1/8 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: The Miz returns, Woken Matt Hardy wrestles, Enzo Amore vs. Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, Royal Rumble developments

By Jason Powell

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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Memphis, Tennessee at FedEx Forum

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of Roman Reigns defeating Samoa Joe to retain the Intercontinental Championship last week… Michael Cole introduced the show and hyped that they were only two weeks away from the 25th Anniversary of Raw show. Cole was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Booker T. JoJo was the ring announcer…

Roman Reigns made his entrance to the usual mixed reaction. The broadcast team gushed over Reigns being a fighting champion. Reigns said he was fighting for Dean Ambrose last week. Reigns said that if you mess with one member of The Shield, “you mess with all of us.”

Jason Jordan’s entrance music interrupted Reigns. Once in the ring, Jordan told Reigns that he got goosebumps while watching the match with Joe. Jordan said he felt like he was a part of something meaningful for the first time in his life. Jordan said that it’s just like what Reigns said, if you mess with one of them, you mess with all of them. “This is your yard, baby, your yard,” Jordan said. He added a thanks on behalf of himself and Seth Rollins.

Seth Rollins made his entrance and said Jordan still has a lot to learn. Once in the ring, Rollins told Jordan that he needs to work on his timing. Jordan said it was all of their moment. He said they all had issues with Joe, but Reigns took care of it. Jordan boasted that they are all champions. “We run this show,” he said. Jordan said they might not be The Shield, but they are pretty good. “We might be the most dominant three-man group in all of WWE,” said Jordan.

Finn Balor’s music played and he, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson walked onto the stage and took issue with Jordan claiming to be part of the most dominant trio in WWE. Balor said he ran with Anderson and Gallows for ten years before Jordan knew Angle was his dad.

Gallows said that when it came to WWE, they knew it was time to stand alone. He noted that he and Anderson won the tag titles, while Balor became the first ever WWE Universal Champion. Balor and company started walking to the ring as Anderson said they knew that they would eventually come together “and take this place over.” Balor said that day was last Monday on Raw.

Balor said 2018 is the year of Balor Club. Jordan laughed and said he’s happy to be part of the Champions Club. Reigns and Rollins looked embarrassed. Balor questioned if that was a new version of The Shield. He noted that he didn’t see Ambrose. Gallows gave Jordan the “nerd” treatment. Jordan took a swipe at him. Reigns and Rollins quickly pulled him back.

Kurt Angle came out and said they already have a great show planned with Brock Lesnar and The Miz appearing. Angle said he just found his main event and booked Reigns, Rollins, and Jordan vs. Balor, Anderson, and Gallows…

[Q2] Graves hyped the return of The Miz. A shot aired of Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Mickie James. Cole said Banks and Bayley would face two members of Absolution with James as backup… [C]

Powell’s POV: It’s good to see that Balor Club was more than just a one week deal. It’s even more encouraging to think that they had a cockiness to them and could be positioned as heels. I still think there’s real money in Balor as a babyface with the right push and I’m prefer to see this trio run wild on Smackdown, but hopefully they will be given a fair shake creatively on Raw. A big key to this working is reestablishing Anderson and Gallows, who were treated like nobodies for far too long. Jordan was fun here with his ongoing delusions of grandeur, and Rollins and Reigns do a nice job of looking embarrassed by boasting.

1. Sasha Banks and Bayley (w/Mickie James) vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville (w/Paige). Mickie James announced her entry on the WWE website, so there are now 15 women advertised for the 30-woman Rumble match. Bayley got the better of Rose, who was pulled to ringside by her teammates heading into the break. [C]

[Q3] The heel duo isolated Banks for a stretch. Banks came close to the corner, but Rose cut her off and then knocked Bayley off the apron. Banks caught Rose in an inside cradle, but Deville broke up the pin. Bayley took out Deville. Banks came back with the Backstabber and rolled into the Bank Statement on Rose for the win…

Sasha Banks and Bayley beat Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in 10:55.

The broadcast team hyped the six-man tag main event… An ad for Smackdown focussed on Daniel Bryan announcing the handicap match for the WWE Championship for the Royal Rumble and questioned what would happen next… [C]

Powell’s POV: Well, at least they didn’t base the hype around what Shane McMahon’s reaction would be for once. Anyway, the match effectively killed a lot of time. They gave the heel duo a lot of time and Cole went above and beyond to put that over even though they lost the match. My guess is the next big women’s evolution following the Rumble match will be the addition of women’s tag titles on both brands. They have a good number of women on each roster and they can easily add more from NXT or the Mae Young Classic if they want to.

