Merry Christmas. I didn’t watch Raw or even think about it on Monday night because of family stuff for Christmas. This is going up later than usual because of Christmas boozing. Sometimes a guy has to let loose a bit. Anyway, let’s get to it.
Live from Chicago, Illinois, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1283. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please check out my WWE News updates Monday to Friday exclusively on TJRWrestling for all the relevant WWE news and my thoughts on everything going on.
This show was commercial free in the first hour. Here in Canada, they had commercials. I decided to download the US version from a website and review that version. It’s about 15 more minutes of action.
There was a shot of the live crowd in Chicago with Michael Cole wishing us a Merry Christmas and welcoming us to Raw.
John Cena made his entrance. The stage had presents on it. Fans sang “John Cena sucks” and Cena said to the camera that they were singing carols. Cena entered the ring. The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T welcomed us to the show. Cole said “Happy Holidays” twice and Graves said “Merry Christmas” with Cole noting the no commercial thing.
Cena pointed out a young fan wearing the wrong color hat and shirt, so Cena gifted the kid his green hat and green shirt. Cool moment.
Cena: “Merry Christmas, Chicago.” Fans started a “Merry Christmas” chant. Cena said he loved the holidays because they are about togetherness and Cena added that WWE is his home. Cena said we are like his family. Cena said cheers on a special day like today. Cena was cut off by a guitar.
It was Elias with his guitar. Elias walked down to the ring. Elias asked Cena if he knows what WWE stands for: “Walk With Elias.” How many weeks did it take them to figure that out? Elias asked who wants to walk with him and the fans cheered. Cena even said he would walk with Elias. The fans chanted “CM Punk” while Elias tried to talk. Elias said that it’s damn sure that CM Punk ain’t going to interrupt him. Cena said it’s okay for Chicago fans to like their fellow Chicagoans. The “CM Punk” chants started again. Cena welcomed Elias to Chicago. Elias said he’s going to perform uninterrupted. Cena tried to give some advice, but Elias told him to stop. Cena put a stool in the ring for him.
Elias was on the stool in the ring with a spotlight on him. Elias tried to start, but fans chanted “CM Punk” at him again. Fans booed his song. Elias sang that he couldn’t imagine a worse place to spend his holiday. Cena told him to stop playing as the lights came back on. Cena said he was trying to tell him this isn’t a bad place to be. Cena pointed out that in every song, Elias calls people jerks. Cena told Elias that they aren’t being the jerks, Elias is the one being the jerk. Elias said he wanted another chance. Elias sang a friendlier song, then Cena started to sing and when he turned around, Elias decked Cena with a punch. Cena sold it like he was knocked out. Elias said that Christmas is overrated and so is Chicago. Elias said he’s challenging Cena to a match right now.
Analysis: It took a while to get to that obvious point, but they got there. Cena did well as the face sucking up to the crowd. Elias got good heat.
Referee John Cone went down to the ring and said that the match would start right now. The ref called for the bell while Cena was still down. Way to be nice to Cena while he was down!
