Raw 12/2/18 Review: BRAUN STROWMAN SINGS!!!

So Raw this week opened up with Mr Nikki Bella to a big pop (shockingly enough) from the Raw crowd. Raw this evening emanating from San Jose, California – home town of Bayley (more on her later…). Following a brief recap of last weeks triple threat main event, that saw Cena pinned by Elias and then Strowman ending up the dominant force, Cena cut a promo to hype up the build towards Wrestlemania (including one line that he said Wrestlemania has even been known to “bring legends back from the dead… đź‘€”) saying that he HAD to win the Elimination Chamber match and that if he didn’t he was unsure what or even if his road to Wrestlemania would be. He was clear though that he WILL win the Elimination Chamber match and thus will challenge Brock Lesnar for the a Universal Championship in the grandest stage of them all (*SPOILER ALERT: … he wont*).

The Miz and the Miztourage come out next to interrupt, Miz telling Cena that it’s not 2013 anymore and therefore not time for Cena to main event Mania instead it is 2018: year of The Miz (totally fine with me). Miz then claims he will make history and become the first simultaneous holder of the Universal and his current Intercontinental Championships. He also then reminds us that it is John Cena himself who is a fore-father of Suplex City (Summerslam 2014 main event, if you’re ever feeling down watch that match. Cheers me up everytime).

This being a very good back and forth promo between 2 of the best on the mic in WWE was hardly a surprise. Cena eventually challenges Miz to a match immediately with the stipulation being the loser would enter the Elimination Chamber match 1st! The Miztourage then beat down Cena as Miz wants the match started for an easy win. Raw GM Kurt Angle addresses the situation by announcing said match/stipulation but banning Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel from ringside to try and somewhat even the odds, even if John Cena is by this point stil flat out in the ring.

So the match officially begins and… of course… Cena kicks out at 2. It laterly continues with both of them seeming to sail through the early stages of the contest before it is kicked into life when Cena reverses a potential Skull crushing finale into a potential AA which Miz in turn reverses into a figure 4… which Cena then reverses into an STF before Miz… gets to the bottom rope…. and breathe… The Miz then goes onto the top rope in his efforts to topple the Cenation leader before he is caught by Cena. An AA is then turned into a DDT for a nearfall by The Miz.

The momentum felt by the grand slam champion (1 thing Cena is not btw) is firmly stopped when Cena finally hits an AA. 1,2, 3? No of course not. In 2018 nobody loses to one AA. It’s not 2013 anymore indeed. Some more good back and forth offence exchanges results in Miz on the top rope with Cena, before attempting a ‘super’ Skull crushing finale, but this in turn is countered into a super AA from Cena for the pinfall and the victory. Miz enters the chamber 1st. Good solid show opener from 2 now veterans. Shame Miz didn’t get the win but a defeat won’t hurt either too much at this stage. The fascinating road for both of these stars to the Elimination Chamber… and beyond… continues…

Ads for Bayley vs Sasha and the 4 way chamber qualifier later in the show. The first match will be good. The 2nd? Could be a clusterfuck.

WOKEN Matt Hardy promo; usual stuff from him. But I’m an OG Woken/Broken warrior so I liked it. The line were he said he would render his opponents tonight “obsolete” a particular fave of mine (I miss you Jeff so so much, please comeback soon Brother Nero!).

Gallows & Anderson “Nerd-Ometer” promo now… f/t more terrible and tacky on screen graphics…. really???

Anyway the good brothers approach the ring next for their match but are attacked by their opponents The Revival before the match begins. Lots of emphasis being put on the chop block to Luke Gallows knee. Match begins with Gallows on a tear before his knee is targeted again by both Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson seperatelty. The hot tag is finally made to Karl Anderson who gets some real good looking moves in (severely under-appreciated wrestler btw, seriously watch some of his stuff from New Japan when you can). However with Gallows OOA due to his injuries sustained Anderson is 2v1 for the large part of this match towards the end, eventually succumbing to a Shatter Machine for a win for The Revival. Ok match for 2 great teams, just a shame absolutely nobody in the crowd seemed to care. Always tough with a crowd following John Cena tbf.