A 25 Years of Raw flashback focussed on Mankind visiting Vince McMahon in the hospital in 1998, and Dr. Steve Austin attacking Vince. Good times…

The broadcast team spoke about anniversary show and pondered which legends would appear. Graves noted that it’s Dudleyville and assumed The Dudleys would appear…

Cole mentioned The APA (JBL and Ron Simmons) as possibilities. They shifted the focus to last week’s Raw closing angle with Brock Lesnar and Kane. Cole hyped Brock Lesnar appearing on Raw and noted that Kane and Braun Strowman were both in the building… A video package recapped Goldust and Cedric Alexander beat Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari last week…

Backstage, Alexander was in his locker room when Goldust showed up and acted like Mick from Rocky, then noted that it was from the movie and that it was released in 1976. Alexander said he appreciated the pep talk, but he didn’t need it. Goldust said the only thing standing in the way of him and his dream was himself. Goldust said Alexander is in control…

The broadcast team hyped the WWE Mixed Match Challenge and set up footage of Goldust finding out that he’d be teaming with Alicia Fox…

[Q4] Cole said Fox would be a better partner for Goldust than Booker ever was. Graves ran through the married couples who are in the tournament…

Matt Hardy’s entrance theme played. It started with piano music and included some of his Woken sound bytes before becoming an instrumental. Hardy made his entrance for his in-ring debut as the Woken character… [C]

2. “Woken” Matt Hardy vs. Curt Hawkins. A pre-taped Hardy interview aired with Matt vowing to delete 29 superstars in the Rumble of Royalty. Yes, he’s in the Rumble match. Cole noted that Hawkins entered the match on a 152 match losing streak. Hardy bit Hawkins early. Cole noted that Hardy was using a “primal fighting style”. Matt hit a Side Effect and led the crowd in a Delete chant before hitting a Twist of Fate for the win…

Matt Hardy defeated Curt Hawkins in 1:50.

After the match, the lights went out. When they came back on, Bray Wyatt was standing in the ring behind Hardy. Matt turned and laughed. Bray laughed back. They kept laughing until the Wyatt video flashed to end the segment…

Graves hyped the return of The Miz after a six-week absence… [C]

Powell’s POV: Good fun. The live crowd seemed a bit split in terms of fans who were really into the Hardy act and fans who were quiet. I’m not sure how much in between there is on this one. I like the way they didn’t give away any physicality between Hardy and Wyatt here. My guess is that they’ll save that for the Rumble match.

Elias played his guitar in the ring coming out of the commercial break.

[Q5] Elias got the fans to chant that WWE stands for “Walk With Elias.” He said it was a special day and he wrote a song for the occasion. He sang a song to the tune of Pearl Jam’s “Yellow Ledbetter” about Elvis, Graceland, and Memphis before introducing The Miz.

Miz headed to the ring wearing a suit and was accompanied by Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Elias was out of the ring by the time Miz arrived. A loud “welcome back” chant broke out. Miz noted that the Marine 6 wrapped and he was back on Raw. Miz said he’s the glue that holds Raw together.

Miz said he was gone but not forgotten thanks to the efforts of his Miz TV guests Axel and Dallas. They chanted “thank you, Miz.” Dallas gave Miz a framed photo of himself. Axel removed his jacket and gave it to Miz. Dallas took off his watch and presented it to Miz. Dallas and Axel pushed and shoved until Miz told them to sit down.

Miz boasted that he held the IC Title for 200 days and elevated the careers of Axel and Dallas in 2017. He said there was something he didn’t forget about. Footage aired of The Shield taking him out with a Triple Powerbomb two months ago. Miz said he let Reigns borrow his IC Title so that the title would be represented while he was out making a movie. Miz said the champion makes the title and now “Daddy is home.”

Miz said he will see his daughter born in 2018. He said he will also become the longest reigning IC Champion in history. He said he hopes Reigns enjoyed the time he allowed him to have. “I am back and I am coming for my Intercontinental Championship,” Miz said. “And you can believe that.” Miz dropped the mic and his music played to end the segment…

Powell’s POV: The usual good mic work from Miz. I’m not surprised to hear him express interest in regaining the IC Title, but I hope he’s moved back to Smackdown after WrestleMania where he can be in the WWE Championship mix. It was interesting that Miz repeatedly took credit for elevating Axel and Dallas. I wonder if the split is coming eventually with the lackeys joining Elias.

