Live from Miami, Florida this is the Raw Deal for episode #1284 for the New Year’s Day edition of Raw. 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.
The show started with a shot of the live crowd. No video package. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the IC Title is coming up and "Year of the Beast" with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman is coming up later. Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka is coming up later in a non-title match. Cole said that match could main event WrestleMania.
Analysis: That match could main event WrestleMania? That's a bit much considering this is the same company that usually books women in multi-women matches at WrestleMania even though singles matches are much more compelling. Asuka didn’t even headline a NXT Takeover event and I think she should have.
Alexa Bliss was shown walking backstage. Bliss went up to Raw GM Kurt Angle to complain about the match noting. Angle said if she has a problem she can take care of it in the ring and said she is lucky it's not a title match.
Let's Hear From Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle, the Raw General Manager, made his entrance to a big ovation and the "you suck" chants.
Angle: "Happy New Year and welcome to Monday Night Raw." Angle said that 2017 was one of the best years of his career especially because he was Raw GM. Angle said if you thought 2017 was great (I didn't), then 2018 will be even greater (I sure hope so). Angle hyped up Raw's 25th anniversary in three weeks and the Royal Rumble. Angle pointed out that John Cena declared he's in the men's Royal Rumble.
Angle said what's good for the men is good for the women, so the same rules apply. Angle said he talked it over with Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan and it will be 30 entrants in the women's Royal Rumble and it's over the top rope elimination. Angle said the winners of the Royal Rumble matches will get a title opportunity at WrestleMania. Angle said he expected Raw to win both Royal Rumble matches. He was cut off by Sheamus and Cesaro.
Analysis: Good to hear them finally announce rules for the women's match. I assume that getting 30 women for the match means that they will call on some names from the past and maybe some women from NXT too. What’s concerning is that some women barely over five feet tall, so asking them to bump over the top to the floor is tough. A six-foot tall guy can take a clothesline bump over the top. A smaller woman can’t. I love women's wrestling and am all for a women's Royal Rumble, but you can't expect 120-pound women to bump like 250-pound guys. It's just common sense. They have to plan the elimination spots well.
Sheamus and Cesaro entered to boos with fans chanting "you look stupid" at Sheamus, who said he didn't care. Sheamus and Cesaro complained about Angle giving Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins a title match last week when they didn't earn it. Cesaro said (without a mouthpiece) what Angle did after the match was too much. A clip aired from last week showing Angle celebrating with his "son" Jordan and Rollins after they won the Raw Tag Team Titles.
Sheamus complained about favoritism by Angle while Cesaro said they want a rematch. Angle told them they will get their rematch when he says so. Jason Jordan's music interrupted.
Jordan walked out wearing one of the Raw Tag Team Titles. Jordan said if he didn't deserve an opportunity with the titles then what is he doing out here with this...he pointed at the title. Jordan went into the ring. Jordan said that his dad doesn't know about favoritism and said it was his track record, not his DNA. Jordan said that if Cesaro keeps refurbished mouth of his, he'll earn himself another trip to the dentist. Angle told Jordan and Cesaro to settle their differences right now. A ref ran down to the ring to start the match.
Seth Rollins, the other Raw Tag Team Champion, appeared on the stage. Rollins said that Jordan has a lot to learn about being a teammate. Rollins pointed out that Cesaro and Sheamus could jump Jordan in a setting like this. Rollins got in the ring and told Jordan he needs to stop being so self-absorbed. Rollins told Jordan he'll be in his corner as the fans chanted "Daddy's Boy" at Jordan. Rollins said the way he sees it, he's only out there to watch him lose. Cesaro kneed Jordan in the back to send him out of the ring and the match starts after the break.
Analysis: Typical Raw opening where the promo is used to set up the match after the break. Did you expect anything different to start the new year? Of course not. The creative team is stuck in its ways.
