KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT 1/1: Reigns defends against Samoa Joe, Asuka faces Bliss for first time one-on-one, Lesnar and Heyman address Rumble title defense

By Wade Keller, editor


WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW
JANUARY 1, 2018
MIAMI, FLA.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T

[HOUR ONE]

-They showed the crowd and bedazzled the graphics package with confetti and streamers and Happy New Year wishes. The announcers hyped Brock Lesnar’s appearance with Paul Heyman, Roman Reigns defending his Intercontinental Title against Samoa Joe with the “champion’s advantage” gone (if Reigns is DQ’d, he loses the title, a good way to get the belt off of him if they want him without a belt going into Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season), and Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka for the first time.

(Keller’s Analysis: No matter what they have planned here, I think they’re rushing into Asuka vs. Bliss here. That’s a very big match – or at least should be framed that way – and now thrown on a TV line-up at the last minute. That should be treated as a bigger deal.)

-Bliss approached Kurt Angle backstage and asked him what he was thinking in booking that match. Angle said he thought he’d start 2018 off right with a “WrestleMania-worthy match.” Bliss said Asuka attacked her unprovoked last week, so she shouldn’t be rewarded with a match against her. She said he should rethink things. She said if Asuka wins the Royal Rumble, she’ll wrestle her at WrestleMania, “so that should be enough.” Angle said she won’t change his mind, but she should be happy that it isn’t a championship match – “yet,” he added. Angle’s music played and he made his way to the ring. Graves talked about Angle’s accomplishments in 2017, including his WWE Hall of Fame induction and his return to the ring and leading Team Raw to victory at Survivor Series.

(Keller’s Analysis: That’s better, in that Angle framed it as a “WrestleMania-worthy match” and he explained the special circumstances being that he wanted to kick off the new year with something special. Still, though, I think a match of this caliber should be planned with more forethought and hype just to convey how truly big of a deal it is for Asuka to get her first main roster match against the reigning Women’s Champion.)

Angle said 2017 was of the greatest years of his career as Raw G.M., and he aims to make 2018 even greater. Angle talked about the 25th Anniversary of Raw coming up and the Royal Rumble afterward. He said the Women’s Royal Rumble will have the same rules as the men, so there will be 30 entrants. He said the winner will face the champion at WrestleMania, and he expects Raw members to win both Rumbles. He was interrupted by Sheamus and Cesaro.

Sheamus said they were robbed last week on Raw. He called it a travesty. A “You look stupid!” chant rang out from the crowd. Sheamus said he doesn’t care what they say. Cesaro said they can’t stand favoritism. He said what Angle did after the match was too much. He pointed at the big screen and a replay showed the finish of the match which included Angle smiling, applauding, and hugging Jordan afterward at ringside, and Jordan saying “I love you dad.” That didn’t air on Raw, but was labelled as a “WWE.com exclusive.” Sheamus said watching that footage makes him sick to his stomach. He said that was favoritism. Cesaro said his son didn’t deserve the title shot, and they want their rematch tonight. Angle said they’ll get the rematch when he says so. Jordan’s music played as Sheamus and Cesaro began arguing with Angle.

Jordan said if he didn’t deserve the title shot, then why does he have the belt around his waist. When Jordan’s music stopped, there were scattered boos. As he talked, the scattered boos continued. He entered the ring as the crowd chanted, “Who’s your daddy?” Jordan said Angle doesn’t understand the first thing about favoritism. He said his opportunity was based on his track record, not his DNA. Jordan said that he and Seth Rollins earned the title shot. Jordan said if Cesaro keeps running his “refurbished mouth,” he’ll send him back to the dentist. Angle said he wants this solved in the ring, so they are having a match “right now!”

Seth walked out to a big pop. He said Jordan has a lot to learn about being a teammate. Seth insulted Sheamus and then said Jordan needs to realize he’s outnumbered. He said if he gets jumped, what does that mean to their team? “What you do affects me and vice-versa,” Seth said. You need to stop being so self-absorbed.” He said he came out to brag in front of his dad, and look at what happened. He said he will be in his corner, but he’s only out there to watch him lose. Cesaro then gave Jordan a cheap shot from behind with a shove as Jordan yelled at Seth at ringside. “See what I’m talking about?” lectured Seth.

