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Monday Night Raw was set to be a big night the week before their big 25th Anniversary Show. In all reality, the first episode of Raw was actually January 11th, 1993 so this very well could be the actual 25th-year celebration. But a go-home show for the Royal Rumble makes sense too.

Nia Jax was set to take on Asuka while Roman Reigns was looking to seek retribution on The Miz and his Miztourage. Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan were on their way to the Royal Rumble, and hopefully JJ’s not really injured so he can carry the Raw Tag Team Championships into Philly.

Braun Strowman was set for some destruction as always as Cedric Alexander is still zeroing in on Enzo Amore and his Cruiserweight Championship.

But the biggest story has to be Paige as reports are she will never wrestle again. What happened next for the Anti Diva not only shaped her career but answered a lot of questions.

Opening Segment

Braun Strowman came out and wanted to tell us a story with a happy ending about a Monster Among Men who became Universal Champion. Suddenly, Kurt Angle wanted to come out and he had plenty of security around. You have to love the guys WWE can find to play the parts of their security guards.

“I was telling them a story,” Braun said.

Angle said he had a story too but it doesn’t have a happy ending. He chastised Strowman for his antics last week where he almost murdered Lesnar and Kane. Angle said they settle things in the ring on Raw and not backstage with a grappling hook.

Strowman said if he wants to walk into Suplex City and kick the walls down or kick the door to Hell down, then that’s what he’ll do. He’ll also become WWE Universal Champion.

Then Kurt Angle yanked Strowman from the match at Royal Rumble to a chorus of boos but when he fired Braun Strowman, it really got the crowd going.

Angle left a shocked Strowman in the ring and he was led out by security with little fanfare. “This is shocking,” Michael Cole said.

Security continued to lead Strowman backstage and suddenly he stopped and turned to look at the local enhancement talent they had acquired for the night. “You gonna tell me to leave? Make me leave!” Strowman said as they backed up looking scared.

They continued to lead Strowman to the exit, “you gotta leave” said one very unsmart security guard. Suddenly, Strowman started wrecking all of them and everyone took awesome bumps into different things laying around backstage. “I’m not finished yet, I’m not leaving until everybody gets these hands!” Strowman roared before walking off.

The Bar vs Titus Worldwide

Sheamus and Cesaro are looking for some revenge for their upset loss last week. Titus and Cesaro got very rough with each other and there were plenty of stiff shots back and forth. Cesaro did a good job getting beat up by Titus and then by Crews after he got the tag.

But Cesaro would soon get a blind tag to Sheamus and then they took Apollo Crews down thanks to a top rope clothesline from The Celtic Warrior.

The Bar kept the pressure on Apollo Crew while Titus waited on the apron looking on at his partner take the abuse. Cesaro and Titus got tagged in at the same time and O’Neil took it to Cesaro in a big way. He hit a barrage of strikes followed by a splash in the corner and a powerslam.

But Sheamus would get the tag and they took it to Titus. Cesaro was taken to the floor and he dodged a dive from Apollo. The Bar scored a near fall when Cesaro nailed a forearm on Titus but Apollo soon hit a cross body for a two count and then immediately nailed a standing moonsault for another two count.

The Bar was about to hit a double Celtic Cross on Apollo when Jason Jordan’s music hit. He came out with the Raw Tag Team Championship around his waist and distracted Sheamus while Apollo scored a roll-up pinfall to cost The Bar another loss.

Winners: Titus Worldwide via pinfall

Seth Rollins came out and talked to Jason Jordan not looking too pleased with what just happened for some reason.

Braun Strowman was backstage on his rampage asking where Kurt Angle’s office is. He found a door labeled “Kurt Angle” and he kicked it in. But the office was empty so he destroyed everything in there including the flatscreen television and all the furniture.

Meanwhile in catering everyone was having a good time. Someone ran in and yelled “Braun Strowman is coming” and he sure dud. Strowman turned over a table as everyone scattered. Curt Hawkins took a bump through a table and then Strowman turned around to find a guy standing there with a big chocolate cake.

Strowman stopped and looked at the guy with the cake, took a little bite, and walked off.

Tony Nese vs Cedric Alexander

Enzo Amore was accompanying Tony Nese and favoring his knee that’s supposed to be hurt from last week so it’s good to have that continuity. Enzo said he’s doing better than Curt Hawkins and Strowman is a Monster Among Men, but so is he.

