Live from Memphis, Tennessee, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1285 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. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
The show started with highlights of Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns beating Samoa Joe in a great match from last week’s show.
There was a shot of the crowd in Memphis and Roman Reigns, the Intercontinental Champion, made his entrance. Mixed reaction for Reigns like usual with a mix of boos and cheers. The announce team of Michael Cole, Booker T and Corey Graves welcoming us to the show.
Reigns stood in the ring with the IC Title over his shoulder. Reigns took his time to say that after all the talk, Samoa Joe got silenced, which is why Reigns is still the IC Champion. Reigns said he was fighting with a purpose, for his brother Dean Ambrose. Reigns said if you mess with one member of The Shield, you mess with all of them.
Jason Jordan walked out with the Raw Tag Team Title around his waist. Jordan went into the ring and was booed before he could even say a word.
Jordan said when he watched Reigns’ match with Samoa Joe, he got goosebumps because it felt like he was part of something meaningful. Jordan said like what Roman said, when somebody messes with one of them, they mess with all of them. Reigns was confused by that. Jordan told Reigns that he proved this was his yard. Jordan thanked Reigns on behalf of Seth. Fans chanted “who’s your daddy?” at Jordan as Jordan stuck his fist out, but Reigns did not touch his fist Shield style.
Seth Rollins walked out with the Raw Tag Team Title around his waist. Rollins said last week he had to teach Jordan about teamwork and that worked out well, but this week they have to work on Jordan’s timing. Rollins told Jordan that he was stepping on Roman’s moment. Jordan told Rollins this is our moment since they all had issues with Joe. Jordan told both guys they are all champions and they run the show.
Reigns told Jordan enough with this “we” stuff. Reigns said that Jordan is Seth’s partner, but Reigns is the guy. Jordan wanted to take on more teams. Jordan spoke about how they are the most dominant three-man group in all of WWE. Interruption by Finn Balor, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson. Big ovation for them.
Balor and the guys were on the ramp. Balor wondered if Jordan really thought he was part of the most dominant three-man group in WWE. Balor told Jordan that he’s been running with Gallows and Anderson for ten years before Jordan knew Kurt Angle was his dad. Anderson said that they have been running with good brother Finn for a long time and if you go to WWE Network, there’s a special all about it. Gallows said when Finn came to WWE, they knew they had to stand alone with Gallows pointing out they won the Raw Tag Team Champions and Balor made history as the first ever WWE Universal Champion. Anderson said they were off doing their own thing, but they knew one day they would come together to take this place over. Balor said that day was last week. Balor said 2018 is going to be the year of Balor Club. They got in the ring.
Jordan said they are the Champions Club. Anderson asked if that was some version of The Shield. Balor pointed out they don’t see the Lunatic Fringe. Balor said they see The Architect, The Big Dog and the word that begins with a…Gallows said “NERD!” Jordan slapped Gallows and everybody else held them back.
Kurt Angle, Raw’s General Manager, appeared on the stage. Angle said we have a great show planned with Brock Lesnar there and the return of The Miz. Angle did the predictable thing to set up the six-man tag match later in the show. The crowd cheered.
Analysis: It was a typical Raw opening segment to set up something for later. They sure love that formula. Good to see Finn and the boys together again with WWE using the Balor Club name for him since they can’t say Bullet Club because it’s a NJPW/ROH thing. Jordan is getting a lot of heat as a guy that’s overconfident and everybody is treating him as a joke. That’s the way to book him into this heel run he’s likely to start in the near future.
Still to come: Brock Lesnar on Raw. Also, Miz TV is back.
Sasha Banks and Bayley were shown walking backstage in their gear. Mickie James was looking great in support of her friends and they are up next.
Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance with Mickie James. A replay aired from three weeks ago with Stephanie McMahon announcing the first ever all-women’s Royal Rumble match.
The heel Absolution trio of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville entered with Paige. There was a report from PWInsider that said Paige was still dealing with an injury from over a week ago at a live event, so she wasn’t cleared to wrestle yet.
