Live from Houston, Texas this is the Raw Deal for episode #1278. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

The Raw intro video aired to start the show. It happens sometimes, but not all the time.

There was a shot of the crowd with Michael Cole saying they will celebrate on Raw after a big night at Survivor Series (read my Survivor Series review here if you missed it).

Stephanie McMahon, the Commissioner of Raw, walked out to boos. The Raw announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T welcomed us to the show.

Let’s Hear From Stephanie McMahon

Stephanie welcomed us to what is officially the A show and the brand that decimated Smackdown, welcome to Monday Night Raw. She said that her brother Shane McMahon thought they would gain the advantage from the #UnderSiege attack. Stephanie said what Shane learned to do is in his life is attack first, but they did it better. She said that Kurt Angle’s job as Raw GM is safe. Stephanie introduced the man who led Raw to victory at Survivor Series, her husband Triple H.

Triple H walked out in a blue suit. There were images shown from Survivor Series including Triple H hitting Raw captain Kurt Angle with a Pedigree and then he hit Shane McMahon with a Pedigree to win for Team Raw. After the match, Braun Strowman responded to a Triple H cheap attack by hitting Hunter with two Running Powerslams. Triple H posed in the ring.

Kurt Angle made his entrance before Triple H could say a thing. He was in a suit (no tie for him) as the crowd greeted him with the “you suck” chants out of respect.

Angle got right in Triple H’s face. Angle said this is not Kurt Angle the GM talking to you, this is Angle the Olympic Gold Medallist and WWE Hall Of Famer telling you that if you ever attack me from behind again you can take this job and shove it because I’m coming for you. Fans chanted “yes” for that. Angle was intense. Stephanie told him he was talking to WWE’s COO Triple H and not to jeopardize his job.

Jason Jordan walked out to the ring. Angle told Jordan to calm down and that he’s the GM while Jordan is just a competitor. Jordan said put me in a match with Triple H. Fans chanted “yes” for that. Stephanie said that Kurt doesn’t have the authority to make that match (probably since Triple H is his boss as the COO). Jordan asked Triple H if he was a coward. Stephanie told Jason that Triple H would tear him apart and make a mockery of him. Stephanie said she isn’t afraid of Jordan or anybody in that locker room.

Here comes Braun Strowman marching down to the ring with authority. Fans were cheering loudly for him. Strowman got right in Triple H’s face for a staredown as Triple H looked up at him. Fans chanted “yes” for that too as Stephanie left the ring. Triple H slowly backed away from Strowman. With Triple H on the apron, Strowman walked towards him and Triple H went to the floor. They continued to stare at eachother as the fans chanted “You’re A Coward” at Hunter.

Stephanie told Jason since he wants a fight so bad, tonight it’s going to be Jason Jordan against Braun Strowman. That led to a staredown between Jordan and Strowman. Angle separated them. Strowman’s music played to end the segment.

Analysis: That was a hot opening segment coming out of Survivor Series. The fans were really enthusiastic to see everybody in that segment and they didn’t even boo Jordan that much when he got out there. When Jordan challenged Triple H, the fans wanted to see it. Angle was really good at getting in Hunter’s face and turning up the intensity while warning Triple H that he’ll kick his ass if he ever attacks him from behind again. Stephanie did well to get heat like usual. No words from Triple H was interesting because I expected a bragging promo, but I can understand wanting to move on quickly to get the others out there. The segment went about 11 minutes, so it wasn’t as long as some opening segments that drag on for too long. I liked it.

Samoa Joe and Finn Balor were shown walking backstage on a split screen because they are in a match up next.

(Commercial)

There were images shown from Survivor Series.

Finn Balor made his entrance for the opening match and got a great response like usual. Samoa Joe was out next for their match with a lot of fans chanting “Joe” for him.

Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe

Joe was aggressive early on with punches as well as a knee to the ribs. Balor came back with a dropkick. Joe exploded out of a corner with a running back elbow. Joe hit a kick, Joe went up top and Balor nailed a leaping kick that sent Joe out of the ring. Balor nailed a somersault dive over the top where he landed on the back of Joe to take him down as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Joe was in control by pulling back on the arms of Balor. Running splash by Joe on Balor in the corner followed by a leaping kick to the face. Joe did another submission attempt on Balor, so Balor came back with a jawbreaker. Joe hit a hard forearm to the face and Balor nailed a leaping kick to the head, so both guys were down. Balor with boots to the chest and another kick to the head. Balor with a running forearm followed by a running dropkick. Balor sent Joe out of the ring with another running dropkick while Joe was on the floor. Joe tripped up Balor on the apron and sent him face first into the ring apron. Joe nailed a suicide dive that ended with a hard forearm to the chest of Balor that sent Balor into the barricade. That looked great. Joe with a clothesline STO for a two count. Balor came back with a Slingblade, but the dropkick missed and Joe hit a senton back splash for a two count. Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch, but when he tried to take Balor down, Balor rolled through and hit a double stomp to the gut. Balor dropkick sent Joe into the turnbuckle. Balor was tired, so he took too long to go up. Joe stopped Balor on the top rope, pulled him down and Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch submission. Balor passed out, so Joe got the win after 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Samoa Joe

Analysis: ***1/4 That was a very good match with a lot of intensity. Plenty of hard hitting moves by each man. It could have gone either way since they are in similar spots as upper midcarders. Putting Joe over was the right move because it’s been a while since he had a meaningful win like that. Balor sold the finish really well because he was trying to breath to keep himself fighting as long as he could, but then he passed out in the hold to really put over Joe’s Coquina Clutch as a deadly move. This feels like the kind of rivalry that’s going to continue. Since Raw’s roster aren’t in a PPV until the Royal Rumble in two months there’s no reason to rush to something new for either guy. Joe is one of my favorite heels on the show because he’s a pure heel that is there to show no remorse for his opponents. We need more heels like that.

The announcers talked about how Survivor Series sets them up for the Royal Rumble and then WrestleMania. Clips aired of the WrestleMania ticket on sale party from last Thursday in New Orleans.

Later: Miz TV with Roman Reigns as the guest. Special look at Lesnar vs. Styles up next.

(Commercial)

The Good Brothers duo of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson shilled some WWEShop merchandise items ahead of Black Friday because some big sales are on. Gallows did a good Steve Austin impression.

Highlights were shown of the fantastic match between Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles at Survivor Series. Great match that I rated at ****1/2 out of five. They went about 16 minutes with Lesnar winning after hitting a F5.

Jason Jordan went up to Kurt Angle backstage asking if he’s going to let them go through with the match. Angle said he thought Jordan was 100% and Jordan said he just said that. Angle said this match isn’t a great idea. Jordan said he’ll compete and that he’s the only guy on the roster that can beat Braun Strowman. Jordan said that Angle beat guys in wrestling that were 70-80 pounds bigger than him and Angle’s blood is in his veins, so he knows he can do it. Jordan said people will be telling horror stories about him when he’s done with Strowman.

Analysis: Jordan is going into the match with confidence. It’s not going to end well. It also feels like Jordan turning heel soon is a lock.

Asuka made her entrance for a match. She was the sole survivor in the women’s match at Survivor Series, which means she won the match for Raw.

(Commercial)

Dana Brooke made her entrance to face Asuka. A clip aired of Brooke attacking Asuka last week during the match she was in. There was a promo from Dana before the match. It sounded so robotic and unnatural from her while plugging the Asuka collection on WWE Network. So cheesy.

Asuka vs. Dana Brooke

Asuka with kicks early on. Asuka stretched Brooke’s arm against the rope. With Brooke on the apron, Asuka hit a running hip attack to knock her down. Brooke tried a takedown, but Asuka stopped it. Brooke got a bit of momentum by sending Asuka into the ropes and kicked her in the knee. Fans cheered for Asuka, so Brooke did her head pat thing and a slap to the face. Asuka with two spinning back fists and a spin kick. With Brooke kneeling, Asuka kicked her in the head and pinned her for the win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Asuka

Analysis: * Easy win for Asuka as expected. Brooke barely got any offense in, which is fine with me. At least Brooke’s selling was decent and nothing looked that bad. I’m interested in Asuka having a real feud, but it may be a while since there’s no PPV with Raw talent until Royal Rumble in two months.

