Live from Cleveland, Ohio this is the Raw Deal for episode #1281. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
A recap aired of some highlights of last week’s edition of Raw.
The announce team talked over some graphics promoting matches already announced: Samoa Joe vs. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus, Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro for the Intercontinental Championship and Braun Strowman vs. Kane with the winner facing Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble.
Let’s Hear From Samoa Joe
Joe talked trash about The Shield saying he’s not impressed by them. Joe spoke about how he wasn’t impressed by Seth Rollins, whose leg he snapped on his first night on Raw. Joe said he’s not impressed by the man that has tried to avoid him, the human cockroach Dean Ambrose. Joe ended it by saying he wasn’t impressed by the man he’s put to sleep countless times in the ring, Roman Reigns. Joe said he’ll face Ambrose later, but he was calling Reigns out to the ring now. Joe specified he’s not calling out Reigns and his two lapdogs, he just wants Reigns.
Rollins and Ambrose were shown watching a monitor. Rollins told Ambrose to go get Reigns. Joe kept talking about how he dominated Reigns last week and how if it wasn’t for that silly bastard Jason Jordan he would have been out. Joe talked about how Rollins and Ambrose aren’t Tag Team Champions because of him. Joe called Reigns out there saying if he has a problem, he needs to come out there right now. Joe claimed he didn’t need Cesaro or Sheamus and he didn’t care about The Shield. Joe added that if it wasn’t for The Shield, Reigns would be nothing.
Reigns was backstage watching on the monitor. Reigns told Rollins and Ambrose he’s got this. Reigns walked towards the ring. Michael Cole did his “Big Dog” shrieking like a Jerry Lawler used to shriek “The Champ is Here” for John Cena. Vinny Mac sure loves his shrieking.
Reigns got into the ring with Joe. Reigns unloaded on Joe with punches. Cesaro and Sheamus showed up at ringside, so Reigns punched them. That allowed Joe to put the Coquina Clutch on Reigns. Cesaro and Sheamus stomped away on Reigns, so Ambrose and Rollins went down to the ring. There was a battle on the floor between the tag teams while Joe had Reigns trapped in the Coquina Clutch. Ambrose went into the ring, but that wasn’t successful and he was sent to the floor. Double team White Noise by Sheamus and Cesaro on Rollins. Ambrose back in the ring, but Joe put him down with a uranage. Joe posed with Sheamus and Cesaro over the fallen Shield trio.
The heel trio left with The Shield out in the ring.
Analysis: It was a solid promo from Joe, who is one of the best heels in the company. You know what his character is always because he’s a no-nonsense guy that’s confident in his abilities. In this promo, Joe lied about how he didn’t need Sheamus and Cesaro. Clearly it was part of the crafty heel plan that they had. That’s why I always use the phrase “heels lie” whenever a heel does a promo because that’s what makes them the bad guy. It was well executed as a heat segment to build for stuff later.
Clash of Champions commercial aired promoting Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura this Sunday.
PLUG TIME: Sometimes I get to write about my favorite wrestlers like Sami Zayn as the best choice to win the 2018 Royal Rumble. I don’t know if it’s going to happen (“GOD DAMN PAL he’s not muscular enough” is what some people might say), but I’m here to tell you why it should happen! The article is exclusive to With Spandex on UPROXX, so please check it out.
Replays aired of the attack by the heel trio.
The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T were shown on camera hyping up matches to come.
The team of Bayley and Mickie James made their entrance along with their buddy Sasha Banks for a tag team match. A clip aired of Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss as the first women to wrestle in Abu Dhabi. Images were shown of Banks and Bliss with Banks showing emotion talking about it. Tweets from Vince McMahon, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were shown.
Analysis: There are some questions about if they were really the first two women to wrestle in Abu Dhabi, but it’s a first for WWE. Banks and Bliss had to cover up everything except their heads and hands, so they wrestled in their pants with no stomach showing.