Sasha Banks & Bayley (w/Mickie James) vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville (w/Paige)
Rose was in control early on with her aggressive offense. Body slam by Rose followed by a chin lock. Bayley came back with a clothesline and Bayley hit a knee strike that sent Rose to the floor as the heels regrouped leading to a break. Two minutes of action leading to the break.
Banks tagged in against Rose with a hip toss followed by a double knee attack on Rose for a two count. Trash talk by Rose led to a hard slap to the face by Banks. Deville distracted Banks, so Banks punched her and Rose hit a leaping kick to the face on Banks that looked impressive. Deville tagged in with kicks to the ribs of Banks followed by a leg scissors around the waist of Banks. Deville punched Banks in the ribs repeatedly. Rose tagged back in with a kick to the back. Double team kick by the heels on Banks and Deville got back in there for a two count. Banks with a kick to Deville followed by a double clothesline that knocked both women down. Rose tagged in and prevented a tag from Banks. Deville attacked Banks using the ropes as an assist for a two count. Banks rollup on Rose for a two count as Deville made the save. Bayley went into the ring and sent Deville to the floor. Banks slapped on the Bank Statement submission on Rose for the victory after 11 minutes.
Winners by submission:Sasha Banks & Bayley
Analysis: **1/4 It was a decent tag match that had a bit of a different structure to it because there was no hot tag from Bayley. Normally in a match like that you will see the hot tag and that person gets the win, but Bayley didn’t tag back in and Banks was the winner for her team. I found that a bit odd because you just don’t see that very often in WWE tag matches.
Post match, Paige ran into the ring, but the faces left the ring.
Six-man tag is up later.
This week on Smackdown: Tensions continue to mount between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon.
There was a 25 years of Raw moment from October 5, 1998 showing Vince McMahon in the hospital. It led to Mankind debuting Mr. Socko. That led to Steve Austin dressed as the doctor and he attacked Vince with punches as well as a bedpan.
Analysis: Amazing segment. They wish they could do stuff like that today. I wish they could too.
The announcers talked about Raw 25 on January 22. They mentioned the Dudley Boyz and APA being there.
A clip aired of Kane’s segment with Brock Lesnar from last week’s Raw with Lesnar sitting up after a Kane chokeslam. Lesnar hit a clothesline that sent Kane out of the ring and they were broken up by other wrestlers.
Coming up: Lesnar is on Raw.
A clip aired from last week showing Cedric Alexander teaming with Goldust to win a tag match.
Cedric Alexander was in the locker room when Goldust walked up to him. Goldust did a pep talk quoting Rocky in 1976. Alexander said he is this close to making this dream a reality. Goldust told him there’s one thing standing in the way of his dreams, it’s not Enzo or the Zo Train. Goldust told Cedric he is in control, not them. Goldust told Cedric he’s got this.
Analysis: I don’t mind utilizing Goldust to try to help Cedric show his personality a bit more.
A clip aired from earlier in the day as they showed Goldust putting on his makeup and Alicia Fox showed up to reveal that she is Goldust’s Mixed Match Challenge partner.
Analysis: They aren’t going to win.
The announcers shilled the Mixed Match Challenge show airing on Facebook after Smackdown next week, January 16 at 10pmET.
“Woken” Matt Hardy made his entrance to his new theme song. The song is a piano playing him to the ring, it has some laughter from Hardy and Hardy saying he will delete you. Good ovation for Hardy.
Analysis: The song will catch on quick. I like it. I know in TNA, Hardy had a song that was just a piano playing, but this is WWE and they like to add to songs.
There was a promo from Hardy backstage where he said he’s going to win the Royal Rumble.
Matt Hardy vs. Curt Hawkins
It was noted by Cole that Hawkins has lost 152 straight matches. Hardy bought the hand of Hawkins early in the match. Neckbreaker by Hardy. Waist lock by Hardy sent Hawkins hard into the turnbuckle. Hawkins with a back elbow and he missed a cross body block off the top. Hardy sent Hawkins head first into the turnbuckle. Hardy with a corner clothesline, Side Effect and Twist of Fate for the win. It went two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Matt Hardy
Analysis: * Easy win by Hardy over a guy that never wins. It was the usual Hardy offense, but I liked whipping Hawkins back first into the turnbuckle the way he did because that looks like a good move.