Miz TV up next.

(Commercial)

Miz TV with Roman Reigns…and others

The Miz, the Intercontinental Champion, was in the ring hosting Miz TV in a suit with his Miztourage buddies Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel (with neckbrace) were with him. Miz said that Baron Corbin is more relevant now because of him and his brush with greatness is over. Miz said he had more things to tend to than him. Miz had more important thing to do like talk to his guest who led The Shield to victory over The New Day…he called out Roman Reigns. No response. Miz called for Roman again. Still no response. Miz said “Roman Reigns” again and The Shield’s music started up. Crowd went wild for that.

The Shield trio of Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose entered through the crowd all in their Shield gear. Miz wasn’t happy about it because he thought it was just going to be Reigns. They entered the ring.

Miz said he made it pretty clear he said his guest was Roman Reigns, not The Shield. Ambrose said they were feeling really good because they proved to the New Day and the world that they haven’t missed a step. Rollins said they are the most dominant three-man team in WWE history. Rollins said that together they are pretty much unstoppable. Miz yelled about The Shield to fire up the crowd leading to cheers.

Miz said after all this time he hasn’t heard a thank you, Reigns asked to who and Miz said to him. Reigns said that’s never going to happen. Miz said that the only reason that this whole Shield reunion tour started is because of him. Miz did his “hand goes up, mouth goes shut” routine to boos. Miz said that Seth and Dean’s bromance reignited on Miz TV and then pushing and prodding Reigns led to them getting back together. Miz said the least he deserves is a “Thank You Miz.” Fans chanted “Thank You Miz” for that. Miz added that he deserves a check for that new Shield merch too.

The fans did a “Miz is awesome” chant. Reigns said they’ve been all over the world and they’ve never heard that chant before. Rollins said that was a first. Reigns told Miz to thank Houston. Miz said he refused to thank him and the lights went of for some reason. They were back on a few seconds later. That was funny. Miz told them they were ungrateful and some fans chanted “you’re ungrateful” but not much. Reigns said that they won last night and if anybody should be ungrateful it’s the guy that lost. Miz said he believes he’s the only one standing in the ring with this – a championship. Rollins said that everybody knows it’s only a matter of time before they get their hands back on the Raw Tag Team Titles. Reigns said if they are going after the Tag Team Titles, he doesn’t want to be the only guy in The Shield without a title. Rollins pointed out that Miz has a title. Fans chanted “yes” for it. Reigns said he likes that title. Reigns asked Miz and Houston what they think, which led to the fans chanting. Bo Dallas said you don’t just come to Miz TV and challenge him because if you want him you must go through us. Ambrose jokingly told Reigns they had to go through the Miztourage first.

Reigns decked Dallas with a punch. Miz ran out of the ring. Axel was in the ring with the Shield and he’s still in a neckbrace. Axel tried to plead with them, but that didn’t work. Rollins knee to the face of Axel and Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds. Dallas was all alone. The Shield trio beat down Dallas. Seth and Dean hoisted Dallas up so that Roman could hit the triple powerbomb on Dallas. The Shield’s music played to end it. Reigns signaled to Miz that he wants the title while Miz was angry about it.

Analysis: That was an entertaining segment. A little long maybe, but like I say all the time this is a three hour show and they have time to fill. The hot crowd certainly helped. Some funny lines in that segment and the chants from the crowd were also entertaining as well. Miz TV is usually done to set up a match for Miz and that’s what happened here.

A recap aired of the segment to set up Strowman vs. Jordan.

Braun Strowman was interviewed by Charly Caruso. Strowman said it’s good that Jordan isn’t afraid of him because it makes him different from everybody else…including Triple H. Then he left. That was quick.

Still to come: Strowman vs. Jordan.

(Commercial)

It was announced that The Miz vs. Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Title is now official per the orders of GM Kurt Angle.

