The Road to Survivor Series makes its final Raw branded stop at Key Bank Arena in Buffalo, NY tonight as the Raw crew returns to stateside. Tonight, Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg are going to be in the same building. They will go face to face prior to their match at Survivor Series. Will there be physicality? Will they just snarl at each other and walk away? Also, Smackdown’s Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon will be appearing. With the Raw vs. Smackdown matches just around the corner, are they scouting talent or are they just there to get in the head of Raw managers Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley?
Show Open, Live from Key Bank Arena, Buffalo, NY:
Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton checked in and they showed shots of the various Raw wrestlers that would be in the Survivor Series matches on Sunday, as well as Sami Zayn and Brian Kendrick. Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley were in the ring and also welcomed viewers in.
Stephanie called the men and women on the stage the best, and they will prove it Sunday. She noted that Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are in the building for the show. Foley said that Survivor Series is more than Raw vs. Smackdown and noted that it’s just as much about Kevin Owens proving he is the better champion over AJ Styles, and Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins proving who was better in the Shield and etc.
Stephanie pointed out Enzo and Cass, and Foley obliged with the Enzo dance. Steph said they can prove they are the best up and coming tag team over American Alpha. She also pointed out Kendrick and Zayn. Steph said the teams will need to work together “or Mick Foley and I will make some serious changes.”
Foley booked Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns. He wanted to start it right away but Stephanie added another match. She said Seth Rollins powerbombed Chris Jericho onto Braun Strowman and a table. She made Rollins, Jericho and Strowman vs. New Day in a six man. She dance and said New Day Rocks. Bad. Foley also added Charlotte and Sasha vs. Alicia Fox and Nia Jax. Steph then let Foley start the first match.
Steph was unbearable here. The pairings were odd, but logical given how Survivor Series is going to shake out, so I give that a pass. It does shake up the Raw formula, so that’s a good thing. And hey, as a side note, because I’m traveling for work later this week I’ll be talking about Raw in more depth on tomorrow’s Around the Ring. Drew will have the Thursday show this week.
Cole hyped Goldberg and Lesnar going face to face later.
Match #1 – Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus and Cesaro;
Winner: Reigns and Owens
The Summary: Reigns was booed, as normal, but his teammate Owens got a fair amount of cheers. Cole pointed out something on Twitter about how every team has conflict and his goal is to win it all.
Sheamus and Cesaro controlled Reigns in the early going, then started bickering. Cesaro set for an uppercut but Sheamus blind-tagged in. Owens and Reigns jawed on the floor, only to have Cesaro hit a big dive on both of them.
Reigns hit the Drive By on Sheamus then hit ten clotheslines in the corner and a Superman punch. Cesaro broke up the pin. Owens tagged in before he could hit the spear, which led to bickering. Sheamus hit Owens with the Brogue Kick but Reigns speared him, and Reigns put Owens on Sheamus for the cover and win.
They did a good job of getting Reigns and Owens bickering while holding their titles. It looks like, and according to advertising, we’ll see those two go at it at the Roadblock event in December. The match dragged a bit at times, but it was a fine enough opener. We got more wrestling in the first hour this week than the first two last week – a plus.
Backstage, Chris Jericho told Rollins and Strowman that he will captain the team and ensure a win. Jericho said they need to work together to win like Stephanie said. He gave them boxes that had scarves in them. “It’s the scarf of Jericho. Try it on, man.” Rollins said he would have raided Lady Gaga’s closet if he wanted to dress like Jericho.
Jericho told Braun to open his, and Strowman said he wanted the scarf Jericho was wearing. Jericho said it cost $750, but eventually let him have it. Jericho pulled the cheap anchor pattern one out of the box, and Strowman tore the expensive one. “I don’t like scarves, and I don’t like you.”
Some fine enough comedy here, nothing all that exciting though. Not sure what they want us to feel about Strowman at the moment.
They hyped Goldberg and Lesnar coming up later. Back from break, the commentary team pimped WWE Network as well as NXT Takeover: Toronto and Survivor Series.
Match #2 – Sami Zayn vs. Bo Dallas:
Winner: Sami Zayn
The Summary: They showed how this match got set up on the pre-show. Zayn won with the Helluva Kick. Saxton interviewed Zayn afterward about facing either Dolph Ziggler or The Miz. Zayn said whether he has to beat the guy who dresses like he’s in a Poison tribute band or a guy who belongs in community theater, he will bring the IC title back to Raw.
A simple showcase for Zayn and an effective enough promo afterward to show he doesn’t care who he faces for the title.
Backstage, the cruiserweights were talking amongst themselves when Brian Kendrick entered. He said he would retain his title on Sunday. TJ Perkins chimed in about being owed a rematch, and Rich Swann spoke up about having beaten Kendrick multiple times. Noam Dar said they don’t believe a word he said. Sin Cara stepped up and said that Kendrick only wanted to save himself.