He said he’ll also be walking out of the Royal Rumble as the Cruiserweight Champion. Then he said if he wants to get through him, he’ll have to get through Tony Nese.

Cedric Alexander came out and motioned for the back when Goldust came out and cut a promo on Enzo. He said if Enzo was a film he’d go straight to DVD and Cedric is a box office smash. Then Alexander stole Enzo’s line and said he was SAWFT.

Backstage

Meanwhile, backstage Strowman was tearing things apart and pushed a dumpster through some tables that were set up around in some seating area.

Back To The Match

Nese and Alexander were already wrestling while the destruction backstage continued. Alexander took some kicks and a dropkick to Nese and then hit a charge in the corner but Tony knocked him down and kicked the roped right into a fireman’s carry which was a nice move.

While Nese counted his abs, Alexander was able to get back on his feet. Nese hung Alexander in the tree of woe and kicked him while doing setups which was fun. But Alexander wouldn’t stay down.

Goldust started to stalk Enzo at ringside and startled Amore. Goldust mocked Enzo’s dance while Alexander took over in the ring. Nese counted into a faceplant but Cedric nipped up and hit a flying clothesline off the top rope.

Nese blocked the Lumbar Check but after a little bit of wrestling around and trading counters, he would soon hit it to score the win. That was a really nice ending between two great workers.

Winner: Cedric Alexander via pinfall

Braun Strowman SMASH

Kurt Angle was back in his office while people tried to put it together. He said he had no choice but to call the SWAT team on Braun because he’s like a “wild elephant.”

Suddenly, a referee ran in and said Strowman was headed for the television trucks.

“Oh god, they’re worth twelve million dollars!” Angle said while he grabbed his bald head with both hands. Then they ran off to supposedly stop him.

Strowman climbed into the television truck and asked what things did. He asked if he smashed something would it shut off all the monitors. He tore around the backstage set and everyone ran away including people you NEVER SEE like Kevin Dunn. After running everyone off, Strowman left and then all of the production people went back into the control room.

Suddenly everything started to shake and Strowman was seen driving the semi. Strowman got out and started to lift they semi. Angle stopped him so Braun left. Then Braun Strowman tipped over the semi. They cut to a few different cameras angles during this little truck including one that looked like a surveillance camera. It was pretty well done but overdone at the same time since he’s already done this with an ambulance.

Strowman started to walk out into the arena with everyone following him. He walked to the ring and stopped at the entrance ramp for a moment and looked at the announce team. Braun Strowman grabbed Michael Cole and dragged him up the ramp by his belt.

Braun picked Cole up and Kurt Angle ran up to him and said that Strowman isn’t fired, he called off the cops, and he’s back in the big match at the Royal Rumble. Well, that was well worth it. Strowman celebrated but before he left, the Monster Among Men picked up Michale Cole and launched him off the entrance ramp into a sea of security guards who all had their arms up to catch him safely. But they all sold it well as they went crashing to the floor.

Tom Phillips just happened to be backstage and he took over for Michael Cole saying he wishes he could be there under different circumstances. He really is good at what he does though so Raw’s play-by-play is still in good hands.

Nia Jax vs Asuka

It’s time to see if this match can be better on the main roster than it was in NXT.

Nia tossed Asuka down from the beginning. Then Asuka started laying in some forearms. She wrapped herself around Jax and twisted her in a torturous submission hold. Jax fought out and hit a backbreaker.

Jax tossed Asuka across the ring and Asuka nailed her with a kick to the head. Asuka went shooting off the ropes and Jax nailed her with a clothesline.

Jax went to get Asuka, but she wrapped her up in an armbar but Jax lifted her up and tossed her against the turnbuckle. Nia Jax latched on a bearhug and squeezed the life out of Asuka until she tried for a sunset flip but it didn’t work.

Asuka came back with a sliding kick to Nia Jax and both women were taken to another level. Asuka started hitting backfists and Jax kicked out of a roll-up pin. Then Asuka stated nailing Jax with kicks until Nia Jax caught her and hit a powerbomb.

Jax took her time covering Asuka so The Empress Of Tomorrow kicked out. Nia Jax was livid at this point.

