Opening Segment

The first Raw of 2018 started off with Alexa Bliss walking backstage. She approached Kurt Angle and started giving Angle all the reasons she could of for her match against Asuka not to happen.

He said he wanted to start the year off with a WrestleMania worthy match and they can settle it in the ring tonight. He said she’s lucky this isn’t a championship match against Asuka… yet.

Then Kurt Angle left to make his entrance in the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. The crowd was happy to see him as always and chanted “you suck” at him because they love him.

Angle promised 2018 will be even greater than 2017. Then he plugged the Raw 25th Anniversary and Royal Rumble PPV. He mentioned that John Cena is in the Royal Rumble match and had to specify “men’s” because there will be two matches.

He announced that the same rules will apply to both the men and women. 30 entrants, over the top rope, and the winner will get a championship shot at Mania.

Then The Bar came out to bitch about losing their Raw Tag Team Championships last week. While people chanted “you look stupid” Sheamus continued and Cesaro reiterated the point that it was too much how Kurt Angle came out after the match last week to congratulate his baby boy and pose with the new Raw Tag Team Champions.

The Bar said they wanted a rematch tonight and Angle said it will happen when he says so. Then Jason Jordan came out with a Raw Tag Team Title around his waist. He asked if he didn’t deserve a shot at the title, then why is he wearing his title.

JJ said his opportunity was based on his track record and not his DNA because Kurt Angle doesn’t show favorites. JJ ordered to bust Cesaro’s refurbished mouth and Cesaro wanted to jump him. So Angle booked a match between Jason and Cesaro.

Insert Seth Rollins here. Rollins came down and gave JJ some lessons in teamwork. Jason Jordan is the first guy to ever hold all three current WWE Tag Team Champions (NXT, SmackDown, Raw) so yeah, he knows how to be a partner.

Chants of “daddy’s boy” rang out from the Miami crowd as Seth said he’ll be in JJ’s corner but he’ll probably just be out there to watch him lose.

Sheamus kneed Jason in the back before the match even started sending him toppling to the floor while Rollins tried to coach him on.

Jason Jordan vs Cesaro

It looks like Seth Rollins’ words rang true as Cesaro dissected JJ and focused on his knee.

Jordan sold the knee pretty well, but even when he tried to mount a comeback and hit two belly-to-belly suplexes in a row, he couldn’t get the pin on The Swiss Cyborg. Jordan hit that nice Northern Lights into a rolling German suplex with a bridge for the pin but got another two count.

“Rusev Day” chants rang out as Cesaro locked JJ in a one-legged crap to continue his focus on Jordan’s knee. Cesaro turned it into a full crab but Jordan got to the ropes. Rollins took out Sheamus at ringside as Jason Jordan his hit elevated neckbreaker out of nowhere and picked up the win.

Winner: Jason Jordan via pinfall

“How did he pull that one off?” Michael Cole asked in a shocked fashion. It looks like Seth Rollins is trying to get some message across to JJ. But Jordan didn’t stand with Seth and raise their hands together. Instead, he just headed off by himself while Rollins clapped and smirked.

Backstage Interview

Roman Reigns said Samoa Joe got what he deserved last week and isn’t worried about this week. He said, “Joe is a punk. He talks like a punk and walks like a punk.” I think that’s the most times the word “punk” has been used in WWE television intentionally in almost four years.

Bray Wyatt vs Apollo Crews

Bray came out for action and it was great to see him. His entrance is timeless at this point and should NEVER be messed with.

The entire Titus Worldwide crew came out with Crews including Dana Brooke dressed like a secretary (it’s a good look for her).

Apollo tried to use his speed against Bray, but The Eater Of Worlds headbutted him down which was pretty nice. After that, Bray Wyatt picked Apollo Crew apart for a bit. Crew flipped around the ring and leapfrogged over Wyatt to catch a dropkick but it only got a one count.

“Delete” chants rose from the crowd as the match carried on. Wyatt hit one of those nice suspended jawbreakers he does as he started to rub it in while Dana Brooke simply looked up in horror. That was also a good look for her.

But when Bray geared up for his creepy upside down glare at the turnbuckle, Dana got on the apron and distracted Bray. He spooked Brooke and she tell on Titus but he caught her well.

