10/16 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns in a cage match, the final push for WWE TLC

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Portland, Oregon at the Moda Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap from last week that focussed on The Shield reunion… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary…

Raw general manager Kurt Angle made his entrance. The stage was filled with tables, ladders, and chairs. Angle headed to the ring as he was introduced by a male ring announcer. Angle welcomed fans to Raw and spoke about The Shield facing Braun Strowman, The Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro at TLC.

The Shield’s entrance music interrupted Angle and the trio made their entrance through the crowd to a huge pop. Their hair was so wet that it looked like they decided to have a contest to see whose hair could hold more water before they came out. Anyway, the merchandise now includes Shield dog tags, as all three members were wearing them.

Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins surrounded the ring and climbed onto the apron before joining Angle inside the ring. The fans chanted “this is awesome.” Angle handed off the mic to Reigns, who glared at him. Roman said it was a good choice because when the hounds enter the ring, people get out of their yard or they beat their ass.

Rollins told Reigns to take it easy and told Angle they appreciate the ring. Rollins said they had their very first match at TLC five years ago. Rollins said they dominated that match and every match that followed. Rollins said it all went away one day, but he is proud to stand in the ring with his brothers five years later. “The Shield is back and better than ever, baby,” Rollins said to cheers.

Ambrose took the mic and mentioned tables, ladders, and chairs (which were also surrounding the ringside area). Ambrose said their TLC opponents were going to war with the masters. He said there’s no force on earth as strong as The Shield. Ambrose said he may have gotten ahead of himself when he said they would face more than three men. Reigns shook his head no. Ambrose said he would say it again. He invited their TLC opponents to come out and fight on the spot.

Braun Strowman’s music played and he headed out with Sheamus, Cesaro, The Miz, and Curtis Axel. Angle barked that the match was not taking place tonight, it would have to wait until Sunday. He threatened to take away the tag title match and the cage match if the heels made a move. They stood on the stage for a long distance staredown…

The broadcast team put it over as an epic Raw and hyped the previously advertised matches and Miz TV with Braun Strowman… [C]

Powell’s POV: There were no audible boo birds for The Shield, so it will be interesting to see if that carries over for Reigns once the cage match starts or if it’s more of a mixed reaction. The fans were red hot for the reunited trio. It should be a fun show given what’s advertised and knowing that they still have a lot to announce for the pay-per-view since they only have four matches advertised.

[Q2] Elias played his guitar in the ring while Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows sat beside him. He did his usual intro until Anderson asked if they could warm up their vocal chords. Gallows made some comical noises and then sang “nerd” repeatedly. Anderson made noises. They played the “Honky Tonk Man” theme song as a warmup. Elias said that wasn’t too bad.

The trio played a song about Jason Jordan that consisted of Elias singing “Jason” and Gallows following it up with “Is a nerd.” They were interrupted by entrance music…

1. Jason Jordan, Titus O’Neil, and Apollo Crews vs. Elias, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson. Cole questioned whether Titus was trying to recruit Jordan to Titus Worldwide. The babyfaces cleared the heels from the ring and they cut to break a little over a minute into the match. [C]

Jordan checked in and had Anderson covered, but Elias broke up the pin. Jordan ended up spearing Anderson and Gallows, then tagged in Crews, who hit his sit-out powerbomb on Anderson and pinned him…

Jason Jordan, Titus O’Neil, and Apollo Crews beat Elias, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson in 6:50.

Powell’s POV: Just a random six-man tag match. They didn’t seem to be setting up anything for the pay-per-view within the actual match.

The broadcast team hyped the TLC pay-per-view and the usual 30-day free trial for new WWE Network subscribers.

[Q3] They also hyped the previously advertised matches before going to break… [C] An ad for Smackdown focussed on Jinder Mahal and a Survivor Series challenge, and Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler…

An Asuka video aired… Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Emma, who said she is sick of hearing about Asuka. She boasted that she started the women’s revolution, beat four of the toughest women in the world last week, and is a social media superstar.

Alexa Bliss showed up and said that Asuka hasn’t done anything. She praised Emma and thanked her for starting the revolution. She accused Mickie James of body shaming her by referring to her as biscuit butt. Alexa invited Emma to be her partner in a match against Mickie and a partner. “Maybe Betty White’s available,” Alexa said of Mickie’s potential partner…

The broadcast team set up a video package that recapped the feud between Brian Kendrick and Cedric Alexander, and the involvement of Jack Gallagher… Cedric Alexander made his entrance… [C]

Powell’s POV: The video recap was a nice touch. I’ve been harping on WWE for acting like everyone is actually watching 205 Live when they clearly know that’s not the case, so this is the type of video that will help viewers catch up on the storyline.