(Keller’s Analysis: Not sure what they were going for there, but even if Seth made a valid point about how Jordan putting himself in jeopardy affects Seth too, Seth was came across as a jerk overreacting to it. If the idea was for Seth to be the sympathetic voice of reason here, they could have framed Jordan’s involvement in the segment differently. For instance, have Jordan seem like a hot-head who asked for the match with Cesaro and shoved him, leading to Angle booking the match.) [c]

(1) JASON JORDAN (w/Seth Rollins) vs. CESARO (w/Sheamus)

As the match began, Graves said Seth should show Jordan more respect. Booker T took Seth’s side for “bagging his partner.” Cole said it was “sage advice” that Seth provided to Jordan. Cole said Jordan said in 2018 he’s going to silence the doubters. Jordan caught Cesaro mid-air and drove him into the corner. Cole touted Jordan’s strength. A Sheamus distraction gave Cesaro the opening. Booker disagreed with Angle giving a tag team title shot to a team that were teaming together for the first time. At ringside, Cesaro lifted and dropped Jordan’s knee on the edge of the ring apron. They cut to a break with the announcers wondering if Jordan could continue. [c]

Jordan made a comeback after the break with some overhead suplexes for a near fall. Booker said adrenaline is a like a cortisone shot where you have renewed strength and don’t know where it came from. Jordan scored a near fall with a Northern Light Suplex.  Cole and Graves talked about how Jordan’s injured knee affected his ability to leverage that pinfall attempt effectively. Cesaro went back to Jordan’s knee. Sheamus punched Jordan and then Cesaro rolled him up for a two count. Cesaro applied a half crab mid-ring. He turned it into a full crab. Jordan crawled over to the bottom rope. Cole put over Jordan’s resilience. Seth dove at Sheamus at ringside and stomped away at him. Jordan then gave Cesaro a lift-and-drop neckbreaker for a sudden win.

WINNER: Jordan in 14:00.

-Afterward, Jordan celebrated and lifted Seth’s arm. He then let go and turned his back to Seth and let out some celebration yells. Seth looked annoyed with Jordan. He shook his head like a veteran who felt he had more to teach Jordan about how to conduct himself.

-Renee Young interviewed Roman Reigns backstage. She asked about the special DQ rule in this match and how that will affect his strategy tonight. He said Joe got exactly what he deserves because he attacked him, ruined championship matches, and worst of all hurt Dean Ambrose. He said he’s a punk who talks like a punk and walks like a punk, which is why he punked him out last week. He said unfortunately for Joe, he’s going to stay within the rules. “I hope,” he added with a grin before walking way.

(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a good short backstage interview for Reigns. He was still on that edge of seeming cocky and full of himself that often does him more harm than good as a lead babyface, but he was establishing the reasons Joe is the heel in this scenario and what he is fighting for. I still wish he’d incorporate some talk about the importance of the IC Title itself and how he wouldn’t want someone like Joe holding this belt that means so much to him.)

-Bray Wyatt walked out to his music and the fireflies from the fans. [c]

-Sasha Banks said she knew what her New Year’s Resolution would be as soon a she heard there’d be a Women’s Royal Rumble. She said she’ll win the Rumble because she is the legit boss.

(2) BRAY WYATT vs. APOLLO CREWS (w/Titus O’Neal, Dana Brooke)

Cole said Crews is one of the most underrated members of the Raw roster. With Bray dominating early, Booker said Crews should select his opponents more carefully. [c]

After the break, Bray continued to control the match. Booker said it seems Bray is thinking about Matt Hardy this whole match. Crews finally dropped Bray with a boot when coming off the ropes. Both went down, Crews stood first. Crews clotheslined Bray and then kipped up. He celebrated to modest applause, then landed a standing shooting star press for a two count. Crews landed a standing moonsault off the ring apron. Bray came back with a clothesline, and then leaned backward out of the corner. Brooke shouted encouragement to Crews from the ring apron. Bray looked over at her. She panicked as Titus told her to get down. Dana leaped off the ring apron and landed on Titus. Crews then hit Bray with a round kick, but Bray popped back with a sudden Sister Abigail for the win.

