Last week we all took a moment to ponder the way that WWE is misusing our limited time upon the earth. This week there is potential for high comedy. My mother-in-law, who is touched by burdens of sanity on only the most sporadic of instances, is in our home tonight. I hope she has some thoughts to share on this show. If she does, you will know them soon after. Given how little sense WWE makes most of the time, she may end up understanding all of it, and enjoying it. Rumors of #BigChanges and ECW legends and horrible sounding Miz Tvs are flying about the internet, so let’s get to it.

The show is opening up with a promo. The changes are sure coming fast and furious so far. I have lost all of my bearings. Up is down, white is black, dogs are cats. Einhorn is Finkle. Finkle is Einhorn. My entire world has been turned upside down.

Rusev as the hype man for Sheamus is a small and wonderful thing.

This crowd is into the chanting. They really like yelling in unison with others.

I was just about to say that it would be hilarious after Sheamus said no four men could match them if the Wyatts appeared to challenge that. I was going to add that this would make no damn sense whatsoever. Yet I am still not unhappy to see it. The idea of the Wyatts in a pseudo-face role is interesting and it would be something to watch. The crowd would bite on this and I think they would let the hook dig in deep.

The old ECW fellows are here. RIP Hack Myers. Dear God let it be Sandman or New Jack. Ah hell, it’s not even something as mildly entertaining as RVD.

Michael Cole is so excited he is just crashing aphorisms into each other. It’s like a folksy carwreck happening before our ears.

This whole segment feels like WWE throwing up their hands and saying “You like entrances right? Here’s a shit ton of entrances.” “You like groups fighting together right? Here have ½ the company in groups all at once.” “You like ECW? You keep chanting about it 15 years after we crushed them, right? Here have some old guys with tables and sticks.”

Sixteen Man Elimination Fatal Four Way

They made an error here by not letting the match be an elimination match where each member needs to be eliminated. They could have killed an hour or more of RAW easily enough.

I’ve already been too disappointed by the lack of New Jack to even give thought to how the League of Nations needs Prince Nana as manager.

The thing to watch in this match is how the alignments play out. The Samoan Shield are pure faces, and League of Nations are pure heels. ECW are faces but could have issues with faces. And the Wyatts are the wild card. Early in the match the action has been mostly clear-cut, but Rusev charging the Wyatt corner.

Right after I say this, the one intriguing group in the match is eliminated, as Tommy Dreamer pins Erick Rowan on RAW as the year 2016 looms in the distance. If wins and losses actually mattered in the slightest in WWE I would go off on a rant about how absurd that decision is. But what the hell, WWE might as well just admit that their history is:

  • Tonight
  • Last Week
  • WrestleMania the previous year
  • The Attitude Era/Monday Night Wars
  • Hulkamania (Currently not recognized)
  • Vince McMahon creating the WWE Universe in 7 days

With Titus O’Neil being busy having holiday fun with Stardust I declare Bubba Ray to now be the purveyor of the hottest tags in town.

Excellent planning. Taking out the two teams that actually bring some interest into the match. I know why it happened, and that really it was just a way to add some color and ballyhoo around another Team Roman vs. Team Sheamus match, but damn it all why must these things happen?

Not related to the match, but the MIL just asked what we were talking about in regards to three consecutive commercials. I’m going to be a drooling idiot…fine more of a drooling idiot by the time this night ends.

Dean Ambrose has settled into a spot where he can be rehabbed at any moment into a legit championship contender, yet I suspect he’ll never actually win the title. He gets organic reactions. Now because moments are built especially for him, but because people like him.

The crowd reactions are confusing. There are moments where it sounds like the crowd is ecstatic for Reigns, and then 3 seconds later it sounds like one of those crowds from before WM 31.

I loved the camera shot of Uso charging past the cameraman to head up the turnbuckles. Small touches like this allow for the illusion that things are not totally planned out. Sometimes the camera isn’t in the right place because it doesn’t always know the right place to be.

Seriously, this crowd is odd tonight. But they’re very involved no matter what at least. Winners: Team Roman

Titus doesn’t allow none of this weak wine in his world. Fortified wine mother fuckers. He’s going to help Stardust to find happiness if he has to kill him to do so.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens

I hope Dean didn’t pay for that popcorn. It’s his birthday after all.

Tyler Breeze coming out right after Ziggler just makes it clear that there are no #BigChanges on the horizon. The basic structure of having the same people interact every single show until the fans stop caring remains firmly intact.

Two guys are wrestling and their match would be one I’d be interested in, but the whole thing is prelude to shitty interference.