Ambrose was in the ring with Rollins for a singles match against Sheamus. That led to Sheamus and Cesaro making their entrance. They are the Raw Tag Team Champions known as The Bar. A clip aired from two weeks ago when The New Day distracted everybody leading to Sheamus & Cesaro beating Rollins & Ambrose to win back the Raw Tag Team Titles.

Sheamus (w/Cesaro) vs. Dean Ambrose (w/Seth Rollins)

Sheamus nailed a knee drop. When Sheamus went for the forearms to the chest, Ambrose blocked it and hit some forearms of his own. Sheamus kicked Ambrose in the face and a boot to the shoulder of Ambrose knocked him out of the ring as they went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Sheamus slapped on the stretch muffler submission stretching the left leg of Ambrose. When Ambrose fought out of it, Sheamus hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. Sheamus slapped on an armbar of the right arm of Ambrose. Clothesline by Sheamus followed by a suplex into a slam for two. Another suplex into a slam by Sheamus. Ambrose escaped the move on the third attempt, two slaps by Ambrose and Sheamus missed a shoulder tackle that led to Sheamus hitting the ring post. Ambrose with a knee to the gut followed by two running clotheslines. Double boot to the chest by Sheamus to Ambrose. Sheamus went up top, so Ambrose hit him with a forearm to the head. Sheamus came back with a forearm of his own. Missed Brogue Kick by Sheamus and Ambrose with a clothesline to take him out of the ring. Ambrose hit a suicide dive to knock down Ambrose outside the ring. Cesaro tried to attack, so Rollins told him to back up. Rollins turned his back like a dummy and Cesaro hit a forearm to the back to knock him down. Sheamus and Ambrose each got rollups for two. Ambrose up top, Cesaro distracted, Sheamus took advantage and hit a rolling senton off the turnbuckle for a two count. Sheamus set up for the Brogue Kick, but Rollins went in the ring and took out Cesaro with a suicide dive. Sheamus was distracted by that. Ambrose took advantage with the Dirty Deeds DDT for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose

Analysis: *** Good match by two guys that have worked together a lot of late in tag team matches in the last few months. Sheamus was in control for most of it, Ambrose sold everything well and his comeback was good. Best nearfall was the rolling senton off the ropes by Sheamus. I like the way that Cesaro and Rollins were used with Cesaro doing a cheap attack leading to Rollins getting revenge right before the finish. The win by Ambrose sets up a likely Rollins vs. Cesaro match next week, which could be a Rollins win and I think Seth & Dean will win the titles back since WWE loves booking title changes of late.

Matt Hardy was in the locker room when Jason Jordan showed up to ask him for advice against Strowman. Hardy said he faced many goliaths in WWE like Mark Henry, Big Show and Brock Lesnar, but they are men. Hardy said that Braun is the “Monster Among Men” and it’s a fact, not a clever nickname. Hardy said that Strowman’s strength is inhuman and good luck trying to get him off his feet. Hardy said being in the ring with him is a humbling experience. Hardy said he’s learned a lot like how to use ladders, how important family is and how sometimes it is just not your night. Hardy left while Jordan looked on.

Analysis: More build to Jordan’s match against Strowman. Hardy put over Strowman big time saying he was different from other big guys.

(Commercial)

Let’s Hear From Alexa Bliss

Alexa Bliss, the Raw Women’s Champion, made her entrance not in her ring gear. She looked sad about losing to Charlotte at Survivor Series.

Bliss said she’s been reading all the tweets and messages that you guys have been sending. Bliss said that people said that she couldn’t beat Charlotte, but kudos to the effort. Bliss said that you can save all your social media pity and pats on the back for somebody else because she knows how well she performed. Bliss claimed the only reason Charlotte won is because she got lucky. Bliss said that Survivor Series may not have been her night, but make no mistake because 2017 has been the year of Alexa Bliss and she is still the Goddess of WWE while adding there’s not a woman on the planet that can hold a candle to her. Mickie James interrupted.