Paige entered on the stage with her Absolution buddies Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Paige bragged about how she beat Banks last week. Rose said that they will purge the entire division of the feeble and the unworthy. Deville said it’s time for them to put their hair up and square up because Absolution is a symphony of carnage and the music is about to start. Paige said that this is Absolution’s future and that ring is her house.
Analysis: Some of the verbiage in the promo was cheesy. It sounded like Rose forgot something because the delivery was off. That’s a problem with WWE, though. Too much over-scripting and some people just sound awkward reciting lines.
Paige and Mandy Rose (w/Sonya Deville) vs. Mickie James and Bayley (w/Sasha Banks)
The faces dominated early on, the heels went to the floor, so Bayley jumped off the apron to take down Rose while James jumped onto Paige to take her out. The show went to break one minute into it.
Back from break, the heels were in control of Bayley with Rose hitting a running knee to the face for a two count. Paige worked over Bayley with a barrage of knee lifts. Paige with a headbutt on Bayley and then a punch to James as the heels continued to work on Bayley. Running knee by Paige on Bayley in the corner for a two count. Lots of knee offense so far. Bayley blocked a Paige attack and sent her face first into the ring apron. Hot tag to James against Rose with James hitting her with forearms. Spin kick to the gut by James, kick to the gut and a running forearm. James tried to send Rose into the turnbuckle, Rose fought it off and James hit a flapjack. James to the to pan she hit a press off the top. Paige broke up the pin. Bayley went after her, the ref held Bayley back and Paige hit a superkick on James that the ref never saw. Rose covered James for the win for her team after eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Paige and Mandy Rose
Analysis: ** It was a standard tag match designed to get the heels over as you would expect. The finish was a common sequence where the ref is in a position where he’s pulling back the face partner (Bayley) while the other heel partner (Paige) gets in a cheap shot leading to the win. It gives Rose a pin in her first Raw match over a great wrestler in James, so that gives Rose some credibility even if it was a cheap win. Heels winning cheap is how it should be. The Absolution group has been booked very strong for the past four weeks. They haven’t gotten their asses kicked and they won matches in the last two weeks.
The heels backed away from the ring to celebrate while the faces were together in the ring while James sold the finish.
The announcers shilled Smackdown’s Clash of Champions on Sunday while also plugging WWE Network as the way to watch it.
Bray Wyatt was shown on camera saying, “I’m here.” Matt Hardy was shown on the screen saying, “I’m woken.” They’re up next.
Smackdown this week: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens and WWE Champion AJ Styles goes face to face with Jinder Mahal.
Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy Exchange Words Again
Bray Wyatt was shown on screen talking about how this is nothing new because it’s good versus evil. “Woken” Matt Hardy was shown doing his maniacal laugh talking about they are on the battlefield that is WWE. Wyatt said that Matt is the ying to his yang and he’s been waiting for him. Hardy said that his woken wisdom and broken brilliance shall illuminate the masses. Wyatt said that Hardy’s a liar, so Hardy did his laughter and Wyatt said that Hardy’s words mean nothing. Hardy talked about how Sister Abigail’s soul has existed for eternities with Hardy claiming they have crossed paths before. Hardy said that he used to walk hand in hand with Sister Abigail. Hardy claimed that Abigail had an addiction to the darkness and now her horrendous soul is in the vessel that is Bray Wyatt. That led to Wyatt saying you should choose your side wisely because only one of them can survive. Hardy said that the “Woken Warriors” are preparing for battle and they shall…DELETE! Wyatt did his laughing routine. Hardy did his maniacal laughing. Back to Wyatt with his laughing and Hardy to his laughing. Wyatt was laughing again. Hardy did this over the top laughing and a chomp to end it.
Analysis: It was a few minutes of talking to further the new “Woken” gimmick of Hardy. I like how they are doing the contrast thing with Wyatt representing the darkness while Hardy is more of the light since he’s “woken” now. Matt got in all his key phrases especially “delete” although I’m surprised he didn’t say that more than once. The laughing bit as the end continues to be golden. It worked well last week too. I don’t mind that they are keeping Hardy out of the ring to get this gimmick going because it will make it more exciting whenever he does wrestle.
