What’s good everybody, it’s your boi Xavier aka Dre here to review another episode of this week’s RAW. As I expected, creative went into a bit of “cruise control” this week which isn’t all that surprising considering the big 25th anniversary of RAW is next week and I’m sure that’s where Vince/Creative will empty the clip and go all out. Anyway, let’s review this week’s show.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH BRAUN STROWMAN & KURT ANGLE
Things got off to an interesting start tonight. Braun entered the ring first to discuss the triple-threat title match at the Rumble and to tell the story of how there was a monster, machine and beast, but in the end the monster would stand victorious. Angle came out next to discuss how careless and reckless Strowman was last week putting his RAW main event at the Rumble in serious jeopardy and that the title match would no longer be a triple threat match before proceeding to fire Strowman.
I liked the way things kicked off tonight between these two. It was a nice attempt to try and generate some buzz for Lesnar/Strowman/Kane in a couple of weeks. This also set the tone for a very entertaining first hour of RAW.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH BRAUN STROWMAN
After Strowman made his way backstage, security so kindly tried to escort Braun out of the arena by grabbing him and demanding that he leave (like that was really gonna work). Strowman then proceeded to destroy all of security like he was King Kong swatting down Helicopters on Skull Island. I swear I could watch Strowman wreak havoc all day.
TITUS WORLDWIDE (TITUS O’NEIL & APOLLO CREWS) VS THE BAR (SHEAMUS & CESARO)
For those of you that see me in the RAW discussion threads, you know that I’ve always had a soft spot for Titus O’Neil so I’m thrilled that he and Apollo are getting some sort of push even more than them going over The Bar yet again, we are finally getting some fresh blood integrated into RAW’s tag title scene – soon I hope. The last 4 months, it’s basically been Rollins/Ambrose/Jordan or some combination of that against The Bar. I’m really hoping Titus and Crews get added to the tag match at the Rumble. I think that would make things a lot more interesting.
The match itself was solid. Unlike last week though Titus World Wide won off of a distraction from Jason Jordan. This also brought out Seth Rollins who disapproved of Jordan’ acting on his own instead of as a unit once again. I’ve enjoyed much of the friction between Jordan and Seth so far, it’s quickly becoming one of the more compelling angles in the WWE.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH BRAUN STROWMAN
This segment was pure genius. Strowman came stomping through Kurt Angle’s office destroying it in the process, then ended up in catering interrupting some midcarders eating dinner before chokeslamming Curt Hawkins through a table (that man has taken more “L’s” then Meek Mill ever did in his feud with Drake).
The moment of the night however came when some random server came walking in with Chocolate cake and just stood there frozen beside Braun like those kids in Jurassic Park hoping the T-Rex wouldn’t see them. The whole thing had me in tears. For good measure Strowman took a piece for the road.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ENZO, TONY NESE, CEDRIC ALEXANDER & GOLDUST
This was a very subpar promo by Enzo. He ran through his usual shtick putting himself over before placing Nese in a match against Cedric.
Cedric and Goldust then came out to interrupt with Cedric using Enzo’s catchphrase to try and get fans into it. Unfortunately fans could careless about this Enzo/Alexander feud and that was very evident by the lack of reaction Cedric got tonight.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER VS TONY NESE: 2.5/5
This felt like a rehash of what we were getting from the Cruiserweights in 2016 and much of this year prior to Enzo. Cedric is extremely talented and Nese is no slouch himself but it’s starting to feel like the buzz/interest Enzo had created for the division a couple months ago has fizzled out. If WWE really wants this division to work out, they’re gonna need to add guys who can not only work but also have some charisma to match Enzo’s. It’s sad when the only thing I can think about during this match was “where is Gulak at?” Cedric picked up the win as expected to build some momentum leading up to his title match at Enzo at the Rumble.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE & BRAUN STROWMAN: 4.5/5
This was another funny moment on Monday’s show. As Angle was in the office looking at the damage Strowman caused, some random ref yelled “Strowman is coming and he’s headed for the TV trucks!”. Angle then randomly yelled that they were worth 12 million dollars. That whole thing was really over the top corny but I got a good laugh out of it.
We then cut to Strowman inside the production trucks demanding that everything be shut down then tells everybody to run before tipping over the truck. I thought it was very considerate of Strowman to ask everybody to leave before tipping the truck over. I guess that’s the difference between him being face and heel now I guess.
Strowman then made his way back into the arena as RAW’s rinky-dink security and Angle followed. Strowman then made his way over to the announce table with Booker knocking Cole down to open up his own escape which was hilarious. Strowman then grabbed Cole with Angle informing him that he wasn’t going to the cops and that Stephanie had rehired him with Strowman then launching Cole into security anyway.
I thought the stuff with Strowman tonight was really good. RAW always benefits from having a running theme throughout the night. This was fairly common throughout the Attitude Era and it really tied everything together. I just wish the stuff with Strowman would of ran throughout the entire the night with the ending concluding with an actual encounter between Braun and Stephanie of some sorts. This would have planted the seeds for a Strowman/HHH match at Mania which has been rumored for a little while now.
