Welcome to Monday Night Raw and 2018!
That’s right, tonight is the first Raw of the year and that means from here onwards we have to hear Michael Cole say “Welcome to the road to WrestleMania!” Alas, Cole is indeed correct, WrestleMania is officially in the headlights and we’re less than a month away from the always-exciting Royal Rumble. Which will also feature the first ever woman’s Royal Rumble match, so this year’s event will be even more awesome and tonight should see the first real push towards the event, as evidenced by John Cena announcing his participation on Twitter today. I expect entrants announcing their participation, as well as, I hope, qualification matches!
The big thing heading into tonight’s Raw is the return of the WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar! Old Bork Lazer will face Braun Strowman and Kane at the Royal Rumble and last time we seen Lesnar he levelled Kane with an F5. Lesnar and Heyman will emerge tonight with an unclear purpose but chances are Kane will be out for revenge and Strowman is always hunting for new victims. So expect fireworks!
Elsewhere on tonight’s Raw, Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins are Tag Team Champions! Who would have guessed that? These two are an odd-ball team but it gives Rollins something to do while the Shield reunion is completely scattered. I’m not even sure The Shield is even a thing right now, I mean Ambrose is long gone and Reigns is embroiled in a feud with Joe. WWE are in a pickle with the group, but it would be incredibly anti-climatic to break them apart again. I would like them to bring Ambrose back to TV as soon as he’s out of surgery, much like with Steve Austin after he broke his neck. That way he can still be on TV and The Shield will be relevant, even though Dean cannot wrestle.
I’ve rambled a bit, but tonight’s show will also feature Cedric Alexander Vs. Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight Championship, Asuka battles Alexa Bliss in a non-title match, and Roman Reigns defends the Intercontinental Championship against Joe. It’s a huge episode of Monday Night Raw to kick-off 2018! That’s the preview for tonight’s show, let us know what you’re excited to see and get talking on the free Ringside Talk app. Enjoy the show!
Monday Night Raw from Miami Florida opens with a quick rundown of tonight’s show.
See Alexa Bliss backstage and she walks up to Kurt Angle. Alexa asks why Kurt booked her to face Asuka tonight, to which he says he wanted to book a good match. She says Asuka attacked her unfairly and she shouldn’t get rewarded. Bliss says Asuka is in the Rumble match anyway, so if she wins she gets to face her anyway. Angle says she can’t change his mind and tells her she is lucky it isn’t a Championship match. Angle’s music hits and he says he has to go.
General Manager Kurt Angle comes to the ring to a raucous crowd and welcomes us to Raw and 2018. Angle says 2017 was a great year for him and he’s excited to see what this year brings. He reminds us of Raw’s upcoming 25th anniversary, then the Royal Rumble. Angle mentions John Cena’s participation in the Rumble match and says that it’s time to discuss the rules of the women’s Rumble match. Angle says that what is good for the men is good for the women, so the same rules apply. 30 women will enter the match and he expects a Raw superstar to win both matches and headline WrestleMania.
Sheamus and Cesaro, The Bar, come out to interrupt Angle. Sheamus says that they were robbed last week. “You look stupid” chant breaks. Cesaro says that they cannot stand favoritism. He gave his son a tag team title shot. What he did after the match was too much says Cesaro. They shows a clip of last week’s main event, with Kurt Angle applauding and hugging Jason Jordan. The Bar asked for a rematch tonight. Kurt Angle says that they will get their rematch when he says so.
Jason Jordan’s music hits and he comes out. Jason says that if he didn’t deserve an opportunity at the tag team titles, then why does he have the title? Jason says last week’s opportunity was based off his track record not his DNA. Seth and him earned the tag titles. They start arguing, then Kurt Angle makes a match right now. Seth Rollins comes out. Seth tells Jason that even though they are tag champions, he has a lot to learn about being a teammate. Seth explains that Jason was outnumbered right now. That needs to stop being so self-absorbed. Seth tells Jason that he will be in his corner tonight, but the way he sees it, he is out here tonight to watch him lose. Right then Jordan gets attacked from behind and he’s down as we head to the break.
