December 11, 2017
From the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T
We are shown a video package of the Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe feud.
Samoa Joe is in the ring to start off the show. He talks about The Shield and said he is not impressed. Joe said he snapped the knee of Seth Rollins on his first night, accuses Dean Ambrose over doing everything he can to avoid him, and has put Roman Reigns to sleep time after time. Joe then calls out Reigns to finish so they can finished what they started last week. The camera shows Rollins & Ambrose backstage watching on a monitor as Ambrose leaves to get Reigns. Joe is in the ring reminding Reigns what happened last week and that he better thank that “silly bastard” Jason Jordan to bailing him out. Joe then brags about being the reason Rollins & Ambrose are not the Tag Team Champions and continues to goad Reigns into coming out for a fight, stating he does not need anyone including Cesaro & Sheamus. Reigns is shown backstage as he tells his partners he has this before heading out to the ring. Reigns comes out and brawls with Joe in the ring then we see Cesaro & Sheamus come out to save Joe. Rollins & Ambrose run out and Cesaro & Sheamus meet them in the aisle as Joe has Reigns in the Coquina Clutch. Joe & The Bar now destroy The Shield and leave them on the mat as the fans boo. ”
Strong promo by Joe as they continue to build towards a Shield vs. Joe & Bar match. Joe is one of the more believable guys on the mic in the company. This was a good way to start the show.
We see a replay of Joe & The Bar attacking The Shield.
Bayley & Mickie come out with Sasha Banks for their tag match. Absolution come out as Paige & Mandy will be competing in the match. Paige brags about beating Sasha last week then Mandy tells us they demand the spotlight and will purge the entire division of the “feeble and unworthy” like Bayley & Mickie James. Sonya tells them to “put their hair up and square up” as Absolution are a “symphony of carnage and the music is about to start.” This was not a good promo from Absolution. And this is the second week in a row where the fans automatically gave Sonya the “what” treatment. She is wooden and lacks confidence on the mic but the verbiage in her promo was atrocious and no one would have gotten that over. Sonya loses her intrigue when she has to speak for long periods of time.
Bayley & Mickie James w/ Sasha Banks vs. Paige & Mandy Rose w/ Sonya Deville
Bayley & Mickie take control to start then clear the ring. Bayley comes off of the apron as Paige shoves Mandy in front of her to take the hit that the camera mostly missed then Mickie comes off the apron to hit Paige as we head to break. The action returns with Bayley fighting out of a chinlock. She runs wild on Mandy and gets two with an elbow drop but gets kneed in the face soon after that. Paige tags in and hits Bayley with rapid-fire knee strikes on the apron. Paige mocks Bayley then takes a cheap shot on Mickie so the ref is distracted to allow for double-team moves on Bayley. Paige tries more knees from the apron but Bayley yanks her down. Paige fails to prevent a tag then Mickie runs wild on Mandy. Mickie eats an elbow but gets caught with a flapjack. She gets two with a seated senton then the match breaks down and as Mickie is about to hit Mandy with a DDT she eats a roundhouse kick from Paige then Mandy covers for the win (8:20) *.
Thoughts: The crowd was dead for this and the match was clunky. No one looked good and it was obvious that Absolution would win given they were facing two people that have not won anything in a long time. They did not utilize Sasha much at all.
We hear from Bray Wyatt, telling us that good vs. evil is his favorite game then we get interrupted by Matt Hardy. The two keep interrupting each other as Hardy promises to “delete” Wyatt as we close out with more dueling laughter. Not as fun as last week and the dueling laughter was more forced here but still a fairly entertaining segment.
Clip from last week where Enzo Amore told the ‘Zo Train to get the job done then turned around to see a smiling Nia Jax. We then see Enzo looking at his own reflection inside of his WWE Cruiserweight Title Belt. Gulak said since Rich Swann was removed from the match there is a second-chance Fatal Four Way tonight for the right to face him next week. Enzo lists off a bunch of people would could be in the match and slips out Nia Jax’s name as Gulak laughs. Gulak then says Nia is not in their division and says that he knows Enzo is testing him. Gulak continues to shine in his role. He never fails to entertain.
