RAW time again, and Brock Lesnar is once again the advertised star attraction. Obviously, he’s not wrestling, he’s there to find out if he’ll face Kane or Braun Strowman at Royal Rumble. Also on the card is Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Bayley versus Absolution, the cruiserweight number one contender’s match between Cedric Alexander and Drew Gulak, and Seth Rollins versus Samoa Joe. We will be hearing more from ‘Woken’ Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt as well.

I’m Amanda, and I’m here to make sure you don’t miss anything important on this week’s RAW.

The Opening Segment

After a recap of Kane and Braun Strowman failing to figure out who will face Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble, Kurt Angle headed to the ring to open the show. He announced that Lesnar is there, and by the end of the show, his Rumble opponent will be known. That was as far as he got before Braun Strowman appeared.

Strowman said he was the only one standing at the end of last week, so he’s earned his chance to face Lesnar. Of course, Kane couldn’t let that pass unchallenged, so out he came.

Kane said he’s been the most destructive force in WWE for over twenty years, and Brock Lesnar has never beaten him. He’ll get his shot at the Royal Rumble unless Braun Strowman is man enough to stop him.

Paul Heyman strode onto the stage and said they weren’t having the discussion without the champion, then introduced Lesnar. Heyman stayed on the stage while Lesnar came to the ring.

photo credit: wwe.com

Kurt Angle looked like he was reassessing his life choices as he quickly announced it was going to be a triple threat, and legged it before the inevitable violence. Lesnar knocked Strowman out of the ring, then F5’d Kane.

Not the most exciting opener, but it was short and didn’t run past the first ad break.

Seth Rollins vs Samoa Joe – or not as the case may be

Rollins came out first, alone. Jason Jordan appeared instead of Samoa Joe and said he knew he wasn’t the guy Rollins wanted to see, but he wants Joe as well, and he’s been asking Angle for two weeks. He’s done asking, he was taking the match. Rollins assured him that he understands his need to prove himself, but this wasn’t his opportunity.

Samoa Joe came to the stage and said he felt like the belle of the ball, all the popular boys want to dance with him. He suggested Jordan and Rollins fight, then he’d put the winner to sleep.

Rollins said the match was already set and invited Joe to come down, while Jason Jordan ‘goes and looks for daddy’s approval somewhere else’. Jordan pushed Rollins over. Apparently, Rollins is that easy to manipulate, so we got Rollins versus Jordan, with Joe sat at ringside.

It was a long match. Jason Jordan got increasingly frustrated, despite being in control for much of it, because he couldn’t keep Rollins down. The camera kept cutting to Samoa Joe looking increasingly entertained.

There was a lot of focus on them wearing each other down, with Jordan paying particular attention to Seth Rollins’ back. After a Rollins suicide dive, during which he went back first into the barricade, it took them both until nine to get back into the ring.

The finish had a touch of chaos. Rollins hit the knee to Jordan off the apron to the outside. Samoa Joe stood up, so Rollins threw Jordan into him, then superkicked him. Finally, Rollins hit the knee on Jordan in the ring and got the win. Samoa Joe was on the apron immediately. Rollins knocked him off, followed him out, and they brawled back into the ring. Samoa Joe left Rollins lying on the mat, then smashed Jordan to the floor on his way back up the ramp.

photo credit: wwe.com

After the break Rollins and Ambrose were in Angle’s office, both wanting a match against Joe. Jason Jordan interrupted to demand one too. Angle put them in a six-man against Samoa Joe and The Bar. This is what happens when Roman Reigns has the week off.

The Other Stuff

– Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy continued their war of words. Bray said some words and did some singing. Matt Hardy played chess with a goldfish, then said some words. It’s all beautifully ridiculous. The combined weirdness boils down to, they want to fight, and it’s going to be bizarre.

– Finn Balor vs The Miztourage – After beating Bo Dallas one week, and Curtis Axel the next, Balor beat them both this week, by disqualification. Balor finished up with a lump on his head courtesy of Curtis Axel, and Axel had a nosebleed. The Miztourage beat Balor down to cause the DQ, then carried on after it. Hideo Itami ran out to make the save, and his RAW debut, to a massive ovation from the quarter or so of the crowd who knew who he was. Itami is due to make his 205 live debut tomorrow.

