Monday Night Raw Review: Intercontinental Championship Open Challenge

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Did you know that Roman Reigns is basically John Cena? Did ya? Because in case you had any doubts, “the big dawg” will now be defending the Intercontinental Championship in a weekly open challenge. Oh good. Personally, I’m just looking forward to the day that Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins answer it, just to screw things up. In any event, welcome back to #MondayNightRyan. Enjoy the show. Or don’t, read this review instead.

Monday Night Raw Review: Intercontinental Championship Open Challenge

The show opened with a video package about Kane and Braun Strowman. It is 2017. I was just rewatching some Raws from 2003, and Kane was legitimately terrifying then. Not so much now, 14 years later. Let’s get the show going.

Jason Momoman Reigns

The new Intercontinental Champion opened the show, and in case you were wondering, no, he still doesn’t know how to hold a championship belt. He grabs it by the smallest part of the strap and the entire title is obscured by his body. Reigns does have a title, he just doesn’t want you to know it’s not the ugly red one.

His promo actually wasn’t bad. He recapped the last month or so of his career regarding the Shield and winning the Intercontinental Championship, and he got a “You Deserve It” chant from the crowd, which he thanked them for.

Missing Miz

Apparently the Shield Triple-Powerbombed Miz through the announce table after Raw last week, so we got to see that on the big screen. Reigns explained that because of that powerbomb, the Miz would be off TV for a long time. I guess that’s the excuse for why he’ll be missing while he films The Marine 39 and welcomes BabyMiz into the world.

Reigns announced that unlike Miz, he’d be a fighting champion, but if anyone wants a shot at the title, all they have to do is come get it… Basically, if you want some… come… get… some. Cause he’s like Cena, get it?

Anyway, despite what Reigns said, Miz’ music hit, but instead of the former WWE Champion, we got Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. BoDaxel, which is what they’re called now, don’t @ me (or do, @RyanSmithNFL on the twitter), said they said they couldn’t fight him tonight, but they know someone who could. And out came Elias. Oh no. Poor Elias. Anyway, the lovechild of Seth Rollins and Damien Sandow will challenge for the IC title later on in the show.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro

Seth Rollins is my favorite wrestler. I know this, you know this, we all know this. I have 900 Bullet Club shirts, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Tyler Black. So I was excited when his, not the Shield, but his music hit. However, I was absolutely furious when the titantron switched from static to flames and NOBODY SAID BURN IT DOWN. THIS IS THE BIGGEST OUTRAGE IN THE HISTORY OF WWE.

So just for everyone keeping track at home…

  1. No Burn It Down on 11/27/17
  2. Katie Vick
  3. Triple H beats CM Punk at the peak of his popularity post Pipe Bomb
  4. Triple H beats Sting for no reason at WrestleMania
  5. Montreal Screwjob
  6. Triple H was one of the last men standing at Survivor Series this year

Anyway. SURPRISE! Seth Rollins is wrestling Cesaro again. Usually I wouldn’t complain because both of these guys are so talented, but come on! How many times do I need to see these two wrestle before they move on. Can we get AmbRollins vs. The Good Brothers? When is *forgettable wrestler #1, sorry, no famous* going to get healthy so the Revival can come back?

The Actual Match

The pacing of this match was a lot of fun. It started off as pure, good ol’ fashion grappling with a ton of exchanging of holds. Then Cesaro started getting choppy and stomping on Seth Rollins, which fired him and the match picked up some speed. The crowd was in Seth’s corner, dispelling the rumor that he’s not over with the casual audience, and Cesaro played heel perfectly.

The announcers let us know at the beginning of the match was Sheamus was in Ireland on sabbatical, and then they repeatedly it roughly 98 times throughout the bout before mentioning that Ambrose is missing because he’s on his honeymoon. I guess that means we won’t be seeing Renee tonight.

Rollins is so strange because I think he’s a better wrestler as a babyface, but a better character as a heel. Seth’s heelwork during 2014-2015 was beautiful. He was the only watchable part of WWE programming before the mass call-ups, but he couldn’t do all the fun flippy stuff he does now.

After a very good match, Seth Rollins was able to hit the knee of no name for the win, which was very funny because Corey Graves said “pulls the trigger” and since both members of Team AmbRollins have beaten Da Bar, we’re gonna get a title match… which they should’ve gotten because they were owed a rematch anyway.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

Samoa Joe vs. Titus O’Neil

Titus O’Neil actually came out hot, getting some real heat on Samoa Joe. Joe started to come back, and then Titus took over again. And this feels like a problem that WWE has. Titus O’Neil has been nothing but a joke on WWE television for months. Joe snuck in the Coquina Clutch for the win, but why?

Shouldn’t Joe have dominated the entire time? Joe is supposed to be an upper-midcard/main event guy, and Titus is the manager of a comedy stable. This was goofy and made no sense.

After the bout, Apollo Crews attacked Joe, who locked the Coquina Clutch on him for a minute as well. Was this segment supposed to make Joe look like a killer? Was it supposed to make Titus look tough? The Coquina Clutch looks as lethal as ever, but that’s about it. What a waste of time.

