1/1 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: First show of 2018 featuring Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Title with a special stipulation, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, Enzo Amore vs. Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Miami, Florida at American Airlines Arena

NEW: You can now support Prowrestling.net when you shop Amazon. Just start your online Amazon shopping at Prowrestling.net/amazon. You are not charged extra, but we receive a small and very helpful commission on everything you purchase. Thanks for thinking of us every time you shop at Amazon.

[Q1] Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary. Cole introduced the first show of 2018 and hyped that Roman Reigns would lose the Intercontinental Championship if he were to be disqualified. Graves checked in and hyped the return of Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Cole hyped Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka in a non-title match…

Alexa Bliss found Kurt Angle backstage and was unhappy about facing Asuka. Angle said he wanted to start off the year with a WrestleMania worthy match. She mentioned that they could meet at WrestleMania if Asuka wins the Royal Rumble. Angle said she wasn’t going to change his mind and added that she was lucky it was “not a championship match…yet”…

Angle headed to the ring and wished viewers a happy new year. He guaranteed that 2018 will be even greater than 2017. Angle noted that John Cena entered the men’s Royal Rumble match. There were more boos than cheers. Angle said there will also be a women’s Rumble match. Angle said people have asked about the Royal Rumble rules. Angle announced that both matches will have 30 entrants and the winners will receive “championship opportunities” at WrestleMania. Angle said he expects Raw wrestlers to win both matches.

Sheamus and Cesaro interrupted Angle and complained about losing the Raw Tag Titles last week. They entered the ring and complained about what Angle did after the match. Footage aired of the match finish and of Angle hugging his storyline son Jason Jordan afterward. Sheamus and Cesaro asked for their rematch. Angle said they would get their rematch when he says so.

Jason Jordan made his entrance and recalled one of them saying he didn’t deserve the title shot. “Then what am I doing with this?” Jordan asked. Jordan entered the ring and said that his father doesn’t know about favoritism and then added that he and Seth Rollins earned their title shot. Angle booked Jordan vs. Cesaro for an immediate match.

Rollins made his entrance and said Jordan had a lot to learn about being a teammate. He said Jordan came out when he was outnumbered. He said that putting himself in a bad position affects him. Rollins told Jordan that he needs to stop being so self-absorbed. Rollins said he would be in Jordan’s corner “to watch you lose.” Cesaro attacked Jordan from behind and knocked him to ringside heading into the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Happy New Year! I hope the hangover has worn off by now. Anyway, this was an interesting opening in that it showed that Rollins and Jordan are not suddenly best buddies after winning the tag titles. Plus, Angle announcing the women’s Royal Rumble will feature 30 participants obviously opens the door for a lot of wrestlers who are not on the main roster. That would be NXT talent, Mae Young Classic participants, and legends. It should be fun, though it remains to be seen whether two Royal Rumble matches on one night is too much of a good thing.

[Q2] 1. Cesaro (w/Sheamus) vs. Jason Jordan (w/Seth Rollins). The match was joined in progress. Cesaro targeted the left knee of Jordan and worked it over heading into a break. [C] Jordan took offensive control and performed a suplex into a bridge for a two count. Cole pointed out that Jordan didn’t use his bad leg while bridging and credited that as the reason that Cesaro was able to kick out.

Sheamus took a cheap shot at Jordan while the ref was distracted to put Cesaro back in offensive control. Rollins ran over and worked over Sheamus. Jordan performed his popup neckebreaker finisher for the win. Graves said Jordan might be cocky, but he’s good. Rollins held up his hand for a fist bump at ringside, but Jordan was too busy celebrating to notice. Rollins smirked and clapped…

Jason Jordan pinned Cesaro in 13:15 of television time.

Powell’s POV: A nice match that give Jordan a quality win while further establishing his arrogant and immature persona.