Elias vs. John Cena
Elias took control early on with punches. Elias with a body slam as he remained in control and he did another one where he tossed Cena across the ring for it. The announcers were putting over Elias heavily as Elias hit a double foot stomp to the chest of Cena for a two count. Elias went for the move again, but Cena moved and Cena nailed a clothesline. Elias regained control with a backbreaker. They did a spot out of the corner where Cena was trying a move, Elias powered out and hit a seated Powerbomb for a two count. Cena rolled out to the floor. Back in the ring, Elias slapped on a headlock with Booker continuing his heavy praise of Elias. It’s a headlock. Relax, pal. Cena hit two shoulder tackles, Elias went to the floor and Cena rolled him back in, but Elias recovered with a lefty clothesline for two. Backbreaker by Elias got a two count. Another backbreaker from Elias as this slow pace continued. Cena tripped up Elias and slapped on the STF submission in the middle of the ring. Elias kicked Cena away followed by a flying knee to the face. Cena came back with the STF submission again. Elias got to the ropes to break it. Elias hit a spinning neckbreaker for a two count that Cole called “Oh my God” and Cole noted it was a version of the Drift Away that Elias uses. Cena started his comeback with the two shoulder tackles and the spinning sitout slam. Cena did the Five Knuckle Shuffle fist drop. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment, covered and won clean after 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: John Cena
Analysis: **1/2 It was just okay with an ending sequence that has happened many times before. If it went about four minutes shorter it would have helped. Elias controlled most of it after the cheap shot before the match. Cena made the predictable comeback and got the win. The match was almost a carbon copy of the Elias match with Roman Reigns a few weeks back. It’s a WWE booking staple where they book somebody close to winning a big match, but ultimately falling short. You can tell how hard the announcers were trying to get Elias over, especially Booker. I don’t mind Elias at all, but it would be nice if he had more power moves in his game. If they did some more believable nearfalls it would have helped too since it was pretty basic with Cena selling for 80% of it and then did the comeback win.
Cena celebrated the win. The first 30 minutes of this show with no commercials featured Cena during all of it with Elias as well.
A video package aired about Samoa Joe’s recent actions targeting The Shield trio.
Kurt Angle was in the office putting ornaments on a tree. Jason Jordan showed up to hug his “dad” Angle. Seth Rollins showed up as well. Rollins said he wanted Samoa Joe for injuring Dean Ambrose. Jordan said he wanted his match with Samoa Joe. Angle said he knows both of them want Samoa Joe, but every time they get close to him, Cesaro and Sheamus get in the way. Rollins wasn’t thrilled about teaming with Jordan again. Jordan said he didn’t want to move backwards by being in a team since he left a team on Smackdown. Angle told them they will be unstoppable. Angle set up Jordan and Rollins getting a Raw Tag Team Title match against Cesaro and Sheamus. Seth and Jason left.
Roman Reigns showed up in the office. Angle told Reigns that Samoa Joe is all his tonight and it’s a championship match.
Analysis: A new team gets a title match just like that. Angle showing favoritism to Jordan could be used in the storyline.
Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher were interviewed in the ring by Charly Caruso. Kendrick said that they wanted to find out first hand if Hideo Itami belonged there.
Hideo Itami vs. Brian Kendrick (w/Jack Gallagher)
They exchanged forearms early on followed by a knee to the gut by Itami. Gallagher distracted Itami, so Kendrick him a jumping kick to the head for two. Double underhook suplex by Kendrick got a two count. Kendrick grounded Itami by hooking the arms followed by a move where he sent Itami into the turnbuckle. Itami nailed a DDT that sent Kendrick’s head into the top rope. Itami off the top with a leaping clothesline. Itami with two clotheslines, a kick to the chest and a suplex. Corner dropkick by Itami. Itami nailed the Go To Sleep for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Hideo Itami
Analysis: *3/4 Easy win for Itami to establish him as a new threat in the cruiserweight division. Good to see the GTS finisher, which is the move Itami made famous in Japan and CM Punk brought it to WWE. The crowd was dead for all of it until the finish.
A video package aired showing the women’s Royal Rumble announcement from last week.
Sasha Banks, Bayley, and my favorite Mickie James were shown walking backstage. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel were there in Christmas attire there to spread some Miz-mas cheer. They sang some Christmas parody songs about The Miz. The crowd cheered when they were done. The women were not impressed, and they just left for their match. Bo and Curt: “Merry Miz-mas.”
Analysis: Cheesy and fun. No problem with that.
The Absolution trio of Paige, Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville made their entrance. Graves called Rose “God’s greatest creation.” She is easy on the eyes, that’s for sure.
The face trio of Bayley, Mickie James and Sasha Banks made their entrances individually. Graves pointed out that Absolution entered together while their opponents entered as individuals, so I guess Graves is heel announcing in this match.
