KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 11, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T
-They opened with footage of Samoa Joe attacking Roman Reigns after his win over The Miz to capture the Intercontinental Title, then Samoa Joe coming out again after his win over Jason Jordan last week. Then footage of Samoa Joe causing a distraction leading to The Bar beating Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
-Cole welcomed fans to “WWE Week” on USA Network as the camera showed a wide shot of the crowd. He hyped Dean vs. Joe, Seth vs. Sheamus, Reigns vs. Cesaro with the IC Title on the line, and Braun Strowman vs. Kane, with the winner facing Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble for the Universal Title.
-Joe stood mid-ring as his music faded. He said he has seen The Shield up close and he is not impressed. Boos from the crowd. He said he snapped Seth’s leg so easily on his first night. He said he is not impressed by Dean who has done everything he can to avoid him. He said he is damn sure not impressed by The Big Dawg, whom he has put to sleep time after time. He called out Roman so they can finish their business. He said he’s not asking for him and his “two lapdogs,” but just him. They showed Seth watching on a monitor backstage. In walked Dean. Seth told Dean to go get him.
Back in the ring, Joe said he can understand the hesitation. “I am told I’m a very intimidating individual,” he said. He asked if he remembers how he choked him out. He said if not for “that silly bastard Jason Jordan, I’d have ended you off this planet.” Joe said if it weren’t for him, Seth and Dean would be tag team champions. He said there is nothing he can do about it. Still no response from The Shield. He said if Reigns has a problem with him, he’d come out there because he doesn’t need anybody – not Cesaro, not Sheamus, not Seth. He said his name is Joe and he’s a man who stands on his own two feet. He said if not for the Shield, Reigns would be nothing. He told him to feel free to prove him wrong.
They cut to The Shield standing together watching on the monitor. Reigns said, “I’ve got this, boys.” He began his march out. Joe paced. Finally, out came Reigns to what sounded like muted sound of boos and shrieks. Reigns kicked away at Joe in the corner and had Joe reeling. Out came Cesaro and Sheamus next. Joe then put Reigns in a sleeper again. Cesaro and Sheamus stomped away at Joe until Seth and Dean ran out. They brawled at ringside. Joe finally let go of Reigns when Dean entered the ring. Sheamus hit Dean from behind. Joe gave Dean a urinage. The Shield were all on their backs as The Bar and Joe stood tall and congratulated each other. “So much for Samoa Joe saying he’d take them all out on his own,” Graves said.
(Keller’s Analysis: Basic stuff to set the stage for the three matches later. There were some awkward seconds there as it just seemed time stood still as The Shield took their time deciding what to do, and it seemed at one point Dean was going to go out there at the suggestion of Seth, but didn’t, and then suddenly there was Reigns with them, and he said he’d handle it. So it was little bumpy, but overall an intense brawl with the heels taking the more cowardly approach to the fight.) [c]
-A commercial hyped Total Divas this Wednesday featuring Lana and Natalya feuding with cell phones flying into the ocean and threats of shaving heads during sleep.
-The announcers recapped the opening segment. They showed them on camera on the stage.
-Cole commented on the first Women’s Title match in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi last Thursday. They showed Sasha getting emotional when talking about it and Tweets from Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H.
(1) BAYLEY & MICKIE JAMES (w/Sasha Banks) vs. PAIGE & MANDY ROSE (w/Sonya Deville)
The babyface team came out to Bayley’s music. Paige said the Absolution train is about to run through two more former champions after squashing Paige already. Rose said they demand the spotlight and they’re going to purge the entire Women’s Division of the feeble and unworthy. Deville said it’s time for the women to put their hair up and square up. She said Absolution is a symphony of carnage and the music is about to start. (Nobody talks like that!) Paige said this is Absolution’s future and that ring is her house. A minute into the match, Mickie and Bayley dove onto Mandy and Paige on the floor. [c]
After a few more minutes of action, when Mickie set up her DDT, Paige kicked her as then ref was distracted. Then Mandy scored the pin. Graves said Rose and Deville are legit.
WINNERS: Paige & Rose in 8:00.
-They went to the announcers who hyped the Clash of Champions, a Smackdown-exclusive event. Cole encouraged viewers to sign up and get 30 days free. They ran down the line-up, then shifted to Braun vs. Kane hype.
