Monday Night Raw – January 8, 2018: THEY’RE NOT EVEN PAYING ATTENTION!

Monday Night Raw
Date: January 8, 2018
Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T.

The big story this week is the return of the Miz, but at the same time we need to have someone to challenge Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Title now that Samoa Joe has been vanquished. I think you might be getting where I’m hinting: Finn Balor with the Club challenges Reigns for the title. I’ve heard of less interesting ideas. Let’s get to it.

The opening recap looks back at Reigns defeating Samoa Joe last week. I’m still not sure if that’s the right call.

Opening sequence.

Here’s Reigns for the opening chat. Reigns is surprised that Joe came in so unprepared last week because Roman was fighting for his brother Dean Ambrose. If you mess with one member of the Shield, you mess with all of them. Cue Jason Jordan of all people to say that he feels like something special. After ignoring the YOU BOTH SUCK chants, Jordan implies that he’s part of the Shield now and even does the fist.

This brings out Seth Rollins to say Jordan’s timing is horrible. It’s made clear that he’s not part of the Shield but Jordan says they can fight anyone. Jordan thinks they’re pretty good despite not being the Shield, but Reigns and Rollins aren’t convinced. Neither are Finn Balor and the Club, who interrupt next. They talk about their history together, which started way before Jordan even knew who his daddy was.

Then they came here and did their own thing, all with success. The thing is, they all knew they would come together to take over. They get in the ring with Balor saying this is the year of Balor Club. Jordan laughs them off and says he’d rather be in the Champions’ Club. Gallows calls him a NERD so Jordan goes after him, only to quickly be calmed down. Kurt Angle comes out to make the six man main event. Jordan as the misfit works very well here, but I’m not sure where it goes. Balor vs. Reigns could be some good stuff too, especially if it makes me look smart.

Little Mix is doing the Royal Rumble theme song. That would be an all girl band that my fifteen year old cousin loves. Are they that out of band ideas?

Bayley/Sasha Banks vs. Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville

Mickie James, now official for the Rumble, and Paige are at ringside. Bayley and Mandy get things going with Mandy pulling her down by the hair. Back up and Bayley shoves her out to the floor as the announcers talk about the Rumble (fair enough in this case). We take a break and come back with Sasha hitting the running double knees for two on Mandy.

Sonya offers a distraction though and a good looking jumping knee drops Banks. A comeback is cut off by some hard, rapid right hands to the ribs in one of the first instances of Sonya looking like an MMA fighter for a change. A double clothesline gives Sasha a breather but Mandy breaks up another hot tag attempt. Everything breaks down and the Bank Statement makes Mandy tap at 10:57.

Rating: C-. Pretty standard women’s match here and that’s all it needed to be. They’re keeping Paige looking strong, which is the most important thing they can do at the moment. Mandy and Sonya are just going to be cannon fodder in the Rumble anyway so having Bayley and Sasha get a win over them helps people who need the help and doesn’t harm people who wouldn’t be hurt anyway.

We look back at the ending of last week’s show with Brock Lesnar and Kane brawling.

We look at Cedric Alexander and Goldust teaming up last week.

Goldust is dressed like Mickey from Rocky and gives Cedric one of Mickey’s speeches. Cedric says he has it because he’s fired up enough to win the title tonight. Goldust says the one thing standing in Cedric’s way is Cedric himself. The voice makes Goldust cough before he says tonight is all about Cedric.

Earlier today, Goldust was doing a time lapse video of putting on his makeup when he found out that Alicia Fox will be his partner for the Mixed Match Challenge.

Matt Hardy vs. Curt Hawkins

Before the match, Matt officially enters the Rumble. Matt has his full on Broken entrance, complete with a theme song talking about being Broken. Hawkins tries an armbar but Matt bites his way to freedom. A snap German suplex into the corner has Hawkins in trouble and a missed middle rope crossbody makes things even worse for him. The Side Effect into the Twist of Fate is enough to end Hawkins at 1:55. Matt looked different enough to make the character feel different, which is a good sign for his future.