Segment/Match Quality- 2/10 Woo’s

Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Mickie James vs. Paige, Mandy Rose, and Sonya DeVille.

Sasha Banks came out first, by herself, and then her teammate’s music hit… and nobody came out. Paige, Rose, and DeVille came out, the leader holding a microphone. She asked Banks where her teammates were, but they played dumb. She gestured to the titantron, which showed James grabbing her ankle and Bayley holding onto her neck.

Paige explained that the group is called Absolution, and that Banks would be having a handicap match against the three women. Absolution explained that their mission is about punishing the rest of the women’s division for taking Paige’s impact on the division for granted.

Paige offered Banks a spot in the group, threatening a beatdown if she didn’t comply. Banks decided she’d rather fight, and she did well while she could, but eventually she lost the numbers game.

This segment ran on just about five minutes too long, but it wasn’t bad. Paige is a little rusty and the new girls are still very inexperienced and some growing pains are to be expected. I wonder if the new girls have music yet or if they’re going to just keep using Paige’s tune. I guess we’ll see.

Segment/Match Quality- 4/10 Woo’s

Bray Wyatt

Hey kids, Bray Wyatt is back! I’m honestly a little relieved that he came back this way instead of in the middle of a match I care about like he usually does. Michael Cole made some comment about how Bray says “you either follow him or suffer a sad and dangerous fate” and 100%, that fate is being locked in a feud with him where you have to pretend to care about his promos.

Unfortunately, Wyatt was back with his nonsense. He was going on and on about how “they” tell us what to buy or eat or love or whatever. He said we never listen when he tries to show us the way, but honestly Bray, I’ve been listening, I just don’t know what the hell you’re trying to say.

The Eater of Pins proceeded to say that we’re all dead, and honestly, I’m typically inclined to agree with him after an hour and a half of Monday Night Raw. He repeated it over and over like that scene in the new It where Pennywise insists YOU’LL FLOAT TOO. Then Matt Hardy’s music hit, and the “broken” one came to the ring. Oh good, a match that would’ve been much better outside of WWE.

Segment/Match Quality- 3/10 Woo’s

Bray Wyatt vs. Matt Hardy

These two should team up. Honestly, they both need a boost, they’re both way better than they’re being booked, and I am still a fan of both of them, despite the fact that I dread their segments.

Anyway, both men missed on a few relatively aerial moves before Wyatt hit Sister Abigail for the win. Matt Hardy sat in the corner, and started doing the DELETE signal while shouting the word delete, prompting Michael Cole to ask if we’re seeing the beginning of a Matt Hardy Breakdown. Sigh… C’mon guys. It’s almost 2018, not 2016.

Segment/Match Quality- 3/10 Woo’s

Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari vs. Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar

This match is to determine who will meet the the winner of another cruiserweight fatal fourway to determine who will face Enzo Amore for the ugliest championship belt since that weird thing that heel Jeff Hardy had in TNA. Oh yeah, TNA reference, get at me.

Isn’t Hideo Itami supposed to join the Cruiserweight Division soon? Can we hurry that up? And can we nudge Neville back and then have Neville vs. Hideo Itami at WrestleMania because that’s what’s best for business, brother? Throw Ricochet in there if ya can.

I’m gonna be completely honest, I zoned out during this match. I tried so hard, but something about the purple lighting and the cruiserweight division sedates me. Also, there’s no science to back this up, but I think the crowd’s participation can make or break a match. I’ll have to look into that.

Anyway, Baltimore’s own Rich Swann got the win, so the winner of the next fatal fourway will probably be a heel. There ya go. Christmas is cancelled.

Segment/Match Quality- 3/10 Woo’s

Elias’ Jam Band

What is it with WWE putting their main events in the middle of the show now? I know ratings have been atrocious for the third hour recently, but hey WWE, your ratings have been dreadful regardless. The brilliant bearded brute and his trusty guitar were in the middle of the ring as the final hour started, and he was lamenting Miz’ absence.

Weirdly enough, Elias actually got all of the way through his song without being interrupted. I don’t think that’s happened in months. He did an entire song about how much he misses Miz, and then he invited BoDaxel to join him.

Elias was on the guitar and Bo busted out the harmonica… and he wasn’t terrible…. and neither was Curtis. They actually had a relatively decent jam session and the crowd popped for it. What the hell am I watching right now and why is it getting dangerously close to the Stack’s highest woo rating yet? Did someone get hurt or lost in traffic?

After the third jam, the crowd started dueling with “We Want Roman” and “No We Don’t” chants, and I honestly think Roman was just like, “Wait, wait, don’t hit my music. I wanna see what happens” and then the harmonicas came out.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

Roman Reigns vs. Elias

This match was a lot of fun. It was really fast-paced and hard-hitting, and while Elias was able to get his moves in, they didn’t try to paint Reigns as the underdog. Reigns can be a powerhouse and still overcome adversity, and I don’t think they’ve always handled that well with Roman.