-They showed Bray Wyatt blowing out his lantern, then Woken Matt declaring “I am Woken!”
-A Smackdown commercial hyped Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, plus a face-to-face with A.J. Styles and Jinder Mahal. [c]
-They went back to Bray who appeared to be jarred out of meditation. He said this is nothing new, as it’s always been darkness vs. light, morning vs. night, good vs. evil. He said it’s his favorite game. Matt said the great war has perpetuated for ions transcending space and time, and now it takes place on the battlefield known as WWE. Bray laughed at Matt being Woken, and said it’s the yin to his yang and he’s been waiting for him. Hardy said his Woken Wisdom and Broken Brilliance shall illuminate the masses. Bray said his words mean nothing. Matt said he has crossed paths with Sister Abigail in prior times, but she was consumed by evil and her horrendous soul is the passenger of Bray Wyatt. Bray asked why you’d follow a jester when you walk with a king, so choose sides wisely. “Only one of us can survive,” Bray said. Matt declared they would “Delete!” Bray laughed. Matt laughed. Then more back and forth laughing several times.
(Keller’s Analysis: That might have gone on a little too long. But I suppose part of the goal is to just make everyone feel a little uneasy, and it worked.)
-They went to the announcers at the desk. A smiling Cole said Matt is clearly out of his mind. Graves said he’s woken. They shifted to talking about Enzo Amore. A clip aired of him on Raw last week giving a pep talk to the Zo Train. Then in walked Nia Jax who seemed smitten by Enzo.
-Backstage Enzo talked to his purple Cruiserweight Title belt. He asked Drew Gulak what he can do for him. Drew said WWE has revoked Rich Swann’s opportunity and tonight there will be a match to determine someone who will go on to face him next week to earn a Cruiserweight Title shot. He said that will be him who faces Enzo. Enzo said he needs to be concerned about who next opponent could be, then listed some names, which included Nia Jax. Drew said Nia is on his mind and he said it’s a lesson because he wants him to be prepared for any opponent even if it’s Nia Jax. Enzo said that’s it. He seemed relieved that Drew didn’t think it was a slip-up because he might be smitten by her too. Cole said those two deserve each other.
-Finn Balor his ring entrance. [c]
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(2) FINN BALOR vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/Bo Dallas)
Graves said Cleveland’s heart broke when the crowd realized Miz wouldn’t be there this week. Curtis made a big production of removing his neck brace. Bo and Curtis then attacked Balor before the bell. Booker said they didn’t come out to have a match, they came out to teach Balor a lesson. Seconds later, after Balor said he was good to go, the ref started the match. Curtis settled into a chinlock early. Balor broke free and hit a slingblade, a running dropkick, and then a top rope Coup de Grace for the win. Curtis clutched his neck as if he re-injured it.
WINNER: Balor in 2:00. [c]
-Cole plugged Tribute to the Troops airing this Thursday on USA Network. He didn’t give any details. (SPOILERS HERE)
-A Kane promo aired. He said he plans to crush more than Braun’s throat and then he will compete for the first time ever against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble and he will become the Universal Champion. Almost no crowd response for that scenario.
(3) SETH ROLLINS vs. SHEAMUS
Seth went after Sheamus with a barrage of punches and chops. Seth backdropped Sheamus over the top rope to the floor, then through the ropes and took him down. Seth threw Sheamus into the ringside barrier and then the ring apron. Sheamus caught Seth with an axe handle, and then began checking his mouth as if he had some dental damage. Cole talked again about Sheamus’s sabbatical, saying it was to get his head on straight. Graves said he trained with some MMA practitioners in Ireland and is training differently than when he first got to WWE, with a new stress on endurance. Booker said his goal is to be World Champion again, which he said should be every WWE Superstar’s goal. Seth came back with a blockbuster and then knocked Sheamus to the floor again. Sheamus entered the ring and kneed Seth off the ring apron. They cut to a break at 4:00. [c]
Sheamus had Seth in a chinlock after the break. Sheamus applied a sharpshooter. Seth turned it into a small package for a two count. Seth then gave Sheamus a DDT for a two count. Seth, favoring his legs, ducked a Sheamus shoulder tackle, and then schoolboyed him for a two count. Seth then came up behind Sheamus, but Sheamus elbowed him. Sheamus drove his knee into the turnbuckle and then climbed to the top rope, while selling his left arm. Seth met him with an elbow to the side of his head. Sheamus headbutted him. They continued to battle for a couple more minutes. Sheamus got the better of Seth, pounded his chest, and then charged with a Brogue Kick, but Seth ducked and superkickd Sheamus, then gave him his high knee lift for the win. Cole said, “Talk about a gutsy finish.” Graves sang his praises, too. Booker said Seth made him eat all of his words doubting him.
