What’s good everybody? It’s your boy Dre here to shell out some of my thoughts and takeaways from RAW this week. I hope everybody is as excited about TLC this Sunday as I am. RAW definitely gave us a nice swerve to close the show, so let’s dive into this episode shall we.
IN-RING SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE & THE SHIELD
I got goosebumps seeing Rollins, Ambrose & Reigns walk down to the ring through the audience again for the first time in over 3 years. The fans ate it up as well. I loved that they teased a Shield beatdown on Angle upon entering the ring. Angle did a great job of selling concern on his face.
Each guy cut a brief promo putting over The Shield and everybody came off really well. The cockiness, confidence and “one vs all” attitude was on full display here and that’s The Shield’s bread and butter, These guys haven’t missed a beat together. Hearing The Shield call out Miz, Strowman and The Bar reminded me of when the Shield called out the Wyatts during their feud in 2014.
IN-RING SEGMENT WITH ELIAS, ANDERSON & GALLOWS
I’m typically a fan of the “who wants to walk with Elias?” segments but these last couple of weeks haven’t been good at all. Last week, I felt Titus took away from Elias’ segment a bit and this week I definitely feel that Gallows & Anderson (The Good Brothers) did. Up to this point, I’m just not finding the “NERD!” jokes that G&A run with to be funny at all and we basically got them saying that repeatedly during Elias song.
Elias hasn’t really had much to do over the past couple of months due to most of the top/upper midcard faces being involved in other feuds, but it appears that he may be forming a stable with Gallows & Anderson.
JASON JORDAN, APOLLO CREWS & TITUS O’NEILL VS ELIAS, GALLOWS & ANDERSON
I think Jordan being paired with The Titus Brand is a good move for JJ for now. This six-man tag match was decent for what it was. I was pleasantly surprised to see Crews pick up the pinfall win here since he doesn’t come by those often. It looks like we’ll be getting a “Titus Brand vs Elias & The Good Brothers” feud for the time being which may lead to a JJ/Elias match soon (perhaps a unadvertised match at TLC this Sunday)
BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW WITH EMMA
I love the envy that Emma has in her heart for Asuka. She feels she’s being passed over by the influx of female talent that’s been called up over the past couple of years. She’s also clearly envious of what she perceives to be “red carpet treatment” for Asuka’s debut seeing how she’s never been given proper credit for helping jump-start the women’s revolution.
Then there’s Alexa Bliss who sweet-talked Emma into being her tag partner in her own quest against Mickie thinking that Mickie wouldn’t be able to find a partner. Bliss is so good at selling her BS that she can sell fire in hell or water to whale. Oh, how I love her manipulative ways.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER VS JACK GALLAGHER
I’ll be the first to say that I’m not invested into this feud much but I do appreciate the WWE putting together a video package here to try and put over this non-title Cruiserweight program. This is something that WWE will need to do more of going forward if they ever want “205 Live” to be relevant outside of whatever Enzo is doing.
The match itself was solid. I was very impressed by Cedric’s “Lumbar Check” to pick up the win. It looked vicious. Hats off to Gallagher because he took that finisher like a G because that damn sure looked painful.
MIZ TV WITH THE MIZ, BRAUN STROWMAN & THE BAR
I really enjoyed this segment for a multitude of reasons:
Firstly, I can never get enough of the Miz heeling it up and getting fans riled up. Miz and Angle bickering back & forth never gets old either. They have good chemistry.
Second, Sheamus seems to really enjoy when the fans shower him with “you look stupid” chants”. It’s always cool too see the performers enjoying interactions with the fans.
