We start with a recap of Roman Reigns' last few weeks, once again building up Reigns vs Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Title. It probably won't happen this week either. Seems like all three members of the Shield are facing different members of The Bar/Samoa Joe this week. Braun Strowman vs Kane is now a Number One Contenders match and the winner will face Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Scenes if Kane competes for the show's top belt in 2018.
We start the show proper with Samoa Joe in the ring, talking about The Shield and their pack mentality but running them down immediately. He calls Ambrose a "human cockroach". True. Reigns is getting booed at his mere mention. Joe says he wants Reigns without the other members. We go backstage to Rollins and Ambrose; literally all they do is say "we should get Roman". Great. Joe is on fire on the mic, he's properly great. Reigns' music hits and the two go off at each other. Reigns starts to get the upper hand but The Bar come from the crowd and distract him, letting Joe recover. Joe locks in the Coquina Clutch as the tag champs stomp down on Reigns. Ambrose and Rollins come to help their lord and saviour out but they get quickly dispatched of like the inferior competitors WWE are clearly making them out to be. The segment ends with Joe and The Bar standing tall over a decimated Shield.
Bayley & Mickie James vs Paige & Mandy Rose
Bayley's music hits to a decent pop as she comes out alongside Mickie James and Sasha Banks. We get a recap of Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss in Abu Dhabi last week; the match was the first Women's match to ever take place in the United Arab Emirates. Sasha is emotional, and rightly so, that the match happened was huge. Absolution hit the ring, with Sonya Deville accompanying her teammates to the ring. Absolution cut a promo on the entrance ramp as usual; the difference in quality on the mic between Paige and her two recent NXT callup pals is jarring, Rose in particular sounds very robotic, like she's having to try hard to remember her lines. Deville gets a few words in, and once again the crowd choose he mic time to start with that infernal "What?" chant. Once again Deville completely ignores them. The bell rings with Bayley and Mandy Rose to start the match. Bayley gets Rose into the corner... but the corner where Paige is standing. Great strategy, Bayley. Paige immediately tags herself in and this time Bayley thinks it through, backing Paige into the corner with Mickie James in it. Slow start to the match. Some confusion between Paige and Rose sees them both taken out at ringside. Back in the ring, Rose lands a solid knee to the face for a two count. Paige tags in and dominates Bayley while taking the piss out of James. Mickie is tagged in, so is Rose, and Mickie runs riot for a while. Mickie goes to hit her DDT on Rose but gets kicked in the side of the head by Paige while the referee isn't looking. Rose covers her for the three count and the win. The match never really got going and ended suddenly; it's a shame because it felt like there was a really good match waiting to happen, mostly between Paige and Bayley.
Bray Wyatt is backstage having cocktails with fans in a well lit area. Or, Bray Wyatt is backstage, sat alone surrounded by darkness. Which do you think it is? Anyway Bray rambles incoherently as he's prone to do, until the segment cuts to Matt Hardy, via a crude "woken" broken glass visual. WWE are going to ruin this, aren't they. Hardy talks about the great war carrying on in WWE before Wyatt says he's been waiting for Hardy a long time. Okay, and? Hardy says his woken wisdom and broken brilliance will illuminate the masses; Wyatt calls Hardy a liar and says his words mean nothing. Bray Wyatt is accusing others of saying things that mean nothing. Hardy says that he and Sister Abigail admired the gardens of Babylon hand in hand together until she became addicted to evil. Wyatt says that only one of himself or Hardy can survive, and to choose your side wisely. Hardy says the woken warriors are preparing for battle, and they shall DELETE. The segment ends, again, with both parties laughing for about three days. This was a rubbish segment to be honest; the constant cutting between Wyatt and Hardy gave neither of them time to really settle in and say anything of note, and the "woken" visual every time Matt came on screen is REALLY shit.
Enzo is backstage seemingly flirting with the Cruiserweight Belt. Right. Drew Gulak says there's another fatal four way match tonight (Rich Swann was recently suspended indefinitely, not for kayfabe reasons). Enzo tries to tell Gulak it doesn't matter who his next opponent is; Gulak, Mustafa Ali, Ariya Daivari, Nia Jax, Cedric Al... did Enzo just say Nia Jax? Gulak picks up on it and immediately cocks it up, assuming Enzo is just testing him. Enzo goes with it.
Finn Bálor vs Curtis Axel
Is Finn feuding with The Miz when Miz is done filming The Marine? If not why is he wasting his time with the Miztourage. Axel and Bo Dallas come down to the ring laughing hysterically and mocking Bálor's entrance poses. That'll no doubt work well for you, lads. Bálor is laughing along with them, I assume because he's about to murder Axel. The Miztourage attack Bálor before the bell, and once the match begins Axel goes into some generic heel rest holds. Bálor fights out, ducks an attack and lands the Sling Blade, followed by the corner dropkick and the Coup De Grace for a quick win. This was the definition of filler; it barely went for one minute once the bell rang. Finn deserves better.
