12/11 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Braun Strowman vs. Kane for a WWE Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro for the IC Championship, Samoa Joe vs. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Cleveland, Ohio at Quicken Loans Arena

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap video that focussed on Roman Reigns winning the Intercontinental Title and beating Jason Jordan last week, and Sheamus and Cesaro beat Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose when Samoa Joe interfered… The broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in and hyped the four previously advertised matches…

Samoa Joe stood in the ring with a mic in hand. He brought up The Shield and ran through the three members and said he’s not impressed with any of them. Joe said he was there to finish what he started with Roman Reigns. Joe said he wanted Reigns, not Reigns and his “two lapdogs.” Rollins and Ambrose were shown watching on a backstage monitor. Rollins told Ambrose to go get Reigns. Meanwhile, Joe continued to boast about dominating Reigns.

Joe said Reigns would be nothing without The Shield and encouraged him to come out and prove him wrong. Reigns was shown watching on the monitor with Ambrose and Rollins. “I got this, boys,” Reigns told them. Roman’s music played and he made his entrance to a mixed reaction.

Reigns entered the ring and got the better of Joe briefly. Sheamus and Cesaro showed up and tried to interfere. Reigns fought them off, but Joe attacked Reigns from behind. Joe eventually placed Reigns in the Coquina Clutch. Rollins and Ambrose ran out and fought with Sheamus and Cesaro at ringside. They eventually were table to enter the ring so Joe released the hold. The heel trio dominated The Shield members and left them lying… [C] An ad aired fo Clash of Champions…

Powell’s POV: A strong start to the show that features the six participants meeting in three different singles matches. I’m also curious to see if they build up the six-man tag match these teams will have on the WWE Tribute to the Troops special or if that show is treated like a separate entity that doesn’t really matter in the typical WWE storyline universe as has been the case in the past.

The broadcast team recapped the opening segment and put over Joe calling out Reigns and then getting help from Sheamus and Cesaro as a well orchestrated plan… The broadcast team recapped Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss having the first women’s match in Abu Dhabi last week…

1. Paige and Mandy Rose (w/Sonya Deville) vs. Bayley and Mickie James (w/Sasha Banks). The Absolution members spoke before the match. Deville actually said it’s a symphony of carnage and the music is about to start. The babyfaces cleared the heels from the ring during the opening minute. [C]

[Q3] Late in the match, Paige kicked James while the referee was distracted, and then Rose covered her for the win…

Paige and Mandy Rose defeated Bayley and Mickie James in 8:15.

Powell’s POV: Another credibility building win for the heel trio. It feels like the babyface trio are simply tasked with putting them over at this point, so I’m curious to see if that’s their only role or what will turn the tide.

The broadcast team discussed the Night of Champions pay-per-view lineup… Graves hyped the Strowman vs. Kane main event…

Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen and delivered his “I’m here” line. They cut to Matt Hardy, who said, “I am woken”… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Randy Orton) vs. Sami Zayn (w/Kevin Owens), and AJ Styles and Jinder Mahal meeting face-to-face…

Another Wyatt and Hardy back and forth video aired. Matt claimed he walked hand in hand with Sister Abigail in the past, but now she is consumed by evil and her horrendous soul is the prominent passenger of the vessel known as Wyatt. Bray asked why follow a jester when you can follow a king. They went back and forth with the two men laughing maniacally in their own way…

They cut to the broadcast team. Cole had a big smile and said Hardy was clearly out of his mind. Graves said Matt is woken… Graves set up footage of Nia Jax flirting with Enzo last week after he gave a pep talk to his heel crew…

Backstage, Drew Gulak told Enzo that WWE revoked Rich Swann’s “opportunity” and there would be a second chance four-way with the winner going on to face him next week in a No. 1 contenders match. Enzo ran through potential challengers and mentioned Nia Jax. Gulak called him on it, then laughed and said he saw what was going on. Gulak assumed Enzo wanted him to be prepared for anyone…

Finn Balor made his entrance for a match against Curtis Axel…

Powell’s POV: So they are moving ahead with the Nia and Enzo romance angle, as the idea here was clearly that she is on Enzo’s mind to the point that he mistakenly mentioned her. Meanwhile, the Hardy and Wyatt videos are fun, but I look forward to seeing Hardy do his Woken gimmick in front of the live crowd in that I’m curious to see how the fans react. Some fans clearly love it, but is it something that is over everyone? Perhaps it’s better for him this way as Vince McMahon might convince himself that it wasn’t over until these videos on WWE television got it over. Keep in mind, Vince once claimed fans were chanting ECW because he conditioned them to do so.