Thirdly, this segment took a main event that already felt like a big deal and made it an even bigger deal with the added stip that if Reigns won, Strowman would be taken out of the TLC match making it 3 on 3 again and if Strowman won, Miz would get to add another partner making it 3 on 5. A stip like that really put added pressure on Roman & Strowman (especially Roman because with 3 on 5 with everybody is in the ring at once is a damn near impossible task for any 3 men)
SASHA BANKS VS ALICIA FOX
I’m really surprised I’m saying this but Fox carried herself really well. Was taken back a little by the amount of offense she got in on Sasha but that gives little doubt to the outcome here in what probably would have been a squash match if this happened 6 months ago. Sasha ultimately did pick up the win here. Solid match.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH SASHA BANKS GETTING ATTACKED BY ALICIA FOX
With Alicia attacking Sasha backstage, it sets up a rematch between the two at the TLC pre-show. Not completely sure but it looks like Fox is getting elevated just a little. She got a clean pin on Bayley last week and got a lot of offense in on Sasha this week and now it looks like she’ll enter a feud with The Boss. Maybe it’s the new merch.
IN RING INTERVIEW WITH ENZO (INTERRUPTED BY KALISTO)
I’m definitely on board with the idea of Enzo having a few goons to do all of his dirty work. I said last week that creative should pair Enzo with a bodyguard. Looks like I got more than my wish with Enzo getting over half the heel Cruiserweights on the roster as backup. Sure, it doesn’t make much sense considering just last week that Gulak, Daivari, Neese & Dar along with the rest of Cruiserweight division hated him just last week but for the purpose of Enzo’s character, I think him running his mouth then having guys to clean up after him works really well. He’s the Miz of the CWC.
As a sidenote, Kalisto was approaching Sid territory on the mic on Monday.
DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS(c) VS THE BAR
The chemistry between these two teams is always good and this was no exception. Ambrose & Rollins retaining here was definitely the right call. I feel like there is still a ton of story to be told with Seth & Dean carrying the belts.
It’s unfortunate that the tag team division on RAW is so depleted at the moment. As much as I love watching Dean & Seth take on the Bar, I’d also love to see Dean and Seth take on some fresh blood.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH THE CURTIS AXEL, THE BAR AND BRAUN STROWMAN
I could watch motivational speaker Axel all day. I don’t know what it is but the last few weeks, Axel has been on point. He was legitimately one of the most over people on RAW for the second week in a row. He’s playing the naive happy-go-lucky comedic heel down to a T right now. It’s like he doesn’t realize that everybody around him views him as the weak link because he’s that naive. If Axel can continue to connect with the fans the way he has lately, I can definitely see him parlaying that into a feud with The Miz later down the road. That’s a big “if”, though, but just putting it out there,
IN-RING SEGMENT WITH FINN BALOR
I really have no idea what to say about this Balor/Wyatt feud anymore. It lacked heat before and now it’s just gotten super hokey and over the top. Apparently, Finn Balor is going to combat Sister Abigail with a new variation of the Demon that looked a lot like Darth Maul.
Regardless of the end result of this feud, neither guy appears to be coming out of this a real winner.
MICKIE JAMES & BAYLEY VS ALEXA BLISS & EMMA
Bayley being Mickie’s tag partner came as no surprise. The match itself was pretty much standard for a woman’s tag match. I thought Bayley might have taken the fall in this one seeing how she doesn’t have anything lined up at TLC this Sunday but instead, they went with the typical “challenger pins the champion” finish leading up to the PPV.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH CURTIS AXEL CONFRONTING THE SHIELD AND THE MIZ, THE BAR & BRAUN STROWMAN
As expected, Axel’s sudden act of courage to prove his worth to Strowman ended up becoming a suicide mission. Miz’s face when he found out about Axel’s whereabouts was priceless. I loved the plot twist that came in this segment with Miz revealing that he never had any intention of making Axel the 5th member.
BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW WITH MICKIE JAMES
Great backstage promo from Mickie. I honestly had no idea that Mickie was a mother now, but she worked her home life into the interview very well, making it all that more inspirational. It was sincere and open. She’s done an outstanding job of getting fans behind her match against Alexa. More importantly, she’s done a tremendous job of conveying how important this match is to her.
ROMAN REIGNS VS BRAUN STROWMAN
This was another fantastic match up between Roman and Strowman – not quite as good as some of their previous encounters but still good nonetheless.