After a brief recap of the whole Rollins and Jordan/Reigns/Angle story last week surrounding Jason Jordan’s injury and then costing Rollins and Reigns the tag title match the Raw General Manager and father of Jason Jordan (still baffles me) Kurt Angle is shown making his way from backstage to offer a medical update and breaking news on his Son’s (don’t, just don’t please) ‘injury’ (guess we might find out if Jordan’s wife was telling the truth on Facebook or not *see Update on last week’s Raw review*).

Upon entering the ring Angle says he has mixed emotions; firstly he announces RONDA ROUSEY will sign her WWE contract to appear as part of the Raw roster at the Elimination Chamber ppv (yes yes and more yes). Next he goes on to say that following an MRI and surgery last week, Jason Jordan will MISS Wrestlemania… cue the ‘Yes’ chants from the crowd (fgs guys come on now…) . Kurt responds to the crowd with a realistic promo about as a father that he thinks if any fan takes joy from a superstar being injured they should be ashamed of themselves, that all he wants is for them to wsih his son well…

Seth Rollins then comes out… he says he’s sorry for Jordan, that he can empathise with him, recalling how he missed a Wrestlemania a couple of years back due to injury himself and that he knows how special Wrestlemania moments are. He then asks of Kurt that he needs something for elimination chamber and Wrestlemania. After turning down Angle’s suggestion of yet another new tag team partner Rollins says that he wants to not just be on Raw but BE Raw! He says he wants to be Universal champion and he wants that at Wrestlemania. He says he must win the Elimination Chamber. Eventually it is decided Rollins will enter the final chamber qualifying match later in the evening. That match will now be a 5 way… ok no problem… lets see shall we…

Bray Wyatt promo; again more of the same and good if you like him as I do (he won the wwe title inside an Elimination Chamber 1 year ago btw… *sighs*).

Next up Sasha makes her way to the ring for her match with hometown favourite Bayley (unsurprisingly big pop for her). This should be great… it begins with a plethora of pin attempts from Bayley followed by some clear heel work from Sasha who has really been back to her NXT best recently. I also want to mention the following that came from the commentators;

Coachman: Bayley and Sasha are supposed to be best friends. They said so on a podcast…

Graves: supposed to be best friends?

Coachman: you should know Corey, anything you hear on a podcast MUST be true.

Fabulous.

ANYWAY Sasha Banks takes control of the match now. Aplogies for the lack of notes on this one but as a huge fan of their series of matches in NXT I found myself just sitting back and watching this one. It really was a joy to behold. Bayley attempted a big elbow from the top only for Banks to move out the way, only to then lock in the Banks Statement which was eventually stopped when the Hugger reached the bottom rope.

The finishing part of the match was particularly well done; Bayley threw Banks face first into a middle rope turnbuckle (OUCH), Banks then makes her way to the top rope and pushes Bayley down as she tries to join her, the 2nd try is successful though and Bayley hits the Bayley to Belly from the middle rope for the win. And FINALLY Bayley has a win! Somebody won in their hometown! What a concept! … in all seriousness though this was a real good match. Hopefully it goes somewhere… hopefully…

After the match Nia Jax jumps them both to send a message to her opponent at Elimination Chamber, Asuka. Would’ve preferred a heel turn from Bayley but I’ll accept Nia Jax looking strong.

I’ll run quickly through the next few bits as I really REALLY want to talk about the title segment for this blog, so: Rollins and Reigns vs The bar backstage promo (sets up Roman vs Sheamus for later), recap of Nia’s earlier actions and subsequent interview with Renee Young followed by a really cool video package highlighting Asuka, Renee backstage with Titus Worldwide (less said about these lot the better), Alexa backstage with Mickie basically, as I explained last week, trying to gain Mickie as an ally going into the chamber; her argument being that if either of Absolution win they will just have matches vs eachother all the time, the veteran James doesn’t buy it for a second. Mickie and Alexa vs Mandy and Sonya (with Paige… *sigh*) next. Solid match (Mickie James is really good at wrestling, Bliss is good, Sonya is ok and Mandy has potential but is still very green) Mandy getting the pin on James after Alexa was distracted by Paige and Sonya Deville. Beatdown from Absolution afterwards with Bliss saving Mickie. All fine enough stuff..