Uppercut by Cesaro as soon as the bell rings. Jason fights back with a drop kick and a cover but Cesaro kicks out. Jordan has Cesaro in the corner, Cesaro fights back with an uppercut again, and then again. Takedown by Cesaro and applies a sleeper hold.
Jordan eventully fights back and gets to his feet. He picks Cesaro and runs into the corner with him, to commentators talk-up Jordan’s strength. Sheamus gets up on the apron to distract Jason, this allowed Cesaro to attack Jason’s knee, while distracted. Cesaro continues to work on Jason’s left leg/knee. Both men are up and Jason clotheslines Cesaro and then back body drops him to the outside, while limping on his leg. On the outside, Cesaro drops Jason leg-first on the apron, then high fives Sheamus.
Cesaro still in control and we see Jason down on the outside. Cesaro throws him back in. Uppercut by Cesaro. Cesaro applies a half crab on Jordan. Both men are back up and Cesaro delivers a couple of uppercuts. Jason tries to fight back with a couple of belly to back suplexes. Jordan delivers a modified Perfect Plex and looks for the pin but Cesaro kicks out.
Cesaro returns to attacking the leg, then Jordan is down leaning on the second rope, and Sheamus hits him. Rollins takes out Sheamus on the outside and the fans erupt. In the ring, Jordan delivers the belly-to-back neckbreaker for the shock win!
Jordan celebrates on the ramp and Rollins offers him an applause. Worth noting the fans popped for Jordan’s win.
Roman Reigns is being interviewed by Renee Young. She asks him about his title match tonight. Roman calls Joe a punk and says at one point he would have called him a great opponent, but not after he hurt Ambrose . He says tonight it’s going to be intense and ugly and he can’t guarantee he won’t get disqualified.
Bray Wyatt makes his entrance amidst a sea of fireflies. He’ll be in action, next!
Back from commercial we get a promo from Sasha Banks backstage about how her New Year’s resolution is to win the women’s Royal Rumble and go on to win the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania.
We return to the ring and out comes Bray’s opponent, Apollo Crews accompanied by Titus Worldwide.
The bell rings and they lock-up. Wyatt backs Crews to the corner and makes a clean break. Apollo ducks a running attack from Bray and manages to put him in a headlock and grounds him.
Wyatt throws him to the apron, but Crews nails a kick and an elbow drop for a quick one count. He gets another one count with a nice dropkick. Bray knocks him off the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a jawbreaker. Dana Brooke and Titus O’Neil cheer him on from ringside as we head to a break.
We return to see Wyatt holding Crews down with a headlock. He punishes Apollo with some strikes until Crews hits a running kick out of desperation. He starts to build some momentum against The Eater of Worlds with a standing shooting star press. He follows up with a moonsault off the apron to take Wyatt off his feet.
Wyatt counters a sit out powerbomb attempt and sets himself up for Sister Abigail by hanging upside own in the corner. Brooke gets on the apron and Wyatt locks eyes with her. He scares her into falling into Titus’ arms, pretty funny. Crews tries to take advantage of the distraction, but Wyatt counters with Sister Abigail for the win.
Broken Matt Hardy cuts in and says last week he transformed Bray’s fireflies into his Woken Warriors and now he’ll devour the darkness he spews across WWE and convert it into light! He’s the consumer of terrestial entities but he can’t escape his woken wisdom for much longer because Matt is an omniscient ghost that haunts his dreams, and once Abigail’s power is no more, he will delete Wyatt! Hardy starts laughing and the video multiplies so that there are dozens of him on screen before snapping back to being just one of himself and leaving his mouth agape.