Post match, the Bray Wyatt logo appeared on the screen. The lights were off and when they came back on, Wyatt was in the ring staring at Hardy.
Hardy did his laughing routine at Wyatt, so Wyatt laughed at him. They each did their maniacal laughter. The laughing continued. Wyatt got right in Hardy’s face. More laughing. Wyatt backed away, the Wyatt logo appeared and that was it.
Analysis: They did the laughing contest in video segments and this time they did it in the ring. Funny to see, but not that exciting. I figured there would be a fight of some kind. Nope. Nothing here.
Miz TV is up next.
Analysis: Only 13 minutes of in-ring action in that first hour. That’s weak.
Elias was in the ring with his guitar with a spotlight on him. Three chairs were in the ring behind him.
Elias played the guitar and said that was good. “Who wants to walk with Elias?” It drew some cheers, but a lot of boos. Elias said that the truth that always remains is that WWE stands for Walk With Elias. The fans said it. Elias talked about how today is a very special day and there’s no better place to celebrate than Memphis. Elias claimed this song came from the heart. Elias sang that it was Elvis Presley’s birthday (which is true), so the crowd booed because they hate Elias and he noted Graceland was only six miles away. Elias introduced The Miz.
The Miz walked out in a suit along with his Miztourage duo of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Cole claimed that Miz has been everywhere. Miz filmed The Marine 6 movie and went overseas on a USO tour. When Miz and the guys got into the ring, Elias was gone.
The fans chanted “welcome back” so Miz asked if they missed him and they cheered. The Miz said that The Marine 6 has wrapped, the USO holiday tour has finished and The Miz is back on Monday Night Raw. Miz said in his absence, he was not forgotten because he makes this show must see. Miz said he was not forgotten because of the valiant effort of two people…his guests Bo Dallas and Curt Axel aka The Miztourage.
Miz said that Axel and Dallas turned their careers around in 2017. Miz said they were living embodiments of a New Year’s Resolution gone right. Axel said that 2017 was the best year of his life and every day was like “Mizmas.” Dallas said having Miz’s wisdom was like winning the Mizzies every day. Dallas and Axel led the crowd in a “thank you Miz” chant. Dallas gave Miz a framed photo of himself. Dallas said it will be tough getting to sleep without that tonight. Axel took off his jacket and said he got that for Miz. Dallas gave him his watch. Axel wanted to give him his shoes. Miztourage guys argued, so Miz told them to sit down.
The Miz said that 2017 was an incredible year for him, but he has a lot more planned. Miz talked about how he held the IC Title for 200 days, he elevated their careers, Miz said he elevated Raw and Smackdown while also noting he was Rolling Stone’s Superstar of the Year. I read that article and it wasn’t well written. Just saying. Miz said he hasn’t forgotten this.
A clip aired from two months ago with The Shield trio hitting a Triple Powerbomb that sent Miz through the announce table.
The Miz claimed that what we just witnessed was an indignity. Miz said he allowed Roman Reigns to borrow his IC Title because when he went on to film a movie, he wanted the IC Title to be represented. Miz said as we can clearly see, the champion makes the title and daddy’s home. Miz added in 2018 he will have a daughter. Miz claimed he’s going to be the longest reigning IC Champion ever. Miz mentioned past IC Champions while mentioning Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and he’s going to be the one and only person people think of when it comes to the IC Title. Miz called out Roman Reigns and said he was coming for him. Cole said it was great Miz was back. Graves said maybe he needs to have another son and Cole laughed about it.
Analysis: Good promo from The Miz. That’s why he won my Johnny Award for best heel and best talker in WWE. What I don’t understand is why he keeps talking about the IC Title when he should be wanting to win the Universal Title. That’s the ultimate prize on this show, so guys should be talking about it.
