Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Monday Night Raw
Date: January 1, 2018
Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T.
It’s a new year (yes it is) and that probably doesn’t mean much. We’ll be getting ready for the Royal Rumble in less than a month and tonight that includes an appearance by Brock Lesnar. Other than that we have Roman Reigns defending the Intercontinental Title against Samoa Joe and Cedric Alexander challenging Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight Title. Let’s get to it.
Alexa Bliss goes to see Kurt Angle in the back because she’s not happy with having to face Asuka tonight. Angle basically says get over it.
Here’s Angle for a chat. Angle talks about how great 2017 was and promises 2018 will be even better. In a few weeks we’ll be having the 25th Anniversary of Raw and then the Royal Rumble. John Cena entered the men’s Royal Rumble earlier today and that brings us to the women’s Royal Rumble. The same rules will apply for the men: thirty entrants with the winner getting a title shot at Wrestlemania.
Cue the Bar to complain about Angle giving Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins a title shot last week and then celebrating with the new champions after the show. They won’t stand for this favoritism. The Bar wants their rematch tonight but Angle says it’s when he chooses. Cue Jordan to say he and Seth earned the titles last week but Cesaro isn’t convinced. Angle makes a match for right now but here’s Rollins to interrupt as well. Rollins thinks Jordan is going a bit too fast but Seth will be in his corner….to watch Jason lose.
I know this was supposed to be Rollins and Ambrose again but Rollins and Jordan aren’t working so far. They’re a very forced together team and Rollins acting like Jordan has no idea how to be a tag wrestler is quite the stretch. Jordan going full heel would help, but it seems that they’ve shifted gears into him just proving himself as a talent, which he doesn’t need to do.
Jason Jordan vs. Cesaro
Joined in progress with Cesaro in control and grabbing a chinlock. Back up and Cesaro’s dive is pulled out of the air, allowing Jordan to drive him into the corner over and over. Sheamus offers a distraction though and Cesaro takes the knee out. Cesaro cranks on the knee in a variety of ways before Jordan manages to send him outside. That just earns him another shot to the knee, followed by a knee crusher onto the apron.
We take a break and come back with Cesaro baseball sliding Jordan out to the floor again. Cesaro grabs a half crab (that’s a back hold but whatever) but Jordan fights up and grabs some suplexes. Both guys are down again and Sheamus knocks Jordan into a rollup, followed by another half crab. Seth goes after Sheamus though, allowing Jordan to grab the wheelbarrow neckbreaker for the pin at 15:13.
Rating: C. A lot of that made my head hurt as Jordan’s leg was worked over for the majority of the match, including two holds (again, didn’t work on the leg but they were trying) but then he’s throwing suplexes and the wheelbarrow neckbreaker. What’s the point in doing something like that if Jordan just does his stuff anyway? It’s a common problem and again, it seems that they’re postponing the heel turn for the moment, which isn’t good for anyone.
Roman Reigns promises to stay in the rules tonight because if he gets disqualified he loses the title. If that had actually lead to a title change via DQ more than maybe twice ever, that declaration might actually mean something.
Sasha Banks says she’ll win the Royal Rumble.
Bray Wyatt vs. Apollo Crews
Bray takes him into the corner without much effort but has to punch his way out of a headlock. An enziguri into a slingshot hilo doesn’t do Crews much good as Bray runs him over with a headbutt to the chest. Crews kicks him down again but gets crotched on top. Bray glares down at Dana Brooke and we take a break.
Back with Bray holding a chinlock until Crews fights up for a running kick to the face. Crews looks for the Toss Powerbomb but gets his head taken off with a hard clothesline. Dana gets on the apron and gets scared off onto Titus, allowing Crews to hit the jumping enziguri. The Toss Powerbomb is easily reversed into Sister Abigail though and Crews is done at 10:23.
Rating: D+. What the heck was that? Like seriously, what was that? Crews is someone who should be losing in about two minutes, not stretching it through a commercial. This is a good example of why Bray is in the place he’s in: despite being presented as a monster, he doesn’t wrestle like a monster. Instead he comes off like someone who is dealt with by speaking to him with a firm voice. I like Crews a lot but he should have been flattened here.
Post match Matt Hardy pops up on screen to say he’s all around Bray and intends to delete him. The screen turns into hundreds of small screens featuring Matt’s face and Bray looks disturbed. I would be too if it took me that long to beat Apollo Crews.
