Kurt Angle is heading back to battle — and this time, it's under duress.
With the arena under heightened security, The Olympic Hero attempted to open Raw with a mea culpa to his roster following last week's raid by the SmackDown crew, but Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon resurfaced for the first time on Raw since WrestleMania to take her General Manager to task for failing to circle the wagons properly.
Stephanie claimed Shane only brought SmackDown behind enemy lines to “pick on her” and save his reputation following his failure at WWE Hell in a Cell, and she made sure Angle would shoulder the responsibility of payback by naming him team captain for the Raw squad in the Men's Survivor Series Match. Stephanie demanded nothing less than “total annihilation” from Angle and all but declared that The Olympic Hero's job security hinged on the outcome of the contest.
Last week, Alicia Fox hit Bayley with her own move en route to defeating The Huggable One and Sasha Banks to become the Women's team captain for Raw at Survivor Series. This week, instead of competing in her initially scheduled contest with Bayley, Miss Fox decided instead to scout talent, swapping herself out for a returning Nia Jax under the pretense of focusing on her duties as captain.
Jax's return was a world of trouble for Bayley, especially after an early onslaught that seemed to spell an early end for the former Raw Women's Champion. Tripping up Nia on the ropes allowed Bayley a good bit of breathing room, but Nia powered out of a guillotine to bulldoze her opponent with a low shoulder block and a running leg drop to the throat. Nia's emphatic victory impressed Fox, who immediately gave Jax a place on her squad at WWE's fall classic.
On a night full of comebacks, it's safe to say Samoa Joe was a little excited for his own Raw return: Not only did he not even wait for Nia Jax to exit after the previous match before his music hit, but both his savage condemnation of the WWE Universe and the results of The Samoan Submission Machine's first match back proved he hadn't lost a step despite a two-month layoff.
The brave soul to challenge the two-time NXT Champion was Apollo Crews, who was looking for some redemption after being the first Superstar felled in the SmackDown LIVE siege last week. Crews took advantage of Joe's rust with a display of athleticism that briefly put the big man on his heels, but a failed attempt at the Spinning Sit-out Powerbomb allowed Joe to power his way to a match-ending Coquina Clutch on Crews for the tapout victory. And then, he locked in another one on Titus O’Neil when the former WWE Tag Team Champion attempted to step to Joe after the bell.
Conspicuous by his absence from Raw's opening gathering (and last week's siege, for what it's worth) was The Miz, who chose to arrive “fashionably late” and was placed into an Intercontinental Title defense by Kurt Angle for his troubles. The opponent? Matt Hardy, and while The A-Lister's casual disrespect of Angle certainly landed him in more hot water than he would have liked, he put on an impressive show for the General Manager who called him nothing less than a coward.
Initially, it seemed the key to Miz's victory would be the reunited Miztourage, who threatened to interfere early on and succeeded in doing so in the later goings of the match, landing cheap shots on the former Raw Tag Team Champion to slow him down. But The A-Lister sealed the deal without his cronies’ help, rolling under the ropes after a Twist of Fate, bouncing Hardy gullet-first off the ropes and closing the match with a devastating Skull-Crushing Finale.
Give local competitor Stacie Cullen this: She is very, very brave. Scouted off the streets of Baltimore to face Asuka, the young Miss Cullen put up as good a fight as can be anticipated. Which is to say, not all that effective of one. The undefeated former NXT Women's Champion decimated her opponent with reckless abandon; Cullen barely landed so much as a punch before The Empress of Tomorrow chopped her down to size and put her away with the excruciating Asuka Lock. The streak continues.
There was one person on SmackDown LIVE who wasn't on board with Shane McMahon's march through the Raw locker room: Daniel Bryan. Attempting to somewhat restore the peace before Survivor Series, the SmackDown General Manager snuck onto Team Red behind Shane's back for a parlay with Kurt Angle that didn't quite go the way he envisioned. Angle rejected Bryan's olive branches and demanded he deliver a message to Shane on SmackDown: He's bringing his gold medals and his roster to Survivor Series for payback.
The Olympic Hero offered his blue brand counterpart one act of kindness by insisting that Bryan stay in his office rather than risk walking through an arena filled with Raw Superstars who were hungry for payback. But even that ended up becoming a nightmare, as the lights cut out and Kane struck in the darkness, grabbing Bryan by the neck and subjecting him to an apparent Chokeslam as the illumination of Bryan's phone went out. When the lights returned, Bryan was being loaded onto a stretcher by a team of medics, who transported him to a local medical facility.
Finn Bálor's foray against a Machine didn't end so well last week, but he fared much better against a Cyborg. Raw's resident "extraordinary man" rebounded from his trouncing at the hands of Kane by defeating Cesaro in a thrilling singles contest that was nonetheless overshadowed by another late-game appearance from The Devil's Favorite Demon.
Bálor's victory was certainly hard-earned, as The King of Swing unleashed the full bounds of his power against his much quicker opponent. Finn turned the tide at record speed, taking out his foe and the lurking Sheamus with a dive to the outside before ending the bout with a top-rope double stomp to the back of Cesaro's head. And then Kane emerged to attack Bálor atop the ramp, dropping him with a Tombstone Piledriver on the stage moments before the arrival of The Shield, whose Seth Rollins was scheduled for a bout with Kane next.
