RAW time again, and we’re on the final stretch for two big events. Next week is the 25th-anniversary episode and the go home show for Royal Rumble. We can expect a lot of Rumble business to be tied up tonight to leave the 25th-anniversary show for the celebrations. The preview says to expect Nia Jax versus Asuka, Roman Reigns to exact revenge on The Miz and his Miztourage in some form, and Seth Rollins to continue his attempts to educate Jason Jordan in being a team player. We can also expect to hear more from Braun Strowman, and something from Cedric Alexander and Enzo Amore.

I’m Amanda, and I’m here to make sure you get all the important stuff from RAW.

The Opening Segment

The opening recap was the events leading to Braun Strowman bringing the scenery down on Lesnar and Kane backstage last week. To open the show proper, Braun Strowman took to the ring.

He said he wanted to tell everyone a short story, with a happy ending. The story was that a beast and a machine met a monster at the Royal Rumble, and the last one standing was the monster among men, and he became the new Universal Champion.

Kurt Angle and a lot of security strolled down to ringside. Angle entered the ring and said he has a story too, but it doesn’t have a happy ending. Strowman put lives in danger and cost thousands of dollars in damage to equipment. He created an unsafe working environment.

photo credit: wwe.com

Strowman told him it could have been much worse. He does what he wants when he wants and how he wants.

Angle told Strowman he was lucky Lesnar and Kane could still compete in the match, but it wouldn’t be a triple threat. In fact, Strowman wouldn’t be competing at all, because he was fired. Angle left the ring and Strowman followed him, with security trailing ineffectually behind.

Backstage, Strowman was challenging him to make him leave, when we went for the ads. He held off from destroying the entire security team until we came back, which was good of him. Obviously, he didn’t leave. He stalked back into the building saying, ‘I’m not finished yet. I’m not leaving until everybody gets these hands’.

The Other Stuff

– The Bar vs Titus Worldwide – Sheamus and Cesaro were out for revenge for Crews and O’Neill beating them last week. Apollo Crews is very good, and O’Neill is… tall, and strong. This was a good match, definitely, the best Titus Worldwide have had. Right up until Jason Jordan’s music hit, and the distraction of Jordan appearing allowed Crews to roll up Sheamus for the win. Seth Rollins was remonstrating with Jordan on the stage afterwards.

– Braun Strowman trashed Kurt Angle’s office while searching for him. A few minutes later he trashed catering, and Curt Hawkins, then took a piece of chocolate cake with him to fuel his search.

– Mixed Match Challenge starts tomorrow, with Natalya and Shinsuke Nakamura vs Finn Balor and Sasha Banks.

– Enzo Amore said stuff with too many words until Cedric Alexander and Goldust interrupted. Goldust said if Amore was a movie he’d go straight to DVD, but Alexander was a box office smash. Alexander took the mic, and did Amore’s SAWFT thing at him – the crowd joined in.

photo credit: wwe.com

– Cedric Alexander vs Tony Nese – Goldust was at ringside to stop Enzo Amore becoming an issue. Good match, but would you expect anything less from Nese and Alexander. Cedric Alexander won with the Lumbar check.

– Kurt Angle said he was going to call the police to deal with Strowman, but was interrupted by a frantic official saying he was headed towards the television production trucks. Angle ran off saying they were worth $12m. When Strowman got to the trucks he threw some paperwork around and demanded to be told how to shut everything down before telling everyone to leave, then left himself.

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– After Angle telling Strowman he’d called the cops, Strowman tipped over the tractor used to pull the television truck (after disengaging it) then screamed in Angle’s face and headed out to the ring. Commentary tried to run away, but Strowman grabbed Michel Cole. Kurt Angle caught up, retracted everything he’d said earlier – said he’d called off the cops, and Stephanie McMahon had rehired him and put him back in the match – then, he pleaded with him to let Cole go. Strowman started to leave, then picked Cole up again, and threw him at security. Tom Phillips took over from Michael Cole on commentary after the break.

– Nia Jax vs Asuka – Anyone want to bet on whether Asuka’s undefeated streak ended in a zero-stakes match, on a normal RAW? It was a more even match than Asuka has had in a long time, and she got thrown around a fair bit. Jax powered out Asuka’s first few attempts to submit her. Asuka just kicked out of a massive powerbomb. Jax barely made it to the ropes while in a kneebar. More damage was done to the knee when Jax’ leg was caught between the steel steps and the ring, and that proved to be it. The referee called a stoppage after Jax was unable to stand.