Nia Jax is trying to leave because Enzo Amore is in the hospital with the flu. Alexa cuts her off and says she needs her at ringside. Bliss says it’s Enzo or her and Nia leaves. Sweet goodness you mean Enzo is STILL going to be champion next week? Well of course, because there’s no way they’ll put the title match on 205 Live.
Ad for the Mixed Match Challenge, which I believe is the first time it’s been mentioned on the main show. That being said, HAHAHAHAHA if they actually think people are staying until 11:30 for the end of 205 Live after that show is over.
Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka
Non-title. This was set up last week when Asuka kicked Bliss in the head. An early spinning backfist misses so Asuka goes with a front facelock instead. Bliss has to bail from a kneebar but the hip attack puts her on the floor. Back in and Bliss gets kicked down as this is one sided so far. Bliss bails to the floor again and we take a break.
Back with Bliss holding Asuka in a bodyscissors, only to be reversed into an ankle lock. Bliss makes a rope and kicks her in the ribs again, followed by some forearms to the back. A backbreaker lets Bliss hammer away with right hands and it’s back to the bodyscissors. That’s switched into a guillotine choke before Bliss stomps away in the corner.
A running slap just ticks Asuka off though (Well what were you expecting?) and it’s some dropkicks to put Bliss in trouble again. There’s a running hip attack and a hard knee to the face but Bliss comes out of the corner with a sunset flip. Asuka counters that into a cradle for two, followed by the cross armbreaker to make Bliss tap at 14:35.
Rating: B. Bliss hung in there but this wasn’t exactly a shocking result. Asuka is going to win the title one day and they’re going to treat it as a big moment. Normally this would set up a title match at the Rumble but we can’t do that when Asuka is already in the Rumble itself. There are some options here and that’s what you want going into a major match like that.
We look back at Roman Reigns attacking Samoa Joe last week and causing a DQ in their title match.
Joe is ready for Reigns because he’s already broken up the Shield. It’s because of Joe that Dean Ambrose is a stay at home husband living off his wife’s (who happens to be doing this interview) paycheck. Renee’s face off that line was great and as usual, Joe comes off as the most serious person not named Brock Lesnar in this company.
Bayley enters the Rumble.
Braun Strowman vs. Rhyno
The announcer introduces Slater as the opponent. Well they do both have meaty thighs. Strowman drops him with an early shoulder and goes outside to grab a mic. Braun tells Strowman to either stay on the floor and be quiet or take a beating. Slater comes in and the double teaming actually works for a good five seconds. The running powerslam ends Rhyno at 2:31.
Post match, multiple powerslams ensue. Yeah he’s great. Now have him be the odd man out when Lesnar pins Kane so we can move on.
Rollins comes up to Reigns in the back and Roman says he’s keeping his cool. Jordan comes in and says they’ll take the Bar out tonight. Jordan: “Believe that.” Seth and Roman share a funny look. Ok point for a good scene.
Strowman runs into Kane, who just wants to talk about Lesnar. Kane says they’re the alpha monsters and since NO ONE HAS EVER TALKED LIKE THIS IN THE HISTORY OF EVER, Kane wants to team up, Strowman says no. Can no one in this company speak like a human?
Finn Balor comes in to Angle’s office and enters the Royal Rumble. Angle is pleased but wants to know who Balor has for partners tonight in a six man tag. Cue Anderson and Gallows with Balor asking who else it would be.
Intercontinental Title: Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns
Reigns is defending and loses the title if he’s disqualified. Joe pops him with the right hands to start but Reigns comes back with some forearms to the back. The referee breaks up some shots to the face in the corner because the rules say he needs to be all serious here when no referee would ever do something like this otherwise. A suplex puts Reigns on the floor and we take a break.
Back with Joe running him over with an elbow for two. Reigns grabs a suplex though, only to miss a charge and go shoulder first into the post. Joe works on the arm but Roman is back up with a clothesline. That just earns him a charge to take him down again as the pace stays slow (in a good way). A hard whip sends Reigns into the corner and Joe takes him down to the mat to crank on the arm some more.
Reigns fights up again and hits a running clothesline, followed by the standing clotheslines in the corner. The running apron dropkick gives Reigns two but hang on a second as the referee has to warn for a DQ. Joe sends him outside though and there’s the suicide elbow for a double knockdown.
They’re both back in at nine and we take a second break. Back again with Reigns getting headbutted down but yelling at Joe to hit him harder. Reigns gets two off a Samoan drop and Joe bails to the floor. Roman dives into a shot to the chest and gets sent into the steps but thankfully Joe rolls back inside to break the count. A whip into the steps is reversed but of course that’s not enough for the DQ.
