Raw General Manager Kurt Angle Fired Braun Strowman
Why didn't Angle fire Strowman months ago when he attempted to murder Roman Reigns, Kane and so many others? Why now? Just something to think about. Anyway, it isn't often we see someone get "fired" to kick off an episode of Raw, but it was a hell of a hook for the rest of the show, especially once it became apparent that we'd be witnessing a whole show centered around him wreaking havoc.
Apollo Crews and Titus O'Neil def. Sheamus and Cesaro
I wasn't fond of Titus Worldwide beating Sheamus and Cesaro last week, but I figured it would result in a rebound victory for the heels on this week's show. Well, that wasn't the case, as the babyfaces won yet again, this time off a distraction from Jason Jordan. The match itself was decent, but it's tough to get invested in Crews and O'Neil after they spent so many months serving as enhancement talent.
Cedric Alexander def. Tony Nese
Based off Goldust standing in Alexander's corner for this match, it's safe to say he's officially an unofficial member of the Cruiserweight division. The division is so beyond dead that it's hard to even care. As for the match, it was well-wrestled, but the crowd sat on their hands for a majority of it until Alexander hit his finisher. Watch their matchup from last week's 205 Live instead, which was better in my opinion.
Asuka def. Nia Jax by Referee Stoppage
The commentators really played up the possibility of Jax ending Asuka's undefeated streak here, even though no one honestly expected that to happen. As a match, this was solid with Jax on offense and Asuka acting as the underdog, but it was an "injury" that ultimately prevented Jax from continuing to compete (and losing by pinfall or submission). Don't surprised if WWE goes back to this feud after the Royal Rumble.
Raw General Manager Kurt Angle Rehired Braun Strowman
Everyone knew Strowman was going to get rehired eventually, it was more a matter of how long WWE would drag this angle out. It should have lasted longer than it did, but it was a blast while it lasted, because everything he was involved in on this show was incredible. It was slightly ridiculous at times, mind you, but there's no denying that crowds are into Strowman right now. Of course, WWE will ignore his popularity and instead keep the Universal Championship on Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble.
The Revival def. Local Athletes
The Revival have been conspicuous by their absence on Raw for a few weeks, and no, they didn't get hurt again. Rather, Creative simply had nothing for them. This was a short and sweet showcase for them, but their post-match promo was even better as they referred to themselves as "professional wrestlers" and said they weren't "produced by the WWE board room." Sadly, this will probably lead to them getting laid out by some old tag teams on next week's 25th anniversary of Raw show.
Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns def. The Miztourage in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
For the second straight week, Elias introduced The Miz and The Miztourage. There has to something to that, right? I'm all for Elias taking Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel under his wing and allowing Miz to do his own thing eventually. Speaking of Miz, his pre-match promo did a great job of hyping up next week's Intercontinental Championship match between himself and Reigns. This was the third Handicap match Miztourage has been in recently, and while it was pretty basic, the win gave Reigns an added momentum boost heading into his next title defense.
Sonya Deville def. Sasha Banks
For what it's worth, Paige accompanied Deville to the ring for this match and Tom Phillips (who replaced Michael Cole after the Strowman attack) noted that she is out of the women's Royal Rumble with a neck injury. It was reported over the weekend that her in-ring career, at least in WWE, is over, but WWE has yet to confirm or deny those rumors. At any rate, Deville impressed me with her performance against Banks. It didn't blow me away, but she is making strides. The kick to the midsection of Banks was a weird way to end the match, but it was a clean victory, nevertheless.
"Woken" Matt Hardy def. Heath Slater
This wasn't as enjoyable as Hardy's match with Curt Hawkins from last week, and it probably didn't need to last as long as it did, but it served its purpose. I'm happy Hardy is winning matches with his new "Woken" gimmick, but I'm desperately hoping we'll start to see more elements added to the act in the near future, such as Queen Rebecca or Vanguard 1. That was the stuff that helped him get on the map in TNA.
Raw Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins def. Finn Balor
Anyone else remember when the first-ever match between these two in WWE was ruined by the awful crowd in Brookyln (and I was there) at SummerSlam 2016 because of the stupid chants for the Universal Championship belt? Thankfully, this match didn't suffer from that same issue, and because of that, this was a vast improvement with plenty of excitement surrounding it. I could have done without the interference from Sheamus and Cesaro, but it did protect Balor in defeat. Oh, and by the way, THE CURB STOMP IS BACK!! I'm not sure for what reason, but I won't question it because I have missed it dearly. Is Balor Club on the verge of turning heel because of what happened afterward with Balor teasing concussion problems?
Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I believe Raw has slowly but surely been picking up the pace in terms of quality lately. There's actually been more hype for Raw's huge 25th anniversary show next week than there has been for the Royal Rumble, and I'm totally cool with that because it will be a big deal. Not to mention I will be in attendance for both events, along with NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia, so it will be a busy week for sure. Regardless, this was an entertaining episode on the whole with an excellent main event and Strowman stealing the show yet again.