December 18, 2017
From the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T
A video package on last week’s Braun Strowman vs. Kane match, which ended in a double countout as we still do not which man will challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble.
GM Kurt Angle comes out to the ring. He mentions how last week’s Strowman vs. Kane match did not have a winner and will promise to determine the #1 Contender tonight. Strowman’s music interrupts then says he earned the opportunity to face Lesnar at the Rumble because he was the only man standing at the end of the show. Kane comes out next to say that he has caused more destruction than anyone in the WWE for over 20 years and for that reason no one should leap over him for a title shot. He brings up Lesnar’s list of victims, which includes his “brother in destruction” the Undertaker, it does not include himself. Kane said he will get the title and threatens Strowman to stop him but Paul Heyman now interrupts and introduces Lesnar, who heads to the ring. Lesnar looks at both men then Angle says he will make his announcement, which is a triple-threat match at the Rumble. Angle bails then the three men pace around and stare at each other then start fighting. Lesnar clotheslines Strowman over the top rope then after a struggle hits Kane with an F5. Lesnar heads up the ramp then looks at the ring as Kane sat up from his attack. Lesnar stares down both men before the segment ends.
The fact this ended up being a triple-threat match was predictable and really, I have no problem with it at all. However, the promos were incredibly uninspired and Lesnar easily disposed of both men, who are challenging him for the title. It really did not make both men look like threats to Lesnar’s title, especially since their feud has underwhelmed to say the least. They have a few more shows to make this interesting but its off to a cold start.
Seth Rollins comes out for his match against Samoa Joe. However, Jason Jordan comes out instead as his opponent. The crowd boos Jordan, who tells Rollins he understands that he wants to face Joe instead of himself. Jordan said he also wants Joe and has been asking for a match the past two weeks. He is now done asking and he says Rollins can pick the bones of Joe when he is done. Rollins tells Jordan he respects what he is trying to do but this is not his opportunity. Joe finally comes out and says these two have him feeling like the “Belle of the ball” and since both men want to face him, they have Jordan vs. Rollins with the winner getting the chance to get “beat down and put to sleep” by himself. Rollins tells Joe that’s nice but the match has already been made and wants Joe to come down and get his teeth kicked down his throat. Rollins then said Jordan can leave and look for his daddy’s approval somewhere else but gets decked then Rollins agrees to face Jordan. They are putting the focus on Joe so he can have momentum when he faces Reigns, who is not here this week.
Seth Rollins vs. Jason Jordan
Joe is now at ringside. Rollins outsmarts Jordan to start. Jordan gets pissed and takes Rollins down with a few waist locks. Rollins hits a super kick then sends Jordan outside with a clothesline as we head to break. The action returns with Jordan getting clotheslined outside once again. Rollins tries a running dive off of the apron but gets caught and driven into the barricade. Jordan tosses Rollins back inside and covers for a two. Jordan targets the back then uses a chinlock as this match has slowed down to a snails pace. A mild “this is boring” chant gets started as Jordan uses a backbreaker for a nearfall before going back to the chinlock. Rollins counters a back suplex with a body press then avoids a charge in the corner. Jordan does manage to catch a super kick and toss Rollins as we head to break. We come back with Rollins landing on the apron after a backdrop. He takes Jordan down then hits a springboard clothesline for a nearfall. Rollins hits a corner clothesline then talks trash at Joe before getting caught in an overhead suplex. Jordan is sent outside then Rollins uses a baseball slide before flying out with a tope but hits his back against the barricade. They beat the ten count then Jordan hits rolling Northern Lights Suplexes for a nearfall. Jordan sets up for a superplex but gets knocked off twice then Rollins hits a frog splash for two. Jordan rolls outside then Rollins heads out and takes him down then gets into it with Joe. Rollins whips Jordan into Joe then takes Joe down with a super kick. Back inside, Jordan almost gets the win after blocking a sunset flip but Rollins puts him away with the ripcord knee smash (19:42) **1/2. After the match, Joe attacks Rollins then leaves the ring after a few officials ran out so he takes a cheap shot at Jordan before leaving.
