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WWE Raw Results and Recap: Braun and Big Show bring the beef (September 4, 2017)

Despite a sluggish stretch, this week's Raw finds plenty of ways to make No Mercy a lot more interesting.


It’s nearly impossible for Monday Night Raw to deliver a compelling show from top to bottom. The format just doesn’t allow that kind of consistent success. From the lengthy runtime to the need to push a certain corporate narrative, there’s always something standing in the way of Raw being a truly great watch, even when it’s mostly delivering the goods. That’s the case with the show this week. What starts out as a hot show filled with heated segments and some damn good wrestling eventually succumbs to the format’s inherent issues, buckling in its second hour and then stumbling toward a violent finish.

Cena and Reigns are at it again

The key to understanding what makes Raw successful this week is contained within the show’s first half hour. It’s a simple setup: an opening video package recaps the fiery promo between John Cena and Roman Reigns from last week, which is followed by Cena facing off against Jason Jordan to start the show, which is then followed by Roman Reigns coming out and getting in Cena’s face.

On the surface that’s not exactly a remarkable way to start the show, but it works because for once WWE shows some semblance of connecting the dots with a story, drawing in other players, past actions, and current anger to create something that gives the first half hour a gripping and nuanced structure. WWE sets up a clear narrative and follows through.

The opening video package reminds us of where Cena and Reigns stand. The match between Jordan and Cena not only does wonders for getting Jordan over, it also serves as a storytelling piece to be used later. So then, when Reigns comes out, he has fuel for his promo. He can lambast Cena for not handily beating a rookie in a matter of minutes, and start to run down the 16-time champ for being soft and full of himself. On top of all that, the performance from Jordan acts as a launching point for Cena’s barbs, as he tells Reigns that he respects guys like Jordan who show up and hustle for their spot, and that he has no respect for someone like Reigns, a guy who just expects it to be handed to him.

That’s incredibly effective storytelling, moving a lot of different angles forward while giving a little shine to each performer involved.

The Miz vs. Jeff Hardy is a good placeholder

Raw keeps that momentum going throughout the first hour. Rhyno and Slater vs. Cesaro and Sheamus acts as a fun, brief transition match, leading into Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Much like Cena vs. Jordan, it’s a fresh matchup, and sometimes that’s enough to keep things interesting. Plus, the match itself is actually a solid contest, with Hardy really giving The Miz a run for his money. Considering neither guy is doing much right now, there’s nothing wrong with throwing them in a competitive match. It’s what WWE should be doing with the Intercontinental Championship anyway.

Can we exorcise the Balor-Wyatt feud?

Essentially, Raw puts together a solid first hour or so by delivering fresh feuds while also paying attention to the motivations of its characters. Unfortunately, the show does go down hill from there, as much of the rest of Raw feels like a lesson in patience until the monstrous main event gets underway. So, we get another six-man cruiserweight tag match, and while it’s intriguing to see Enzo heeling it up a bit, it’s not enough to make the Purple segment any more interesting than usual.

Similarly, Balor and Wyatt continue to tread water in their feud, talking about demons and sins and such; you know, all the same stuff that they covered leading into SummerSlam. Even Rollins and Ambrose can’t ignite a spark in the show’s sluggish back half, as the tag division continues to feel like a rudderless ship. There are tag teams in the ring and around the championship scene, but there’s no reason to be invested in what they’re doing.

The Women’s Division gets a sense of direction

Still, Raw makes it through that section to find some inspiration near the end of the show. Firstly, there’s a tag team match that sees Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks forced to team up against Nia Jax and Emma. The stipulation is that if Nia and Emma win, they’ll be added to the Women’s Championship match at No Mercy, making it a Fatal Fourway. That adds some stakes to what could otherwise be a throwaway match, and what’s more encouraging is seeing the match follow through with the storytelling.

Much like that opening segment, there are multiple stories influencing the direction of the match. There’s the obvious tension between the tag team partners on both sides, but there’s also more subtle touches, like Bliss and Banks knowing that cooperation is in their best interest, or like Emma stealing the pin because, more than anything, she’s here to make her own mark at all costs. She’s sick of being overlooked and now she’s doing something about it. All of those details combine to form something that gives the division a sense of direction for the first time in awhile.

No cage can contain Braun Strowman

Then, of course, there’s Braun Strowman. Is there anything that man can’t do? This week he goes toe-to-toe with Big Show inside a steel cage, and while I was worried we’d run out of fresh ways to deliver this match, both Strowman and Big Show prove me wrong. Their match is long, brutal, and beautifully paced. The match builds from a slower start to each big man getting more desperate to finish the other off. That sends Big Show to the top rope for an incredible elbow drop, but it’s not enough. Braun does what he does, finding his strength and putting down the Big Show, perhaps permanently, as he throws him through the steel cage after the match.

The goal of this match? To once again make Braun Strowman look like the guy who can actually beat Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. The Strowman train just keeps on running, and I can’t wait for it to pull into Suplex City.

Quick Hits

  • Jason Jordan’s entrance music is better, but it’s still not quite there.
  • That said, it’s hard to care about his music while he’s doing roll-through Northern Lights suplexes. Good lord.
  • Both John Cena and Roman Reigns look like they’re absolutely sick of each other. The facial expressions are adding a lot to this feud.
  • Somebody tell Roman Reigns, and a few others on the roster, that the gay jokes should be left on the WWE Network archive.
  • I am so sick of Enzo, but I did enjoy him telling Tony Nese that he was just some dude who “lost his job at Chippendales.”
  • A question for everyone: is there a way to make Bray Wyatt interesting again? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Results

John Cena defeated Jason Jordan; Cesaro and Sheamus defeated Rhyno and Heath Slater; The Miz (c) defeated Jeff Hardy (Intercontinental Championship match); Enzo Amore, Cedric Alexander, and Gran Metalik defeated Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, and Noam Dar; Nia Jax and Emma defeated Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss; Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins defeated Gallows and Anderson; Braun Strowman defeated Big Show (Steel Cage match).

