The January 1st, 2018 episode of WWE RAW took place at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, FL. Here are 6 takeaways from this week’s edition of WWE RAW:
Alexa Bliss was shown storming around backstage looking for RAW GM Kurt Angle. Bliss was mad at Angle for putting her in a match with Asuka tonight. Bliss tried to convince Angle to cancel the match. Angle told Bliss that she was lucky that tonight’s match wasn’t for the RAW Women’s Championship.
Kurt Angle came down to the ring and wished everyone a Happy New Year. Angle stated that 2017 was one of the greatest years of his career. Angle added that RAW will celebrate it’s 25th year anniversary in three weeks. Angle announced that the rules for the women’s Royal Rumble match will be the same as the men’s Royal Rumble match.
Sheamus & Cesaro interrupted and claimed that they were robbed of the RAW Tag Team Championships last week. The crowd greeted The Bar with a “you look stupid chant” as the team entered the ring with Angle. Sheamus & Cesaro accused Angle of favoritism for giving his son a title match and gifting him Rollins as his partner. They then rolled footage of Kurt Angle embracing his son after his victory.
The Bar asked for their rematch and Angle responded by telling him that they will get their rematch when he says so. Jason Jordan came down to the ring and stated that his opportunity last week was earned. Jordan and Cesaro started barking at each other and Angle announced that they would face each other right now.
Seth Rollins came down to the entrance ramp and stated that Jason Jordan has a lot to learn about being in a team. Rollins told Jordan to stop being so self-absorbed. Rollins added that he will be in his corner tonight but as far as he is concerned, he is only out here to watch him lose.
Jordan took exception to Rollins’ comment and started yelling at him while Rollins was on the ring apron. Cesaro struck Jordan from behind and Jason tumbled out of the ring as RAW went to a a commercial break.
When RAW returned, Cesaro was still in control of the match and connected with a series of uppercuts. Jordan battled back and drove Cesaro into the turnbuckle. Sheamus hopped up on the ring apron and distracted Jordan. Cesaro took advantage and delivered a chop block to the back of Jordan’s leg. Cesaro continued to attack Jordan’s leg as RAW went to another commercial break.
When RAW returned, Cesaro had Jordan locked in the Half Crab in the middle of the ring. Jordan broke free and connected with a couple of Belly to Belly Suplexes for a two count. Jordan hit Cesaro with another two Suplexes and went for the cover but Cesaro kicked out at two. Sheamus hit Jordan with a cheap shot and Cesaro locked in the Boston Crag in the middle of the ring. Jordan battled through the pain and reached the bottom rope.Rollins took out Sheamus ringside and Jordan planted Cesaro in the ring for the pinfall victory.
After the match, Jordan raised Rollins’ hand and shouted with excitement on the entrance ramp. Rollins looked on with a smirk on his face and then clapped for Jordan.
Jordan received chants of “daddy’s boy” and “you still suck” tonight on RAW from the crowd. WWE is fighting an uphill battle trying to get the crowd to be on Jordan’s side after their terrible execution of the Jordan/Kurt Angle storyline. Aligning him with Rollins will help for now, but eventually Jordan has to connect with the audience on his own. Promos are not Jordan’s strength so he is going to have to continue to do it with his work in the ring.
Bray Wyatt faced Apollo Crews tonight on RAW. Titus O’Neil and Dana Brooke accompanied Crews to the ring. Crews controlled the match early and hit an Elbow Drop for a one count. Wyatt hit Crews with a headbutt and then clubbed him in the back of the head. Crews battled back and delivered a Dropkick for a two count.
Apollo climbed to the top rope but Bray greeted him with a punch in the face. Wyatt followed it up with a Jawbreaker off the top rope as RAW went to a commercial break. When RAW returned, Dana Brooke hopped onto the apron to try and distract Bray. Wyatt then scared Dana and she fell off of the ring apron onto Titus O’Neil. Bray quickly hit the Sister Abigail onto Apollo Crews for the pinfall victory.
Woken Matt Hardy appeared on the screen and stated that he is all around Bray Wyatt and that he cannot escape his Woken wisdom for long. Hardy vowed to delete Bray Wyatt and then Matt Hardy’s face was shown laughing.
This feud should be more entertaining than this. Hopefully it continues to get better over the weeks to come, but right now it seems like the same thing over and over again.
Alexa Bliss spent the beginning of RAW trying to convince Kurt Angle to cancel her match with Asuka tonight. After Angle said no, Bliss asked Nia Jax to be in her corner. Nia Jax said that Enzo had the flu and she had to bring him chicken noodle soup. Enzo will not defend his Cruiserweight Championship against Cedric Alexander tonight due to illness.