ASUKA VS NIA JAX
On paper, this match intrigued me a lot. Thankfully, the match was just as intriguing in the ring. I loved the pacing and the storytelling with this one. Asuka is the smaller and craftier of the two used her speed, kicks and various submissions to try and slow down and tire out Nia, only for Nia to overpower her attempts and swat Asuka down like a fly in an attempt to keep Asuka grounded.
This was easily one of the more realistic matches in terms of booking on WWE television. It felt somewhat like a MMA or boxing fight with the smaller fighter looking for chinks in the armor of the bigger more powerful foe while the bigger fighter tried to use her power and strength to wear the smaller fighter down.
Eventually skill and technique won over strength and power. Asuka was able to chop down Nia with a variety of kicks with the match ending abruptly when Nia was deemed not able to continue. It was a rare finish to a WWE match that we don’t get to often but fairly common in combat sports which I alluded to earlier regarding this match. Good match by both ladies here.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE & JASON JORDAN
People continue to say that Jason Jordan has no charisma or personality but at this point I strongly disagree. There is this smugness about him that came oozing through this segment that I couldn’t help but notice. Angle played off that really well putting over how annoyed and bothered he was by Jordan being there to suck up and brown nose.
Jordan then said he wanted to help his partner Seth out by requesting he placed in a match with Balor so he could get redemption for last week. This further pushes the story of Jordan acting on his own without Seth and creating more and more distrust. I remember when everybody was crapping on the Jordan paired with Seth but so far I think this story has progressed nicely.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH NIA JAX, ALEXA BLISS & ENZO
I like how Alexa showed so much concern for Nia Jax earlier when she came ringside to check on her following her match with Alexa in a rare act of kindness from the Goddess. Of course, that proved to good to be true for Nia as Alexa reverted back to the manipulative opportunist. Alexa wasn’t concerned for Nia at all; she was just worried that her plan to take down Asuka would no longer be of any service to her and that became very apparent when she said “I thought you’d be able to destroy Asuka”.
Enzo then walked in to check on his new boo, Nia, with Alexa getting a bit jealous of the attention Nia of giving Enzo. For the second time, Alexa gave Nia an ultimatum from Alexa to choose her or Enzo and once again Nia chose Enzo. It’ll be interesting to see if anything comes of that but I thought it was worth noting.
THE REVIVAL VS LOCAL TALENT
There really isn’t a whole lot to say about this match. The Revival made really quick work of their opponents here.
Afterwards the Revival cut a interesting promo regarding the RAW 25th anniversary show next week calling out a bunch of legends in the process. This will one of two ways here. Either this is set up to elevate the Revival by having them take out someone like the New Age Outlaws, The Dudleyz or APA or this will be quick angle that’ll end with the Revival getting fed to one those teams. Hopefully it’s the former.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ELIAS & THE MIZTOURAGE (MIZ, BO DALLAS & CURTIS AXEL)
I thought it was interesting that Elias made John Cena a focal point of his segment similar to how Samoa Joe did last week. While rumors of a Cena/Taker match seem to almost be a lock for WrestleMania now, I wonder if Elias could be entering a program with Cena at the Royal Rumble that will lead to a match between the two at Elimination Chamber. Anyway, I thought that was interesting.
Elias then proceeded to introduce the Miz who, once again, delivered another brilliant promo. He talked about how he was the missing spark to RAW these last few weeks not Cena or Lesnar (can’t argue that) and that it felt awesome to get a rematch with Roman. He also said that it was awesome when he left Roman laying in the ring last week to close RAW, then talked about how USA Network came to him to do a show about him and his wife Maryse that he will get to executive produce.
I love when Miz rubs his list of accomplishments in fans’ faces the way he did here. He does it better then any other heel in wrestling right now.
ROMAN REIGNS VS BO DALLAS & CURTIS AXEL
There really wasn’t much doubt at all in the outcome here. This was an okay handicap match but nothing to really write home about. Miz served as a distraction throughout the duration of this match but Roman ultimately came away with the win here.
This match honestly felt like something to do just to pass time until next week’s big match between Roman and Miz.
SASHA BANKS VS SONYA DEVILLE
Sonya looked like a beast against Sasha on Monday and her offense looked great. I wish this match would’ve gotten more time in all honestly. I really think Sasha and Sonya have good chemistry. I hope these two cross paths again soon. I was a bit surprised to see Sonya go over clean but I’m not mad about it though. I think Deville has a very bright future in the WWE.
The other thing I wanted to talk about here was Paige. Various outlets reported that the neck injury she suffered at a house show against Sasha was career ending. Reports soon flooded the internet that WWE had told her that she would have to retire and if that is the case that certainly wasn’t implied or eluded to on Monday. Commentary briefly mentioned that she had suffered a neck injury that would prevent her from taking part in the women’s Royal Rumble but that was it. Time will tell what happens with Paige from all this.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH SETH ROLLINS & JASON JORDAN
This was another case of Seth lecturing Jordan on one of the many bad decisions he’s made since they’ve been forced to team up. Seth took issue with Jordan getting involved in the Bar’s match earlier and the way he went about setting up a match between him and Balor.