[Q3] Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Roman Reigns, who got more boos than cheers. She asked him about the possibility of losing his title by DQ after his attack on Joe last week. Reigns said Joe got what he deserved. He said Joe walks and talks like a punk, and that’s why he punked him out last week. Reigns said he would stay within the rules. “I hope,” Reigns added before walking away…

Cole hyped Brock Lesnar appearing later in the show… Bray Wyatt made his entrance. Cole said Wyatt would be in action after a break… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn in a non-title match…

Sasha Banks stood on a New Year set (balloons and a banner) and said she will eliminate 29 women to win the Royal Rumble because she’s a legit boss…

2. Bray Wyatt vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil, Dana Brooke). Wyatt took the early offensive control. Crews came back with a dropkick. Wyatt cut off Crews on the top rope with a punch and then performed a jawbreaker. Wyatt smiled at Brooke, who had her jaw dropped in response heading into a commercial. [C]

[Q4] Wyatt was in control again until Crews caught him with a boot to the head. Crews got a two count off a standing shooting star press at 8:50. Crews followed up with a moonsault off the apron and onto Wyatt at ringside. Back inside the ring, Wyatt clotheslined Crews.

Wyatt went to the corner and leaned backwards, noticed Brooke on the apron shouting encouragement to Crews. Wyatt teased running at Brooke, who fell off the apron and into the arms of O’Neil. Crews performed a leaping kick, but Wyatt came back with Sister Abigail for the win…

Bray Wyatt beat Apollo Crews in 10:20.

After the match, Matt Hardy appeared on the big scree and said he transformed the fireflies into Woken Warriors. He said he will extinguish the darkness of Wyatt and turn it into light. Hardy said he is all around Wyatt and haunts his dreams. Hardy said he would delete Wyatt once Sister Abigail’s powers were removed…

Powell’s POV: Well, the went longer than expected yet it still ended with the predictable result. I’m not sure why they added Brooke to the dead end Titus Worldwide. I thought for a second that they might be setting her up to join Wyatt, but acted afraid of him rather than as if she was under his spell. The Hardy promo was more of the same. They really need to take a trip to the Hardy Family Compound in Cameron, North Carolina.

Backstage, Nia Jax was shown walking with a container of soup. Bliss asked Jax to be in her corner. Jax said Enzo Amore was in the emergency room with the flu and wouldn’t be able to defend his title. Bliss took exception and gave Jax the “him or me” ultimatum. “I’m sorry, my chicken soup is getting cold,” Jax said. After Jax left, Bliss asked if everyone has lost their minds…

Graves hyped Bliss vs. Asuka for after the break… [C] A Raw 25 (anniversary show) spot aired… An ad aired for the WWE Mixed Match Challenge. Alexa Bliss and Asuka made their entrances…

[Q5] 3. Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka in a non-title match. Alexa stalled by reaching the ropes and leaving the ring to avoid Asuka early on. The fans booed Bliss as she was at ringside heading into a break roughly five minutes into the match. [C]

Footage aired of Alexa catching Asuka with a kick during the break and taking offensive control. Asuka fought out of a body scissors and applied an ankle lock, but Bliss reached the ropes to break the hold. Bliss avoided a couple of Asuka kicks and performed a nice backbreaker at 10:30.

At 12:30, Bliss slapped Asuka across the face. Asuka returned the favor and then performed two dropkicks and followed up with a missile dropkick. Asuka caught Bliss with a GTS-like move at 13:45. Less than a minute later, Asuka put Bliss in an armbar and got the win…

Asuka defeated Alexa Bliss in a non-title match in 14:45.

[Q6] The broadcast team set up a video package on Samoa Joe’s role in the Dean Ambrose injury angle, and of Roman Reigns destroying Joe after their match last week…

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Samoa Joe, who said it’s because of him that Dean Ambrose is at home living off his wife’s paycheck. Joe said he would put Reigns to sleep and become the new Intercontinental Champion…

Braun Strowman made his entrance… [C]

Powell’s POV: The women’s match felt like it went longer than it needed to. Then again, I continue to view Bliss as an opportunistic pest heel, not as this competitive champion that seems to pop up from time to time. It would have been more effective for Asuka to dominate Bliss in short order. I get that they want to generate interest in the rematch, but the first half of the match was slow and uneventful. Perhaps it’s good news that the college football game was reaching its peak in opposition on ESPN? Meanwhile, Joe’s line about Ambrose was great and drew gasps from the crowd.