I’m pretty sure that Tyler and Summer are just drinking ice water out of fancy cups. Highly unimpressed with the scene in Club Pretty.

JBL’s advice is usually trash, but I second his recommendation to watch Vader vs. Foley from WCW.

Yup, definitely ice water. They could at least put some flavor drops or something in there to make it look like they have some sort of cocktail.

Even in a throwaway match like this it is just great watching Kevin Owens wrestle. Every little thing he does is magic. Everything he do just turn me on. Even though this show before was tragic, now I know my love for him goes on. Everything, literally every single thing, Owens does plays into and reinforces his character. His in ring trash talk, the way he moves around the ring. Such a bully, such a coward, such a petulant jerk, such a powerful force. He owns his contradictions and moves between the parts of himself with effortless grace. Owens has definitely always been as war with Eastasia and has never run from anyone or shown any fear.

I want to be swept up in this match. I’m enjoying it very much. But with Breeze at ringside it is impossible to do so. And when Owens does get the clean win it comes out of nowhere, and I only accepted it as happening in between the 2 and 3 counts of the ref.

That just seemed really unnecessary for Ambrose to do. Waste of good popcorn. Winner: Kevin Owens  Rating: ***¼

Oh man, the saddest part of this segment is somehow not the appearance of Donny Deutsch in the usual ham-fisted cross promotion, though that was cringeworthy, but the total lack of audience response to the mention of Daniel Bryan.

Brie Bella/Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks/Naomi

I don’t mean to just restate common internet wisdom, but why in Baal’s name is Sasha Banks not getting the push across every possible WWE media channel? Why is she not getting pushed out into the mainstream? This company has Cena to connect with the children, and tons of nostalgia for the old folks. But where is that person who can connect with teens and twenty year olds? She’s in this match, this middle of the show match in an angle that isn’t going anywhere fast. Vince wants that next mainstream face, that next Cena, that next Rock. That person isn’t Roman Reigns. It’s not Sheamus. It’s Sasha F’n Banks.

This has been one of the better women’s matches on RAW since the “revolution” began. Though I have to admit I don’t understand how doing the splits makes Naomi’s ass any more destructive as a weapon.

OH MY GOD! THE NEW DAY AND TEAM BAD TOGETHER AT LAST. And they have unicorn horns to share with Team Bad. Screw whatever is planned for the rest of the show and just let them dance and sing and play trombone and bring them a video game console hooked up to the Titantron. Winners: Team Bad

The New Day vs. The Lucha Dragons

Kanye and Kim aren’t cool enough to have a child named Booty West.

Just got yelled at by my wife. Apparently New Day is distracting my mother-in-law from their cribbage game. The Big E dance gets the old ladies fired up.

There may come a time when I tire of the New Day. But when they’re giving us such theatrical performances as “New Day Rescuing a Cat in a Tree” I am sure I never ever ever want them to go away or stop doing what they do.

Big E doing the butter churn might make this show rated M.

Hey, there was a botch by the Lucha Dragons, and it was by Kalisto not Sin Cara. There really are #BigChanges.

To sum up, the challengers just pinned the champions clean in a regular tag match. Rather than meaning that the Lucha Dragons are tag team champions, it has no consequence. This is because they are one of two teams challenging the champions in a ladder match on Sunday, where there are no pinfalls or submissions, and the team going in as champions is essentially vacating the titles, not just figuratively but literally.

This segment was the thing that made me start work on a piece about how to improve RAW. Look for it coming soon. It was here at one point, but once it became clear that it would take a lot of words to do so, it was set free to grow up in the fields before becoming a fully grown hot take. Winners: Lucha Dragons

Roman Reigns is just not good at acting the part of Roman Reigns as visualized by Vince McMahon. I know Reigns can be cool. Even websites like SportsBettingDime.com have Reigns as 10/1 odds to be WWE’s Next Hollywood Star. But the dialogue that ends up being put in front of him and he is forced to say each week just makes him sound like a character in a video game. Nothing he says sounds like it actually was formed in his brain and made the scenic trek down to his mouth. If there’s anyone who would benefit from being able to speak in a less rigid setting, it would be Roman.

Miz TV with Charlotte and Ric Flair

If Ric mentions the time that he passed the figure-four down to Miz I would give this segment five stars.

All the women are awful. Never ever forget the lessons of Mr. McMahon. Women are the worst. They are shallow and untrustworthy, and a man must chastise them, even if it makes no damn sense given the characters involved.

What the hell is happening? Seriously, what in the bluest of blue hells is going on at this point?

