Don't listen to any #WWE haters. WWE is alive and well, as evidenced by the most recent episode of Monday Night Raw.
Outside of the main event, the buildup to the #SurvivorSeries has been average, but the company hit it out of the park on Monday, with an excellent go-home show for this Sunday's Survivor Series.
We saw a great Goldberg vs. Lesnar segment, with Paul Heyman exuding his typical microphone brilliance. The final segment of the show also delivered, thanks to Chris Jericho, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens. Raw is on the rebound and let's hope they can continue this momentum.
Goldberg vs. Lesnar Faceoff
This is one of the best build-ups for a main event in years. In one corner, we have the only UFC and WWE champion in history and one of the baddest men on the WWE roster. In the other we have Bill Goldberg, a former pro wrestling superstar who is returning to the ring for one more match. He wants to wrestle one more time so that his 10-year-old son can see him wrestle live.
And these two have a back story. They wrestled in Madison Square Garden at Wrestlemania 20 in a match that Goldberg won. But a match that was booed out of the building because both wrestlers were leaving the company. The two are looking to have a better, more memorable match this time around.
This angle has been driven by Paul Heyman, who has needled Goldberg about his family throughout the story line. They faced off on Monday night, separated by a wall of security guards. After Heyman told Goldberg that his son would call Lesnar "Daddy" after he was through with him, Goldberg cleaned house and decimated the security guards. Lesnar acted like he wanted to fight, but instead backed down and walked away. Smart move. Save the money match for Survivor Series.
Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown Faceoff
Having these 10 guys in the ring, even with James Ellsworth there, made this feel special.
Team #Smackdownlive clearly has the edge here going into the PPV. The crowd popped big for AJ Styles, arguably the best wrestler in the company. Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley invited Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan to the ring to talk about the brand vs. brand match. Stephanie was her usual shrieking self; she's so condescending that it's hard to take her seriously anymore. She's much better as the mean heel than the sarcastic one. After some arguing between all four, Stephanie brought out the Raw team of WWE Universal champion Kevin Owens, his "best friend" Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, WWE Intercontinental champion Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman.
Bryan countered, "You didn't think we came here alone?" Out from the crowd came Styles, Dean Ambrose (with James Ellsworth, the team's mascot) Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. Shane McMahon is the fifth member.
Jericho and Styles stole the show here. After Styles told Owens that Jericho was going to stab him in the back just like he stabbed Styles in the back, Jericho put Styles on "The List." Jericho also hugged Owens and called him his "best friend." Then Jericho looked at Ellsworth and said he was "a weird-looking guy and you know what happens to weird-looking guys? They go on the List."
Jericho also hilariously put Styles' "soccer mom haircut" on The List. After a lot of banter, Dean Ambrose attacked Rollins and a full-on melee broke out. This was some great action, featuring Styles bumping like he was Shawn Michaels. At the end, Rollins and Reigns threw Styles to the outside on top of his Smackdown Live partners, in a move that was an homage their Shield days. Raw got the edge on Monday night, but expect Smackdown Live to return the favor on Tuesday night.
The rest of Raw was typical fare, livened up by a hot Buffalo, New York crowd.
Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens & Roman Reigns
The story of the match was that none of these guys could work together, and each one is trying to show up his tag team partner. It feels like Owens' title reign is jumping the shark here. He's just a guy carrying the belt, amplified by the fact that Reigns speared Sheamus and threw Owens on top of Sheamus for the win. Sheamus had just knocked Owens out with a Brogue Kick. So Reigns was the real winner here, being charitable to Owens.
In the back, Jericho presented Braun Strowman with a scarf. Strowman ripped the scarf up and said: "I don't like scarves and I don't like you."
Bo Dallas vs. Sami Zayn
Nobody owns his entrance more than Sami Zayn, who is on point with his happy-go-lucky positive attitude. This was a good match only because Zayn is one of the best wrestlers in the WWE. He won with a Helluva Kick to the face. Zayn will wrestle either Dolph Ziggler or The Miz at Survivor Series for the intercontinental championship.
(As a side note, Corey Graves lost a little bit of credibility here when he mentioned the great lineage of the intercontinental championship, Ricky Steamboat, Pat Patterson and Razor Ramon. Whatever. Guess he never heard of Shawn Michaels, Bret 'The Hitman" Hart and Randy "Macho Man" Savage.)
Sin Cara vs. The Brian Kendrick
This match was mostly a dud, except for Sin Cara's amazing aerial moves. Kendrick won with the Captain's Hook, but he shouldn't be the cruiserweight champion. He's probably not even a Top 10 cruiserweight.
The New Day vs. Seth Rollins, Chris Jericho and Braun Strowman
This was a match designed to make Strowman look like a monster heel. He destroyed all three members of The New Day, pinning Xavier Woods with a power slam. This, of course, was a non-title match, but it is really time to take the titles off of The New Day. Apparently Vince McMahon wants to see The New Day break Demolition's record as the longest-running tag team champions in history. As usual, the crowd loved them and their entrance, which is really the best thing about any New Day segment. By the way, you can also now buy New Day socks.
Enzo & Big Cass & The Club vs. The Golden Truth and The Shining Stars
Enzo and Big Cass are the modern-day version of the New Age Outlaws. They are funny and know how to liven up the crowd. Unfortunately, neither one of them can wrestle. But, that's okay, because this wasn't a wrestling match. This was a chance to get the crowd going and let them pop big for Enzo's entrance. The story here was that Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows couldn't work with Enzo & Big Cass. More family drama. At least we got to hear Enzo do his "Certified G" promo.
Charlotte and Sasha Banks vs. Nya Jacks and Alicia Fox
Charlotte and Sasha couldn't get along. Big surprise. They spent most of the match pushing each other before Banks got the victory over Fox by tap out. Charlotte is a great heel. After the match, Bayley tried to broker peace between the two of them, but Charlotte wasn't having it. Bayley hugged Banks, but Charlotte just rebuffed her embrace.