WINNER: Bray in 11:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: The spot with Brooke on the ring apron was just too long and became cartoonish. I mean, she was seven feet away from Bray who was in the ring and she was outside of it on the ring apron, and all she had to do was step backwards off the ring apron to safety, but she stood there overacting to the point of ridiculousness.)

-Woken Matt appeared on the big screen and said last week he transformed his Wicked Fireflies into his Woken Warriors. He said he will devour all of the darkness he regurgitates and convert it into light. He said he is the consumer of terrestrial entities, but he cannot escape his Woken Wisdom for much longer. He said he is omniscient ghost that haunts his dreams. He said once Sister Abigail’s powers are no more, he will delete him. Then came his odd laughter as he multiplied on the screen into a Brady Bunch grid and then eventually to a 10×10 and larger grid of close-ups of his mouth. Fans chanted “Delete” briefly as Bray looked a little spooked.

-They showed a scene of the streets of Miami outside the arena.

-They went backstage to Nia Jax arriving and Bliss ran up to her and told her she needs her in her corner. Jax said Enzo Amore needs her because he’s sick in the hospital with the flu and is crushed he cannot defend his Cruiserweight Title tonight. Bliss said she needs Jax, and it’s either him or her. Jax apologized and left to bring Enzo chicken soup. Bliss asked if everyone has lost their minds.

-Graves plugged that Bliss vs. Asuka was up next, for the first time ever. Graves said, “This could be at WrestleMania, but it’s up next on Raw.”

-A commercial aired for the 25th Anniversary Episode of Raw later this month taking place from both the original site, the Manhattan Center, and Barclay’s Center live. That’s cool it’s taking place in two places at once, kind of like WrestleMania 2 took place in three sites at once. [c]

-A commercial aired for the new Facebook WWE original series, “Mixed Match Challenge,” a live 12 week tournament.

[HOUR TWO]

(3) ALEXA BLISS vs. ASUKA

Cole said Asuka responded to news of this match by saying this win is just a warmup for her Royal Rumble victory. Bliss looked apprehensive at the start. She ducked two Asuka spinning back-fists. Graves said, “Male or female, Asuka is a true phenomena.” Cole and Booker said Alexa just finds ways to win. Graves talked up Asuka’s striking and submission skills. Asuka went for a knee-bar, but Alexa frenetically escaped. Graves said it appears Asuka is toying with Bliss early on. When Bliss escaped a headlock and shoved Asuka down hard, Asuka popped up and approached Bliss, who was surprised and ducked into the ropes to force a pause in the action. When Asuka mocked Bliss, Bliss went after her, but Asuka hit her with a hip attack. Bliss rolled to the floor as Asuka celebrated in the ring. No commercial break, shockingly. Not a lot of crowd heat in this one at this point. When Bliss tried to re-enter Asuka moved toward her, so Bliss ducked to ringside again. Boos from the crowd. Cole said he can’t blame Bliss for her reaction to Asuka. Graves said he’s not a proponent of gambling, but he’d put a lot of money on Asuka to win the Rumble. When Bliss ducked to ringside again, they cut to a break. [c]

Bliss took control during the break after avoiding a hip-attack and then round kicking Asuka in the gut. She then applied a body scissors mid-ring. Asuka countered with an ankle lock. Bliss crawled over to the bottom rope after a few seconds, then yanked Asuka into the ropes ribs-first. Bliss yanked on Asuka’s hair and legs, wrapping her backwards around the ringpost. The ref made her break before five. Booker said it’ll only take one loss to remove that sense of invincibility that Asuka has going for her. Then Bliss charged in the corner, she stopped short and slapped Asuka across the face. Asuka got fired up and began no-selling Bliss. She then hit Bliss with two dropkicks which showed a little light (with Bliss shoving Asuka’s feet aside with her hands as she sold the kick). A dropkick off the ropes made better contact, as did a hip attack in the corner. Asuka got the better of a mid-ring exchange with Bliss and then blocked a sunset flip and sat down on Bliss for a near fall of her own. Bliss knocked Asuka to the floor. Back in the ring Asuka landed some of her kicks and then applied the Asuka lock for a tapout win.