James said “hello H-Town” to get a cheap pop. James asked who is sick and tired of hearing the same old worn out talk from “Little Miss Biscuit Butt.” A small “Biscuit Butt” chant started. James laughed about how she almost lost her train of thought with the arena chanting “Biscuit Butt” at her. Mickie said that Survivor Series is over, it’s on to Raw business and the only thing she’s concerned about is the Raw Women’s Title.

Bayley interrupted to say for the first time ever she agrees with Bliss because 2017 has been Alexa’s year. Bayley said the year isn’t over yet. Bayley said she’s not the same woman that Bliss beat for the championship and that Bayley wanted to hop over Mickie in line. Bliss said she must be joking.

Sasha Banks was next up in this interruption party. Banks said that Raw deserves a better Women’s Champion and a “Legit Boss” champion to represent them, not somebody like Bliss.

Alicia Fox also interrupted as well. Fox said that if Raw needs a boss as champion then maybe the boss of the Raw women’s team – herself – should have that opportunity because Raw would have never defeated Smackdown two years in a row without her guidance. Bliss called Fox “captain delusional.”

Bliss said this has been a colossal waste of time and said not one of them deserves a championship opportunity. Bliss dropped the microphone and left the ring.

Kurt Angle, the Raw GM, showed up on the stage. Angle said that Raw proved that they are “THE” show. Angle told Bliss she’s get another chance to prove she’s the champion when she faces the winner of their fatal fourway match that begins right now. The crowd cheered as Bliss looked unhappy and the show went to break.

Analysis: This is the same thing they do with the women’s division on both shows every other month it seems. I wonder if WWE realizes how often they do multi-women matches on both brands because it feels like way too often to me. Anyway, typical Raw promo segment where a promo leads to a match because apparently the GM had nothing booked for these women.

(Commercial)

The match started during the break.

Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Mickie James vs. Alicia Fox

Bayley and Banks battled in the ring with Banks hitting a boot to the face and Bayley hit a back suplex on Banks. James broke up the pin. Fox hit a kick on James. Banks applied the Bank Statement on Fox, but Bayley broke it up. Banks knee to Bayley sent her out of the ring. James hit the neckbreaker on Banks. Double clothesline by James and Banks. Paige’s music started.

Paige appeared on the stage. It’s her first appearance since August 2016. She has missed over a year after major neck surgery. There was a huge ovation for her as Banks and James looked at Paige as she stood on the stage.

Paige: “Did you miss me?” The crowd cheered and chanted “yes” for that. Paige apologized to the ladies saying she didn’t mean to interrupt their business, but she has something to say. “I’m back.” Fans cheered. Paige said she didn’t think the fans were loud enough. Fans chanted “Welcome Back” for her. Paige said she didn’t come alone. She took off her jacket and walked down to the ring.

Analysis: Great reaction for Paige. The “didn’t come alone” line probably led to some people thinking she meant her now ex-Alberto Del Rio, but that’s not what this was.

Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose from NXT went into the ring. The ref rang the bell there.

Match Result: No Contest

Analysis: * Tough to rate the action. It was good before the interruption. It’s weird that a 4-way match with no disqualifications can end in a no contest like that, but that’s what happened.

Rose nailed James in the back with a forearm. Deville kicked Banks in the back and Rose nailed Banks with a forearm. Bayley fought off the newcomers, so Paige went into the ring and kicked Bayley. Fox ran away comically to avoid being attacked. Rose picked up James and hit a butterfly face first suplex. Deville nailed a leaping kick to the head of Banks. Paige picked up Bayley and hit her Rampaige DDT on Bayley. Booker said he liked it. Cole mentioned the Tough Enough connection. The three women were down in the ring while Paige posed with her debuting friends.

Analysis: Great way to debut two women to the main roster in Deville and Rose. They both started in the company as part of Tough Enough two years ago, got signed to developmental deals and here they are. The tie in with Paige is that she was part of Tough Enough as a judge. It’s great to see Paige back. She’s been out for so long, but it was nice to hear that ovation for her because she’s a star and the fans know it. Mandy Rose is gorgeous, so of course I’ll be happy to see her on Raw regularly now. Deville has a MMA fighter type gimmick since that’s her background. Rose and Deville are not that experienced in the ring, but they should fit in well. Suddenly, Raw’s women’s division has some more firepower with the addition of these three.

