What’s good everybody, it’s your boi, Xavier aka Dre, here once again to breakdown another episode of “Monday Night Raw”. First and foremost, though, I wanna give a huge shout out to BOTCH for stepping in for me last week to recap RAW when my job pulled me away. Now, let’s get to this week’s episode.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE, BRAUN STROWMAN, KANE & BROCK LESNAR
Tonight, we didn’t get the best opener for RAW. In fact this pretty much set the tone for a barely above average episode of RAW.
The announcement of Brock defending his title against Braun & Kane in a triple threat match really wasn’t met with that much excitement from the crowd. The brief brawl between the three really didn’t do much to sell this match either.
One of the things that I think will hurt the build up of this match is the fact that the match between Brock and Strowman at “No Mercy” back in October was so lackluster and the fact that Kane’s return was been so-so thus far. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the actual match only last about 10 minutes.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH SETH ROLLINS, JASON JORDAN & SAMOA JOE
This was a solid segment. I continue to enjoy Jason Jordan’s obsession with facing and defeating Samoa Joe and how well the WWE has handled his slow burn heel turn. Jordan has mastered the art of acting heelish without officially turning yet.
Seth, like Roman, a couple of weeks ago was goaded into a match with JJ and Joe apparently has the authority to set up matches on the wimb without permission. Either way the segment worked well enough.
SETH ROLLINS VS JASON JORDAN
I was excited to see these two lock up. While the match was given a lot of time, it never really went to that next level I was expecting. Still, a solid match nonetheless with Jordan putting up a solid effort but falling short once again. This continues to be the theme of all his matches which was pointed out by Angle last week. Good enough to hang with the best but not good enough to get it done in crunch time.
Afterwards as expected Joe and Seth & Jordan and ended up getting the upper hand on both which would set a six man tag match later in the evening.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE, SETH ROLLINS, DEAN AMBROSE AND JASON JORDAN
I’m grading this segment low because it was void of any logic. Seth/Joe was already scheduled, then Seth gave up his match with Joe to face Jordan with the winner facing Joe. Here, Seth had to beg Angle to get a match with Joe that he earned by beating JJ only to be turned down by Angle (who I assume scheduled Seth/Joe originally in the 1st place).
Anyway, Rollins, Ambrose and Jordan all made their case as to why they should be the one to get a crack at Joe with Angle instead placing them into a 6 man tag match against Joe and The Bar.
BACKSTAGE VIGNETTE WITH BRAY WYATT
This was pretty brief but this was one of Bray’s better promos in a awhile. Bray was short and to the point. I’m looking forward to seeing Bray cross paths with “Woken” Matt in the ring.
FINN BALOR VS BO DALLAS & CURTIS AXEL
I’m still not quite sure what direction creative is going in with Finn if there’s any direction for him at all now that a match with Brock is off the table. I would assume he’s facing Bo & Axel to set up something with him and the Miz (when he returns) but I’m still not quite sure.
It was a nice little surprise to see Hideo Itami make his debut here to save Balor from a 2 on 2 beatdown from the Miztourage.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH CEDRIC ALEXANDER
This was a generic backstage interview. The only thing really holding Cedric back is his generic personality.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ENZO & DREW GULAK
I can’t get enough of Enzo and Gulak together. Gulak oozes personality and charisma. I legit laughed out loud when he referred to himself as Jar Jar Binks when Enzo reference Star Wars. The comedic timing between these two is spot on.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER VS DREW GULAK
This was a step down from the great fatal 4 way Cruiserweight matches we got last week and the week before but I can’t hold that against Cedric and Drew because that would of been s tough act to follow.
Most assumed that Gulak would go over here to cause the split between him and Enzo but in hindsight I’m glad they went with Cedric here. The Enzo/Gulak alliance still has a ton of legs and I think it makes for a more compelling story to slow burn things between Enzo and Gulak.
ASUKA VS ALICIA FOX
Another easy win for Asuka here. I understand that these types of matches serve to keep a Asuka looking dominate but I’m ready to see her lock up with the likes of Bayley, Sasha and Paige now. Speaking of Paige, I was surprised we didn’t see Absolution show up again after this match.