Kane backstage segment. He calls Braun out before tonight. Great. Who cares. How is Kane even on WWE TV in 2017.
Seth Rollins vs Sheamus
BURN IT DOOOOOOOOWN still sounds great in Rollins' entrance music. Rollins comes out all guns blazing, landing a suicide dive after barely twenty seconds. Sheamus counters quickly as Rollin tries to enter the ring again and takes advantage. The commentary team take a moment out to talk about Sheamus' annual sabbatical; the reason he was absent the other week, and a rare nice touch of continuity from the commentary team. Booker T tells Corey Graves that he isn't a fan of Crossfit training, PURELY COINCIDENTALLY right as Rollins dodges an attack and gains the upper hand. Never insult Crossfit Jesus and his methods. Rollins hits a Slingblade then a Blockbuster that he covered a LOT of distance to land. I'm not sure what it is about Rollins that makes me not want to cheer for him; he's superb but he doesn't seem suited to a face alignment at all. Maybe it's literally just his face, he's always gurning like he's the angriest person alive. Sheamus catches Rollins with a nasty looking knee to send Seth to the ringside floor. He takes Rollins up top and literally just takes a leg over his shoulder and whips Rollins to the floor; Rollins sells it like his leg is falling off. The commentary team talk about how Sheamus has focused on that leg. He hasn't really, but it's good to see and hear them trying; Rollins could've easily hyperextended the knee given how Sheamus delivered the bump. Sheamus double-reverses Rollins right into the Cloverleaf, which Seth the reverses into a small package for a two count. Rollins lands a DDT for a two count; why do WWE fans ever get excited about a pinfall that doesn't come from a finisher in 2017. The match isnt ending yet, calm down. Rollins almost immediately hits his Avada Kedavra kick for another close two count, proving my point. Rollins sells his leg injury before immediately forgetting about it to land a superplex/falcon arrow combination for, you guessed it, a two count. Sheamus counters whatever Seth's finisher is called this week and hits a rolling senton. Sheamus lines up for the Brogue Kick but gets caught with a Superkick followed by Seth's Finisher and Rollins wins the match. Can WWE PLEASE decide what they're calling Rollins' finisher because it's really annoying at this point. Good match though, if you ignore Rollins forgetting his knee injury whenever it suited.
Dean Ambrose is backstage and he is happy that Seth won. Renee asks him about his strategy to beat Samoa Joe; Dean says he needs to avoid getting kicked in the face, avoid getting put in the Coquina Clutch, then decides he's giving away his strategy too much and leaves. Deadpan Dean is the best Dean, this is the most amusing I've found Ambrose in ages.
Mustafa Ali v Cedric Alexander vs Tony Nese vs Ariya Daivari
This is a "Second Chance" fatal four way to get into the Cruiserweight Title #1 contenders match, arranged because Rich Swann was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and domestic assault. Not a nice reason to have to have a match. Anyway Drew Gulak is on commentary, considering he'll face the winner of this match. Literally none of the competitors get any reaction from the crowd, which sucks. Once the bell rings, Ali lands a pop-up dropkick on Daivari to send him to the outside, which looked pretty good. Cole talks about hearing "on the street" that Gulak ran the Zo Train well, and Booker simply replies "what street?". Touche. We end up with Alexander and Ali in the ring, they go at each other for a bit before Alexander ends up outside with Nese. Ali goes up top and hits a somersault dive to the outside, barely catching either competitor. Cole is so excited by the action in this match he's talking about Braun Strowman vs Kane later on. He eventually tries to get Gulak to say if he'd go all out vs Enzo, or if he'd just lay down and let his boss take the win. Gulak ignores him. Me too, Drew Gulak, me too. Everyone hits everyone for a bit before Ali lands a great spinning DDT on Alexander. Cole talks nonsense with Gulak for a bit before Daivari lands a really nice Spinebuster on Ali. Ali recovers to dodge a corner attack, land a kick to the head then a sit-out facebuster. Stop me if you think you've heard this one before. Ali goes up top but Tony Nese runs up and hits a huge uppercut. I love Tony Nese and his glorious abs. The only time I don't love Tony Nese is when Michael Cole calls him 'Tony Abs'. Nese tries to go for a Superplex but Ali fights him off, hits the 054 but gets the pinfall broken up by the suddenly alive again Cedric Alexander. Rude, you're meant to be pals. Ali and Alexander go at each other for a bit before Alexander hits the Lumbar Check; Daivari throws Cedric out of the ring and pins Ali but Cedric pulls him right back off the pinfall again. Nice try. Nese hits a suicide dive on Ali and Alexander; Michael Cole tells Gulak that his pal Nese broke the "No Fly Zone" rule, and Gulak says "he wasn't flying, he was falling!" I'm DEVASTATED he didn't finish that by saying "WITH STYLE". Fuck off Gulak. Nese hits his corner running knee finisher on Alexander,only for Ali to break the pinfall. Nese and the newly alive Daivari gang up on Ali, who fights back only to be floored with a Crossbody by Alexander. Alexander kicks Nese off the ring apron before hitting Daivari with a Lumbar Check for the win. Our #1 Contenders match is Cedric Alexander vs Drew Gulak. I miss Noam Dar. Get well soon number eleven.