WINNER: Asuka in 15:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: I think Bliss needed to be spotlighted recently winning a match or two in dominant fashion against inferior competition – such as jobbers from NXT – to justify Asuka working such an even match against her that went this long. Bliss is portrayed as a champion who is sneaky in retaining her title, and holding her own 15 minutes against Asuka diminishes Asuka a bit, even if Bliss is the champion. That said, the positive of the story this match told is that Asuka beat the champ clean and Bliss feared her at every turn. So not an ideal way to continue to try to build Asuka as something different and special in the Raw Women’s Division, but overall the message was sent that she’s a real threat. The announcers certainly talked up Asuka as a star. The lack of crowd heat for Asuka should be a concern, though.)

-A video package aired on the Samoa Joe-Roman Reigns feud.

-Renee Young interviewed Samoa Joe. Together now: “Awkward!” She was less than enthusiastic in introducing him. Joe interrupted her attempt at a first question. Joe said he’ll beat Reigns, just as he has every time they’ve stepped in the ring against each other. “I own Roman Reigns,” he said. “I’ve mentally broken Roman Reigns. I’ve exposed Roman Reigns.” He said because of him The Shield will never be champions together. He said it’s because of him that Dean is at home living off his wife’s paychecks. He said that during an interview conducted by Dean’s wife, Renee. Renee nodded and said, “Okay.” Great job selling the line. Joe got himself worked up and said that at the end of the match, Roman will understand that while it is Roman’s yard, it is his world.

(Keller’s Analysis: Renee was pitch-perfect throughout with this awkward assignment to interview the man who injured her husband, and her reaction to Joe’s line was great. Joe was perfect here, speaking from the diaphragm and almost going into preacher mode when he was testifying to what he’d do against Reigns, but without that frothing yelling over-modulation that he has a tendency to go to that is unbecoming. The deep authoritative bravado of Joe here is what he should strive for every time.)

-Braun Strowman made his ring entrance. [c]

-Bayley said after she wins the Royal Rumble, she’ll be hugging her way all the way to WrestleMania.

(Keller’s Analysis: She’s such a dumbed down caricature of what made her act work in NXT. She even seems to realize it as she goes through the motions on cheesy promos like this one.)

(4) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. RHYNO (w/Heath Slater)

Cole said Rhyno requested this match so he could show Slater “how it’s done.” An “ECW” chant broke out for Rhyno in the opening seconds of the match. Braun overpowered Rhyno and shoved him into the corner. Slater gave him some encouraging words. Strowman no-sold a Rhyno charge and shoulder blocked him down. That stopped a “Let’s Go Rhyno!” chant. Slater yelled more encouragement to Rhyno. Strowman walked to the floor and picked up a mic. He told Slater he has two options. “You cheerleader, you’re either going to stand on the floor and shut your mouth or you’re going to get your hands like your partner.” The announcers laughed. The crowd oohed. Slater got onto the ring apron, but then backed down. Rhyno hit Strowman from behind.  Slater joined in. The ref watched and didn’t call for the DQ; Cole said Strowman essentially asked for it to be two-on-one. Strowman fended off Slater and then gave Rhyno a running powerslam for the win. The crowd, which had been for Slater and Rhyno, chanted “One more time.” Slater tried to save Rhyno from another, but Strowman fended him off easily and then gave him a running powerslam. When Graves said they’ll have to search for the remains of Slater and Rhyno in the ocean after this, Cole said, “Where’s Dexter when you need him?” Nice pop culture reference from Cole, there. When Rhyno began to get up, Strowman delivered another powerslam and the crowd popped. Slater tried to crawl out of the ring, but the crowd kept chanting “One more time!” Strowman picked up Slater with one hand on Slater’s throat. Cole chuckled through this all as Strowman delivered another running powerslam.

WINNER: Strowman.