Paige, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville vs. Mickie James, Sasha Banks & Bayley
Banks took control early with a dropkick on Rose. James worked over Rose with a legdrop on the arm. Running forearm by James on Rose. Bayley with a running clothesline on Rose for a two count. Deville tagged in, Bayley tagged in Banks and there was a double team suplex on Deville for two. Running knees by Banks. Deville was on the floor, Banks went after him and Deville nailed Banks with a hard clothesline on the floor. That looked great. Paige tagged in and got a big ovation with a high knee to Banks in the corner. Rose slapped on an arm/leg submission on Banks. Elbow drop by Rose. Deville with a hard knee to the back of Banks. Deville yanked down Banks by the hair. Paige worked over Banks with a headlock followed by a clothesline. Rose with a running kick to Banks for a two count. Banks broke free by whipping Rose into Paige, who was on the apron. Bayley tagged in against Paige with forearms. Belly to back suplex by Bayley on Paige. Bayley knocked Deville off the apron. Paige sent Bayley into the top turnbuckle. Bayley hit the Bayley to Belly, but Deville and Rose pulled Paige out of the ring. All six women brawled outside the ring. Bayley neckbreaker on Paige on the second rope. Bayley up top, Paige kicked her down and Paige hit the Rampaige DDT for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Paige, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville
Analysis: **1/4 A solid tag match that put over Absolution just like when they did this match last week. The finish wasn't very creative at all. At no point did I think the faces were going to win. It was just a question of what face would lose and they went with Bayley. Paige continues to have a lot of momentum.
A replay aired from last week showing Dean Ambrose’s right arm injury last week.
The announcers talked about how Ambrose had a torn triceps that required surgery and he could be out of action for nine months.
Analysis: Keep in mind that WWE tends to lie about injuries. You may recall Braun Strowman’s elbow issue where they said six months and he was back in one month. It will probably be 4-6 months for Ambrose, but I don’t know that for sure.
Renee Young was backstage, and she interviewed Samoa Joe with her asking him if he had any remorse for his actions last week, but Joe said no. Joe said now Dean can be home with the ones he loves enjoying the holidays (he looked at Renee, who is Dean’s wife). Joe said that he has been systematically taking out The Shield and now Roman Reigns comes for vengeance. Joe said tonight after he puts Reigns to sleep, Reigns will wake up to see Joe with the IC Title in the air. Cole noted that had to be uncomfortable for Renee Young.
Analysis: They didn’t say that Renee was married to Dean, but it sure was hinted. It’s just a WWE thing where they assume people know.
Kane made his entrance. A video package aired showing Kane’s issues with Braun Strowman leading to both guys getting a Universal Title shot against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: Do you think WWE is sick of setting up triple threats that way? I am sick of it.
Kane vs. Heath Slater (w/Rhyno)
Running clothesline by Kane in the corner followed by a sidewalk slam. Kane kicked Slater out of the ring. Rhyno encouraged Slater. When Slater went back in, Kane threw him out of the ring with one hand. Slater wanted to leave, but fans chanted “He’s Got Kids” for Slater. Slater got in some punches and a flying knee, but Kane stopped him with a punch to the throat. Kane hit a Chokeslam and covered for the win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kane
Analysis: 1/2* Match of the year! Not really. Just an easy win for Kane.
Post match, Kane went after Rhyno, but Rhyno hit a shoulder tackle in the corner. Rhyno charged in for the Gore, Kane caught him and Kane hit a Chokeslam on Rhyno.
Analysis: Way to put over the youngster Kane. Have to make him look strong leading to Royal Rumble where he’ll get pinned by Brock Lesnar. Thrilling.
Still to come is Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Rollins and Jordan for the Raw Tag Team Titles.
FYI: I will be posting my 9th Annual WWE Johnny Awards for 2017 on Thursday, December 28. I like to wait until after the last Raw & Smackdown of the year, so that’s the best date for it. It’s usually around 8,000 words and there are some fun awards in there. Check out my Johnny Awards archives to check out the winners from past years.
