After Braun Strowman and Kane battled to a double count-out in a match that was supposed to determine which of them would challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title at Royal Rumble, the two giants came to Raw demanding a championship match come January. Unwilling to let the decision happen without his “input,” Lesnar — with Paul Heyman in tow — confronted Strowman and Kane right as they were making their cases to Raw General Manager Kurt Angle.
But before Lesnar could throw down with Raw’s resident colossi, The Olympic Hero declared on the spot that Brock would defend his title against both Strowman and Kane in a Triple Threat Match and left the ring immediately before the physicality started. When it did, Lesnar got the better of both Braun and Kane, though The Big Red Machine sat right up following the F-5 that temporarily put him down.
For weeks, Jason Jordan has been the proverbial fly in the ointment for both The Shield and Samoa Joe, trying to force his way into a match with The Samoan Submission Machine despite his father Kurt Angle’s insistence that he hasn’t earned it yet and despite the fact that The Hounds of Justice have a longstanding grudge with Joe.
This week, Jordan tried to jump the line by confronting Joe’s planned opponent, Seth Rollins, and shoving him to the mat following an off-the-cuff insult by The Kingslayer. But all that did was land him a match with the former WWE Champion that did not pan out the way he’d hoped. Angle sweetened the pot by announcing the winner would face Joe sometime down the line, but even with his goal within reach, Jordan once again turned in a very strong performance in a losing effort.
Rollins suffered a bone-rattling array of suplexes throughout the lengthy contest, but the presence of Joe at ringside allowed The Architect to take out two birds with one stone by throwing Jordan into Joe, decking the Samoan with a superkick, then dispatching Jordan with the ripcord knee for the victory.
Joe, who had promised the winner would receive the honor of a beating at his hands, made good on his word by trouncing Rollins with a cheap shot and a Uranage. He gave a parting shot to Jordan as well, leading to a backstage confrontation that involved Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Jordan all jockeying for another match against Joe. Angle was forced to split the difference for the second time in the same night: Rollins and Jordan would team with Ambrose against Joe, Cesaro & Sheaumus later in the evening.
Three years ago, Finn Bálor made his very first NXT appearance as Hideo Itami’s partner against The Ascension. This week, the first-ever Universal Champion returned the favor. After The Miztourage ganged up on Bálor during their Handicap Match began (technically earning Finn a disqualification win for that contest), Itami arrived to even the odds, and Bálor demanded the bout be re-started as a tag team contest with the strong-style legend at his side.
The two hadn’t lost a step. The Miztourage wisely kept to their original game plan and isolated Finn while Itami prowled on the apron, but once Bálor reached the Japanese brawler, the match wrapped up in a hurry. Given that Itami had been scheduled to debut as a Cruiserweight on tomorrow’s 205 Live, Curtis Axel was utterly unprepared to answer the array of kicks and fists that brought him to his knees in short order. An assist from Bálor disposed of Bo Dallas, and Axel met his fate at the hands of a ruthless Go to Sleep — a sight that’s likely to lead to a sleepless night for the Superstars of 205 Live.
Drew Gulak is a valued member of The Zo Train, but without a conductor, the train goes off the rails. So it went when WWE Crusierweight Champion Enzo Amore took his eyes off Gulak’s match with Cedric Alexander, allowing the latter Superstar to upend the man who claims to be Amore’s “friend” and earn next-man-up status to challenge for The Certified G’s championship.
The deciding factor that swung the match, shockingly, didn’t end up being Alexander (whose aerial prowess continues to astound) or Gulak (who backed up his speechifying with “technical spectacle” that left Enzo visibly impressed) but Nia Jax, who has had a few eyebrow-raising encounters with Enzo over the last few weeks. She took it one step further this week, DM’ing Enzo while he was at the commentary table and causing him to make his exit, leaving Gulak deflated at the sight of his mentor’s departure. Alexander capitalized with the back-wrenching Lumbar Check, and that was all she wrote.
When Gulak attempted to own up to his mistakes after the match, however, Enzo seemed more irritated that Gulak's appearance interrupted yet another moment between himself and Jax. His frustration is understandable, but if there was any takeaway from the last three weeks, it’s that he looks past Alexander at his own risk.
In the rematch two weeks in the making, Alicia Fox finally got another chance to snap Asuka’s undefeated streak. But despite the former Divas Champion’s insistence that she’d learned from her earlier loss to The Empress of Tomorrow, she still wasn’t ready for the former NXT Women’s Champion. A big boot seemed as though it might give Alicia an opening, but all it did was kick Asuka into high gear, and a kick to the head and a match-ending armbar extended her streak yet again.
As it turns out, the one thing that’s more irksome to The Shield than having Jason Jordan as an opponent is having him as a partner. Jordan’s earlier meddling in Seth Rollins' affairs led Kurt Angle to team his son up with Rollins and Dean Ambrose against Cesaro, Sheamus & Samoa Joe, and while that’s a stacked trio in terms of talent, The Shield they were not.