WINNER: Seth in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good hard-hitting match with convincing selling throughout. Given Sheamus has a neck condition limiting him, that was a heck of a performance while having to account for that.)
-Renee Young interviewed Dean backstage. She asked him about facing Joe, and if the events of earlier today affected his strategy at all. Dean said he has to avoid getting kicked in the face and avoid the Coquina Clutch, but he probably shouldn’t talk about his strategy in public. He said he’s overheated and ready to get his hands on Samoa Joe. He thanked her for the pep talk. Renee shruggled and smiled.
-A Tribute to the Troops commercial aired, announcing the matches and even showing clips of the ring introductions and Machine Gunn Kelly performing. [c]
-They showed the exterior of the Quicken Loans Arena.
(4) CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. TONY NESE vs. MUSTAFA ALI vs. ARIYA DAIVARI – Second Chance Fatal Four-way
Drew joined the announcers on commentary. Cole reiterated that this match is a result of Rich Swann’s opportunity being revoked. When Drew asked Cole why he thinks Ali is good, Cole said because he flies around the ring a lot. Booker asked Drew how much money he gets paid to be part of the Zo Train. Drew said there’s a lot of money involved. Ali leaped off the top rope onto Cedric and Nese at ringside. Cole plugged the Raw main event between Kane and Braun later. They eventually cut to a break with all four down after chaotic action. [c]
They showed Ali taking Cedric off the top rope with a huracanrana. Daivari had Ali grounded with a headlock. Cole tried to convince Drew that if he were Cruiserweight Champion, he could change things the way he wants them to be, but he’d have to beat his boss to do that. Ali landed the 054 on Nese, but Cedric broke up the cover. Drew called the inverted 450 a disgusting move. More big moves and more pin attempts being broken up. Eventually Cedric pinned Daivari with a Lumbar Check.
WINNER: Cedric in 13:00 to earn a no. 1 contendership match against Gulak next week on Raw.
(Keller’s Analysis: A good collection of big athletic spots, and the right guy one. He’s an upgrade from Rich Swann, who was suspended for a domestic violence arrest over the weekend. Drew was fun on commentary.)
-In a post-match interview in the ring with Charlie Caruso, Cedric said this is his second chance and he’ll take full advantage of it. He said he’ll beat Drew and then go on to beat Enzo for the Cruiserweight Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: I wish he said a little more in that promo about wanting to restore some dignity to the title and how much he is looking forward to shutting up Enzo and taking away the revenue stream that support his Zo Train to pretend they actually like him. It was absolutely the bare minimum one could have said in that situation – I will win next week and the week after and become champion.) [c]
-Backstage, Drew told Enzo next week he’ll dispose of Cedric and then the next week he’s beat him for the title. Enzo took exception. Drew said it’s just friendly banter. Enzo said he’s lucky to be a passenger on the Zo Train. “You win one match and you think we’re equals?” he said. “What, are you out of your mind?” He said he’s going to keep it real. He said there’s only one word to describe his powerpoint presentations. Drew suggested “Informative!” Enzo then noticed Nia walk up to him. She was smiling and smitten. She said she’s doing just fine and it’s really good to see him. Drew waved hello. She said she likes his powerpoint presentation. Enzo said he was just saying the same thing. He said he’d describe him as informative. She told Enzo they should talk alone sometime when he’s not busy. [c]
(5) ROMAN REIGNS vs. CESARO – Intercontinental Championship match
Someone held up a sign that said: “Roman Reigns drinks orange juice after he brushes his teeth.” Boos when Reigns came out, and hardly a strong pushback by his fans cheering. He slung the belt over his shoulder and made his way to the ring. Cole touted how WWE Superstars travelled the globe this past week. Graves said Cesaro thrives on the schedule and never wants a day off. Mixed and hardly passionate response for Reigns during formal ring introductions. Reigns stomped away at Cesaro in the opening seconds. Cesaro yanked Reigns’s arm over the top rope. Reigns clotheslined Cesaro over the top rope a minute later and then shook out his arm. They cut to a break. [c]
Cesaro had Reigns in a keylock after the break, staying on his injured arm.