That was terrible. The storytelling so far out of whack it’s not even funny here. These guys just hang around and talk even though there’s supposed to be a heel/face dynamic? This is as bad as TNA’s X Division. Move these guys over to Smackdown where the booking might get in line and work.
New Day came out with a cart. They did this gimmick about a New Day Survival Kit, which had their merch in it. They pitched some into the crowd. that drew a New Day Socks chant when they mentioned the socks in the package. Their match against Jericho, Rollins, and Strowman was next.
They hyped the WWE Debate that will take place on WWE Network after Raw.
Match #3 – New Day vs. Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, and Chris Jericho;
Winner: Rollins, Strowman, and Jericho
The Summary: Rollins laughed as Jericho got toyed with by New Day early on. Jericho chopped Rollins for the tag in. Cole noted Rollins saying opportunities were promised him and wondered what they were to keep him cool in the moment. A bit later, Jericho chopped Strowman into the match the same way. He slammed Kofi face first to the mat going to commercial.
Late, Big E sent Strowman to the floor with a clothesline, then Kofi jumped off of E’s back onto Strowman. Strowman is a strongman, so he caught Kofi and slammed him, then took out Big E. Rollins caught Woods with a high knee then set for the Pedigree near the corner but Jericho tagged in. Jericho tried for the Walls, but Woods caught him with a cradle. Jericho came back with a kick then tagged to Strowman, who finished it off with a running power slam.
After, Jericho told Rollins he’s the captain, only to get hit with the Pedigree. Strowman and Rollins left the ring. The commentary team hyped Goldberg and Lesnar for later as well as all four authority figures appearing.
The tag-in from Jericho at the end was obvious, but all in all the match was good. It kept me interested throughout and the action especially down the stretch was fine.
Steph and Mick were shown backstage and were happy about how the teams were performing. Enter Paul Heyman, clapping, and said he loved Steph’s competitive spirit. She jabbed at Heyman’s weight.
Heyman said the shot was okay, and moved on to Lesnar vs. Goldberg. He said Brock would represent Raw, and the rumor going around the locker room is the Smackdown team is looking “pretty, pretty, pretty good.” Foley called for additional security to ensure the Lesnar-Goldberg meeting would actually happen.
Charlotte preached at Sasha Banks backstage about being the captain of the team and not being able to get along. Sasha said she’s not the only person who doesn’t like her. Charlotte said that Sasha has been oozing with jealousy since she won at Hell in a Cell. Sasha said she still has a rematch coming (oh God, no). She said it’s about proving that they are better than Smackdown, but the title will come back to her on Monday.
This, eh, was okay, but the tension should be so strong between Charlotte and Sasha that they can’t even co-exist in the same room without getting physical. And they could easily tell that story by keeping the two of them separated til Sunday.
Saxton hyped the women’s tag for later, then we got Brian Kendrick coming to the ring for his match after the break. Back live, Cole noted the stipulation of the Cruiserweights moving to Smackdown if Kalisto won the Cruiserweight Championship on Sunday.
Match #4 – Brian Kendrick vs. Sin Cara
Winner: Brian Kendrick
The Summary: Kendrick jumped Sin Cara before the bell. The official checked before starting the match. Sin Cara got in some offense but Kendrick dodged a charge and shoved him to the floor. Kendrick continued to control after the break, and there were some audible “boring” chants. Kendrick finished him off with the Captain’s Hook to win.
They gave the cruiserweights 12 minutes in this match, and it really didn’t matter. There’s no characters here but Kendrick. Sin Cara is a dead character – and it’s no slight to the guy under the mask (Hunico), as he’s talented. The gimmick just went nowhere, and it’s not working anymore.
They hyped Enzo and Cass and Gallows and Anderson vs. Shining Stars and Golden Truth for later.
Enzo and Cass went back and forth with Gallows and Anderson backstage. Cass referenced Dr. Evil and Mini Me and compared Gallows and Anderson to them. Cass recalled the Club duo saying they would stab anyone in the back at Survivor Series and said they’d never trust them.
This would have been worse had their opponents been in the picture. I swear creative has gassed themselves out on the debate that will be on the Network after this, and had nothing good to give the talent that appears weekly on the weekly episodic television program.
The commentary team hyped WWE 2k17 and said there’s another way to get the Goldberg character, even if you didn’t pre-order.
Mick Foley barked orders at security backstage, and Cole hyped Lesnar and Goldberg being in the ring next.
Security flanked the ring and Lesnar’s music played. He and Paul Heyman headed to the ring. Brock got his feet tangled up on the leap to the apron. Oopsie. Some Goldberg chants led into his music, and he walked through the backstage area without security. Both men in the ring now, the Goldberg chants grew louder (and it seemed the volume went up…).