[Q4] [C] Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas received a fully televised entrance. They laughed at Balor, and Axel removed his neck brace prior to the match. The heels attacked Balor. The referee checked on Balor, who said he was okay to have the match…

2. Finn Balor vs. Curtis Axel (w/Bo Dallas). Balor won clean following a Coup de Grace…

Finn Balor beat Curtis Axel in 1:40.

Powell’s POV: So does Balor beat them both in a handicap match next week to kill time until Miz returns from his movie shoot?

The broadcast team hyped Rollins vs. Sheamus for after the break. Graves noted that their partners were banned from ringside… [C] The broadcast team hyped Tribute to the Troops briefly and spent more time thanking Machine Gun Kelly for his song…

Kane delivered a promo from the bowels of the building. He said he will enter the abyss with a fellow monster and climb out alone. Kane said that for the first time ever he will compete with Brock Lesnar and become WWE Universal Champion…

Powell’s POV: My best guess is we’re getting a Triple Threat with Lesnar vs. Strowman vs. Kane at the Royal Rumble. That match keeps Strowman out of the Royal Rumble match and the involvement of Kane keeps Strowman from doing another job to Lesnar. That said, Lesnar vs. Kane is actually an option in that the Rumble match sells the Rumble pay-per-view, so they can get by with a lesser title match than usual.

3. Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus. Sheamus was the early aggressor. Booker once again babbled about how Sheamus loves being a tag champion, but his ultimate goal is to become world champion. Rollins performed a blockbuster and sent Sheamus to ringside at 3:30. Sheamus avoided a dive. Rollins landed on his feet, but Sheamus caught him with a kick when he climbed onto the apron. Rollins was down at ringside heading into a break. [C]

Sheamus targeted the left knee of Rollins throughout the match and applied a cloverleaf at 9:20. Rollins countered into a small cradle for two. He followed up with a DDT for a good near fall.

[Q6] At 12:10, Rollins caught Sheamus on the ropes and superplexed him. Rollins performed a falcon arrow, then sold the knee and was slow to cover Sheamus, who kicked out at two. In the end, Rollins caught Sheamus with a short-arm clothesline and a high knee for the win…

Seth Rollins beat Sheamus in 13:50.

Powell’s POV: As tiresome as the singles matches involving the tag champions and their challengers bit has become, this match held my interest and certainly had the live crowd. It’s encouraging to see Sheamus working a lengthy singles match given that he openly discussed battling spinal stenosis in his neck last month.

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Dean Ambrose about his potential strategy heading into his match against Samoa Joe. Ambrose got himself worked up and thanked Young for the pep talk… The broadcast team hyped the previously advertised matches. Reigns vs. Cesaro is for the IC Title… [C]

4. Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese vs. Mustafa Ali vs. Ariya Daivari in a four-way qualifier for a No. 1 contenders match. Drew Gulak sat in on commentary for the match and will face the winner next week. Cole once again acknowledged that Rich Swann lost his “opportunity” but he did not elaborate. All four wrestlers were down after a series of spots heading into a break at 4:10.

[Q7] Ali performed his inverted 450 splash on Nese, but the pin was broken up. Alexander and Ali squared off. Nese came back with a running knee in the corner on Alexander and had him pinned, but Ali broke it up. In the end, Alexander hit both heels with kicks and hit his Lumbar Check finisher on Daivari for the win. Alexander was interviewed briefly by Charly Caruso after the match…

Cedric Alexander beat Tony Nese, Mustafa Ali, and Ariya Daivari in 13:05 to earn a spot in the No. 1 contender match.

The broadcast team hyped the IC Title match for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: For anyone who missed it, Swann was arrested following a domestic incident with his wife over the weekend and suspended by WWE indefinitely. We almost got through the segment without Cole telling viewers this is what the cruiserweight division is all about, but he just couldn’t do it. Anyway, the match was entertaining and Alexander is a more compelling option than Swann was. Here’s hoping they get the title off of Enzo and start giving these guys better character development and storyline support.