We see Nia Jax walking backstage, seemingly about to leave the arena, when she’s approached by Alexa Bliss. Alexa says she needs her in her corner tonight but Nia says that Enzo is in the E.R and she really needs to go take care of him. Alexa can’t believe it and says it’s either Enzo or her, to which Jax apologises and walks away. It seems we won’t be having our Cruiserweight Championship match.
Alexa Bliss will take-on Asuka, next! We get a video for the 25th anniversary of Raw.
Alexa Bliss makes her entrance, followed by Asuka for a first-time-ever match.
The bell rings and they circle each other. Asuka makes a move, Alexa ducks a shot and backs into the ropes to force the break. Back to circling, Asuka tries to go low but Bliss keeps her distance. Asuka with a wristlock, Alexa backs off like match and barely dodges a pair of spinning backfists! Waistlock applied, Asuka levers her arm out with ease, wristlock, Bliss stomps the foot to reverse to a hammerlock, reversed again.
Alexa gets a full nelson out of it for a moment, Asuka slips behind, waistlock to a front chancery, Bliss takes her back but Asuka grabs a kneebar and the champ frantically breaks! Cravate applied, shift to a side headlock but Alexa counters with a mat slam! Asuka right behind her, referee Rod Zapata backs her off when Bliss gets in the ropes, Asuka picks the leg, off the ropes with a shoulder block!
Front roll, taunting her, pass to the side, off the ropes, hip attack and Alexa heads outside for a breather! Bliss slowly makes her way back in and rolls immediately back out when Asuka nearly catches her as soon as she’s in! Alexa begging off, again she makes her way back in and Asuka is right on her with a snapmare into a kick to the back! Another hip attack from Asuka and Bliss is backed into the ropes and she gets a kick to the midsection off and heads outside again to send us to break.
Back from commercial and Bliss inexplicably has a bodyscissors locked on, in firm control. A recap explains that she got Asuka caught up in the ropes and fired a kick off that let her turn the tide. Back in realtime, Asuka reverses to an ankle lock and stands up! Alexa gets the break and manages to kick Asuka into the ropes and follows it up with a ringpost bow-and-arrow, continuing to target the ribs.
Back inside, clubbing blows, a cover gets two but Asuka’s able to fight back with strikes, schoolboy pin gets two, Bliss gets a mat slam backbreaker off and gets some space! Mounted punches ensue, transitioning to elbow strikes, again a cover gets two! Back to the bodyscissors, Asuka fighting hard to break as Alexa yells at her to quit. The Empress of Tomorrow manages to turn around and gets caught in a guillotine choke! Breaking the choke, Asuka transitions to a Kimura Lock, Bliss has the ropes and forces the break! She follows-up with kicks to Asuka in the corner, charging in she fires off a slap that wakes her up and Asuka fires right back! More slaps and shoves, Asuka gets fired up, bounces off the ropes and hits a dropkick to the face. She hits another, reverses an Irish whip and a missile dropkick connects!
Asuka with a charging hip attack in the corner, a snapmare, another hip attack lands true! Stalking behind her, waistlock applied, Bliss breaks with an elbow, she throws a kick but Asuka gets a hip toss lift into a kick to the face! Yoshi Tonic from the champ denied, countered to a pin but it’s no good! Dropkick sends Asuka to the floor, Alexa tries to pull her back in and gets kicked in the face. Asuka ducks a strike, clocks Alexa with a reverse roundhouse and catches her with the cross armbar and Alexa quickly taps!
Asuka dances to celebrate her win. We get a lengthy video package chronicling the rivalry between Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns.
Samoa Joe is interviewed backstage and he says not to worry, he’ll beat Roman Reigns like he has every other time they’ve wrestled. What people need to realize is that he owns and has mentally broken Roman. Not too long ago he was calling himself a fighting champion and the Shield were going to be great champions together, but because of him, they’ll never be champions together and Dean is a stay at home husband living off his wife’s paycheck. Thanks to him, Roman is the kind of champion that gets himself disqualified, but tonight he’s run out of options and time, so when he puts him to sleep and becomes the new Intercontinental Champion he’ll have to understand it may be his yard, but he lives in Samoa Joe’s world!