“WOKEN” MATT HARDY VS HEATH SLATER
I gotta be honest here, this may have been the first time that I wasn’t really interested in something Woken Hardy was doing. After Hardy won, we didn’t even get a Bray Wyatt sighting. Hopefully we get something interesting between the two next week
GOLDBERG HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCEMENT
I was never a huge Goldberg fan but this is well deserved. At the height of the Monday Night Wars in the late 90s, Goldberg rivaled Stone Cold in popularity. I remember seeing a fist fight break out in class when I was in High School over an argument over who was better between the two.
Say what you want about Goldberg now but at the peak of his career, he was larger then life. To this day, I can’t think of anyone who had a better entrance either.
SETH ROLLINS VS FINN BALOR
This was a much better match than we got from these two at Summerslam a couple of years ago. Granted, a lot of that had to do with Balor getting injured midway through that match. Things started off average but really picked up quite a bit towards the end.
Late in the contest, Cesaro and Sheamus showed up to get a measure of revenge on Jason Jordan for costing them their match earlier in the evening. As they had Jordan cornered, they accidentally ended up getting into a brawl with the Good Brothers which allowed Jordan to escape which gave Jordan an opening to distract Balor leading to Rollins hitting the curb stomp to pick up the win.
Once again, Jordan acted on the behalf of Rollins which I’m sure Seth will take issue to next week when he finds out his victory was tainted by Jordan. What’s even more interesting is the fact that Seth used the curb stomp especially when you consider the concussion lawsuit by various wrestlers.
I thought Balor did a fantastic job of selling the curb stomp in the post match. It looked painful in the replay they showed afterwards. I thought ending the show with Balor Anderson & Gallows standing in the ring was a good way to end the show. I think WWE is about to put a rocket strap on Balor’s back and gave him go over in the Royal Rumble. Maybe his selling of the crump stomp will lead to a concussion angle to really put him over as a huge underdog going into the Rumble just to have him overcome the odds. Hey, it’s possible
The Strowman stuff was very entertaining but RAW really could have benefitted from having that angle run throughout the entire evening instead of just the first hour. Balor/Seth was good as expected and Sonya Deville impressed me tonight aswell. Unfortunately, the rest of RAW felt phoned in a bit. Despite how flat RAW felt most of the night I wasn’t all that disappointed because I expected it with the big 25th anniversary RAW just around the corner. What did you guys think of this week’s RAW?
RAW’S CHAMPIONS/WEEKLY TOP 10
BROCK LESNAR (WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION) – Brock was a no show this week. After having a stage set fall on him last week having him sit out to sell that was probably the smart way to go about things.
ROMAN REIGNS (INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) – We’re just a week away from one of biggest Intercontinental championship matches in recent memory outing two guys who have really elevated the title. I’m really looking forward to Roman/Miz.
ALEXA BLISS (RAW’S WOMEN CHAMPION) – Random note, Alexa hasn’t defended the title since October of last year.
ENZO AMORE (CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION) – I’m more interesting in Enzo’s love angle with Nia Jax then I am with anything he has doing on in between the ropes right now.
SETH ROLLINS & JASON JORDAN (RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS) – I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out next week when Seth realizes that he had some unwanted help from his tag partner.
RAW’S TOP 10
1. BRAUN STROWMAN (Last Week’s Ranking: 1) – Easily the most entertaining aspect of RAW on Monday and probably for the last month
2. ASUKA (Last Week’s Ranking: 3) – I may be alone in this but I doubt her match with Nia was fantastic, I love the story they told. She’s definitely the right person to over in the women’s Rumble
3. FINN BALOR (Last Week’s Ranking: 2) – despite losing to Seth, Balor has a real sense of direction now. I’m calling it now, he wins the Rumble this year
4. THE MIZ (Last Week’s Ranking: 4) – Miz continues to put over the IC title like it’s the best thing since sliced bread but that’s a good thing. Him and Roman will tear the house down next week, that’s right you read that correctly.
5. WOKEN HARDY (Last Week’s Ranking: 6) – A pretty blah match this week for the Woken one. A bit disappointed that he didn’t get any story progression between him and Bray
6. KANE (Last Week’s Ranking: 7) – I hate saying this about a legend but I hardly noticed he wasn’t even on the show tonight
7. TITUS WORLD WIDE *Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews* (Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked) – Thrilled to see these guys getting a push. Back 2 back wins over the Bar should warrant being placed in the tag title hunt. RAW’S tag title scene could use the fresh blood
8. CEDRIC ALEXANDER (Last Week’s Ranking: 😎 – a win over Nese keeps him in this spot, can’t honestly say he’s setting the world in fire though
9. THE GOOD BROTHERS *Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows* (Last Week’s Ranking: 10) – These guys are another team that should be placed in the tag title hunt. With Finn getting repushed that’s all the more reason to book these guys stronger and push them harder aswell.
10. SONYA DEVILLE (Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked) – Sonya looked like a season vet out there against Sasha. I’m pretty high on her.