(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

RAW… IS… PCPB!

Welcome to the (Almost) Live Reactions series, that most… semi-accurately named series of recaps and reviews for WWE main-roster programming, brought to you by yours truly. The Superstar Shakeup has come and gone, leaving a trail of decisions both good and bad in it’s wake. With but two weeks left until the next big Pay-Per-View, how would RAW go down this week? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

Braun Strowman was the first man out tonight, after putting on the segment of his life last week. He bragged about his work last week, to a booming reception from the crowd as he listed the various injuries Roman Reigns had suffered at his hands. He announced his intentions to murder everybody in the locker room before being interrupted by GM Kurt Angle. Kurt took issue with Strowman injuring his talent, and made a match between the two at “The appropriately named pay-per-view, Payback“. The Olympic Hero gave Strowman the rest of the night off, an idea which The Monster Among Men wasn’t thrilled with.

I don’t have much to say about this. For a monster heel, Strowman sure doesn’t get heel reactions, and that’s really the only takeaway here. That’s an awful quick turnaround for Roman for the kayfaybe injuries he sustained last week, but their first match a while back was pretty decent, and I have no reason to think that this upcoming encounter will be any different.

Samoa Joe vs Chris Jericho

Joe has a match in a few weeks with Seth Rollins, who sat in on commentary for this contest. Joe started strong, throwing hands and feet at Y2J. Jericho fired back with a triangle dropkick that sent Joe crashing to the arena floor. Joe eventually regained control, landing a chop to the back and a running elbow drop. Jericho had a plate of chops of his own for Joe, and landed a jumping axe handle, but ran right into a powerslam. Jericho recovered quickly and hit a lionsault for a close two count. Joe tossed him down with an Uranage, and went for a flying maneuver. Jericho got just out of the way and went to the Walls of Jericho, but was unable to draw the tap. Joe fought his way out and locked in a Coquina Clutch. Jericho tried, but failed, to leave the hold, and tapped out. After the match, Joe grabbed a mic and threw shade at Rollins, talking up the Kingslayer’s history of getting injured while in the ring with Joe. Joe dedicated his future victory to Triple H. Rollins grabbed a mic of his own and fired back from the top of the announce table.

Result: Samoa Joe wins by submission

Samoa Joe and Chris Jericho are capable of putting on good matches against each other? Who would have thought? I like the angle for the feud between Joe and Seth, too. The best heels have a decent point, and all that, you know how it goes. I think both guy’s submissions could have been respected a bit more, but whatever. Good stuff!

Anderson and Gallows vs Enzo and Cass

After Strowman killed some jobbers Anderson and Gallows were supposed to fight, Enzo and Cass stepped up as replacements, because this is a match we haven’t seen very often. The faces had Karl Anderson in trouble early, sending him outide with a clothesline, where the beating continued, as Cass tossed Enzo into The Club. Finally, the heels managed to get the advantage over Enzo, with Anderson hitting a single leg dropkick, and Gallows using his massive size advantage to work Enzo’s arm. Anderson dropped a knee over Enzo’s arm before locking it into a modified armbar. Enzo tried to rally before Anderson hit a spinebuster that was just… just magnificent, really. Enzo went to the turnbuckle and took Gallows out with a flying DDT. Anderson tried to stop it, but Enzo made it to Cass, who went nuts on Anderson, hitting the Empire Elbow, then a big boot, then one to Gallows over the ropes, taking both men out for a moment. Anderson tossed Enzo upside-down into the corner, and he landed ugly. Anderson grabbed a handful of trunks and got the pin.

Result: Anderson and Gallows win by pinfall

This match was… flawed? There was no payoff to The Club working the arm, and the format was very standard Enzo/Cass fare, who rarely (if ever) deviate from their formula. And Anderson’s winning move was… very strange. I would have preferred that he just used the Gun Stun to win; Enzo wouldn’t be hurt by losing legitimately to Karl Anderson. Thumbs down.

Miz TV

The Miz was interrupted by his special guest, IC champ Dean Ambrose. They jawed, with Dean playing to his hometown crowd. Miz replied that Dean didn’t take the industry seriously. He referred to himself as a “superstar”, while Dean was just a “wrestler”, which was nice. Miz brought up the fact that while Dean had been on the pre-show at Mania, while Miz was on the main card. He piled on insult after insult, as The Lunatic Fringe grew increasingly irritated. Dean lost it, and gave a fiery promo about his love for the business. Maryse insinuated that Dean made a poor IC champ, while The Miz monologued about the same subject while Dean removed his jacket, then charged The Miz. They quickly brawled, with neither man able to really hurt the other. Miz retreated up the ramp.

