Raw had a sense of urgency about it this week, as the red brand was recovering from being ambushed by Smackdown Live last week.
That sense of urgency helped make Raw an enjoyable watch yet again.
Although I am not totally on board with the concept behind this Raw versus Smackdown Live stuff WWE is seemingly doing on an annual basis with Survivor Series, I'll give WWE credit for at least presenting some intriguing television leading into the big show.
So although all of this will be virtually meaningless come December, it has been entertaining to watch thus far.
Before I dig into my full analysis, here are the full match results from the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore:
- Nia Jax def. Bayley
- Samoa Joe def. Apollo Crews
- WWE Intercontinental championship – The Miz def. Matt Hardy
- Asuka def. Stacie Cullen
- Finn Balor def. Cesaro
- Kane def. Seth Rollins
- All Hallow's Eve Trick or Street Fight – Heath Slater & Rhyno def. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
- Kalisto def. Drew Gulak
- WWE Raw Women's championship – Alexa Bliss def. Mickie James
Braun Strowman returned from the dead
Like classic horror movie villains such as Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddie Kruger, Strowman returned to haunt Monday Night Raw after being seemingly killed off at Tables, Ladders and Chairs a little more than a week ago.
Unlike those horror movie villains, the fans were eagerly anticipating Strowman's return and cheered with great glee at the sight of The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel scurrying away from the monstrous Strowman.
The Miz had an inkling that Strowman was nearby when he found a random bag of trash in his locker room after his successful Intercontinental title defense over Hardy.
The Miz tried to get Sheamus, Cesaro and Kane back on his side to protect him from what he felt was impending doom, but all three men gave The Miz the cold shoulder and told him that he was on his own.
The Miz and his entourage then attempted to flee the building, but Raw general manager Kurt Angle demanded that he stay until the event was over after being missing in action during Smackdown Live's siege the week before.
Side note: I find it interesting that it is being pointed out that The Miz was nowhere to be found during Smackdown Live's attack. Did he help Smackdown Live?
Amyway, The Miz obliged but as soon as the main event between Bliss and James concluded, he bolted for his limousine in an attempt to leave.
However, the limo was blocked by a garbage truck. The garbage in the back of the truck began to move and out of nowhere emerged Strowman. The Miz, Axel and Dallas all but jumped out of the limo and ran back into the building.
Strowman chased after them by running on top of the limo and leaping onto the loading dock before taking off with NFL Combine-like speed after them.
Strowman looked like Von Miller rounding the corner before sacking an opposing quarterback. He was scary fast. Strowman's speed allowed him to catch up with The Miz and his buddies in the arena.
Once there, Strowman did what he does best: Destroy people.
The man he did the most damage to was Axel, as he power slammed him multiple times in the ring before dragging his lifeless carcass to the announce table before power slamming him through it.
All of this was done with thousands of fans screaming with joy, officially cementing Strowman as a babyface for the first time in his career.
For all of the crap fans and pundits can rightfully give WWE for its failures with either its stories or its treatment of talent, we have to give credit for what it has done with Strowman for the last year and change.
It was only last July when Strowman struck out on his own as an unproven and inexperienced big man that had spent the majority of his wrestling career being hidden behind three experienced performers in Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.
Since then, Strowman has not only improved in the ring by leaps and bounds, but he has surprisingly captured the hearts of WWE fans across many demographics.
Whether you're a hardcore fan that watches all levels of wrestling or a casual fan that only watches wrestling on Monday and Tuesday nights, you have to cheer for someone that is as badass as Strowman.
He is a mixture of Voorhees, Myers and Steven Seagal all rolled into one immaculate human being. How could you not root for him?
Kurt Angle is wrestling at Survivor Series
There were actually multiple returns Monday night with the first being the return of Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon, who marched to the ring during the opening segment and proved once again that she is the Strowman of the microphone by belittling Angle for allowing Smackdown Live to invade the show last week.
She then booked Angle in the men's Survivor Series match and told him that she demands a victory for Raw.
Stephanie McMahon aside, I think it is pretty cool to see Angle having another match.
I know some fans would have rather have seen Angle's first time back in the ring take place at Survivor Series instead of TLC, but WWE was in a bit of a bind with the viral infection that plagued not one but two matches on that card.
In WWE's mind, it had to deliver something big to the fans in an effort to make up for the fact that they were missing out on The Shield's first match together in three years.
That big thing was Angle.
As far as Survivor Series, I fully expect Angle to be back in his signature singlet and to even get his own entrance, which I'm sure will make a lot of fans happy.
The fact that he wrestled at Tables, Ladders and Chairs will not make that moment any less special.
Nia Jax is back and will fight at Survivor Series
Also appearing at Survivor Series will be Jax, who returned from a brief hiatus Monday night and defeated Bayley.
Moments after the match, Raw Survivor Series team captain Alicia Fox, who was dressed as if she was the captain of a boat, picked Jax to be on her team at Survivor Series.
Regardless of the reason why Jax has been off television the last couple of weeks, it was good to see her back Monday night.
Samoa Joe is back and is ready to hurt people
Before Jax and Fox could leave the arena, Joe made his way to the ring and not only announced that he was back, but he also reassured the fans that he was still a heel by cutting a scathing promo.
Before his promo, Joe received a very positive ovation from the Baltimore fans that made you think a babyface turn could be in his future, but Joe shut all of that down in a matter of seconds.
I know some fans may have heard the ovation Joe received Monday and pondered why WWE won't turn him into a good guy, but in the grand scheme of things, I think Joe is much better off as a heel.
It's not that he couldn't be a good babyface. He just seems more comfortable in the role of a villain. I'd rather have him in a position he could excel in than a position he'd just be good in.
Plus, WWE does not have the best track record when it comes to booking babyfaces lately. Hopefully, Strowman can break that trend.
Kane is still hurting people
Speaking of heels, WWE is still trying to get Kane over as a monstrous one, and did so Monday night by having him attack Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan, who showed up to Raw to make peace with Angle, defeat Rollins and destroy Balor and Dean Ambrose.
I understand that if Kane is going to face Strowman at some point, he needs to look strong heading in, but does he need to destroy the likes of Balor, Rollins and Ambrose to accomplish that?
It'd be different if Kane was being introduced to a new audience. But with Kane, it is the opposite. The audience is more than familiar with what he can do. There is literally 20 years worth of evidence fans could look back on.
Asuka defeated a real jobber
While Kane has demolished people the last couple of weeks, Asuka finally got to do the same Monday night when she easily defeated a woman named Stacie Cullen.
I saw a lot of people say that Monday night's match was the way that Asuka should have debuted.
In my opinion, that is very flawed and convenient logic.
For one, Asuka debuted on pay-per-view. She debuted on a pay-per-view to make her debut feel more important and to add to a card that had one match worth looking forward to 72 hours prior.
Were people really expecting Asuka to have a squash match on a pay-per-view? That seems very backwards to me, as pay-per-views is the last place you have squash matches.
Squash matches are for television. You make people pay for the good matchups. That's old-school booking 101. If Asuka's debuting on a pay-per-view, it wasn't going to be a squash. That's just silly.
Also, Cullen's presence on Raw Monday ended the argument that now former WWE superstar Emma was a jobber.
Cullen was a real jobber. Emma was more of an enhancement talent. Trust me, there is a difference. Before Tye Dillinger left NXT, he was an enhancement guy. The nameless teams the Street Profits defeat on a regular basis are jobbers.
See the difference?
Because Cullen is a real jobber, Asuka made quick work of her. Because Emma was at least one step above a jobber, Asuka had a tougher time beating her.
But at the end of the day, Asuka won, which is what is most important when it comes to her.