What did you think of the Steel Cage Match? Let us know in the comments below!

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Kyle Fowle

Kyle Fowle is a freelance writer based out of Canada. He's written about TV and wrestling for The A.V. Club, Entertainment Weekly, Paste Magazine, Esquire, and many others. You can find him tweeting about the same over at @kylefowle.

  • Dave(s) 4 Goombella

    That tag title feud has really fizzled without any storyline deeper than “Let’s fight!” “Them’s fightin’ words!” The momentum boost of the mini-Shield reunion has already run out. I hope they manage to inject some interesting drama before No Mercy, so that the stakes rise above “contractually obligated rematch.” You know that the four will put on a solid match, but it could be so much more.

    • Completely agree. It’s also made Gallows & Anderson look like pushovers, which is an injustice I can’t ignore.

      • Dave(s) 4 Goombella

        We were so close to a B. Club versus Miztourage feud last week…

  • Vyolynce

    I can maybe make Bray Wyatt interesting again: let him go full anarchist. Make him stop caring about “your rules” and even “your titles, your recognition”. Just send him out there as an agent of Chaos. What’s killing him right now is his utter predictability (especially the part where he always loses his blowoffs), so make him unpredictable. “Follow the buzzards” is a great catch-phrase, but it has to mean something. What it means to me is “follow the trail of corpses,” so it’s time to leave behind some damned bodies.

    FANTASY BOOKING WARNING!

    If he apparently has the ability to pop in and out of the ring at will, do so for no reason. One day he pops in and attacks Jeff Hardy during a rematch with the Miz; the next week he pops in and attacks the Miz. Crowd doesn’t care about this week’s cruiserweight match as usual? Oops, Cedric Alexander just got hit with Sister Abigail! Hell, have him appear during a random women’s match, only to fake everyone out and disappear again without doing anything but laugh in the ring creepily for a couple of minutes. For giggles, have him pop in on a SDL match.

    Where do you go with this, though? Once he gets in everyone’s head, it’s time to zero in on an actual victim. Someone who can actually sell the paranoia that being in Bray’s crosshairs should generate. I mentioned the Miz above, and he seems as good a target as any (remember, Bray doesn’t care about face/heel dynamics at this point).

    Miz over-confidently demands to face Bray in the ring, but Bray counter-demands that Miz put “[your] precious IC title” up as collateral. Miz is understandibly reluctant, but eventually agrees (maybe after a few more weeks of being Miz’s shadow). The match is set, and Bray nails Miz with Sister Abigail! He covers… and picks Miz up at 2. He sits a still-dazed Miz in the corner, grabs the championship from ringside, and hands it to him. “Not today. I’m not done with you yet.” Then he teleports away, effectively giving Miz the count-out win.

    Miz gets to keep the title, but only because Bray let him keep it. And Miz knows this. Sure, he’ll play it off but eventually Bray wears away at his sanity by haunting him at every turn. Then Bray starts taking out Miz’s human shields by attacking them at random (side bonus: this gives the fans some of the Bray/Bo interactions that we’ve longed for) and maybe even intimidates Maryse a bit (“two down, one to go…”) to send the message. The rematch is finally made, and Miz has no back-up because Axel and Bo are out of commission and Maryse is rightfully too afraid to come to ringside/gallantly asked by her husband to stay where it’s safe(?), whichever works for them.

    During the match, Axel and Bo make their return. They’re still banged up, but Miz needs their help. But the lights go out and suddenly Harper and Rowan come out of SDL purgatory to destroy them and carry them off! Miz looks like he’s done for, but Maryse bravely comes running out for the clutch distraction! And that’s when the lights go out again… and Sage Beckett appears. That goes about as well for Maryse as you can expect, and with all of his hope gone Miz surrenders to his fate.

    Bray leaves the match IC Champion, and Miz is left utterly broken and enjoys some well-deserved time off (maybe to film another direct-to-DVD movie). The new Wyatt Family’s reign of terror lords over RAW’s undercard, including the tag team and women’s divisions.

    Until SaNItY shows up…

    END FANTASY BOOKING

    Also, after watching all 8 episodes of the Mae Young Classic, was I the only one hoping that Big Show emulate Kairi Sane on that elbow drop? Although that probably would have legit cracked the mat (or Show’s own arm).

  • Toby Durant

    The best way to save Bray is have him shut up for a bit!

    I really enjoyed Raw doing away with the long talking segment to open the show and just going straight in with a good match.

    Conversely, I’m really enjoying the tag division at the moment, I wouldn’t mind seeing Gallows & Anderson a little stronger, but Ambrose and Rollins are great together.

  • SuperfluousNipple

    The Miz-Jeff Hardy match was really something else for a television match. I loved the usage of Maryse to just give a quick note of “look the eff out” when Jeff was up for the Swanton as opposed to her jumping up on the apron or whatever other “distraction” they usually come up with. Really effective segment and kept Jeff fairly strong as a singles possibility. I feel like if we’re going to tear them down for a lot of things, I have to call out a strong storytelling effort by all concerned in that match.

WWE Raw Results and Recap: Braun and Big Show bring the beef (September 4, 2017)

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