Curt Hawkins did a promo saying he had to tell himself to face the facts that 2017 hasn’t been all that kind to his win-loss record. Hawkins pointed out the year isn’t over yet and he feels a Christmas miracle in the air. Hawkins said he was making an open challenge. He said his 146-match losing streak comes to an end.
Finn Balor entered. The crowd was excited to see him.
Finn Balor vs. Curt Hawkins
Balor with a kick to the face followed by a running dropkick. Hawkins got a rollup for two followed by another two pin attempts that got a two count. Balor with a double stomp to the chest. Balor with the slingblade followed by the running dropkick that sent Hawkins into the corner. Balor up top and he hit the Coup de Gras double foot stomp for the win after two minutes. That’s 147 losses in a row for Hawkins.
Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor
Analysis: 1/2* That’s two straight squash matches in a row. Balor hasn’t had a meaningful feud for a few months. I assume he feuds with Miz when he gets back, but there’s also the Royal Rumble to keep him busy.
Reigns vs. Joe still to come.
There was a shot of Dallas and Axel walking backstage where they found Goldust. They did a Miz-mas carol to the tune of Deck the Halls. The crowd cheered them again. Dallas gave Goldust a DVD of the movie ‘Santa’s Little Helper’ starring The Miz (and Paige). Dallas and Axel left. Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews, and Dana Brooke (in biz suit attire) showed up. Goldust gave Titus the DVD. Goldust did the chomp to Titus and Titus tossed it in the air for a comedic pop.
Analysis: Just a comedy segment to get people on the show.
Bray Wyatt did a promo about how Sister Abigail didn’t like days like this. Wyatt told Matt Hardy that he is surrounded by the darkness and by Wyatt’s fireflies. Wyatt said you are surrounded by her. Wyatt said he was here.
Wyatt made his entrance. As Wyatt got in the ring, Matt Hardy showed up in the ring to attack Wyatt. Hardy led the crowd in “Delete” chants.
Hardy did his laughing routine while saying “yes” as well. Wyatt just looked on with a confused look on his face and that ended it with the screen saying “Woken” on it.
Analysis: At least it's different after doing the repetitive promos for the last three weeks. You can tell WWE is trying really hard to get Hardy's funny laughter over.
Sheamus and Cesaro were shown talking in the locker room. Sheamus got Cesaro a card that said: “we don’t just set the bar, we are the bar.” Cesaro was still taking with the mouthpiece in his mouth. Cesaro opened the present, which was a Dean Ambrose action figure with a missing arm. Sheamus opened his present, which was a Seth Rollins action figure. Sheamus wants to break him too. There was also a Jason Jordan action figure. They laughed at him while giving eachother hugs.
Analysis: I think they should have made it a bigger point to complain about Rollins and Jordan getting a title shot without actually earning the opportunity.
The stars of 205 Live are up next.
Enzo Amore, the Cruiserweight Champion, made his entrance dressed as Santa Claus. Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari were dressed as elves. Enzo did a promo about coal for Christmas and then mocking Michael Cole at the same time.
Next week on New Year’s Day Raw, Enzo vs. Cedric Alexander for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Miracle on 34th Street Fight: Enzo Amore, Drew Gulak & Ariya Daivari vs. Cedric Alexander, Akira Tozawa & Mustafa Ali
Anything goes in this match, yet they are tagging in, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. There was a big high spot early with Tozawa and Ali hitting dives outside the ring to take out the heels.
Enzo worked over Tozawa with a headlock. Enzo punched Alexander off the apron. Tozawa nailed a leaping kick to Enzo to knock him down. Ali got the tag with a dropkick on Daivari followed by a kick to the face and an X-Factor. Ali up top hit the reverse 450 Splash. Gulak hit Ali in the back with some object maybe a cookie sheet. I don’t care enough to rewind. Tozawa knocked Gulak out of the ring. Enzo had the candy cane, Alexander took it away, Gulak accidentally knocked out Enzo and Alexander hit Gulak with the candy cane. Daivari tried an attack on Alexander, but Alexander got him with the Lumbar Check to win the match.