Jason Jordan (w/Seth Rollins) vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus)
They started during the break as Jordan connected with a dropkick. Cesaro came back with uppercuts. Cesaro went for a cross body block off the ropes, but Jordan caught him and slammed Cesaro back first into the turnbuckle four times. Sheamus went on the apron to distract, Jordan missed a corner charge, he hit the turnbuckle and Cesaro clipped the back of the left knee of Jordan. Running dropkick by Cesaro against the knee of Jordan. Cesaro sent Jordan's left knee against the side of the ring apron. Cesaro worked over the left knee of Jordan some more. Weak clothesline by Jordan since he was favoring the leg. Jordan sent Cesaro to the apron and punched him, but Cesaro tripped up Jordan on the apron. Cesaro slammed the left knee of Jordan against the ring apron. Jordan was on the floor writhing in pain as the show went to break.
Back from break, Cesaro was still in control as he stomped away on the left leg of Jordan. Half crab submission applied by Cesaro. Jordan tried to fight back while Rollins tried to make noise, but the crowd wasn't into it. Jordan with two forearms and two belly to belly suplexes, which drew a mild reaction leading to a two count for Jordan. Two Northern Lights suplexes in a row from Jordan as he favored his left leg on the pin, which led to a two count for Jordan. Cesaro came back with a kick to the knee and Sheamus hit a cheap punch on Jordan. Cesaro slapped on a Boston Crab submission, but Jordan got to the ropes. When Sheamus tried to interfere, Rollins took out Sheamus with a clothesline on the floor. Jordan lifted up Cesaro and dropped him with a neckbreaker for the pinfall win after 12 minutes. The crowd reacted well to that.
Winner by pinfall: Jason Jordan
Analysis: **1/2 Solid match between two guys that can really go in the ring. Jordan was put in the position of being a face, yet he also acts like a heel a lot of the time with his cockiness. Basic story with Cesaro working on the knee of Jordan. There weren't a lot of believable nearfalls, so that hurt the match a bit. That's part of the reason why the crowd wasn't into some of it too. The finish was good with Rollins neutralizing Sheamus to prevent more interference and Jordan was able to get the win because of that.
Post match, Jordan celebrated on his own. Rollins tried to raise his hand, but Jordan wanted to celebrate by himself.
Analysis: I think Jordan will do the full heel turn post-Rumble leading to a WrestleMania match against Angle.
Roman Reigns was interviewed by Renee Young backstage. Reigns spoke about the stipulation that if he's disqualified he will lose the IC Title. Reigns said that Joe is a punk that talks like a punk and walks like a punk. Reigns said it's going to be ugly, intense and unfortunately for Joe, Reigns will stay within the rules...he hopes.
Still to come: Brock Lesnar.
Bray Wyatt made his entrance with the arena full of light from the "fireflies" lighting up the building with their cell phone light. Wyatt is in a match after the break. I guess he can hang out with ring announcer/girlfriend Jojo during the break.
PLUG TIME: Take a look back at 2017 with the results of our TJRWrestling Staff Predictions for 2017…On New Year’s Eve, I posted my ranking of the ten best WWE matches of 2017. I think the top two were a level above everything else and after that, it was tough to rank them. One thing that really stood out is that WWE had a lot of outstanding multi-man matches in 2017. As I wrote in the article, we are spoiled by great matches all the time. Hopefully, we can all learn to appreciate them better…My biggest column of the year is the WWE Johnny Awards and you can read the 2017 edition of my awards column right here in case you missed it last week.
This week on Smackdown: AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn in a non-title match. My two favorite guys on that show along with Kevin Owens. Good.
Sasha Banks did a promo in front of a "Happy New Year" screen offering up her New Year's Resolution. Banks claimed she would win the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: Banks wasn't pushed that well in 2017 after having a great 2016. I hope there's a heel turn for her this year because she's better that way.
Apollo Crews made his entrance with Titus Worldwide leader Titus O'Neil and Dana Brooke, who is the statistician of Titus Worldwide. Brooke is in business attire. Brooke is good looking, but she doesn't stand out enough.
Apollo Crews (w/Titus O'Neil & Dana Brooke) vs. Bray Wyatt
Crews got in a bit of offense early, but Wyatt slowed him down with a headbutt to the chest. Crews with a nice leapfrog leading into a dropkick for a two count. The announcers tried to talk about Crews being underrated, which is true, but he has been booked like crap on the main roster. Crews on the top rope, Wyatt with a punch and Wyatt with a jawbreaker-like move off the ropes. Wyatt stomped on Crews' hand and stared at Brooke as the show went to break.