Bliss faced Asuka at the beginning of the second hour of RAW. Alexa tried to avoid Asuka when the match but started but Asuka eventually caught her and locked in a Knee Bar. Bliss broke free bur Asuka leveled her with a shoulder tackle. Asuka leveled Bliss with the Hip Attack and Alexa rolled out of the ring to regroup. Bliss took her time getting back into the ring and the crowd booed her.
Asuka knocked Bliss back to the canvas and Alexa once again rolled out of the ring as RAW went to a commercial break. When RAW returned, Alexa stretched Asuka out on the ring post and let go of her just before the ref counted to five. Bliss connected with a flurry of punches and went for the cover but Asuka kicked out at two. Asuka missed with a Clothesline and Bliss planted her with a Backbreaker.
Bliss hit a couple of forearms in a row for another to count. Bliss locked Asuka in Body Scissors in the middle of the ring. Asuka escaped and locked in a Arm Bar but Bliss reached the ropes to quickly break the hold. Bliss beatdown Asuka in the corner and then slapped Asuka in the face.
Asuka got pissed and connected with a couple of Dropkicks. Asuka hit another Dropkick off the second rope and followed it up with a Hip Attack in the corner. Asuka connected with a third Hip Attack and then kneed Bliss in the face. Alexa connected with a Dropkick of her own and Asuka fell out of the ring. Asuka got back in the ring and booted Bliss in the face. Asuka then locked in the Arm Bar in the middle of the ring for the submission victory.
Asuka should be ready for a title shot in the near future after her victory over the RAW Women’s Champion. This match was very solid, but the first hour of RAW completely killed the crowd and they barely made any noise throughout the match.
Seth Rollins approached Roman Reigns backstage. Rollins asked Reigns to keep his cool tonight during his match with Samoa Joe. If Reigns is disqualified, he would lose the IC Title and Rollins doesn’t want to see that happen. Jason Jordan then appeared between Reigns and Rollins. Jordan announced that if The Bar tried to interfere in the match tonight, he and Rollins will take them out. Jordan then looked at Reigns and said “believe that” and walked away. Reigns and Rollins had confused looks on their faces as RAW went to a break.
Reigns defended his Intercontinental Championship tonight against Samoa Joe. If Reigns lost his temper and got disqualified, he would lose the title. The same referee (John Cone) that reffed last week’s match was in the ring for the match tonight. Last week on RAW, Reigns shoved Cone and was fined 5k for his actions. Reigns started off the match in control and stomped on Joe in the corner. Dueling “lets go Roman!” and “Roman sucks!” chants echoed throughout the arena. Reigns kept bashing Joe in the face and the ref broke it up. Joe took advantage and planted Roman for a two count.
Joe hit Reigns with a Suplex and Roman rolled out of the ring as RAW went to a break. When RAW returned, Joe leveled Reigns with a shoulder tackle for a two count. Reigns battled back and hit a Suplex. Roman charged at Joe in the corner but Joe got out of the way and Reigns crashed into the ring post shoulder-first.
Joe controlled the match for the next couple of minutes and kept Reigns on the mat. Joe continued to focus his attack on Reigns’ arm that crashed into the ring post. The crowd got behind Reigns and another “lets go Roman!” chant broke out. Reigns exploded out of the corner and hit a Clothesline and both Superstars fell to the canvas.
Roman clubbed Joe in the corner and then booted him in the face. Joe fell out of the ring and Reigns followed him out there and connected with the Drive By. The action returned to the ring and Reigns went for a cover but Joe kicked out at two. Reigns attacked Joe in the corner and the official once again broke it up. Joe launched Reigns into the barricade outside the ring and Joe followed it up with a running forearm through the ropes.
Both Superstars got back into the ring at the last second to beat the count as RAW went to another break. When RAW returned, Joe was still in control and was trash-talking Roman while he was on the canvas. Joe slapped Roman in the face and Reigns dared him to hit him again. Reigns connected with a Samoan Drop out of nowhere for another two count.
Reigns geared up for the Superman Punch but Samoa Joe rolled out of the ring. Reigns followed him out there and went for a Superman Punch off the steps but Joe was ready. Joe blasted Reigns in the chest and then bounced Reign’s head off the steps while shouting “this is for Dean!” and “this is for last week!”. Joe tried to throw Reigns into the steps but Roman reversed it and Joe slammed into the steps.
Roman grabbed one of the steps and the referee got in his way. Joe dared Reigns to hit him with the steps and then jabbed Roman in the jaw. Reigns hit a Superman Punch off the steps and brought Joe back into the ring and delivered a second one for yet another two count. Reigns couldn’t believe that Joe kicked out again.