Thoughts: The first half of this match was slow and meandering but it did pick up at the end. It also plays into Jordan’s storyline of constantly falling short too as his heel turn is imminent.
After the break, Rollins & Dean Ambrose are speaking with Angle. Rollins says he wants Joe tonight then Ambrose does too. Jordan comes in and wants a shot so Angle says all three men can get their wish when they team up to face Joe & The Bar.
We have the announcers talk about “Woken” Matt Hardy. Bray Wyatt is then shown in a promo. Bray makes sure that the right people get hurt and that is Matt Hardy. Bray also says he does not play by the rules and mixed in some singing and mocked Matt’s mannerisms.
Finn Balor vs. The Miztourage
Bo fails to go after Balor then talks strategy with Axel. Balor avoids getting pulled into the opposing corner then Axel tags and suffers the same fate as his partner. The Miztourage finally trap Balor in their corner and stomp away. Balor rolls through a sunset flip and hits Axel with a basement dropkick for a two count. Bo misses a cheap shot from the apron but managed to distract Balor long enough for Axel to attack from behind. Bo tags in as Axel’s chest and neck are cut up. Balor runs wild then Axel makes the save on a pin and hammers away. Balor fights off Axel and sets up for the Coup de Grace but Bo cuts him off then the Miztourage stomp Balor until they get disqualified (5:34) *. After the match, The Miztourage stay on the attack until Hideo Itami runs in for the save.
Thoughts: Even if Balor’s constant feuding with The Miztourage is leading to him facing Miz, this match made you not care to see that happen. Between the Wyatt feud and this the company seems at a loss in utilizing Balor. His stock has dropped in a bad way over the past month. And we got Itami’s surprise debut as it was originally going to happen tomorrow night on 205 Live.
Finn Balor & Hideo Itami vs. The Miztourage
Angle apparently made this match official during the break. Balor & Itami work over Bo to start. Axel tags and catches Balor with a backbreaker for a two count then stretches him out. The Miztourage cut off the ring but Balor escapes and tags out as Itami runs wild. Itami hits Axel with a flying clothesline for a two count then hits a Busaiku knee smash but Bo makes the save. Balor takes Bo out then Itami hits Axel with the Go to Sleep for the win (4:41) *1/2.
Thoughts: Better than the previous match at least. It was more of a showcase for Itami than anything else as they constantly mentioned how Balor teamed with him in his NXT debut. They also hyped up Itami appearing tomorrow night on 205 Live.
Renee Young is backstage with Cedric Alexander. She asks him about his match tonight against Drew Gulak, with the winner facing Enzo Amore for a shot at the Cruiserweight Title. Cedric says he wants the Cruiserweight Championship so badly he can taste it and will take full advantage of his second chance. He will also not worry about Enzo being at ringside. A generic babyface promo.
Enzo and Gulak head out to the ring. Enzo cuts a promo about tonight’s match being better than anything else you’ll see in the newest “Star Wars” movie and passes off his microphone to Gulak, who considers himself a Jar Jar Banks because that is a hero. Gulak then said tonight is the biggest match of his life and owes it all to his mentor and best friend, Enzo Amore, who seems upset. Gulak then says as a token of his appreciation he has put together a celebration of Enzo and is about to introduce us to a Powerpoint presentation but Alexander interrupts. After a conflicted Gulak beat down his friend Nese last week on 205 Live, he was all buddy-buddy with Enzo tonight, who wanted no part of him as a friend.
