The Road To WrestleMania is so close we can hear the roar from the Superdome. Monday Night Raw rolled into Memphis and had a stacked show in store for the WWE Universe. Enzo Amore was finally putting his Cruiserweight Championship up against Cedric Alexander, and Woken Matt Hardy will finally debut on Raw. On top of that, Samoa Joe is still doing his thing and Braun Strowman is sure to be somewhere looking to smash something.

Opening Segment

Roman Reigns came down first and got a pretty good reaction. He spoke about shutting Samoa Joe down last week and mentioned Dean Ambrose to a huge pop. Suddenly, Jason Jordan came waltzing down because he was invited, after all.

“Daddy’s boy” chants broke out as JJ put the Big Dog over. Jordan said “this is your yard” and it sent douchechills down my spine. Suddenly, JJ asked for a fistbump but Roman didn’t move. Seth Rollins came out and got an amazing response.

Then Rollins started teaching Jason another verbal lesson. He said he was stepping on Roman’s moment and JJ said we all had a problem with Joe and Reigns took care of it. Now they’re all champions.

Reigns said he’s The Guy. Jason Jordan said they might not be The Shield, but they’re pretty good. Then he said they’re the best team in WWE… suddenly Balor, Anderson, and Gallows came down and I marked out for a bit there.

Balor said he’s been running with Gallows and Anderson ten years before he knew Kurt Angle was his dad. Anderson and Gallows got a chance to speak on their own and they said everyone did their own thing by winning the Raw Tag Team Championships and Balor become the first-ever Universal Champion.

Karl Anderson said they knew they would reunite eventually and it finally happened last week. Balor namedropped “Balor Club” and Jason called himself and 2/3 of The Shield “The Champions Club.”

Finn said he didn’t see Ambrose anywhere but he did see Rollins and Reigns. Then Gallows called Jason Jordan a nerd and JJ slapped him. A scuffle broke out and Kurt Angle came out to book a six-man tag match between Balor Club and The Champions Club for the main event.

Let’s hope that Champions Club name doesn’t stick.

Bayley and Sasha Banks (with Mickie James) vs Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose (with Paige)

“It’s Boss Time!” Michael Cole exclaimed as he does everytime he hears Sasha’s music. Paige is apparently still shaken up by an injury she sustained at a house show a while ago, therefore she’s still not wrestling. But the Anti Diva still accompanied her team to the ring.

Rose and Bayley started things out and Mandy was really turning it up to draw heat. She did telegraph a slam though which wasn’t very great, but she did make it look good. Then Sasha Banks got the tag and took some damage from Rose until she irritated The Boss and got slapped across the face.

Banks was distracted and then caught a knee to the face for a two count before Deville got the tag. Absolution cut the ring in half while they worked on Banks for a minute. Banks hit a clothesline but Deville got to Rose who stopped Banks from getting to Bayley. Rose knocked Bayley off the apron and this distracted the referee while Deville whacked Banks with a forearm. Then Banks scored a roll-up pin but Sonya jumped in to break it up.

Bayley took Deville out of the ring and Sasha locked the Bank Statement on Mandy causeing her to tap out.

Winners: Sasha Banks and Bayley via submission

After the match was over, Paige rushed in the ring and she didn’t look too happy at all.

Backstage Segment

Cedric Alexander was backstage and suddenly Goldust was there dressed like Mickey Goldmill (Rocky Balboa’s coach) and doing his best Burgess Merideth impression. He gave Alexander a great peptalk and said the only thing standing in the way and in control is himself. It was quite entertaining.

Woken Matt Hardy Is Here

Piano music started playing and then an epic orchestration followed. Matt Hardy came out in his Woken Brilliance and Memphis was full of Woken Warriors. It was really quite DELIGHTFUL!

He took on Curt Hawkins who is 0-152 at this point which is just impressive. Hardy resulted to biting Hawkins and then he hammered away at him in the corner. Hardy his a neckbreaker and the announce team really put over his aggressiveness.