The announcers talked about it with Cole saying Hardy has lost his mind and Graves said he is woken.
A replay aired of the cruiserweights from last week with Enzo Amore offering up a pep talk and Nia Jax showed up to flirt with Enzo.
Enzo Amore was in the locker room with the Cruiserweight Title on his shoulder. Drew Gulak was there in a suit. Gulak said that WWE has revoked Rich Swann’s win from two weeks ago and there’s a second chance Fatal 4-Way tonight. Enzo talked about the other cruiserweights, then said Nia Jax’s name and then Gulak said he knows what he means. Gulak said Enzo wants Gulak to prepare for any opponent even if it’s Jax.
Analysis: The joke is that Gulak was too dumb to realize that Enzo likes Jax and that’s why he said her name. Swann was arrested for hitting his wife over the weekend, which led to him being suspended. Awful situation we covered here.
Finn Balor made his entrance to a nice ovation.
Curtis Axel entered with Bo Dallas. They entered to the music of The Miz. No Miz because he’s filming the next Marine movie in England and is back next month. Axel was still wearing a neck brace. Axel and Dallas mocked the entrance posing of Balor.
Axel took off the neckbrace. Dallas attacked Balor before the bell could ring. Axel pounded on Balor with punches in the corner. Balor told the ref he wanted him to start the match.
Finn Balor vs. Curtis Axel (w/Bo Dallas)
Axel hit Balor with the perfect (wink, wink) flipping neck snap for a two count. Chinlock by Axel. Balor hit a jawbreaker, Axel missed a corner attack that led to a bump into corner and Balor hit a slingblade. Balor dropkick sent Axel into the corner. Balor up top and hit the Coup de Gras double foot stomp for the pinfall win. It went two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor
Analysis: * Easy win for Balor. They did the pre-match attack to try to weaken him, but Balor still won in two minutes. There’s no storyline for Balor since WWE feels like he isn’t worthy of being in the main title picture, so they are just filling time with him. Perhaps when Miz is back in January he’ll feud with Balor. Original plans were for Balor to face Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble, but that got changed with the reports being that Vince McMahon didn’t feel like Balor was over enough.
Post match, Dallas put the neckbrace back on Axel, which was pretty funny.
Rollins vs. Sheamus up next.
The Tribute to the Troops show airs Thursday night on USA Network at 8pm.
Kane did a promo backstage with a red light into the background. Kane said that they will step into the abyss, which is a place a normal man wouldn’t go. Kane said they are not normal. Kane said that he’ll leave with a smile on his face and for the first time ever he will compete with Brock Lesnar. Kane said at the Royal Rumble, he will be Universal Champion.
Analysis: The dialogue was cheesy like usual, but he speaks very well. He should run for mayor…oh…right.
Seth Rollins made his entrance. They plugged NXT on USA Network Wednesday at 7pmET/6pmCT since Rollins was the first NXT Champion.
Sheamus made his entrance. He is one half of the Raw Tag Team Champions. It was noted that all allies of these guys are barred from ringside for this match.
Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus
Sheamus went for a slam, Rollins avoided it and sent Sheamus over the top to the floor. Rollins hit a suicide dive. Rollins sent Sheamus into the barricade and into the side of the ring apron. Back in the ring, Sheamus hit a double axe to the head. Sheamus worked over Rollins with the crowd chanting “you look stupid” at Sheamus. Backbreaker by Sheamus got a two count. Sheamus missed a kick with Rollins against the turnbuckle and Rollins hit a leaping kick to the head. Rollins hit the Slingblade followed by the Blockbuster neckbreaker off the middle ropes. Rollins with a clothesline that sent Sheamus over the top to the floor. Rollins went for an attack over the top, Sheamus avoided it and Sheamus hit a knee to the head while Rollins was on the apron. Rollins bumped into the barricade as the show went to break.