Winners by pinfall: Cedric Alexander, Akira Tozawa & Mustafa Ali
Analysis: *1/2 Boring match where it made no sense that guys were waiting for tags when it’s a match with no rules. At least the Lumbar Check and reverse 450 are cool looking moves. There wasn’t much else to it. They barely used the weapons that were legal in the match. Alexander winning was obvious since it gives him momentum going into next week’s title match.
Reigns vs. Joe is next.
Enzo was shown walking in the Santa costume and Nia Jax was there smiling at him. Enzo looked up to spot a mistletoe on the door above them. The crowd cheered as they both stared at it. They were nearly going to kiss when Alexa Bliss showed up to say that she needs to talk to Jax. She told Jax it’s about the women’s Royal Rumble, so Jax left with Bliss. Enzo: “Merry Christmas to you too, Lex.”
Analysis: Slow build to two people in their 30s about to kiss. Riveting television. Jax wasn't on the show again after this.
Roman Reigns was interviewed by Renee Young. Reigns said he didn’t care what Samoa Joe had to say and he’s not leaving Chicago without that title. Reigns said this is about Dean Ambrose. Reigns said tonight is about sending a message to Joe that if you hurt one of his brothers like Ambrose, Reigns will hurt you.
Samoa Joe entered for the match. A clip aired of Joe attacking Reigns from behind with a Coquina Clutch last month.
Roman Reigns entered with the Intercontinental Championship with a big reaction from the crowd. Meanwhile, Michael Cole shrieked about the Big Dog like usual.
Intercontinental Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe
Reigns was aggressive early on with punches and he sent Joe throat first into the middle rope. Reigns with the Drive By dropkick. Joe came back with some punches followed by a back suplex for a two count. Booker mentioned a “southpaw right hand jab by Joe” as Graves wondered what that is, and I wondered it too. Booker didn’t really follow up. Reigns with a leaping clothesline followed by corner clotheslines. Running boot to the face by Reigns. Joe came back with a leaping kick to the head for a two count as the show went to break.
Back from break, Joe with a chop and when he ran the ropes, Reigns dropped him with a Samoan Drop for two. Reigns got a rollup for a two count. Joe came back with a suplex, but his senton splash missed. Reigns nailed a Superman Punch for two because he doesn’t win with that move even though he acts shocked every time after he does it. Joe blocked a Spear attempt with a kick to the face followed by the uranage slam for two. Joe was shocked that wasn’t it. Reigns sent Joe throat first across the top rope, but Joe came back with the Coquina Clutch. Joe locked in the Coquina Clutch by taking Reigns down to the mat. Reigns managed to get his hand on the bottom rope to break it. Joe nailed a suicide dive with a forearm that sent Reigns into the barricade. Joe sent Reigns left shoulder first into the ring post. Reigns stomped away on Joe in the corner. The ref tried to pull Reigns back, so Reigns shoved the ref John Cone. The ref called for the bell for the disqualification after 13 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Samoa Joe (Roman Reigns retains the IC Title)
Analysis: *** Fun match that felt like a fight more than anything on Raw in a while. That’s what I like about these guys having a title match because they had a lot of intensity from start to finish. I hated the finish because it’s the lazy way to do it without hurting either guy, but that’s what WWE does when they want to build to a rematch.
Post match, Reigns nailed a Superman Punch in the ring. With Joe outside the ring, Reigns hit another Superman Punch jumping off the steel steps. Reigns sent Joe into the steel post. Reigns sent Joe into the post again. Reigns cleared off the steel steps. Reigns hit Joe with the steel steps to the head. Reigns hit Joe with the steel steps again. Reigns grabbed a steel chair and tried to attack with it, but Joe moved out of the way. Joe went up the ramp while Reigns was held back.
Analysis: That should lead to a Street Fight type rematch between Reigns and Joe down the road. Maybe next week.