Enzo is backstage. Drew Gulak arrives and says that he'll dispatch of Alexander, then become Cruiserweight Champion. Enzo isn't happy. Gulak says it was just friendly banter, and Enzo quickly shoots him down, saying they aren't friends, Gulak just works for him. Bit rude, that. Enzo teases calling Gulak's Powerpoint Presentations SAWFT/SOFT before moving Gulak along because Nia Jax is here. Oh good, they ARE making this a thing. Is Enzo standing on a box or something? There's no way he's the same height as Nia, there just isn't. Nia tells Gulak, who's still here, that she likes his Powerpoints. Enzo changes his mind on them and agrees with Nia, and she flirts badly with him, saying they should talk when Enzo isn't busy. MUST THEY REALLY DO THIS. STOP THIS AT ONCE WWE. BAD WWE. STOP IT.
Roman Reigns(c) vs Cesaro (Intercontinental Championship match)
Reigns gets a reception that sounds a lot like boos again. This whole Shield reunion really isn't getting him over like Vince prayed it would. The bell rings and Cesaro charges right into a vicious uppercut from Reigns. Great start, Cesaro. Cesaro takes over for a bit while Booker trips over his lines and says "Roman Reigns is 75% a pretty tough dude". Thanks for that, Booker. Reigns goes for a drive-by but Cesaro kicks him out of the air before Cesaro Swinging Reigns into the ringside area/crowd partition. It sounded nasty. Cesaro goes through a lengthy heel heat/rest hold segment Reigns briefly powers out before Cesaro goes back at it, locking in a Fujiwara Armbar. Reigns gets out and headbutts Cesaro to get some separation as the commentary team talk about how you never see Reigns resort to rollups or backslides like you have in this match, testament to the damage Cesaro has done to Reigns' right arm. As if for banter, Reigns lands a solid right hand punch even as they're talking about it. Reigns decides to mostly no-sell his bad arm, only wincing slightly as he punches the canvas for the Superman Punch but Cesaro think "fuck that" and clobbers him in the arm in mid air. Another brief Armbar segment before Reigns hits a Samoan Drop. Cesaro recovers and sends Reigns bad shoulder first into the ring post. It sounded nasty as fuck but Roman Reigns doesn't give a fuck, no selling it and Superman Punching Cesaro with the apparently dodgy arm. Back in the ring, Cesaro counters a Spear into a wicked Uppercut for a two count, then into a Crossface. Reigns fights out, Cesaro goes for the Swing but Reigns counters into a sit-out powerbomb. "Bad arm and all!" shouts Cole, while Reigns forgets he has a bad arm. The referee slips trying to separate the two, and Cesaro gets a close two count from a rollup. Cesaro goes for the Neutralizer, gets back body dropped for his troubles and walks right into a Spear from Reigns. One two three Roman wins lol. Decent match.
Braun Strowman is backstage. Braun Strowman is angry at Kane. That is all.
Asuka vs Alicia Fox
The crowd is absolutely dead for Asuka, which is very concerning. Alicia Fox doesn't turn up at all when her music hits; I wonder who this could be because of? Oh look, Paige's music hits. What a surprise. Fox is shown injured on the Titantron (she appears to just have a slightly sore arm) and Paige talks about how Asuka is getting in the way of Absolution, how she's the final beacon of hope but not even she can stop Absolution. "Either move out of the way, or we make you", says Paige. I reckon Asuka will just leave and thank you for giving her the option Paige. Maybe not. Asuka attacks Mandy Rose while Paige is still talking, then takes Deville out before locking Paige in the Armbar. Rose and Deville gang up on her before she can murder Paige, and the numbers game finally takes its toll on Asuka. Paige goes for the Rampaige but Sasha Banks' music plays and the entire Raw womens division storms out, for some reason including Alexa Bliss, who so far has no issue with Absolution. Same goes for Nia Jax. The rest of the division kick fuck out of Absolution for a bit, mostly Mandy Rose, before Paige and Deville drag their teammate to safety and leg it. As they leave, Nia's music plays. I'm really confused. Why do Nia or Alexa care about this? They've had no interaction with Absolution. Must be the general Hysteria of a new heel stable taking it's toll. (I had to fit the Muse reference somewhere, sorry)
Kurt Angle is ordering the ring to be reinforced before Strowman vs Kane when Jason Jordan interrupts. Jordan briefly pretends he's apologising for being a cock last week before immediately kicking off about not being put in a match with Samoa Joe again, insulting his dad while he's at it. Kurt is now Irritated™ and says Jordan isn't the only superstar with issues with Joe, but Jordan says he's the only one who can beat him. He brings up his matches with Cena, Reigns, Kane and Strowman as proof. You know, all those matches he lost. Angle says "holding your own is not winning; you almost beat them, but you didn't beat any of them". Finally, a voice of reason. Jordan throws a mardy, saying "Okay dad. Or should I say, okay Kurt" before storming off. Jordan is a cock and the official heel turn can't come fast enough, I hate him.