Bayley was on the New Year’s set and announced her entry into the women’s Royal Rumble match…

4. Braun Strowman vs. Rhyno (w/Heath Slater). Cole said Rhyno was trying to show Slater how it’s done by entering the ring with Strowman. After knocking Rhyno down, Strowman went to ringside and grabbed the house mic. Strowman told Slater to get off the apron or to get inside the ring and take “these hands” like his partner. Slater ended up joining the match briefly. Strowman performing a running powerslam on Rhyno for the win.

Braun Strowman beat Rhyno in 2:35.

[Q7] After the match, Strowman performed a running powerslam on Slater. The fans chanted for more. Strowman obliged with another powerslam on Rhyno. Strowman’s music played, but he scooped up Slater and performed the move again. Strowman played to the crowd as his music played, then performed his finisher again on both men…

Graves hyped Brock Lesnar appearing later in the show… Rollins approached Reigns in his locker room and said he wanted to make sure Reigns was keeping his cool. Reigns said he was cool. Reigns got worked up as he recalled roughing up Joe last week only to have him run his mouth again. Jason Jordan showed up and said that if Sheamus and Cesaro tried to interfere, he and Rollins would take them out. “Believe that,” Jordan said before walking away. Rollins looked away from Reigns and they both made faces to show they were embarrassed for Jordan. Funny…

Powell’s POV: The crowd loves the weekly Strowman carnage segment on Raw. Unfortunately, the buzz for his latest title shot isn’t anywhere near what it was when he faced Brock Lesnar in a singles match. Meanwhile, Jordan thinking he can deliver the “believe that” line reminded me of something dorky Kurt Angle would have done back in the day. I love it.

A Raw 25 flashback focussed on DX invading WCW…

Strowman was walking backstage when he spotted Kane, who held up his hands and said he wanted to talk. Kane said they were the alpha monsters and they could tame the beast if they were on the same page. Strowman said he didn’t care about Kane or his plan. “I’m the only alpha monster,” Strowman said. He added that he would take down Lesnar on his own terms. Kane walked away…

Angle was on the phone telling someone what history would be made. He hung up the phone and turned his focus to Finn Balor, who said he was the first WWE Universal Champion and he never got his rematch. Balor announced that he was entering the Royal Rumble match. Angle said that was great, but he wanted to know if Balor found partners for a six-man tag match against Elias, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up and they did the “nerd” routine…

Samoa Joe made his entrance for the Intercontinental Title match… [C]

Powell’s POV: It’s cool to see the Bullet Club members back together for the night, but the “nerd” routine seems more over with the audience of one than the actual fans based on the crowd’s reaction.

[Q8] The broadcast team welcomed viewers watching in South Korea. Graves said hello in Korean. Booker said you answer the phone that way… Reigns made his entrance…

5. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Title (Reigns loses the title via disqualification). JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cole noted that referee John Cone was working the match and was the same referee whom Reigns shoved last week, which led to Reigns being fined $5,000.

Reigns bickered with Cone early as he separated Reigns from punching Joe in the corner. Joe took advantage of the distraction and went on the offensive. Cole noted that Renee Young is the wife of Dean Ambrose while recapping Joe’s comments earlier. Reigns was selling at ringside after taking a suplex heading into the break. [C] Joe was on the offensive heading into the third hour of Raw.

[Q9] Joe dove through the ropes and struck Reigns with a forearm on the floor. Joe came up selling arm pain. Both men returned to the ring after the ref’s count had reached nine. [C] Reigns scored a near fall off a Samoan Drop at 19:50. Later, Reigns picked up the ring steps. Joe called him a coward, but Reigns didn’t use the steps to avoid disqualification.