[Q8] Backstage, Gulak approached Enzo and spoke about becoming cruiserweight champion. Enzo wasn’t pleased. Gulak said it was just friendly trash talk. Enzo said Gulak works for him. He said he won one match and now he thinks they are equals. Enzo teased saying the PowerPoint presentation is sawft, but he stopped and approached Nia Jax, who was all smiles. She was also nice to Gulak and said she likes his presentation. Nia told Enzo that they should talk when he’s not busy…

5. Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro for the Intercontinental Championship. Cole noted a Cesaro tweet about seven shows in eight days. Cole said the WWE crew battled around the globe over the last week. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cesaro targeted the arm of Reigns, who came right back and clotheslined him to ringside. [C]

[Q9] Cesaro continued to work over the left arm of Reigns. He pulled him to the middle of the ring and continued to wrench on it. Cesaro applied a crossface at 11:10. Reigns powered up and performed a Samoan drop for a two count. Cesaro ended up running Reigns through the ropes and into the post.

At 13:40, Cesaro performed the Popup Uppercut for a good near fall. Cesaro applied the crossface again. They jockeyed for position and Reigns eventually performed a sit-out powerbomb for a two count. They traded punches in the ring. Cesaro caught Reigns in an inside cradle for another near fall. Cesaro went for the Neutralizer, but Reigns back body dropped him and speared him for the win…

Roman Reigns pinned Cesaro in 16:55 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

Powell’s POV: Reigns showed good intensity to start the match in a fitting manner given the attack by the heels earlier. This wasn’t overly confident Reigns, it was revenge seeking Reigns. Meanwhile, Cesaro targeting the arm was a treat to watch. It was hard to buy into the idea of him winning the IC Title when he currently holds the tag titles, but it was an entertaining match and it was surprising to see Reigns sell for the majority of the match.

Braun Strowman was shown backstage. He looked down at the camera and delivered a promo about facing Kane and wanting another piece of Brock Lesnar… The broadcast team hyped Asuka vs. Alicia Fox for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: WWE should avoid that upward shot of Strowman when he makes the bug eyes. He looked like Sloth from the Goonies.

[Q10] Asuka headed to the ring for her match with Alicia Fox. However, Absolution made their entrance instead of Fox. Paige questioned where her bestie was at. She pointed to the screen where a referee was tending to Fox, who was nursing an injury. Paige turned her attention to Asuka and said she can’t stop Absolution. Paige told Asuka to move out of the way or they would make her.

Asuka shook her head no. Paige climbed onto the apron and repeated herself. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville climbed on the apron. Paige said it was time for Asuka to meet Absolution. Asuka knocked Rose and Deville to ringside and then applied an armbar on Page. Rose and Deville recovered and joined Paige in outnumbering her.

Paige was about to performer her finisher, but Sasha Banks’ music played. Sasha was followed by the rest of the women’s division. Paige fled the ring. Rose took some abuse, but Paige and Deville pulled her to ringside. Cole said the women’s locker room said enough was enough…

Powell’s POV: It’s perfectly logical that the wrestlers would all put aside their differences to take out the heel trio. I’m just surprised it happened because that type of logic usually doesn’t exist when factions are involved. I’m also not sure why it happened in that it cooled off Paige’s crew in a hurry.

Kurt Angle was shown talking to a production crew member and instructing him to have the ring reinforced. Jason Jordan entered the room and hugged Angle. Jordan apologized for making demands last week. Jordan said he was going to keep his cool. Jordan then got worked up about not being put in a match against Samoa Joe. Angle said Jordan isn’t the only person who has issues with Joe. Jordan claimed he’s the only person who can beat Joe. Angle said holding your own and winning are not the same thing. Angle said Jordan would face Joe when he said so. “Okay, Dad, or maybe I should say, okay, Kurt,” Jordan said before storming off…

Dean Ambrose made his entrance for the match with Samoa Joe as Cole hyped tickets going on sale Friday for Elimination Chamber… [C]

Powell’s POV: Jordan showed a little range by going from being in nice guy mode to then pissing and moaning about not getting his way. This wasn’t as good as last week, but it was still well done and I’ve gone from dreading his character to looking forward to seeing what he will do next.

