Monday’s Raw was a weird one because it was pretty bad most of the night until the return of Braun Strowman in the main event segment that solidifies him as one of the top faces on the show. There were so many backstage segments this week that I felt bad for the fans in attendance because they were forced to look at the video wall most of the night. Plus, the third hour of this show was awful.

If this comes off as a negative review, don’t blame me. I’m just trying to be honest and write about what they gave us.

Stephanie McMahon returned put Kurt Angle in a Survivor Series match

Angle, the Raw general manager, was in the ring with most of the Raw roster standing on the ramp. Angle apologized to them for putting them in danger last week when the Smackdown roster invaded the show and beat most of them up.

Stephanie McMahon made her entrance for the first time on Raw since before WrestleMania. She is the Raw commissioner, which makes her Angle’s boss. She said that when Vince McMahon hired Angle to be the GM of Raw, she supported it and thought that he was doing a great job until what happened last week with the Smackdown wrestlers coming to Raw to attack them.

Shee ripped on her brother Shane McMahon (the Smackdown commissioner) because she claimed after Shane lost at Hell in a Cell, he did what he has always done by picking on her. I like that she explained it that way because it puts over this sibling rivalry very well.

Stephanie then told Kurt that he was to blame for Smackdown attacking them last week. She noted that Angle built his career on intensity, integrity and intelligence — the “three I’s for Angle (his catchphrase for nearly 20 years) — but he needed to add incompetence as well. Stephanie told Angle that he would be the team captain for Monday Night Raw at Survivor Series, which means Angle is in the 5-on-5 match. Stephanie said she expects results, victory and total annihilation while adding that if she doesn’t get that, she’ll find a new GM of Raw.

That means Angle’s team must win at Survivor Series in order for him to keep his job as GM. Sounds like a good idea to me. I thought the Raw team was going to win at Survivor Series in the men’s match since the Smackdown side won last year (Orton and Wyatt as the survivors). Since it makes no sense to get rid of Angle as GM now, Angle’s team winning should be what happens at Survivor Series.

Daniel Bryan was attacked by Kane in Kurt Angle’s office

Daniel Bryan, Smackdown’s GM, showed up to tell Angle that he had nothing to do with Smackdown’s attack on Raw last week. Angle freaked out and called for help, but Bryan said he was there to make peace with him and that he had nothing to do with what Shane did last week. Angle told Bryan to tell Shane that they are going to take out Smackdown.

Bryan was left alone in the office, the lights went out and he was attacked by Kane. We saw Kane put his hand on the throat of Bryan, which led to a crash in the room.

The idea behind this poorly acted, cheesy segment was that Kane hit Bryan with a Chokeslam. Later, Bryan was taken out on a stretcher. They had to do it that way because Bryan had to retired nearly two years ago due to a concussion problem, so he’s not able to take bumps. That’s why they did the light trick with the evil Kane attacking him. I thought it was pretty lame, but with no Smackdown talent at the show since they had a live event elsewhere, somebody represented had to take a beating (in theory) as payback for last week.

Braun Strowman returned in a garbage truck seeking revenge

There were numerous backstage segments involving Intercontinental Champion The Miz, along with his buddies Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. I’m not going to summarize them all, but they were built around Miz seeing a garbage bag in his dressing room after his match (I’ll get to that later) and realizing it was from Braun Strowman.

When Miz wanted to leave the building, Kurt Angle told him he couldn’t leave until after the main event because Miz got to the show late. Miz was frustrated by that. Earlier in the show, Miz tried to get help from his TLC buddies Kane, Sheamus and Cesaro, but they told him they weren’t going to help.

After the main event was over, Miz and his buddies went into their limo. When they tried to leave, a red garbage truck was blocking their view. Remember TLC a few weeks ago? Braun Strowman was put in a garbage truck. That was in Minneapolis and this was in Baltimore, yet Strowman was still in a garbage truck. Welcome to WWE where logic doesn’t matter because a man that was put in a garbage truck EIGHT DAYS AGO IS STILL IN A GARBAGE TRUCK THAT’S A DIFFERENT COLOR IN A DIFFERENT CITY. I’m just trying to make sense of it. Once again, this is “sports entertainment” and we are not supposed to think logically or else it’s never going to make sense. I just wish WWE could book it better.

Strowman chased Miz, Axel and Dallas into the arena, beating all three of them up easily as expected. Miz managed to get away with Dallas while poor Axel was alone in the ring. Strowman hit Axel with four Running Powerslams in the ring with the crowd cheering for all of them since Strowman is now a face wrestler. Fans chanted “table” for him. Strowman carried Axel over to the announce table, where he wanted to put Miz through the table earlier, and Strowman drove Axel through the table with a Running Powerslam. That’s how Raw ended.