If you haven’t heard it yet, be sure to check out the latest Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast episode featuring “Cowboy” James Storm.
SUMMARY: PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a new interview with James Storm. In part two of this two-plus hour interview, Storm talks about connecting with fans on promos, frustration with the creative process in TNA over the years including going all-in with his Southern Cowboy act, some hilarious road story pranks from his days in TNA, which TNA wrestler would be the best subject of an uncensored reality TV show, which wrestler made him think “I didn’t know God made people that stupid,” who was most interesting to walk with through airports, the arrival of Kurt Angle and what he most learned working in the ring with Angle, Dixie Carter’s strengths and weaknesses, the lack of knowledge of some of today’s pro wrestlers on the history of their business, what happened with his short NXT stint, thoughts on Bobby Roode, A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, and Eric Young having success in WWE, his favorite memory from TNA, the biggest missed opportunity for TNA, Jeff Jarrett today versus 15 years ago, and more. It’s a great free-flowing conversation with the affable, enthusiastic, and passionate former TNA veteran ready to start phase two of his career.
Great stuff! I wanted to hear more. I wish nothing but success for @JamesStormBrand
— snake king (@sneakyslimey) December 12, 2017
— KllSlasher (@KllSlasher) December 9, 2017
When Cole said Reigns might have to give up to save his arm, Booker said there is no way he would relinquish his title that way. Cesaro landed a hard uppercut in the corner, then threw Reigns shoulder-first into the ringpost. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch at ringside. Cole said he didn’t get all of it, though, because of the injured arm. Reigns went for a spear, but Cesaro countered in an STF. Cesaro then went for a Giant Swing, but Reigns countered into a sunset flip and then lifted Cesaro for a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. The crowd chanted “This is awesome!” Cesaro went for a Neutralizer, but Reigns backdropped out of it and then set up a spear out of the corner. He was groggy eyed, but moved in quickly with the spear and scored the pin. Cole sold it as an incredible match. “What a war!” he said. “What an absolute war!” He went on and on.
WINNER: Reigns in 17:00 to retain the IC Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Definitely a good match, although you could tell they pacing themselves for 15-plus minutes they way they stayed with Cesaro working over Reigns’s arms for a long stretch.)
-They cut to Braun backstage who had a message for Kane. He said he sent him gasping for air leaving the arena with a taste of his own medicine, and now Kane is the only one standing in the way of him facing Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. “But not for long,” he said.
-They showed Asuka warming up backstage for her rematch against Alicia Fox next. [c]
-Asuka made her ring entrance. Then Alicia Fox’s music played. Paige’s music replaced it. Absolution walked out. Paige said she wondered where he bestie went. They showed the big screen with Fox nursing an injured arm. The ref insisted she get it checked out. Paige said she’s heard about Asuka, and she’s getting in the way of their goal. She said the last beacon of hope of the Women’s Division standing up to them is her. She said that leaves them in a pickle. She said she either moves out of the way or they make her move out of the way. Asuka did not volunteer to move out of the way. Paige said it’s time she meets Absolution. Asuka went after Rose and Deville, then put Paige in her Asuka lock. Rose and Deville returned and attacked Asuka. Paige recovered and gave Asuka a running knee. Rose and Deville threw Asuka into Paige’s arms, but then Banks’s music played. The rest of the Women’s Division ran out including Fox, Jax, Mickie, Bayley, Dana Brooke, and Alexa Bliss. They drove Absolution out of the ring. Cole said tonight at least Absolution were held in check.