Heyman started his introduction but Goldberg cut him off and said this had nothing to do with Heyman. “It’s about Brock and me.” More Goldberg chants. Heyman tried again but Goldberg cut him off and told him to get the rent-a-cops out of the ring so that the “only two real men in the ring can get it on.”
Heyman said Goldberg threw him off, so he would try again. Heyman tried a third time, Goldberg shut him up a third time. Heyman said the “great men in uniform” were not rent-a-cops and were there for Goldberg’s protection. More chants. Heyman finally got his introduction out and said the only thing on Goldberg’s mind should be Lesnar, not the security there to save his ass.
Heyman said security won’t be there Sunday. Goldberg acknowledged the things Heyman said about his family. Goldberg said the next time Heyman mentions his family, he will rip his head off and feed it to Lesnar. That drew a cheer and a Goldberg chant.
Heyman apologized for raising his voice and said it was unprofessional. He said the hype for Survivor Series is that fantasy warfare got real. He called Goldberg fantasy but Lesnar is very very real. Heyman said he had an offer for Goldberg, and while he knew people never took them, he wanted Goldberg to consider it.
Heyman told the fans to shut up their Goldberg chant and that they were pissing off his beast. Heyman said he could get Goldberg’s son a gift card for the Network so he could see Lesnar do his thing. Goldberg tore off the shirt. Heyman called his beast a violent beast, and Goldberg is getting too agitated.
Heyman said Goldberg would be beaten, victimized, and conquered by Lesnar. Brock shoved security aside, and Heyman said Goldberg’s son will call him daddy. Goldberg beat up security while Heyman fled to ringside. Lesnar got on the apron, and after the rest of security was gone, Lesnar ripped his shirt off too.
Lesnar teased getting in, but instead dropped to the floor which drew boos. More Goldberg chants. Goldberg wiped his brow then tossed the shirt at Heyman and Lesnar. Goldberg’s music played and Cole said there’s no backing down on Sunday at Survivor Series. Graves asked if Lesnar saw something in Goldberg’s eyes that has him doubting himself.
This was good. Save the physicality for Sunday, make people pay to see it. Heyman was a good agitator to both the fans and Goldberg. Goldberg looks to be in great shape, and when Heyman brought up the family one too many times he lost it and went after the independent security wrestler guards. Toronto might not like this match, but this was a good segment.
The commentary team hyped Survivor Series Summit coming up between the authority figures, and the women’s tag match.
Match #5 – Charlotte (w/Dana Brooke) and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Alicia Fox;
Winner: Charlotte and Sasha Banks
The Summary: Bayley was on commentary and noted she was excited to be on Survivor Series for the first time. Sasha ran into a brick wall called Jax and rolled out to the floor. Back from break, Sasha and Charlotte ended up trading forearm shots and knocking each other down. Somehow, Sasha locked Alicia in the Bank Statement for the win.
After, Charlotte and Sasha continued to bicker. Bayley hugged Sasha but Charlotte left her hanging.
Cole played it as the Raw women not being able to win if Charlotte and Sasha allowed their personal issues to get in the way. News flash, Cole. I don’t think anyone gives a damn who wins these matches. There’s no reason to cheer for one brand over the other, really, and since WWE wants fans to watch both programs, there’s no realistic way to make fans feel like that. This is the awful part of these matches, that should otherwise be good.
The commentary team highlighted NXT Takeover: Toronto and the main event of that show, then hyped Survivor Series and WWE Network. They then hyped the upcoming Survivor Series Summit.
Backstage, Foley told Team Raw that they didn’t have to be friends to win matches. Jericho said he and Owens are best friends and deserve credit. Foley thanked them and the rest of the team. He said if they did the same thing Sunday, they would make him a happy GM by dominating Smackdown. He invited them to stick around for the fireworks.
Emmalina is still premiering soon. Yes, third hour fatigue is setting in.
Enzo and Cass came out for the tag match and did their normal entrance bit. Enzo said that their opponents are their partners, and their partners are their opponents. He said they are with and against their Survivor Series partners. Anderson and Gallows cut off the SAWFT thing with their entrance, then the other team made their way out.
Match #6 – Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Golden Truth and Shining Stars;
Winner: Enzo, Cass, Gallows and Anderson
The Summary: There was an early break after the entrances. Late in this one, Anderson and Gallows teased letting Enzo and Cass hit their finish, but Gallows took the pin over one of the Stars instead.
Third hour fatigue in full effect here. There’s only so many times I want to hear Cole tell me that he hopes the teammates get along better on Sunday. There’s only so much they can do to hype these matches that don’t feel all that important.
The Survivor Series Summit is up next, and we got a 205 Live teaser for that show, which starts in two weeks after Smackdown.