Back from break, Sheamus slapped on a headlock. Rollins with a jawbreaker to break free. They did a spot out of the corner where Sheamus flipped Rollins over and pulled on the knee while he did it. Rollins landed hard on the left knee. Sheamus did the stretch muffler submission that worked on the knee of Rollins. There was a sweet counter by Rollins with a hurricanrana and Sheamus slapped on a Texas Cloverleaf submission. Small package by Rollins to escape. Rollins countered a slam into a DDT for two. Crowd was really into that nearfall. Rollins avoided a charge as Sheamus hit the ring post with his shoulder and Rollins hit a superkick for a two count. Sheamus with an elbow to the head and Sheamus sent Rollins knee first into the top rope. Great move. Sheamus up top, Rollins tried to go after him, Sheamus with a headbutt, but Rollins came back with a superplex into a Falcon Arrow slam (while selling the knee) for a two count. Love that sequence and the crowd bought it as a potential finish. Sheamus avoided the knee strike and hit a rolling senton slam. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, Rollins avoided it, Rollins with a superkick and Rollins hit the lifting knee strike to the face for the pinfall win. They went 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Seth Rollins
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a good match that had a slow pace early on, but the end of it was done well and the crowd got really into it. These guys have a lot of chemistry together and were able to set up the nearfalls well. There were a few moments where the crowd thought Rollins was going to win. The selling of the left knee injury by Rollins was fantastic from early into the match even until the final moments. Sheamus is dealing with some neck/shoulder injury, but if it was that bad I doubt they would have put him in a nearly 20-minute match. Guys work through injuries. It’s part of the business and it makes me respect them even more than I already do. This match was a reminder that Rollins is one of the best in-ring performers in the WWE (probably in the top five) while Sheamus has had plenty of great matches this year. That was fun.
Post match, Rollins celebrated the win while still selling the knee.
Dean Ambrose was shown watching backstage. Renee Young, his wife, interviewed him. Ambrose talked about how he had to avoid Joe’s strikes and the Coquina Clutch, but he didn’t want to give away his strategy. Ambrose said he’s overheated, over-excited and thanked her for the pep talk.
The cruiserweights are up next.
Commercial aired for Tribute to the Troops on USA Network at 8pmET. It’s not on in here in Canada. I could find it and review it, but I’ll pass.
The commercial for Total Divas featured Natalya and Lana arguing about something. I like both of them, but that show is tough to watch for us sane people.
Drew Gulak joined the announce team with Mr. T (Booker didn’t like that), Mr. Graves and Mr. Cole while saying it was an honor to join
As Cedric Alexander entered, Cole mentioned that Rich Swann had his opportunity revoked. Tony Nese, Mustafa Ali and Ariya Daivari made their entrances.
Fatal 4-Way: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali vs. Tony Nese vs. Ariya Daivari
The crowd was so dead for this early on. Ali went up top and hit a flipping dive onto Alexander and Nese on the floor. Daivari took control and got a two count on Alexander in the ring. Alexander did this cool spot jumping off the ropes with a one armed slam on Daivari on a two count as Nese made the save. Nese sent Alexander into the turnbuckle. Running back elbow by Nese on Ali. Daivari accidentally decked Nese with a forearm to knock him down. Alexander took out Nese. Ali hit an impressive leaping DDT on Alexander. That drew a big reaction because it looked cool. All four guys were down in the ring, so the show went to break.
Back from break, Daivari worked on Ali in the ring and Ali nailed a kick to the face while on the apron. Ali hit a flip into an X-Factor for at wo count. Nese back with a knee to Ali. Ali fought back and hit an inverted 450 aka the 054, but Alexander broke up the pin. This crowd barely reacted to that amazing move. Alexander and Ali did their punches that looked way too fake. Alexander hit a Spanish Fly on Ali and then the Lumbar Check. Daivari sent Alexander to the floor, they brawled out there and Nese hit a dive over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Nese with a running to Alexander’s face got a two count as Ali broke up the pin. The crowd was so quiet as Ali kicked Daivari and dumped Nese over the top to the floor. Alexander with a clothesline off the top on Ali. Alexander hit a cartwheel into a kick on Daivari. Alexander kicked Nese off the apron. Alexander hit the Lumbar Check on Daivari and covered for the pinfall win after 13 minutes. The crowd made a bit of noise for that.
