What’s good everybody? It’s your boi Dre aka Xavier once again here to breakdown another episode of RAW this week. RAW was really on point this week. I’ll even go as far as saying that this was one of the best RAW’s of the year. Let’s dissect this week’s RAW because there was plenty to talk about this week.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE, JASON JORDAN, ROMAN REIGNS & SAMOA JOE
This opening segment was interesting but ended up working so well for so many reasons. Before Angle could announce who Roman would be defending his title against tonight, he was interrupted by Jason Jordan and boy is Jordan turning into a gigantic heat magnet. It’s safe to say that he’s the most hated guy in the WWE now even when Roman is in the room. I’ll tell you what though, Jordan was solid in this segment. At one point, you could even tell he was enjoying the heat he was getting even taking the time to soak in a couple of “WHAT” chants from the fans.
Jason is really coming into his own as this sort of corny, cheesy, naive and overly-preppy up-and-comer who’s slowly embracing his inner heel. Angle was a bit over the top with the acting but it didn’t take away from any of this at all. Jordan went on to tell his pops how he wanted a shot against Roman and tried to plead his case to Angle saying how all he needed was a chance. Angle immediately went into “daddy protection” mode showing concern for Jordan’s “injured” leg. Jordan came off really sneaky in this exchange but it worked well.
I loved how Roman came out and pretty much dismissed Jordan right out the gate to challenge Samoa Joe instead and even going out of his way to call Jordan out on how he runs and whines to his daddy for favors telling him instead of handing his business like a man. As Botch pointed out in the “Dignified Discussion” thread, Jordan responded by trying to shoot on Roman but it fell really flat. I applaud the effort but Jordan just isn’t strong enough on the mic to deliver a promo of that content with conviction. Joe was excellent in this segment. Reigns has yet to defeat Joe in a one-on-one match and Joe made sure to remind Reigns of that. Did anybody else catch the “who’s mans is this” look that Roman gave Jason when he interrupted his exchange with Joe to try and tell the world that he was some sort of tough guy? I thought that was hilarious. Anyway, after Roman told Jason to stay in his lane, Jordan took exception to being overlooked and delivered a beautiful belly-to-belly to suplex to Roman. This would lead to Roman giving Jason the title shot he wanted then and there.
This segment played out well and everybody involved played their role nicely. Reigns was positioned into a veteran/Cena role here talking down to Jordan the way Cena would normally talk down to young upstarts looking to make a name for themselves at his expense. Samoa Joe came off like the badass stalking and taunting Roman Reigns like he was Clubber Lang in “Rocky 3” and Jordan once again nailed his role as the preppy naive daddy’s boy looking for validation.
ROMAN REIGNS(c) VS JASON JORDAN
Like with Elias last week, Jordan came out of his title opportunity looking like a million bucks despite falling short of prize. For as funny as it was when Jordan claimed how tough he is, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was a legit tough guy in real life. Jason is freakishly strong and athletic and in fantastic shape and is a pretty freaking good amateur wrestler too. He delivers suplexes so effortlessly it seems. Jordan’s bridging northern suplexes were an absolute thing of beauty to watch.
Roman was fantastic in this match too. Roman delivering a DDT caught me off guard a bit but what really through me off here was seeing Roman apply a submission hold (single leg Boston crab) on Jordan. I legit did a double take when I saw that just to be sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Nonetheless, it was refreshing to see Roman attempt new moves. Hopefully that becomes a theme throughout the remainder of his IC challenges.
While Roman/Jordan was unfolding, Joe remained at the stage waiting for the right time to pounce and that’s exactly what he did during the post-match, taking advantage of a battle-worn Roman before Jason intervened with a back suplex on Joe (Joe/Jordan is definitely a match I wouldn’t mind seeing in the future). In retaliation from a suplex earlier in the evening, Roman got the last word on Jason with a superman punch.
Reigns/Jordan started slow but picked up nicely at the halfway point. The ending was strong and the IC title continues to made into a big deal. It’s a nice change of pace to see matches go for about 20 minutes or so that don’t feature a bunch of finisher kick outs.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE, JASON JORDAN & SAMOA JOE
This segment was probably the first time that Kurt Angle’s character seemed very agitated with Jason Jordan. I thought that was worth noting. Jordan came barging into Angle’s office demanding a match against Samoa Joe, cutting his conversation with Stephanie short which lead to Angle semi snapping on Jason. I hope we get more teases of dissension between the two going forward. This Father/Son angle is finally starting to tell a compelling story.
Being the true OG that Samoa Joe is, he wasn’t about to let some rookie disrespect him in the ring without delivering a receipt of his own. Joe completely blindsided JJ in mid conversation and even threatened and mocked afterwards. Segments like these are why I’m a Joe fan. Joe has this hitman/mafia vibe to him that makes him even more convincing.