(Keller’s Analysis: Odd crowd reaction as the fans, who usually go bonkers for Strowman, were for the sympathetic underdogs Rhyno and Slater. But then they turned after the match and cheered on Braun. I’m never a fan of announcers treating supposedly devastating power moves or finishers with chuckles like it’s all fun and games. That conditions the fans, understandably, to be desensitized to the idea that this is all damaging and not just fun fake playtime.)

-Graves plugged that Lesnar is “in the house.” He wondered what he thought of what Strowman just did.

-They cut to Reigns in the locker room cracking his knuckles. Seth walked in and said he heard what Joe said to Renee “and I want to be sure you’re keeping your cool tonight.” Reigns said he’s cool, but Joe’s a fool. He said after last week, he can’t believe he’s still running his mouth. “He’s a joke to me,” he said. He said he hopes Dean is watching. “You don’t mess with our brother,” he said. “You feel me?” Seth told him not to get himself DQ’d because he likes that they’re both champs right now and he wants it to stay that way. Jordan walked in and said, “On behalf of Seth and myself, if The Bar tries to interfere in your match tonight with Joe, we will take them out. Believe that!” He walked away. Reigns and Seth looked at each other as if to say “Did he just say that?”

(Keller’s Analysis: Good reaction shots of Reigns and Seth, both responding the same way to Jordan breaking all kinds of etiquette rules there.) [c]

-Backstage, Kane told Strowman he just wants to talk. He said together they can tame the Beast. “We are the Alpha Monsters of WWE,” he said. He said he has a plan, but they have to be on the same page. Strowman said he doesn’t care about him or his plan, he’s the only Alpha Monster around there and when he takes down Brock, he’ll do it on his own terms. He then breathed loudly through his nose.

-Backstage Angle was on his phone telling someone that there will be 30 women in the ring and history will be made. In walked Finn Balor, so Angle ended the call. Balor said he is the first Universal Champion. He said he never lost the title and was never given a rematch, so if he has to go through 29 other Superstars to get the rematch, he will. He entered himself into the Rumble. Angle said he thought he came to talk to him about something else, too. He asked if he found partners for the six-man tag match later. In walked Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows. Angle asked, “Really?” Balor said he’s worked with them before and he likes having them by his side. He said if not them, it’d just be a couple of nerds. Some fans chanted “Too sweet.”

(Keller’s Analysis: Why not put Balor together with Anderson and Gallows? Draw on their history and strengthen both acts with a refresh.)

-Samoa Joe made his ring entrance. [c]

-They showed the announcers on camera. Cole welcomed IB Sports coverage of Raw in South Korea. They did some rehearsed banter about answering the phone in Korean and then Cole laughed as the script told him to.

(5) ROMAN REIGNS vs. SAMOA JOE – Intercontinental Title match – DQ won’t save the title

Graves talked about Joe traveling the world and gaining experience and picking up tricks of the trade. Booker said he’s seen Joe for a long time and he’s on another level at this time. Joe got some cheers during the introduction and a small “Joe” chant. Reigns got a mix of cheers and boos, mostly high-pitched shrieks. Cole noted the referee this week is the same as last week. He actually mentioned him by name, which WWE rarely does anymore. The bell rang 50 minutes into the second hour. Cole wondered if Joe was going to try to get Reigns to blow his top and get DQ’d. When Reigns got too aggressive in the corner, the ref scolded him. Joe gave Reigns a back suplex to take control and then scored an early two count. Joe hit a snap suplex, and Reigns bailed out to regroup. [c]

Joe had Reigns in a cobra type clutch after the break. Reigns began to power out. Cole restated the match stips. At 7:00 Reigns went shoulder first into the ringpost when Joe moved out of his path. Joe scored another two count. Cole noted that Joe came “within a whisper” of becoming Universal Champion against Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. Joe settled into a key lock. Joe continued to methodically work over Reigns.