Once upon a time, Kane was Seth Rollins’ bodyguard, backup and Director of Operations. These days, he's Rollins’ tormentor.
Minutes after ruthlessly attacking SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan (another former ally), The Devil's Favorite Demon showed no mercy to Rollins in a singles bout on Raw. Kane all but shut out The Kingslayer's offense save for a late stretch that stymied The Big Red Machine momentarily, or at least until Cesaro & Sheamus jumped Dean Ambrose at ringside, causing Rollins to take his eye off the ball.
The Architect paid for his distraction with a Chokeslam that cost him the match, and a 3-on-2 assault of The Shield by Kane and The Bar nearly cost him much more than that, as The Big Red Machine administered a ruthless Tombstone to Ambrose. When Rollins attempted to crawl atop his partner to protect him, The Devil's Favorite Demon Tombstoned him as well.
With all apologies to Drew Gulak, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson may have won Halloween with their tag team costume as Southpaw Regional Wrestling's Tex Ferguson & Chadd 2 Badd. That said, they were unable to win the WWE tradition of an All Hallow's Eve Trick or Street Fight against Heath Slater & Rhyno, who dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus for the occasion. (Proving he would not be upstaged by Tex and Chadd, The Man Beast did not spare the blush.)
Give the good brothers credit for their creative — haunting, even — offense, but they got a little too cute for their own good when they put pumpkins over their own heads. Alas, Anderson's impeded his vision and Gallows put his on backwards, allowing The Man Beast to catch Anderson off the turnbuckle and plunge him through a table with a spinebuster. A win for him and Slater, and plenty of candy for the kids.
How does one retaliate after a guitar is smashed over one's shoulder? For Jason Jordan, he had to settle for a symbolic gesture of retribution against Elias. But what a gesture it was.
The sinister singer was in the middle of debuting “The Ballad of Jason Jordan” when the former SmackDown Tag Team Champion rushed the ring for some payback. The ensuing throwdown caused Elias to lose his grip on his guitar, leading to a tussle between the two Superstars that Jordan eventually got the better of. Elias was forced to leave his brand-new six-string behind as he made his exit, and Jordan made sure his foe wouldn't get it back, stomping the instrument into splinters.
Last week, Drew Gulak did Enzo Amore's talking for him. This week, he did the WWE Cruiserweight Champion's fighting for him against Kalisto.
And while 205 Live's resident reform artist can produce a heck of a PowerPoint presentation, all his know-how and speechifying (“There’s only one word to describe you … S-O-F-T-SOFT!”) was useless against the dazzling offense that nearly carried Kalisto to a WWE Cruiserweight Title win over Enzo last week. An emphatic Salida del Sol finished off Gulak, but The King of Flight still ended the night on a sour note, as Amore rushed the ring and beat the luchador down after the bell.
Dressed in her finest Chucky cosplay for Raw's main event, Alexa Bliss may indeed be a “bad gal.” That said, she's as dominant a champion as ever.
Forced by Kurt Angle to defend her Raw Women's Title against Mickie James once again after insinuating the Raw General Manager should cut the six-time Women's Champion, Alexa faced as formidable a challenge from James this time around as she did at WWE TLC. Little Miss Bliss adjusted her offense accordingly, ratcheting up the intensity to stave off her opponent.
James answered in kind, and the champion briefly attempted to take a count-out loss, only to be dragged back into the ring. But when James turned to the ref after a flurry of pinfall attempts, Bliss put her down quickly and ruthlessly with a right hand to the face. The win was hardly child's play, but love Alexa or hate her, she might just have deserved it.
It was all but a given last week that Braun Strowman's literal disposal would keep him out of action for weeks, if not months. But, much like the last time someone attempted to take him out with a vehicle, The Monster Among Men returned ahead of schedule and very, very angry.
He came for The Miz, too, leaving a bag of trash in the locker room as a warning The A-Lister (correctly) interpreted as a harbinger of The Gift of Destruction, though he was unsuccessful in securing help from Kane or The Bar to prepare for Strowman's return. Things only got worse when Kurt Angle prevented Miz from leaving early and forced him to stay for the entire show as punishment for his late arrival, leading The Awesome One to attempt a hasty exit following the conclusion of the main event.
The A-Lister's limo was blocked by another garbage truck, from which Strowman emerged to chase The Miz and The Miztourage back to the ring. Miz and Bo Dallas managed to escape relatively unscathed, but Curtis Axel suffered five Running Powerslams ("Powerslamming for reps"), the last of which was delivered through the commentary table. Is it coincidence that the monster returned just before Halloween? Maybe. But either way, Braun Strowman is back, and no one is safe.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Nia Jax defeated Bayley (7:23)
- Samoa Joe defeated Apollo Crews (w/ Titus O'Neil) by submission (3:40)
- The Miz (c) (w/ Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) defeated Matt Hardy to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship (13:01)
- Asuka defeated Stacie Cullen by submission (1:40)
- Finn Bálor defeated Cesaro (w/ Sheamus) (11:26)
- Kane defeated Seth Rollins (w/ Dean Ambrose) (5:41)
- Heath Slater & Rhyno defeated Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows in an All Hallows Eve Trick or Street Fight (4:54)
- Kalisto defeated Drew Gulak (w/ Enzo Amore) (0:58)
- Alexa Bliss (c) defeated Mickie James to retain the WWE Raw Women's Championship (11:13)
Other on-screen talent