Back from break, Wyatt had Crews in a headlock. They ran the ropes with Wyatt doing a running cross body attack for a two count. Crews came back with a running kick to the head. Crews nailed a standing Shooting Star Press for a two count. They went to the floor with Crews nailing a kick to the face and a jumping attack off the apron to take out Wyatt. Back in the ring, Wyatt nailed a stiff clothesline. Upside down corner pose by Wyatt drew a reaction. Brooke was on the apron, so Wyatt stared at her and she fell back onto Titus on the floor. Crews took advantage with a leaping kick. Crews tried to set up for his finish, but Wyatt nailed the Sister Abigail for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bray Wyatt
Analysis: *3/4 Decent match that got more time than you might expect for Crews in that situation. It was nice to see Crews get in quite a bit of offense because he is a talented guy like the announcers said, but he never beats the guys higher up the ladder. Crews is there to put people over. Until that changes, it will be tough for him to win over the crowd. Wyatt winning clean was no surprise.
Post match, Matt Hardy appeared on the screen following the word "Woken" on screen. Hardy said that last week he transformed the fireflies into the woken warriors. Hardy said that Wyatt can't escape his Woken Wisdom much longer. Hardy claimed that once Abigail's powers are no more, Hardy will delete him. Hardy did his laughing routine while dozens of images of Hardy laughing appeared on the screen. Wyatt looked confused by it while the fans chanted "delete" and "Woken" was displayed on screen to end it.
Analysis: The slow build to an eventual match continues. Nice twist at the end with the maniacal laughter.
Nia Jax was shown walking backstage. Alexa Bliss was at the door saying that she needed Jax's help. She had a backpack on and a container with soup in it. Jax said that Enzo Amore texted her saying he was sick with the flu and he needs her. Jax added that Enzo can't defend his title later. Bliss said it's either him or her. Jax said sorry because the soup was getting cold. Jax left. Bliss: "Has everybody lost their mind?" End scene.
Analysis: Riveting television. The awful booking of Nia Jax in the last few months has hurt her a lot.
Bliss vs. Asuka is up next.
A commercial aired for Raw 25 on Monday, January 22. It's a big one.
A video aired about the Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook in two weeks. So many things going on with Royal Rumble, Raw 25 and MMC. Not saying MMC is at the same level because it's not a big deal, but there is a lot going on.
Alexa Bliss, the Raw Women's Champion, made her entrance and showed that she knows how to make scared faces. Asuka entered to a good ovation. Graves said that he's picking Asuka in the women's Royal Rumble.
Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka
This is not for Alexa's Raw Women's Title.
The match started with Bliss avoiding strikes from Asuka. Bliss did a hair whip, so Asuka recovered quickly and nailed Asuka with a forearm followed by a shoulder tackle. Running hip attack by Asuka on Bliss sent Bliss to the floor. It looked like it was time for a commercial, but it was not. Bliss teased going back in the ring and then left to the floor again. Asuka kicked Bliss in the back. Two more hip attacks to the face by Asuka. Bliss with a kick and then she bailed to the floor again.
Back from break, Bliss was in control with a leg scissors around the waist of Asuka. Ankle Lock applied by Asuka with the crowd not getting into it much as Bliss got to the ropes and Bliss used her momentum sent Asuka ribs first into the ropes. Bliss worked over Asuka’s ribs with punches. Backbreaker by Bliss continued her attack on the back/ribs of Asuka. Bliss applied the leg scissors again leading to Asuka slapping on an armbar. Bliss walked up to Asuka with a slap to the face. Asuka slapped her back. Asuka fired up with a dropkick that didn’t connect that well and neither did the second one. Missile dropkick off the second rope worked for Asuka. Corner splash by Asuka followed by another running hip attack. Knee lift to the face by Asuka. Bliss went for a pin, but Asuka countered into a two count of her own. Bliss with a dropkick that sent Asuka out of the ring. Asuka came back with a kick. Spinning kick by Asuka followed by the armbar submission and Bliss tapped out to give Asuka the win after 15 minutes. That got a decent reaction, but the crowd wasn’t into the whole match.
Winner by submission: Asuka
Asuka celebrated the win while Bliss looked sad outside the ring with her title. The announcers talked about this like it was an epic match even though it was clearly not.