The Balor Club trio were in the locker room. Gallows and Anderson were reminiscing about some memories with Anderson even mentioning the names of some Bullet Club guys like Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale. Anderson even mentioned his Hot Asian Wife. Balor said the memories they have are great, but he was focused on tonight as they face off against Reigns, Rollins and Jordan. They did the “too sweet” hand gesture to end it.
Analysis: I’m glad that the trio are together again. Whether it lasts a long time I don’t know, but enjoy it while it lasts.
Following Raw on WWE Network, there’s an interview with Enzo Amore conducted by Corey Graves. From the preview clip, it looks like a work. I don’t need more Enzo in my life, so I doubt I’ll watch it.
Enzo Amore, the Cruiserweight Champion, made his entrance. He did his usual pre-match promo. No friends with Enzo on his way to the ring. Enzo talked about how he was sick last week eating chicken noodle soup (thanks Nia) and he watched Raw last week. Enzo said that Cedric teamed with Goldust on New Year’s Day because it’s the closest he’ll get to gold. Enzo said he’s going to end 2018 like he did 2017 as the Cruiserweight Champion. Enzo did the SAWFT bit to end it.
Cedric Alexander made his entrance as the challenger.
Cruiserweight Championship: Enzo Amore vs. Cedric Alexander
Alexander decked Enzo with a hard punch leading to Enzo bailing to the floor. Enzo ran outside the ring, Alexander chased him and Alexander nailed a leaping kick to the head. Nia Jax was shown watching on a TV backstage. Enzo kept running away from Alexander, so when Alexander grabbed him near the ropes, Enzo took advantage by shoving Alexander to the floor. They went to break one minute into it.
They returned from break with Enzo still in control with a kick to the chest. Enzo slapped on a chinlock. Alexander charged and Enzo hit him with a knee to the face. Enzo jumped off the middle ropes and Alexander hit a dropkick to the ribs. Back elbow by Alexander followed by a cartwheel into a kick for a two count. Enzo was bleeding from the face. Another hard kick to the face by Alexander. The ref put on the dreaded white gloves because of the blood. Alexander up top and he hit a clothesline. Alexander hit a somersault dive over the top to take out Enzo on the floor. Enzo was grabbing his left ankle. Alexander crawled back in before the ten count. Enzo couldn’t get back in or maybe he could have and he just stayed on the floor. The ringside doctor had a towel for the blood. It went about eight minutes.
Winner by countout: Cedric Alexander (Enzo Amore is still champion)
Analysis: *3/4 It was okay for the time given with the cheap ending to keep the title on the heel champion and set up a likely rematch down the road. Enzo’s offense isn’t the best, but he did good enough to tell the story of the match with him in control and Alexander making the big comeback. I’m not surprised that Enzo is still the champ.
Enzo was grabbing his left ankle on the floor while doctors checked on him. Nia Jax looked concerned while she watched on a TV backstage.
Analysis: I figured she would run out there and carry Enzo in his arms in a comedic scene, but that didn’t happen. The ankle injury is just a storyline. I assume they will do the rematch at the Royal Rumble.
A commercial aired for Raw 25 on January 22: The Undertaker, Degeneration X (Triple H & Shawn Michaels), Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, The Dudley Boyz, Ric Flair, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, The Bella Twins, New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn), The APA (JBL and Ron Simmons) and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin mentioned last.
Analysis: Oh hell yeah. I’m glad Austin is going to be there. He has to be there for the special Raw. It would be cool if The Rock was there too, but he may be an unannounced surprise. Rock could be busy too.
There were replays shown from Alexander’s countout win over Enzo.
Enzo was shown in the trainer’s room with a doctor there telling him he needs x-rays and a MRI. Nia Jax walked up to Enzo to check on him. Enzo said he was good, he said thanks and then she left.
Analysis: There wasn’t much to it. They are really taking their time with this storyline.