Braun Strowman’s music hits to a huge pop and the monster among men makes his way to the ring.
They lock up and Braun pushes Rhyno to the corner. The Man Beast doesn’t back down and locks up again with the same result. The crowd chants Rhyno’s name as he runs into a shoulder and gets knocked to the mat. Slater gets on the apron and Strowman grabs a mic to tell him to get down and stop being a cheerleader, or get in the ring and suffer the consequences. Slater keeps him distracted until Rhyno can attack. Slater runs in and they team up on the big man – I’m confused why the ref isn’t DQ-ing it. Braun easily takes out both men and wins the match with a running powerslam.
After the match, Strowman looks to give the fans what they want and attack Rhyno again but Slater attacks him from behind. Strowman hits him with a running powerslam, then hits Rhyno with it. His music starts but Rhyno ignores the cue, lifts Slater and hits another running powerslam, much to the delight of Miami. Strowman poses on the top rope but gets down and hits Rhyno with another running powerslam, then Slater again! Corey Graves says someone better call PETA.
Seth Rollins approaches Roman Reigns backstage and asks if he can keep his cool tonight. Reigns says that he can but rants about how he will show everyone tonight that Joe is a punk – it sounds like he won’t keep his cool. Rollins goes to speak but Jason Jordan walks in and says on behalf of him and Seth, that they won’t let The Bar interfere. “Believe That” and Jason leaves. Seth and Roman looks baffled.
Back from commercial, Braun is walking backstage when he runs into Kane. Kane puts his hands up in the universal sign of “I don’t want trouble” and says as strange as it is for him, he just wants to talk about Brock Lesnar. He’s never wrestled him but Strowman has, and they’re the alpha monsters of WWE. Together they can tame the Beast and he has a plan, it just takes being on the same page. Braun says he doesn’t care about Kane or his plan, he’s the only alpha monster around here, and when he takes Brock down, he’ll do it on his own terms. Kane backs away.
Kurt Angle is on the phone talking with somebody about the women’s rumble and says one thing’s for sure, history WILL be made, when Finn Balor rolls up. He wanted to tell Angle in person that he’s the first Universal Champion and never got his rematch, so if it means going through 29 other guys he will, and he enters himself into the Royal Rumble. Angle says he’s sure Finn will represent Raw well but he’s sure he had something else on his mind, namely a six-man against Miztourage and Elias. Balor introduces his partners… The Club! He’s been with them and against them, and if it wasn’t them, who would it be? A couple of NERDS!
Samoa Joe makes his entrance, he’ll face Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship after the break!
Roman Reigns makes his entrance. If Roman gets disqualified, he loses his Championship to Joe. Both men stand in the ring and thye look ready to go.
Joe right in, ducks a lariat and throws some jabs, backing Reigns into the ropes. An overhead elbow in the corner from Joe, followed by a knee to the midsection, more jabs, and referee John Cone warns him to back off. Big uppercut from the champion, boots of his own in the corner and again Cone has to maintain the peace. Right hands, pulling him out of the corner, but they end up in the next one and again the ref backs them off.
Samoa catches Reigns with with a back suplex and earns a near-fall! Elbows, a snap suplex, and the Big Dog heads to the floor for a breather and to send us to break.
Back from commercial, Joe is in control but Reigns gets to his feet and breaks with elbows. Off the ropes, run over with a back elbow, Samoa gets two on the cover and continues to stick on with a variety of strikes. Suplex denied, Roman reverses to one of his own, but Joe sidesteps the charge and the champion’s shoulder takes the post hard! Overhand chops to the back of the neck, a top wristlock follows, really wrenching it in and keeping the Big Dog grounded. Roman fights to his feet, breaks free and hits a big right hand and a lariat. Reigns hits another lariat, whip reversed into a short-arm punch and Joe hits the corner elbow/enziguiri combo for a nearfall!