Seth Rollins was shown watching the action and he was proud of Reigns. Rollins said he owed Kurt Angle for stepping up for him, so Rollins is fine with teaming with Jordan. Rollins told Jordan that he wants to get his hands on Sheamus and Cesaro. Jordan said he makes a pretty good replacement for Ambrose. Rollins told Jordan as good as he thinks he is, Jordan will never be Ambrose and Jordan told him that he will be better. Jordan left to end it.
The Miztourage duo of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas were in the ring. They were excited about having a Secret Santa match. They sang Jingle Bells poorly. Braun Strowman’s music interrupted them.
Braun Strowman vs. Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas
Strowman with a clothesline on Dallas with Dallas doing a flip to sell it. Strowman launched Dallas across the ring. Strowman tossed Axel into Dallas. Strowman drove Axel into the turnbuckle, splash onto Dallas and Strowman hit a Running Powerslam on Dallas for the win after about one minute.
Winner by pinfall: Braun Strowman
Analysis: 1/4* Easy win for Brauny the Snowman as expected.
Post match, Strowman picked up Axel and hit a Running Powerslam on him as well. Fans chanted “one more time.” Strowman gave Running Powerslams to Dallas and Miz one more time each.
Analysis: Lazy booking for Strowman and Kane on this show. No story advancement at all.
Alexa Bliss is up next.
There was a 25 Years of Raw moment from May 17, 1993 showing 123 Kid beating Razor Ramon in one of the biggest upsets in WWE history.
Let’s Hear From Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss, Raw Women’s Champion, was already in the ring for a promo with the title around her waist: “Merry Blissmas, everybody.”
Bliss said she thought she would give us the gift of the goddess. Bliss said she wanted to take this time to reflect saying that 2017 has been the year of Alexa Bliss. She said she started the year as Smackdown Women’s Champion and will end it as the Raw Women’s Champion. Bliss said she did it without them before and she didn’t need them now. Bliss said that undoubtedly the moment of the year came last week. The women’s Royal Rumble announcement aired again.
Bliss talked about how she has probably watched that about 100 times and she still gets cold chills. Bliss said “you’re welcome” because every cheer and moment for excitement is because of her. Bliss said she’ll be watching to see who wins the women’s Royal Rumble match and Asuka’s music interrupted.
Asuka made her entrance to a big reaction. Asuka asked for a microphone.
Asuka said she’s entering the women’s Royal Rumble match and she said she’ll win because nobody is ready for Asuka. Bliss looked at her wit ha serious look on her face while Asuka smiled with confidence. Fans chanted “Asuka” for her. Asuka nailed Bliss with a kick to the head and Bliss went down in a heap. Graves said he picks Asuka to win the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: Good heel promo from Bliss showing a lot of confidence. Asuka came off like a big star there, so that’s good. Asuka is my pick to win the women’s Royal Rumble unless Ronda Rousey is in it.
Tag Team Title match is up next.
Next week on Raw in Miami: Brock Lesnar returns with Paul Heyman.
Seth Rollins made his entrance to a big ovation. Jason Jordan was mostly booed for his entrance.
Sheamus and Cesaro, the Raw Tag Team Champions, made their entrance.
Raw Tag Team Championships: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan
The heels did a double team hip toss on Jordan, but Rollins made a blind tag with a cross body block. Rollins hit a suicide dive on the champs on the floor. Rollins helped Jordan up as the show went to break.