Suddenly, Apollo Crew tried to take over, but Bray hit a Sister Abigail out of nowhere and picked up the win.

Winner: Bray Wyatt via pinfall

Suddenly Woken Matt Hardy was on the screen and laughed manically before saying he was going to turn Wyatt’s fireflies into Woken Warriors. He spoke in in his usual over-the-top fashion as he said once he has drained Sister Abigail of all her powers, he will DELETE Bray Wyatt. Then as Matt laughed the screen split into two and then four and then eight and then sixteen and then soon enough the entire screen was full of laughing Matt Hardys.

Backstage Segment

Nia Jax was walking backstage with a Tupperware bowl full of chicken noodle soup. Alexa Bliss said she needed her and Nia said she needed to take the soup to Enzo because he’s in the hospital and he’s crushed that he can’t defend his Cruiserweight Championship against Cedric Alexander as promoted.

Alexa Bliss said Jax needs to make a decision between her or Enzo and Nia Jax said she was sorry but her soup was getting cold. Then she left out of the back door… Alexa looked very upset and asked if everyone had lost their minds.

Alexa Bliss vs Asuka

Bliss avoided a kick from Asuka from the get-go and seemed scared as she should be because those kicks are dangerous. Then Asuka tried to hit a backhand but that didn’t work either as Alexa Bliss got in the ropes to avoid contact.

Bliss tied Auska up and the two traded positions until Asuka took Bliss down with a headlock. Bliss avoided a kneebar and got back to her feet. Bliss and Asuka struggled for an advantage and finally separated.

Asuka approached Bliss slowly but Little Miss Bliss tangled herself in the ropes again to cause the referee to back Asuka off. Suddenly Asuka hit a hip attack and Alexa Bliss rolled out of the ring to take a breather.

Alexa teased getting back in the ring a few times and finally got in just to roll outside again while the crowd booed her for not getting her head kicked off by The Empress Of Tomorrow.

Asuka grabbed Alexa as soon as she got in the ring and kicked her very hard in the back. Bliss tangled herself in the ropes again and kicked Asuka quickly before leaving the ring once more.

Bliss tried to gain an advantage with underhanded means and worked on Asuka’s ribs. Then Asuka locked on an ankle lock but Bliss got to the ropes and drove Asuka’s ribs into the ropes in the process. Bliss stretched Asuka around the ring post as Michael Cole started to hype the fact that if Bliss beats Asuka then it will be her first loss in WWE.

Bliss hit a backbreaker on Asuka and took the former NXT Women’s Champion down hard before mounting her to lay in some punches and forearms. 1-2-kick out!

Alexa wrapped her legs around Asuka to apply more pressure to her ribs. Asuka turned around and Bliss caught her with a modified guillotine chokehold.

Then Bliss screwed up when she slapped Asuka across the face. That seemed to just wake Asuka up as she hit Bliss with multiple dropkicks followed by a missile dropkick off the middle rope.

Asuka waited for Bliss to get up and soon sent her knee into Bliss’ face. Bliss tried to roll around Asuka in the turnbuckle but Asuka turned it around and got a two count. Bliss dropkicked Asuka out of the ring and Asuka caught her with a kick as Asuka was getting in.

Then Asuka caught another kick and locked in the armbar. Bliss tapped… the champion tapped… you know what that usually means.

Winner: Asuka via submission

Backstage Interview

Samoa Joe said he is going to own Roman Riegns because he exposed Roman Reigns and because of him The Shield will never be champions together. Because of him Dean Ambrose is a stay at home husband living off of his wife. Mind you, Ambrose’s wife Renee Young was the one conducting this interview. Wow, a face crack was deserved, but Renee kept it totally professional.

Braun Strowman vs Rhyno

Slater and Rhyno need to get things going and revamp their tag team. After all, they’ve slipped cosiderably since ending up on Raw.

There were some ECW chants and “let’s go Rhyno” early on but it didn’t help. After all, Strowman likes to smash. Slater tried to encourage Rhyno from the apron but soon begged off when Braun went after him.

Then Strowman grabbed a microphone and said Slater had two options “you cheerleader” he can either stand on the outside or get in the ring and “get these hands like your partner.”