Post match Bray Wyatt appears behind Matt and a laugh off ensues. Nothing physical goes down.

Here’s Elias with something to sing. The fans boo his guitar playing but Elias says it was good. He’s got a song about Memphis and Elvis but the fans don’t seem too thrilled with him. Elias: “What’s wrong with Elvis???”. He doesn’t care about Elvis though because there’s a star on the way who is taking over the entertainment biz. Elias: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Miz.” Nice rhyme there.

The Miz, with the Miztourage, is back and ready to brag about his recent accomplishment. The fans welcome him back (along with his much taller hair) but Miz wants to thank the Miztourage for holding things up while he was gone. Dallas says Miz makes every day Mizmas and Dallas thinks having him back feels like winning the Mizzies every single day. Bo even has a present for Miz: a framed photo of Miz himself. Dallas: “It’s going to be hard to get to sleep without that tonight.” Miz: “….what?”

Axel has his own present: the suit jacket that he’s wearing! Dallas offers his watch and Axel tries his shoes but Miz tells them both to sit down. Miz brags about his 2017 and promises to make it even bigger this year. We see a clip of Shield TripleBombing Miz through a table to put him on the shelf two months ago, which of course requires revenge.

Miz says the champion makes the title and daddy is home. In 2018, he’s celebrating the birth of his daughter and become the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. He’s back for the title and you can believe that. This was the most serious Miz has been on the main roster in a long time and it feels like he’s been elevated a bit, which is long overdue.

Balor Club tries to talk strategy for tonight but Anderson and Gallows would rather make Japan references. They agree to make 2018 the year of Balor Club.

Cruiserweight Title: Enzo Amore vs. Cedric Alexander

Enzo is defending. Before the match, Enzo talks about missing last week’s show but being taken care of by Nia Jax. Last week he was in the hospital and watched the show, which included the Zo Train facing Cedric and Goldust. Then Enzo got it: they were teaming so Cedric can get close to gold, because he’s not winning the title.

Cedric drops him with a single right hand, followed by a kick to the head to really drop Enzo. We see Nia Jax watching in the back as Enzo is pulled away from the ropes to keep Enzo in trouble. Enzo knocks him off the top in a heap though and Cedric is holding his back as we take a break.

Back with Enzo grabbing a chinlock but getting dropkicked out of the air for his efforts. Cedric fights back with some clotheslines followed by the Neuralizer. Another kick sets up a big flip dive but Enzo comes up screaming about his ankle. He’s busted open too as the trainer comes over to check on him but that’s a countout at 8:50.

Rating: D+. He better have a broken ankle at this point as it would get the title off of him. It’s good to have the title match over and Cedric is likely to get a rematch, but they desperately need something fresh in this division. There’s only so much you can do with waiting on another title match for so long but at the same time you can’t have Enzo actually wrestle that often because there’s nothing he can do in the ring.

Post break Enzo is in the trainer’s room when Nia comes to check on him.

Angle is on the phone with some legendary female wrestler about a spot in the Rumble but has to go when the Bar comes in. They want their rematch for the titles and aren’t happy with the six man tag main event. Sheamus claims favoritism but Angle makes the title match at the Rumble. That’s cool with them and Angle gives them a match against some surprise competition tonight. The two of them leave and Miz comes in to brag about his upcoming reality series along with Maryse. Miz wants his rematch for the Intercontinental Title at the 25th anniversary of Raw. Angle thinks it’s a good idea and the match is set.

Earlier today, Miz found out that Asuka will be his partner for the Mixed Match Challenge.

Alexa Bliss comes in to see Asuka and threatens her with Nia Jax. It’s as short as it sounds.

The Bar vs. Titus Worldwide

Sheamus knocks Titus around to start before it’s off to Crews for a dropkick on Cesaro. The standing moonsault gets two but Apollo is sent outside, seeming to bang up his knee in the process. Back in and Sheamus grabs a wristlock as Dana Brooke plays cheerleader. Crews gets over for the tag and the beatdown continues as everything breaks down. Apollo dodges a Brogue Kick by moonsaulting onto Cesaro, allowing Titus to roll Sheamus up for the pin at 5:30.