Hardy got some “DELETE” chants going and then he hit the Twist Of Fate for the win.

Winner: Woken Matt Hardy via pinfall

Suddenly the screen got all Wyatty and Bray was standing behind Hardy in the ring. Matt approached Wyatt and they stared each other down. Matt laughed in Bray Wyatt’s face and The Eater Of Worlds returned laughter.

Then they had a “laugh like a crazy person” competition for a while which was just wonderful. The two got in each other’s faces and continued to laugh until the segment ended. Yup, that happened.

Ladies and gentlemen…

Elias is super over at this point. WWE is starting to stand for Walk With Elias for sure and the crowd yelled it back at him like he was a true rockstar. It was really quite impressive.

Then Elias sang a nice little song about Memphis on Elvis Presley’s birthday which concluded with introducing The Miz.

He’s baaaaack…

The A-Lister came out flanked by Dallas and Axel with huge smiles on their faces. “Welcome back” chants filled the arena before he had a chance to speak, “did you miss me?” The Miz asked while everyone cheered in affirmation.

Then he introduced his guests, The Miztourage. The Miz said Mix and Axel are living embodiments of a New Year’s resolution done right. Axel said last year was like every day being Mizmas and Dallas said it was like winning the Mizzies everyday. Then they got a rousing “chant you Miz” chant going which was just appreciated.

Then Bo Dallas gave The Miz a framed photo of himself and said it’ll be tough getting to sleep without that tonight. So Axel took his coat off and gave it to The Miz saying it was brand new. Bo gave him his watch and then Axel tried to give Miz his shoes until The Miz threw up his hand and said when it goes up, their mouths go shut.

The Miz told them to sit down so they did. Then The Miz said he has a lot more planned for 2018.  Then he showed a clip of what happened before his hiatus when The Shield beat him up and Triple Powerbombed him through a table. The Miz said he hasn’t forgotten about that and this event was an indignity.

The Miz said he was coming for his IC Title and Roman Reigns. Mic drop. Exit A-Lister.

Backstage Segment

The Balor Club was backstage telling old stories and they name dropped Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale and other Bullet Club OGs. Then Balor said tonight’s about making new memories and that just sounds great to me.

Enzo Amore vs Cedric Alexander (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

Enzo came down and there were still a few people feeling him, how you doing? He started covering the whole Goldust teaming with Alexander last week and said that’s the closest he’s getting to gold this year.

Cedric made Enzo powder out early on and then he chased Amore around the ring before kicking him from the apron after he followed Enzo back in the ring. They showed a shot of Nia Jax backstage watching on a monitor and she looked nervous.

Then Enzo shoved Alexander to the floor from the top rope because that’s his offence.

These two fought on and Enzo did what he could to keep Cedric Alexander at bay with some nice reversals. He stretched Alexander’s body with a submission hold and hit a basement dropkick for a two count.

Enzo jumped off the top rope and Alexander met him with a dropkick to put him down. Cedric landed a kick to the head and got a near fall. He thought about a Lumbar Check but was tossed outside. Enzo caught a kick to the face and a springboard clothesline. Enzo rolled to the outside giving Cedric the chance to dive on him. Enzo sold his ankle while he bled purposely from his eye. The ringside medical staff tended to Enzo’s bloody face while Enzo Amore let himself get counted out.

Enzo appeared like he could get back in the ring, but decided to fall on the floor again but his real blood made the spot messier as the ringside staff seemed to care more about his bloody face than the ankle he was selling.

There was even an instance of Enzo swatting the ringside medical staff away and trying to sell the concentration to his ankle. This is just another example of how the PG Era is getting in the way.

Winner: Cedric Alexander via count out

Enzo Amore was shown backstage and suddenly the medical staff seemed to care about Enzo’s ankle when Nia Jax came in just to check on him. Enzo said he’s good and then screamed in pain once she left.

