With all that silly inter-brand warfare finally over and done with, WWE can finally get back to the mediocre storylines we’ve long known and loved. Tonight on Raw we got a heap of new stories and the continuation of a few others – all pointing the way towards the end of 2017. With so much happening and a few new faces to boot, what did we make of it all?
Samoa Joe def. Finn Balor
Asuka def. Dana Brooke
Ambrose def. Sheamus
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Mickie James vs. Alicia Fox ended in No Contest
Braun Strowman def. Jason Jordan by DQ
Roman Reigns def. The Miz (Intercontinental Championship)
Apparently, everyone wanted to get in the face of Triple H when Raw came on the air. Stephanie’s planned celebration quickly turned into a procession of people looking for answers – as Kurt Angle, Jason Jordan, and Braun Strowman came down to the ring. It was only Braun that managed to make the former WWE Champion recede though, as the giant towered over Triple H. Not that anyone in the ring had much to celebrate, as Stephanie setup a Jason Jordan/Braun Strowman match for later on in the night.
It’s disappointing we didn’t get a proper explanation for why Triple H went full on stupid last night, but it seems we’re barrelling toward Braun and Triple H at any rate. Braun is the hot, new act in WWE – which means he has to get almost beaten by The Game at least once before moving on to bigger things. One just hopes that they can piece together a decent match.
Balor and Joe fought in a pretty great outing, with Joe going over in the end. The only problem is that without a World Title, neither of these guys has anywhere to go right now. Without that direction, I worry that they’ll lose all momentum in the coming months. Balor, in particular, has had a huge case of the “aimless” since SummerSlam – with Wrestlemania on the horizon – I don’t see things getting better for him anytime soon.
After this, Asuka overcame Dana Brooke in the way a newspaper overcomes a fly. Not that Brooke was 100% ineffective, but this acted as a fair blow off to the tension between the two last week. I suspect given the events of Raw later on, the company were keen to avoid having Asuka be involved in the number one contender’s match. It will be interesting to see if they choose to keep her fully away from the newly formed heel faction, or if they intend to have Asuka face them down.
The Miz TV featured Roman Reigns, who came alongside his fellow Shield members. As the segment pushed forward, it became more and more apparent that we were probably getting more of the Miztourage vs. The Shield – although this crowd was really game for cheering Miz over Reigns. Eventually, it was announced that Miz would be defending his Intercontinental Championship against Reigns in the main event – something he wasn’t very pleased with at all.
Sheamus took on Ambrose in a decent singles match. It’s all building to The Shield recapturing their Tag Team Titles down the line, in particular with the result of this week’s main event. The current direction seems to suggest that all the momentum on Raw is behind the Hounds of Justice – if I were Sheamus and Cesaro, I’d be watching my back very closely. It’s a touch frustrating that The Shield have so quickly become such a dominating force, despite the fact that there’s barely a tag division for them to face off against, but I guess WWE has to make do with the parts at its disposal.
Which is precisely what they seem to have done with Paige. Alexa came out to discuss her loss to Charlotte last night, only to be faced down by Alicia Fox, Mickie James, Sasha Banks, and Bayley – all of whom were demanding a shot at her Women’s Title. Kurt was quick on his feet here, booking an impromptu number one contender match. Things seemed to be heading for a fairly standard outing. A few minutes in, we got to hear Paige’s music hit. The crowd went wild and suddenly all the women in the ring were watching on. Paige coyly asking, “Did you miss me?”.
It’s a smart move for WWE to put Paige alongside Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose. Both are still fairly new to the wrestling industry, but pairing them with the popular Paige allows them to generate their own name within the division. It also greatly helps the Raw Women’s Division, which has been desperately crying out for new blood. This really couldn’t have happened at a better moment for all involved and it will be interesting to see just where things go from here. The heels were quick to reiterate that they were gunning for Alexa’s Championship, attacking her backstage after an interview with Renee Young.
Jason Jordan was given a quick beatdown by Braun Strowman, right before Kane reemerged with a steel chair to cause the DQ finish. It’s interesting to note that Jordan only played his injury up when it became relevant to do so. It seems that WWE is using the storyline of Jordan manipulating Kurt in order to get what he wants. Don’t be surprised to see Jason turning heel in the New Year – it looks very likely that he and Kurt aren’t destined to be on the same team forever.
Closing out the show was the Intercontinental Championship match and it was a good one. Miz managed to get a lot of offense in during the match, countering some of Reign’s more bombastic attacks. Miz dropped Roman in mid-air to counter the spear and somehow managed to counter a Superman Punch into a DDT.
Yet as The Bar came out to make the assist, so too did The Shield. As things broke down, it became apparent that The Miz would be losing – eating a spear and losing his championship in the process. Reigns becoming the new IC Champion means he has now captured all of WWE’s major belts in the modern era – and potentially sets up an extended feud with The Miz over the belt.
Overview: A solid episode of Raw here. Two major stories will ultimately dominate the headlines, but there was a lot of new parts added to the mix this week. Finally, the Raw Women’s Division looks like it may have a fighting chance – as Paige injects much needed new blood into the division.
Reigns winning doesn’t bother me so much in that Miz has held the Championship for a very long time. I do wonder quite where Roman Reigns can take the IC title now that he’s the champion – he doesn’t seem destined to hold on to it for all that long.