Choking him over the middle rope, elbows in the corner, and a hammer whip follows, shaking the ring! Jab on the mat, rising to his feet, another hammer whip, jawing at the champion. Snapmare, into a kneeling half Japanese stranglehold, Reigns flags and fades but doesn’t fail, eventually posting to his feet and throwing body blows. Joe with another hard whip but Roman comes back hard with a leaping lariat to get himself some breathing room! Corner lariats ensue, leaving Samoa stumbling and open for the Mafia kick! Joe falls to the floor and Reigns follows around for the Drive-By Kick!
Back inside, the cover gets two, right hands in the corner, referee John Cone backs him off again and Joe puts him on the apron, a body avalanche sends Roman to the floor and follows-up with a suicide dive! The referee starts the count but both men make it back inside and so we go to break once again.
Back from commercial, Joe is in charge and throwing hands. He draws Reigns back up and knocks him down with a headbutt. Rising back to his feet, fighting mat, they slug it out and Roman gets a near-fall out of the exchange! Prowling in the corner, he poses for the Superman Punch but Samoa heads to the floor and leaves him hanging. Roman chases after, runs up the steps and looks for a Superman punch but Joe catches him with a right to the throat.
Joe smashes Roman’s head into the steps, saying each shot in turn is for the Shield! Joe whips Roman but the whip is reversed and Joe hits the steps hard! The Big Dog pulls the steps apart as the referee slides out to warn him and remind him of the stipulation of the match! Samoa punches him in the side of the neck but Reigns uses the steps for the Superman Punch!
Back in the ring, another Superman Punch connects but only gets a two-count! The Big Dog is fired up, calling for the spear, and runs but Joe counters with a kick! He looks for an Urinagi clutch, Reigns fights out with elbows, Joe shoves him away and into the referee! He tries to talk sense into the referee, who is thinking about disqualifying him, and Joe charges and takes the advantage with a huge Urinagi but Roman kicks-out at 2.9!
The Big Dog draws himself up while Joe argues with the referee, he’s got a slap for his challenger but a second is ducked and the Coquina Clutch is on! Roman throws him off, they rol lto opposite sides of the ring, and Roman connects with a Spear for the 123!
Kurt Angle is shown backstage, watching Roman Reigns win. Paul Heyman walks-up and tells Angle that if Strowman and Angle team-up against Lesnar, his client will become pro-active and make 2018 the year of the beast.
Back from commercial, Paige and Absolution get some promo time to issue a warning for the Royal Rumble, saying that they’re the only three women in the match that will matter.
Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari are in the ring. Gulak introduces himself and says he’s been sent to deliver a very important message straight from the cruiserweight champion, Enzo Amore. Drew begins reading the note, and it’s Enzo’s usual schtick but of course he puts his straight-laced spin on it. Amore says he’s not doing so great and has the flu, therefore he won’t be defending the title tonight. Enzo’s note promises that he would have wiped the floor with Cedric Alexander and in fact wishes he was here to tell him what he thinks of him, and of course this brings Cedric out. He says he came here expecting a title match and for competition, but since Enzo is “sick”, which one of them will be stepping up in his place? Drew and Ariya have a huddle and talk it over.
Gulak says they’d happily oblige, but in a tag team match. Daivari says it’ll be the two of them against Alexander and anyone who walks down that ramp, but they both know he doesn’t have a lot of friends around here, so good luck on somebody coming down. It’s Goldust, bizarrely enough. He gets in the ring and says he has some friends in low places but none lower than Gulak and Daivari. He offers his friendship and Alexander gladly takes it! We have a match!
Daivari and Alexander to start, Ariya gets a wristlock but Cedric reverses to an arm wringer. Whip reversed, roll through, backflip Frankensteiner to a dropkick and kip-up! Daivari puts Alexander into the turnbuckles face-first before grabbing a rear chinlock. Cedric gets out, gets a back elbow for separation… tags made! Goldust ducks a lariat, throws one of his own, whipped but he gets a bulldog headlock and punches to Gulak’s face!