Steph and Mick Foley were in the ring for the Summit, and Steph said they had unfinished business. Shane McMahon’s music hit to cut her off, then Daniel Bryan’s. The two headed to the ring together.
Steph and Shane worked in a plug for the 900th Smackdown (no live coverage, since we’ll be recording Ring Rap Audio at that time due to schedule conflicts). Steph wanted to talk about Survivor Series and how they will prove they are the dominant brand. Shane said the deck was stacked against them but they drafted better and have a better show. That drew a cheer, which Steph chided with a “you guys are at Raw” line to the crowd. They chanted Yes! back at her.
Steph said Shane was a hypocrite and everything is about him. She said people like him because he panders to them and jumps off tall things. Bryan pointed out that the same description is true of Foley and we all love him for it.
Bryan said he put Shane on Team Smackdown because he’s a leader who brings people together “unlike some people I know.” Bryan said Shane can get wild and crazy like everyone else. Foley got fired up and talked about believing in his talent, and noted Kendrick is putting up the entire cruiserweight division.
Steph said Shane competing makes it all about ego. Shane called it leadership by example. Steph said that she and Mick are managing as executives. Steph introduced Shane to his opponents and Team Raw came out to the ring. Steph said they would show Shane how lazy and complacent they are. Steph and Foley left.
Bryan got the mic again and asked if they honestly thought they came alone. Team Smackdown came through the crowd, with AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, James Ellsworth, Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton hitting the ring. The fans chanted holy shit as if they hadn’t seen this within the past few months. Owens welcomed Styles to the Kevin Owens Show and said Styles’ title means nothing on this show. Styles emphasized that his title is a world title, and Owens’ means he’s nothing more than a paper champion. His title says he’s the champ that runs the camp.
Owens says it’s great that Styles stole someone else’s catchphrase (Cena reference). Owens says his title means more because he’s holding it. Styles says the only thing Owens has proven is that he’s stuck on Chris Jericho’s sugar tit. Styles noted that he and Jericho once got along, but past performance dictates future behaviors and Owens shouldn’t be surprised if he gets stabbed in the back or his name on the list.
Owens stood up for Jericho, who hugged him. Jericho called Styles a stupid idiot and said Raw is the big leagues, and when you insult Jericho and Owens you make the list. Jericho said he doesn’t like AJ’s soccer mom hair and put it on the list. He pointed at Ellsworth and asked what the hell is that? An Ellsworth chant got traction while Jericho said there was a lost child at ringside.
Jericho called Ellsworth a weird looking guy and put him on the list. Ellsworth sold distress on this. Bray got the mic and addressed Braun. He said he gave Strowman the keys to the kingdom “and this is how you repay me?” Bray accused Braun of abandoning him and said “we destroy the monster I created.” Braun stepped up, but so did Orton.
Rollins called Shane a nice guy, but not a tough guy. He said Shane has no idea what he and Reigns are capable of when they’re on the same page. Ambrose said “you know what?” and paced, then threw a shot at Rollins. Brawl time!
Strowman took out Shane with a splash, and Cole said he was the ace in the hole. Styles and Ambrose worked on Strowman, then Shane sent him to the floor with a clothesline. Laughable spot. Ambrose followed with a dive on Rollins. Jericho knocked Styles off the apron with a drop kick but turned into the RKO from Orton. Reigns hit a Superman punch on Orton, then Wyatt set up for Sister Abigail. Reigns avoided and hit another Superman punch. That wasn’t well received.
Styles cut Reigns off and set up for a finish but Rollins hit the Pedigree instead. Rollins and Reigns teamed up to powerbomb Styles out of the ring onto the other Smackdown team members while Steph chanted “Raw” at ringside. Cole said Styles was powerbombed back to Smackdown. Cole asked if it would stay this way on Sunday, and gave Shane and company credit for showing up. He hyped the debate on WWE Network to close it out.
Smackdown looked like the babyface team here on Raw’s own show. I’m still not totally hyped to see this matchup given that it’s still so fresh with the brand split and all, but it should entertain. Raw won the battle here, so it gives me the feeling that Smackdown either gets the win or takes a protected loss from some sort of infighting or something.
This played up some intriguing story that’s left between these guys who haven’t been in the same ring in just a few months. So, there’s that. I thought Shane taking out Strowman on his own was laughable at best, and unrealistic at worst. Then again, there’s rumors flying that he will take on Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, so…
Overall, a go-home show that had good elements, and some elements that dragged. I’ll have more to say on this in a special Tuesday appearance on Around the Ring. Drew and I will be doing our preview and predictions for Survivor Series this week on Ring Rap Audio as well, so get your thoughts on that show in to us on Twitter @RingRap or @RingRapAudio so we can discuss them on the show. Thanks for following along.