SETH ROLLINS, DEAN AMBROSE & JASON JORDAN VS SHEAMUS, CESARO & SAMOA JOE
It’s getting a bit tough to sit through these Rollins/Ambrose vs The Bar match ups. We’ve literally been getting these same two-team matches up in some shape or form every week for a few months now, it seems. Not that the matches are bad because most of their stuff has been quite good but man I’m dying to see some fresh blood interjected into RAW’s tag division because Lord knows it needs it.
This was solid worked 6 man tag match. They built to the Ambrose hot tag really well. Speaking of Ambrose, when he initially went down with his injury on the outside with Seth eating the pin shortly afterwards, I thought it was a work and a way to start building tension between him and Seth going forward but as I’ve learned recently, it was based on a real injury. I will get into that more here in a bit.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH WOKEN HARDY
Even though I really didn’t have a clue what Matt was talking about, I got a good laugh at him playing chess with a goldfish. The stuff between Matt and Bray is completely over-the-top but very entertaining.
The vignette between the two remind me of the over the top vignettes/backstage interviews I watched as a kid between Warrior and Savage. So watching Matt and Bray in these brief segments takes me back to my childhood and really reminds me of why I fell in love with wrestling as a kid. The characters. I’m pulling hard for this feud to be success.
SAMOA JOE AND THE BAR ATTACK DEAN AMBROSE AND SETH ROLLINS BACKSTAGE
When I originally watched this segment, I thought Joe slamming a crate into Ambrose’s arm was just a way to write Dean off while he went off to film for WWE studios but, as reported here, Dean Ambrose is legitimately injured and will require surgery that will keep him out for some time.
If this sidelines him past Mania, that pretty much cancels the planned Ambrose heel turn and the Ambrose/Rollins match at Mania. Where that would leave Seth is anyone’s guess but if creative isn’t quite sold on having someone like Nakamura win the Rumble then Seth would be a great Plan B. Imagine him winning then jumping to SD to challenge AJ for the title at WM34. Just tossing that out there.
Anyway, the timing of Dean’s injury is really unfortunate, I hate to see guys go down with injuries especially around Mania season. I hope Dean has a speedy recovery.
HEATH SLATER & RHYNO VS THE REVIVAL
I was so relived to see the Revival back in action. RAW’S tag division definitely use them even more then ever with Ambrose’s untimely injury. The Revival made short work of Slater and Rhyno (I forget those guys are even on the roster sometimes). It looks like the Revival will be headed towards a program with Titus World Wide in the near future.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE, HEATH SLATER & RHYNO
It’s kind of hard to tell where things are headed for Slater and Rhyno but Angle hinted that they need to step their game up in 2018 which implied that they wouldn’t be on RAW anymore if they didn’t. Either way, I’m a little intrigued to see what Rhyno has in store for Slater to help him toughen up.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ELIAS (INTERRUPTED BY SASHA BANKS, MICKIE JAMES & BAYLEY)
Listening to Elias take shots at Tom Brady was like music to my ears. I hate New England was I got a good laugh out of this segment. Elias knocked this out of ballpark.
Elias also officially entered his name into the Royal Rumble. Call me crazy but if WWE threw us a curve ball and had Elias win this year’s Rumble, you wouldn’t get a complaint out of me. He’s a great heel, has a great look, knows how to draw heat, is good on the mic and more than capable in the ring. He really doesn’t have anything lined up at the moment so a scenario where he wins the Rumble then jumps to SD to challenge AJ would be cool in my book. Wouldn’t be the first time the WWE has taken a guy in his first year on the roster and had him win the Rumble (Yokozuna, Brock Lesnar, Alberto Del Rio).
I enjoyed the interaction between Elias and the ladies here aswell. Bayley offering Elias a hug got a nice chuckle from me too.
SASHA BANKS, BAYLEY & MICKIE JAMES VS ABSOLUTION (PAIGE, SONYA DEVILLE & MANDY ROSE)
Really hard to give this match a score any higher then I did because this 6-woman tag match was basically a set up for what was to come just minutes later which explains the DQ finish.
IN RING BRAWL/SEGMENT WITH STEPHANIE MCMAHON AND ALL THE RAW WOMAN
This was a really strange segment to end RAW. Soon after the DQ Finish, Nia Jax and the rest of the woman’s Raw roster game out to make the save for Sasha, Bayley & Mickie against Absolution which was almost identical to what we got last week.
