The theme of last night's Survivor Series was rather simple: a mostly entertaining show that could have been even better if there were any stakes to the matches, and if some of the old guard took the spotlight off themselves and allowed the newer, younger talent to shine. Every time I watch a PPV where I'm entertained and yet left wondering what it all meant, I have questions for myself: was I unfair to the show? Were stakes perhaps more present than I was willing to give the show credit for? Did I miss out on something substantial that could change my understanding of everything that went down during the four-hour PPV?
Can anybody spot the stakes?
Turning a critical eye to your own work is certainly a good thing to do, but I feel reaffirmed about my complaints about the lack of stakes at Survivor Series after this week's Raw. Considering it's an episode that comes directly after a Big Four PPV, it should be filled with meaningful movement inspired by everything that happened at Survivor Series. Here's the thing though: with no stakes present during last night's PPV, Raw suffers from having very little to examine in the fallout. The night is filled with rather meaningless matches and a number of dull segments only occasionally buoyed by something more inspiring.
The Return of The Authority
Really, the only fallout that Raw takes a stab at examining is the tension between Kurt Angle and Triple H; in other words, the worst, most overbooked part of last night's PPV is now the overarching focus of Raw. When Stephanie McMahon's music hits at the top of the show, it's incredibly deflating. It's a "here we go again" moment. We know what's coming and there's no getting out of the way. In essence, the opening segment ties in all of the pieces that currently aren't clicking on this show: Jason Jordan comes out to confront Triple H, Stephanie knocks him down a few pegs, and then the Authority punishes Jordan for his outburst.
It's not even bad storytelling so much as it’s a story we've seen time and again, but this time the pieces aren't particularly compelling. There are moments that connect: Strowman, of course, is a star, and Angle immediately getting in Triple H's face is the most motivated he's looked as a character since he came back to WWE. But here's the thing: Raw has nearly 10 weeks to build to the Royal Rumble, as SmackDown Live has the December PPV, and that means we're in for a lot of this kind of storytelling. This is subjective, but when the Authority pops up again around this time of year, it's almost always frustrating.
Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, and others are being wasted
I want to be hopeful. I want to think that the young and newer talent will be given time to emerge and tell their own main event stories. I want to believe that Samoa Joe and Finn Balor will be given more than a midcard-type feud that's just endless matches and Michael Cole reminding us that they don't like each other. I mean, there's little outside of the in-ring work to distinguish what Balor and Joe are doing from what Elias and Matt Hardy are doing with their time. It's matches without any consequences or stakes, because Raw is using all of its resources to tell a story about the COO, his wife, and a (admittedly over) nostalgia act that's also supposed to be running the show. It's a convoluted mess, and yet it's the focus of Raw, and seemingly will be for the next few weeks.
Even the Monster Among Men can't fight his Demons
If there was a moment that stood out amongst all the convoluted nostalgia in last night's main event, it was Braun Strowman standing tall. Heading into Raw he was a beacon of hope, similar to Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. So you can imagine my frustration when Braun Strowman gets his match against Jason Jordan, which boasts some interesting storytelling possibilities, only to have Kane interfere and reignite their feud built on literal garbage.
Why must the old guard be included in every single feud? Why do Triple H and Stephanie McMahon have to open the show with Kurt Angle like it's 2003? Why is Kane more than just a one-off opponent for WWE's newest monster with an apparently nonexistent ceiling? It's baffling that Raw isn't trying to tell more stories with not only the guys that should be the future, but the ones who are also on the older side and yet new to the roster. Guys like Balor, Joe, Strowman, and even Cesaro and Bray Wyatt aren't exactly spring chickens. They're superstars in their prime, and yet Raw is refusing to build around them.
Grand Slam Champion: Roman Reigns
Despite all of those problems, a few storytelling moments stand out this week. Paige returns and gives the Raw women's division the shakeup it needs, especially when you consider that she brings NXT's Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose with her. Then there's the main event, where Roman Reigns wins the Intercontinental Championship, a perfect conclusion to an episode-long, contained story about The Miz letting his ego get the best of him, and finally getting his comeuppance in the form of a swift spear from The Big Dog.
The episode-long story in a nutshell: he says his Survivor Series loss doesn't matter because he doesn't care about Corbin, and then he tells The Shield that he's responsible for their reunion and that they should be thanking him. When they rebuke him and make fun of him for losing to Corbin, he gets heated and uses his Intercontinental Championship to brag about how he's better than anyone in The Shield. So, Roman challenges him, they have a great match, but the heel gets his comeuppance after getting himself in over his head. That's A+ storytelling.
Those are patient, logical, inspired stories that give the talent every opportunity to succeed, something that can't be said for the majority of this week's Raw.
- Braun's music should always hit when someone says they're not afraid of anyone in the locker room. Hell, he should show up any time someone says that out in the real world, like some sort of Beetlejuice type thing.
- Asuka toys with Dana before kicking her head off, and it's exactly the match it should be.
- Every single member of The Shield is so much more comfortable on the mic when they have each other to bounce off of. They're great in the MizTV segment.
- I think the Cruiserweights did something on this show, but I've blocked it out. It's a coping mechanism.
- And that's it for Quick Hits? Seriously, this is a boring show that boasts maybe three memorable moments.
Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor; Asuka defeated Dana Brooke; Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus; Braun Strowman defeated Jason Jordan via DQ; Mustafa Ali, Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, and Akira Tozawa defeated Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, Arya Daivari, and Noam Dar; Roman Reigns defeated The Miz (c) (Intercontinental Championship match).