Finn Balor vs. Curtis Axel w/ Bo Dallas
Axel & Dallas attack Balor before the bell. The ref finally separates them and checks on Balor, who was okay to start the match. Axel hammers away then applies a chinlock. He misses a corner splash as Balor runs wild. Balor sends Axel into the corner with a shotgun dropkick then hits the Coup de Grace for the win (1:40).
Thoughts: Balor defeats The Miztourage in back-to-back weeks as it seems clear this is all to set up for a feud against The Miz.
We hear from Kane, who is somewhere backstage. Kane says he will take delight in destroying Strowman and for the first-time ever will compete against Brock Lesnar and at the Royal Rumble will becoming the Universal Champion.
Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus
Rollins immediately beats on Sheamus. He then flies out with a tope and starts beating on Sheamus outside of the ring. Sheamus is able to catch Rollins with a Polish Hammer when they head back inside then hammers away in the corner. Sheamus hits a backbreaker then stomps away in the corner but spends too much time taunting the fans and gets kicked in the face. Rollins hammers away then hits a blockbuster but misses a pescado and gets taken off of the apron with a knee smash as we head to break. The match returns with Rollins in a chinlock. Sheamus starts taunting Rollins to get up then starts working over the knee. Rollins counters a stretch muffler with a hurricarana but Sheamus rolls through and puts Rollins in a cloverleaf. Rollins turns that into a cradle for two then flips out of an Irish Curse and hits a DDT for a nearfall. Rollins gets a few nearfalls but Sheamus is able to once again target the knee. They now fight up top were Rollins gets shoved off but jumps back up for a superplex then rolls through with a Falcon Arrow. Rollins finally gathers himself to make the cover but Sheamus is able to kick out. Sheamus hits a rolling senton then sets up for the Brogue Kick but Rollins ducks and hits a super kick then the ripcord knee smash gets the win (13:47) **3/4.
Thoughts: Solid match as the win keeps Rollins & Ambrose in line for another shot at the Tag Team Titles.
Renee Young interviews Dean Ambrose backstage and asks about his match against Joe. Ambrose said he needs to avoid getting kicked in the face or put in the Coquina Clutch and is pissed over Joe screwing him out of the Tag Team Titles and is now ready to face Joe.
Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese vs. Mustafa Ali vs. Ariya Daivari
Drew Gulak is on commentary. He believes the man is holding him down as he should automatically be the #1 contender for the Cruiserweight Title. We get a brawl to start then Alexander and Ali are left in the ring where they trade pinfalls. The two now trade strikes until Nese low-bridges Alexander but Ali flies out with a somersault plancha. Daivari takes out Ali then rolls Alexander inside for a two count. Cole asks Gulak if he will lay down for Enzo or face him as Gulak says its a very good question then talks about Daivari’s technique and his own campaigning for a better 205 Live. Alexander hits Daivari with a slingshot downward spiral then Nese makes the save. The match breaks down with everyone laid out on the mat after hitting hot moves then we head to commercial. We return as Daivari has Ali in a chinlock. Gulak does not care for all of these unnecessary top rope risks while Daivari goes back to the chinlock then tries to get heat by speaking in Farsi. Ali fights back and kicks Daivari in the head. He gets two with a rolling facecrusher then fights off Nese and hits his inverted 450 but Alexander makes the save. Alexander removes his elbow pad and slugs it out with Ali but Alexander catches him with a standing Spanish Fly then hits the Lumbar Check but Daivari knocks Alexander outside. Daivari covers and gets pulled out by Alexander, who fires away. Nese flies out with a spaceman plancha then brings Alexander back inside for a running knee smash but Ali breaks up the pin. Ali fights off Nese & Daivari but Alexander takes him down with a springboard clothesline. Alexander then fights off Nese and hits Daivari with the Lumbar Check for the win (13:02) ***1/4. Charly comes into the ring after the match. Cedric tells her that he is taking full advantage of his second chance then calls out Gulak and says he will beat him then Enzo to become the Cruiserweight Champion.