Kurt Angle was on the phone in his office telling somebody he knows she hasn’t been in the ring for a while, but wanted her in the Royal Rumble match. Sheamus and Cesaro showed up noting they wanted their Tag Team Title rematch. Angle told them they can get their rematch at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Sheamus asked about tonight. Angle told them to go to the ring and he will find them some competition. Sheamus and Cesaro left. The Miz showed up in the office. Miz talked about his new unscripted series starring him and his wife saying USA Network executives were hanging on his every word. Miz said him and Maryse were Executive Producers on that show too. Miz said he wants his IC Title shot against Roman Reigns on the 25th Anniversary of Raw on January 22. Miz patted him on the back and Angle told Miz not to touch him.
Analysis: There are a few things in there. I don’t know who Angle was talking to as a past women’s wrestler, but there should be a few of them in the Rumble match because they will need bodies to get to 30 competitors. Sheamus and Cesaro getting Tag Team Title match at Royal Rumble is fine although I wanted Rollins to be in the Rumble match. That’s unlikely now that he’s in a tag team match. The Miz unscripted series is another way of saying reality show. That was reported a few months ago that Miz would get his own show with Maryse and Dolph Ziggler may be part of it. That’s another Total Divas spinoff. Miz vs. Reigns in two weeks sounds like a good idea.
A clip aired from earlier today showing Miz finding out Asuka would be his partner in the Mixed Match Challenge.
The announcers shilled the Mixed Match Challenge starting next Tuesday, January 16 on Facebook.
Asuka was in her locker room. Alexa Bliss showed up with the Raw Women’s Title on her shoulder. Bliss warned Asuka that when her best friend Nia finds out what Asuka called her, Bliss wouldn’t want to be her. Bliss left. Asuka made a mean face at her.
Sheamus and Cesaro entered for a tag team match up next.
Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews with Dana Brooke in a business suit entered as the opponents.
Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke)
O’Neil hit a running shoulder tackle early on. Crews with a double axe to the arm of Sheamus. Cesaro with an uppercut that decked Crews. They ran the ropes with Crews hitting a dropkick a standing moonsault for two. Sheamus tagged in, he pulled the rope down and Crews landed hard on the floor. Brooke checked on Crews. Sheamus sent Crews right shoulder first into the barricade. Cesaro back in with a chinlock on Crews. Sheamus tagged in with a double clothesline and a Sheamus knee drop got two. Crews got an inside cradle for two. Sheamus charge, Crews avoided it and Sheamus hit the ring post. O’Neil tagged in with a boot to the face of Cesaro, corner splash and a powerslam got a two count. Sheamus on the apron and Cesaro nailed a punch to the back. Sheamus with a knee to the face while the ref was occupied. Crews with a back body drop that sent Cesaro the floor. Sheamus tried a Brogue Kick, but Crews jumped off the apron with a moonsault to take out Cesaro. O’Neil did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! to Sheamus and that was enough for the pinfall win as Sheamus kicked out right after the three count. It went about six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews
Analysis: ** It was an upset win to try to give O’Neil and Crews some legitimacy as a team. I don’t mind that at all because Raw needs more teams. The finish was done in a way where it more of a lucky win rather than something easy. No surprise that they went with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! finish in that situation because WWE loves doing that. I don’t think the loss will hurt Sheamus and Cesaro too much. Whether WWE really gets behind O’Neil and Crews I don’t know yet, but hopefully they do because more teams are needed.
Post match, there was a big celebration for the upset win with the crowd cheering too. Sheamus and Cesaro argued with the ref about the loss. The Titus Worldwide trio celebrated the win. The announcers put over the upset win.
Analysis: Dana looks good in that outfit. It works for her. It worked for Lana, Stacy Keibler, Debra, Alexander York and others in the past too. Good looking women helping guys get over are always a plus. It will help Dana’s career too because she wasn’t doing much for months.
Brock Lesnar is up next.
A replay aired about what happened last week with Kane and Lesnar. They love replays on this show.
Let’s Hear From Paul Heyman while Brock Lesnar stares
Brock Lesnar, the Universal Champion, made his entrance with the advocate Paul Heyman by his side. They entered the ring to a nice ovation.