[HOUR THREE]

Joe settled into a cobra clutch type move with his leg anchored between Reigns’s legs on the mat. Reigns came back with a clothesline. Both were slow to get up. Cole reset the show as the third hour began. Reigns got up and clotheslined Joe in the corner ten times as the crowd counted along. Then he connected with a running boot. Joe bumped to the floor. At ringside, Reigns landed the Drive By. Back in the ring, Reigns scored a two count. The ref backed Reigns out of the corner a minute later when he got too aggressive with Joe in the ropes. Joe backdropped Reigns onto the ring apron and then launched through the ropes and hit Reigns with a flying forearm to the side of Reigns’s head. Cole said Joe was like a “jumbo jet” there. Both were slow to get up. They rolled into the ring. They cut to a  break. [c]

Cole lauded this as an incredible match so far. Joe went back on the attack as Booker said Joe knows this is an opportunity that doesn’t happen every day, so he’s determined to take full advantage. Reigns made a comeback and signaled for the Superman Punch. Some shrieks and boos. Joe rolled to the floor. Booker said that was the equivalent of a timeout. Cole said Joe used a veteran move to gain some time. Reigns then went after Joe with a running leap off the ringside steps, but Joe punched him out of mid-air. Joe rammed Reigns into the stairs and each time dedicated it to the Shield, Dean, and “last week.” Reigns reversed Joe into the ringside steps at 21:00. Reigns placed the top of the steps sideways on the base. Cole said if he uses the steps, he’s a former champion. Joe then popped Reigns in the face. As the ref scolded Joe, Reigns leaped off the stairs and landed a Superman Punch. Another Superman Punch inside the ring led to a near fall.

Graves heralded Joe’s resilience, withstanding two Superman Punches. Reigns showed fire and let out his yell in the corner. Joe kicked him in the face to block the spear. When Joe went for a urinage, Reigns resisted. Joe shoved Reigns into the ref. The ref took offense. Reigns explained that Joe shoved him. Joe charged. Reigns side-stepped him. Joe then gave Reigns a urinage for a believable near fall. Joe yelled at the ref that it was a three count. The ref insisted it was two. Joe tried to regain his composure. “This is awesome!” rang out from the crowd briefly. Joe ducked a Reigns punch and then applied the Coquina Clutch. Reigns escaped and hit a spear for the win. Cole declared: “It doesn’t get any better than that. High drama on the first Monday Night Raw of 2018!” Graves said you have to give it to both men.

WINNER: Reign in 25:00 to retain the IC Title.

(Keller’s Analysis: Very good match. My main critique is Reigns doing his signature battle cries telegraphed his signature moves and made him look foolish because each time, Joe countered. Babyfaces shouldn’t constantly have their “showboating” backfire. Fans like to cheer for wrestlers who seem to display an awareness of a frivolous strategy constantly backfiring. Joe looked strong in losing, but this reaffirmed that Reigns is a notch above him at this point.)

-Reigns got booed as he raised his arms in the air and celebrated with the IC belt. They cut to Kurt Angle watching the celebration on a monitor for some reason. Paul Heyman walked in and said there is a conspiracy going on under his watch. He said if Braun and Kane gang up on his client, “Brock will be proactive, not reactive, for this 2018 shall be the year of The Beast.” [c]

-Paige said Absolution are the only three women who matter in the Royal Rumble.

-Graves plugged that Hideo Itami will face Jack Gallagher on 205 Live tomorrow night.

-Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari stood in the ring. Drew said he was sent to the ring to deliver a message from Enzo Amore. Drew read Enzo’s words with his usual comedically awkward inflection. He said he won’t be defending his Cruiserweight Title on Raw because he has the flu. Drew corrected the language to “a couple of” instead of “cup-a-la.” Cedric Alexander walked out to his music, smiling as he walked out. Graves expressed skepticism that Enzo is really sick. Cedric said he came to Raw expecting competition. He asked which of them will step up to take Enzo’s place. Gulak and Daivari (who’s channeling Noel Gallagher with those sunglasses and beard) conferred. Daivari said they’ll take him on in a tag match, but he has to find a partner. Drew said he doesn’t have many friends. Suddenly Goldust’s music played. He walked out. Booker talked about teaming with him for a while. Goldust said he’s got some friends in low places, but none are lower than Drew and Daivari. Goldust offered to be friends with Cedric. Cedric shook his hand.