Backstage, Balor told Anderson and Gallows it was time to make new memories and talk strategies. Anderson said that instead of talking about throwing them back with Tama, Fale, the drunken sumo, and the newlyweds from Saigon, they were talking about throwing down with Reigns, Rollins, and Jordan. Balor said the tactics remain the same with eyes open and feet moving. Balor said they had an opportunity to show everyone that 2018 is the year of Balor Club. They all too sweeted at the end…

Powell’s POV: For those who don’t follow New Japan Pro Wrestling, Anderson was referring to wrestlers Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale. He mentioned another name, but I couldn’t make it out.

Cole hyped Lesnar appearing, and Graves hyped the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match as coming up next…

[Q6] [C] A video teased the Straight To The Source interview with Ezzo Amore that airs on WWE Network after Raw… Enzo Amore made his entrance. Enzo spoke about being sick last week and wondering if he was hallucinating when he saw Goldust teaming with Cedric Alexander. Enzo said Alexander teamed with Goldust because it’s the closest he’ll get to gold in 2018. Alexander made his entrance…

3. Enzo Amore vs. Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Alexander jumped out to a quick start, but Enzo had control after dumping Alexander from the ropes to the floor going into a break just over a minute into the match. [C]

Cedric hit a nice handspring into the ropes and a kick for a nice near fall. Enzo came up bleeding heavily from a cut above his right eye. Enzo avoided the Lumbar Check, but Alexander caught him with another kick and followed up with a clothesline from the top. Enzo rolled to ringside. Alexander performed a flip dive. Enzo sold an ankle injury. A ringside doctor checked on him. Alexander returned to the ring while Enzo was counted out…

Cedric Alexander beat Enzo Amore via count-out in 8:40.

[Q7] The broadcast team hyped the six-man tag main event… Another ad aired for the Raw 25 that hyped Undertaker, DX, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, the Dudley Boyz, Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, The Bella Twins, New Age Outlaws, The APA, and Steve Austin…

Powell’s POV: They rightfully made a big fuss out of Austin by saving his name for last and doing the glass shattering effect before saying his hame. That’s quite the lineup of advertised legends and it’s perfectly timed in terms of drawing a big audience for the Royal Rumble go-home show. Meanwhile, it was a wise move to go with a cheap finish to the match, especially if they go out of their way to make it seem like Enzo is taking shortcuts because he fears losing the title to Alexander.

The broadcast team recapped the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match… Backstage, Enzo was receiving medical treatment. A trainer told him it looked like they needed X-Rays and possibly an MRI. Nia Jax came to check on Enzo…

Backstage, Kurt Angle was on the phone with an unidentified person saying that while the person had not been in the ring in years, he thought she would be great for the women’s Royal Rumble match. Angle let the mystery person go when Sheamus and Cesaro showed up and grumbled about not getting their tag title rematch only to have Angle book Jordan in a six-man tag match.

Cesaro said it smells like favoritism. Angle said they would have the opportunity to regain their tag titles in a match at the Royal Rumble. Sheamus and Cesaro were happy with the decision. They asked for a match on Raw and Angle said he would find them competition.

The Miz showed up as Sheamus and Cesaro left. Miz mentioned that he and his wife will star in a new unscripted series on USA Network and will serve as executive producers. Miz asked for his IC Title rematch to take place on the Raw 25 show. Angle agreed to the match…

Powell’s POV: For those wondering, yes, Miz and Maryse are truly getting their own reality show.

The broadcast team set up footage of The Miz finding out that Asuka would be his Mixed Match Challenge tag partner. He said she is exactly who he wanted to team with. Miz said no one would be able to beat them and they both hugged. Back to the broadcast team, who hyped the debut of Mixed Match Challenge for Facebook Watch next Tuesday after Smackdown…

Alexa Bliss entered Asuka’s locker room and said that while she may have beaten her the previous week, her luck was about to run out. She said she wouldn’t want to be Asuka when her best friend Nia Jax finds out what Asuka called her…

[Q8] [C] 4. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke). Cole noted that Crews would team with Nia Jax in the MMC. He added that Titus was trying to recruit Jax to Titus Worldwide. Late in the match, Crews dumped Cesaro to the floor and then moonsaulted onto him as Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick. Titus rolled up Sheamus and pinned him…

Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews defeated Sheamus and Cesaro in 5:25.