Heyman did his usual intro for Lesnar with the crowd chanting along. Heyman spoke about how there’s a credo in this industry called “old school.” Heyman said that Lesnar and him have respect for that, but they aren’t blinded by the fact that it’s a progressive industry. Heyman said they’ve gotten away from something that is very old school and it takes away from the historic nature of the tenure of the Universal Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar.
Heyman said the old school way of promoting a title match was to have a man step up to challenge the Universal Champion. Heyman said they’ve gotten away from that because the title is not marketed about who can stand up to Lesnar. Heyman spoke about how it’s changed to how can Brock Lesnar survive this predicament and Lesnar thinks the whole concept sucks.
Analysis: I’m tired of triple threat and multi-man matches too, Uncle Paul. It’s lazy booking by WWE.
Heyman said last week, Lesnar took Kane’s best shot and laughed in Kane’s face. Heyman said that Lesnar walks into the Royal Rumble with only one cliffhanger in mind – will Lesnar pin Kane or Strowman or will Lesnar stack them on top of eachother and pin them both? Heyman said that Lesnar is the most dominant champion in the history of WWE. Heyman said he’s yet to see somebody that can outfight this ultimate fighter and there’s not a being alive that can put down the reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar.
Analysis: Very good promo like Heyman like usual. He wasn’t making excuses about Lesnar facing multiple opponents, but just that’s what it has become.
Lesnar went up the ramp, turned his back and predictably there was Kane with a punch to the back. Kane worked over Lesnar with punches. Lesnar fought back with knees. They went through a curtain backstage. Braun Strowman showed up and knocked them both down. Strowman threw Lesnar through a table. Strowman tossed an equipment case onto Kane. Strowman searched through a box and found a grappling hook. Heyman yelled at Strowman not to do it. Strowman hooked onto some metal truss apparatus that just happened to be back there and pulled it down, so it landed on Lesnar and Kane. Heyman and others were back there yelling at Strowman not to do it.
Analysis: It was obviously a planned stunt to put over Strowman’s ability to cause pain on his rivals any way that he can. Using a grappling hook with a truss was a unique stunt that we haven’t really seen before, so it was effective in terms of doing something that was different from what we are used to.
A replay aired of “Stone Cold” Strowman’s attack.
They showed a clip of Lesnar slowly crawling out of the wreckage as medical personnel tending to him. Lesnar was taken away on a stretcher. Lesnar complained about how he didn’t want to go and told Paul to get him out of there, but Paul went in the ambulance with him. Kane crawled out from under it and limped away with nobody helping him.
Analysis: It makes Lesnar look weak a bit because he’s taken away on a stretcher while Kane was able to walk away gingerly. I assume that was done because Lesnar’s likely going over at Royal Rumble, so it becomes a story of Lesnar coming back from an injury to win.
Samoa Joe entered for a match. He’s up against Rhyno with Heath Slater. I don’t know why Rhyno enters to Heath Slater’s song. Poor Rhyno doesn’t have a song anymore? That’s weird.
Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno (w/Heath Slater)
The match started after the break. Joe nailed a running back elbow and a leaping kick to the head. Joe worked over with strikes. Rhyno came back with chops. Joe took him down with a STO for a two count. Joe nailed a kick followed by a running senton splash for two. Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch and Rhyno tapped out to give Joe the submission win after three minutes.
Winner by submission: Samoa Joe
Analysis: * Easy win for Joe to give him some momentum back after he lost to Roman Reigns last week. Giving them only three minutes was fine. This was about putting Joe over.
Samoa Joe was interviewed in-ring by Charly Caruso. Joe said last week was not a loss to Roman Reigns. Joe said it was merely a pyrrhic victory, which Joe claims came at a cost and you might as well count it as a loss. Joe claimed he has beaten years of Roman’s career every time he has stepped in the ring with him. Joe said the cracks in the foundation are showing and when it comes crashing down, Joe will be there to finish the job. Joe said that until that time, he’s moving on to other things and he’s announcing his participation in the Royal Rumble match. Caruso mentioned some names in the Rumble like Orton, Nakamura and Cena. Joe cut her off. Joe said when it comes to his career, John Cena is a name that he will never forget. Joe said in the Royal Rumble, Cena will be the first man he eliminates.
