Monday Night RAW is an (Angle) Family Reunion

Written by Melissa Jouben

The show pulls no punches (yet) by starting off with Kurt Angle and Corey Graves discussing his deep dark secret. Immediately, the stakes are supposed to be pretty high and I totally understand the need to spread this announcement out over the course of three hours, but I do wish they’d have spread it a little less thin.

Dean Ambrose, meanwhile, is hot off the heels of getting one over on The Miz last week (with the help of Seth Rollins) and is determined to do it again. He and his little steel chair enter the ring for a bit of general showboating and taunting in The Miz’s direction. Instead of The Miz, Seth Rollins emerges to tell Dean Ambrose that he can’t fight this battle alone, and he wants to take down The Miz too. Specifically, he wants to know if his brother will be standing in his way or standing by his side when the time comes. Too bad Dean Ambrose still has a lot of unresolved bitterness over being backstabbed by Seth Rollins three years ago to want to hear him out!

In the closest I think we’ll ever get to a raw moment between these two, Rollins confesses that his guilt over the incident has been tearing him apart, and he’s done everything in his power to make things right. He also reminds Ambrose of everything that’s gone right for him and wishes he could move on. To prove that he’s sincere, he begs Ambrose to hit him over the back with the steel chair as many times as it takes. Ambrose throws it out of the ring instead, and instigates a tender moment that is quickly interrupted by The Miz and his Miztourage. They all grab a steel chair from under the ring and just… Go to town on the two of them. The crowd started chanting “Roman,” and in hindsight I feel like him coming in to help his former partners would have been a more exciting thing for him to do this episode. But that’s not the storyline and Rollins pretty much gets pildrived into a chair and The Miz gloats off.

It’s Bayley’s turn to get a shot at the Women’s Championship in her match against Alexa Bliss. Bayley’s full of energy and really easily getting the upperhand on Alexa at first, before Alexa decides to start targeting Bayley’s bad arm. It’s almost like every time Bayley lands a move, she’s just a little bit closer to a full blown injury. Nia Jax interrupts the match to stand outside of the ring, staring Bayley down menacingly, and even blocking her from being able to reach Bliss when the two of them end up outside of the ring. When nobody expects it, Sasha Banks silently runs out and KNOCKS. JAX. DOWN. It was a fun moment. Bliss is distracted enough by the blindside that Bayley is able to get the upper hand, deliver a pretty cool Bayley-to-Belly, and pin Bliss for the victory. Her and Sasha share a really genuine and triumphant moment in the ring before we cut to the announcers and Corey Graves running off nearly mid-sentence to go take care of Kurt Angle’s dirty secret.

Speaking of which, we’re back to him in his office and he’s having another cryptic conversation with Graves, framed beautifully by the poster on the wall for “The Jetsons & WWE Robo-Wrestlemania.” Graves reminds Kurt Angle that social media is a powerful tool, and if he doesn’t come clean, someone in the internet is eventually going to do it for him.

Does anyone care if I skim this part of the show? There’s some backstage promo with Akira Tozawa and the crew when Daivari comes in to tell him he has no honor and he would like a rematch. There’s also a tag match between Brian Kendrick/Drew Gulak and Mustafa Ali/Gentleman Jack Gallagher. There’s really only one part of this that caught my interest, and it was the move Ali executes to win the match – Michael Cole dubs it a 450 splash – declaring victory for him and Gentleman Jack Gallagher.

Cut to Enzo Amore peacocking all over the stadium. He’s super upset about Big Cass and his long, long rant ends in Cass coming to the ring for a confrontation. Enzo seems a little skittish at first, quickly retreating behind the barricade and straight up using a little kid as a human shield while he says he’s going to sit back and watch the action – specifically, the action between him and Big Show, who comes out pretty pissed. The two are just outright brawling up and down the entrance ramp until Cass finally wrestles control of the situation, taking out both Big Show and Enzo Amore.

Backstage time! It’s nice to have a moment backstage that doesn’t involve Kurt Angle’s vague announcement. Rollins and Dean want a shot at The Miz and Angle promises them they can pick any two members of The Miztourage. They say they want all three and so there it is: a 3-on-2 match for next week’s RAW.

For this Elias Samson Vs. Finn Balor match, Elias starts by playing his guitar. Not a bad idea for the Nashville crowd. Except he’s not really playing it as much as he is insulting the audience and Nashville’s music scene. The audience could barely contain their disdain and/or boredom the entire time and so it’s nice to watch them get psyched on Finn Balor’s entrance. After a little bit of some good execution (and one moment where Finn’s on Elias’ shoulders that I found a little sloppy), they end up outside of the ring and as Balor approaches Elias, he gets hit over the head with the guitar. Hard. Samson gets disqualified and the clip gets replayed about five times. As Balor stumbles off, Bray Wyatt interrupts via pre-recorded video. He’s doing his usual creepy and cryptic schtick to make it clear that he’s been watching Finn. He’s in his crosshairs now. That could come back in a big way for next week’s RAW no-disqualification rematch between Balor and Samson. It might not, but it probably will, right?

