The Royal Rumble is in the books and it was a pretty good show with Shinsuke Nakamura winning the men’s Rumble while Asuka won the first ever women’s Rumble. In addition to that, Ronda Rousey made her WWE debut at the end of the night. Check out my very detailed (nearly 10,000 words!) Royal Rumble review right here and also check out my 10 Takeaways from the Royal Rumble over at The Comeback for even more thoughts on Sunday’s show. On Saturday, I wrote an in-depth review of the NXT Takeover Philadelphia show that featured a five-star match, which is pretty rare. I’ve seen it twice and loved it even more the second time. It’s busy season, that’s for sure. Live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (for the third night in a row), this is the Raw Deal for episode #1288 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you like what you read here, please support TJRWrestling by getting one of our amazing t-shirts right here. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. The opening video package showed Asuka celebrating her Royal Rumble win in the main event of the show. It also featured Ronda Rousey walking out to make her WWE debut with shots of the crowd going wild. That was followed by some press clippings showing Rousey in a WWE ring. Let's Hear from Stephanie McMahon Stephanie “Making History” McMahon is the Raw Commissioner and she entered for the show opening promo. The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Jonathon Coachman, who replaces Booker T. Analysis: The announce team change was announced earlier on Monday with Booker T moving to Kickoff Show panels. I think Coach is better at it than Booker, so it's an upgrade because Booker's bickering with Graves hurt the show more than it helped a lot of the time. Later on Raw is The Miz vs. Roman Reigns for the IC Title. There are new graphics on Raw as Stephanie welcomed us to the show. Stephanie said they are there to kick off 25 more years of Raw. Stephanie talked about the first ever all-women’s Royal Rumble match while putting over Sasha Banks lasting nearly an hour, Nia Jax, Naomi’s athleticism, legends like Lita, Jacqueline, Beth Phoenix and Trish Stratus. Stephanie said when all was said and done, pardon the pun, the game changed. Stephanie mentioned the arrival of the former UFC Bantamweight Champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, which drew cheers. Stephanie said that the story is about the historic Rumble match and the winner of that match. Stephanie introduced the “Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka. Asuka made her entrance in her ring gear and she received a huge ovation from the crowd while the announcers put her over strongly. Asuka went into the ring. Stephanie said Asuka is going to WrestleMania. Stephanie said normally she would ask about who Asuka wants to challenge at WrestleMania, but Stephanie said she may want to wait because Alexa Bliss may not be champion since she is going to have to defend the Raw Women’s Title in the first ever Elimination Chamber on February 25. Asuka did a promo in Japanese showing a lot of enthusiasm. Asuka pointed at the WrestleMania sign. Asuka said that at WrestleMania she will become the champion because “nobody is ready for Asuka.” Sasha Banks made her entrance. Graves complained about Banks making her way down to the ring because he said she was stealing the spotlight. Banks said that the Royal Rumble was a dream come true because they got to make history. Banks said she got to share a ring with 29 incredible and one of them was Asuka. Banks congratulated on her victory and going on to WrestleMania. Banks said that she proved she can go the distance. Banks: “I’m ready for Asuka…tonight.” Stephanie told them the match is on: Banks vs. Asuka. Analysis: They set up a big match for later with that segment, which is normal for what they do in an opening segment. It will be the first time ever for Banks vs. Asuka, so hopefully they get time because it will be great if they do. That’s one of those matches where I would have rather saved the first time for a PPV, but this is WWE and they’re not good at doing that. They didn’t announce names for the Women’s Elimination Chamber match other than Bliss is defending the title in it. The announcers talked about six qualifying matches to enter the men’s Elimination Chamber match on February 25. That’s a #1 contender’s match. Qualifying matches to get into the Elimination Chamber on Raw tonight: Strowman vs. Kane in a Last Man Standing Match, Matt Hardy vs. Elias and John Cena vs. Finn Balor. Three more matches next week. Braun Strowman made his entrance. Strowman grabbed a table from under the ring and set it up on the floor to get ready for his match. (Commercial) The match started during the break. Last Man Standing Match: Braun Strowman vs. Kane The winner gets one of the six spots in the Elimination Chamber match. Kane was in control early as he sent Strowman into the ring post. They went brawling into the crowd and near the