Graves hyped Brock Lesnar as appearing after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Are they going to add Titus and Crews to the tag title match at the Royal Rumble or will Sheamus and Cesaro simply get their win back before then?

[Q9] Footage aired of last week’s Lesnar and Kane angle…

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance. Heyman said there’s a credo in the business called old school. He said he and Lesnar have a lot of respect for that, but they also believing in going forward. He said he is a bit of a hypocrite because he feels something very old school that is taking away from the historic nature of the tenure of Lesnar as WWE Universal Champion.

Heyman said the old school way of promoting was to find one challenger who would step up and say he believed he could beat the champion. Heyman said they’ve gotten away from that because the Universal Title isn’t marketed as who can step up for Lesnar, but rather as how can Lesnar can survive predicaments. “Honestly, I don’t like it,” Heyman said. “And honestly, Brock Lesnar thinks the whole concept sucks.”

Heyman recalled Lesnar taking Kane’s best shot and then laughing in Kane’s face. Heyman said Lesnar would do the same thing at the Royal Rumble when he meets Kane and Braun Strowman. Heyman said this is where they are going now. He said Lesnar doesn’t walk in with the cliffhanger of who Lesnar will survive the predicament, but rather the question of whether Lesnar will pin Kane, Strowman, or stack them on top of each other and pin them both. Heyman said Lesnar is the most dominant champion in the history of WWE and Heyman has yet to see anyone who can defeat him.

Powell’s POV: Cue Roman Reigns’ music… two months from now.

Lesnar and Heyman went to the stage as Lesnar’s music played. Kane attacked Lesnar from behind. Kane and Lesnar brawled into the backstage area where Braun Strowman showed up and tossed Lesnar into some equipment. Strowman picked up a crate and slammed it into Kane and then threw it on top of him.

Strowman found a grappling hook in the equipment. Heyman and others shouted no as Strowman attached the hook to some scaffolding and pulled it on top of Kane and Lesnar. Heyman put his hand over his mouth while flashing a look of shock… [C]

Powell’s POV: The latest fun Strowman stunt. I’m still not sure there’s any convincing the majority of viewers that Lesnar will lose the title at the Rumble, but perhaps they can create some doubt by making it seem like Lesnar is injured going into the match.

[Q10] The broadcast team recapped the angle and then showed footage from during the break of Lesnar crawling onto a stretcher and being taken away. Kane was shown getting back to his feet and limping away. They cut back to Lesnar in an ambulance saying he didn’t want to go. Heyman joined him in the ambulance and it was shown leaving the building…

Samoa Joe made his entrance. Rhyno and Heath Slater were out next. Cole noted that Strowman would be able to do whatever he wants at the Rumble because there are no DQ’s in Triple Threat matches. Cole also hyped Joe vs. Rhyno for after the break… [C]

5. Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno (w/Heath Slater). Joe applied the Coquina Clutch for the submission win…

Samoa Joe defeated Rhyno in 2:45.

After the match, Joe was interviewed in the ring by Charly Caruso. Joe said it was a Pyrrhic victory for Reigns last week. Joe said it will eventually come crumbling down and he will be there to finish the job. In the meantime, Joe said he was entering the Royal Rumble match. Caruso asked him how he will match up with 29 other men. She mentioned Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, and John Cena. Joe took the mic when she mentioned Cena and said that when it comes to his career Cena is a name he will never forget. Joe said he will be the first man he eliminates…

Powell’s POV: I like that they are giving a Joe and Cena hook for the Rumble match. I wonder if they will ignore the fact that Cena eliminated Joe from the Survivor Series or if they will work that into Joe’s frustration.