And… THEN… Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls… what followed next was one of THE most entertaining, hilarious and satisfying Raw or any WWE show segments for a VERY long time…

So… Elias is shown backstage, apparently he’s on his way to sing “Elimination Chamber Blues”… when we return from the ad break Elias is indeed in the ring, with his guitar, with a spotlight on him, sat on his stool. He did his usual stuff, and as usual the crowd go wild for him, and as usual Elias expertly retains his heel character by turning on the crowd and city he is in. He then claims he will win the Elimination Chamber. And then he gets on with his song… (at this point I am wondering if WWE pipe in the boos during his performances, cuz he’s friggin great). Then the crowd begin to cheer something , as the lights are out in the arena in order to accomadate the spotlight on Elias we at home are left… well … in the dark.

And then Jojo announces as she does Elias … “Ladies and gentlemen; Braun Strowman”.

BRAUN STROWMAN?! WTF IS THIS!?

And then indeed Braun is shown on the entrance rampway, sat on a stool, with a spotlight on him, complete and utterly ala Elias! Braun then pulls out a giant Bass, he attempts to play it like a guitar but breaks the strings in the process. And then… THEN…

BRAUN STROWMAN SINGS A SONG TO ELIAS!!!

This song, I cannot explain how funny it was. Of everything I have recommended to watch so far in my blogs, make this your absolute priority!!!

Elias looked on perplexed, and then following a brawl between the two which of course Braun dominated, Strowman would end the segment by adhering to the crowd’s wishes by using the giant Bass and absolutely smashing it over Elias’ back. Elias was left flat out and being attended to by referees, Braun did his siganture ROAR to please the fans. And that was that.

This was AMAZING! One of the best WWE segments for a LONG time! Would highly recommend you watch this!

The rest of the show now then…

Finn Balor iphone promo next… nope!

Roman Reigns vs Sheamus w/Cesaro now. This was a real physical match between 2 fierce strikers. Cesaro playing the role of coach to Sheamus throughout. Should also note for someone with real bad neck issues Sheamus sure does dish out some really hard hitting moves; the rolling senton to the outside in particular I cannot fathom how WWE allow someone with spinal issues to do moves like that?! Anyway that match was pretty much as expected, it was good don’t get me wrong but nothing about it surprised me. The ending was definitely noteworthy though; with Sheamus on the top rope he dives down only to be caught with a not so sweetly connected Spear from Roman for the victory (look up Reigns’ spear to Shane McMahon at Survivor Series 2016 for a better connected one). So yeah Roman Reigns wins. Who saw that coming…

Ivory was then confirmed as the next inductee into the Hall of Fame for this year. Lovely.

The main event was next. Finn vs Bray vs WOKEN Matt vs Apollo vs Seth Rollins. Winner enters the men’s Elimination Chamber match. I thought a fatal 4 way would be tough to take notes on, a 5 way was nearly impossible! Lots of exchanges between all the various combinations of the participants in the match (after the match begun during an ad break, NOT COOL). All 5 in this match got cool stuff in. It was a bit of a clusterfuck at times but that’s bound to be the case given 5 participants were all involved against one another. Apollo Crews in particular suprised me how good his stuff looked. It was clear throughout though that either Finn Balor or Seth Rollins were winning this one. The conclusion of the match will certainly be a talking point…

After Bray Wyatt had given Woken Matt a Sister Abigail on the outside of the ring to take him out the match Bray then sought after Apollo Crews who was perched on the top rope. Finn Balor and Seth Rollins then teamed up to perform a combo superplex/powerbomb onto the 2 of them from the top rope before Finn and Seth BOTH pinned Bray. So… they both won?! Apparently… no music plays or anything, everyone is just stood about confused… and then Raw just ends… with no answer at all.

And yeah that was Raw. Despite the lack of answers at the end of the main event a really fun show. Bayley vs Sasha was excellent, the segments and other matches throughout the show were decent enough too but this Raw will always be remembered as the night Braun Strowman SANG!

Key points to take home:

– Cena is gonna do something HUGE at Wrestlemania…

– Sasha Banks and Bayley are number 5 and 6 best female workers in the entire WWE. SO GOOD!

– I want to walk with Elias

– I love Braun Strowman

– Why the lack of answers at the end?

