Jason Jordan Confronted Raw General Manager Kurt Angle
Can you feel it? Jordan is unquestionably going heel soon and it's been a blast to watch in recent weeks. It's so damn obvious based off how he seems to be attempting to manipulate his "dad" Kurt Angle. He received genuine heat from the crowd and I enjoyed his interactions with Angle and Roman Reigns here. This was easily his best mic work since coming to Raw over the summer, and his attack on Reigns set up the subsequent title match.
Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns def. Jason Jordan
I really liked the match these two had a few months ago on Raw and this was an equally entertaining encounter. You had to know Reigns was winning, especially with Samoa Joe waiting in the wings for a title shot, but Jordan had a strong showing and came off like an equal to Reigns in the ring. As for Reigns, he doesn't get nearly enough credit for delivering in big matches (and just in general). Meanwhile, the post-match stuff was well done and kept both Joe and Jordan in the championship conversation.
Paige def. Sasha Banks
It's crazy to think it's been almost a year and a half since Paige was last in action on Raw. Well, she hasn't missed a beat because this was a good match from her and Banks and I was glad they got enough time to produce the matchup they're capable of. Interference didn't play a factor until the very end, which I appreciated, and it protected Banks in defeat. Absolution has been handled the right way so far and I assume the Raw Women's Championship is in Paige's sights.
Drew Gulak def. Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander and Tony Nese in a WWE Cruiserweight Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Qualifying Match
Most Cruiserweight matches on Raw tend to die a death, but this actually held the crowd's interest for the most part. It helped that they were allowed to go a bit more "all out" than usual and the audience reacted accordingly. Alexander and Ali had awesome performances and Gulak telling Nese to get down from the top rope because it was a "no fly zone" was funny. I can't imagine Rich Swann will lose to Gulak in the upcoming No. 1 Contender's match, and I would have preferred Alexander going over instead, but the bottom line is that this was much better than expected.
Braun Strowman Attacked Elias
I love Elias, but you really didn't think he'd be brought out for a concert at the top of the hour and not face a high profile opponent, did you? The match between him and Strowman never took place, but Elias was promptly destroyed by Strowman, anyway. Afterward, Kane spoke to Strowman over the Titantron, and honestly, I don't remember a single thing he said other than that he will face Strowman on next week's show.
Asuka def. Alicia Fox
Fox's five minutes of fame are over after leading the Raw women to victory at Survivor Series and I figured it was only inevitable before she was squashed by Asuka. Unfortunately, it wasn't as brief as Asuka's match with Dana Brooke from last week, but it was relatively short and sweet with Asuka going over in decisive fashion. Asuka once again backed away from Absolution following the matchup, leaving Fox to get laid out by the group. Here's hoping WWE holds off on Asuka vs. Paige until at least a major pay-per-view.
Finn Balor def. Bo Dallas
A lack of direction and terrible booking has killed Balor considerably, and this match did him no favors. Yes, he came out on the winning end, but he faced someone who has been firmly established as an enhancement talent in Dallas. This lasted way longer than it needed to, and I'm not even sure what purpose it was supposed to serve other than maybe setting up Balor vs. Curtis Axel for next week. Balor is ice cold at the moment, and it's a shame because at one point he would have been an interesting opponent for Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble.
Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro def. The Shield in a no Disqualification Match
Needless to say, these teams have had more than a handful of matches against each other since the summer and we've pretty much seen it all by this point, but they never cease to contest hard-hitting and highly physical matchups and work well together. The crowd was a little flat early on, but they got more invested as the match progressed. I wouldn't have done the disqualification finish and then restarted the bout because it interrupted the moment, but Joe and Reigns incorporating their rivalry due to the newly-added No Disqualification stipulation being in play was a nice touch. By the way, is there a reason why they aren't entering to The Shield music or wearing the patented vests anymore?
The greatest thing on the entire episode was something I didn't even discuss above, and that was the dueling promos between Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy, who was doing his "Broken" shtick for the first time on WWE TV. It was truly tremendous and I'm so excited to see where it goes from here. As for the rest of the show, it was very wrestling-heavy and that was a refreshing chance of pace. The two title matches made the night more newsworthy than normal and two matches (Strowman vs. Kane and Enzo Amore defending the Cruiserweight Championship) have been announced for next week's show as well. All things considered, this was a thumbs-up edition of Raw.
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