Then out comes Stephanie and all the woman immediately stop brawling. Steph then discussed all the progress the women’s division has made over the past 2-3 years then made the historic announcement for the first ever Woman’s Royal Rumble.
Now here me out.
I absolutely loved the announcement and am truly excited to see the woman get an opportunity of this magnetite but I hated the whole sequence leading up to it and the way everybody seemingly forgot to stay in character. It’s like Asuka, Sasha and everyone else had completely forgot that Absolution has made their lives a living hell on RAW the past month or that they were just in a brawl just minutes earlier.
The announcement was huge news but the way it all came about wasn’t the strongest way to close RAW.
If I had to give this week’s RAW a grade I’d give it a C/C+. Obviously the announcement at the end of the show is huge news that has sent a huge buzz throughout the wrestling community but overall RAW was above average. None of the matches on Monday stood out and fans didn’t seem all that excited for the announcement at the beginning of the show of Brock defending the Universal title against Kane and Braun Strowman in a triple threat match.
Well guys let me know what you thought of tonight’s RAW.
RAW’S CHAMPIONS/WEEKLY TOP 10
BROCK LESNAR (WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION) – The Beast is set to defend his universal title against the big red machine and the monster among men. Don’t count on Brock dropping the title on the Rumble.
ROMAN REIGNS (WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) – The big dog was out this week for undisclosed reasons but will be back next week to resume his Intercontinental open challenge .
ALEXA BLISS (RAW’S WOMAN CHAMPION) – Its been a fairly uneventful and quite month for the Goddess. A number #1 contender for her title has yet to be established
ENZO AMORE (WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION) – Am I the only one dying to Gulak’s power point presentation dedicated to Enzo?
*THE BAR* SHEAMUS & CESARO (RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS) – The Bar were victorious in 6 man tag action tonight. The real question now is who will step up as their next challengers with Ambrose being sidelined for the foreseeable future
RAW’S TOP 10
1. SAMOA JOE (Last Week’s Ranking: 1) – Joe continues to be booked as a legit badass. He’s been a huge headache for pretty much everybody. He’ll be credited for taking out Ambrose and is the one guy that the Shield have yet to get the upper hand on. A clash with Roman at the Rumble seems logical.
2. BRAUN STROWMAN (Last Week’s Ranking: 2) – Kind of an uneventful week for Strowman. He’ll get another opportunity to face Brock at the Rumble in a triple threat match but I feel like he’d be better off being kept away from Lesnar right now.
3. ASUKA (Last Week’s Ranking: 3) – With the announcement of the first ever women’s royal Rumble I assume that she’s the odds on favorite to win
4. PAIGE (Last Week’s Ranking: 4) – Paige will be one of the favorites going into the first ever woman’s Rumble match along Asuka. If a woman’s match for the RAW’S woman title takes place at the Rumble she’d be the perfect opponent for Alexa there.
5. FINN BALOR (Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked) – Balor has put together a string of wins as of late and looks like he’s headed for a feud with the Miz When he returns. Maybe now would be a good time to reunite the old band and pair him with Gallows and Anderson as he continues to feud with the Miztourage. Would be just the spark that all 3 guys could use right now.
6. SETH ROLLINS Last Week’s Ranking: 5) – Its going to be a very interesting road to WrestleMania now that Dean is out of the equitation.
7. DEAN AMBROSE (Last Week’s Ranking: 6) – Dean’s torn tricep couldn’t come at a worse time. Hopefully he makes a speedy recover. Was really looking forward to seeing how things unfolded with him and Seth headed into WrestleMania.
7. CEDRIC ALEXANDER (Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked) I’m happy to see that Cedric has been getting the opportunity to really shine these past few weeks on RAW and the chance fight for the Cruiserweight title. I haven’t seen a wrestler with his God giving ability since Shelton Benjamin
8. JASON JORDAN (Last Week’s Ranking: 7) – Was on the receiving end of two losses this week. Despite that his slow burn into turning heel has been executed really well.
9. KANE (Last Week’s Ranking: 8) – The Big Red Machine’s feud with Strowman will bleed into a title match with Brock where I’m sure he’ll be the one to eat the pin. I haven’t been this less excited for a Universal championship match in a very long time.
10. ELIAS (Last Week’s Ranking: 9) – Still no feud in sight for Elias but he continues to be one of the bright spots of RAW every week. As of now he’s my surprise sleeper pick to win the Rumble.