Conclusion:

Raw was slightly more eventful this week than last. A good show overall, go home show for Elimination Chamber next week so should be eventful still. Hopefully by then we will have more answers about whom will fill the last spot in Men’s chamber match… *

Josh

*UPDATE: It has been announced that BOTH Seth Rollins & Finn Balor will be in the Men’s Elimination Chamber match. 7 MEN IN THE CHAMBER! Not sure how I feel about that tbh… seems a bit cheap. Ah well…

Raw 5/2/18 Review: twists and turns on the road to come?

First of all apologies if this is a bit long to read. My first attempt after all at reviewing a full show. Trying to be concise when you have 3 hours of content to talk about isn’t easy. Anyway lets talk about Raw shall we?

Roman vs Bray first then. Winner is in the chamber. For a match where 95% of people knew the finish going in they did OK. Roman isn’t a bad wrestler and neither is Bray… still makes me sad to think a year ago where Bray was mind. Roman won but you knew that before reading this lbh.

Oh and after the match after being shown throughout it watching backstage the WOKEN one attempted to DELETE Bray. I like these 2 greatly, I was one who for a few months actually fought the pain barrier to watch TNA in order to follow the original BROKEN universe. I paid money to see him perform in the flesh too.

I think we are heading towards a gimmick Final Deletion/House of horros mash up at Mania, which considering is likely to last (all in all) around the 7 hour mark, those of us watching it live I’m sure will be very much greatful for some lighter entertainment.

Jason Jordan and hometown boy Seth Rollins doing a backstage promo next. If you knew the full extent of Jason Jordan’s health issues rn you’d understand whilst I really hope Jordan takes ZERO bumps in the match, they lose and he’s then written off tv for the foreseeable…

Gallows and Anderson closely followed by Finn Balor out next to the ring. The match was against The Revival. Yes sadly no Luke Gallows in this one as he had to sit it out. Although there’s not much substace to this Balor club – Revival feud I have always thought it better for someone to be doing ‘something’ on TV than nothing so lets see where it goes… Balor club won. Obviously.

Backstage next with Sasha and Bayley. Sasha again teasing the much awaited main roster heel turn. I’m so ready for this! It’d do wonders for Bayley and Sasha. Because heel/nxt Sasha Banks was awesome. And it’d give Bayley the boost she needs too if Sasha turns on her.

The cruiserweights next. I won’t say too much because tbh I don’t care. I feel something good is coming though. Having Rockstar Spud (another ex TNA star) … sorry Drake Maverick (?) as gm is something I guess and the tournament for the title ending at Mania makes it a big deal. I guess it’ll be on the pre show but still. For the record Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali beat Drew Gulak and Tony Nese with Cedric pinning Gulak. Drake Maverick was a guest on commentary.

Kurt Angle then came out to announce the participants for the Women’s Elimination Chamber match. He stuttered his way through this promo, albeit he had a lot to remember but as the gm he should know his lines better for me. The big shock here was Mickie James is in the match and not Nia Jax. Angle then explains she will instead face Asuka at the ppv and if she wins it’ll be a triple threat at Wrestlemania.

I dont mind Asuka vs Nia. Keeps Nia out the chamber if you don’t want to go that way and the stipulation makes it worthwhile. It does make me change my mania card predictions, seems now maybe Alexa vs Asuka on Raw and maybe Charlotte vs Becky on Smackdown? Still plenty of time to go and things could change but yes a suprise to me.

Alexa Bliss eventually comes out and has a real fun back and forth on the mic with Angle, Bliss basically playing the whiney, heel card and Angle cleverly using the crowd to help back up his points. I enjoyed it. It did it’s job well.

After this was… oh good…another iphone promo, Cena this time… just stop with these PLEASE! ZZZZZzzzzz….

Next up was Bayley vs Asuka. I saw thse 2 have a great series of matches in NXT and this match was pretty good also. Bayley got a lot of offence in and was on top throughout. I should point out btw (if you don’t know already) I ADORE Asuka. She can do no wrong to me.

Also I wanted to mention that during this match Jonathan Coachman on commentary made a comment which he basically, in reponse to Cole talking about what the 2 participants did in NXT, said that ‘this is different to NXT. The lights are a little brighter here… etc..’ I just felt in was really unnecessary to go out of his way to belittle NXT. NXT is in fact a far better product all round than Raw and Smackdown. The big shows they do are better than those of the main roster for sure. Not cool Coach, not cool.