[Q4] 2. Cedric Alexander (w/Rich Swann) vs. Jack Gallagher (w/Brian Kendrick). The heel duo was at ringside coming out of the break, and then Swann made his entrance to be in Alexander’s corner. At 3:00, Kendrick grabbed the foot of Alexander, but Swann took out Kendrick with a tornado DDT off the ring steps. Moments later, Alexander performed the Lumbar Check on Gallagher for the win…

Cedric Alexander defeated Jack Gallagher in 3:15.

The broadcast team mentioned Alexander and Swann vs. Gallagher and Kendrick as a TLC pay-per-view match… Graves hyped Strowman on Miz TV for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: The finish received a better reaction than a lot of the non-title cruiserweight matches typically get on Raw. I’m not sure if the tag match will appear on the actual show or if it’s a Kickoff Show match. It’s not listed on the TLC website yet, but I’ll let you know if that changes during the show.

The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, and Curtis Axel headed to the ring for the Miz TV segment. There were tables, ladders, and chairs set up inside the ring. Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro took turns speaking. The crowd gave Sheamus the “you look stupid” chant. They spoke about using the weapons on The Shield members. Miz called them an overhyped nostalgia act and said they were not and are not as good as the fans think they are.

[Q5] Miz said there’s nothing he couldn’t do for Axel or Bo Dallas (absent again) or the fourth member of their team, Braun Strowman, who made his entrance. Strowman said he would have shattered The Shield tonight. He recalled the trio putting him through the broadcast team’s table and said it’s only because none of them could stop him on their own.

“So now I tear them apart one by one, piece by piece until The Shield is done and gone forever,” Strowman said. He added that it would start with Reigns in the cage match later in the show. Miz boasted that The Shield is no match for them. He asked the crowd if they really believe The Shield can take them. They crowd chanted “yes” and Miz chanted “really” back and forth.

The Miz recalled Ambrose saying The Shield would face four or five guys. Miz was about to introduce a fifth member of the team when Kurt Angle came out and cut him off. Miz argued his case and told Angle to make them back up their words. Angle told Miz to shut up and then said it would be settled in the ring.

Angle said that if Miz wants a fifth partner for TLC, then Strowman would need to beat Reigns in the cage match. Angle said that if Reigns wins the match, then Strowman is out of the TLC match. The heels huddled up. “We accept,” Strowman said. Angle then announced that everyone will be banned from ringside during the cage match and tag title matches…

The broadcast team hyped the previously advertised matches and said Finn Balor had a demonic message for Sister Abigail… [C]

Powell’s POV: Actually, I believe Ambrose said The Shield could beat six guys, so why stop at five, Miz? Actually, I still wish this was a six-man tag match minus Miz, who makes the heel team feel like less of a threat than they would without him. Even so, that’s a nice hook for the cage match later in the show. By the way, there’s no mention of the cruiserweight tag match being a Kickoff Show match in the official announcement at the WWE website.

3. Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox. Banks received a televised entrance, while Fox was already in the ring coming out of the break. They aired footage of Banks eliminating Fox from last week’s five-way, and then aired a pre-tape of Fox blaming the referee for her loss last week. Banks applied the Bank Statement during the opening seconds of the match, but Fox reached the ropes to break it.

[Fox came back and performed a nice backbreaker for a two count. She also caught Banks with an elbow to the face and bloodied her nose.

[Q6] Banks came back and won with the Bank Statement. Fox threw a fit afterward…

Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox in 2:45.

A shot aired of Enzo Amore walking backstage. Graves said there would be a pity party after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: We’re getting time filler matches early in the show. Get used to it, as they have so many top guys in the TLC main event that it’s a top heavy show, meaning we’re in for some undercard matches that normally wouldn’t crack a pay-per-view lineup.

Backstage, Charly Caruso was interviewing Sasha Banks about her win when Alicia Fox attacked her from behind. A referee tried to stop her, but Fox shoved the referee down…

Powell’s POV: See what I mean? You’ve seen Banks defeat Fox in back to back weeks on Raw, and now it appears you’ll be able to do it again on Sunday.

Enzo Amore headed to the ring and did his usual schtick, which didn’t get nearly the reaction that it did just a few weeks ago. Enzo noted that he heard a few boos. He said the fans must be wondering where his boo was at (the WWE Cruiserweight Championship). He had footage air of Kalisto beating him to win the title last week. Enzo claimed he was robbed of the title and blamed it on Angle.

Kalisto made his entrance to his old entrance theme. He said Enzo’s mouth never closes. He said Enzo can blame everyone if it helps him sleep at night. Enzo said he has stacks of money that are taller than Kalisto. He said he earned the money by being a star. Noam Dar, Tony Nese, Ariya Daivari, and Drew Gulak attacked Kalisto from behind while Enzo chanted “you deserve it.”