I thought it was great as long as you throw out your brain for the garbage truck part. The crowd loves Strowman as an unbeatable monster who can survive anything, so booking him as a face is the right way to go. Problem is, they don’t have many strong heels right now, so that’s why Kane is being used to be booked like a dominant heel. After that, it may be tough to find opponents for Strowman. When he was a heel, it was easier. Anyway, I’m all for Strowman as a face because the fans want to cheer him, so he’s in the right role.

Looking ahead to Survivor Series, Strowman is expected to be on Team Raw at that show, according to the Wrestling Observer. We already know Kurt Angle is the captain with the other members expected to be Roman Reigns (he should be recovered from his illness by then), Samoa Joe and Finn Balor. The Smackdown side is expected to be Randy Orton (only name announced so far), Shane McMahon as the captain, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode. They have a bit of time until Survivor Series on Nov. 19, but they should have it all announced by next week.

This Week’s Raw Matches

Here are the matches that took place on this week’s show.

Nia Jax defeated Bayley

It was going to be Alicia Fox vs. Bayley, but Fox changed it to Jax since Fox claimed she is busy as the captain at Survivor Series. Why is she allowed to change matches? She isn’t, but she did. I can’t explain everything on this weird show.

The crowd is dead for Bayley matches now because she has lost so many times. She has been booked terribly. Jax won clean after doing her boring offense and then winning with a running cannonball attack followed by a leg drop because she has the power of Hulkamania.. .or maybe it’s Jaxamania.

After the match, Fox told Jax she is on team Raw at Survivor Series. That was expected.

Samoa Joe defeated Apollo Crews

Joe returned after missing two months due to a knee and nose surgery. Both were considered minor injuries, so he’s back in time after missing two PPVs. The crowd was happy to see him. Joe tried to turn them with insults and they booed a bit, but after the match they chanted along with his song.

Joe beat Crews in about four minutes with the Coquina Clutch. Crews got in a bit of offense, although it’s not like anybody believed he was going to win. Post-match, Titus O’Neil faced off with Joe, then turned his back like an idiot and Joe put the Coquina Clutch on him too.

Smart way to make Joe look strong after his return. Can you blame the fans for cheering him over the other guys? They are booked like such losers and Joe has the aura of a star.

The Miz defeated Matt Hardy to retain the Intercontinental Championship

Miz was put in this match by Angle since Miz ran away to avoid the Smackdown attack last week and he was also late for Raw. Miz wasn’t happy about it and only found out his opponent when he got in the ring.

This was the best match of the show and Hardy’s best singles match since returning to WWE, although he’s mostly been in tags. Plenty of very good near-falls in the match with Hardy coming close to winning a few times. I loved the moonsault off the top that Matt did because it landed perfectly. Crowd bought into that, as well as his Side Effect moves as possible match enders. When Matt hit the Twist of Fate, Miz rolled under the bottom rope to avoid being pinned. Miz draped Matt’s neck on the top rope and that stunned Matt enough for Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win.

I thought this could have been a possible spot for a title change with Matt as popular as he is. The Miz has a lot of credibility as a heel champion, though, so I can see why he retained. I don’t mind seeing him with a meaningful title run. Matt fared very well for himself. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if he beat Miz for the title, whether that’s in a month or a few months down the line. Brother Jeff Hardy isn’t going to be back until WrestleMania time at best (due to shoulder surgery), so giving Matt more of a spotlight makes sense.

Asuka defeated Stacie Cullen

It was a quick match to put over Asuka in dominant fashion. Asuka won in about two minutes with her Asuka Lock submission. This is how Asuka should have beat Emma at TLC. Instead, it went 10 minutes. Dominant wins are needed. Cullen was just a local wrestler there to put over Asuka.

Finn Balor defeated Cesaro

Two of my favorites had a match that was a bit disappointing just because I expected it to be great and it was only okay. Part of the reason was all the interference from Sheamus took something away from the match rather than enhancing it.

Cesaro controlled much of it, Balor did the comeback with the Slingblade, dropkick and a dive that took out Cesaro and Sheamus on the floor. When they got back in the ring, Balor hit a double foot stomp off the top to the back of Cesaro’s head and pinned him, so it wasn’t exactly like the Coup de Gras (double foot stomp to the chest), but it was close. They could have had some more believable near-falls to make it more exciting.

Balor winning made sense after he got beat rather easily by Kane last week. Won at TLC, lost last week and won this week. That’s how it goes in WWE.

After the match, Kane made his entrance and hit Balor with a Tombstone on the stage. Balor had to be helped to the back.