technical area. They were near the announcer's table area. Strowman shoved an equipment case into Kane’s right arm and Strowman hit Kane with a chair. The three announcers left their table. Kane was right under the table so Strowman pushed over the entire announce set (including the part under the table) onto Kane or at least that was the idea. The referee called for the bell, so Strowman won. It was an impressive visual. It went about five minutes. Winner: Braun Strowman Analysis: * Easy win for Strowman with an impressive move for the finish because it’s not very common to see a guy push over the entire staging area with the announce table. Good job by WWE continually finding ways to make Strowman stand out from everybody else. Strowman moves on as one of the six men in the Elimination Chamber match on February 25th. Analysis: Does Strowman have a chance to win? No. His name isn’t Roman Reigns. announcement was made earlier on Monday. Analysis: They are one of the best tag teams ever with 9 Tag Team Title reigns in WWE (you could say 10 if you count the WCW reign that happened in WWE) and I believe the total is 24 Tag Team Title reigns around the world. They are a HOF team for sure. The video featured comments featuring various people in wrestling history from some old WWE video because you can tell the hairstyles of some of them are different. The video talked about their love of putting people through tables and hitting their famous 3D finisher. They finished up their last WWE run in 2016. D-Von works backstage in WWE as a producer for over a year now and Bubba Ray hosts the Busted Open Radio show. They also have two wrestling schools together. The crowd cheered loudly at the end of the Dudleys video package. They join Goldberg as inductees in the Hall of Fame on April 6 in New Orleans, which is the Friday before WrestleMania. Tickets on sale now. There was a Finn Balor cell phone promo with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows behind him. Balor talked about lasting 57:38 in the Royal Rumble as the longest man in the match. Balor noted that the opportunity was taken away by John Cena, so now he has to step up to John Cena and step over him. Analysis: That’s the second time in the show where a wrestler did a promo on a cell phone, so that’s probably going to be a regular thing with Raw in this new era with the new graphics. Cena vs. Balor is up later. Sasha Banks was interviewed by Renee Young. Banks said we are moments away from her defeating Asuka and she’s waited for this opportunity for two and a half years. Banks said that Asuka made history, but now it’s her turn. Sasha Banks made her entrance. (Commercial) There were more images shown from the Royal Rumble. Asuka made her entrance for this match with Banks. Sasha Banks vs. Asuka Asuka with a deep arm drag, but Banks held on leading to an armbar. Asuka took control with a back kick to the head followed by the running hip attack that knocked Banks off the apron onto the floor. Back in the ring, Asuka did some Japanese trash talk or maybe she said something friendly. I don’t know. Asuka slapped on an armbar. Banks came back with a kick followed by a double knee attack for two. Cole was screaming about it, but the crowd was quiet for it. They went to break after four minutes. (Commercial) The match returned with Asuka working over Banks with kicks, but Banks came back with double knees to the ribs against the turnbuckle for a two count. Banks grounded Asuka with a submission where she had her knee in the back of Asuka. Banks hit a suplex for a two count. Banks ran the ropes followed by a slap. Asuka nailed Banks with strikes, but Banks came back with a headscissors and Banks slapped on the Bank Statement submission. Asuka countered into a pin attempt for two. Banks slapped on the Bank Statement again with the crowd making no noise. Asuka went to the floor, Banks went for a dive and Asuka nailed Banks with a kick that sent Banks crashing to the floor. Back in the ring, Asuka with a stiff knee to the face followed by a spin kick and sliding knee. Asuka with a running hip attack against the turnbuckle. Asuka went up top with a missile dropkick. Banks got to the ropes to avoid a submission. Asuka went for a running dive, Banks ducked, held the ropes open and Asuka had a hard fall on the floor. Banks with a double knee attack on Asuka on the floor. Back in the ring, Banks with double knees off the top for a two count. Banks locked in the Bank Statement submission, but broke free and slapped on the Asuka Lock submission. Banks tapped out after 14 minutes to give Asuka the submission win. Winner by submission: Asuka Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very good match. The two women busted their ass to try to deliver a classic, but the crowd never got into it the way I thought they would. Some of the big spots drew reactions like the head kick by Asuka leading to Banks landing hard on the floor and when Asuka had a rough landing outside the ring. There wasn’t much of