[Q7] Mustafa Ali’s music played and he ran to ringside and worked over some of the heels. Enzo eventually blindsided Ali and the heels put the boots to him. Daivari turned Ali inside out with a clothesline. Enzo jawed at Kalisto while the other heels held him up, and then Enzo performed Gail Kim’s Eat Defeat on him…

Powell’s POV: One nice thing about the angle is that it reinserted the babyface and heel split by putting the heels on the same side as Enzo. It was also encouraging to see Ali featured. He’s stood out consistently in the cruiserweight division, yet they haven’t really gotten behind him creatively. Best of all, this didn’t happen in the Raw main event segment.

Ring entrances for the tag title match took place…

4. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Titles. Cole noted that Cesaro was still wearing the mouthguard and they recapped his injury at No Mercy. Rollins and Ambrose worked the match in their Shield vests. They tossed the heels to ringside and then performed stereo dives over the top rope and onto them on the floor. Sheamus and Cesaro came back and isolated Rollins heading into a break at 2:10. [C]

[Q8] Rollins was worked over by the heels and eventually made a hot tag at 9:10. A short time later, Rollins took out Sheamus with a suicide dive, then Ambrose did the same to Cesaro. The heel duo came back with a clunky double team move on Ambrose, but Rollins broke up the pin. They set up for a double crucifix on Ambrose, but Rollins broke that up as well. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Cesaro and pinned him…

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus and Cesaro in 12:05 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.

Graves hyped Finn Balor delivering a message to Bray Wyatt after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good television match. These teams have had better matches together, but this was easily the most entertaining match of the night thus far. Okay, so that’s not saying much, but the crowd was definitely hot for the Shield duo. I’m surprised we saw a clean finish. I knew there was no way they were going to have Rollins and Ambrose lose the match heading into TLC, but I thought they might protect the challengers more than they did.

Backstage, Curtis Axel gave Sheamus and Cesaro a pep talk. He told them that they needed to stay strong from Braun because he would be the fifth member of the team in his hometown at TLC if Strowman wins. Axel said he needs this to happen. He said he wanted it so bad that he wanted to find Reigns and fight him. “Then go find him,” Strowman said. Axel started making excuses about how he wasn’t dressed for it. Sheamus said the fifth member of their team wouldn’t be afraid to take on Reigns. Axel set off to find Reigns…

[Q9] The broadcast team spoke behind their desk and set up a video that recapped last week’s Bray Wyatt/Sister Abigail promo on Finn Balor. It sounded like they changed the voice distortion and made it sound more like a woman than it did last week, but I could be mistaken…

Finn Balor headed to the ring for a promo. He said he initially wondered if Bray Wyatt had lost his mind or was just playing another mind game. He recalled reading about a Celtic festival where the dead would rise and monsters would walk the earth. Balor said he thought they were just stories until he saw Sister Abigail and felt her presence. “These weren’t just stories, they were real,” he said.

Balor said Wyatt may have his tricks, but he has his own. Balor said he will slay a monster with a demon of his own. He said his demon has no fear. They cut to a shot of Balor in the Demon paint and went back and forth between the Demon and Balor. He said his demon is dying to meet Sister Abigail. “Run!” the Demon said… [C]

Powell’s POV: So Balor learned how to play production games like Wyatt, yet he still believes Sister Abigail is real. They had a really good match at No Mercy only for this oddball storyline to kill whatever momentum they had.

An Asuka video package aired… Ring entrances for the women’s tag match took place…

[Q10] 5. Alexa Bliss and Emma vs. Mickie James and Bayley. After a couple minutes of action, the women jawed at ringside heading into a break. [C] The heels isolated Bayley until she made a hot tag. Mickie cleaned house. “A lot of rhythm going on right there,” Booker said. “That’s the country singer coming out of her.” Huh? In the end, Mickie caught Bliss with a kick to the head and pinned her…

Mickie James and Bayley beat Alexa Bliss and Emma in 11:30.

Backstage, Curtis Axel found The Shield members talking. He pumped himself up and started to approach them when the show cut to commercial… A WrestleMania video aired. We’re ?? days away. Sorry, they didn’t list a countdown… [C]

Powell’s POV: The challenger pins the champion heading into the pay-per-view. Logical booking, though probably a sign that Bliss is going to retain if WWE is sticking with their usual booking formula. Meanwhile, I expect them to come back from break with doctors scrambling to arrange a surgical procedure to have Axel’s head removed from his own anus.