– Jason Jordan and Kurt Angle had an awkward segment where Jordan thanked him for everything and said he’d had Angle’s back while Strowman was rampaging. Then talked Angle into giving Rollins a singles match against Finn Balor, by talking on Seth’s behalf again.

– Tribute to Martin Luther King. Very nicely done. There was also a segment with some of the WWE superstars visiting the National Civil Rights Museum

– Alexa Bliss with Nia Jax in the trainer’s room. Bliss was freaking out about Jax getting hurt. Enzo Amore came to check on Jax, Bliss tried to make him go away. Jax made Bliss leave instead.

– The Revival vs Aaron Solow and Ricky Starks (the tag team Extra Talented) – Squash match to remind people who The Revival are, and that they’re good. In an in-ring interview post-match, Dash and Dawson said they’d delivered a clinic in tag team excellence. They are students of the game. They’re not interested in any of the old superstars who will be on next week, because they’re not superstars, they’re professional wrestlers (don’t hear that often on WWE programming).

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– This week’s song from Elias was about what he plans to do to John Cena at Royal Rumble, but he still managed to get a dig in about a local sports team.

– The Miz had some mic time before Reigns vs The Miztourage. He talked about getting welcome back chants after only being away for six weeks. He said that felt awesome, as did Angle granting him his rematch for the 25th-anniversary show, and destroying Reigns at the end of last week’s RAW. He’s the spark in RAW, the Intercontinental title is his, he’ll reclaim it next week, and it’ll be awesome.

– Roman Reigns vs The Miztourage – Miz started being a distraction early, by parading around with the IC belt at the start of the match. Reigns allowed himself to be side-tracked until Dallas and Axel double-teamed him at ringside. Their advantage didn’t last long. Reigns destroyed the Miztourage and nearly got his hands on Miz. There was a moment where Curtis Axel rolled Reigns up with a handful of waistband, but it only got him two, then Reigns speared and pinned him.

– Sasha Banks vs Sonya Deville – Bayley and Mickie James accompanied Banks, Paige and Mandy Rose were with Deville. Commentary confirmed Paige is ruled out of the Royal Rumble match due to a neck injury, but no mention of the rumours she will never be cleared for an in-ring return. Short and sweet. Sonya Deville won after she kneed Sasha Banks in the chest as Banks came off the top turnbuckle.

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– Seth Rollins was unhappy with Jason Jordan for speaking on his behalf, reminding him they’re teammates, Jordan isn’t his spokesman. It’s annoying that everyone seems to have forgotten that Jordan’s last team, American Alpha, were rather successful; he must have learned some of this stuff there.

– Matt Hardy vs Heath Slater – The next step in Rhyno’s toughen up Slater series. It didn’t work. Matt Hardy ‘deleted’ Heath Slater, with the Twist of Fate.

– Goldberg will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. He is the first to be officially announced.

The Main Event – Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor

This seems like kind of a big match to give away on a whim, more of a PPV match than a bog-standard RAW main event. Not that I’m complaining, it was great.

Despite Gallows and Anderson, and Jason Jordan, on the outside, there was no outside interference for the majority of the match, just Balor and Rollins showing what they can do. There are enough similarities in their styles to make them very compatible, and they’re a lot of fun to watch.

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Sadly, we didn’t get a clean finish – but that wasn’t ever on the cards, was it? At one point it looked like Balor got a clear three-count on Rollins, but the ref insisted it was two (post-match replays appeared to show it was more than three). Then Sheamus and Cesaro came down and attacked Gallows and Anderson. Balor dived over the top rope onto all four.

Jason Jordan caught hold of Balor’s leg and tripped him. Seth Rollins hit Balor with a Curb Stomp for the win. They called it a Blackout, but it’s the same move. The cameras stayed on Balor for a weirdly long time after the match had ended, just watching him stumbling around looking dazed, with Gallows and Anderson holding him up. Very odd end to the show.

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That was a much more entertaining RAW than I was expecting. Next week is the 25th-anniversary show, and it’s going to be star-studded. Amongst the names announced are; The Bella Twins, Tori Wilson, Kelly Kelly, The New Age Outlaws, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Godfather, Jim Ross, Teddy Long, Sergeant Slaughter, and way too much more to list. So many big names will certainly make for a ton of shenanigans. It’s going to be great fun, and I’ll recap it all right here. I’ll also go over the Royal Rumble card. See you next week.