The double team effort against Strowman didn’t help much because Strowman soon shoved them both off and Braun smashed them both with splashes in either corner. Then he hit Rhyno with a running powerslam and yeah… that was pretty badass.

Winner: Braun Strowman via pinfall

“One more time” chants broke out in the crowd and Braun Strowman delivered as he swatted Slater away and hit a running powerslam on the One Man Band. Then he hit another on Rhyno before his music finally hit and the bloodthirsty crowd was appeased… oh yeah… then Heath Slater got another running powerslam too.

But before Strowman left he picked up Heath Slater and hit another running powerslam seemingly killing the entire Slater/Rhyno team. It was quite definitive and brutal. If there’s a way to pull the nose up on their team something needs to happen fast.

Backstage Segment

Roman Reigns was backstage when Seth Rollins walked up to him. Seth said he heard what Joe said to Renee and wanted to make sure everything was cool. Roman said he hopes the world is watching and there are a few things you can do just don’t mess with our brother. Jason Jordan walked in and people booed. Then he said he The Bar interfered with the IC Title match then they’ll take care of them, “you can believe that.”

After JJ walked away, Roman and Seth shared a look and it was awkward because JJ made it awkward.

Backstage Segment

Braun Strowman was walking backstage and Kane was there with his hands up saying he only wanted to talk. Kane wanted to talk about Lesnar and said together they can tame the beast and they need to be on the same page.

Strowman said he doesn’t care about Kane or his plan and that he’s the only Alpha Monster around WWE. He said when he takes down Lesnar it will be on his own terms.

Meanwhile, Kurt Angle was on his cell phone which shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Suddenly Finn Balor was there saying he’s in the Royal Rumble match.

Then Finn Balor introduced his partners for the six-man tag match against Elias and Miztourage and suddenly Gallows and Anderson were standing next to their former Bullet Club partner and I totally marked out.

Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns (Intercontinental Championship Match)

Both of these men looked very serious and wanted to get at each other. But JoJo still did the introductions and Roman got a very good pop.

Joe started it off by bringing it out of the gate with some fast hands and elbows to the back of Roman’s head. Reigns sat in the corner very early on but came back with right hands of his own to sit Joe down on the opposite side while he stomped away at his opponent.

The referee was the same one from last week who called for a DQ and while he distracted Roman, Joe came up from behind to hit a massive suplex for a two count.

Joe bulldozed over Roman and continued his abuse on The Big Dog but Roman would soon mount a comeback just to be met with a right hand and kick to the back of the neck from Joe for another two count.

Samoa Joe launched Reigns into the turnbuckle and the impact sent The Big Dog bouncing back onto the canvas. While the crowd chanted “Joe,” he kept Roman down with a submission hold and wrenched at his neck.

Joe eventually hit Roman with a suicide dive but both men made it back to the ring before the referee could count to ten. Samoa Joe beat on Roman for a while and begged him to “come on!”

“Hit me!” Roman demanded so Joe did just that but The Big Dog returned fire and hit a Samoan Drop for a two count. Reigns cocked his fist for a Superman Punch but Samoa Joe rolled out of the ring at the best moment to throw a wet blanket over Reign’s momentum. Reigns came around the ring and tried to hit a Superman Punch from the steps but Joe caught him and hammered Reigns’ head off the steps while he said, “this is for Dean!”

Then Joe launched Reigns into the steps but Roman reversed it and sent Joe slamming into the steps instead. Roman picked up the steps but the the referee got between him and Joe.

Samao joe hit Roman after he didn’t take the bait. Then Roman hit a Superman Punch off the steps outside and they returned tot he ring so he could hit another Superman Punch for a two count.

Roman fired up like the Ultimate Warrior and shook the ropes. He went for a spear but Joe raised his foot to catch Reigns. Joe shoved Roman into the referee and he almost called for the bell. The referee got in the way again and Roman had to shove the referee again so he didn’t get hit but it resulted in Roman taking a uranage slam from Joe for a two count.

Joe tried to get a Coquina Clutch but Roman fought out of it and hit the spear for the win. Yup, “it doesn’t get any better than that” Micheal Cole said convincingly.

