WWE was in Memphis, Tenn. this week for Monday Night Raw. They had to compete with a College Football National Championship on the night — and they brought out some big guns to do it.
Balor Club vs. the Shield and the Kid
This show kicked off with Roman Reigns cutting a promo in the ring. He asserted that no one in the locker room should mess with his brothers because what happened to Joe will happen to them.
And who else would appear but Reigns’ pseudo brother-by-association: Jason Jordan. Jordan apparently thinks he’s in the Shield now. I loved his weird possessiveness of Seth Rollins and Reigns’ unveiled look of disgust.
You know what I also realized during this? Jordan is a parody of Roman Reigns how he was originally pushed as a singles wrestler. He’s saying catchphrases that are downright corny – and it’s intentional! He said “This is YOUR yard, baby” to Reigns and I think everyone in Memphis collectively dry-heaved.
Rollins eventually showed up and filled that mentor role for Jordan. Jordan yapped on, blissfully unaware as Rollins and Reigns quietly argued over his head. Jordan would eventually claim that the three of them are “the best three-man group in WWE.”
What a perfect time for the Balor Club to appear. Finn Balor was grinning like an idiot as he led the Club onto the stage and he delivered – in my estimation – his best promo since joining Raw.
There was a teasing edge to it. Balor jokingly taunted Jordan while leaving the other two alone. And yet that small bit of an edge was enough to get under Jordan’s skin and the segment ended with a main event being made and the teams staring each other down - Balor and Reigns in the forefront.
WWE, you sure know how to give me goosebumps when you want to.
The match was delivered in both story and excitement as well. The Balor Club got an opening edge but the Shield rallied into the commercial break, complete with Jordan jumping around like an idiot in spite of doing nothing.
Balor Club wore Reigns down for a decent stint of time. Rollins had a few moments where he’d dash in and try to give his team life. In the end, Jordan did exactly what we thought he would: He lost his cool, caused the ref to miss Reigns getting tagged in, and it led to a Coup de Gras from Balor to pin Rollins.
Reigns was disgusted with the kid afterwards, but a returning Miz jumped the felled team to leave Reigns laying in the ring to close the show.
There are so many intricate details going on right now with everyone involved in this main event. It’s incredible how talented all 9 of these men are. I could not be more of a fan of this angle if I tried.
A Progressive Industry: Otherwise Known as BRAUN SMASH
I liked Heyman’s promo. He mentioned how wrestling is a progressive industry – and yet the “new” marketing plan of throwing everything at Lesnar to see if he can survive is pretty garbage.
And I agree! The coolest part of Lesnar is simply seeing people go 1 on 1 against him. That’s the intriguing part. How will they do it? What story can they tell?
The argument makes sense on a basic level: We’d all prefer a 1 on 1 with Strowman and Lesnar.
On a secondary level…HOLY FREAKING COW BRAUN STROWMAN JUST GRAPPLE HOOKED PART OF THE STAGE AND MURDERED HIS COMPETITION!
Heyman mentioned how this industry is always about new stars, new marketing, new advertising – and this is the brilliance of Heyman: He’s selling us the purpose of this freaking feud.
WELL SIGN ME UP. BRAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!! SO MUCH BETTER THAN LAST WEEK! They said this was a progressive industry and proceeded to do something we’ve never seen before.
Brilliant. Lesnar was stretchered out as Heyman trailed behind, muttering brokenly that he didn’t even see Strowman coming.
Best of the Rest
Bayley/Boss def. Rose/Deville – I’ll give WWE a bit of a pass here because Paige is hurt and that limits some of their options, but this has been going on for over a month now. Same women, same match each and every week.
They have to do better. I’m sure they’re saving some stuff to hype this up for the 25th Anniversary, but let’s go! We’re talking about the first women’s Royal Rumble here! I want something to be excited about!