SASHA BANKS VS PAIGE
This match started off a little awkward but that was probably to be expected with Paige trying to work through ring rust in the early going. Things quickly picked up, though, between the ladies and we were treated to a nice back & forth match between Paige and Sasha that featured a couple of near falls.
One thing that stick out to me during this match was the brief offense of Sonya Deville. She completely obliterated poor Bayley on the outside. With Absolution drawing comparisons to the Shield, it’s safe to say that Sonya is the Roman of the group. Sonya really comes off as a legit badass and looks intimidating.
With Paige getting her first one-on-one match out of the way now, hopefully we can get the 6-woman tag match that was advertised last week. I’m anxious to see what Mandy and Sonya can do in the ring.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE & ELIAS
This was a funny exchange. Elias called out Angle on showing favoritism to towards Jordan even calling Jordan a “bastard son”. I think it’s a nice little touch by creative to have other guys take notice of the relationship between Angle and Jordan and feel some kind of way about the way Angle treated Jordan compared to how he treats others. That could also serve to drive a wedge between Angle and Jordan.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH ENZO, NESE, DAIVARI, GULAK, DAR & NIA JAX
I’m going to go ahead and skip over Enzo’s pep talk with Nese & Gulak because in the scheme of things, nothing was said of any importance. Let’s just go ahead and skip ahead to the highlight of this backstage segment.
Nia Jax was the last person I expected to see appear here but it was very amusing. It looked like Nia trying not to burst out laughing as she said she said, “HOW YOU DOIN!” And that made this small exchange between Nia and Enzo even more amusing for me.
I’m probably going to get a lot of people disagreeing with me here but I’m all for a comedic love angle between the two. For starters, I think Nia has the personality to make this work and personality is something that eludes most of the guys in “205 Live” right now. Secondly, it gives Nia something to do which makes sense because she’d probably get lost in the shuffle along Asuka, Bliss and Absolution. Thirdly, the WWE has produced some enjoyable comedic love angles over the years (Eddie/Chyna, Viscera/Lillian, Santino/Phoenix and AJ/Bryan/Punk) so who’s to say that Enzo and Nia couldn’t pull it off?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER VS TONY NESE VS MUSTAFA ALI VS DREW GULAK
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t too excited about this match considering how lackluster last week’s match was and how lazy the booking was but this match right here blew me away. I was hooked from the opening bell. Alexander and Ali had a couple of nice reversals early on and then there was Alexander with a summersault plancha that really got the attention of fans. I even liked that Gulak and Nese worked together throughout this match to try and ensure that Ali and Alexander weren’t victorious. The closing sequence between Ali & Alexander was brilliantly done. I was a little disappointed that Alexander wasn’t victorious here but I definitely understand why they went with Gulak. The manner in which Gulak picked up the win was really fitting of his character. This match was the boost that this division needed.
So next week we’ll get Swann vs Gulak in a number 2 contender’s match. I think Gulak going over and facing Enzo would make for a more interesting story especially when you factor Nia Jax into the equation.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ELIAS
I always get a kick out of Elias ripping on the hometown crowd. Elias even took it up a notch singling out someone near the front row reminded him how irrelevant he was in true heel faction. Elias has all the makings of an “old skool” heel who knows how to really antagonize a crowd.
BRAUN STROWMAN VS ELIAS (KANE INTERRUPTS)
This match came about as a result of Elias insulting Angle earlier in the evening. I can’t really say this was much of a match though. Strowman was dominant from the word “go”. It still amazes me seeing how quick and fast Braun is. A man of his size should not be able to move the way he does. It’s scary.
Kane ending up appearing on the screen to cut a brief promo. Kane cutting promos just isn’t working for me here. If anything, it just humanizes him. Masked Kane is much more effective when he doesn’t say anything. I was really hoping that Kane would go back to being the “Michael Myers”-type monster he was in the late 90s for this feud but that just hasn’t been the case here. I understand that creative wanted to build up Kane for Strowman to eventually defeat but I’m starting to feel like a win over Kane won’t really do much to elevate Braun.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH DEAN AMBROSE, SETH ROLLINS & ROMAN REIGNS
This was brief but funny. The chemistry between these 3 is always on point. Dean was his hilarious self as always and Roman and Seth played off him well here. This also felt like an early indication of what we all thought would be an obvious outcome
ASUKA VS ALICIA FOX
This was a decent squad match. Fox got in a couple of moves but, like Dana last week, she wasn’t ready for Asuka either. I’m enjoying the interaction between Asuka and Absolution. We still don’t know why Paige has yet to attack Asuka but I’m fine with the way they’re stretching this out so far. It’s also a great way to keep Asuka busy until she’s eventually in the title picture.
Unfortunately for Alicia, she wasn’t given a pass. While Paige’s intentions towards Asuka are still unclear, it’s very clear why Paige had Sonya & Mandy attack Fox. Jealousy! Paige claims she’s the one who started the woman’s revolution but we all know it was the epic match up of Alicia Fox/Melina that really got things started (kidding).