Backstage, Bliss asked Jax about Enzo was doing. She said he’d be fine, but it’s not like Bliss cares. Bliss said Jax can do anything and she worries that Enzo holds her back. Jax said that if anything Enzo motivates her because she wants to be a champion like she is. Jax said she was entering the Royal Rumble match. Bliss said a lot of people think Asuka is the favorite to win the match. She also claimed that Asuka said something about her. When pressed, Bliss whispered it into the ear of Jax, who got upset until she asked Bliss if she speaks Japanese. Bliss said no. Jax pointed out that Asuka doesn’t speak English and then stormed away…

[Q11] [C] Asuka made her entrance for an undisclosed match. As she was posing on the ropes, Nia Jax performed an Electric Chair on her and followed up with a summersault splash. Jax smiled and her music played while Asuka sold in the ring…

Powell’s POV: Another Rumble teaser. The question is whether it’s a teaser for a random point in the Rumble match or a teaser for the final final two entrants.

The broadcast team ran through the Royal Rumble card… A shot aired of Reigns, Rollins, and Jordan while Cole hyped their match with Balor Club for after the break… [C]

Cole hyped that voters could choose between Samoa Joe, Elias, and Jason Jordan as the partner of Bayley for the Mixed Match Challenge… Graves announced Asuka vs. Nia Jax for next week’s Raw television show…

[Q12] Balor, Gallows, and Anderson made their entrance for the main event. Graves said the after shocks of what they created in Japan are still being felt today. Still shot photos of Balor, Anderson, and Gallows from earlier in their careers were shown. Reigns, Rollins, and Jordan made their entrance for the main event…

6. Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Jason Jordan. Reigns, Rollins, and Jordan cleared Balor Club from the ring going into an early break. Jordan was giddy, while Reigns and Rollins looked less than enthusiastic about his antics. Cole gushed over Reigns by saying he is a joy to watch in the ring because he’s always straight ahead, full force, and 100 percent pure power. Vomit. The heels isolated Reigns for a stretch.

[Overrun] Reigns came back with a Superman Punch on Gallows and then made the tag to Rollins, who worked over all three opponents. Jordan went to ringside and checked on Reigns while Rollins got a two count on Anderson, who got a two count of his own off a spinebuster a short time later.

Later, Gallows knocked Jordan off the apron. Jordan returned to the ring just in time to distract the referee from seeing Rollins make a hot tag to Reigns. Anderson and Gallows hit the Magic Killer on Rollins. Reigns roughed up the heels and then barked at Jordan. Reigns worked over Anderson and Gallows at ringside. Jordan helped Rollins to his feet in the ring. Rollins pushed Jordan aside and ate a running dropkick from Balor, who shoved Jordan off the ring apron and then followed up with a Coup De Grace on Rollins for the win…

Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson beat Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Jason Jordan in 15:30.

After the match, Reigns was still jawing at Jordan, who went to ringside and tried to check on Rollins. The Miz showed up and ran Jordan into the post. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas joined The Miz and the trio ended up clearing Rollins from the ring. Axel and Dallas held up Reigns, and Miz performed the Skull Crushing Finale on him. The trio teamed up for a Triple Powerbomb on Reigns while Cole hyped Reigns vs. Miz for two weeks at the 25th Anniversary show…

Powell’s POV: A fun main event that revolved around Jordan being overzealous and costing his team the match. It was more about Jordan, Reigns, and Rollins than Balor, Anderson, and Gallows, but Balor Club still got a needed win. There’s nothing heelish about Balor Club yet, but hopefully that will change soon. The dynamic with Jordan was a blast and was very well executed. Overall, WWE delivered a strong Raw rather than phoning it in as we’ve seen them do while opposed by the college football national championship game in the past. I will have more to say about the show in a free podcast review later tonight. Thanks for watching along with me.


Readers Comments (3)

  1. Balor Club is the best thing happening on Raw right now. It’s good to see Finn genuinely having a good time and motivated once again. I never gave up on the Good Brothers and hope creative goes all in this time around…..Don’t get why they are suddenly pushing Mandy Rose when clearly Sonya Deville is the better of the two. I loved her kicking Sasha’s ass and stopping to put her hair up before resuming kicking her ass some more….I don’t care if Dana Brooke never wrestles again, just keep stuffing her in those business suits and I’ll watch….I could have swore when Asuka announced her entry into the Rumble and challenging Alexa she was speaking English but apparently I was mistaken…

    • “Don’t get why they are suddenly pushing Mandy Rose when clearly Sonya Deville is the better of the two.”

      For the same reason that Liv Morgan got called up to Smackdown – Vince’s weakness for platinum blondes. The women’s evolution is an ongoing process…

      • That’s exactly what I thought but didn’t want to say it and get caught in a backlash of criticism. Glad to see there are others who share this viewpoint.

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