[Q11] Samoa Joe made his entrance as they aired footage of the opening segment…

6. Samoa Joe vs. Dean Ambrose. The broadcast team said this was the first match between the two. Jason Jordan walked onto the stage right after the opening bell and sat down on a chair to watch the match. Joe performed his enzuigiri in the corner heading into a break. [C]

At 8:10, Ambrose went for Dirty Deeds, but Joe countered into a suplex. Joe stood up and mocked Jordan, who walked to ringside. Ambrose hit Joe witih a knee to the back and rolled him up for two. Both men tumbled to ringside a short time later. Jordan rolled Ambrose inside the ring.

Joe applied the Coquina Clutch on Jordan, and Ambrose broke it up with a suicide dive. Ambrose performed his top rope elbow move on Joe and covered him, but Jordan was bickering with the referee who eventually made a two count. Ambrose wasn’t pleased and got in Jordan’s face at ringside. Jordan grabbed Ambrose, but Joe hit them both with a flying forearm through the ropes. Joe tossed Ambrose back inside the ring and then performed a senton on Jordan. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch on Ambrose for the win…

Samoa Joe beat Dean Ambrose in 11:00.

Powell’s POV: The styles of Joe and Ambrose weren’t a great match, but the involvement of Jordan made this work. This was very good use of Jordan as it gave Ambrose an out for losing, gave Jordan and Ambrose an issue, and continued the storyline involving Jordan and Joe.

Backstage, Dana Brooke thanked Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews. Titus said she was the new Titus Worldwide statistician and head of research and development. Crews started yelling about it. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up for lord knows what reason and called them nerds. Braun Strowman stormed through the area and they all moved aside for him…

[Q12] [C] The ring crew was shown reinforcing the ring. Cole set up the latest repetitive video package that recapped the Strowman vs. Kane feud… Graves spoke as a tale of the tape was shown for Strowman vs. Kane. Strowman made his entrance… [C]

Cole hyped WWE Network and ran through the main events of each show. They showed a graphic for The Shield vs. Joe, Sheamus, and Cesaro, but never addressed it… Graves hyped Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman returning to Raw next week…

[Overrun] Kane made his entrance for the main event…

7. Braun Strowman vs. Kane for a shot at the WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. Strowman charged Kane once the bell rang and drove him into the corner where he headbutted him. Strowman caught Kane with a dropkick and covered him for a two count a minute into the match.

Kane came back with a chokeslam for a two count at 1:50. He followed up with another about a minute later for another two count. They ended up fighting beyond the barricade and next to the crowd on the floor. Strowman drove Kane through a piece of the barricade. The referee counted out both men. Fans booed.

Kane fought Braun Strowman to a double count-out at 4:40.

After the match, Strowman and Kane continued to fight while Graves pondered who would face Lesnar at the Rumble. Both men picked up pieces of the ring steps. The fans finally came to life and then the wrestlers slammed the steps together. Kane dropped to his knees and sold.

Strowman pulled a table out from underneath the ring and slid it inside the ring. Kane rolled to ringside and pulled out a chair, which he struck Strowman’s leg with. Kane worked over Strowman with the chair. Kane set up the table near the corner of the ring. Strowman clotheslined Kane, who ended up sitting up first. Strowman sat up Kane style and they glared at one another. Kane tried to chokeslam Strowman through the table, but Strowman scooped up Kane and performed a running powerslam through the table. Strowman’s music played while Graves once again questioned who will challenge Lesnar at the Royal Rumble…

Powell’s POV: Am I the only one disappointed that we didn’t get to hear Elias heel on Cleveland? Anyway, they left the fans hanging in terms of who will challenge Lesnar, but the live crowd didn’t seem to mind. The fans sat on their hands throughout the actual match, but they came to life once the weapons were introduced afterward. I still suspect we’ll see a Triple Threat at the pay-per-view, but I guess we have to wait a week to find out one way or another. Overall, there wasn’t a lot of pointless filler on the show, but Raw dragged at times and this was pretty uneventful. Agree or disagree? Grade the show in our poll on the main page. I will be by with a members’ exclusive audio review later tonight.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. “Kane tried to chokeslam Kane through the table”

    WHAT A MANEUVER

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