Without exaggeration, this was one of the most entertaining and iconic things to ever happen on Raw. The show opened with Braun Strowman coming to the ring and talking about how he was going to win the title at Royal Rumble. Eventually Kurt Angle came out, and he was none too pleased considering Strowman literally tried to kill Brock Lesnar and Kane by pulling a wall down on them with a grappling hook last week. This led to Angle removing Strowman from the match at Royal Rumble and firing him.
A security team tried to get Strowman out of the building. It went… poorly. He threw a couple of them into a large garage door and put another one through a table as he made it back into the building to try and find Angle. After going to Angle’s office and not finding him, Strowman trashed it, INCLUDING THROWING AN OFFICE CHAIR THROUGH A TELEVISION. He then made his way to catering and put Curt Hawkins through a table. A short time later, Strowman made his way to the production trucks (they’re worth twelve million dollars!) and threatened to break all the monitors. He didn’t. Instead, he left the truck, unhooked the trailer, AND LITERALLY FLIPPED THE SEMI OVER.
That still wasn’t enough. He went back into the arena and grabbed Michael Cole. By this point, Angle came out and said Strowman could be back in the match as long as he let Cole go. Well… he did. He threw Cole off the stage into the security guards to end his rampage.
A lot has been made about how Strowman is essentially 1996-97 Stone Cold at this point, and it’s tough to disagree. Especially from an “arrive, raise hell, leave” point of view. It’s a matter of if, not when, for his WWE title hopes.
For the second straight week, Titus Worldwide picked up a win over The Bar. Unlike last week, however, it was thanks to a distraction from Jason Jordan. This match accomplished two things: First, it continues to get Titus Worldwide some credibility. Second, Jordan coming out wasn’t something Seth Rollins was aware of. Rollins came out shortly after the match and expressed his displeasure with it. Eventually, Rollins is gonna tire of Jordan and cut bait, and this helps further that.
Goldberg Being Inducted in the Hall of Fame
Ah, yes. Hall of Fame tickets go on sale this week, so WWE has to announce the headliner. While I would have preferred The Rock (they’ll probably wait until they’re in Miami again for that, right?), there’s no arguing Goldberg belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame. His WCW run stands on its own in terms of unprecedented dominance, his initial WWE debut the night after Wrestlemania 19 is probably the second-best WWE debut ever after Chris Jericho, and his second run proved a lot of people (myself included) wrong as he had a series of memorable matches with Brock Lesnar. The only question now is who will induct Goldberg?
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
Remember a couple months ago when the big rumor was that Balor had fallen out of sorts with the powers that be in WWE? Well, he main evented Raw for the second straight week.
This match came about because Jason Jordan told Kurt Angle to put Rollins in a match with Balor, so the rift is getting furthered there. As for the actual match, it was exactly what you’d expect. Balor and Rollins are probably two of the five best workers in the company, so we were in for a treat.
Near the end of the match, Seth hit a frog splash and Balor kicked out after a veeeerrrrrry close two count. Near falls don’t generally get me these days because WWE does them all the time, but this one did. A few minutes later, The Bar’s music hit and they came out. Jordan got out of the way and The Bar started brawling with Gallows and Anderson outside. Balor went over the top and took everyone out and got back in the ring to attempt a Coup De Grace. Rollins avoided it and Jordan tripped Balor behind the referee’s back, leading to a CURB STOMP (!!!!!) from Rollins to end the match.
Rollins doesn’t have a defined finisher, so going back to the curb stomp would be a welcome addition.
Woken Matt Hardy
It’s just not working for me. It was pretty cool and unique a couple times in TNA, and by this point it just feels kind of… not good. All he does is say weird stuff and laugh weirdly. He won a match over Heath Slater and it was a perfectly fine match, but I just don’t like the gimmick.
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Whew, boy. There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, The Revival had a match on Raw! They won! One of the guys they faced was Aaron Solow, who is married to Bayley! After the match, Charly Caruso interviewed them in the ring and they did a worked shoot about how they aren’t a product of the WWE boardroom and they’re the best tag team in wrestling. Hard agree.
