Braun Strowman Destroyed Mr. McMahon's Limo
Strowman seemingly forgetting his lines last week may have cost him his shot at the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. No, seriously. The promo he cut at the start of this show wasn't much better, and honestly, I'm okay with Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar being called off because of how bad the build has been lately. It didn't help that the crowd was fairly tame for Strowman's stunt and how it didn't feel as fresh as other stuff he's done in the past.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax and Tamina
This is the third time in the last month and a half that Rousey and a partner have taken on the duo of Jax and Tamina, and it was every bit as abysmal as the other two encounters because Jax and Tamina are no good. Thankfully, the focus was largely on Rousey and Banks and whether they'd be able to coexist. Well, they did, though they did tease tension during their verbal exchange afterward. I'm glad they're spicing up their storyline because the whole "I respect you" shtick can get tiresome real quick.
The Revival def. The Lucha House Party
The Revival are playing conspiracy victims right now, which feels like it's been done to death by this point (The Kingdom in Ring of Honor do it better). It's obviously leading to them receiving another shot at the Raw Tag Team Championship, and one can only hope that the endgame to this angle is them winning the titles. This was a fun little match while it lasted, yet short on time and not nearly as exciting as it could have been.
John Cena, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin and Finn Balor Interrupted Mr. McMahon
Before McMahon could announce who he wanted to face Lesnar at the Rumble, he was interrupted by Cena, McIntyre, Corbin and Balor, with all four of them staking their claim at the title shot. No one promo in particular stood out, but it was a solid segment on the whole that set up the night's high-stakes main event. Balor's comments about McMahon not believing in him are obviously true to an extent, but this was an interesting time for him to bring that up.
Bayley, Nikki Cross and Natalya def. The Riott Squad
I'm a big Ember Moon fan, but I would have been thoroughly disappointed if she was revealed to be Bayley and Natalya's mystery partner here. Cross was definitely the best choice to go with in this spot and at least a portion of the audience seemed to know who she was. She was impressive in her official Raw debut and scored plenty of offense over The Riott Squad in addition to showing off what made her character so special in NXT. By the way, Michael Cole noted on commentary that the NXT call-ups will be appearing on both Raw and SmackDown Live in the coming weeks to show fans what they're all about, so this doesn't mean she's tied to Raw as of now.
Finn Balor def. Jinder Mahal
Mahal complained to McMahon backstage earlier in the evening about being looked over for an opportunity at the Universal title, so McMahon said that if could beat Balor one-on-one, he would replace him in the Fatal 4-Way. These two have had a handful of matches over the last few months, so while this was nothing new, they did a decent job of making viewers think that Mahal had a chance of winning following his pre-match attack on Balor. The match itself, however, was mostly mediocre.
Bobby Lashley def. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a triple threat Match to Win the Intercontinental Championship
Quite honestly, the Rollins vs. Ambrose rivalry has felt underwhelming to me in recent months, while Rollins vs. Lashley hasn't been a major improvement. Considering I came into this match not caring much at all, it turned out to be a terrific Triple Threat with a great pace. I fully expected Ambrose to retain, so Lashley picking up the victory and his first Intercontinental Championship was a pleasant surprise. I loved how he and Lio Rush were more serious than usual before and during the bout, so hopefully WWE has finally figured out how to handle that duo and will book them as a dominant force moving forward. As for Ambrose, I have no clue where he goes from here.
Alexa Bliss Hosted Moment of Bliss with Paul Heyman
First and foremost, the brand-new WWE Women's Tag Team Championship belts look fantastic. The inaugural champs will be determined at Elimination Chamber when three teams from Raw and three teams from SmackDown do battle inside the Chamber. Unfortunately, this segment proceeded to fall off a cliff after that announcement. This was a total waste of an appearance from Heyman, Heavy Machinery looked like goofs, and then it just ended abruptly. Bliss nearly being caught topless backstage beforehand was also random and unnecessary. All I ask is, what drugs were the writers on when they wrote this segment?
Finn Balor def. John Cena, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin in a Universal Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match
You had to know Balor was winning this thing based off the aforementioned comments McMahon made about him, in addition to how he had to go through Mahal about an hour earlier in order to keep his spot in this main event. Nonetheless, it was an entertaining four-way, and Balor pinning Cena (in addition to Cena's post-match endorsement of him) made his win mean that much more. Fans have been begging for Lesnar vs. Balor for nearly two years, so that should be a lot of fun at the Rumble.
Last week's show hardly felt like a proper rest of Raw after all the talk that the McMahons being in charge would mean fresh matchups and opportunities for those who have been overlooked, and it looks like that might be the case for certain individuals. Lashley, Banks, Balor, The Revival and others have been receiving renewed pushes lately, but it remains to be seen whether they'll stick or not. Either way, Raw was better this week and more newsworthy than usual with the Rumble card being shaken up, most of the NXT call-ups debuting (where's Lars Sullivan at?), and an update being given on when and how the women's tag titles will be introduced.
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