Analysis: It sounds like the start of a Joe feud with Cena that apparently won’t lead to a WrestleMania match according to Dave Meltzer, but they are wrestling at live events for the next few months.
Nia Jax was shown walking backstage and Alexa Bliss went up to her. Jax said Enzo would be fine, but not like Bliss cares. Bliss cares about Jax saying that she’s strong, beautiful and smart. Bliss said she’s worried that Enzo is holding back Jax and Jax said she wants to be a champion like him. Bliss said that Jax is her favorite to win, but a lot of people think the real favorite is Asuka. Bliss talked about how Jax can take care of Asuka in the Rumble. Jax pointed out that Asuka beat Bliss last week. Bliss talked about how if Jax wins the Rumble they can have their dream match at WrestleMania. Jax asked what Asuka said about her. Bliss whispered something to her, Jax wondered if Asuka really said that, Jax asked if she spoke Japanese, Bliss said no and Jax said Asuka doesn’t speak English.
Analysis: Bad acting. Bad dialogue. Actually, Asuka does speak English and did so plenty of times in NXT. Heels lie.
Asuka made her entrance to a good ovation.
When Asuka was posing on the ropes, Nia Jax went into the ring, put Asuka on her shoulders and slammed her down. Jax nailed a running flip splash on Asuka. The bell never rang to start the match. Jax’s music played and Jax left while Asuka was left to sell the attack in the ring.
Analysis: It felt like a rushed segment that accomplished the goal of Jax doing a cheap shot attack on Asuka.
The announcers shilled everything to come at the Royal Rumble on January 28. They pushed the phrase “more Rumble than ever” since there are two Rumble matches. I’ve got the full lineup at the bottom of this post.
There was a shot of Reigns, Rollins and Jordan talking strategy talking backstage.
You can vote for Bayley’s partner in the Mixed Match Challenge: Samoa Joe, Elias or Jason Jordan.
Next week on Raw: Asuka vs. Nia Jax.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance for the main event. Finn Balor entered to a great ovation. The announcers talked about how these three men started a group in Japan without saying the Bullet Club name. There was a picture of Balor and Anderson from when they were starting out as young guys in Japan. Photos were also shown of Gallows with them. Graves said they had the goal of “being elite” as a reference to “The Elite” Bullet Club group. Youtube it if you don’t know.
Analysis: I like the added touch of showing photos of Balor and Anderson earlier in their careers. Gallows joined them later after he was released by WWE earlier this decade.
The trio of Seth Rollins, Jason Jordan and Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns made their entrances individually in that order.
In two weeks at Raw 25 on January 22, Reigns will defend the IC Title against The Miz.
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. Finn Balor, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Balor nailed Rollins with a dropkick. Anderson tagged in with a backbreaker on Rollins with Cole noting that Anderson is one of the best tag team wrestlers in Japan. Rollins broke free, Reigns tagged in and Reigns hit a Samoan Drop on Gallows, who was legal. Double shoulder tackle from Rollins and Reigns. Reigns nailed a Drive By Dropkick and Rollins hit a dive. Jordan celebrated with them as the show went to break.