Analysis: **1/4 The match was average with a slow start that felt like it was done to just fill time. They didn’t want Asuka to win in only seven minutes, so that’s why there was that filler in the early part of the match. They were trying to tell the story of Bliss fearing Asuka, but then Bliss took control and got in some decent offense. The slap by Bliss set Asuka off leading the last sequence of the match. Anyway, the champ losing non-title is WWE’s favorite way to build up a title contender. I hate it and they think they do it too much, but that’s what this was. They shouldn’t have even done this match.
Analysis x2: Asuka winning with an armbar is what they have done for months possibly because WWE is setting up Asuka vs. Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. Not saying that’s a lock, but it’s possible. I think this win by Asuka will take her out of the Royal Rumble, then Asuka wins the Raw Women’s Title at the Rumble and Rousey wins the Rumble as a surprise entrant. Rousey is filming a movie, but they would only need her for that one night at the Rumble, so that’s why it’s doable.
The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T were shown on camera to set up Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns.
A video package aired about Samoa Joe’s rivalry against Roman Reigns and Joe injuring Dean Ambrose in the storyline.
Samoa Joe was interviewed by Renee Young. Joe claimed he would beat Reigns like every time they have stepped in the ring together. Joe said that he has exposed Reigns. Joe claimed because of him, The Shield will never be champions together. Joe: “Because of me, Dean Ambrose is a stay at home husband living off his wife’s paycheck.” Great line since Renee is Dean’s wife and the crowd let out an “ooohhh” reaction for it. Joe said because of him, Reigns is the kind of champion that gets himself disqualified. Joe said thanks to him, Reigns doesn’t have that option. Joe said that Reigns has run out of friends and run out of time. Joe said that Reigns will understand that while it may be his yard, but he lives in Joe’s world.
Analysis: Awesome heel promo. One minute of confidence with a shot at Ambrose in front of Renee, which makes Joe come across like even more of a jerk. Joe is one of the best heels in the company.
Braun Strowman entered for a match. Good ovation.
Bayley did a promo about the women’s Royal Rumble saying she’ll be hugging her way to WrestleMania. She’s not winning.
Braun Strowman vs. Rhyno (w/Heath Slater)
The fans chanted “ECW” for Rhyno and even a “Let’s Go Rhyno” chant. Shoulder tackle from Strowman followed by a boot to the face. Slater was on the apron. Strowman did a promo inviting Slater into the match. Rhyno and Slater double teamed Strowman with punches, but Strowman took over with running splashes in the corner on both guys. Strowman picked up Rhyno with the Running Powerslam for the win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Braun Strowman
Analysis: * Easy win for Strowman to continue to make him look strong going into the Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble.
Post match, fans chanted “one more time” and Slater went into the ring to save Rhyno. Strowman swatted away a kick attempt by Slater followed by a Running Powerslam by Strowman on Slater. Strowman picked up Rhyno again and hit another Running Powerslam. Strowman picked up Slater and gave him a Running Powerslam. The fans cheered all of it.
It looked like this segment finished, but it kept going. Strowman gave Rhyno another Running Powerslam. Strowman hit Slater with another Running Powerslam. The crowd was pleased with it.
Analysis: Nice way to pop the crowd.
Still to come: Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman.
Roman Reigns was in the locker room with Seth Rollins coming up to him. Rollins said he wanted to make sure Reigns was keeping his cool. Reigns said that Joe is a joke to him. Reigns said you do not miss with their brother Dean Ambrose. Jason Jordan walked in as well, which led to the crowd booing. Jordan said that if The Bar tries to interfere in Reigns’ match with Joe, they will take them out. Reigns and Rollins just delivered awkward looks as Jordan left.
A Raw 25 clip aired from April 27, 1998 when Degeneration X tried to invade WCW Monday Nitro. Raw 25 is on January 22.
Strowman was shown walking backstage where Kane was standing by. Kane said he just wants to talk. Kane said they are the alpha monsters of WWE and together they can tame Brock Lesnar. Kane said he had a plan and all it takes is being on the same page. Strowman said that he doesn’t care about Kane or his plan because he’s the only alpha monster on Raw. Strowman said when he takes care of Brock Lesnar he’ll do it on his own terms.