Bulldog follows out of the corner, he knocks Ariya to the floor and beats on Drew in the corner! A whip from Goldust, followed by a snap powerslam. Goldust hits a Manhattan Drop on Daivari, then heads up top and lands on both men with a crossbody! Tag to Alexander, he comes in with a diving double lariat (looking a little more slick that Goldust), Gulak whips Goldust off, gets caught by the sliding slap, Cedric connects with the Lumbar Check for the win.
Winners: Cedric Alexander & Goldust
The Club is walking backstage, ready for their match with The Miztourage, and we head to a break.
Back from commercial, commentary reminds us that John Cena has entered the Royal Rumble as a prelude to some general hype for the show.
Elias is in the ring to sing us a song, saying after what he did to John Cena last week, one thing remains true– WWE stands for “walk with Elias”, which means that Raw is his show, the WWE Universe is his universe, and that he launches into his usual introductory schtick from there. He pledges to win the Royal Rumble and main event WrestleMania, but as far as tonight goes, he brought in the new year with some incredible artists but now he gets to perform with two very talented musicians…Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel step out of the shadows with a cow bell and rattle. Bo is playing the cowbell and dedicates the song to their hero, who will be returning to Raw next week, the A-Lister, Rolling Stone’s superstar of the year, the Miz! They launch into a halting version of Auld Lang Syne. Elias thanks them and says he’ll take it from here and begins his usual song about how much wherever Raw is sucks before getting cut off by Anderson and Gallows.
Finn makes his entrance as well, then poses in the ring with Anderson & Gallows.
The match is in progress, Axel in control on Balor, punishing him in the corner, snapmare to a running neck snap, tag to Elias. Right hand and a whip, Finn tries to come back but the Drifter is on him, putting boots to him in the corner and getting a near-fall out of it. Kneeling armbar applied, Balor fighting, back to his feet, he picks the leg and gets a double stomp off!
Tags made, Gallows runs Dallas over with lariats and knocks Axeldown. Big knee for Bo, Stinger splash and a big boot! Off the ropes, big splash gets two and Elias pulls him off. Ascends the Drifter back outside and Big Hoot lands a superkick! Tag to Machine Gun, tag to Finn, Magic Killer connects and Balor perches up top and connects with Coup De Grace for the win!
The Club pose in the ring after their quick win. I hope this is a permanent teaming because all three guys need something to do.
We return and get a promo for the return of The Miz next week.
Out comes The Beast Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman. We see a replay of earlier when Strowman turned down Kane’s offer to team-up.
Heyman introduces the two of them, then talks about Lesnar having to defend against challengers, plural, again and does an old-timey ring announcement bit for a singular challenger and says at the Royal Rumble it’s Beast vs. Monster vs. Machine and we all know the trick, if Braun beats Kane, Brock loses the title. He says it’s a conspiracy against Brock.
If Kane beats Strowman, Lesnar loses the title. Note that he never said “if someone beats Brock Lesnar” because we all know that ain’t gonna happen. Spoiler: Brock will successfully defend the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. Heyman knows commentary always talks about the odds changing but in his opinion, the odds of Lesnar retaining are always 100%.
He puts Brock over as the most dominant champion in history and says Lesnar doubts Kane is the devil’s favorite. Paul has actually spoken to Satan, you see, and the devil is actually a big Brock Lesnar fan. They go to take their leave but Kane shows up… and chokeslams the champion! He’s upset that they don’t think he’s actually the devil’s favorite and he goes to take his leave when Lesnar sits up! Brock laughs, then grabs his title and runs at Kane and clotheslines him over the rope with the title!
Both men fall to the floor and suddenly the entire roster is out to separate them. Kane is dragged up the ramp and to the back, while Brock poses with the title.
That’s it for tonight’s Raw. Let us know what you think and remember to join the conversation on the Ringside Talk app!