There was a good chunk of the match that saw Elias really isolate Reigns by using dead-based submissions. Roman’s facial expressions sold the discomfort well, and he was still trying to escape while selling the submissions. By the time he finally drove Elias into the turnbuckle, it felt like it meant something.

There was a great spot where Reigns was beating on Elias in the corner, Bo hopped up on the apron, and Roman simply punched him in the face. Then he ran across the ring to take out Axel and this gave Elias a chance to get back in the match after Reigns had stolen some momentum.

There was another spot during the match where Elias went to the top rope and dropped an elbow, and I never realized until now that he looks a lot like Macho Man. Just in the face. Throw a bandana and those shark shades on Elias and tell me I’m wrong.

When Reigns eventually hit the Spear for the win, it actually caught me off guard. I mean, he came off the ropes, but I thought it was going to be a Superman Punch. Anyway, it was a good match, and Elias proved he belongs in the upper midcard at least. Well done, gentlemen.

After the match, Samoa Joe attacked Roman, locking him the Coquina Clutch! Maybe the open challenge won’t be a weekly thing, we might get a feud between the Samoan named Joe and the man named Samoa Joe.

Segment/Match Quality- 9/10 Woo’s

Asuka vs. Dana Brooke

Why? Why is this a thing, and in reality, not kayfabe, why is Dana Brooke doing this to herself? She doesn’t need to do this…

Wow, Asuka set up the armlock and tapped Brooke out in literally 8 seconds. Well then! That was the most enjoyable Dana Brooke match I’ve ever seen. Kudos!

Unfortunately that wasn’t all, because Absolution came out. Did you know that Absolution is a mystery? Full of change that no one sees? Clock makes a fool of history? Yeah? No? Okay, fine.

Anyway, the three women did their best Shield impression and surrounded the ring. There was an awkward standoff before the Empress of Tomorrow made her way out of the ring and walked backwards up the ramp, away from trouble. Interesting.

Segment/Match Quality- 7/10 Woo’s

Jason Jordan vs. Kane

Jason Jordan came out cutting a promo about people being mean to him on social media and how he’s a big tough strong man and he’s gonna prove himself to daddy, and honestly gang, I’m inclined to agree with Booker T at this point. If JJ isn’t turning heel soon, I’m going to go crazy.

Anyway, then Kane came out. Fun fact, Jason Jordan was nine years old when Kane debuted in WWF as Kane. And that’s just as Kane. JJ was three years old when Glenn Jacobs had his first match, and six when Isaac Yankem popped up on the scene. And yet, here they are in the main event.

The match started and immediately Jordan was thrown out and he sold the injured knee and lost by count-out. He slipped into the ring anyway, and after a few weak punches, Kane threw him back out of the ring and proceeded to beat him down. Why is this happening? Who is this supposed to entertain? I was under the impression that Braun Strowman was going to come out and wreck house, but Finn Balor came out instead!

Segment/Match Quality- 2/10 Woo’s

Kane vs. Finn Balor

This is a lot better because at least Finn Balor was 14 when Isaac Yankem made his debut. The crowd was chanting “Let’s Go Baylor”, and I’m not sure if they’re just really into college football or they don’t know who wildly popular superstar Finn Balor is.

Hey, speaking of Finn Balor, check out @mcfleeglesportsstack‘s article on the subject…. HERE!

We’ve talked before about how I love the cat and mouse dynamic in pro wrestling, right? This match was not an example of that. This match was an example of Finn doing fast, high-flying stuff, and Kane struggling to sell it because he’s literally 50 years old.

Anyway, Kane was bored of this stupidity too, and he decided to grab a steel chair and start attacking Finn Balor. He got the match thrown out, and then Kane continued the beatdown. Yeah! That’ll teach you to get over when you’re under six feet tall! That’ll show you!

He was going to keep wrecking Balor when Braun Strowman, who is over six feet tall, came out and stopped him. Kane hit Strowman with a chair, and as always, Strowman gave no F’s. Strowman, the giant wonderful monster that he is, began beating Kane down. After all, Strowman was 12 years old, and probably still bigger than I am now when Isaac Yankem made his debut in the mid-90’s.

Eventually Strowman hit that running powerbomb of his on Kane onto some steel steps, and then he slammed Kane’s throat against a steel chair against some steel steps repeatedly, flashing Blue Steel at the camera. Is Braun Strowman a face? If he’s a heel, then he’s the most lovable monster heel in the history of professional wrestling, sorry Andre.

Segment/Match Quality- 4/10 Woo’s

Woo Count- 48/130 Total Possible Woo’s (37%)

Worth Watching?

Meh? I guess so. There were some really good matches in there, and the feuds that are going strong got some development. It looks like Matt Hardy might be broken, about 9 months too late, but still, happening. Elias vs. Reigns and Rollins vs. Cesaro were quite good, and the evolution of Absolution is something to keep an eye on. Plus, who doesn’t love Braun running wild?

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