Analysis: Solid segment aside from each guy having to work in the “alpha monster” phrase that makes it sound awkward.
Finn Balor showed up in Kurt Angle’s office to say that he’s entering himself in the Royal Rumble match. Angle said he thought Balor was in there for something else. Balor mentioned a six-man tag match against Elias and The Miztourage. Angle asked if he found partners. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up. The crowd popped. Balor said he’s fought with those guys a lot and fought against them. Gallows and Anderson did their “nerds” bit to end it.
Analysis: The trio of Balor, Gallows and Anderson were part of The Bullet Club in Japan. Balor started the group with Anderson as a part of it. Gallows joined later. They are close friends. Good to see them together in WWE finally although they aren’t allowed to use The Bullet Club name in WWE.
Samoa Joe made his entrance for the IC Title match.
Roman Reigns entered with the Intercontinental Championship. There was a loud reaction for Reigns. Plenty of boos, but it sounded like more cheers.
Intercontinental Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe
If Reigns is disqualified, he will lose the Intercontinental Championship. Cole pointed out the ref John Cone was the ref last week when Reigns lost by DQ and was storyline fined $5,000 for it.
It turned into a slugfest early on. The crowd did the dueling Reigns chants. The ref admonished Reigns from punching Joe too much, so Joe nailed a back suplex for a two count. Snap suplex by Joe led to Reigns going to the floor like the good employee he is for the commercial break spot.
Back from break, Joe with a running back elbow for a two count. Reigns got back, corner charge, Joe moved and Reigns hit the turnbuckle shoulder first leading to Joe getting a two count. Reigns came back with punches and a clothesline, but Joe stopped him with a forearm as well as a leaping kick to the back of the head. Joe worked over Reigns with forearms followed by a hard whip into the corner. Another hard whip into the corner by Joe that sent Reigns crashing to the mat. Joe slapped on a submission where he was pulling back on the left arm of Reigns. When Reigns got back to his feet, he came back with a running clothesline. Both guys were down. Reigns hit the ten clotheslines in the corner followed by a kick to the head that sent Joe out of the ring. Drive By dropkick by Reigns on the apron. Back in the ring, Reigns got a two count. Reigns punched Joe in the corner with the ref pulling him back even though it wasn’t near the five-second mark. That was done to give Joe some offense. Reigns was on the apron, Joe knocked him down and Joe nailed a suicide dive with a forearm to the face that sent both guys crashing on the floor. Each guy got back in before the ten count as the show went to break.
Joe was in control with a headbutt to Reigns. Joe punched Reigns in the mouth a few times, Reigns told him to hit him and they got into a slugfest again. Reigns hit a Samoan Drop for a two count, which the crowd bought as a nearfall because it’s a long match. Joe bailed to the floor. Reigns followed him out of the ring, but Joe nailed him with a forearm to the chest to block a Superman Punch attempt. That was great. Joe sent Reigns head first into the steel steps a few times. Joe back in to break the ref’s count. Reigns sent Joe shoulder first into the steel steps. Reigns teased an attack with the steel steps, the ref warned him and Joe nailed a punch. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch off the steel steps. Back in the ring, Reigns nailed another Superman Punch for a two count. Great nearfall for a spot that rarely wins Reigns a match. Joe blocked a spear with a kick. Joe shoved Reigns into the ref, the ref teased ringing the bell, but he didn’t do it. Joe avoided a Superman Punch and hit a uranage slam for a two count. That was a great nearfall as well. Fans were really into the match with a “this is awesome” chant. Joe with a Coquina Clutch, the crowd was screaming about it and Reigns got out of it easily. Reigns hit the Spear and covered Joe for the pinfall win after 23 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns
Analysis: **** Excellent match that was given plenty of time with a lot of drama building towards the finish. That’s what people want to see. A competitive match for a title helps build the credibility for that IC Title. That was a PPV quality match that would have been one of the best singles matches in WWE in 2017. Sets a high standard for others to meet in 2018. Going four stars in a TV match is rare, so kudos to Reigns and Joe for putting on a great showing while WWE deserves credit for giving them so much time. That’s the benefit of being on a three-hour show. Smackdown matches almost never go over 20 minutes. What’s funny is I’ll get people complaining to me about Reigns all the time, yet here he is putting on another very good match. I can understand not liking Reigns’ push if that’s what you want to do, but Reigns has really improved in the ring in the last couple of years.