  • Miz, heel and arrogant jerk.
  • Charlotte, formerly admirable, now possibly shady and definitely a whiner and manipulator.
  • Paige, awful person who mocked Charlotte’s dead brother
  • Ric, legend, dirtiest player in the game for decades.

After everything in that segment as best as I can tell everyone is a dirty heel. It seemed like Paige was being set up as the face except for when she slaps a nearly 70-year-old man and tries to goad him into hitting her. I mean, I’m not at all opposed to heels having issues with other heels. It makes sense that awful people can hate other awful people. But as of now Paige has been portrayed as nothing but antagonistic towards Miz, yet suddenly he’s in on a plot to screw with Charlotte. If next week it is revealed they became friends on the set of “Santa’s Little Helper” at least that would make this less confusing in retrospect. Winners: Vince McMahon’s very strange worldview

Would there be any audience for a live RAW Review style recap of “Santa’s Little Helper”? Because I totally would.

Rusev vs. Ryback

Ryback just landed some sort of twisted tope con hilo on Rusev. Air Ryback is big, but not necessarily #BigChanges.

The Big Guy seems to have eaten his Wheaties with cocaine sprinkled on top today. Two big bumps over the top rope, a near press slam on Rusev, and a nasty front bump into the turnbuckles.

Seriously, Ryback is bonkers tonight. Missile dropkick off the top from the Big Guy. I want this dude around all the time.

“His head’s turning red!” Sadly the mother in law wasn’t around for much of the show, but she was concerned for the Big Guy. Winner: Not Really Sure. DCOR? DDQ? Eh who gives a shit?

Jack Swagger vs. Stardust

Joined in progress? Ouch.

Let us be clear on this. Titus O’Neil is the most normal person at ringside right now. And this man may think he is an actual alligator.

How awesome is Dutch? There were legit boos when Zeb drove off from Swagger. Winner: Jack Swagger

I saw the Rosebush. I just don’t care to acknowledge it.

It’s been a while since the random clangy pipes appeared backstage. Might be the #BigChanges.

I want to end conversations by slowly puttering away in my Rascal. The finality in such a gesture is impossible to ignore.

Tommy Dreamer vs. Braun Strowman

Tommy Dreamer is in what is technically the main event of RAW. If you said six months ago that you expected a RAW main event of Dreamer vs. Strowman you are the lyingest liar in the entire world. Or you have the kind of booking ideas that can get a man hired by WWE if they have the right connections.

The only thing to say about this match was that it ended the right way. Winner: Braun Strowman

Roman Reigns Talking More

Well this can only help, right? Calling Sheamus the Professor multiple times, that’ll make everyone think you’re awesome.

I enjoy hyperbolic, goofy, totally brospehed Sheamus. I don’t enjoy this Sheamus any more than I enjoy cool dude Roman.

Ooooh, balls jokes Roman? When you have the otherworldly charisma of your cousin, you can make a living out of genitals jokes. You don’t have that charisma.

This segment is the longest thing ever. The Hundred Years War took place during this segment. You could send a man to Alpha Centauri by bicycle during this segment.

Funny enough, the Roman appearing as the segment goes on is a more interesting one. The big jock who makes fun of everyone when he doesn’t get his way. The one who calls the ginger a tater tot. Roman Reigns is, at his heart, a jerk. It took a few eons to get there but the Roman at the end of that segment is one I can watch, even if I don’t think he’s meant to be the good guy.

The math adds up. The last few minutes of the show were Reigns talking like a human (albeit an awful one, but that’s par for the course in this company) and then having a big fight that ended with a huge spear. The crowd chanted his name. Funny how these things work.

Yes the crowd was behind Roman at the very end of the show. But that middle segment when he was taunting Sheamus to get him to come in the ring showed that Roman could eventually be a damn good heel. He is so much more natural being a big powerful jerk than an inspiring underdog. Go back and watch that promo again, and seven months into it when Roman starts to transform into the sarcastic bully it’s like watching a butterfly emerge from chrysalis. A mean, spiteful, pissed off butterfly. So, a butterfly then. Butterflies are very angry creatures.Winner: Future Heel Roman Reigns

Final Thoughts: The show wasn’t devoid of highlights, heck I even saw snowflakes early in the show. But everything still feels like the same old, same old. Part of the joy of pro wrestling is the fact that it never actually ends. So I don’t expect to be on a course to some sort of final climax. But right now WWE feels like they don’t know where they want to be two steps from now, and even if they do know where they want to go, they have no clue how to get there. Hopefully those steps will eventually involve mega-jerk heel Roman Reigns.