(Commercial)

A replay aired of what just happened.

Paige, Deville and Rose were walking backstage when Renee Young showed up to ask what happened out there. Paige said it was a whole year’s worth of…and there was Bliss. Bliss said that Mickie, Sasha and Bayley got what they deserved. Bliss told Renee to leave. Paige said that was very sweet of Bliss. Paige introduced her to Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose. Bliss said it was nice to meet them. They all stared at Bliss without saying a word. Paige kicked Bliss and the women sent Bliss into some objects backstage including a garage door. Paige and the girls left.

Analysis: It was typical Bliss trying to suck up to fellow heels, but Paige and her buddies showed they were not friends. I like it. A new women’s group on the scene to try to freshen things up a bit and change things up on Raw.

The announcers talked about it with Booker saying that he was there on Tough Enough when they came in and they were tough girls.

Braun Strowman and Jason Jordan entered for their match.

Braun Strowman vs. Jason Jordan

Jordan got right in Strowman’s face and slapped him. Strowman scared him out of the ring. Jordan got back in the ring, Strowman tried a corner attack, missed after Jordan moved and Jordan couldn’t pick him up. Strowman tossed Jordan across the ring and hit a running splash in the corner. Booker was laughing about it. Jordan avoided a Powerslam and limped out of the ring showing that his left knee was still hurting. Fans booed that. As Jordan left the ring, Kane showed up from behind and attacked Strowman in the back of the leg with a forearm. Ref called for the bell after just two minutes of action.

Winner by disqualification: Braun Strowman

Analysis: 1/4* Match of the year! Just kidding. Just a way to bring Kane back into the mix.

Kane attacked Strowman with a steel chair. They left the ring with Kane hitting Strowman in the back with multiple chair shots. Kane sent Strowman’s head into the top of the steel steps a few times. Kane put the chair on the throat of Strowman and sent it into steel steps. Strowman sold it like he had trouble breathing while Kane left. Referees told Strowman to go to the back to get checked out. Strowman slowly walked to the back. Decent job of selling it by Strowman.

Analysis: This feud will continue obviously. I thought Kane would attack Strowman at Survivor Series, but that didn’t happen because WWE wanted Strowman to go over at that show. This was the attack I expected from Kane at Survivor Series.

(Commercial)

Replays aired of Kane’s attack and Strowman gasping for air selling the throat injury.

The announce team said they were told that Strowman was refusing medical attention. That’s something WWE has said in the past about faces when they get hurt to put over their toughness.

Enzo Amore, the Cruiserweight Champion, made his entrance with his cruiserweight buddies Drew Gulak, Noam Dar, Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari. They are called the “Zo Train” officially, I guess.

Enzo was wearing a robe. Enzo said if you missed Survivor Series, he’s still the Cruiserweight Champion. Enzo said even though there are an army of haters, it didn’t matter. Enzo said with Thanksgiving coming he wanted to let us know what the guys in the Zo Train are thankful for.

Enzo talked about women loving Noam Dar, Nese added more abs since joining the Zo Train, Daivari “Dinero” is doing well and he mentioned Gulak’s Powerpoint presentations. Gulak spoke about their infrastructure growing, but he was interrupted like usual.

The babyface foursome of Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali and Akira Tozawa went down to the ring.

Enzo called them a “cuppa haters” and said that these guys want to hop aboard the Zo Train. Alexander said they are not there to join the Zo Train. Alexander said they are there for the same reason as anybody else and they want a shot at the title. Alexander said they want to earn it unlike Enzo’s suck ups. Enzo asked if Kalisto has been poisoning their brain. Enzo told them to get on board or get out of his way. Swann asked Enzo to try to make them get out of the way. Swann said without his boys he’s just a catchphrase and a t-shirt. Enzo shoved Gulak into the others and that led to a brawl while Enzo bailed to the floor.

Analysis: Another long talking segment to set up an obvious tag match. It feels like it is a running theme with this show. It was fine, but this segment dragged and bored me. Why book something like this after the women’s division did something similar to set up a match? Lame writing.