Back inside the ring, Reigns caught Joe with his second Superman Punch of the match, but it only led to a two count. Reigns went for a spear, but Joe kicked him. Joe ended up shoving Reigns into the referee, who wasn’t happy. Reigns apologized. Reigns pushed the ref out of the way of a charging Joe, who ended up performing a uranage on Reigns for a great near fall. Joe barked at the ref about the count. Joe applied a Coquina Clutch on Reigns, who shoved him off and speared him for the win…

Roman Reigns pinned Samoa Joe in 24:50 to retain the Intercontinental Title.

Powell’s POV: A very good match. I really like the attention to small detail by using referee John Cone, who was shoved by Reigns last week. It gave the match an intriguing hook via the possibility that Cone could play into a cheap finish or have the Reigns character on a shorter leash than other referee’s would. The action in the closing minutes and the use of the referee was well done and the late near fall for Joe was especially strong.

[Q10] Angle was smiling as he watched the Reigns celebration on a backstage monitor. Paul Heyman entered the picture. Heyman said that if Kane and Strowman gang up on his client, then Brock Lesnar would be proactive, not reactive. Heyman said 2018 will be the year of The Beast… [C]

Absolution stood on the New Year’s set. Paige said there are 30 women in the Rumble match, but they are the only three who really matter… Hideo Itami vs. Jack Gallagher was announced for 205 Live…

Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari stood in the ring with a message from Enzo Amore. Gulak read the letter, which included the usual Enzo opening. It went on to say that Enzo had the flu and he would not defend his title on Raw. Enzo added in the letter that he would have beaten Cedric Alexander.

Alexander made his entrance to no reaction. He said he came for a championship match and asked which one of them would step up in Enzo’s place. Gulak and Daivari said they would face Alexander and a partner in a tag team match. Goldust made his entrance and said he has friends in low places, but none are lower than Gulak and Daivari. Goldust asked Alexander if he wanted to be friends…

6. Goldust and Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari. Alexander made an early hot tag to Goldust, who worked over both heels.

[Q11] Goldust went up top and performed a cross body block on both heels before tagging Alexander back into the match. Goldust hit Gulak with an uppercut, then Alexander performed his Lumbar Check for the win…

Goldust and Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari in 3:30.

Balor, Gallows, and Anderson were shown walking backstage… [C]

Powell’s POV: Cruiserweight filler with Goldust coming off like the only star of the four even if they gave Alexander the actual pinfall.

Cole noted that John Cena announced via Twitter that he will be in the Royal Rumble match… The broadcast team hyped WWE Network and the usual 30-day free trial for new subscribers (and cheaters). A graphic for the women’s Royal Rumble match showed Bayley, Banks, and Absolution, so all five women have officially been added. Booker had to plug the Triple Threat and mistakenly said Lesnar’s name twice. The others corrected him and he put his head down while laughing…

Elias played his guitar in the ring. He introduced Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel as talented musicians. Dallas had a cowbell, and Dallas had a, well, I have no clue. Dallas said they were dedicating their performance to The Miz, who will return next week. They played “Auld Lang Syne” and sang horribly. Elias took over and sang an anti-Miami song to the tune of “Let It Be”.

The entrance music of Gallows and Anderson interrupted Elias. Balor made a separate entrance. Graves said the WWE Universe had been clamoring for the reunion of Ballor, Gallows, and Anderson. Cole spoke about how they formed one of the most dangerous groups in “sports entertainment” while in Japan. The babyfaces did the too sweet gesture in the middle of the ring to a mild reaction heading into a break…

[Q12] [C] 7. Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. Elias, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel. In the end, Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer on Dallas, then Balor performed the Coup de Grace on Dallas and pinned him…

Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson beat Elias, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel in 3:25.

Powell’s POV: A nice reunion for those who know the history, but I’d be a lot more excited about it if this were happening on Smackdown and they were heels.

A Miz video package hyped his return for next week…

WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance. They entered to a “we’ve been here over three hours now” reaction from many in the live crowd. Footage aired of the earlier Kane and Strowman exchange that occurred backstage. Heyman introduced himself and said it appears WWE is once again stacking the deck against his client, whom he then introduced.