She got Asuka up but she countered and locked on a kneebar. Jax struggled to get to the ropes and finally grabbed the bottom rope but Asuka was primed to continue as Jax got up.

Nia tossed Asuka to the floor and then followed to send her into the stairs. Jax started to walk up the stairs but Asuka kicked her leg out from under her and Nia split the stairs. Jax let out a huge scream of pain as she fell to the floor and seemed human while she whimpered in pain while she got in the ring. Jax tried to get to her feet but collapsed under her weight. Then the referee called for the bell.

Winner: Asuka via no contest

The ringside trainers came down to check on Nia Jax and so did Alexa Bliss. They made this seem very real as well.

Backstage Segment

Kurt Angle was back in his destroyed office and Jason Jordan came in to thank his dad for the Raw Tag Team Title shot. Jason said he’s been behind Angle the whole time to protect him from Strowman.

Then he said Seth and him are ready to compete at the Royal Rumble then he asked for a match for Seth Rollins (Angle asked who “you guys wanna face” but JJ said he wanted singles competition presumably because Jason’s injured) then he said the perfect opponent for Rollins would be Finn Balor. Yeah, that match worked out so well at SummerSlam 2016.

Nia Jax was icing down her knee as Alexa Bliss was talking to her and saying she’s sorry for getting involved. Then Enzo walked in and said he’s got this, Bliss said she “got this,” and then Nia Jax said, “Bliss, he’s got this.”

Enzo Amore stood next to Nia Jax as she continued to ice down her knee.

The Revival vs Enhancement Talent

It’s great to see The Revival back on Raw! Dawson started with his guy and applied some pain until Wilder got the tag and he continued. He let his opponent tag in a fresh partner and didn’t even let him come in before attacking him.

The Revival hit a double gourd buster and then a Shatter Machine. 1-2-3

Winners: The Revival via pinfall

“That is what you call an exhibition,” Booker T said. Very simple squash match, but I’m so glad to see it happen for Dash and Dawson.

After the match was over, The Revival cut a great promo. Dawson said they’re students of the game and all they’re worried about is mastering holds and winning matches. Wilder said they’re old school and there’s nothing old school about DX and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

He said they’re not sports entertainers, “we’re professional wrestlers”… wow. The banned “w-word.”

Dawson said “this is out universe” as the people started to boo them. “And there’s only one team that’s gonna set the tone of Raw for the next 25 years and jack, you’re looking at ’em.”

The Miztourage Featuring Intro From Elias

The Drifter is so over at this point and everyone wants to Walk With Elias. He said he hoped Michael Cole is okay and he’s there to teach people a lesson and it’s WWE stands for Walk With Elias.

Then Elias started singing a song about how he’s going to win the Royal Rumble and beat John Cena. He started bashing the San Antonio Spurs and then he sang The Miz and Miztourage’s entrance.

This is the second week in a row that Elias has sung The Miz to the ring, does that mean he’s an unofficial member of the Mizrouage at this point?

The Miz cut a promo on Roman Reigns and the crowd for being so excited to see him return. He kept talking about how getting a rematch against Roman Reigns felt awesome and how unforgettable moments is what he does which is why he’s getting his own reality tv show.

The Miz said he’ll reclaim the IC Title at the Raw 25th Anniversary show because he’s the one who made it prestigious and that’s gonna feel awesome.

The Miztourage vs Roman Reigns

This was a one-on-two handicap match because Roman is the Big Dog and can handle it. He was plenty distracted by The Miz early on and stalked him around the ring as The Mizrourage jumped him.

They sent Reigns into the steel steps and got a near fall once they rolled him back in the ring. Dallas and Axel kept Roman down with some offense and Reigns sold it well.

Bo Dallas about took Reigns’ head off and scored a two count before locking in a headlock to keep the Big Dog grounded.

Roman tried to suplex Bo, but Curtis Axel helped him block it. Bo hit a DDT on Reigns and got a near fall but Reigns soon regained his strength and started hitting Dallas with some stiff shots.

Curtis Axel tagged himself in and started hammering away until Roman hit a Samoan Drop. Roman caught Axel as he was trying to get a tag and sent him into the turnbuckle. Then Reigns took Dallas off the apron and looked Curtis down.