The real news however is the surprise return of Kane. It was a swerve I was not expecting which made it that much better. Kane’s reasoning for being the 5th member of Miz’ team can also easily explained. Kane’s motive for attacking Reigns could very well be that he’s feeling some type of way about Roman Reigns retiring The Undertaker at WM33. Sure, it’s simple but it still makes sense.
The deck now seems so heavily stacked against The Shield. The possibility of them actually losing seems inevitable after it seemed almost a given just a couple weeks ago that they’d pick up an easy win in a glorified squash match against the Miztourage.
If I were to take a stab in the dark here, I’d say that the Shield’s one glimmer of hope on Sunday may come in the form of Samoa Joe as he is due back anytime now from injury. A scenario where he makes a surprise run in during the match would be my guess as to how the Shield survive on Sunday.
Another solid episode of RAW this week. It had its moments there after the opening segment where things slowed down a bit. It definitely picked back up as the show progressed and more importantly ended on a very high note heading into TLC on Sunday. I feel like pretty much most of the RAW roster was utilized efficiently and highlighted in some way.
RAW CHAMPIONS/WEEKLY TOP 10
BROCK LESNAR (WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION) – The modern day Maharajah looks to be line next for the beast
THE MIZ (INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) – The Miz has assembled quite the team this Sunday in his quest to take down The Shield; And was for the better part RAW the focal point of the show being featured in multiple segments.
ALEXA BLISS (RAW’S WOMAN CHAMPION) – She took the clean pin this week to her challenger this Sunday so the odds seem heavily favored that she probably retains if the WWE formula holds up this Sunday.
KALISTO (CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION) – I’d be surprised if he was still champion come next Monday
DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS (RAW’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS) – Seth and Dean successfully defended their titles against The Bar in another really good tag match but this Sunday they find themselves in the fight of their lives along side their Shield brother Roman against insurmountable odds this Sunday.
1. BRAUN STROWMAN (last week’s ranking: 1) – Strowman picked up another big win over the big dog tallying his total wins against Reigns to 4 now on the year. That win also gives him 1 on 1 wins against the entire Shield in a month’s span. I still have this gut feeling that Samoa Joe is lurking in Braun’s not so distant feature.
2. ROMAN REIGNS (last week’s ranking: 2) – Hard fought battle against Strowman on Monday but he came just short and has a red 7 foot monster to thank for that.
3. MICKIE JAMES (last week’s ranking: 5) – She picked up a clean win over the woman’s champion and continues to be one of the most entertaining workers on RAW ever since being inserted into the title picture. Not sure she walks out of TLC with Gold on Sunday but her journey back to the fountain of youth has been an enjoyable one to watch.
4. KANE (last week’s ranking: N/R) – it’s really impossible not to put him in the top 5 considering the impact he made at the end of RAW and the fact that he was revealed as the 5th member of Miz’s team at TLC. It’s quite possible he sticks around past TLC as he seeks revenge on Roman.
5. ENZO (last week’s ranking: 3) – He’s not got a army of goons at his disposal it appears so I think the odds of him regaining Cruiserweight golf are likely.
6. FINN BALOR (last week’s ranking: 5) – The Demon King’s return is imminent. But will it be enough to overcome a Sister Abigail possessed Bray Wyatt
7. CESARO (last week’s ranking: 6) – The Bar came up short against Ambrose & Rollins but it was another hard fought battle. Seeing how the tag team scene on RAW is scarce at the moment they’ll probably get another crack at the tag titles soon though. But this Sunday he’ll help round out the Miz’s dream team
8. SHEAMUS (last week’s ranking: 7) – See Cesaro
9. SASHA BANKS (last week’s ranking: N/R) – She picked up a tough win over Fox snd has s chance to pick up another one this Sunday
10. EMMA (last week’s ranking: 10) – This is most likely you’ll Emma make the top 10 for awhile as she’s most likely gonna get squashed by Asuka