Dean Ambrose vs Samoa Joe
Jason Jordan brings a chair out and sits on the entrance ramp. I fucking hate the entitled little prick, I really do. Ambrose goes for a clothesline and just bounces right off Joe, who no sells. I love Joe so much. Ambrose delivers a running drop kick to Joe's knee to even it up a bit. He attacks Joe on the outside for a bit, noticeably going after Joe's leg. Back in the ring, Samoa Joe kicks Ambrose in the face to regain control. He punches Ambrose around for a bit before Ambrose makes the wisest decision of his life and slaps Joe square in the face. Joe punches Ambrose, only to be hit with that fucking rebound clothesline that is literally the worst move in wrestling I hate it SO MUCH MAKE IT STOP. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds but Joe reverses, planting Ambrose then mocking Jordan who's still on the ramp. Jordan distracts Joe and Ambrose gets a two count off a rollup, before a failed Powerbomb attempt from Joe sees them both land outside. Jordan helps Ambrose back into the ring, so Joe puts him in the Coquina Clutch only to get broken up by a diving Ambrose. In the ring, Ambrose has Joe pinned for a 3-count but the referee is distracted by Jordan, who's still trying to get at Joe. Dean Ambrose is not a happy camper. He goes to confront Jordan, who tries to Suplex him but Samoa Joe comes flying from nowhere to level them both. Joe lands a running senton on Jordan for good measure before going into the ring and sending Ambrose for an early nap with the Coquina Clutch for the win.
Apollo Crews and Titus O'Neill (Titus WORLDWIIIIIIIDE) are recruiting Dana Brooke for some reason. Gallows and Anderson turn up and call them all nerds. Great banter, lads. Jesus christ. Braun comes steaming through, making them all shit themselves and run away. Thank you Braun.
Braun Strowman vs Kane
They're ACTUALLY calling this "The Monstrous Main Event". Stop it at once. The winner faces Lesnar at the Rumble for the Universal Title. I love how over Braun is, it really does prove how ridiculous WWE is as a company. He wouldn't get a shot anywhere else, but he's come good in such a big way. Kane, however, is boring as fuck, who cares about Kane. The bell rings and Strowman immediately dominates, beating Kane up in the corner before hitting a running dropkick. Braun Strowman is 385lbs (27.5 stone), a dropkick from Strowman is ridiculous. Braun rams Kane into the ring steps and continues to take the piss. Kane tries to back off and reason with Braun, and gets headbutted. Fair enough. Kane hits a chokeslam but Strowman kicks out at two and Michael Cole acts like the world has ended. He kicks out of another chokeslam, Cole basically orgasms, and instead of continuing the offence Kane takes a rest. Great strategy. Strowman chokeslams Kane, and Kane kicks out. Chokeslam City, this. The fight moves out into the crowd, they punch each other a bit, Strowman runs Kane through th barricade and they both get counted out. The crowd, understandably, aren't happy about it. The fight carries on, Braun beats Kane for a bit before they both grab ring steps; Strowman wins the "lets batter each other with stairs" match, then grabs a table. Kane smashes Strowman with a chair to the knee, then goes off on him repeatedly with it. Kane sets up the table but both competitors catch each other with a running clothesline. Kane sits up, the commentary team say that's it for Braun, then Braun does the spooky undead sit up himself. It looks great when Braun does it to be honest. Kane shits himself, tries to chokslam Strowman through the table but Braun powers out and kills Kane with the running powerslam through the table to end the show.
Fairly nondescript episode of Raw, saved by good matches between Reigns & Cesaro and Rollins & Sheamus. Strowman looked good, although Corey Graves pointed out this now means Brock Lesnar technically doesn't have an opponent for the Royal Rumble. No doubt this means Kane will be in a triple threat match for the WWE Universal Championship in the year of our lord 2018. Fuck sake.