a reaction during the submission attempts by Banks, though. Maybe that's because fans know there's no way Asuka is going to lose on a thrown together match on Raw. That’s where you can tell if the crowd is into a match because they had no reaction to Asuka nearly losing. I’m not sure what the problem was with the crowd other than being tired after three straight nights there, but the effort by the women was there. The replays aired of the key spots in the match including the rough landings. Cole called it an instant Raw classic. Cole was going over the top talking about what they accomplished in the last 24 hours. Cole was really pushing how great it was with how he was yelling, so you can tell he was being instructed to do it. Analysis: The match was pretty good, but instant Raw classic is a bit much. They are just really pushing the women’s division really hard right now. Cole's announcing was very annoying with how hard he was pushing it. John Cena did a cell phone promo about losing the Royal Rumble and Cena said he’ll win Elimination Chamber to go to WrestleMania. Cena said he’s just getting started. He’s just getting started except when he takes breaks to film movies. Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews & Dana Brooke were shown backstage because they are up next. (Commercial) Sheamus and Cesaro, the new Raw Tag Team Champions for the fourth time, made their entrance. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews were joined by their “statistician” Dana Brooke looking good in business attire. They get the title match because they beat Sheamus & Cesaro during the last two weeks on Raw. Raw Tag Team Championships: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke) When O’Neil and Crews were introduced, there was no crowd reaction. There was a bit of reaction for the champs at least. Crews got a rollup on Sheamus for two. O’Neil tagged in and Cesaro beat on him with some forearms. O’Neil came back with chops followed by a toss across the ring, corner splash and Sheamus distracted. O’Neil slammed Cesaro, Sheamus blind tag, Sheamus hit O’Neil in the back with a forearm and kicked O’Neil out of the ring as they went to break. (Commercial) Back from break, O’Neil was still isolated from his partner as Sheamus hit him with a clothesline and Cesaro tagged in with a double clothesline. Cesaro grabbed a headlock on O’Neil. Sheamus tagged back in and sent O’Neil out of the ring. Cesaro tried a cheap attack, but O’Neil stopped him with a kick to the chest. O’Neil chopped Sheamus and then sent him sternum first into the top rope. Knee lift by Sheamus, but O’Neil came back with a clothesline. Crews got the hot tag against Cesaro with no reaction for Crews. Running kick by Crews, forearm by Crews and he went up top for a cross body block off the top. Crews showed off his athleticism a bit leading to a leaping clothesline as well as a standing Shooting Star Press. Sheamus tagged in and they did a spot where Sheamus hit a Powerbomb on Crews that looked like Crews was supposed to flip over with a hurricanrana. Crews was planted on his neck/head and it looked bad. Crews got back to his feet with a standing SSP on Sheamus for two. Cesaro sent Crews into the ring post. Cesaro and Sheamus hit a double team White Noise for the pinfall win after 11 minutes. Winners by pinfall: Cesaro and Sheamus Analysis: ** It was just an average match with the crowd dead for most of it. Crews showed off some incredible athleticism in the match and after he got up from that rough landing as if it was nothing it showed how tough he is. I would have liked to hear the crowd cheer him a bit more because he was busting his ass out there. It was no surprise that Sheamus and Cesaro got the win. A graphic said Ronda Rousey “up next” even though she’s not there. But she’s on my banner for this review. (Commercial) There was a video package about Ronda Rousey at the Royal Rumble. It’s the same thing they aired at the start of the show 2 hours, 30 minutes ago. The announcers talked about Rousey with Coachman saying he has witnessed Rousey in UFC and she’s a game changer for WWE. They showed a tweet from Alexa Bliss about retaining the Women’s Title in the Elimination Chamber. There’s no time for her to do a quick interview? This show is three hours. Let people talk, WWE. A replay aired of Braun Strowman’s destruction of Kane from earlier in the night. Cole said that Kane sat up in the emergency room and crawled his way out of the hospital, he dragged himself to his feet and doctors tried to keep Kane from leaving, but Kane left and has not been scene. Analysis: Look for him in Knox County. Maybe he'll be driving a Diesel truck and stop by the dentist while he's there. The duo of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows made their entrance to support their buddy Finn Balor. Finn Balor made his entrance to a great ovation from the crowd because it’s hard for them to stay asleep for his entrance due to how fun it is. The match against Cena is next.