Anyhow Asuka eventually overcame a Bayley comeback to lock in the submission (which was an exquisitely executed jumping armbar) for the win. The 2 had a handshake after, 2 faces so it made sense. For where it was in the show it was good stuff all round.

An iPhone promo from The Bar followed… just stop…

Miz vs Apollo Crews. Miz did a typically great heel promo before the match. Apollo accompanied by his Titus Worldwide teammates (… good lord… where do I start…). What you’d expect from this. Above average match, Apollo got some cool looking moves in. Miz won. He’s in the chamber.

So Seth and Jason Jordan are backstage and turns out Jordan isn’t medically fit… no suprise to me (for those of you who don’t know Jordan has really serious neck issues and needs surgery. Similar issues to what Edge had. He had to retire after multiple neck issues.). [SEE END OF BLOG FOR UPDATE]. Seth isn’t happy… but I guess they had to write Jordan out the match somehow and this only adds fuel to the story. Seth now needs a new partner… enter… “THE BIG DOG” (Cole, 2017).

So the match is set then… god how awful are Rollins’ trunks btw? His “Iowa’s down” tee was much better. Good hometown pop for Seth too. Roman doing double duty tonight then, he really is the big dog eh? …

This match was 4 talented guys putting on a decent match. No big suprises in terms of moves and tactics particularly from The Bar but it was entertaining enough. Eventually Roman and Sheamus are down in the ring and Cesaro and Rollins are OOA… out comes Jason Jordan. He helps Seth to his feet allowing Reigns to make the hot tag which naturally gets a big pop.

Jordan eventually trips Cesaro which leads to a near fall for Rollins. The Bar then decide they’ve had enough and attempt to take their belts and take the count out. But Jordan stops them… he then strikes Sheamus who had goaded him into it. Sheamus and Cesaro are delighted they’ve got out of jail again, Roman and Seth look on bemused, Jordan looks devastated at realising the consequences of his actions.

Afterwards Seth is backstage fuming with Jordan. Angle then comes in to try and defend his son (his son… ffs…). This leads to Kurt telling his son to go home til he is medically cleared. So we’ll see Jason Jordan next in 2019 then? I don’t mind all this… intrigued to see where it all leads… if Ambrose isn’t fit in time for Mania I’m half expecting Angle to face Seth or Jordan’s behalf… which as long as Angle can walk (unlike at Survivor Series) I’m sure Seth could carry him to a good outing.

Nia Jax vs Jobber next. No explanation needed. You know how this went. After she did an in-ring interview with Renee… my how god awful is the dialogue Nia Jax is given? No way she actually talks like that. Perfect example of someone who doesn’t need a script for her promos. Just let her speak for short, sharp bursts. Much better for monster heels. Long, drawn out dialogues are not.

Another iphone promo… Braun Strowman… STOP THE IPHONE PROMOS!!! End of.

Next match was Sonya Deville vs Mickie James. Sonya accompanied by her absolution teammates Mandy Rose (wow… just wow…) and Paige (who fyi is as good as retired. WWE just unsure what to do with her and apparently Paige hasn’t taken the news she’s got to retire too well. Another neck issue. Wrestling since you’re 14 taking it’s toll eventually I guess. Sad stuff.).

This was decent for what it was. Crowd didn’t care too much but putting the experienced James in this role makes sense. Although I’d have thought the match would’ve been better for Mandy Rose, saying that Deville has a win over Sasha Banks a few weeks back so they clearly like her a lot. Mickie eventually won with a roll up, which I thought was the wrong result but the Absolution beat down on Mickie afterwards made up for it.

Real suprise that Alexa Bliss then came down to drag Mickie James out of trouble. I presume they will play on this over the next few weeks as Bliss tries to gain allies going in to the chamber.

Main event up next. Commentary selling all night that half the winners of previous Chamber matches have entered last or second last so going hard on the prize for the winner of this match entering last.

Also next week there will be a 2nd chance match to enter the Elimination Chamber. Balor vs Wyatt vs Hardy vs Crews. Has to be Finn surely? Interesting to note that no mention of Kane who also lost a chamber qualifying match, I’d presume Glenn Jacobs is back doing politics for a bit now. Rollins was also scheduled to be in this match so I’d expect his absence to tie into whatever he does going into Wrestlemania. He missed the Royal Rumble match last year as a by-product of his Mania story so not unusual for him.

