It’s a new year but the same Raw!
Joe’s a Punk
Early in the night, Roman Reigns had a promo that could essentially be summed up in five words: Samoa Joe’s a punk, yo.
He injured Rollins, he injured Ambrose, and Reigns is sick of him. He’s not a worthy Intercontinental Championship contender in his eyes and that’s why he punked Joe out last week.
But this week was a different story; and we got a hell of a match.
I feel like there’s one thing to Samoa Joe matches that other matches never have: Storytelling. He goes the extra mile to do more than just run spots. It started tonight with Joe immediately latching on to the elbow that he injured on Reigns last week – and Graves called it! AMAZING attention to detail there.
They also told a story of irony. Joe made the same dive as last week where he injured Reigns’ elbow, only this week he injured his own. Joe smashed Reigns’ face into the steps over an over late in the match – one for Dean, one for the Shield, and one for what he did last week – before hurting his elbow again on the steps.
The finish of this match was spectacular. Roman fought out of the Coquina Clutch to hit his Spear. And the segment ended with Angle backstage watching upon Reigns as Paul Heyman sidled up to watch with him.
Good foreshadowing, if rumors are to be believed. I wonder where this will put Samoa Joe moving forward; hopefully, we’ll get a rematch at the Royal Rumble.
The Bar is Right
Tonight’s show opened with a confrontation and continuation of last week’s main event. As Kurt Angle waxed on about trivial things, The Bar came out to confront the GM who booked them in an impromptu match that had them losing their titles last week.
What he did was favoritism, The Bar claimed. Angle gave Jason Jordan a title shot he didn’t deserve, hand-picked a world-caliber teammate for him, and even showed his son favoritism after the match by hugging him and celebrating his victory. They were justifiably ticked and they want their title rematch.
You know, I expected Angle to dismiss their claims and say some nonsense about “you’ll get your title shot,” but never specifying when. Instead, Angle aggressively told them that they’ll get a rematch when he says they’ll get one.
Maybe the job’s starting to get to him – Alexa Bliss cornered him backstage to whine about her own match tonight right before the show began – but that’s not a good look, Angle. Because let’s be honest: The Bar is totally right. Jordan’s done nothing to deserve the shot he got last week, wheedling his way through matches while whispering in daddy’s ear. And Jordan, sure enough, came out to rub his title in the Bar’s face.
Interestingly, he came out without Seth Rollins. And Seth eventually came out to reprimand Jason Jordan. Being a teammate is about protecting one another – and not being so self-absorbed. Rollins said he’d be in his corner tonight to protect his teammate’s health – but ultimately to watch him lose.
Jordan had a match with Cesaro and it was a decent kick off to the show. The story here was that when Sheamus tried to get involved, Rollins had his partner’s back.
Rollins looked so hilariously bemused after the match as Jordan raised his hand was shouting and thrusting his title in the air. And Rollins just watched him, looking torn between annoyance and amusement.
The story here is that Rollins is Jordan’s proverbial guardian angel and potentially a mentor. My only question is this: What are we supposed to be rooting for here? Jordan to embrace Rollins’ wisdom and become a champion that we can cheer for?
Because I’m not sure I want that.
For a second there I REALLY thought they were going to have Kane stand tall over Lesnar to end the show.
Actually, nope. Lesnar allowed himself to get Chokeslammed before sitting up Undertaker-style and laughing in Kane’s face. The locker room all-too-easily pulled Kane away afterwards, too. It was hysterically bad.
Look - we’ve got a Triple Threat for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. It’s unavoidable and I do agree with Heyman on this one; it’s a shame we even have to add a third person. The real match is Strowman vs. Lesnar.
But all of this like an unavoidable road that leads to an inevitable result: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. For better or worse, that’s at least how it feels. And when you put a 50 year-old Kane next to a part-time champion who’s wrestled an amount last year that I can count on a single hand, well…
Hopefully you can forgive the skepticism and lack of investment that I possess.
The Heyman promo was uninspiring to me as well. I enjoyed him dropping some Latin at the end since I studied it for a few years. But this just is what it is. I want that title off Lesnar as quickly as possible.