Ahhh, yes. The Miz is an awesome talker, and has lots of material to work with given Dean’s letdown of a championship run. He even made a nice reference to Ambrose’s interview with Steve Austin last year, which he didn’t call too much attention to. Dean began in comedic mode, but got darker and more serious as the segment went on, which is precisely where he should always be. When Dean first won the belt from The Miz, I remember thinking that the story wrapped up too quickly, so it’s nice to see it finally get the final chapter that it should have had months ago. It will also be nice to see Ambrose defend the belt, which I think he has done… twice (?)… since winning it in early January.

TJ Perkins vs Jack Gallagher

Neville made a “special appearance” before this match started, which amounted to him sitting in a chair at ringside. Austin Aires did likewise, inviting himself to sit right next to Neville, offering the champ a banana. Neville moved his chair.

Jack and Perkins began their match with chain wrestling, with Gallagher maintaining a headlock for a time. Perkins worked his way out, then Jack reversed, forcing Perkins’ shoulders down for a two count. They traded reversals, counters and taunts, which concluded when Perkins threw Jack’s umbrella to the floor, which drew Jack’s ire. Jack flew at Perkins, enraged, but TJP sidestepped and Jack crashed into the barricade outside. Perkins worked Gallagher with painful submissions back in the ring. Gentleman Jack fired back with uppercuts, and a powerslam that earned him a two-count. Jack headbutted Perkins out of the ring, and Jack took to the skies with an umbrella-assisted seated senton. They went to the opposite side of the ring, where Perkins threw Gallagher into Aires. Aires went to interrupt the match, but was prevented from doing so by Neville. In the match proper, Perkins hit the Detonation Kick for the win.

Result: TJ Perkins wins by pinfall

YES! A nice, longer match where the guys got enough time to actually tell a decent story and put on a good show. Technical grappling, flying, brawling, outside interference, Jack and TJ moved through a bunch of different phases, and it was awesome. We all need to tweet at WWE and tell them that this is how you do a cruiserweight segment on RAW. DELIGHTFUL!

Sasha Banks vs Mickie James vs Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss

The number one contender was to be decided, only two weeks away from where that title match will take place. Alexa Bliss wanted little to do with the match to begin with, and rolled to the outside. Jax attacked both Sasha and James, until they teamed up to send Jax falling to the outside. James and Sasha traded high-paced offense, throwing and flipping one another about the ring. James hit a neck breaker, but Jax broke it up. Bliss finally entered the match, but was quickly taken out by Jax, who tossed all three women on top of each other. She took a particular interest in James, and locked her in a cobra clutch, then applied a bear hug to Sasha Banks. Banks eventually replied with a guillotine choke before getting tossed off, and James locked in an armbar before getting tossed off. Bliss thought about attacking, but then thought better of it. Sasha and Jax took each other out of action for a moment, leaving Bliss and James to battle. Banks rejoined the action, taking out both recent RAW acquisitions. Jax and James got left outside, rammed into each other. Banks locked in the Banks Statement to Bliss, but James broke it up. Jax hit a Samoan Drop to Banks, Bliss threw Jax out and covered Sasha for the win, and a future title shot.

Result: Alexa Bliss wins by pinfall

Solid match! I still absolutely hate the Samoan Drop as a finisher, but otherwise, I don’t have much to complain about here. The action was fast and intense, and the right person won. Bliss needs to look good as the new addition to the roster, and doesn’t have the legendary status that James does, and so needed this win more than anybody else. I also happen to think that she and Bayley will probably put on a really good match.

Kurt Hawkins vs Finn Balor

Kurt called out for an opponent, any opponent, who wanted an easy win and some TV time. His challenge was answered by Finn Balor. Balor began the match with a chop, then a dropkick. He hit a swing blade, then another dropkick into the turnbuckle, then the Coup De Grace. 1, 2, 3.

Result: Finn Balor wins by pinfall

Well, thank goodness. Finn really needed this win. Kidding aside, I was rather surprised to see him here. I heard he had been injured and would be out for a while, but I guess not, because here he was. If indeed the report was overblown, I’m very glad. But, could we really find nothing more relevant for either guy to do?

The Sermon to the Snake

Bray Wyatt appeared to cut a promo on Randy Orton, and haven’t they done a segment with this exact same title in the past? Bray wondered what the audience was afraid of, listing several possibilities, including my own personal master, Cthulhu. Good to see him showing up on WWE TV, it’s about time he moved up from the indy circuit. He said that he would make Randy know fear during their house of horrors match, and that Randy would “gnaw his own arm”.