Reigns fired off a couple clotheslines and hit some more in the corner. Roman took care of Bo Dallas as he came in and then clotheslined Bo over the rope.

Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Curtis and rolled out of the ring to hit another Superman Punch on Dallas.

Roman grabbed The Miz, but Axel rolled Roman up for a roll-up pin. Reigns kicked out and hit the spear to win.

Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

After the match, The Miz toyed with Roman Reigns by acting like he was going to get in the ring, but he ended up backing up and leaving without letting The Big Dog get his paws on him.

Sasha Banks vs Sonya Deville

Tom Phillips said Paige won’t be able to compete in the Women’s Royal Rumble due to a neck injury but he didn’t say anything about the rest of her career.

Banks and Deville fought hard in the ring as Deville hit some stiff strikes for a two count. Booker T said not since Ken Shamrock have we seen someone come from the MMA world like Sonya Deville.

Banks nailed a head scissors and a dropkick followed by some knees in the corner. Banks perched herself on top and went for a dive, but Deville nailed her with a knee and got the pin. After the match was over, she put her hair up.

Winner: Sonya Deville via pinfall

Backstage Segment

Seth Rollins was in the locker room and told Jason Jordan that he needs to watch what he does. JJ offered to speak to his dad about the match against Finn. Rollins said Jason isn’t his spokesperson and he doesn’t have a problem with what he did, but he does have a problem with the way he did it.

Woken Matt Hardy vs Heath Slater

Hardy came out to DELETE Slater. It was WONDERFUL!

Matt Hardy showed some more of his more aggressive style as he laughed maniacally in Slater’s face. Heath bailed out of the ring and started to leave but Rhyno encouraged him to go back in for more.

Slater kicked Hardy down and hammered at his arm while Hardy sold for him until he started biting Heath’s hand and caused the separation. Hardy launched the back of Heath’s head in the corner and nailed a running clothesline.

Then he hit a Side Affect for a near fall. Hardy hammered Heath’s head off the turnbuckle and hit a neckbreaker. The entire arena broke out into a “DELETE” chant before a Twist Of Fate and a pinfall.

Winner: Woken Matt Hardy via pinfall

Then they announced Goldberg as the first inductee in the class of 2018 for the WWE Hall Of Fame.

Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins

The Balor Club came out first and it’s really still great to see Anderson and Gallows alongside Finn.

Rollins and Balor wrestled around a little bit and started things off with counters for counters and some superior wrestling ability as most would expect. Then Rollins popped up and hit a few kicks and chops to Balor.

Finn nailed a dropkick to the face on Rollins and sent him to the outside. Balor hit a kick to Rollins from the apron as The Club and Jason Jordan surrounded the situation.

Balor targeted Rollins’ knee for a while and Rollins started to fight back and hit a blockbuster but sold his knee afterward. Seth hit a suicide dive on Balor and nailed a neckbreaker on the inside.

Rollins started to wrench on Balor’s neck to keep him down but Finn soon fought back to his feet. Seth nailed Rollins and hit him in the back of the neck over and over but Balor soon fought back and started hammering away at The Architect.

Rollins countered out of a sling blade and hit one of his own. Seth hit a few strikes in the corner and Balor countered with a slingblade.

Rollins nailed a kick to the face for a near fall and the crowd thought it was over at that point. “Two sweet” chants broke out as Balor caught an elbow and a chop on Rollins. They exchanged shots and Rollins caught him with a kick to the back of the head.

Jason Jordan looked plenty anxious on the outside as Rollins climbed to the top. Balor dodged a phoenix splash and nailed the shotgun dropkick. Balor climbed to the top but Rollins hit a superplex into a falcon arrow for a two count.

Rollins climbed to the top rope but Balor raised his knees and got a near fall that looked like a three count. Suddenly, The Bar came down to the ring and chased JJ. The Club started hammering away at The Club as JJ dodged a shot from Sheamus when they accidentally hit The Club.

Cesaro distracted Finn Balor and then JJ caught Balor’s feet. Seth Rollins nailed a CURB STOMP (even though they called it The Blackout). 1-2-3 and it’s over… annnnd suddenly Rollins is using the curb stomp again?

Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

After the match was over, Finn Balor was comforted by his Good Brothers in the ring. Raw ended with Finn Balor shaking off his loss in awkward fashion.

 

 

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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