Winner by pinfall: Cedric Alexander
Analysis: **3/4 The work was good from start to finish, but it was sad to hear how dead the crowd was. The good thing is they are getting over ten minutes nearly every week, so that’s a step in the right direction to try to get them over more. There were only a few moments w here the crowd seemed to give a damn. Alexander had the most crowd support and is the most exciting guy in there, so it made sense for him to win and take Swann’s place.
With the win, Alexander faces Gulak next week on Raw and the winner gets Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight Title after that.
Alexander was interviewed in the ring by Charly Caruso. Alexander said that he plans to take full advantage of his second chance, he faces Gulak next week and then he’ll beat Enzo Amore.
Analysis: Most generic promo ever. He needs a catchphrase.
Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro is up next.
Enzo Amore was looking at his Cruiserweight Title backstage. Gulak went up to him saying when he disposes of Cedric, he’ll face Enzo and become Cruiserweight Champion. Enzo didn’t seem thrilled about that. Enzo told Gulak that he works for him and that doesn’t mean they are friends. Enzo was a jerk to him telling him they aren’t equals. Enzo had one word for Gulak’s Powerpoint presentations, but then he paused because Nia Jax was there. Gulak left. Jax said she was doing just fine and said she liked Gulak’s presentations. Jax suggested to Enzo that they should talk sometime when he’s not busy. Jax left.
Analysis: It’s a comedy romance storyline brewing. Like I said last week, that’s something WWE has done in the past with Chyna/Eddie Guerrero and Beth Phoenix/Santino, but those were a long time ago. They know it works, so that’s why it is happening again.
Cesaro entered alone with his Raw Tag Team Title around his waist. A clip aired of the three heels beating up Roman Reigns and The Shield earlier in the night.
Roman Reigns entered with the Intercontinental Championship in his hands. Good reaction for him. More cheers than boos. Cole mentioned that Raw superstars had seven shows in eight days. It’s true. Long flight to Abu Dhabi and then back from India too. Not an easy life.
Cesaro and Reigns stood in the ring for Jojo to introduce them for the title match.
Intercontinental Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro
Cesaro worked over the right arm of Reigns a bit early on, but Reigns came back with a clothesline that sent Cesaro over the top to the floor.
Back from break, Cesaro had Reigns in an armbar and they showed Cesaro took control during the break. Cesaro continued to work on the arm. Normally they work on the left arm or left knee, but this match is going a different route working on the right arm of Reigns. There was a cradle from Reigns. Cesaro slapped on the armbar again with Graves doing the over the top wrestler announcer cliché saying that Reigns’ arm may be dislocated from it. Reigns sent Cesaro into the corner to break free followed by a back suplex, which is a favorite move of John Cena. Reigns with a headbutt followed by an uppercut punch. With Cesaro against the apron, Reigns hit the Drive By dropkick for a two count. When Reigns went for a Superman Punch, Cesaro blocked it and took Reigns down. Cesaro slapped on the Crossface while working on the arm. Reigns came back with a Samoan Drop for a two count. Cesaro with an uppercut and then he sent Reigns shoulder first into the ring post. The battle went out to the floor with Reigns hitting a Superman Punch. Back in the ring, that got a two count for Reigns. Kick to the face by Cesaro countered the Spear and Cesaro launched Reigns in the air with an uppercut for two. That was sweet. Cesaro slapped on the Crossface again while working on the right arm. Each guy kept going for nearfalls, Reigns hoisted up Cesaro by one arm and Reigns hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. They exchanged punches, then the ref had to break them up and Cesaro got a cheap eye poke followed by an inside cradle for two. Cesaro continued offense with a series of uppercuts on Reigns in the corner. Reigns with a back body drop to get out of the Neutralizer. Reigns hit a Spear and covered for the win. Reigns was favoring his right arm after hitting the move to sell it. It went 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns
Analysis: ***3/4 That was an excellent match. Classic battle over a title with the face Reigns selling the arm injury all match long while Cesaro kept coming back with everything he could. It started slow with a lot of time spent on Cesaro working on the arm, but that was needed to tell the story of the match. Reigns continues to have great TV matches because they have given a lot of time against guys like Elias, Jason Jordan and now Cesaro. When you are given repeated chances to have long matches, a guy like Reigns is going to produce. As for Cesaro, it’s always a welcome sight to see him in a long match like that. He is one of the best workers in the company that could thrive as a singles wrestler if they truly got behind him, but WWE seems content to have him as a tag team wrestler. I don’t keep track of my star ratings as a list or anything, but I don’t recall many TV matches that nearly hit the four star out of five level this year. Great job, boys.
