Raw General Manager Kurt Angle Announced Matches for Survivor Series
Was it just me or did Angle announcing the Raw vs. SmackDown Live matches for Survivor Series come off as extremely underwhelming? Of course, none of the four matches he confirmed for the card are incredibly exciting except for Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. The Usos (no Shield reunion, damn), but this should have had more fanfare than it did because the crowd hardly reacted to any of it. Meanwhile, it made sense for The Miz, Sheamus and Cesaro to have beef with Angle following TLC and for Angle to immediately put them in a six-man tag team match to kick off the show against Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles. Speaking of Styles...
Raw Tag Team Champions Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins and AJ Styles def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz, Sheamus and Cesaro
Styles wrestling on a Raw-exclusive event as a "favor" to Raw was almost excusable, but this was completely unnecessary. I love Styles as much as the next guy, but it's comical when Michael Cole is spouting on commentary, "Survivor Series is the one night of the year you can see Raw and SmackDown stars face off!" as Styles is beating up on a Raw guy in this match. It's insulting to our intelligence as fans, and while I realize that this isn't the first time that's happened, it was extra evident here. I understand Styles was filling in for Roman Reigns, but they couldn't have just used someone else from the Raw roster in this spot instead? On the bright side, this was an excellent match that received a ton of time and kicked off the night on a hot note.
Kane def. Finn Balor
I could have done without Kane laying out Ambrose, Rollins and Styles all on his own, but at least his promo attempted to explain why he took out Braun Strowman at TLC aside from the tension they teased during the match. I was hoping he'd explain why he returned in the first place and how he moved to Raw from SmackDown without reason, but no such luck. The subsequent match was a total domination of Balor, which I hoped would end with a non-finish. Nope! Kane beat Balor clean, rendering Balor's huge win over AJ Styles at TLC irrelevant. Yes, WWE is trying to build Kane back up as a threat to Strowman, but there are ways of doing that without having him squashing a promising up-and-coming talent that will likely challenge for the Universal Championship in the near future. I'm convinced Vince McMahon has officially lost his marbles.
Asuka def. Emma
As I noted in my TLC review, Asuka's debut match against Emma was fine, but it failed to make Asuka feel special because Emma was on offense for a majority of it. This was WWE's chance to right that wrong by having Asuka squash Emma in a matter of minutes, but it was another competitive contest where Asuka looked like just another woman on the roster and not the undefeated, unstoppable entity she was in NXT. It didn't help that this crowd didn't give her the same reaction the Minneapolis crowd did at TLC. Asuka's main roster run isn't off to the strongest start, I'd say.
Mickie James Attacked Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss
You had to know this rivalry wasn't over when James cut that valiant babyface promo after her loss to Bliss on Sunday night. And I'm okay with that because what else are they going to do with Bliss between now and Survivor Series? In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if James won the title between now and then because we have three heel vs. heel matches at Survivor Series as it is (WWE did a similar deal last year with the Intercontinental Championship). If so, why did James lose decisively as she did at the pay-per-view?
Jason Jordan def. Elias by Disqualification
WWE is always insistent on doing pay-per-view rematches the next night on Raw, but this was forgettable because it lasted three measly minutes. It isn't often we see Elias break his guitar over someone's head, so it was a sweet visual when he did it to Jordan. Hey, you can't say Jordan didn't deserve it after he interrupted Elias not once, not twice but three times at TLC. Needless to say, this storyline will continue.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar Accepted WWE Champion Jinder Mahal's Survivor Series Challenge
Paul Heyman running down Mahal as a joke of a WWE Champion was absolutely hysterical because I'm sure that's how many (myself included) feel about him in that top spot. That said, it makes me fearful that Mahal is winning that match. The company can't be that stupid, can they? Wait, I forgot Kane beat Balor earlier this evening, so they in fact can be that stupid. The crowd being as quiet as they were for Heyman's promo speaks volumes as to how little excitement they have for seeing Lesnar vs. Mahal next month.
Alicia Fox def. Bayley and Sasha Banks in a Triple Threat Match to Become the Captain of Team Raw at Survivor Series
At first, Fox scoring the victory bothered me because she means so little compared to Bayley and Banks, but then I realized this was merely a match to determine the team captain for Survivor Series and that it basically didn't matter who won. I just don't want to have to endure weeks of awful and annoying antics from Fox leading into Survivor Series. Worse yet, this match absolutely sucked. Anything involving Fox usually does, but I expected better from Bayley and Banks. This was way too disjointed and sloppy.
Kalisto, Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, Mustafa Ali and Gran Metalik def. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore, The Brian Kendrick, Gentleman Jack Gallagher, Noam Dar and Tony Nese
This was the Cruiserweight match I thought we would see at Survivor Series (with traditional elimination rules), but apparently not. I guess they still could, but it would be essentially the same as this with the crowd sitting on their hands. The final few minutes were fun, but that was about it. The key here was Kalisto pinning Enzo to build momentum and give viewers the idea he has a chance of winning back the WWE Cruiserweight Championship when he gets his title rematch on Tuesday night's 205 Live show.
SmackDown Live Invaded Raw
I've seen plenty of polarizing opinions on this segment online with some loving it and others hating it, and unfortunately, I fell in the latter camp. I enjoy brand warfare when it's done right, but WWE has done nothing to establish the two shows as rivals in recent months. Hell, Styles just wrestled at TLC and on Raw! Sure, it can be said that Styles being on Raw was what led to the SmackDown crew getting into the building, but it's so weird seeing SmackDown guys come together to attack Raw before returning to being rivals on their own show. That always confused me. I'm glad guys like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were kept out of this because that would been insanely stupid considering their history with Shane McMahon. This whole angle feels forced because WWE obviously didn't make much of an effort to make this Brand Split matter before this week.
I'm sorry, but this was an atrocious edition of Raw. I don't think a single show (other than maybe Fastlane and Battleground) that WWE has produced this year has frustrated me more than this episode. From Balor's asinine loss to Kane to Styles showing up on Raw for no reason to the strange SmackDown invasion to the two less-than-stellar women's matches, there was very little on this Raw that I liked. The company will make questionable booking decisions from time to time, but when they all happen at once, it's a disaster. Survivor Series on paper looks abysmal, so here's hoping they get their shit together in the weeks ahead.