We start with a recap of Roman Reigns last week, presumably hyping up Reigns vs Samoa Joe tonight. Nothing spectacular.
Kurt Angle starts the show proper. YOU SUCK. Angle is out to announce who Reigns faces tonight. I wonder who. Angle tells us we have The Bar vs Seth & Dean, plus Reigns vs... Wait a minute, Jason Jordan is interrupting his dad. Jordan is getting booed out of the building whenever he talks, then pulls the "dad" card. Out comes Roman, who is cheered loudly, presumably because he's about to murder Jordan. Cole botches and calls Reigns the United States champ. Reigns literally just tells Angle he isn't fighting Jordan, then tells Jordan to stop running to his dad and step up. Jordan calls Reigns out, saying that he's everything WWE management wants; a sick burn, coming from anyone who isn't Jason Jordan. In Jordan's hands, it somehow still sounds whiny. Samoa Joe comes out to a huge pop. Joe is irritated and tells Reigns to stop patronising Jordan and accepts his Open Joe Challenge. Jordan tries to talk shit to Joe and gets booed as he's still talking. Reigns tries to intervene and bring things back to Joe and the match people actually want to see; Jordan belly-to-belly suplexes him. Reigns is officially Annoyed™ and somehow Jordan now has an Intercontinental Championship match. Whatever.
Roman Reigns vs Jason Jordan
So I was wrong about Reigns vs Joe being a match, whatever GOD MOM LEAVE ME ALONE. Reigns dominates the opening exchanges as Samoa Joe sits on a chair on the ramp and watches, somehow looking both annoyed and like he couldn't care less if he tried. Reigns whips Jordan into the ring steps and continues dominating. Reigns holds Jordan in a very heel-ish rest hold segment before Jordan rallies and runs Roman into the corners. Jordan dodges Reigns and chucks him into the turnbuckle to go to commercial break. Jordan has reigns in an armbar when we come back. Reigns fights back and hits a big boot for a two count as the commentators try, unsuccessfully, to put over Jordan. Jordan hits a drop kick for an unneccessarily close two count. Jordan catches Reigns in a Superman Punch attempt and rams him into the steps twice for another two count. We go to a fourth commercial break in half an hour of programming. Fuck WWE. Reigns hits a DDT when we come back. Jordan counters a half-Boston Crab and gets Superman Punched for his rudeness. Jordan lands two Northern Lights Suplexes for a two count. Reigns lands another Superman Punch and Spears Jordan to death for the win. Samoa Joe comes down, locks in the Coquina Clutch on Reigns and gets Suplexed by Jordan. Reigns responds to this act of nobility by Superman Punching Jordan again. Once again, Roman Reigns is apparently the company's main face. Ridiculous. Decent match, probably very good but I wouldn't know because there was sixty seven commercial breaks.
We IMMEDIATELY go to a backstage segment of Jason Jordan being an entitled prick to his dad, demanding a rematch against Reigns and a match against Samoa Joe. Angle tells Jordan he can face Joe, but also to calm down and fuck off out of his office. Joe then comes in and murders Jordan, telling Kurt "like father like son". Harsh banter.
Paige vs Sasha Banks
Alexa is back on commentary as Absolution accompany Paige to ringside. Mickie James and Bayley accompany Sasha. This is Paige's first match in over a year. Corey Graves tears into Sasha, talking about how she's had four championship reigns and not a single successful defence. Paige stomps the shit out of Banks then locks in a weird submission hold. Banks lands a clumsy headscissors then a crossbody from the top rope. They exchange takedowns and a few punches before both competitors spill outside for a commercial break. Not much happens for a bit before Paige lands a nasty looking Sunset Flip Powerbomb for a two count; sloppy nasty, not good nasty. Banks locks in the Bank Statement but Paige gets to the rope. A fight breaks out between the two backup teams; Banks goes to kick off, Paige takes advantage and hits the Rampaige for the win. Absolution go after Banks after the bell; Rose hits her finisher on Banks, onto Deville's knee. Painful.
Note: I'm going to bed now, so after this I'll be watching the non-commercial break interrupted version. Thank fuck for that.
Backstage segment. Kurt's wasting time on his phone playing Candy Crush (probably) when Elias comes in, playing him a song. Elias demands another Intercontinental Title match, claiming Kurt giving Jordan a shot is nepotism. Elias calls Jordan Angle's "bastard son" and Kurt tells him he can have a match, and that he'll find Elias a worthy opponent. Decent enough segment, I love Elias.