Breathe, because we are only halfway through this episode at this point and we still have quite a bit of ground to cover.

Backstage, Angle is still deliberating his big announcement. I feel like I should be taking a lot more care in describing these parts because they make up the bulk of the focus of the episode, but they really aren’t all that exciting. Anyway, Bayley and Banks interrupt to argue over who deserves the show at the Women’s title at Summerslam. Instead of choosing, Angle tells them they’ll fight each other next RAW and the winner goes to Summerslam.

And back to the Cruiserweights! Ariya Daivari seems to have it out for Tozawa after Sunday night’s 205 Live match, and is determined to defeat him and dedicate the match to his hero, a Olympic gold medalist from Iran. Corey Graves favorably compares Daivari’s dedication to the honor of the sport and his hardline stance on doing things with integrity to his mentor, Kurt Angle – something I was thinking before he said it, except I was thinking Daivari is the cooler version of Kurt Angle. Tozawa’s shoulder is still recovering from an injury, which Daivari exploits without hesitation. Is that honorable? Anyway, Titus gets concerned for Tozawa’s safety and tells the ref to end the match. The bell rings, Daivari is declared the winner, and he dedicates the match like he said he would. Tozawa loses his cool on Titus both on his way out of the ring and later on backstage, announcing he wants a rematch come next 205 Live.

Is it finally time for the big announcement?! Yes, yes it is. I really wish they had either done this right before the headlining match, or even midway through the show. Placing this right before the Hardys Vs Revival match, in my opinion, is the opposite of how I would have done it.

But anyway, Angle starts out by explaining that his family is 100% behind him and that his decision is what’s best for himself as well as the company. As it turns out, Kurt Angle dated a woman in college and broke up with her. Nine months later she gave birth to a baby boy, unbeknownst to him. That baby boy was adopted by a family that taught him “great American values” and who went on to become a star student and athlete, receiving a baseball scholarship but instead opting to excel in the sport of wrestling. He’s been training to become a star in the WWE and Kurt Angle is finally ready to show his son off to the world and introduce him as the newest RAW superstar: Jason Jordan! Corey Graves announces during a bit commentary between him and Michael Cole that he’s been aware of this since Jason’s NXT days and has been nothing but supportive to both father and son along the way. Angle looks on with pride as his son joins him in the ring. There is, admittedly, a weird resemblance between the two of them.

The Hardy Boyz are looking for revenge after being attacked by The Revival, and once again tonight, nobody can resist a recovering injury and continues to wear down on Matt Hardy regarding his bad knee. The match is honestly so hard to watch. Matt is just… He’s just getting his ass handed to him, honestly. The Revival don’t seem to care that it’s a tag match and are pummeling him in unison while Jeff watches, barred from intervening by the ref. When Jeff finally has the opportunity to get tagged in, he’s all over the place, cleaning house and pulling off signature move after signature move. When he goes for a Swanton Bomb he gets knocked down, scooped up and pinned. The ref calls the match for The Revival, despite the fact you can pretty clearly tell that Jeff kicked out.

I just realized I missed a backstage promo with Roman Reigns explaining that this is his yard and that he’s going to take down Samoa Joe, despite his record currently being 0-2. It’s Samoa’s turn to cut a promo, and he assures us he doesn’t care about who the big dog is and that he’s not just an object in Roman’s way. He has no qualms. He is going to win.

I’m sorry, but I have a hard time getting excited about a Roman Reigns match. He’s an alright enough wrestler and I am interested in his feud with Samoa Joe, but this match was literally just a lot of Samoa holding Reigns by the face and waiting for Reigns to get tired. After a lot of time spent with his head being slowly forced down to the mat, Reigns manages to pick himself up and land some decent punches and clotheslines. The match was only just starting to heat up when damn Stroman came out and just ruined the match. He just went off on both of them, taking out Samoa Joe and going back into the ring to finish Roman. It’s a pretty nasty, long assault on both of them that ends with paramedics begging Stroman to stop – and then recoiling in fear when he finally exits the ring. After laying them back out, he leaves Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns to writhe around the ring in pain.

There was also a post-show interview with Kurt Angle and his new son.

All in all, it was a slow build to get to the meaty part of the episode. A lot of the matches just felt like filler for me, and by the time we got the big news I just didn’t care to see The Hardy Boyz struggle, or watch Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns get laid out. I’m excited to see Jason Jordan’s first match in the WWE though!

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