Post match, Reigns had a smile on his face as he kissed the IC Title and said to the camera: “That’s for you Deano” for his buddy Ambrose. Replays aired of the key spots. Joe left as the loser while Reigns celebrated with the IC Title.
Kurt Angle was shown watching the action on a television backstage. Paul Heyman walked up to him with Angle asking Heyman if he can help him. Heyman talked about how if Braun Strowman and Kane on Brock Lesnar, then Lesnar will be proactive, not reactive. Heyman said 2018 will be “The Year of the Best” and he left.
The Absolution trio of Paige, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville were shown (in their new t-shirt) with Paige saying they were the only three women in the Royal Rumble that really mattered. No words from Rose and Deville.
Analysis: Good to see Paige is okay after a scary moment during a live event match last week led to her being sent home. No reason to put her in a match here. Hopefully, she’s ready to go by next week or soon after.
On 205 Live this week it's Hideo Itami vs. Jack Gallagher.
Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari were in the ring with Gulak claiming he had a message from Enzo Amore. Gulak read an Enzo promo off a sheet of promo like the lame white guy that he is. Gulak read that Enzo has the flu, so he's not defending his Cruiserweight Championship on Raw. Gulak read that if Enzo was there he would tell Cedric Alexander what he thinks, so Alexander interrupted. No reaction.
Cedric Alexander walked down to the ring to confront the heels. Alexander said he came for competition, so he wondered which one of them would be stepping up in Enzo's place. Gulak and Daivari talked about it. Daivari told Alexander they can have a tag team match against Alexander and anybody that comes down that ramp. Goldust made his entrance. Goldust got an ovation from the crowd.
Goldust went to the ring and suggested that he become a partner of Alexander, so the match began.
Analysis: Goldust turned heel months ago. I guess Goldust is back to being a face since the heel run went nowhere.
Cedric Alexander & Goldust vs. Ariya Daivari & Drew Gulak
Alexander nailed a dropkick on Daivari early on. Gulak caused a distraction, so Daivari sent Alexander face first into the turnbuckle. Alexander hit a back elbow to create space and Goldust tagged in against Gulak. Goldust and Gulak messed up some spot off the ropes, so then Goldust continued it and hit the bulldog. Fans chanted "you still got it" for Goldust. Snap powerslam by Goldust on Gulak and an inverted atomic drop on Daivari. Goldust up top leading to a cross body block on both heels. Alexander off the top with a double clothesline on the heels. Goldust punch on Gulak and Alexander with a Lumbar Check on Gulak to win. It went about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cedric Alexander & Goldust
Analysis: *1/4 A basic match to put over Alexander. Goldust added a bit of a different flavor to try to pop the crowd, but they didn't care that much. I won't be too harsh on WWE or the talent because they had to change plans due to Enzo being sick.
Finn Balor was shown walking backstage with his buddies Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.
The tweet from John Cena was shown with Cena announcing that he's in the Royal Rumble match.
The announcers shilled the Royal Rumble lineup. Booker screwed up while doing his part. Cole said, "many people believe it will be the greatest Royal Rumble ever." It's a ridiculous statement considering they have barely announced people in the match and the only title match so far isn't that exciting. That's WWE shilling the show, though. We expect them to say that.
Elias did a song promo. He mentioned WWE stands for "Walk With Elias" like last week. I think they just realized it last week. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel were in the ring to "sing" with Elias. Dallas mentioned Miz is back next week after filming his movie and having a bit of a break. Dallas and Axel did a poor job of singing in the New Year's song, which the crowd booed. Elias tried to sing his song, but the crowd was booing and it was tough to hear whatever he was saying. Maybe I just don't care. I can't decide.
Analysis: It was one of those intentionally bad heel promos to try to get heat from the crowd, so it worked in that regard with Axel really singing off key.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance. Finn Balor entered with a big smile on his face because he's happy to be teaming with his buddies. Booker T said fans on the internet would be happy since they are former members of the Bullet Club, which the internet fans love of course. Balor, Anderson & Gallows did a “too sweet” pose in the ring. The show went to break there.