Machine Gun Kelly is performing at Tribute to the Troops. Hopefully Owens kills him again. We then get MORE vignettes hyping Kane vs Braun Strowman. In fact it's the exact same vignette as the one that opened last week's show, just with last week's finale edited in. The Feud That Will Never End That Nobody Wanted.
We get a brief Enzo Amore/Zo Train backstage segment, with Enzo hyping Drew Gulak and Tony Nese before their match and ripping into Noam Dar and Ariya Daivari for failing to win last week. After the Zo Train leave, Enzo turns around to see Nia Jax grinning at him. Nia says "how you doin'?" and winks at Enzo, coming across like Joey from Friends. Enzo looks perplexed as she leaves. You aren't alone, Enzo pal. Please don't waste Nia Jax on Enzo Amore, WWE.
Drew Gulak vs Tony Nese vs Mustafa Ali vs Cedric Alexander
Gulak and Nese start at a methodical pace before Alexander lands a nice drop kick to really get the match going. Ali lands a headscissors on Alexander but Alexander lands and kips up before damage is done. Nice. The commentators are insisting on copying Enzo by calling Nese "Tony Abs" and it's fucking awful. Mustafa Ali lands a good looking crossbody on both Nese and Gulak. Alexander jumps through the middle rope from the outside to land a great DDT on Gulak and the match really starts to warm up. The faces land a double Superplex on Nese while simultaneously shoving Gulak face first into the turnbuckle. An aside while not much happens; I'm so glad WWE got rid of the purple ropes. It makes the Cruiserweights feel like part of the show, instead of something totally different. Ali and Alexander hit each other with clotheslines and turn each other inside out, with Alexander landing on top of Ali for a pinfall which Nese breaks. That looked REALLY good. Mustafi Ali lands a springboard Spanish Fly on Alexander for another close fall, broken up by Gulak this time. That was fucking great. Nese hits his running knee finisher on Ali, then immediately gets hit with a Lumbar Check by Alexander. Nese rolls out of the ring, so Alexander gives Ali a Lumbar Check too, but gets hit with a knee by Gulak, who steals the 3 count on Ali for the win. This was a fucking great match, and the springboard Spanish Fly was magnificent. Drew Gulak wants to give a Powerpoint Presentation after the match but there's no time. Unlucky Drew.
Elias vs Mystery Opponent
Elias is in ring as usual, guitar in hand. "Who wants to walk with Elias?" is actually really quite over with the fans. Someone in the crowd tries to chat Elias off so he absolutely destroys him, asking what show the guy used to be in before saying "who am I kidding, no one knows who you are". Elias is great. Elias' song slams Los Angeles as expected, along with everyone from Los Ange-BRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNN. Here's the competition. RIP Elias. Once Braun hits ringside, Elias wisely thinks fuck that and gets out of the ring, before immediately ruining everything and trying to take Strowman down from behind. Take a guess how well that went. Elias tries to take Braun down with a guitar shot to the back and Braun just completely no-sells it. Elias is clotheslined into oblivion then given the running powerslam, but Kane interrupts on the Titantron before Braun can do more damage. Fuck off Kane. Kane spouts nonsense about delighting in pain and war, before saying they will fight next week and only one monster will emerge. Kane tries an evil laugh but Braun doesn't give a fuck.
Roman is backstage with Ambrose and Rollins. They talk about the tag title match later tonight and Ambrose banters off Rollins, saying he didn't know the rematch was tonight before dropping the charade. Mildly amusing, but if they keep making Seth Rollins say "believe that" to get it over again before giving it back to Roman Reigns I'm going to get progressively angrier and angrier until I end up putting my laptop through the core of the Earth.
Asuka vs Alicia Fox
Alicia reminds us she has a shirt now before the match. She gets in some offence before Asuka hits her running hip attack, but Fox flattens her with a big boot. Alicia slaps Asuka, which is always a bad idea; Asuka gets mildly annoyed and has Alicia tapping to the Armbar in about twenty seconds. Absolution come out after the match, surrounding the ring much like last week. Once again, Absolution don't attack Asuka as she leaves unscathed. Paige enters the ring with Fox still in it, talking up Alicia as her best friend and saying that she loves her... but Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville don't feel the same way. Always check The Small Print, Foxy (thanks for letting me shoehorn in this week's Muse reference too). Rose and Deville destroy Fox as Paige stands there and smiles. Good segment.