That was a pretty cool promo, actually. I liked all the images flashing across the screen. I know that Bray isn’t going to win their rematch, and that makes me sad. Deeply sad.

Jeff Hardy vs Cesaro

According to the commentators, this was Jeff’s first singles match in the WWE in over eight years, which would mean that I was not yet a teenager when that happened. Cesaro began the match with technical mat-wrestling, stay very respectful of the former world champ. Jeff took to the air, crashing into the Swiss Superman. Jeff tried to leapfrog over a running Cesaro, but Cesaro caught him and slammed him down. Jeff rolled outside to catch his breath, and Cesar followed with a running European uppercut. Back inside, Jeff hit a jawbreaker, then looked to head to the top rope. Cesaro was wise to Jeff’s best move, and rolled outside to avoid it. Back inside, a running Jeff was redirected, and sent landing hard to the outside. Cesaro went and helped Jeff beat the ten count. Jeff hit a clothesline, and Cesaro responded with a European uppercut. Jeff found a second wind and fired off a series of double kicks and stomps. Cesaro avoided a Twist of Fate, and returned fire with a corkscrew European uppercut. An attempt at a Cesaro Swing left Cesaro stunned on the floor. Jeff climbed the ropes, but was prevented from going anywhere by a Cesaro uppercut. Jeff hung Cesaro up on the ropes, then dropkicked him onto the ring apron. A flying maneuver of some sort had Cesaro down for two. Cesaro set up for the Neutralizer, but Hardy countered into a Twist of Fate, and the Swanton wasn’t far behind. 1, 2, 3. After the match, Sheamus and Cesaro offered handshakes to the Extreme Team, which ended clean.

Result: Jeff Hardy wins by pinfall

I’m very interested by what they’re doing with this storyline. It’s rather condescending for Cesaro to repeatedly back off on his offense and help Hardy back into the ring, isn’t it? At the moment, it sorta looks like Hardy only won because Cesaro took it easy on him, which isn’t a great look for your tag champs. But, there’s more to this story, so I’ll see where it goes before I get too harsh. Although that aspect of it was a little off-putting, it was a pretty good match.

Braun Strowman vs The Big Show

Having caused trouble all night, The Big Show offered to step up and teach Strowman a lesson. They started brawling before the match even started, with Braun throwing Show into the barricade. Show responded by hurling Strowman into the steps. They finally moved into the ring and the match began proper. Show hip tossed Strowman over the ropes, then baseball slid into Strowman. Show again shoved Braun into the other set of steel steps, before the action moved back inside. Strowman hit a running dropkick that earned him a two count. They chain-wrestled, with Strowman rolling through a wristlock and then kipping up before Big Show executed a deep arm drag. What did I just type? Both set up for powerslams, but neither could execute. Show scoop-slammed Strowman, and Braun responded with a snap suplex. Strowman set up for a Running Powerslam, but Big Show hit the major reversal and placed Strowman atop the turnbuckle. He fought his way off but jumped right into a Chokeslam, but was out at two. Strowman dodged a KO Punch, and went right into a Powerslam, which Show kicked out of. Flustered, Braun headed to the top rope to do some kind of thing, but he was interrupted by Show, who was in turn crotched on the ropes by Braun. He jumped from the middle rope, and landed right into a KO Punch. 1, 2, Nope! Since it’s gone so well for everybody so far, Show headed to the top rope. Strowman met him there, and the resulting superplex collapsed the ring. Strowman was back on his feet before Big Show had even stirred, and was declared the winner.

Result: Braun Strowman wins by… default?

Heck yeah! They had a match a while ago, and it was really good. This was similarly good. I do worry that maybe he’s a bit too protected, because after matches like this, any time he loses is going to seem silly. But, until he starts losing (Which shouldn’t happen for a looooooooooong time, mind you), matches like this are fun. Two weeks in a row now, he’s tipped an ambulance and then destroyed the ring, so where do you really go from there? I guess you’ll have to tune in text week and find out.

And that was RAW. I thought this was a really, really good episode of the show. There were only like, eleven segments across the whole three hours, which meant that everything got ample time, even the cruiserweights. There were several matches that were not only fine, but good, which is nigh unprecedented for RAW lately. Tonight really felt like watching a different show altogether, and I sincerely hope they keep this up from now on. But, what were your thoughts about this week’s show, or life in general? Tell me in the comments below, or come jaw with me on twitter @ejdupras_VVV. Subscribe to the site if you want to get notified of every article we put out, including this series. I hope you’ll all join me tomorrow, when we’ll be taking a look at SmackDown Live. Until then, fare thee well and have a good day!

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