Best of the Rest
THE CLUB’S BACK TOGETHER
Okay, so brace yourself for this one. I might be a bit of a Finn Balor fan. A bit. A smidge.
What that means is that I’ve been waiting for this ever since Gallows and Anderson left Japan in early 2016. And tonight – FINALLY! – we saw some Good Brothers do work against the Miztourage and Elias.
It was overwhelmingly cathartic. The match may have been against a ragtag, lower card group but I don’t care. It was fun! I’m really excited at the prospect of a new wave of 6-man tag matches. Hopefully Balor Club’s formation can lead to that.
They key here is that the Miz is returning next week in my hometown of Memphis. In the immediate future, it seems we might have a Miztourage vs. Balor Club feud brewing.
Damn. I’ve got to go buy tickets, don’t I?
Bray Wyatt’s rattled - We really need more Apollo Crews matches on a regular basis. I really enjoyed his work in this match. I liked how he tried to ground Wyatt a bit. I’ve never seen anyone do that before.
The funniest thing about this match was Wyatt’s random interactions with Wyatt stomped on Crews’ hand and leered at Dana Brooke. He also scared her into falling off the apron in the finish to take out Titus O’Neil.
Matt Hardy had a promo after the match, taunting the Consumer of Extraterrestrial Entities. And I fear they’re falling into the trap that all Wyatt feuds seem to sink into – a man staring at a promo on the tron.
With that said, Bray Wyatt looked so uncomfortable and looks like someone’s pulling a joke on him. That part at least was really fun. I just want more from this feud than they’re supplying so far; it’s been too much of the same.
Nia Jax made Enzo Amore chicken soup – “It’s either him or me.” Sorry, Alexa! Enjoy getting Asuka’d!
Asuka submits Alexa Bliss – Alexa Bliss is terrified of Asuka. She turned to Angle and Jax tonight before finally facing the music.
The match came off lackluster to me, though. The crowd wasn’t much into it, though I think that’s more an indictment of the Miami crowd tonight.
I expected a DQ finish, to be honest. Interesting decision to have a clean win over the champ for Asuka.
Samoa Joe is the best promo in WWE – Let’s recap what he said backstage: He owns Roman Reigns. Ambrose is now a stay-at-home husband living off his wife’s paycheck. Thanks to Joe, Reigns is now the type of guy to take DQ finishes to protect his title. He’s out of friends and he’s in Joe’s world now.
Damn, Joe. He said that right to Renee Young’s face, too!
Braun Strowman’s a close second – Strowman lacks the range of delivering what Joe can deliver, but he’s a master on the microphone at what he does. He speaks derisively of literally everyone and greedily pursues violence. His only motivation is causing pain and the words he uses puts him on the fastest path towards hurting someone. It’s not going to work for everyone – and I’m one of them, usually – but my lord this Miami crowd was bloodthirsty for some Braun.
So, suffice it to say that this week’s version of “toughen up Heath Slater” didn’t go so well for Slater and Rhyno.
Kane wanted to talk to Strowman backstage – He basically wanted Strowman to team up with him against Lesnar. Who the hell actually thinks “Alpha Monsters” is a cool phrase? Really? Strowman told him to shove it, and rightfully so.
Cruiserweight stuff – Enzo had the flu and missed the show. Gulak read Amore’s promo for him and Cedric Alexander wanted competition. It was a normal Cruiserweight until GOLDUST!
I like them getting flexible with separating the divisions. I want to see more mixed division matches like this.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Miami crowd tonight. They chanted “boring” during a Cesaro match – that won’t exactly endear me to you.
This felt like a weird show for me. The stuff I liked, I really liked. The stuff I hated felt stale and comical. The biggest thing is that I feel I have to start docking WWE for this main event scene. It’s an absolute mess. My eagerness to see Balor and the Club in person next week was quickly cooled by reminding me that Kane is in a main event in 2018 and that Lesnar still has that stinking title.
What were your thoughts on the show, Cageside. And more importantly: Should I consider forking over my holiday bonus for some Raw tickets?