[Q11] Backstage, The Miz told Strowman that it’s a privilege for him, Sheamus, and Cesaro to team with him at TLC. The others informed Miz that Axel was off looking for a fight with Reigns. Miz looked dejected…

In another part of the backstage area, Mickie hugged Bayley before being interviewed by Caruso, who tiptoed around Bliss’s age jokes. James said the comments really hurt, but she’s proud of who she is and what she’s accomplished in the business. James said she has a three-year-old at home waiting for her who is the light of her life. She said one of the greatest feelings in her entire career would be taking home the women’s championship to her son Donovan. She said she would have the last laugh on Bliss by whipping that little biscuit butt all over TLC…

The broadcast team announced Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox as the Kickoff Show match for TLC. They also pushed the 30-day trial again. They also announced “The Demon vs. Sister Abigail”…

The Miz was backstage searching for Axel. He found him hanging upside down with his shirt torn off and a bunch of red makeup around his stomach that was supposed to be welts… The cage lowered as the cage lowering music played… [C]

Graves had to deliver the embarrassing pitch about 205 Live being the most exciting hour on television. He hyped Kalisto and Mustafa Ali vs. Enzo Amore and Ariya Daivari, and then Cole hyped Rich Swann vs. Jack Gallagher…

Backstage, The Miz was standing by as two referees and a trainer checked on Axel. Renee Young asked Miz if he would have a chance to replace Axel. Miz said he thinks the world of Axel, but he was never the fifth man…

[Q12] Strowman made his entrance for the main event. The broadcast team narrated footage of Strowman running Big Show through the wall of the cage after beating him in a cage match. Cole noted that Show underwent hip surgery following the match and blamed it on the damage done by Strowman. Reigns made his entrance to a mixed reaction. Funny…

6. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman in a cage match. Cole recapped that if Reigns wins then Strowman is out of the TLC main event, but if Strowman wins then his team gets to add a fifth member. The Miz joined the broadcast team and said he was there on commentary and not at ringside, so he wasn’t defying Kurt Angle’s earlier ruling. Strowman performed a spinebuster and got a two count at 2:10 before a break. [C]

Reigns got a two count off a spinebuster. He tried to climb over the top of the cage, but Sheamus and Cesaro came out and started to climb the cage. Rollins and Ambrose came out and fought with them at ringside. Reigns got over the top of the cage, but Strowman recovered and pulled him back inside and then performed a superplex from the middle of the top rope at 9:35.

Sheamus, Cesaro, Rollins, and Ambrose fought to the stage and eventually into the backstage area. The camera followed them and so did Miz, as he ended up closing a door to the parking garage and locking them out of the building.

Back inside the cage, Strowman caught Reigns climbing the cage in the corner and headbutted him down. Strowman started to climb the cage, but Reigns pulled him down and he crotched himself on the top rope. Reigns threw multiple Superman Punches at Strowman, who fell back into the ring. Reigns set up for his finisher. Strowman pressed Reigns into the air, but Reigns clocked him with a Superman punch and got a two count.

Reigns went back to the corner for his finisher. However, Kane’s music played and distracted him. Reigns ended up spearing Strowman anyway. Kane climbed through canvas wearing his mask and ended up chokeslamming Reigns. The broadcast team questioned what Kane’s issue was. Kane gave Reigns a Tombstone piledriver. Strowman lowered his strap and let out a primal scream before powerslamming Reigns and pinning him…

Braun Strowman beat Roman Reigns in a cage match in 17:25.

Miz sat atop a ladder on the stage and introduced Kane as the fifth member of his team at TLC…

Powell’s POV: Kane is a fun surprise. I honestly didn’t expect to see him again until his political race concluded. My guess is they tie in Kane attacking Reigns to his storyline brother Undertaker being retired by Reigns, but that’s just a shot in the dark. It could be as simple as Kane is a madman and there’s no explaining his actions. Either way, he’s a fun addition to what is clearly a one match TLC show. Join me for live coverage of WWE TLC on Sunday night beginning with the needlessly long Kickoff Show at 6CT/7ET. And, of course, join Jake Barnett for live coverage of WWE Smackdown as the show airs on USA Network. Thanks for watching along with me. I’ll be back later tonight with a member exclusive audio review of Raw.

Readers Comments (4)

  1. They were playing up the Shield’s first match from five years ago at TLC so I was waiting for them to bring up Kane as the last man left from that team, the other two being Ryback and Daniel Bryan, so it’s clear now they didn’t want to bring up footage of that or mention it so as to avoid mentioning Kane. Maybe they are going to use that match as a reason to bring Kane in, as some kind of payback. They debuted, split, and reunited in Indianapolis, and both of their first matches are/will be TLC at TLC, so as they like following a pattern with the Shield it makes sense to bring back an opponent from their first first match for their second first match.

  2. Can anyone shed any light on what a biscuit butt means? It can’t be derogatory considering Alexa has one of the top 5 butts in all of wrestling.

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