Kane defeated Seth Rollins

Kane won in about six minutes, thanks to Sheamus and Cesaro causing a distraction at ringside. Rollins got in some offense, but was mostly grounded by the big man veteran. When S&C went after Dean Ambrose on the floor, Rollins went after them and that led to Kane hitting a Chokeslam for the win. It was boring. It also sucks that Rollins is losing so easily like that.

Post-match, Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Kane. It didn’t do much because Kane no sold it. Kane hit a Tombstone on Ambrose and a Tombstone on Rollins.

It’s clear that WWE is trying their best to rebuild Kane as a monster heel for a big match with Strowman. Kane is nearly 50 years old and lost plenty of times the last two years, yet now he’s going over future top faces like Balor and Rollins in six-minute TV matches. I get why it’s happening for Strowman’s sake, but it makes the others look like losers.

Halloween Trick or Street Fight: Heath Slater & Rhyno defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Comedy match with Slater dressed as Mr. Claus and Rhyno dressed like Mrs. Claus. Brutal. Gallows was Tex Ferguson from Southpaw Regional Wrestling while Anderson was Chad 2 Badd from it. Pumpkins were used as weapons and even some pie. Rhyno got the win for his team after putting Anderson through a table.

This was terrible and not even funny. I feel bad for the wrestlers involved.

Kalisto defeated Drew Gulak

A one-minute match won by Kalisto. Enzo Amore attacked Kalisto after the match. Highlight of this whole thing was Gulak spelling “soft” correctly instead of saying “sawft.”

Alexa Bliss defeated Mickie James to retain the Raw Women’s Title

Bliss was put in the match because Angle wasn’t happy about her not fighting for Raw with the other girls last week.

The crowd wasn’t that interested in the match probably because the third hour of this show was so bad, so it was a tough spot. People were so bored that they chanted “CM Punk” during the match, which is what crowds do when they’re bored sometimes as if chanting the name of a guy who willingly walked out of WWE is going to prove something.

James showed off her technical wrestling skill, her amazing selling ability and didn’t tire at all while Bliss was boring on offense as usual. I like Bliss a lot as a character, but as soon as the bell rings you can tell she can’t go as well as some of the other women on the roster. Holding a title doesn’t mean you’re the best. It means the company wants to position you to be the best.

I hated the finish of this match. After James did three sweet pinning moves for two-counts, Bliss got to her feet first and hit her with an elbow/forearm to the face that James sold as if she was out. Bliss covered to win. That’s it? Suddenly, Bliss has striking power as if she were the Big Show and she weighs 100 pounds. It’s hard to buy into that as a finishing move. Why can’t heels cheat to win? It would be way better than seeing that ending, which the crowd didn’t even react to.

Disappointing match that wasn’t nearly as good as their TLC match. Also a bad storyline, considering all the bad old jokes should have led to a title change. Instead, Mickie got nothing out of it and the heel champion continues her run while most of the face women on this show are booked terribly. Remember when Bayley, Banks and James got good crowd reactions? Not anymore. Thanks, creative team.

Other Key Items From Raw

1. A video about Lesnar vs. Mahal at Survivor Series

A video aired about Brock Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal at Survivor Series that just showed their promos from last week. This doesn’t feel like a big match at all, yet WWE is trying to treat it that way.

2. Jason Jordan got revenge against Elias

Elias did one of his songs, so Jason Jordan interrupted. Jordan got the better of him with a belly-to-belly suplex. Then he got his hands on Elias’s guitar and stomped on it in the corner, which drew an ovation from the crowd while Elias was upset about it. No match. Just an angle to further their story.

Looking Ahead to WWE Survivor Series

The next WWE pay-per-view is Survivor Series on Sunday, Nov. 19 in Houston, Texas.

Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion Jinder Mahal

Raw’s 5 men (Kurt Angle is the captain of the team) vs. Smackdown’s 5 men (Randy Orton is only official name announced)

Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. United States Champion Baron Corbin

Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos

Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Smackdown Women’s Champion Natalya

Raw’s 5 women (Alicia Fox is the captain with Nia Jax) vs. Smackdown’s 5 women (Becky Lynch is the captain with Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Tamina and Carmella)

The show is four hours long. Only six matches announced right now, so there should be more.

In Closing

This was a three-hour show that felt like it was six hours long because of how many boring segments there were. It felt like WWE’s goal this week was to try to do the most ridiculous angles possible and fill the show with backstage skits that featured bad acting all night long. The in-ring action was helped by that Miz vs. Hardy match and Balor vs. Cesaro was okay, but the rest of it was disappointing.

The last four months of the year is always the worst time of year for WWE storylines. This year is no different. Two months to go. Let’s hope things get better by January heading to the Royal Rumble.

I’ll be back Wednesday with a Smackdown review featuring Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler in a 2/3 Falls match and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens. Happy Halloween!

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He's written for WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah.com and many other places. You can follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net.