Back from break, Rollins sent Balor into the turnbuckle. Reigns tagged in with three clotheslines on Balor. Ten corner clotheslines from Reigns on Balor followed by a running kick to the head. Reigns with an uppercut on Anderson knocked him off the apron. Balor nailed the Slingblade on Reigns. Anderson tagged in to work over Reigns with punches. Gallows tagged in with a roundhouse kick to Reigns for a two count. The Balor Club trio isolated Reigns in their half of the ring with chinlocks. Anderson ran the ropes, which led to Reigns catching him and hitting a tilt-a-whirl slam. Gallows tagged in with a suplex on Reigns followed by a chinlock. Reigns got back to his feet and nailed a Superman Punch. Rollins got the hot tag against Anderson with a punch off the top rope. Rollins hit the Blockbuster on Anderson and a suicide dive took out Balor and Gallows on the floor. Rollins with a Slingblade on Anderson followed by a running forearm and a suplex into the Falcon Arrow for two. Great sequence. Gallows grabbed Rollins from behind. Jordan took care of Gallows with a clothesline that sent him out of the ring. Anderson nailed Rollins with a spinebuster for two. Gallows punched Jordan off the apron. Rollins decked Gallows with an enziguri. Balor tagged in and Rollins hit a spinning back suplex. Rollins tried to tag Reigns and legally made the tag, but Jordan went into the ring and the ref didn’t see the tag. Magic Killer by G&A as the ref admonished Reigns. Reigns yelled at Jordan for screwing up and Jordan said he didn’t do anything. Reigns left the ring. Reigns sent Gallows into the steel post, Superman Punch by Reigns on Anderson on the floor and Reigns hit a Spear on Gallows on the floor. Balor with a dropkick that sent Rollins into the turnbuckle while Jordan was trying to help Rollins. Balor punched Jordan off the apron and Balor went up top for the Coup de Gras double foot stomp on Rollins for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Finn Balor, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a solid six-man tag that was standard in terms of how WWE does a tag match like that. Reigns was isolated for most of it, made the hot tag out of the ring and then it led to the controversial ending with Jordan messing things up for his team. Jordan didn’t even tag into the match, yet he was the reason his team lost. It’s all part of the process of utilizing Jordan as a guy that thinks he’s a face that is doing the right thing that will likely snap at some point soon leading to the heel turn we all know is coming.
The announcers did a good job pointing out the mistakes of Jordan in the match and Booker pointed out that the better team won.
The Balor Club trio celebrated their win on the ramp.
Reigns and Jordan argued about it in the ring while Rollins was out on the mat selling. The Miz showed up and shoved Jordan into the ring post. Miz attacked Rollins from behind. Axel and Dallas attacked Reigns in the ring. Miz went into the ring to join them. Miz hit Reigns with the Skull Crushing Finale.
Miz teased leaving with Axel and Dallas. Miz went back into the ring, so Axel and Dallas picked up Reigns leading to Miz delivering the Triple Powerbomb like The Shield. The show ended with Miz and friends standing over Reigns.
Analysis: A solid way to end the show while promoting Reigns vs. Miz for the IC Title in two weeks at Raw 25. Good heel attack from Miz and friends.
Three Stars of the Show
- Seth Rollins
- Finn Balor
- The Miz
Shoutout to the grappling hook. You’re a star too!
5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2018 Average: 5..5
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 5.5, 7, 8, 4.5
I give it a 5 out of 10.
It was a very average show and boring a lot of the time too. Match quality was down from the usual with a few short matches and nothing really standing out. The main event tag was basic. I don’t want to say that there was a lack of effort on WWE’s part. It just felt like a show lacking significant moments.
Strowman’s backstage attack on Lesnar and Kane was the highlight of the show in terms of doing something that stood out. Different is good sometimes.
Since there was a college football championship game on ESPN that likely got around 25 million viewers, WWE knew they weren’t going to get a big audience this week. That means doing a show where nothing major really happened. They are building to Raw on January 22 because they want to pop a big rating that night and they probably will because of the nostalgia feel.
— WWE (@WWE) December 19, 2017
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 9 names announced so far are John Cena, Finn Balor, Randy Orton, Elias, Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin, Matt Hardy, Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt.
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Kane vs. Braun Strowman
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Women’s Royal Rumble match with 30 competitors – The 16 names announced so far are Asuka, Natalya, Ruby Riott, Naomi, Paige, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Lana, Tamina, Mickie James, Nia Jax, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan and Carmella.
Raw Tag Team Championships: Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
Finals of US Title tournament
I think a Cruiserweight Title match will be added too, but it’s not official yet.
That’s all for this week. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.
Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.
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