Last week we had a generally average show bookended by a nearly-great match between The Shield/AJ Styles & The BarMiz-Vah and the most interesting segment to appear on RAW not involving Braun Strowman since Kevin Owens left in the form of Shane McMahons placing RAW #UnderSiege. This week, we had Steph returning, Kane going over Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Finn Balor. I’m Jozef and I fully blame all of you for me having to be here.

Kurt and Steph open the show

We opened this week on Kurt apologising to the entire roster for letting #UnderSiege happen last week, I don’t know why he was apologising to Asuka, Alexa Bliss or Kane, they weren’t even there. Angle would get annoyed with The Miz later on for him not being there but no explanation for those three. His apology was interrupted by Stephanie McMahon, making her first TV appearance since scolding Kevin Owens for headbutting her Dad. Steph runs down how her brother is a self-serving bully who always needs to put his sister down. This trait runs in the family as she decides to diminish Angle’s role by blaming him for all the issues on RAW when she HASN’T ACTUALLY BEEN THERE, WHERE WERE YOU STEPH? She then tells Kurt that with his three I’s he should add a fourth, ‘Incompetence’. She then tells Kurt he is the Captain for Team RAW at Survivor Series and basically threatens to fire him if they lose. It wouldn’t be a Stephanie McMahon segment if it didn’t involve her continuing to never change and never get any comeuppance. The crowd seemed checked out of this one as they gave that awful universal indicator of ‘get on with it’, the ‘What?’ chant.

Samoa Joe returns

Samoa Joe returns from injury and looks ready to clart a waste man, he arrived to cheers as it’s clear the audience has missed him but he tells them, he hasn’t missed them because no one bothered to check on him while he was gone and now he’s back for destruction. His interruption of Nia Jax leaving her match is interrupted by Apollo Crews’ music as he apparently requested the match and was granted the chance to be Joe’s first opponent/victim on his return. Apollo and Joe have worked together a lot before and even with the limited time frame, both men managed to make the other look great but this was Joe’s show as he countered a Powerbomb into a uranage before locking in the Coquina Clutch at 3:40. Afterwards, Titus got in the ring so Joe choked him out as well because this is the Joe we want. From one Not-Samoan Joe to you, I’ve missed this.

Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (w/Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) def. Matt Hardy (13:01)

The Miz’s mystery opponent is revealed to be Matt Hardy. Now if any of you predicted that this match would end with The Miztourage providing a distraction, allowing The Miz to hit the Skull-Crushing Finale for the pin, you’d actually for once be wrong. Yes, that’s right, Matt Hardy is apparently enough of a threat to be granted a random IC Title match but not enough of one that he doesn’t get a clean finish. Considering Hardy’s lost a few steps in the ring, this was still a surprisingly clean, fun little match with the story mostly being Miz underestimating Hardy and the crowd’s obvious affection for him sold the near falls better than the commentary team. I like how with his entourage, Miz is working more like an old-school heel, taking advantage of the very limits of the rules instead of simply breaking them, though I think unless they actually intend to do a match, we can cut out the Bryan apeing, Hardy showed more fire than expected including hitting a moonsault, something I didn’t know his knees could still do. Ultimately the match would end with Hardy getting stunned on the ropes and Miz hitting the Skull Crushing Finale to retain his title. Better than expected but not exactly great.

Finn Balor def. Cesaro (w/ Sheamus) (11:26)

In terms of pure, in-ring content, this was miles ahead the best thing on the show. Balor and Cesaro are probably two of, if not the two best technical performers on RAW currently and it showed as they put on a crisp, hard-hitting match that was nothing particularly flashy but was everything a TV encounter needed to be. Even if it’s another loss for Cesaro, it’s another reminder that he excels at raising his opponent’s game, helping rehab Balor after whatever was going on with Kane last week. After a hard-fought encounter including some nice near-falls for Cesaro off the Very European Uppercut and a Deadlift Superplex, Balor would hit a Slingblade and a Shotgun Dropkick on Cesaro, a PK on Sheamus from the apron and head up top, hitting the Coup de Grace for the pin. This would have been great had it not been for Kane coming out and hitting an entrance ramp Tombstone on Balor that clearly left Balor’s head about half a foot off the ground, I know there’s a height difference but this isn’t your first encounter with a smaller man, Kane. More on my dislike of Kane later.