Asuka defeated Nia Jax: This was a solid match, despite everyone knowing Asuka was going to win. That’s the main problem when you have someone on a big-time streak on one side, it’s always clear how the result is going to be so you have to be as creative as possible in getting to the result. They’re generally good at that with Asuka. Nia used her size and strength to dominate Asuka for most of the match before Asuka kicked Nia in the calf on the stairs and Nia hurt her leg, leading to a referee stoppage.
Cedric Alexander defeated Tony Nese: Alexander is facing Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight Championship at Royal Rumble, so he faced Nese, who was with Enzo again instead of the much more entertaining Drew Gulak.
Elias: Elias introduced The Miz, yet again. He continues to be one of the most entertaining acts on Raw, if not in the history of Raw at this point.
Sonya Deville defeated Sasha Banks: This was a pretty short match, but Sonya’s physicality and MMA roots were on display. If the reports are to be believe and Paige is unable to compete again in WWE, making the rest of Absolution look strong is a necessity. This is a good start
Roman Reigns defeated The Miztourage: It was a perfectly good Reigns match. Miztourage used the numbers game in their favor, as you should in a handicap match, and Reigns ultimately overcame when attempted distractions by the Miz ended up working against his team. Really wise heel booking, even if it’s been overdone in the majority of tag team matches.
Titus Worldwide d. The Bar
Cedric Alexander d. Tony Nese
Asuka d. Nia Jax
The Revival d. Aaron Solow & Ricky Starks
Roman Reigns d. The Miztourage
Sonya Deville d. Sasha Banks
Matt Hardy d. Heath Slater
Seth Rollins d. Finn Balor
While it’s admittedly a bit weird to start these recaps with the show’s main event, Bobby Roode defeating Jinder Mahal for the United States Championship was easily the most important thing to happen on Smackdown. Heading into the evening, the semifinals of Mahal vs. Xavier Woods and Roode vs. Mojo Rawley were the only things scheduled, with the finals presumably next week. However, after Roode’s victory over Rawley, the Singh Brothers came out and attacked him, leading to Mahal saying he wanted Roode to think about the attack for a full week. Daniel Bryan then came out and moved the finals from next week to this week’s main event!
Bryan and Shane McMahon came out for the main event and the Singh Brothers were banned from ringside as a result of the attack earlier in the night. Roode and Mahal went at it for about 15 minutes, which was impressive given each had already wrestled a match earlier. After a back and forth bout, Roode hit a Glorious DDT to capture his first main roster championship.
If I had to guess, I would imagine Dolph Ziggler shows up next week and goes on about how he never technically lost the title and Roode faces him at Royal Rumble, but we’ll have to wait and see.
It was a pretty weird night for Smackdown, because of the four matches, three were part of the US Title tournament. So, aside from this stuff, nothing really happened.
A-Squad vs. Riott Squad
While no one has actually taken to calling Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Naomi the “A-Squad”, they’re clearly the three best women on Smackdown, and if they’re gonna go against the Riott Squad, the nickname is right there for the taking. This is actually the first installment of this match we’ve seen, unlike Raw which ran Sasha/Bayley/Mickie vs. Absolution like 25 times in a month. It was a nice long match that saw everyone get some solid work in and Liv Morgan took down Naomi for the finish.
It’s going to be interesting to see how these factions work in the Royal Rumble, and what the plans for them are after the Royal Rumble, because it doesn’t seem like a long-lasting idea given they’ve done pretty much everything there is to do at this point.
Regardless of that, I liked this.
It’s hard to really say anything “bad” happened, because I liked all four matches and have a hard time calling interviews or backstage stuff “bad” because it’s ultimately just filler. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens weren’t on the show, which was a weird decision (Owens is apparently dealing with a “nagging injury” according to The Observer) but AJ Styles talked up the handicap match in an interview with Renee Young.
Dasha Fuentes tried to interview The Usos about their 2 of 3 falls match with Gable and Benjamin, but Gable and Benjamin attacked them from behind and had to be pulled apart by officials.
Jinder Mahal d. Xavier Woods (US Title Semifinal)
Bobby Roode d. Mojo Rawley (US Title Semifinal)
Riott Squad d. Lynch/Charlotte/Naomi
Bobby Roode d. Jinder Mahal (US Title Final)