Rating: D. Uh, sure? I’m glad to see Crews getting a win for once but this feels like a way to have Sheamus and Cesaro come back and crush them in a rematch as we get closer to the Rumble. The match was nothing to see as it was all about the surprise, which certainly worked, though I’m not exactly ready to put Titus Worldwide in the title hunt.

Here are Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar to talk about old school. The thing is, this is a progressive industry where you need fresh ways to present the ideas to the audience and the general public. They’ve gotten away from the old school way of promoting a Universal Title match (oh come on), which was all about finding a challenger who could possibly pin or tap out a champion.

Now the Universal Title is marketed as how could Brock survive this time. Even Lesnar thinks it sucks. At the Rumble, it’s Brock vs. monster #1 and monster #2 but the only cliffhanger is who Lesnar will pin. Heyman knows no one can beat this man and that’s all that matters. Lesnar goes up the ramp but here’s Kane for the fight.

They fight into the back where Braun Strowman shows up and runs them both over. Brock is thrown into a wall where a big case falls on him. Strowman throws another case onto Kane (that is some scary power) before pulling out….a grappling hook? He attaches it to a big old piece of the set and pulls it down onto both guys for a huge crash, sending Heyman and everyone else behind him into fits of screams. That was quite the set piece and my goodness it should have killed them both. Worry not though, as I’m sure Lesnar will be just fine to lose to Reigns in New Orleans.

I know that’s harped on but it’s the problem with the entire Universal Title picture. Why should I even possibly buy that Strowman, who Lesnar has already beaten, or Kane (because HA) is going to take the title at the Rumble? Even if they do, there’s no way they’re defending it at Wrestlemania because that’s Reigns’ spot and everyone knows it. I know it sounds lame but that’s what goes through my head every time I see anything related to the title.

Post break, Brock was taken out on a stretcher while Kane was allowed to walk away on his own. Well limp away but you get the idea. Lesnar didn’t want to go to the hospital but went anyway.

Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno

Joe starts fast with an enziguri in the corner and a headbutt cuts off Rhyno’s comeback. More right hands give Rhyno a breather until an STO cuts him off. A running big boot into the backsplash gives Joe two, followed by the Koquina Clutch to make Rhyno tap at 2:44. Short and to the point with Joe looking dominant, as he should.

Post match Joe says he’s taken years off of Reigns’ career and the cracks are starting to show. When everything comes crashing down, he’ll be there to pick up the pieces. As for now though, he’s entering the Royal Rumble. Joe is ready for everyone, including John Cena, which is a name that he’ll never forget.

Alexa sucks up to Nia again, this time saying that Enzo might be holding her back. Nia says Enzo motivates her to be a champion so she’s entering the Royal Rumble. She’s Alexa’s favorite to win but thinks Nia should take Asuka out first. Nia doesn’t buy it but Alexa stays on the “Asuka is talking about you” train. Nia: “CAN IT BLISS!”

Alexa whispers something that Asuka said in Nia’s ear and Nia can’t believe Asuka said that….because Asuka doesn’t speak English and Bliss doesn’t speak Japanese. If you ignore the times that Asuka has spoken English, there’s nothing wrong with this segment. Like, EARLIER TONIGHT WHEN SHE TALKED TO MIZ ABOUT THE MIXED MATCH CHALLENGE FOR EXAMPLE!!!

Announced for the 25th anniversary show: Steve Austin! Ric Flair! The Undertaker! Shawn Michaels! THE BELLA TWINS!

Asuka comes out for a match but Nia shows up and lays her out.

Royal Rumble card rundown.

Asuka vs. Nia is set for next week.

Balor Club vs. Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins/Jason Jordan

Balor and Rollins start things off with Balor scoring off an early double stomp. It’s off to Anderson in a hurry but Reigns tags himself in so house can be cleaned in a hurry, including a double shoulder to Balor. Back from a break with Reigns working over Balor until a Sling Blade cuts him off. Gallows and Anderson take over in the corner with Luke grabbing a chinlock. Anderson drops a knee and puts on a chinlock of his own.