[Overrun] Heyman asked how else one would explain Lesnar having to defend the championship against multiple challengers again. Heyman played up the possibility of Lesnar losing the title if Kane or Strowman are pinned. He noted that he didn’t mention a scenario with Lesnar losing the match because everyone knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Heyman said Lesnar could beat both opponents in a singles match and everyone in the Royal Rumble match. Heyman said Lesnar fears no challenger or challengers. He said he’s not afraid of monsters. Heyman said he’s had a one-on-one with the man downstairs and the devil’s favorite is actually Lesnar. They went to leave the ring, but they stopped when Kane’s entrance music played.

Kane headed to the ring and Lesnar approached him only for Kane to grab him by the throat and chokeslam him. Kane said something about being the devil’s favorite. Lesnar sat up in Undertaker/Kane fashion and laughed, then clotheslined Kane to ringside. A group of wrestlers and referees pulled Kane to the back. Lesnar’s music played and he held up his title belt to end the show…

Powell’s POV: So Kane hit his finisher on Lesnar, who then sat up and laughed it off before clotheslining Kane to ringside. One step forward and two steps back when it comes to Kane being taken seriously in this match. Apparently, they didn’t come up with anything for Braun Strowman to do with Lesnar on this show or they are saving it for a future edition. Either way, this didn’t leave me any more anxious to see the Triple Threat match at the Royal Rumble. It’s a good thing the Royal Rumble matches sell the Royal Rumble because the storytelling on Raw feels flat for the most part. I will be by on Tuesday with my member exclusive audio review. My apologies for the delay from the usual Monday night, but the holiday combined with day seven of coping with the cold from hell are pushing it back to Tuesday.


Readers Comments (9)

  1. Huh. With the announcement of the women’s Royal Rumble having 30 competitors as well, it’ll definitely be interesting to see just who helps fill out the match and just how long it’ll go.

    • I told you guys last week that it’d end up being 30 women and nobody believed me. Maybe you should go talk to Kathy in Human Resources…

  2. The Bliss-Asuka match was exactly what it should have been.

    I’m still confused by the wormhole I slipped through a few weeks back where Jason Jordan is the most intriguing character on the roster.

    • I know, right?

      It’s somehow gone from “stop trying to make Jason Jordan happen, it’s not going to happen” to “this is the most three-dimensional character on the entire roster and there’s so many ways this storyline could go”.

      Just goes to show, sometimes the WWE writers actually know what they’re doing and we fans don’t.

    • Agreed on Bliss vs. Asuka, Barton. If RAW is a “promotion” over NXT, then the competition should be harder. There’s no reason to feed Alexa to Asuka in short order. I’m actually irritated they had her tap out to Asuka in their first ever meeting. This match felt like it called for shenanigans of some sort.

  3. “Unfortunately, the buzz for his latest title shot isn’t anywhere near what it was when he faced Brock Lesnar in a singles match”

    Because at this stage everybody is 100% sure they are doing Brock-Roman at WM and that whoever Lesnar faces Lesnar will beat. It’s really too late for a swerve where Brock loses the belt and then gets it back in a rematch in time to face Roman.

  4. “Booker had to plug the Triple Threat and mistakenly said Lesnar’s name twice. The others corrected him and he put his head down while laughing…
    Elias played his guitar in the ring. He introduced Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel as talented musicians. Dallas had a cowbell, and Dallas had a, well, I have no clue.”

    Are you turning into Booker?

  5. I agree that Finn and the Good Brothers need to be on Smackdown. With Reigns/Lesnar (ugh)already penciled in as the main event it stands to reason a Smackdown wrestler will win the Rumble. BUT what if Finn wins it and uses the ole Chris Benoit loophole and opts to challenge Styles for the WWE title? That could be a way to getting the Club on Tuesdays where they belong.

  6. When Samoa Joe gave that line to Renee Young about Dean Ambrose is at home living off his wife’s paycheck, we all wanted Renee to smack Joe with the mic.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.