(Commercial)

The match started during the break.

Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali & Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, Noam Dar & Ariya Daivari

Swann worked over Gulak, Enzo pulled Gulak out of the ring and it led to the other wrestlers arguing on the floor. Back in the ring, Gulak hit a knee to the face of Swann. Crowd is dead for this. Double team suplex by Daivari and Gulak on Swann for a two count. Clothesline by Daivari on Swann. The heels tried to work over Swann more, but Swann broke free. Hot tag to Alexander, who nailed a clothesline off the top on Dar. Tozawa hit a suicide dive to take out Gulak on the floor. Dar with an elbow on Alexander, Ali tagged himself in and Alexander hit a kick on Dar. Lumbar Check by Alexander to Nese. Ali hit a reverse 450 splash on Dar to get the win for his team. That was sweet. It went four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali & Akira Tozawa

Analysis: ** Good action for the time given. It would be nice if they got more time to wrestle because the boring promo was a waste of time. Ali only got in the match to do the finish while Tozawa didn’t even get to be in the match.

A replay aired of the Strowman fight with Kane last week when Strowman gave him a Running Powerslam that broke the ring. They followed that up with Kane’s attack this week.

Renee Young was outside the trainer’s room trying to get an update on Braun Strowman. Kurt Angle showed up to say Braun refused medical attention and left the building. Angle said he would address the Kane situation in due time. Angle went into the trainer’s room to check on Jason Jordan who was getting looked at by a “doctor.” The doctor put an ice pack on Jordan’s left knee. Jordan said he let Kurt down and Kurt said he didn’t. The Miz showed up to complain about Angle making this match with Reigns. Angle said he’s checking on his son. Miz said he’s hurt and not going anywhere. Angle told Miz to defend his title. Angle assured Jordan he didn’t let him down. Jordan said Matt Hardy was right that Strowman is a Monster Among Men.

Analysis: Way to get over Strowman’s nickname at the end there. I put “doctor” in quotes because that was actually long time WWE writer Ryan Ward. I don’t know why they stopped using their real doctors in segments like that, but they went with Ward here.

(Commercial)

Elias was in the ring with his guitar. This show is dragging big time and I want to hit fast forward, but I don’t do it for you, dear reader. Elias said he was in a great mood. Elias started a new song. Fans chanted “Let’s Go Astros” for their World Series Champions and Elias told them the season is over, so shut up. Elias started trashing Matt Hardy.

Matt Hardy went down to the ring. He was in his street clothes. This was not a match. Fans chanted “Hardy” for Matt. Matt went for the Twist of Fate, Elias avoided it and left the ring to end it.

Analysis: This feud must continue. I guess. It started at Survivor Series Kickoff show when Elias won. Matt will probably get a win next week and they’ll have a third match shortly after. Typical Raw booking.

Miz vs. Reigns up next.

(Commercial)

The Miz walked out with the Intercontinental Championship and he was all alone. No sign of the Miztourage after they got destroyed by The Shield earlier.

Roman Reigns walked out to his music and entered by the usual entrance ramp rather than walking in through the crowd like he does with The Shield. Mixed reaction for him as Cole said that Reigns has done it all, but he hasn’t won the IC Title.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Roman Reigns

Reigns hit his one arm rollup into a Sitout Powerbomb for a two count less than a minute into the match and they went to break.

(Commercial)

