Monday Night Raw emanated from Cleveland Ohio and saw The Shield heavily featured in three fantastic matches with Dean Ambrose vs Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins vs Sheamus & Roman Reigns defending the Intercontinental Championship against Cesaro. We saw more from ‘Woken’ Matt Hardy, Absolution got their hands on the undefeated Asuka & Kane battled Braun Strowman for the right to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble.
Samoa Joe Opens Raw. Grade: B+ Samoa Joe verbally trashed all three members of The Shield proving once again just how good he is and how underused he is on the microphone. Roman Reigns answered Joe but was soon attacked by The Bar bringing out Rollins & Ambrose for a good but not great brawl. WWE was very smart to remind the fans of Joe injuring Rollins on his very first night on Raw, a perfect example of just how dangerous Joe can be.
Paige & Mandy Rose defeated Bayley & Mickie James. Grade: C. both Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville showed improvement on the microphone but there is certainly still work to be done. The match was good but not exactly what was needed; surely it would have been beneficial to use the tag team of Rose & Deville as opposed to Paige who we all already know, also this was just a standard tag team match with the heels using heel tactics to win as opposed to the utter domination that should be shown by Absolution.
Woken Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt. Grade: D+ This was essentially the same as last week, no real progression, nothing new, and not nearly as exciting. This needs utter chaos and just craziness, not repetitive pre-taped promos.
Finn Balor defeated Curtis Axel. Grade: D- What on earth are they doing with Finn Balor? The most entertaining thing here was Curtis Axel and his neck brace still selling his neck injury. This does nothing for Balor, and was even worse for the Miztourage.
Seth Rollins defeated Sheamus. Grade: B+ While this is a match we have seen many times now this was still a great match which told a delightful story. Sheamus targeted the leg of Rollins and that was the reoccurring theme throughout the match. While not as fresh as Joe vs Ambrose or Reigns vs Cesaro, this was still fantastic.
Enzo Amore, Drew Gulak & Nia Jax Backstage. Grade: A. While I absolutely hate the fact Nia Jax is involved in this story, I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t genuinely hilarious. Nia played the role well and Enzo & particularly Gulak were just absolutely hilarious once again.
Cedric Alexander defeated Tony Nese, Ariya Daivari & Mustafa Ali. Grade: B+ WWE gave the Cruiserweights a good amount of time here and they certainly delivered. They stacked in a load of cool spots and near falls as well as teasing tension between the Zo Train members and the bubbling competitive rivalry brewing between Ali & Cedric. Obviously unfortunate what’s occurred with Rich Swann, but WWE did all they could here and did well.
Roman Reigns Retained the Intercontinental Championship defeating Cesaro. Grade: A. This was fantastic! Love him or hate him, it is undeniable that Reigns is every bit as good as WWE makes him out to be and we all know just how good and underused (even as Tag Champion) Cesaro is. This was one hell of a match with Reigns selling an arm injury throughout the match. Absolutely brilliant match.
Absolution clash with Asuka and the Raw Women’s Division. Grade: B. It was implied Absolution took out Alicia Fox before her match with Asuka; Absolution confronted Asuka and attacked her, Asuka bravely fought and did well one-on-one but ultimately the numbers advantage was just too much. The entire Raw Women’s Division came out t get even with Absolution as they scurried away. I understand that Absolution is a problem for the entire division, but its still odd seeing faces and heels, particularly heels like Alexa Bliss working together.
Samoa Joe defeated Dean Ambrose. Grade: B. While a solid and fresh match, this was by far the least enticing match of the three Shield matches which is odd considering on paper this was the one looked forward to the most. Jason Jordan’s presence throughout and impact on the match served as a distraction for both men as he continues his problem with Samoa Joe. Jordan really sucked the life out of this match, but perhaps that was the objective all along?
Kane vs Braun Strowman Number One Contenders Match Ends in a Double Count-Out. Grade: C+ This was changed to a number one contenders match to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble, for what reason I do not know. Just another example of WWE displaying absolutely no long-term planning. The match was okay with both men getting their best stuff in. They battled to a double count-out before Strowman put Kane through a table with a running powerslam. I’d assume this is leading to a triple threat at the Royal Rumble which will allow Strowman to face off with Lesnar once again and lose without taking the fall. Lesnar vs Strowman vs Kane……. not nearly as good as Lesnar vs Balor is it?