By: Keila Cash
· Monday Night Raw kicked off with a twisted WWE dramatization of Family Ties as Stephane McMahon, Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Jason Jordan argued about who was going to kick HHH’s ass first. Stephanie claimed that her husband wasn’t afraid of anyone. Cue Braun Strowman as he made his way to the ring to confront The Game.
· Strowman got in Hunter’s face as Steph quickly got out of the ring. Triple H followed suit as fans chanted “You’re a Coward.” Stephanie acknowledged the crowd’s bloodthirst and booked Strowman in a match against Jason Jordan as the opening segment came to an end.
· Revenge by Proxy is the perfect way to sum up the opener. Stephanie McMahon is using Jordan as a human punching bag so he can take the hit that Triple H is afraid to take against Strowman. Plus, Angle has to watch his son suffer the worst beating of his professional career which screams Shakespearian Drama. Outside of that, this was a pretty uneventful way to start the show.
· Samoa Joe defeated Finn Bálor when he made Bálor pass out to the Coquina Clutch in a good match. Joe dominated the action throughout, but Bálor overcame the onslaught when he rolled out of the Coquina Clutch and delivered a double foot stomp to Joe followed by a dropkick in the corner.
· Bálor went for the Coup De Grace, but Joe pulled him off the top rope and locked in his submission hold for the win moments later. This was a nice showcase for both men, but this was all about getting Joe over as a monster heel. Bálor’s time will come soon enough.
· Asuka defeated Dana Brooke with a stiff kick to the face in a quick match. After a rocky start, Asuka is finally being presented as an unstoppable monster who should be feared and revered. My concerns about WWE fucking things up has been quelled. For now…
· The latest edition of Miz TV was highly entertaining as The Shield invited themselves on the show. Miz wanted a thank you for facilitating The Shield reunion. The fans shockingly agreed as they chanted “Thank You Miz” followed by “Miz Is Awesome” which took The Shield aback. The Miz refused to thank the Houston crowd as he made fun of The Shield for not having any championships while he had one despite losing to Baron Corbin last night.
· Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins told Miz that they planned to win back the Raw Tag Team Titles from Sheamus and Cesaro. Roman Reigns felt left out, but Rollins reassured him that he could challenge Miz for the Intercontinental Championship.
· Bo Dallas stood up to The Hounds of Justice and claimed that they had to go through him and Curtis Axel before going after Miz. Ambrose was more than happy to oblige as The Shield attacked the Miztourage.
· Ambrose and Rollins double teamed Axel before joining Reigns to deliver a Triple Powerbomb as Miz looked on in horror.
· All in all, this was a fun segment that made me laugh from start to finish. The Miz outdid Dr. Shelby by reuniting The Shield in the most unorthodox way possible. He deserves a cut of their residual checks, but I doubt that’s going happen. It’s the thought that counts, though.
· Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus with Dirty Deeds in a good match. The action was hard-hitting and physical throughout as Sheamus targeted Ambrose’s right arm early on. Cesaro tried to interfere on his partner’s behalf which led to a couple of near falls down the stretch.
· Rollins came through in the clutch when he laid out Cesaro with a tope which led to the finish moments later. One can assume that Ambrose’s win will lead to a future Tag Title rematch against The Bar in the very near future.
· The Fatal Four Way match featuring Mickie James, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Alicia Fox came to a halt when PAIGE made her triumphant return to Monday Night Raw.
· The fans gave her a great ovation as she announced to the world that she was back. However, The Scream Queen didn’t come alone as Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville attacked Sasha Banks and Mickie James from behind as Paige led the charge.
· Alicia Fox made the right business decision by running away while the NXT upstarts pounced on the babyfaces.
· Paige capped things off when she hit Bayley with the Ram Paige as the segment came to an end with the NXT upstarts and Paige standing tall in the ring.
· What a crazy turn of events! I’m concerned that Deville and Rose are not quite ready for primetime, but we shall see how they fair on the main roster before making any snap judgments.
· Alexa Bliss was also on the receiving end of an ass whopping as Paige, Deville, and Rose triple teamed her backstage. It appears that no one is safe which raises the stakes in the Women’s Division for the first time in months. Asuka’s debut was a game changer, but Paige and Company just flipped the script in the best possible way. Most importantly, there are fresh feuds to look forward to instead of the same three or four women vying for Bliss’ championship. Three cheers for parity!
· Braun Strowman vs. Jordan Jason ended abruptly when Kane attacked Strowman from behind. Jordan ran backstage as The Big Red Machine hit Strowman with a steel chair as he continued his attack outside the ring. Kane slammed Strowman against the steel steps before smashing his throat against the chair as The Monster Among Men gasped for air.
· Strowman did a great sell job as he did everything in his power to breathe as he refused medical attention from WWE officials.
· Last week’s brawl between Kane and Strowman was a dud, but they made up for it this week as weapons were used to up the ante in terms of heat. Here’s hoping both men continue to develop in-ring chemistry because their previous encounters have left a lot to be desired thus far.
· Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, Akira Tozawa, and Mustafa Ali defeated Drew Gulak, Noam Dar, Tony Nese, and Ariya Daivari when Ali pinned Gulak with the Inverted 450 Splash in a decent match. Talent and work rate aside, the Cruiserweight Division is spinning in its wheels at the moment. There is no sense of momentum as Enzo’s reign as Cruiserweight Champion has turned the beleaguered purple brand into a parody of its former self. It’s sad to watch.
· Roman Reigns defeated The Miz with the Spear to become the NEW Intercontinental Champion in a very good main event match. Miz had one of the better matches of his career as he went toe-to-toe with Reigns from start to finish.
· Miz did a great job countering Reigns’ Superman Punch as he avoided it every turn down the stretch. However, he made a costly mistake by going up to the top rope as Reigns finally hit his target.
· Reigns was about to hit the Spear when Sheamus and Cesaro came out to interfere. Reigns knocked them off the ring apron, but the distraction gave Miz enough time to hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall.
· Reigns had backup of his own as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins made their way to ringside to attack Sheamus and Cesaro. Ambrose back dropped Cesaro on the floor while Rollins helped Ambrose clothesline Sheamus over the barricade which led to the aforementioned finish moments later. Raw went off the air with The Shield standing tall as the announcers noted that Reigns completed the grand slam by winning the Intercontinental Title. Congrats to the Big Dog for a job well done.
· This was a strong way to end the show. Reigns winning the IC Title should help elevate the belt to new heights. His reign (no pun intended) should be a short one because he has a presumed date with Lesnar at WrestleMania next year. Once Miz invokes his rematch clause, things should be clearer when it comes to future contenders. Based on his performance tonight, Samoa Joe could be next in line for a title shot. The Battle of Badass Samoans sounds good to me. Will WWE pull the trigger? We shall find out soon enough.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent at best. This didn’t feel like a hot post-PPV show considering everything that went down at Survivor Series last night. Things got better during the second hour with Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus and Paige’s return with Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose in tow.
· The third hour was nondescript until the main event which saw Miz and Reigns deliver one the better television matches of the year. Therefore, the positives outweighed the fluff which made the show enjoyable to watch for the most.
· Raw has plenty of downtime on their hands between now and the Royal Rumble. With the exception of the 25th Anniversary special taking place January 22nd, there is no major event on the docket. The creative team can try new things as the holiday season approaches. If they give fans a reason to tune in, everything should be fine. If not, bah humbug! Winter is coming, ladies and gentleman. Prepare accordingly.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!