Should be a fun one this triple threat, 3 great talents. Elias does his usual thing with the crowd; Spotlight, playing a guitar, sat on his stool. Man… he’s soooooo over! Such a big surprise just how well he has done on Raw. Particularly to those of us who saw him in NXT. Triple H himself has previously said Elias all along in NXT was simply perfecting his gimmick in preparation for the main roster. A complete reverse in his fortunes really as usually a gimmick that is hugely over in NXT often for one reason or another falls flat on the main roster (Tyler Breeze, Bo Dallas, The Ascension come to mind).

Back to Elias. Typically loud response from the crowd. Always delights me how Elias sticks to the heel character by responding to crowd cheers by slagging off the crowd/town he is in. Great stuff.

Cena out next. Usual reaction for him for the last decade. “Doo doo doo doo… JOHN CENA SUCKS… etc. Etc.”. And then the star of the show… BRAAAAAAUUUUUNNNNN!!!

Anyone who has watched Raw for the last 18 months or so, and has no knowledge of any reports outside of what is shown on TV, would assume that the main man in WWE is Braun Strowman. You’d assume it is he who will win the Elimination Chamber. He who will face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. Right? Well… we know that wont happen but it should! Definitely! His transformation from Wyatt family enforcer who was as green as garden peas to being the star of the flagship show has been extraordinary. All credit to him.

The match itself wasn’t the longest, 2 ad breaks during it didn’t help. Elias begun doing the classic heel tactic of shying away from Braun as much as he can. Cena tried to use his power on Braun but to no evail. I really like the dynamic between these 3. A good mix. Eventually Cena and Elias worked together to try and take out Braun; Cena used steel steps (yes, JOHN CENA used steel steps on a fellow good guy!) on Braun, Elias smashed his guitar over him and then Cena did the AA to Strowman onto the steps. So Braun was taken out… but obviously he’ll be back… this is WWE after all…

So Cena and Elias exchange offence in the ring with Strowman laid out on the outside. Eventually in culminates in Cena going for a 5 knuckle shuffle but he runs into a Braun running powerslam (who saw that coming… not me… not at all…). Braun goes to do the same to Elias but he manages to make Braun fall to the outside and with Cena still down Elias capitalises to pin the downed Cena for the win. Yes indeed ELIAS PINNED JOHN CENA! Immediately afterwards Braun deliveres his slam to Elias. Then one to Cena, then one to Elias. Then another to Elias.

I don’t mind this at all. Neither Cena nor Braun needed this win or (as commentary would have you believe it) the ‘coveted’ final entrant spot. Elias needed this a great deal more and it more than gives him worth of a spot in the chamber. And Braun ending the segment strong solidifies him as the ‘favourite’ going into the match. Or at least WWE want you to think Braun is the favourite, we all know he’s not in reality sadly. Braun ends the show standing tall.

And that was Raw. Good show. No huge suprises but an entertaining enough show. Lots of time still to build to Elimination Chamber. Fascinated now more by the Women’s Chamber than the men’s. The dynamics in the men’s should be fun but the likely result of the big dog earning his 4th consecutive Mania main event makes it already fighting a tough battle to be a good and compelling match. We shall see.

Key points to take home:

– Roman is getting a push… apparently……

– The cruiserweights still don’t fill me with any excitement

– The Women’s Elimination Chamber match is wide open now result wise. You’d presume Bliss retains but should be fun

– The IC champion going after the world title is something which I don’t like. But The Miz is world title level so I’ll accept it… for now…

– Raw is still the Braun show. And needs to be forever and ever.

Conclusion:

Lets see what the build to Elimination Chamber in the coming weeks brings. Lots of interesting potential results for a few different storylines, lets hope WWE do them justice. We can only hope.

Josh.

UPDATE: Early this evening UK time (Tuesday 6th February) reports have circulated that Jason Jordan’s wife has put a Facebook status out stating his injury isn’t as serious as some are saying, and that he will be out only for a short period of time. Remains to be seen if this is genuinely from his wife and also if it’s true. Only time will tell.