Braun Strowman did a promo backstage. Strowman said that Kane is the only thing standing in his way to face Brock Lesnar again, but Kane won’t be in his way for long.
Asuka is up next.
Asuka made her entrance. Alicia Fox’s music played, but there was no sign of her.
Paige’s music hit as Paige entered with her Absolution friends Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Paige wondered where her ex-bestie Foxy is. They showed Fox talking to a ref backstage with Fox holding her left elbow, so she was taken out backstage apparently.
Paige and the girls walked down to the ring. Paige said that nobody, not even Asuka, can stop Absolution. Paige said that Asuka should move out of the way or they will make her move out of the way. Asuka shook her head no. Paige said it’s time that Asuka meets Absolution.
Asuka took out Rose and Deville with kicks. Asuka slapped the armbar on Paige, but Rose and Deville got back in there to work over Asuka. Running knee by Paige on Asuka. Sasha Banks’ music hit.
The women’s locker room of Sasha Banks, Bayley, Mickie James, Alexa Bliss, Alicia Fox (selling the arm), Dana Brooke and even Nia Jax went to the ring. The women worked over Rose and Deville in the corner. Asuka decked rose with a spinning back fist. Jax with a running body attack on Rose. Paige and Deville pulled Rose out of the ring. The other women stood united in the ring as Jax’s music played and the Absolution trio left.
Analysis: Good segment. Most of the other women have been beaten up by Absolution for the last four weeks, so it was the right time for them to fight back by working together. I’m sure some will complain about heels and faces working together, but I don’t mind it. This was more of a common goal of being sick of Paige and her friends. I think Paige should get the Raw Women’s Title very soon leading to a WrestleMania match against Asuka. The problem is this is WWE and they don’t do women’s singles matches at WrestleMania because they want to get a lot of women on the show. I hope they realize a singles match between Paige and Asuka would be the best thing they can do.
There was a shot of Kurt Angle talking to some employee with a headset. Angle told him they need the ring reinforced for Strowman vs. Kane since they broke it last time. Jason Jordan walked in to apologize to “dad” Angle for barging into his office last week. Jordan said that his intensity got the best of him – he joked that he wonders where he gets that from and Angle smiled. Jordan wondered why Angle didn’t put him in a match with Samoa Joe for running rampant over Raw. Angle told Jordan to calm down. Angle said that he wants to attack Samoa Joe back, but he can’t do that because he’s also the General Manager. Jordan said that he’s held his own against guys like Cena, Reigns, Strowman and Kane. Angle told Jordan, not as his father, that holding his own is not winning and Angle told him that he didn’t beat them. Jordan was upset by that, so when he left he called him “Kurt” to show he didn’t like it.
Analysis: I like the pace with which the story is going. Don’t rush it. I think we’ll see the full Jordan turn around the Royal Rumble and that Jordan will face his “dad” Angle at WrestleMania.