Jordan, for one, kept trying to jump the line again, demanding tags early in the match and focusing on Samoa Joe over whomever the legal man happened to be. He paid, and Rollins had to spell him accordingly, though Ambrose remained frustratingly out of his brother’s reach.
The Lunatic Fringe made his presence known during a brawl on the outside, but a suicide dive from Rollins that took out Joe and Cesaro also took a toll on Ambrose’s taped-up arm. A distracted Rollins was easy prey for a match-ending Brogue Kick, and the hits kept on coming after the match: Joe and The Bar jumped the two Shield brothers in the locker room area, and The Samoan Submission Machine rammed a production crate full-speed into Ambrose's injured arm.
The attack sent Ambrose to a local medical facility for X-rays and evaluation, and more information on his condition will be available tomorrow.
Bray Wyatt still isn’t convinced that “Woken” Matt Hardy is anything more than a deranged jester with a funny laugh, but there may be more method to Hardy’s madness than The Eater of Worlds gives him credit for.
After Wyatt likened his rivalry with Hardy to a chess game, Hardy re-emerged later in the show to take the analogy one step further. Not only did he defeat Napoleon Bonaparte — evidently reincarnated as a goldfish — in a game of chess, he presented a new board as a metaphor for “The Great War,” with 16 white pieces to represent Hardy and his Woken Warriors on one side, lined up against two black pieces — a king and queen symbolizing Wyatt and Sister Abigail — on the others. And, as always, the ultimate goal of this game is not checkmate, but deletion.
The Revival were beginning to make waves in Raw’s Tag Team division before a series of injuries hampered their progress, but Dash & Dawson are all healed up and ready to roll. The “top guys” returned to action in earnest this week on Raw, making relatively quick work of Heath Slater & Rhyno with a face-busting Shatter Machine to The One-Man Band after Rhyno was dispatched at ringside.
Apart from Dash & Dawson’s return, two interesting developments sprang from this contest. The first was that Titus Worldwide — complete with new Director of Statistics Dana Brooke — took notes on the match in the backstage area. The second was that, following Kurt Angle’s directive that Slater & Rhyno needed to “toughen up,” The Man Beast revealed he had an idea on how to bring his partner’s intensity up in order to keep pace with the likes of Cesaro & Sheamus.
The Superstars of WWE are about to walk with Elias, whether they like it or not. Raw’s resident busker made two major declarations before the New England faithful in his latest appearance: 1) that Tom Brady declared him no less than the soundtrack to his success and 2) he is officially the first Superstar to declare for the 2018 Royal Rumble Match. Elias then attempted to end the evening with a musical performance in honor of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. And while the arrival of Sasha Banks and Mickie James seemed to reinforce Elias’ confidence in his abilities (“It ain’t bad being me!”), Bayley’s appearance caused him to leave the ring in deflated fashion and ignore the former Raw Women's Champion's attempt to hug him as he made his exit.
Absolution technically lost their announced match against Bayley, Sasha Banks & Mickie James by disqualification when Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville ganged up on Banks. That aggression brought out Nia Jax, who dropped Rose and Deville with a double Samoan Drop, and the rest of the Women’s division bolted to the ring when Paige took Nia down with a chop block. Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon's entrance stopped the action cold right as the brawl was beginning to escalate, but nobody could have predicted what was going to happen next.
The Commissioner’s arrival typically precedes some kind of discipline, but she had something else in mind for the division: An opportunity. After reminding the women of the strides they had made over the past two years and the barriers they continue to break, Stephanie announced that they would make history yet again this January with the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble Match, an announcement that stirred up powerful emotions in every Superstar from Sasha Banks to Paige to Mickie James, Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke. Raw may be going live on Christmas next week, but this will be a difficult gift to top.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Seth Rollins defeated Jason Jordan (5:33)
- Finn Bálor defeated Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas by disqualification in a Handicap match (5:36)
- Finn Bálor & Hideo Itami defeated Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas
- Cedric Alexander defeated Drew Gulak to be the #1 Contender for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship (12:51)
- Asuka defeated Alicia Fox by submission (3:40)
- Samoa Joe & The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) defeated Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (13:10)
- The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) defeated Rhyno & Heath Slater (3:05)
- Sasha Banks, Bayley & Mickie James defeated Absolution (Paige, Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose) by disqualification (3:08)
Other on-screen talent
Angle reveals Brock's Rumble opponent
Seth Rollins vs. Jason Jordan
Finn Balor & Hideo Itami vs. The Miztourage
Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak
Asuka vs. Alicia Fox
Cesaro, Sheamus, & Samoa Joe vs. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, & Jason Jordan
The Revival vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno
Stephanie McMahon announces Women's Royal Rumble=