Thoughts: I thought this was a pretty good match and Alexander continues to shine when given the opportunity. He put on one hell of a performance here. Ali and Nese also did quite well for themselves while Daivari did nothing at all to stand out. On commentary, Gulak was great at dodging the questions about Enzo and they seem to setting up for him to win next week with the focus on whether or not he will lay down for Enzo.
After the break, Gulak runs into Enzo. He tells Enzo that he’ll dispose of Alexander before becoming the Cruiserweight Champion. Enzo is appalled as Gulak says it was just friendly trash-talk. Enzo then laughs at Gulak for thinking he’s on his level and is says he has one word to describe his Powerpoint presentation but Gulak cuts him off and says “informative.” Enzo then walks over and sees Nia, who is smiling. Nia tells Gulak that she likes his Powerpoint presentations as Enzo lies that he was just about to say the same thing. Nia then tells Enzo they should talk when he is not busy and leaves as Gulak smiles and says “informative” then gives a thumbs up and leaves. The Enzo/Nia stuff will continue as they now both appear smitten with each other.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Cesaro vs. Roman Reigns (c)
They slug it out to start. Reigns hits a few clotheslines but Cesaro yanks his arm. Reigns is able to clothesline Cesaro over the top rope before the break as he clutches his arm. We return with Cesaro using an armbar as we saw him cut off a Drive By attempt with a boot to the face. They trade pinfalls but Cesaro starts kicking Reigns’ arm while on the mat then uses a Fujiwara armbar. Cesaro drags Reigns in the middle of the ring for another armbar but Reigns eventually counters with a back suplex as both men are down. Reigns is up first and fires away then rolls outside and connects with the Drive By for a two count. Reigns is still clutching his arm then he signals for the Superman Punch but Cesaro counters by punching the arm. Cesaro takes Reigns down and puts on a crossface but Reigns breaks that up with a Samoan Drop that gets two. Cesaro reverses an Irish whip then sends Reigns shoulder-first into the post as Reigns spills outside. Cesaro tries an uppercut on the outside but Reigns cuts him off then hits a Superman Punch off of the steps. Reigns rolls Cesaro inside for two then signals for the spear but Cesaro cuts him off then hits a pop-up uppercut for a nearfall. Cesaro goes back to a crossface then they have a reversal sequence ending with Reigns deadlifting Cesaro with a powerbomb for a two count. Cesaro almost puts Reigns away with a small package then he unloads on Reigns in the corner. He tries for the Neutralizer but Reigns counters that with a backdrop then hits the spear for the win (16:34) ****.
Thoughts: This was a tremendous match. The psychology was tight and the crowd’s “this is awesome” chant was well deserved. Definitely worth checking out.
We now get a promo from Strowman as he tells Kane he is the only thing standing in his way to face Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble but not for long.
Asuka comes out to the ring for her match against Alicia Fox. However, Absolution comes out then wonders what happened to Fox, who we see laid out backstage on the Titantron. Paige then tells Asuka they’ve let her walk away but now she either moves out of the way or they make her as Askua is shown shaking her head. Paige repeats this to Asuka while Mandy & Sonya are on the apron. Absolution attacks Asuka one-by-one but Asuka fights them off. Asuka puts Paige in an armbar but Mandy & Sonya run in as Absolution is in control. However, the entire RAW Women’s Division runs in for the save and takes out Absolution, who are able to escape. For now anyway, the rest of the RAW Women have joined forces to stop Absolution from taking over. This seems like it will be the focus on TV for the coming weeks.