Elsewhere in the building, Kurt Angle was on the phone with someone saying how he knows they haven’t been in the ring for years but he thinks they’d be perfect for the Women’s Royal Rumble match… interesting.

The Bar walked in and said Angle was protecting JJ from them and then he booked a match between The Bar and the Raw Tag Team Champions at the Royal Rumble. Well, that was easy.

Suddenly The Miz was there and he got pretty snippy with Angle about how he has a new unscripted series with himself and Mayrse… yup The Miz is getting a reality show. Very nice. Then he demanded a rematch against Roman Reigns at the 25th Anniversary of Monday Night Raw so Angle booked the match.

Asuka was stretching backstage when Alexa Bliss walked up to her. Bliss told her she wasn’t there to fight, Asuka beat her last week but she better enjoy it while she can. “But when Nia hears what you call her, I wouldn’t want to be you.” Asuka didn’t look too worried, but the only question is what did she say about Nia Jax?

The Bar vs Titus Worldwide

Sheamus and Cesaro said they wanted to compete since they showed up to Raw so Kurt Angle put them in this head-scratcher of a matchup.

Apollo Crew had a chance to show off a little bit but it wasn’t much before Sheamus lowered the bridge and sent Crews to the flood. Apollo sold his knee while Sheamus gave him a knee to the face.

Once they returned to the ring. Apollo Crews took even more abuse from The Celtic Warrior.  Titus actually got the upper hand until Cesaro hit him from behind and Sheamus hit a knee to the face.

Crews distracted Cesaro and clotheslined him over the top and hit a dive. Titus O’Neil scored a roll-up pin and they scored a very surprising win.

Winners: Titus Worldwide via pinfall

Brock Lesnar Wears A Memphis Suplex City Shirt

Breaking News: Brock Lesnar shaved his face since the last time we saw him.

Paul Heyman put over Brock Lesnar and being “old school” and how they have a lot of respect for it, but pro wrestling is a progressive industry. Then Heyman started giving us a lesson in the media by talking about how pro wrestling is evolving.

Heyman morphed his promo into complaining about how Brock Lesnar was facing two people instead of one at The Royal Rumble because The Universal Title isn’t marketed as who can beat Brock Lesnar and more like “how can Brock Lesnar survive this predicament?”

Heyman said Lesnar thinks it sucks. But it will still be the Beast vs Monster vs Machine at The Royal Rumble. Then Heyman said the only cliffhanger for The Royal Rumble is who Lesnar is going to pin, Strowman, Kane, or both of them at the same time.

Heyman said nobody can or will beat Brock Lesnar before they both left. Well, that was a nice payday for Brock Lesnar… oh wait. Kane attacked Lesnar from behind as he did his little jumping stance in front of the crowd.

Kane beat Brock Lesnar to the backstage area and then Braun Strowman joined the fight and tossed Lesnar over a table smashing it in two. Braun then picked up some production equipment and destroyed Kane with it. Strowman went fishing through some chest before pulling out a grappling hook. Braun tossed the hook over the steel truss behind the stage and pulled it down as it crushed Kane and Brock Lesnar beneath it while Paul Heyman looked on in horror.

Who keeps grappling hooks just laying around in random chests backstage? How is that of any use to the production staff or ring crew?

During the break, Brock Lesnar was led off in a stretcher while Paul Heyman kept saying, “I didn’t see him coming” while Kane limped off like a wounded animal while they loaded Lesnar in an ambulance. “I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go. Paul, get me outa here” Lesnar said as the emergency vehicle pulled away after Heyman got in the back with his client.

Samoa Joe vs Someone Unlucky 

Rhyno was that unlucky soul this week. He tried to fight back against Joe but “you’re gonna learn!” Joe yelled as he picked The Manbeast apart.