Drew Gulak w/ Enzo Amore vs. Cedric Alexander
Enzo joins on commentary and bonds with Booker while dissing the other two. The match starts out on the mat with Gulak in control. Alexander fights out as Enzo takes offense to Graves asking him about Nia Jax. Alexander hits a satellite headscissors and a dropkick before flying out with a tope con hilo. Alexander points at Enzo then rolls Gulak inside for a two count. They fight over a suplex then both end up tumbling outside right before commercial. The action returns with Gulak in control. Gulak targets the back and clotheslines Alexander for a two count. Gulak uses a surfboard but Alexander gets out and fights back. Alexander is able to hit Gulak with a backdrop then they trade strikes and pinfalls until Alexander hits a standing Spanish Fly for a nearfall. Alexander lands some strikes but Gulak catches an enziguiri then stomps the back before using a STF of sorts. Alexander reaches the ropes as Enzo is shown texting then leaves the stage as Gulak is screaming for him. Alexander then catches Gulak with a kick then manages to catch a kick while standing on the apron and hits an elbow smash. Alexander then springboards in with a clothesline before the Lumbar Check gets the win (12:50) **1/2.
Thoughts: The action was solid but nothing more. The fans were not into this match and really not into anything that took place on the show. Enzo became grating on commentary at the end and distracted his lackey by heading backstage. We now get Cedric against Enzo for the Cruiserweight Title.
After the break, we see Enzo approach Nia Jax backstage. He asks her about a DM on Twitter but Nia wants to ask him about his friend, Gulak. Enzo wants to know why everyone thinks Gulak is his friend. Gulak then comes in and has a kleenex jammed in his nose as his face is bleeding. He apologizes to Enzo for letting down the ‘Zo Train and tells him Cedric won, which Enzo does not seem to care about. Nia runs her finger down Enzo’s chest and says they will talk later as Gulak wants to look over some tape of this lost. Enzo then yells at Gulak for doing a lot of things wrong and leaves.
Asuka vs. Alicia Fox
Fox is shown in an insert promo and says she will end Asuka’s undefeated streak or “freak out.” The crowd starts up a mild “Asuka’s gonna kill you” chant as Fox stalls. Askua runs over Fox then mocks her and takes her down with an armbar but Fox is able to roll outside. Fox kicks Asuka from the floor then hits another kick for a two count. Northern lights suplex gets two then she grabs a chinlock. Asuka fights out and hammers away. She hits a missile dropkick and a hip attack and soon after that gets the win with a cross armbreaker (3:40) *.
Thoughts: Asuka is better off squashing enhancement talent rather than wrestling a competitive match against Alicia Fox. The main roster continues to struggle in presenting NXT acts.
Samoa Joe & The Bar vs. Jason Jordan & Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose
Ambrose & Rollins tell explain to Jordan that they are in charge. Jordan then decides to tag himself in as Booker says he is not able to handle himself in the locker room. Sheamus clotheslines Jordan, who ends up getting destroyed in the corner. Cesaro uses a chinlock but Jordan is able to tag out as Rollins runs wild before the break. We return with Sheamus beating on Rollins. Joe tags in and uses a chinlock while the announcers talk about Rollins’ back getting hurt in his match against Jordan tonight. The Bar hit Rollins with a Decapitation for a two count as Graves accidentally calls it the Doomsday Device then corrects himself. Rollins tries to fight off The Bar but Sheamus hits him with a pair of Irish Curse backbreakers. Rollins flips out of a third attempt and hits a DDT as both men are down. Joe tags and cuts off Rollins then almost puts him away but Jordan makes the save. The Bar tosses Jordan outside then Sheamus misses a charge in the corner. Cesaro tags and also cuts off a tag as the crowd is starting to get behind Rollins, who is desperately trying to reach his corner for the tag. Cesaro dumps Rollins, who gets beat up on the outside until his partners make the save. Everyone is down but Ambrose as he tosses Rollins inside. Ambrose gets on the apron and extends his arm for the tag but Cesaro boots him in the face. Rollins sidesteps a charge and flies out with a suicide dive and also takes out Ambrose in the process. Ambrose clutches his elbow as Cole lets us know it has been hurt for weeks then Rollins gets back inside but (13:11) **3/4.
Thoughts: Easily the best match on the show. The Bar beating Rollins can continue their beef while there is still unfinished business between Joe and everyone else he was against here.
A limo pulls up backstage and out comes Stephanie McMahon.