GM Kurt Angle is backstage telling a production assistant to make sure the ring is reinforced. Jason Jordan comes in and apologizes for his actions last week. However, he is upset over not getting a match against Samoa Joe and says its no wonder that Stephanie McMahon got on his case. Angle tells Jordan as a father, he wants him to get revenge but he is the GM of RAW and there are other people waiting for Joe too. Angle then tells Jordan as a GM, he has not beat anyone and will get a match against Joe when he says so, which angers Jordan.
Dean Ambrose vs. Samoa Joe
Jordan is now sitting in a chair on the stage and gets booed. Ambrose fires away but bounces off of Joe. Ambrose fights back and targets the leg then Joe rolls outside. Ambrose heads out and continues to target the leg but they head back inside where Joe takes control. We head to break then return as Joe misses a senton. Ambrose fires away but Joe cuts him off with a jab. Joe lands more punches but Ambrose comes back with a slap to the face. Ambrose escapes from an uranage then hits a pair of clotheslines. Joe comes back with an elbow smash but Ambrose hits a rebound clothesline as both men are down. Ambrose tries for the Dirty Deeds but Joe takes him over with an exploder then Jordan heads down the ramp. Joe gets distracted as Ambrose knees him from behind and gets a neafall with a rollup. Ambrose takes Joe outside with a hurricarana then Jordan rolls Ambrose inside but Joe comes up from behind and puts on the Coquina Clutch. Ambrose breaks that up with a tope as Jordan is back up on the apron and distracts the ref so he misses Ambrose’s pin attempt on a flying clothesline. Ambrose heads out an gets in Jordan’s face so Jordan responds by trying an overhead suplex but Joe breaks that up with a tope. Joe then attacks Jordan then rolls Ambrose inside and passes him out with the Coquina Clutch (10:54) **1/4.
Thoughts: Both guys seemed to be going through the motions here, particularly Ambrose, but the main focus was on Jordan. The fans cheered whenever Jordan got attacked but were quiet for most of the match. I guess Jordan faces either Ambrose or Joe next week.
Dana Brooke is backstage as we learn that she is now the official Head Statistician and in charge of Research and Development of Titus Worldwide. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson interrupt to call them all nerds but get out of the way when Strowman storms past them on his way to the ring. I guess they wanted to remind us who the geeks are on RAW as they parted way for Strowman.
Back from break, we see the ring crew reinforcing the ring then we get a video package on the Strowman/Kane feud.
Next week, Brock Lesnar returns to RAW.
Braun Strowman vs. Kane
Strowman drives Kane into the corner and hammers away. He prevents Kane from trying to go outside then hits an avalanche and follows with a running dropkick for a two count. Strowman heads outside and sends Kane into the steps. Back inside, Kane sidesteps a charge and hits a chokeslam for two. Kane lands some awkward mounted punches before using another chokeslam but he still cannot put Strowman away. Strowman blocks a third chokeslam and hits one of his own. Kane rolls himself outside and Strowman heads out were they end up brawling through the crowd. Strowman then drives Kane through the barricade and both men end up getting counted out as the crowd boos the finish (4:31) 1/2*. The two continue to fight as the announcers want to get a ruling on the match. Strowman then pulls out a dolly and tries to drive that into Kane’s throat but it fails. Strowman rolls Kane inside and pulls out a table to the delight of the fans but Kane starts beating on him with a chair. Both men then sit up at the same time then Strowman blocks a chokeslam and puts Kane through the table with a powerslam. The show closes with Corey wanting to know who will face Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble.
Thoughts: The action was poor and the finish even worse. The only thing that got a reaction was Kane getting slammed through a table. The real story is what happens now at the Rumble. Making it a three way makes sense with Kane eating the pin so Strowman does not have to lose here or in the Rumble match so he gets protected that way. Sadly, expect to see more of Kane vs. Strowman going forward.
Final Thoughts: Reigns vs. Cesaro was excellent and I’m liking The Shield vs. Joe & The Bar feud. They also have storylines for the Cruiserweight and Women’s Divisions too. The only thing really bad was the main event as that program has done nothing to help out Strowman at all. Not as good as last week’s show but still a solid show overall.