Dean Ambrose entered for his match.
There was a mention of the movie Ferdinand starring John Cena getting two Golden Globes nominations including Best Animated Movie.
Samoa Joe entered as a clip aired showing that Joe helped Sheamus and Cesaro retain the Tag Team Titles against Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins last week, so Ambrose wanted revenge.
Samoa Joe vs. Dean Ambrose
Jason Jordan walked out and sat on a steel chair on the ramp. Ambrose went for a running clothesline, but Joe stopped him with a clothesline of his own. Dropkick by Ambrose to the knee of Joe. Ambrose with a running dropkick to the knee of Joe while Joe was up against the turnbuckle. They went to the floor where Ambrose sent Joe into the barricade. Back in the ring, Joe with a running corner attack on Ambrose and then a leaping kick to the head. Ambrose went to the floor leading to the break.
Back from break, Joe with a running back elbow. Senton splash missed for Joe as he went crashing to the mat. They got back to their feet, Joe hit Ambrose with punches, each man countered signature moves and Ambrose hit two running clotheslines. Corner clothesline from Ambrose. Joe hit a forearm leading to the Ambrose bounce off the ropes clothesline on Joe. They got back to their feet with Joe hitting an overhead suplex followed by a celebration while trash talking Jordan, who went down to the ring. Ambrose with a rollup for two. They did a spot where Joe went for a move, so Ambrose countered with a headscissors that sent Joe to the floor. Jordan sent Ambrose into the ring while Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch on Jordan. Ambrose hit a suicide dive to take out both guys. Jordan on the apron. Ambrose hit an elbow smash off the top on Joe for a two count. Cole thinks Ambrose had Joe beat, but ref was busy with Jordan. Ambrose left the ring to get in Jordan’s face. Joe hit a suicide dive to take out Jordan and Ambrose. Senton splash by Joe to Jordan on the floor. Back in the ring, Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch on Ambrose. It ended with Ambrose passing out, so the ref called for the bell and Joe won. It went 11 minutes.
Winner by submission: Samoa Joe
Post match, Cole said that Joe should thank Jordan for the win and Booker wondered what he meant, but then realized they thought the same thing.
Analysis: **1/4 Decent match, but they never got going to the point where it was that exciting. Perhaps the reason was a lack of chemistry since it was their first match. We’re supposed to think that Ambrose nearly won with a move he never wins with against Joe? Okay. I get what they were going for, but it didn’t work that well. Jordan sticking his nose in other people’s business continues to be his thing and that should lead to him having a match with Ambrose or Joe soon.
There was a backstage segment with Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews and Dana Brooke talking about Titus Worldwide. Brooke said she was excited for this opportunity. O’Neil said her new role in Titus Worldwide was to be their statistician and research development. Crews was way too excited about it in an over the top way. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up to call them “nerds.” Braun Strowman let out a yell and was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.
Analysis: Brooke has been poorly used all year. I don’t think she’s that bad and she is a good athlete. The problem is she’s a natural heel, but they book her as this loser face and she is very low on the totem pole because of it. Joining the loser group of Titus Worldwide isn’t going to help her.
A video package aired about the Kane rivalry with Braun Strowman. It lasted a few minutes.
There was a “Tale of the Tape” that said Braun was 6’8” 385 pounds and Kane was 7’0” 323 pounds. The problem with that is when they stand face to face they are the same size and there’s not a four-inch difference, but WWE likes to lie about things like that. They are about the same height.
Braun Strowman made his entrance to a nice ovation.
There was a plug for Smackdown on Tuesday on USA Network with Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens. NXT on USA Network Wednesday has Aleister Black vs. Adam Cole and Tribute to the Troops on USA Network on Thursday has The Shield vs. Samoa Joe, Cesaro & Sheamus.
Next week on Raw in Providence, Universal Champion Brock Lesnar returns to Raw with Paul Heyman.