RAW Women’s Title Match: Alexa Bliss def. Mickie James (11:25)

Honestly, this probably belongs in the ‘bits you could’ve skipped’ section but as it’s a title match and it went over ten minutes, I guess I have to talk about it. First the good, the opening stretch was fiery with both women working fast and aggressive. Then the endless headlocks started. This was your standard TV Title match with basically no indication that, even after the thunderous Mickie-DT that James hit last week, Mickie had any chance of winning. It’s always good to see that with Brock being part-time, they’re giving other divisions a chance to step up and take the main event (with the Cruiserweight division really shining. Also Enzo & Daivari) but this was not in any way on par with the hellacious battles that Banks and Charlotte had in this position this time last year. The finish was out of nowhere as Bliss pinned Mickie off a forearm, it’s nice to have a match with a surprise finish every now and again but this fell completely flat.

The Bits You Could’ve Probably Skipped

  • Kurt in the carpark, Steph drives off, The Miz arrives late, Kurt gets pissed, makes him have an IC title match tonight.
  • Bayley is set for action against Alicia Fox till Fox comes out to tell Bayley as Captain she doesn’t have time to wrestle so she sends out a replacement in the form of…
  • Nia Jax def. Bayley (7:23) – It’s sad to see how Bayley has gone from breaking Charlotte’s streak to pin fodder but it can’t be denied, few people make Jax looks as good as she does. Jax is made Fox’s number 1 pick for her Survivor Series team.
  • Alexa Bliss suggests improving RAW by getting rid of some of the women’s division. Kurt Angle, recognising in light of Emma and Summer Rae losing their jobs, this was poor timing and makes the Main Event a TLC rematch as Mickie James gets another shot at Alexa Bliss’ title.
  • Asuka def. Stacey Cullen (1:40) – Stacey was not ready for Asuka. She managed to get in one elbow but otherwise, this was all Asuka. There continues to not be someone ready for Asuka.
  • Daniel Bryan turns up to apologise for Shane’s actions, says he didn’t know Shane’s plan and that he’s there without Shane’s knowledge. Kurt Angle tells him to bring his best to Survivor Series and Kurt will bring his gold medals. After a quick recap of Heyman’s words about Jinder Mahal, Kane turns off the lights in Angle’s office and ‘chokeslams’ Bryan through a table in the darkness.
  • Kane def. Seth Rollins (5:44) – Kane gets a second clean victory over a still in their prime superstar. After the match, Dean comes out and hits Kane with Dirty Deeds, The Bar beat down Dean till Kane comes back to hit a Chokeslam on Dean and a Tombstone on Seth Rollins. I hope that Braun beats Kane soon and he can go back to not being elected Mayor of places. Seth and Dean had their belts this week.
  • Daniel Bryan is stretchered out of the arena. I’m too done with Kane to make a joke.
  • The Miz finds a bunch of black bin bags in his locker room, he deduces that Braun isn’t dead. His miz-tourage back him up, Kane and The Bar tell him, he’s on his own. But he’s not, he’s got the miz-tourage. I still bo-lieve. They try to bail but Kurt Angle isn’t happy and tells Miz he has to stay until the end of the night or else. Regardless, Miz still tries to work out a way to escape.
  • Trick-or-Street Fight: Slater & Rhyno def. The Good Brothers (4:50) – Slater and Rhyno are dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus, The Good Brothers facilitate Chadd 2 Badd and Tex Ferguson making their WWE debuts. This was worth it to hear Corey Graves say ‘Oh no, not Pumpkin Guts!’. Remember when both of these teams were champions?
  • Elias sings a mean song about hitting Jason Jordan with a guitar, Jason Jordan comes out and attacks Elias and stomps on his guitar. If he cares so much about his guitar, why would he break it on Jordan?
  • Kalisto def. Drew Gulak (0:58) – after last week giving the best promo of Enzo’s career for him, this week Gulak delivers the best promo of Big Cass’ career. Then he loses to Kalisto in just over a minute. So it goes. Enzo ‘attacks’ after the ‘match’.

BRAUN Returns

The Miz/tourage are in a limousine together, thinking they’ve escaped till the limo is stuck in the large empty car park, unable to drive around… a rubbish truck? BRAUN rises out of the truck like the Terminator before chasing The Miz/tourage through the building. He throws the three men around like ragdolls, he tries to powerslam The Miz through the announce table but Dallas and Axel come to his aide, a big mistake as it results in Strowman throwing them all around, in the ring and Strowman hits multiple Running Powerslams on Curtis Axel before hitting another through the announce table as Miz and Dallas squirrel away. This was exactly the ending RAW needed after a mostly lackluster show, it also (not so) subtly added a horror movie vibe to proceedings, what with it being Halloween and all. It’s just a shame that outside of The Miz’s segments, Joe’s return and the Balor-Cesaro match (if you ignore the post-match shenanigans), it was all wheel spinning and Kane bullshit.