Joe gets in a shot to the face, only to eat a Superman punch off the steps. Back in and another Superman punch gets two with the kickout stunning Reigns. The spear is blocked and Joe sends Reigns into the referee, who of course is talked out of the DQ. Another Superman punch is countered into the spinning Rock Bottom for two more and now Joe is yelling at the referee. The Clutch goes on but Reigns spins out of it and hits the spear to retain at 24:53.
Rating: B+. The DQ stuff was kind of annoying but they were beating the heck out of each other for a LONG time here and it made for a good match. I mean, you knew the most likely ending was spear into Reigns winning but at least Joe got in a very solid match before losing via clean pin. It’s going to be almost all Reigns until we get to the Superdome because THIS TIME FOR SURE but that’s how WWE works anymore.
Paul Heyman comes in to see Angle and basically says Lesnar is awesome.
Absolution is entering the Rumble. These entrances aren’t exactly surprising when there are all of twenty or so women on the main roster.
Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari are in the ring with Drew reading Enzo’s promo off a letter Enzo wrote for them. Enzo isn’t defending the title tonight due to the flu and would love to face Cedric, who interrupts in short order. The villains are willing to have a tag match but Cedric doesn’t have a partner. Cue Goldust of all people to ask if Cedric wants to be friends. Goldust: “Cedric, want to be friends?”. See that’s what he said.
Drew Gulak/Ariya Daivari vs. Cedric Alexander/Goldust
Daivari takes Cedric down into a chinlock to start but gets elbowed in the face for his efforts. That’s enough for a pretty early double tag to Goldust and Gulak as the pace quickens. They botch Goldust’s running bulldog (Gulak seemed to trip and Goldust made a quick save by punching him in the head so it was nothing too bad) but the second attempt works just fine. Goldust actually goes up top and hits a pretty good looking twisting crossbody. Cedric’s springboard double clothesline takes both guys down and it’s the Lumbar Check to end Gulak at 3:26.
Rating: D. It says a lot when my reaction is “uh……ok?” to a match being made. Was everyone else on vacation or something? I’m really not thrilled with Enzo holding the title EVEN LONGER and really hope they don’t stretch this out to the Rumble because there’s just nothing for the two of them to talk about any longer. Goldust can still go though and I hope he makes it to 2020 so he can wrestle in five decades.
Finn Balor/Anderson and Gallows vs. Elias/Miztourage
Before the match, Elias has the Miztourage come out of the shadows with a cowbell (Bo) and some bells (Axel). Miz is back next week so they dedicate a little Auld Lang Syne to his honor. This goes as well as you would expect and even Elias cuts them off. Joined in progress after a break with Axel getting two on Balor before it’s off to Elias for some boots in the corner. Balor gets over to the corner for a hot tag to Gallows though and house is cleaned in the form of some kicks to the head. A splash crushes Dallas and the Magic Killer into the Coup de Grace puts him away at 3:24.
Rating: D. Just a squash here but I’m thinking the Miztourage should just stick with Elias. They have some chemistry there and it’s not like it matters who their boss is. Miz doesn’t really need lackeys (though they don’t hurt him) and it would give Elias a nice little rub, which he could use with his current status.
Video on Miz’s return next week.
Here are Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman to close things out. Paul thinks the company’s New Year’s Resolution is to stack the deck against Lesnar by throwing multiple challengers at the same time. It used to be challenger and now it’s CHALLENGERS because there’s no other way to stop Brock. That makes things more complicated because Brock can lose the title without getting pinned, which is the only way it could happen.
Heyman mocks the announcers talking about the odds but says Brock is always 100%. If it’s one on one, no one is beating Brock. You could even throw all thirty Royal Rumble entrants against him and it would be the same slaughter. They go to leave but here’s Kane (with Brock pausing due to a delay in Kane’s music hitting) to chokeslam Brock but Lesnar sits up like Undertaker. A Cactus Clothesline puts them on the floor but some of the locker room comes out for the break up. No Braun as Brock poses to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. The Intercontinental Title match is more than enough to carry the show but the rest felt like it was being extended to fill in time. Unless Enzo was getting something like twenty minutes (I’d be STUNNED), then it felt like they were trying to punt because of the college football but didn’t know how to do it. The show was more good than bad as the focus is firmly on the Rumble and that’s good for everyone. Now build up some potential winners for both matches and we should be fine.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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