Kane made his entrance for the main event.
Braun Strowman vs. Kane
The winner of this gets to face Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble…in theory.
Strowman attacked by driving Kane into the corner and hitting a running splash. Running dropkick by Strowman got a two count. They left the ring where Strowman sent Kane shoulder first into the ring steps. Strowman missed a corner attack when Kane moved and Kane hit a Chokeslam. The announcers freaked out about Strowman kicking out of it while the crowd barely reacted to it. Kane hit another Chokeslam that didn’t look good at all because Strowman barely got up. No reaction again. Strowman came back with a Chokeslam of his own, which he doesn’t do that often. It got a two count for Strowman and Kane rolled out to the floor. Strowman went after Kane. They brawled into the crowd where a piece of the barricade was already removed. Strowman hit a clothesline on Kane that broke part of the barricade. Both guys were down on the floor as the ref Chad Patton counted them out. Countout finish at around five minutes.
Match Result: Countout
Analysis: * Boring match that was quick because WWE wants to protect both guys. I didn’t expect a clean finish.
The brawl continued on the floor with Strowman tossing Kane over the steps into the floor. Each guy picked up the top half of the ring steps and smashed the steps into eachother. Strowman brought a table into the ring. Kane got out of the ring, grabbed a steel chair from under the ring and Kane hit Strowman in the leg. Back in the ring, Strowman with a punch, but Kane stopped him with hard chair shots to the ribs. Kane set up a table in the ring. They did a double clothesline spot. Kane sat up. It took a few seconds, but Strowman also sat up and Kane was shocked by it. So Kane is shocked that a guy recovered from a clothesline? Okay. Anyway, Kane wanted a Chokeslam, Strowman powered it and Strowman hit a Running Powerslam through the table. At least the crowd woke up for that.
Analysis: This feud is really not that interesting, but that brawl post match was better than the match. Credit the table for making the fans care because after 20 something years, WWE fans still mark out for tables a lot.
Strowman’s music played to end it. Graves claimed it was an epic battle and wondered what this means for Royal Rumble.
Strowman had his arms raised in the ring while Kane was out after going through the table. That’s how Raw ended.
Analysis: It’s a common booking trick by WWE to have a match end by countout or disqualification to set up a triple threat match. Whether they go that route at Royal Rumble for sure isn’t known, but I can see them doing Lesnar vs. Kane vs. Strowman at Royal Rumble with Kane there to take the pin. It could also see Triple H costing Strowman the match to set up Strowman vs. Triple H at WrestleMania (teased at Survivor Series). Either way, Lesnar should leave Royal Rumble as Universal Champion.
The announcing for these Strowman/Kane segments is bad. They are pushing that it’s some epic rivalry, yet the work by the men involved is just average. I don’t think Strowman is as effective as a face. They haven’t changed much about him. He was just better when he was more of a heel.
Three Stars of the Show
2. Roman Reigns
3. (tie) Seth Rollins
3. (tie) Sheamus
7 out of 10
Last week: 8
2017 Average: 5.88
Average since brand split starting July 25/16: 5.88 (Smackdown is 6.60)
Last 5 Weeks: 8, 4.5, 6.5, 5.5, 7
2017 High: 8 (April 3, December 4)
2017 Low: 4 (Jan. 9, Feb. 27 & June 12)
I give it a 7 out of 10.
The match quality was very good again for the second week in a row. That’s the benefit of Raw being three hours long. There’s plenty of time for multiple matches to go 15 minutes and when you do that, the talent on this show is going to shine. I enjoyed Reigns vs. Cesaro and Rollins vs. Sheamus a lot. Joe vs. Ambrose was not nearly as good.
The reason it’s not a higher score is because some of the angles just aren’t that exciting right now. Strowman vs. Kane bores me. I did like what the women were doing with the majority of them working together against Absolution.
The crowd was weird. They were dead for a lot of parts of the show, but they got hot for the finishes of the long matches.
That’s all for this week. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.
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