-Backstage Angle told a backstage worker that he needs the ring reenforced after what happened last week. Jason Jordan walked in and apologized to Kurt over barging into his office last week and demanding things. He said his emotions and maybe his intensity got the best of him. He smiled and said, “I wonder where I get that from.” Angle broke into a Proud Papa smile. Jordan said Joe is running rampant and blindsided him and disrespected Angle, so no wonder Stephanie got on his case last week. Angle told him to calm down. He said as his father, when Samoa Joe attacks him, he wants to attack him back, but he’s not just his father, he’s the G.M. of Raw and he’s not the only Superstar with issues with Joe. Jordan said he’s the only one who can beat him. He said he’s held his own every single he’s been in the ring with a big name. Angle said holding your own isn’t winning. He said these names he mentioned he “almost beat, but you didn’t beat any of them.” He said he’ll get his rematch with Joe when he says so, not when he wants them. A disappointed and frustrated Jordan said, “Thanks Dad, or should I say Kurt.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I almost forgot Kurt Angle was the G.M. of Raw, and that’s a good thing when authority figures aren’t a big part of a show. I liked the developments here with Jordan not liking that Kurt showed a spine and pointed out that coming close to winning and actually winning are two different things.)
-Dean Ambrose made his ring entrance. [c]
(6) SAMOA JOE vs. DEAN AMBROSE
Joe came out after the break. Some fans chanted “Joe! Joe!” as he walked out. Jordan came out in the opening seconds with a chair and sat on the stage to watch, just as Joe did last week when Jordan wrestled Reigns. After fighting at ringside, they returned to the ring where Joe kicked Dean out of the ring again. They cut to a break. [c]
A few minutes later Dean took Joe over the top rope, but tumbled over with him. Jordan walked to ringside and threw Dean back into the ring gently. Joe put Jordan in a sleeper. Dean hit a running dive onto both Joe and Jordan. Jordan was upset and tried to get in the ring. The ref was preoccupied with him as Dean clotheslined Joe off the top rope and covered him. The ref then turned and counted, but Joe kicked out. Cole said Dean had Joe beat. Dean looked over wide-eyed and upset with Jordan. He marched over to Jordan and got in his face. They went forehead-to-forehead, then Dean shoved him. Jordan grabbed Dean for a belly-to-belly, but Joe leaped through the ropes and hit them both. He landed a senton on Jordan, then returned to the ring and put Dean in a Coquina Clutch. Dean passed out.
WINNER: Joe 11:00.
-Backstage Dana thanked Titus O’Neal and Apollo Crews for the opportunity. Titus said they’re excited to have her on board as the official statistician and head of research and development. Crews yelled in celebration, jarring Titus. In walked Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. They said people who work at Titus Worldwide are nerds. When they saw Braun approaching, they parted in a panic and stood back. Braun marched through them as Cole said the “monstrous main event is next.” [c]
-They showed the ring being reenforced by workers. Then Cole threw to a video package on the Kane-Braun feud. [c]
-The announcers plugged WWE Week on USA Network including NXT at 7 ET/6 CT on Wednesday. Graves plugged that Lesnar would return to Raw next week.
(7) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. KANE
A full 15 minutes after Titus Brand and Anderson & Gallows parted ways for Braun, the bell rang for this. Braun charged at Kane as the bell rang and scored an early two count. He threw Kane into the ringside steps. Back in the ring Kane surprised Braun with a chokeslam for a two count after Braun missed a charge in the corner. Another chokeslam, another two count. Braun countered with his own chokeslam. They brawled into the crowd where the ringside barrier had been knocked down. Strowman drove Kane back to ringside through another section of the barricade. Both were counted out at ringside.
WINNER: Double countout in 6:00.
-They got up and continued to fight. Kane and Braun threw separate parts of the steps at each other, and they knocked into each other in mid-air. Strowman pulled out a table and slid into the ring once he had Kane down. Kane rolled to the floor as Strowman entered. Kane bashed Strowman in his knee with a chair. He bashed Strowman with the chair a few times. Then he set up a table in the corner. They double clotheslined each other and were both down and out. Kane sat up. Strowman broke from a chokeslam attempt and slammed Kane through the table with a running powerslam. Strowman raised his arms as his music played. Graves wondered who will face Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. “We need to figure this out!” he said as the show ended.
Send your email questions and comments about this show to firstname.lastname@example.org for tonight’s #WKPWP taping. Then look for our show around 2:30 a.m. ET.