Goldust, Heath Slater, Rhyno, Titus O'Neil and Apollo Crews def. Curt Hawkins, The Miztourage and The Revival
So, I guess this means Goldust is a babyface again without actually turning, eh? In all seriousness, this was a perfectly acceptable opener that the crowd was hot for, if only for Slater and Rhyno. I'm a big Revival fan and I think they're better than being thrown into a match with a bunch of enhancement talent, but they were fun whenever they were in the ring. The babyfaces went over in predictable fashion, and despite not being on TV much in the last year, Slater and Rhyno continue to be a popular act with audiences. On a side note, Hawkins noted on Twitter afterward that this marked his 150th consecutive loss. Thus, I witnessed history, woo!
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore def. Kalisto
Cruiserweight matches, unless they feature certain stars, don't interest me all that much in 2017. That being said, I missed the first half of this match because I went to get food. I do not regret my decision. The match was actually better than expected from what I saw with some entertaining antics from both guys. As expected, Amore got a big pop when he came out before quickly turning the crowd against him with a funny heel promo.
Sasha Banks and Bayley def. Absolution
Paige reportedly suffered an injury at a house show the night prior, so her absence from this match (making what was supposed to be a six-woman tag team match also involving her and Mickie James) was not surprising in the slightest. The tag match we were left with, however, wasn't bad at all. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose held their own and Banks and Bayley carried them to a fairly formulaic albeit good match. I was fine with Absolution losing considering Paige wasn't with them.
"Woken" Matt Hardy def. Bray Wyatt
For anyone wondering if Matt's "Woken" character would be over with most fans (outside of the "smarks"), he was unquestionably popular in Hartford with plenty of people doing the "Delete!" chant and giving him a nice reaction. There wasn't anything too exciting about the match itself, but Matt biting Wyatt at one point was awesome and they pulled off some sweet spots (not high-flying stuff but rather their mannerisms). Hardy winning was only logical.
Kane Attacked Elias, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
Dean Ambrose's injury might have changed up a few different things on the card, because obviously Jason Jordan filled in for him in the Raw Tag Team Championship match and that might have left Elias without an opponent. I was happy he was on the show at all, and the crowd ate this up as he, Anderson and Gallows performed "Freebird". Why can't Anderson and Gallows enjoy themselves like this on TV? Kane attacking them was weird given he's a heel and Braun Strowman was nowhere to be seen on this show, but it was a solid segment, regardless.
Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan def. Sheamus and Cesaro in a Steel Cage Match
Tag team Steel Cage matches can be a bit of a mess sometimes (see: Extreme Rules 2017), but I thought this was a great outing from both tandems. Yes, Rollins and Jordan winning the twin titles only three days earlier made the outcome of this contest predictable, but they almost had me at the end where it was teased that Cesaro and Sheamus would make it to the floor before Rollins (he escaped first, but re-entered the cage to help Jordan, and then Jordan escaped after him). For those curious, there were no signs of a Jordan heel turn in this matchup, so that could very well be dropped for the near future until Creative figures out what to do with him. Furthermore, Rollins wore Bayley's armbands after wearing Alexa Bliss' gloves the night prior, which was a comical sight.
Asuka and Dana Brooke def. Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax (Mickie James Served as Special Guest Referee)
As noted, Paige getting hurt forced James to be pulled from the first women's match of the night, so she was named the special guest referee for this bout instead. Didn't Asuka beat Brooke in a matter of seconds no more than a month ago on Raw? That aside, this was another passable match from the women with Asuka getting the hot tag from Brooke and laying waste to Bliss for the victory, planting the seeds for a future feud between them. Bliss and Jax are close in real life, so their chemistry was exceptional here and they got away with stuff you wouldn't normally see on TV.
Samoa Joe def. Finn Balor
Balor and Joe have produced some tremendous matches in the past between their encounters on NXT and on the main roster and this was no different. I don't know if I would go so far as to say it was the best bout of the night, but it was easily the best wrestled. Balor remains very much over despite his bad booking as of late, and Joe is always a treat to watch. It is worth noting that Joe teased hitting the Muscle Buster, which he hasn't done on TV all year, but he ultimately won with the Coquina Clutch.
Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns def. John Cena
Say what you will about Reigns, but I will admit that putting the Intercontinental title on him for the time being was a smart move because it allows WWE to headline house shows with him (Universal Champion Brock Lesnar rarely wrestles at these things). Plus, Reigns vs. Cena is a marquee match, and the crowd was super loud for this main event. It had a big fight feel to it, and although it was similar to their No Mercy match in that it was one signature move after another, it was what worked for them and it resulted in an exciting outing. Cena showed Reigns respect afterward before allowing Reigns to celebrate with the crowd to close out the show.
I was worried that Ambrose and Paige not being present at the show would take away from my enjoyment of it, but it was still a strong night of wrestling with an ample amount of star power. The three hours flew by, the arena was pretty packed for a live event and most of the matches delivered. This actually took place eight years after my very first Raw show at the very same arena on the very same day, so it was a blast to be back in that building with my girlfriend for one of the better house shows I've been to.