– Finn Balor and Hideo Itami vs The Miztourage – By the time we came back from the break, a tag match had broken out. Yep, one Miztourage match just wasn’t enough. Balor took most of the punishment. Hideo Itami came in, looked spectacular, and hit the Go To Sleep on Curtis Axel for the win.

photo credit: wwe.com

– Renee Young interviewed Cedric Alexander. Unsurprisingly, he said he wants to be cruiserweight champion a lot, and he’s going to start by beating Drew Gulak – only with more words.

– Cedric Alexander vs Drew Gulak – Enzo Amore introduced Gulak, talked too much before the match, then joined commentary and talked more. The match was mostly excellent. Part way through Amore left, having apparently decided his phone was more interesting. Gulak was distracted by Amore’s departure and never recovered. Less than a minute later, Cedric Alexander hit the Lumbar Check and got the pin.

– Backstage Amore and Nia Jax had their conversation gate-crashed by, a bloodied, Drew Gulak, trying to apologise to Amore and talk about where he went wrong. Jax left, and Amore shouted at Gulak that he did a lot of things wrong, before storming off. The Jax/Amore dynamic is weird and should end with Nia Jax destroying Enzo Amore in the ring.

– Asuka vs Alicia Fox – This was the rematch they were supposed to have last week, when Fox was attacked by Absolution. She made it to the ring this week, and the match took place. It was short. Fox got some decent looking offence in, Asuka beat her with the armbar anyway.

– Samoa Joe and The Bar vs Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Jason Jordan – This went as well as could be expected, considering Rollins and Jordan had a match earlier, and Jordan caused Ambrose’ loss to Joe last week. They spent the first minute arguing, Jordan tagged himself in, and got stuck in the opposition corner. He stayed there until he eventually rolled close enough for Rollins to tag in. Rollins took most of the punishment from then on (interesting to note that Ambrose’ contributions were minimal). A Rollins suicide dive made Ambrose fall awkwardly on the arm he’s had strapped for weeks, and he was seen by medics. For the finish, Rollins took a Brogue kick from Sheamus, and Cesaro pinned him.

photo credit: wwe.com

– Ambrose and Rollins were attacked in the trainer’s room by Samoa Joe and The Bar. After taking out Rollins, Samoa Joe did more damage to Ambrose’s arm, knocking a packing case onto it. He was apparently taken to a local medical facility for x-rays (see closing paragraph).

– The Revival vs Heath Slater and Rhyno – The Revival are finally back, now we just hope their run of bad luck is over and they stay fit. Short and uneventful match. The Revival won with the Shatter Machine. After the match, backstage, Kurt Angle commiserated with Slater and Rhyno but told them they needed to toughen up if they wanted more opportunities. Rhyno appears to have a plan.

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– Elias said Kurt Angle is afraid of what he’s becoming, then entered himself in the Royal Rumble. His song was interrupted by Sasha Banks. She stood in the ring while Elias tried again, then Mickie James came out. Elias was oblivious to the fact they were just coming out for their match. He gave up when Bayley joined them. Sadly, he denied Bayley a hug but was clearly smiling when he walked away.

The Closing Segment

This should have been Sasha Banks, Bayley and Mickie James vs Absolution, and that’s how it started out. After a few minutes, Deville and Rose took out Bayley and Mickie Rose on the outside, then Absolution beat on Sasha Banks until they were disqualified.

Nia Jax came out, Paige sat in the corner while Rose and Deville tried to take out Jax. Nia Jax Samoan dropped them both at the same time, had her knee taken out from behind by Paige, and the beating started. The whole women’s division ran down to start the brawl, but they barely got chance before Stephanie McMahon’s music hit.

McMahon had been shown earlier, arriving, then talking to Angle. She came to the ring, and everyone miraculously stopped hitting each other. She talked about the women’s revolution and the history-making moments. Then said the women were going to make history one more time.

For the first time ever, the Royal Rumble will feature a women’s Rumble match. The show ended with a yes chant for the news.

photo credit: wwe.com

There was a lot to like in this week’s RAW. Hideo Itami, the return of The Revival, and the announcement of a women’s Royal Rumble match made it a night of pleasant surprises. Unfortunately, WWE confirmed the Ambrose injury is legit. He’s had progressively heavier strapping since before the last UK tour, so it seems the storyline was set up to deal with it. Hopefully, it just needs rest, but it sounds increasingly like it might require surgery. We’ll find out in the next few days. If he is out injured, it will be the first time since his main roster debut.