(6) DREW GULAK & ARIYA DAIVARI vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & GOLDUST

Graves said Cedric arrived expecting a Cruiserweight Title match, so he’s in tip-top shape. Cedric tagged in a Goldust a few minutes in, then tagged back out for Cedric to win with the Lumbar Check.

WINNERS: Goldust & Cedric in 3:00.

-They showed Balor, Anderson, and Gallows backstage, heading to the ring. [c]

-The announcers commented on John Cena’s announcement on Twitter that he’ll be entered in the Royal Rumble this year. Cole said he’ll be looking to win for the third time in his career. Then they plugged WWE Network.

-Elias sat mid-ring under a spotlight. He introduced himself and strummed a bit. He asked who wants to walk with him. He said he will win the Royal Rumble and go on to win at WrestleMania and “give a performance of a lifetime.” He said tonight, he is bringing in the new year with some truly incredible artists. He said he is honored to perform with The Miztourage. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas walked into the spotlight, dressed intentionally ridiculously, and helped Elias “bring in the new year.” Bo Dallas said next week The Miz returns. He said he is Rolling Stone’s “Superstar of the Year.” Curtis (very out of tune) sung Auld Lang Syne. Bo then rang a cowbell loudly. An annoyed Elias said he’d take it from there. He got booed as he sang a variation of Auld Lang Syne insulting Miami. [c]

(7) FINN BALOR & KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS vs. ELIAS & BO DALLAS & CURTIS AXEL

After a Magic Killer on Bo, Balor finished him with a Coup de Gras.

WINNERS: Balor in 2:00.

-The announcers plugged Lesnar was up next. [c]

-A commercial aired for “WWE Photo Shoot,” a new series with wrestlers apparently talking about memorable moments in their careers with a behind the scenes twist.

-Cole said Miz returns to Raw next week, noting that he was declared “Rolling Stone’s Superstar of the Year.”

-Lesnar came out to his ring entrance followed by Heyman. Graves said this is a volatile situation. Cole said he might be the most celebrated athlete in the history of WWE. Graves said, “There is no ‘perhaps’ about it. Brock Lesnar is.” They replayed the Kane-Strowman conversation from earlier. Then Heyman introduced himself and Lesnar. Heyman complained about Lesnar having to defend his title against two challengers. He said it used to be one challenger would take on the champion, but lately it’s two. He said if Kane beats Strowman or if Strowman beats Kane, Lesnar loses the WWE Universal Championship. He said Lesnar fears no challenge, no challenger, no challengers, and he doesn’t believe in monsters and highly doubts that Kane is the Devil’s Favorite. Heyman said he had a one-on-one with the down below, and his favorite is Lesnar. He then concluded with some Latin and threw down the mic. As they left, Kane’s music played. Cole said Lesnar has never faced Kane.

Kane entered the ring and chokeslammed Lesnar immediately. Kane said that’s what he gets for Heyman thinking he isn’t the Devil’s Favorite. Cole called it an emphatic statement. As Kane began to leave, Lesnar sat up and smiled. He clotheslined Kane over the top rope. About a dozen wrestlers were sent to ringside by Angle to try to keep the situation from escalating. The wrestlers dragged Kane away, but not before Lesnar got in a few extra shots.

(Keller’s Analysis: Solid final segment to get Kane some ring time with Lesnar.)

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2 Comments on KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT 1/1: Reigns defends against Samoa Joe, Asuka faces Bliss for first time one-on-one, Lesnar and Heyman address Rumble title defense

  1. Two thoughts on Bliss vs. Asuka…

    First, I thought it was good they had Bliss be competitive with her. The competition on RAW should appear harder than NXT, and Asuka shouldn’t be buzzing through the upper tier women on RAW.

    Secondly, I feel they should’ve had Alexa walk out on the match instead of tapping. It drives me completely nuts that they’ve already had Asuka go over Alexa before the Rumble. They’re most likely going to have Asuka win the thing anyway, so it wouldn’t have hurt to save the tap until after.

  2. I thought this show was pretty poor. I am sure it will get smashed by the football games in the ratings and this might be why the show was just sort of meh, but the ratings slide recently is not just due to the football competition.

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