Reigns went for the Spear but Joe caught him with a kick. Joe shoved Reigns into the referee and John Cone fell to the mat. Joe planted Reigns with a Uranage for a two count. Joe started arguing with the referee in the corner as Reigns regrouped in the ring. Roman connected with a right hand but Joe quickly locked in the Coquina Clutch in the ring. Reigns broke free and hit the Spear for pinfall victory.
Joe and Reigns had another great match tonight on RAW. I think Joe has proven that he is one of the better wrestlers on the roster and hopefully it leads to big things for him in 2018.
Finn Balor approached RAW GM Kurt Angle backstage earlier in the evening and announced that he will be entering the Royal Rumble match. Balor stated that he never got his rematch for the Universal Championship after suffering an injury and added that he will get that match by winning the Royal Rumble match. Balor added that he found two partners for a six-man tag match later in the night versus The Miztourage & Elias. Gallows and Anderson then showed up behind Balor and stated that they are better partners than the rest of the nerds in the back.
Before the match, Elias performed a song in the ring alongside Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Bo dedicated the song to The Miz. Bo also announced that The Miz will be returning to RAW next week. The crowd then started booing as Axel sang and Bo whistled along and played the cowbell. Elias stated that he will take it from here and proceeded to insult the Miami crowd before Balor, Gallows and Anderson interrupted and came down to the ring.
Axel controlled the match early on and beatdown Balor in the ring. Elias tagged in and continued the beatdown. Balor finally fought back and hit a Double Stomp to Elias’ midsection. Gallows and Dallas were tagged in and Gallows hit a Splash in the corner. Gallows hit a big boot and delivered another Splash to Dallas.
Gallows booted Dallas in the face again and then knocked Axel out of the ring. Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer to Dallas and Balor followed it up with the Coup de Grace for the pinfall victory.
It was cool to see Balor, Gallows and Anderson together again. All three Superstars haven’t been doing anything meaningful on RAW as of late. I’d like to see Gallows and Anderson return to being into a dominant tag team instead of a comedy act on RAW, but I won’t hold my breath.
Earlier during RAW, Braun Strowman destroyed Heath Slater and Rhyno as the crowd cheered him on. Strowman delivered a ridiculous amount of Running Powerslams to Slater and Rhyno.
Strowman was shown walking backstage and bumped into Kane. Kane said that he just wanted to talk and brought up Brock Lesnar. Kane stated that he had a plan to take out the Beast and all it took was for them to be on the same page. Braun said that he doesn’t care about Kane and that he will take down Brock Lesnar on his own terms. Kane then walked away as Strowman stared at him.
After the Reigns and Samoa Joe match, Reigns celebrated with the title and stood tall in the ring. RAW GM Kurt Angle was shown watching it backstage. Paul Heyman interrupted and said that there is a conspiracy going on under Angle’s watch right now. Heyman stated that if Kane and Strowman team up against Lesnar, Brock will be proactive and not reactive. Heyman declared 2018 “the year of the Beast” and then walked away.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their way down to the ring towards the end of this week’s RAW. Heyman grabbed the microphone as the Miami crowd chanted “Suplex City!”. Heyman claimed that WWE’s New Year’s resolution was to once again stack the deck against his client, Brock Lensar.
Heyman noted that Lesnar once again had to defend his Universal Championship against multiple opponents in Kane and Braun Strowman. Heyman called it a “trick” and brought up how Lesnar doesn’t have to be pinned to lose his title. Strowman was shown watching Heyman on a monitor backstage.
Paul shouted “spoiler!” and vowed that Lesnar will successfully defend his Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble PPV. Heyman claimed that Lesnar would defeat Kane and Braun Strowman on his own and would also defeat all 30 Superstars that enter the Royal Rumble match.
Heyman stated that Lesnar fears no challengers and that he doesn’t believe in monsters and that he doubts that Kane is the devil’s favorite. Heyman claimed that he has had a convo with the man down below and that his favorite was Brock Lesnar. Heyman and Lesnar went to exit the ring but Kane’s music hit.
Kane made his way to the ring and joined Lesnar. Kane grabbed by the throat and delivered a Chokeslam. Kane went to leave the ring but Brock sat up and started laughing at Kane. Lesnar Clotheslined Kane over the top rope and the WWE locker room separated the two Superstars. Kane was brought back to the locker room as RAW went off the air.
I’m having a hard time convincing myself that Kane has any shot in this match at Royal Rumble. Tonight’s conclusion of RAW didn’t do anything to make me excited for the Universal Championship match later this month. It just doesn’t feel like a special match at all and I’m looking forward to the Royal Rumble matches and whoever winds up challenging AJ Styles much more.