Back from break, we see Matt Hardy playing chess against a goldfish he refers to as “Napoleon.” Matt then compares the WWE battlefield as a chessboard and with the new battlefield set, he’ll stand beside his “Woken Warriors” for his great war against Bray Wyatt, who he says must be deleted then he starts chanting and laughing.
We are shown a clip of Ambrose getting hurt from earlier. He is then getting checked out in the locker room with Rollins but they are all attacked by Joe & The Bar from behind. Ambrose is grunting in pain while an official screams for help. They are now doing an injury angle with Ambrose as I presume it will lead to Reigns making his return.
Cole lets us know that Ambrose will be transferred to a local medical facility for an examination of his elbow.
Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Revival
We are shown clips of The Revival destroying the Hardy Boyz prior to Scott Dawson’s bicep injury. The Revival beat on Slater as Titus Worldwide are shown watching backstage with Dana Brooke taking notes. Slater’s brief comeback ends after he missed a corner splash as Dawson beats him down. The announcers talk about The Revival being a rough, old school tag team with Booker saying they are similar to Ole & Arn Anderson. Slater and Wilder collide as Wilder rolls outside. Slater goes for the tag but Wilder yanks Rhyno off of the apron then soon after that The Revival hit the Shatter Machine for the win (3:06) *.
Thoughts: The Revival are back as they’ve had a rough go of it in 2017 with frequent injuries. It also looks like they’ll be facing Titus Worldwide in the near future.
We see Stephanie talking with Angle backstage with Cole speculating they might be discussing next week’s Christmas RAW.
Slater & Rhyno are distraught walking backstage. Angle sees them and says it was a tough loss and with the new year coming up they need to toughen up if they want opportunities. He leaves as Slater is scared they’re getting fired because he has kids. Rhyno tells Slater he needs to change his attitude by toughening up and knows just what to do as Slater is worried he might get hurt. I guess there will be some training segments between these two in the coming weeks.
Elias is in the ring. He talks about Tom Brady and runs him down as a cheater who is not a legend. Elias then refers to himself as a legend and declares himself as part of the Royal Rumble and sings us a song dedicated to his friend, Roger Goodell. Sasha Banks interrupts then Mickie comes out as Elias says its good to be him as all of the women want him and proceeds to sing but Bayley comes out as Elias leaves with the three women out to take on Absolution. The Elias stuff was entertaining but nothing more than time filler.
Next week, John Cena returns to RAW.
Sasha Banks & Mickie James & Bayley vs. Absolution
Paige cheap shots Mickie after getting backed into the ropes. Mickie comes back with a spin kick then tags out as Sasha gets a two count with a suplex. Mandy distracts Sasha and allows Paige to hit a super kick. Absolution neutralize Sasha in the corner. Mandy & Sonya now take out Bayley & Mickie on the outside but as that happens Sasha hits Paige with a Thesz Press from the top but Sonya & Mandy run in to break up the pin then beat her down until the referee disqualifies them (3:08) DUD.
Thoughts: Terrible match but it was just a way to set up for the final segment. It does not seem like they trust Sonya in the ring and Bayley continues to be presented as a complete loser.
Absolution stay on the attack then Nia Jax runs out and beats down Absolution as she hits Mandy & Sonya with a double Samoan drop. Paige attacks from behind and that leads to the rest of the locker room coming out and brawling. Stephanie then comes out and talks about the women’s revolution and puts over accomplishments such as the first-ever women’s Hell in a Cell and Money in the Bank matches and wants them to make history once again by having the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match. Stephanie then said if there was ever a time of a “yes” chant its now as we get the chant as all the women celebrate. I’m glad the women are getting a title match and got a great reaction. How we got the announcement of the women’s Rumble match might be a turn off to some but the segment got over and made for a nice ending to an otherwise forgettable show.
Final Thoughts: The news of the Women’s Rumble match was big but the rest of the show was flat and uninspired. It wasn’t the worst RAW of the year or anything but I really cannot recommend a single segment for you to go back and watch. RAW is heading into cruise control for the holidays and things will hopefully pick up again after that.