Winner and STILL IC Champion: Roman Reigns via pinfall

Backstage Segment

As Kurt Angle watched Roman celebrate on a monitor backstage, Paul Heyman came up and said there is a conspiracy against Lesnar. Paul said 2018 shall be “The Year Of The Beast” and then he left. Neat.

Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari vs Cedric Alexander and Goldust

Drew Gulak was there to read a statement from Enzo Amore and it was pretty hilarious to hear him read Enzo’s message because of how exactly he pronounced everything. Suddenly as Gulak read that Enzo wished he could be there to tell Alexander what he thought of him, Cedric came out saying he came there expecting competition and a Cruiserweight Championship match.

The thing is, Enzo really is sick and WWE just can’t take the chance of having another infectious disease rolling around backstage.

Then the heels said they’ll have a tag match against anyone Cedric can get and suddenly Goldust came out… apparently, The Bizarre One is now a Cruiserweight. Neat!

Goldust said he’s got some friends in low places but none are lower than them… so Goldust is a babyface again too which is fine…

The babyfaces won with Cedric Alexander getting the pinfall.

Winners: Cedric Alexander and Goldust via pinfall

The Bullet Club (Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson) vs Miztourage and Elias

I’ll just say it… this is awesome and a great way to kick off 2018.

Elias has gotten so much better at guitar as he picked away and announced WWE stands for “Walk With Elias” therefore Raw is his show and the WWE Universe is his Universe and he asked who wanted to walk with him and got a very positive response. He’s supposed to be a bad guy.

Suddenly the Miztourage emerged from the shadows with a tambourine and a cowbell to accompany Elias in a song. Miztourage announced The Miz will be back next week which is exciting. Then they played a version of Auld Lang Syne that sounded about as awful as possible. Elias insulted The Rock during his song… but then The Club interrupted him.

Finn Balor came out with a huge smile on his face and the entire AmericanAirlines Arean threw up their arms in unison on cue with the lights during his entrance. That’s always so awesome to see.

Finn Balor took a beating from Curtis Axel and Elias at first. He tried to get to his partners but Elias kept him down and Balor had to kick out of a pin.

Finn hit a double foot stomp onto Elias while Balor tagged Gallows and Dallas got the tag on the other side. Gallows smashed Bo in the corner and hit him with a nice kick and a splash but Elias broke up the pinning attempt. Gallows took out both members of The Miztourage and tagged Karl Anderson to hit the Magic Killer followed by the Coup De Gras from Finn and that was all she wrote on the Bullet Club reunion.

Winners: Finn Balor and The Club via pinfall

They played a great promo for The Miz as if fans have forgotten how awesome he is while he filmed the Marine 6. After all, he was Rolling Stone Magazine’s WWE Superstar Of The Year.

Brock Lesnar Closes Out The Show

There were huge “Suplex City” chants before Paul Heyman even spoke and when he did the entire crowd chanted along with his introduction.

It looked like Lesnar was growing his beard back which is a sign of how long it’s been since we last saw him.

Heyman went on about how the Royal Rumble isn’t going to be fair because it will be The Beast vs The Monster vs The Machine. As Heyman kept talking they showed Braun Strowman watching on a monitor backstage and he was watching intently.

Heyman said Brock Lesnar losing isn’t going to happen and, “spoiler: Brock Lesnar will successfully defend at the Royal Rumble.” He said it doesn’t matter how you stack the deck against Lesnar because The Beast Incarnate will defeat anyone. Because Brock Lesnar fears no challenger, challenge, or challengers. He’s not afraid of monsters and he doubts that Kane is the devil’s favorite because he’s had a conversation “with the man down below” and his favorite is Lesnar.

Mic drop and then they were leaving.

Suddenly, Kane came out as they were leaving the ring Kane chokeslammed Lesnar and left. But as he did, Brock sat up like Kane and laughed at him. Lesnar clotheslines Kane over the top rope and there were already a ton of Superstars at ringside to break up the brawl. It looked like they were brought down early.

But Brock Lesnar raised his Universal Championship up high to end the night.

 

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Aaron Varble hasn’t just been writing for more than a decade in various formats including sketch comedy, stand up, television, radio, and other various projects; nor is he just another professional wrestling fan with a master's degree in journalism and Tourette’s syndrome. He's always looking to explore the why not with the why and the how come along with the how. Follow on Twitter @TheVarble