Back up and Reigns gets in a clothesline to drop Anderson but Gallows won’t give up the hot tag. The third chinlock goes on but Reigns no sells a big boot and scores with a Superman Punch. The hot tag brings in Rollins for the Blockbuster, followed by a Sling Blade on Anderson. Gallows breaks up the Wind-Up knee and Anderson’s spinebuster gets two.

Rollins makes the tag to Reigns but Jordan distracts the referee by mistake so Rollins stays legal. A Magic Killer plants Rollins so Reigns goes outside to fight two on one. Jordan tries to help Rollins up, allowing Balor to hit the shotgun dropkick. The Coup de Grace gives Balor the pin at 15:28.

Rating: C-. The chinlockery hurt this a lot but I’m not sure anyone was expecting this to be any more than another wedge between Jordan and company, which is all it needed to be. That team isn’t going to hold together that much longer and it makes sense to have them split up just in time for the Rumble.

Post match Miz and the Miztourage come in to attack Rollins, Jordan and Reigns. Roman takes a Skull Crushing Finale and the TripleBomb to end the show.

Overall Rating: C. This was a storytelling show and, aside from the part where they couldn’t remember the clip they aired earlier in the night where Asuka spoke English, they accomplished that goal. They’re getting stuff set up for both the big anniversary show (which could be a blast) and the Rumble (which should be a blast). The wrestling tonight wasn’t the point but that’s often the case around this time of year. Not a great show but one that did its job, which is often more important.


Bayley/Sasha Banks b. Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville – Bank Statement to Rose

Matt Hardy b. Curt Hawkins – Twist of Fate

Cedric Alexander b. Enzo Amore via countout

Titus Worldwide b. The Bar – Rollup to Sheamus

Samoa Joe b. Rhyno – Koquina Clutch

Balor Club b. Roman Reigns/Jason Jordan/Seth Rollins – Coup de Grace to Rollins

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up the Monday Nitro and Thunder Reviews Volume VI: July – December 1999 in e-book or paperback. Check out the information here:

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  1. Dragon says:

    Holy hell does Balor look so much better with The Club….he acted a bit heelish and cocky tonite and it gave him some much needed personality.


    klunderbunker Reply:

    The lack of losing to Kane in five minutes helps a lot too.


    Jay H (the real one) Reply:

    Yeah i agree and im a huge Finn Balor fan but im already loving him being back together with Gallows & Anderson as Balor Club.

    Also loved what Braun Strowman did tonight pulling down that structure. The Triple Threat at the Royal Rumble will be alot of fun i think.

    RAW 25 is shaping up to be fun and glad to see Stone Cold Steve Austin will be there. The Bella Twins announcement was pretty random but i see why they did it given how many people watch Total Divas/Bellas.


  2. Jerichoholic94 says:

    “Rollins helps Rollins up”


    klunderbunker Reply:

    You’ve got to be kidding me.


  3. NightShiftLoser says:

    Considering the theme song, what are the odds the ladies close Royal Rumble? I could see them giving Trish a win, to have a big win for Asuka at Mania, which COULD justify them main eventing here.

    Miz was on fire. I’m glad he’s back, and the IC belt finally feels important again.


    Greg Reply:

    I don’t think there are enough well known women yet for that position. Asuka isn’t exactly a big name right now. I don’t think Trish/Lita have enough recognition anymore to carry a main event. Also if they make the wrong choice with the guys again, they don’t want the whole show being booed.

    I think Brock main evened a show with Demi Lovato on it so I don’t think there’s a connection here.


    klunderbunker Reply:

    I’m not seeing that one happening. It’s a big deal, but if they don’t nail the ending, they’re walking a very, very thin line that I don’t think they can pull off.


    Dragon Reply:

    Ya I agree….don’t forget where the Rumble is taking place this year. That crowd will have no mercy.


  4. James BC says:

    Little Mix is the perfect choice for Royal Rumble theme song, to tie in with the historic first women’s Rumble.


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