While Heath Slater rooted on his tag team partner from ringside I can only imagine he was glad not to be taking those chops from Samoa Joe.

Joe eventually caught the Coquina Clutch and won the match. No real surprise there.

Winner: Samoa Joe via submission

After the match, Samoa Joe cut a promo about Roman Reigns where he didn’t consider last week a loss. He said last week was an empiric victory which meant it was a won suffered by a great toll on the winner. Samoa Joe said when he’s ready, he’ll be there to finish the job. Then he announced that he’ll be in the Royal Rumble match.

He said John Cena will be the first man he eliminates. After all, they know each other from a long time ago.

Backstage Segment

Nia Jax was walking and Alexa Bliss pulled her to the side and asked about Enzo. Jax said he’ll be fine and Bliss started putting Nia over and said Enzo is holding her back. Jax said she’ll be in the Women’s Royal Rumble match.

Bliss said Asuka was talking about her and Nia wanted to know what she said. Bliss didn’t tell her and held it back as Jax just got angrier. Then Alexa Bliss whispered something to Nia and she asked Alexa is she spoke Japanese. Bliss said no to which Nia responded, “good because Asuka doesn’t speak English.”

Then Nia Jax walked off leaving Bliss looking a bit frustrated.

Asuka…

Yeah, The Empress Of Tomorrow got in the ring and then Nia Jax jumped her from behind and hit an electric chair drop on her while she was posing on the turnbuckle. Asuka didn’t look happy while Nia Jax walked away.

I guess Asuka wasn’t ready for Nia Jax that time…

Balor Club vs The Champions Club

Yay, we’re getting this match… at least Balor Club is main eventing where they belong. I quite enjoyed how Corey Graves said, “there’s only one original Balor Club.”

The Champions Club took advantage for the first part of this match and then Roman Reigns got the tag to take it to Finn Balor while the former NXT Champion just took every bit of punishment and sold like a champ. The Club distracted Reigns so Balor could hit a sling blade and tagged in Karl Anderson.

Gallows got the tag and kicked Reigns’ head sending The Big Dog to the canvas. He kept Roman down in a headlock until Reigns got to his feet and started to fight back but Luke just pulled Reigns to the mat with his hair.

Anderson got the tag and continued to cut the ring in half on Reigns. Roman took Anderson down but Gallows got the tag first and kept Roman away from his partners with a snap suplex and then he buried some elbows into Roman’s illegal chest protector.

Luke hit a big boot but Reigns returned with a Superman Punch. Anderson and Rollins got the tag and Seth Rollins started hitting all of his moves including a blockbuster and a suicide dive. Then he hit a slingblade on Anderson and a suplex/falcon arrow for a two count.

Rollins got distracted and Anderson hit a spinebuster for a two count. Gallows got the tag and knocked Jason off the turnbuckle. Then Rollins caught Gallows with a kick as Reigns got back on the apron. Rollins countered a slingblade from Balor with a suplex and then as he went to tag Roman, JJ slid in the ring.

The referee told Reigns to leave as The Club hit a Magic Killer on Rollins. “What are you doing?” Reigns asked Jordan. Roman hit Gallows with a spear on the outside while things continued on in the ring.

A skirmish started on the inside and JJ obstructed Rollins in the ring for a moment so Balor hit his shotgun dropkick followed by a Coup De Gras for the win.

Winners: The Balor Club via pinfall

Jason Jordan has some serious ‘splaining to do. After the match was over The Miz and Miztourage attacked The Champions Club to gang up against Roman Reigns. He hit a Skull Crushing Finale on Reigns to end the night by making a very clear statement. Then the crowd started chanting “one more time” so he did just that.

“The Miz is big into sequels, he’s done six Marine movies,” Corey Graves said. Except he didn’t hit another Skull Crushing Finale… the Miztourage assisted him in delivering a Triple Powerbomb instead. Raw ended with the bloodthirsty crowd chanting, “one more time.”

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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