FINN BALOR VS BO DALLAS
This was random, but I guess there was time to kill. Bo honestly didn’t look half bad but it was obvious he wasn’t going over here. Commentary put over the fact that Balor was building momentum. Despite all the rumors going around saying that Vince scrapped the Lesnar/Balor title match at the Rumble, I still think there’s a good chance he’ll end up going back to that match up. Hopefully, Monday was the beginning of Balor being built up into a credible contender
BACKSTAGE FOOTAGE WITH “WOKEN” MATT HARDY & BRAY WYATT
This was WONDERFUL! God, how I missed this version of Matt Hardy. The dialogue here was great and Wyatt and Hardy played off each other so well. Hopefully any doubts that fans may have about this gimmick in the WWE have been put to rest. This feud will really get things back on track for both men here (specifically Bray). Maybe, just maybe, this feud can be booked in such a way that both guys come out of this looking strong. I wouldn’t even mind a scenario where Bray comes out of this feud “Woken” himself.
THE BAR(c) VS DEAN ANBROSE/SETH ROLLINS
Even though this feud is beyond old and we’ve seen this match a million times already, this was still a really entertaining main event. I got a little nervous when Cesaro and Sheamus got themselves disqualified. I really thought for a second that RAW would go off the air like that but was relieved to see Angle walk out and restart the match.
Once the match was restarted, I figured Seth and Dean were a lock to capture the titles. I was shocked to see Cesaro kick out of Seth’s frog splash just moments after suffering a Lunatic Lariat from Ambrose. From here this is where things got hectic. Samoa Joe appeared to attack Rollins and Ambrose which brought out Roman to try and make the save. During all this, Sheamus was able to take advantage of all the distractions to land a Brogue kick on Ambrose to secure the win for the Bar.
Sheamus and Cesaro retaining was not what I was expecting. You could tell the live crowd was disappointed with the result too. While I was hoping Dean and Seth would get it done also so all the members of the Shield could be rocking gold, I’m interested to see what the aftermath of all this leads to. Will Dean point a finger at Roman for inadvertently costing him the match? Will this be the beginning of a Dean Ambrose heel turn that’s been rumored for months now? Or will we possibly end up getting a 6-man tag match with all the belts involved?
RAW was excellent on Monday. I can say with confidence that this was easily one of the best RAWs of the year. Matt Hardy is finally WOKE, the IC Challenge delivered, the Cruiserweights tore the house down, the main event was really good and had a unpredictably finish, and the ladies also represented themselves really well. While this show wasn’t perfect by any means, the good far outweighed the bad and I can honestly say that was engaged with this week’s episode from the very beginning all the way up the conclusion of the show.
RAW’S CHAMPIONS/WEEKLY TOP 10
BROCK LESNAR (WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION) – Idle
ROMAN REIGNS (WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) – Had a good showing against Jason Jordan but still can’t quite shake Samoa Joe.
ALEXA BLISS (RAW’S WOMAN CHAMPION) – The goodness was on commentary this week but has yet to retaliate against Absolution.
ENZO AMORE (WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION) – The realist guy in the room has a not so secret admirer. This romance should be quite entertaining.
*THE BAR* SHEAMUS & CESARO (RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS) – A very unexpected win for the tag champs tonight. I was nearly positive that their title run would end on Monday.
RAW’S TOP 10
1. SAMOA JOE (Last Week’s Ranking: 2) – Joe continues to be a constant pain the ass for the Roman Empire
2. BRAUN STROWMAN (Last Week’s Ranking: 1) – Strowman still has unfinished business with Kane, unfortunately it’s a feud that’s losing stream fast.
3. ASUKA (Last Week’s Ranking: 3) – Asuka’s winning streak continues but her biggest threat on the main roster (Absolution) has their sights on her.
4. PAIGE (Last Week’s Ranking: 7) – Despite this past Monday being her first match in over year she held her own. Looking forward to seeing how things unfold with her and Asuka in the coming weeks.
5. SETH ROLLINS (Last Week’s Ranking: 5) – Things didn’t go quite as planned for the Architect this week. Will be interesting to see how Seth and Dean respond next Monday.
6. DEAN AMBROSE (Last Week’s Ranking: 6) – See Seth Rollins
7. JASON JORDAN (Last Week’s Ranking: 9) – Jordan was the star of the first hour of RAW. His slow transition into a heel is coming along very nicely.
8. KANE (Last Week’s Ranking: 4) – The Big Red Machine’s return is losing steam fast.
9. ELIAS (Last Week’s Ranking: 8) – Unfortunately, Elias didn’t have a strong follow-up this past Monday after such a strong showing last week.
10. MATT HARDY (Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked) – He’s WOKE!