Elias, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel vs. Finn Balor, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
It started during the break. Cole said that Elias had a rivalry with Balor in 2017. I barely remember their matches. Announcers were really pushing Elias hard on commentary. Balor nailed a double foot stomp to break free and tagged in Gallows against Dallas. Gallows with clotheslines on Dallas, boot to the face, splash in the corner and another boot to the face. Running splash by Gallows on Dallas got two as Elias broke up the pin. Another kick to the face by Gallows on Dallas. Uppercut punch by Gallows on Axel. Magic Killer double team move by G&A. Anderson even hit a dive to the floor. Balor tagged in, went up top and hit the Coup de Gras double foot stomp on Dallas. It went four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Finn Balor, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for Finn and the Good Brothers. I hope they are together again after this. I think Gallows and Anderson could do well as a face team. Now that The Revival is back healthy, might as well slot G&A on the face side to provide some depth.
Up next in the main event is Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman.
A video aired about The Miz returning to Raw next week. He missed over one month to film The Marine 47 (the number is a joke, people) in England last month.
Main Event Talking and Staring with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
Brock Lesnar, the Universal Champion, made his entrance with his advocate Paul Heyman. Good ovation for him as the announcers talked about Lesnar vs. Kane vs. Strowman at Royal Rumble.
A clip aired of Kane and Braun Strowman talking earlier tonight.
Heyman did his usual start by introducing himself and Lesnar. Heyman spoke about how Lesnar has to compete against challengers. Heyman said it used to be against one challenger, but now Lesnar has to defend against both Braun Strowman and Kane. Heyman says we all know the trick that if Strowman beats Kane, Lesnar uses the Universal Championship and if Kane beats Strowman, Lesnar loses the championship. Braun Strowman was shown watching on a TV backstage. Heyman noted he never said that somebody beats Brock Lesnar because we all know it won't happen. Heyman said it doesn't matter how you stack the deck against Lesnar because you can line up Strowman and Kane and Lesnar can beat them. Heyman said you can have the 30 men in the Royal Rumble match and Lesnar would eat through each and every one of them as well. Graves said that might be a slight exaggeration.
Heyman said that Lesnar fears no challenge, no challenger, no challengers and Lesnar doesn't believe in monsters. Heyman claimed that Kane isn't the devil's favorite because Heyman has talked to the devil noting that the devil's favorite is Brock Lesnar. Heyman yelled something in Latin.
Lesnar was about to leave, but Kane made his entrance for the predictable interruption. Heyman left the ring as Kane got in the ring to face off with Kane.
Kane grabbed Lesnar by the throat and dropped him with a Chokeslam. It was very easy while making Lesnar look like a loser. Lesnar sat up as Kane was about to leave. Lesnar hit a clothesline that sent Kane out of the ring. The locker room emptied to break it up because GM Kurt Angle was on the ramp ordering them to stop the fight.
Lesnar posed at ringside with his Universal Title although at first he held it upside down, so then he held it up the right way. That was mildly funny. That's how Raw ended.
Analysis: Weak ending. I figured Strowman would come out to join the brawl to make it more exciting, but then the fight just stopped.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Samoa Joe – Outstanding match with Reigns plus an awesome promo.
2. Roman Reigns
3. (tie) Jason Jordan
3. (tie) Cesaro
6 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 5.5, 7, 8, 4.5
I give it a 6 out of 10.
It was a solid show with some decent storyline advancement. The quality of Reigns/Joe match helped a lot. The final segment wasn’t very interesting and could have been a lot better in terms of getting people excited about the Rumble match.
The crowd got into some parts, but were generally pretty quiet most of the night.
The next WWE PPV is Royal Rumble on January 28. Here’s what we know so far.
Men’s Royal Rumble match with 30 competitors – The names announced so far are John Cena, Finn Balor, Randy Orton, Elias and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Kane vs. Braun Strowman
Women’s Royal Rumble match with 30 competitors – The names announced so far are Asuka, Natalya, Ruby Riott, Naomi, Paige, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Sasha Banks and Bayley.
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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