Goldust hypes up Cedric Alexander – Goldust as Mick is pretty wonderful. Apparently he’s still quoting movies; this time, it was Rocky. I thought both guys looked good from this promo, especially Alexander.
The Woken One Debuts – THAT MUSIC THOUGH! Woken Hardy had a quick video promo, vowing to become “Champion of the Entire Multiverse.” I REALLY enjoyed his zombie-like stagger into his opponent. He also BIT Curt Hawkins!
Meanwhile, Hawkins is straight out of a Series of Misfortunate Events novel. Balor one week, Woken Hardy another. Geez. Poor guy.
Afterwards, Wyatt appeared and they literally laughed in each other’s faces. For a long time. And you know what? It was more compelling than the usual Wyatt promo routine – kudos to them mixing it up.
Welcome Back! Elias warmed up the crowd for the return of MizTV! Funnily enough, the Miztourage started fighting for Miz’s affection during the segment. Bo Dallas gave the Miz a photo of himself, sadly admitting, “It’ll be hard to sleep tonight without it.”
“The title clearly doesn’t make the champion – the champion makes the title. And Daddy’s home,” the Miz would later say, referring to the Intercontinental Championship. And it’s honestly awesome to see someone care so desperately for what’s generally considered a secondary title. For Miz, this IS his title. It’s the one that mattes to him. And he wants it back.
The Miz vs. Reigns is set for the 25th Anniversary. A hell of a main event if I’ve ever seen one.
Cruiserweight Championship – WWE was on to something here.
I really loved the story to this match. Enzo’s been sick, he looked a step slow, and Alexander was killing him, so Enzo resorted to a tried and true method: Cheating. The crowd got behind it, too; Cedric took a fall to the outside and sold it as if he had been struck by a taser or something. It was really great.
Enzo got busted wide open on a kick from Alexander and it made the match feel even more intense for a moment. The crowd was into it, Cedric hit the ropes for a Tope con Hilo…and Enzo’s ankle buckled.
The champ scrabbled at his ankle and said a few words that got muted on television. The gist however, was “No! No! Not now!” He crawled towards the ring before making the decision to get counted out. He saved his title and the energy of this match faded rather abruptly.
Still, they’re on to something with these two. I feel like Enzo needs to become even more villainous, but they’re moving in the right direction.
Titus Worldwide def. The Bar – Corey Graves was out here putting over Titus Worldwide hard, man. He mentioned Cam Newton and Juju Smith-Schuster from the Pittsburgh Steelers as devout members of Titus Worldwide.
And you know what? They stole a victory here. Consider me mildly intrigued; I was hoping Angle would sic the Revival on Sheamus and Cesaro after they’ve pestered him so much lately, but I’m interested to see what Titus Worldwide can do with the victory.
Plan “Toughen up Heath Slater” Still Not Going Well – Rhyno faced Samoa Joe here in an attempt to show Slater how it’s done. WELP.
Joe had a promo afterwards where he screamed at Roman Reigns a bit before declaring himself for the Royal Rumble. Charlie Caruso mentioned a name that piqued Joe’s interest: John Cena. LET’S. GO.
“Can it, Bliss.” – Alexa Bliss it manipulating people again, y’all. Or at least trying to. She tried to gossip to Nia Jax and Jax shut her down. The juvenile tactics won’t work this time, Alexa!
And you know what? Nia went and assaulted Asuka on her own – for herself. And the crowd chanted for her, too!
You know what? This week’s show was fantastic. It had good storytelling, great moments, a killer main event, it set up future feuds and matches…there’s very little to complain about except for the state of the women’s division.
And since I’m feeling generous in thinking they’ll (hopefully) have some awesome moments for the women at Raw 25, I’m going to give it the grade I think this show deserves.
C’mon! Balor Club happened and Strowman destroyed part of the set! YOU try grading it any differently! When the big moments click, it makes the lower card stuff much more fun. I think that’s the case here.
So what’d you think, Cageside? Is Raw rolling to the Rumble?