hard to blame Roman for being smart enough to take advantage of this loophole. Others should be as smart.

The crowd has still been strongly pro-Reigns throughout this match. Best thing they can do for Roman is keep him against unlikeable heels for the next few months. There are enough heels who aren’t going to be getting face reactions because they are just not the kind of guys who the crowd will rally for.

Rusev’s face when he doesn’t get the pinfall he is expecting is kind of heartbreaking.

Cute moment when Reigns was slowed down while being whipped towards the barricade because a fan grabbed his wrist to try to save him.

Europe hates Roman Reigns. That seems to be the gist of tonight’s episode.

Well I’ll be damned. Letting Reigns be a badass, not babble on and on, and get into a good hard fight left the crowd cheering for him. This was one of the best nights Roman Reigns has had this year in my opinion. Winner: Roman Reigns Rating: ***1/2

Final Thoughts: I didn’t mind this show at all. Most of the things that happened seemed to be building toward the climaxing of angles near or at Royal Rumble. Roman seemed strong and yet likable at the same. In the end I found this show quite enjoyable. And two matches reached snowflake territory. I give this show a thumbs up overall.