(Commercial)This week on 205 Live there’s a new General Manager. They showed some tweets from cruiserweights suggesting who they want to be the GM of their show. No cruiserweights were on this show. John Cena made his entrance to the usual mixed reaction with more cheers than boos it seems. Finn Balor vs. John Cena The match started at around 10:48pmET so they should get a solid amount of time. Balor slapped on an armbar early. Fans did the “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” chant. Back to their feet, Balor with an arm drag into an armbar. Cena took down Balor with a side headlock. Very slow pace for the first five minutes of this match with nothing really happening. Balor got a two count on Cena leading to Cena bailing to the floor to take a bit of a break. Cena pointed at some fans in the crowd and then went back in the ring. The fans were not paying attention to the match because they were looking at something in the crowd and Cena was looking at it. There might have been a beach ball, so the guys did a test of strength spot. Fans chanted “asshole” at somebody in the crowd as Cena nailed a punch and the show went to break. Analysis: There was nothing happening in those first seven minutes. (Commercial) They returned from break with Cena hitting a body slam. Cena whipped Balor hard into the turnbuckle two times in a row. Balor came back with a kick leading to a double stomp. Balor nailed Cena with a chop, but Cena came back with the vintage Cena two shoulder tackles and a spinning slam. Cena did the “you can’t see me” hand gesture, Balor avoided it and Balor did the same hand gesture leading to a reverse DDT for a two count. Balor and Cena got into a slugfest as they exchanged blows with the crowd getting into it. Cena with a kick to the face. Cena stood on Balor’s wrist followed by the fist drop that barely grazed Balor. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment, Balor slipped out of it and hit a leaping kick for two. Balor took down Cena. When Cena got back to his feet, he nailed a charging Balor with a clothesline. Balor got his feet up to block an attack. Balor charged, Cena hoisted Balor onto his shoulders and hit the Attitude Adjustment for two as Balor got his shoulder up. Cena was selling frustration, the fans were booing him and Cena said to Coach: “I’m just trying to go to WrestleMania.” Cena up top, Balor with a running kick and Balor hit a dropkick that sent Cena into the turnbuckle. Balor up top, Balor jumped off with the Coup de Gras and Balor was favoring his left knee. Cena slapped on the STF submission hold. Balor crawled to the bottom rope to break the hold. Balor on the apron, Cena went after him and Balor hit a kick to the head. Balor up top, Cena went after him and Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment off the middle ropes for the pinfall victory after 19 minutes. Winner by pinfall: John Cena Analysis: ***1/4 The match was good and I like both guys, but the really slow pace in the first half of it made it feel like a 10 minute match instead of 19 minutes. There just wasn’t a lot that happened early on with rest holds they were doing. When they returned from the break, things got a little better as Balor showed some good babyface fire when he kicked out of the Attitude Adjustment and made the ropes during the STF attempt. I thought Balor should have had a few moments in there where people believed he was going to win. Balor did not his Coup de Gras finish, so maybe if he did that for a nearfall it would have helped. I thought Balor might win the match because he needs wins like that, but WWE went back with their guy and gave Cena the victory. I would have had Balor win, but this is WWE. They love that Cena guy. The win means that Cena is going to be a part of the Elimination Chamber match on February 25. Analysis: Will Cena win that match at Elimination Chamber? Nope. That’s Roman Reigns. Cena posed in front of the fans. Cena kept telling them that he had to get it done because he needed to win to have a chance of going to WrestleMania. Balor was helped to his feet by the referee. Balor looked dazed a bit after the loss, which is something he has done before, so maybe it's some kind of concussion angle, but maybe it’s just good selling by him. Cena celebrated the win while pointing to the WrestleMania sign (they sure love to do that) and that’s how Raw ended at 11:09pmET. Analysis: The three men in Elimination Chamber so far are Cena, Elias and Strowman. I think the other three will be Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and maybe Jason Jordan, but they could go with The Miz in there. I just think The Miz vs. Finn Balor feels like a good idea as a feud right now. Bray Wyatt probably won't win since he cost Matt Hardy, so Matt will cost him against one of those guys. Three Stars of the Show
- Braun Strowman
- Sasha Banks