Back from break, the heels were in control with a double team kick on Rollins. Fans chanted for “Booker T” while Cesaro had Rollins in a chinlock. Cesaro sent Rollins sternum first into the turnbuckle. Sheamus went for the forearms to the chest, but then he stopped. Rollins tried to break free, but couldn’t do it and Cesaro hit a leg drop off the middle ropes. Booker yelled at Jordan to break up the pin even though Rollins kicked out. Double team elbow by the champs got a two count on Rollins. Sheamus sent Rollins to the floor, so Cesaro got in a cheap shot. Jordan went after Cesaro, but Sheamus and Cesaro sent Jordan into the barricade. Rollins knocked Cesaro off the apron and countered a Sheamus move with a DDT. Rollins tried a tag, but no Jordan there. Sheamus with the backbreaker got a two count for Cesaro, who was legal. Sheamus with a kick to Rollins’ face for a two count. Double team by the champs with Cesaro hitting an uppercut for a two count with Sheamus making the cover. Rollins with a leaping kick to Cesaro. Jordan back in the ring and he nailed Sheamus with a clothesline.
Jordan got the hot tag against Sheamus. Jordan drove Sheamus into both turnbuckles four times. Running shoulder tackle by Jordan and an overhead belly to belly suplex got a two count. Jordan punched Cesaro off the apron. Sheamus with a rollup for two followed by a clothesline. Cesaro tagged in with a leg drop off the ropes for a two count. Cesaro locked in the Sharpshooter submission. Rollins tripped up Sheamus and Cesaro dumped Rollins to the floor. Jordan with an inside cradle for two. Cesaro took down Jordan with punches. Sheamus tagged in with a clothesline off the top while Cesaro held Jordan in the air. Rollins jumped off the top, Cesaro caught him and the ref didn’t count even though the pin was not broken up. That looked weird. Rollins nailed Cesaro with a kick and Sheamus hit Rollins with a kick to the head. Sheamus with the Cloverleaf submission. Jordan got to the bottom rope to break the hold. Rollins held Cesaro’s leg while Sheamus hit White Noise of Jordan. Sheamus went after Rollins, but Rollins sent him into the steps. Cesaro with an uppercut to Rollins. Cesaro was the legal man. Cesaro back in the ring, Jordan tossed him in the air and dropped him with a neckbreaker for the pinfall win. The match went 16 minutes.
Winners and New Raw Tag Team Champions: Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan
Analysis: ***1/2 Great match like usual from Sheamus, Cesaro and Rollins in a tag team setting with Jordan filling in nicely for Ambrose. The heels are so good together in terms of working over the face in peril, building up the big spots and the crowd was hot for the hot tag by Jordan. When Jordan gets the hot tag he really knows how to get the crowd into it even if they do boo him when he first gets out there. Funny how quality in-ring work wins people over huh? Jordan is very good. Rollins is incredible, of course. One of the best wrestlers in the company. I didn’t expect the title change although I am not surprised because WWE wanted to end the show on a happy note, so that finish accomplished that.
Jordan and Rollins celebrated the title win together. The crowd was cheering, but some boos for Jordan too. Replays aired of the key spots that led to the finish.
The show ended with Jordan and Rollins holding up the titles while the former champs were outside the ring looking stunned about what happened.
Analysis: I assume the title change was the plan if Ambrose was healthy because then it would have ended the year with all three Shield guys holding titles. I assume the story is going to be that when Rollins and Jordan lose the titles, Jordan will blame Rollins for it, which will lead to the heel turn of Jordan. I doubt these two are long-term champions. It might last a month. If it lasted two months that would surprise me.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Jason Jordan/Seth Rollins
3. (tie) Roman Reigns
3. (tie) Samoa Joe
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2017 Average: 5.88
Average since brand split starting July 25/16: 5.89 (Smackdown is 6.56)
Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 7, 8, 4.5, 6.5
2017 High: 8 (April 3, December 4)
2017 Low: 4 (Jan. 9, Feb. 27 & June 12)
I give it a 6.5 out of 10.
It was a slightly above average show with two entertaining title matches while Cena vs. Elias was pretty good too. The women’s tag was repetitive. Three squash matches nearly put me to sleep. Decent show in terms of promos and story development.
The next WWE PPV is Royal Rumble on January 28. Here’s what we know so far.
30-Man Men’s Royal Rumble match
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Kane vs. Braun Strowman
Women’s Royal Rumble match
That's all for this week. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.
Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.
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