Finn Bálor vs Bo Dallas
Oh great, this is apparently Finn's level now. Hopefully Vince is watching and listening because Bálor is over as fuck, contrary to his own belief. Dallas comes out to The Miz's music, which is ridiculous, he has his own music. Bo is apparently wrestling in a gold necklace, which must be a health and safety hazard. Bálor takes charge right away, with pin attempts in quick succession before Axel distracts him to allow Dallas to take over. Booker says beating Finn would be the biggest win of Bo's career, seemingly forgetting he was NXT Champion. Christ, Bo Dallas was NXT Champion. How the mighty have fallen. An extended heat segment for Dallas is finally ended as Bálor lands his Slingblade/Corner Dropkick combo before hitting the Coup De Grace from a serious distance to take the pin and the match. Bálor winning is great but he really shouldn't be facing people this low on the Raw ladder.
We get a Matt Hardy "Awakening" segment which gets a loud pop from the crowd even just being announced. Bray Wyatt interrupts the commentators talking about Hardy, saying that although he knows who Hardy is, Matt himself doesn't. The screen cuts to Hardy, elsewhere, who greets us all with that wonderfully familiar "YEEEEAAAAAASSSS". It's really happening. He say he's wandered through all of space and time; Wyatt says Matt Hardy has no idea of what is actually real. Bray Wyatt is accusing someone else of being out of touch with reality. Okay Bray. Hardy says he's studied at the Library of Alexandria, fought alongside Genghis Khan, danced with Cleopatra, held symposiums with Plato and meditated atop the Pyramid of Giza. Wyatt thinks that "the ramblings of a madman can be very dangerous". Once again; Bray Wyatt is accusing others of rambling. Hardy says his condition ("CONDEEEESHYN") has made him lie dormant inside this vessel, but Wyatt ("The Consumer of Terrestrial Entities" he calls Wyatt) has WOKEN him. Wyatt goes on about feeling alive again and talks about fire and how his fire will burn Hardy; generic Wyatt nonsense. Matt sentences Bray to Deletion to a HUGE crowd pop, before we have a full minute or so of Wyatt and Hardy exchanging laughs to end the segment, with the crowd cheering loudly whenever Hardy comes back on screen. I must admit I didn't enjoy the segment as much as I'd have hoped, but that was entirely down to being so horrifically bored of Bray Wyatt that it took all of my effort to not tune out. Apparently Vince has given Matt Hardy full creative control over the Woken/Broken gimmick; I sincerely hope so as it's the only way it'll work in WWE.
Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs The Bar (Raw Tam Team Title match)
I will never understand why Dean Ambrose is still over; he's more tolerable in The Shield but he's still mince. The commentary team introduce the tag team champions as The Bar, and their Titantron says The Bar, but the name animation still simply says Cesaro & Sheamus. The ring announcer also announces them as Sheamus & Cesaro; this sort of thing really annoys me, either go all in on the team name or drop it. It's bloody annoying and it must be confusing for newcomers to WWE to see one thing but hear another. ANYWAY while I've been ranting The Bar isolate Ambrose and go to work on him in the corner. The heel heat portion goes on for a while before the inevitable hot tag to Rollins, who immediately lands a Blockbuster and Slingblade on Sheamus. Sheamus manages to get Rollins outside and rams him into the ringpost to take back the advantage. Reigns looks on backstage as Corey Graves, the heel commentator, talks about how great face stable The Shield all having gold would be. Right. Sheamus works over Rollins for a while before tagging Cesaro in to do the same thing. Not wildly entertaining to watch but superb heel work. The Bar land a kind of Gorilla Press/Uppercut for a two count. Rollins finally reaches Ambrose for hot tag number two, to a big crowd pop. The Bar slowly take control back; Booker T blames Cole for Sheamus cheap shotting Ambrose from the outside for some reason. Rollins tags in, hits a Superplex to Sheamus and rolls right into a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. That looked great. Rollins reverses the Neutralizer into the Kings Landing, pins but Sheamus breaks it up, then gets intentionally disqualified so The Bar lose but retain the titles. Kurt Angle comes out and quickly decides "fuck that", restarting the match with a No DQ rule. Rollins and Ambrose run rampant, but Samoa Joe comes from nowhere and attacks Rollins and Ambrose. This brings Roman Reigns out who runs Joe off, but Sheamus catches Ambrose with a Brogue Kick in the mayhem and Cesaro pins to retain the titles for the second time in three minutes. The Bar disappear into the crowd and somehow, the show with Roman Reigns standing tall as the only man in the ring on his feet, after a tag title match he wasn't actually in.
That was a REALLY good episode of Raw. No bad matches, mostly decent backstage segments and Matt Hardy finally embraces the gimmick 99/100 people care about him for in 2017. I had fun watching this, which is rarer than it should be with WWE.