They returned from break with both guys down in the ring. Reigns hit two clotheslines and a leaping clothesline. Corner clotheslines from Reigns. Fans chanted “Roman” for Reigns. Running kick to the face by Reigns. Miz escaped to the floor, Reigns went for an attack and Miz nailed him with a DDT on the floor. Reigns got back into the ring before the ten count and Miz hit a DDT for two. Miz slapped on a chinlock. Reigns fought back with a punch, Miz hit his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for two. Running splash by Miz to the back of Reigns against the ropes. Miz hit two corner dropkicks, Reigns went for a Samoan Drop, Miz rollup for two, Reigns boot to the face and Reigns sent Miz out of the ring. Back in the ring, Reigns punched Miz in the face. Miz missed a corner attack after Reigns moved out of the way. Miz slowed down the rally with a knee to the ribs. Miz nailed his weak looking kicks and the final one didn’t connect like usual leading to a Samoan Drop by Reigns for two. When Reigns went for a Superman Punch, Miz clipped the knee and Miz hit a kick to the face for a two count. Corner clothesline by Miz with Booker saying this is the best he’s ever seen Miz. The Miz went to the top rope, jumped off and Reigns crushed him with a Superman Punch for a two. Best nearfall of the match. That was timed perfectly and looked great. Sheamus and Cesaro went down to the ring to distract Reigns, which led to Miz hitting the Skull Crushing Finale on Reigns for a two count. Nice nearfall. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose went down to the ring. Ambrose back body drop on Cesaro. Dean and Seth sent Sheamus into the barricade and gave him a clothesline that sent Sheamus into the crowd. Miz and Reigns both struggled to their feet. Reigns hit him with a Spear and covered to win the match. It went 17 minutes.

Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Roman Reigns

Analysis: **3/4 The match was okay with an obvious outcome. The problem with this match was that the fans didn’t believe in Miz winning at any point. If his allies were at ringside maybe the fans would have bought in, but without them there it meant no chance for Miz. It also dragged on for too long. If they cut off five minutes it would have been better. Good effort by both guys. It’s not like it was some epic title change, though. It just felt like a regular match and another title to put on Reigns.

Reigns held up the IC Title with Cole screaming about how Reigns finally won the Intercontinental Title. Graves mentioned Reigns completing the Grand Slam in WWE (WWE Title, US Title, IC Title, Tag Team Titles). The announcers talked about how it’s one piece of the puzzle and now Seth & Dean need to get back the Tag Team Titles.

Replays aired of the finish.

Reigns celebrated with the IC Title in the ring along with Seth and Dean. The crowd was cheering loudly for them. That’s how Raw went off the air with Reigns holding up the IC Title.

Analysis: It’s hard to remember a time where WWE booked so many title changes on TV with such frequency. I’m sure if I looked it up I can find a period with more title changes, but there have been three of them in the last two weeks. There was Sheamus & Cesaro winning Raw tag gold two weeks ago, Charlotte Flair won the SD Women’s Title last week and now Reigns won the IC Title. Why so many? I’m not sure. Vince McMahon and WWE decision makers probably think they are good for boosting interest in the product.

Reigns winning the IC Title is like the build to last year’s WrestleMania when he had a boring reign as US Champion. This reign will probably last a few months and he’ll drop it before WrestleMania again since he’s likely facing Brock Lesnar there for the Universal Title.

The Miz is taking time off from WWE to go film another installment of The Marine movie, so that’s a reason why they took the title off him. I think his time off is well deserved since he works a very busy schedule and has had a fantastic year.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. The Miz – They didn’t have the best match, but the promo segment was good too, so he’s first star with Reigns right there too.

2. Roman Reigns

3. Paige, Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose

 

The Scoreboard

6.5 out of 10

Last week: 5.5

2017 Average: 5.84

Average since brand split starting July 25/16: 5.82 (Smackdown is 6.64)

Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 7, 4.5, 5.5, 6.5

2017 High: 8 (April 3)

2017 Low: 4 (Jan. 9, Feb. 27 & June 12)

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

The first two hours were good and I thought the show was on its way to finishing strong, but the third hour had some bad segments that hurt the overall quality. Two matches at the three-star level and a third match close to that meant it was a show full of solid in-ring action. I liked the opening promo segment as well as the Miz TV segment.

It was good to see Paige back along with the debuting Deville and Rose. The women’s division on Raw needed some tweaks to make things more interesting, so that should help a lot.

Raw is in a weird spot right now since their next PPV is Royal Rumble in over two months, so there’s no sense of urgency to rush storylines to set up PPV matches. That can be a good thing and will make things feel less rushed than usual.

That’s all for this week. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.

Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. All three are very good teams. Feels weird! I’m enjoying it.

You can contact me using any of the methods below. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

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