The first episode of Monday Night RAW in 2018 showcased one of the biggest buildups in a very long time.
The Big Dog Roman Reigns defended his Intercontinental Championship against a head-strong Samoa Joe in a match with a fragile stipulation.
A Bullet Club reunion unfolded when Finn Balor teamed up with Gallows and Anderson to battle the team of Elias and The Miztourage in a 6-man tag team competition.
Also featuring for the night was ‘The Monster Among Men’ Braun Strowman, who trod on both Heath Slater and Rhyno in a severe beatdown.
In another encounter, Jason Jordan battled Cesaro in singles action, Asuka battled The Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss and Goldust shockingly teamed up with Cedric Alexander to battle two of Zo Train’s finest.
The Highlight of the night involved ‘The Big Red Monster’ Kane and ‘The Beast Incarnate’ Brock Lesnar, squaring off in a massive showcase of strength that eventually turned into a mayhem.
Now, let’s take a look at the full recap of this week’s episode of Monday Night RAW.
KURT ANGLE KICKS OFF THE FIRST RAW OF 2018.
RAW General Manager Kurt Angle kicked off RAW announcing a general stipulation for the Women’s Royal Rumble match.
Shortly after, Sheamus and Cesaro interrupted protesting their loss to Rollins and Jordan from the previous week.
The Bar demanded a rematch, to which newly crowned Tag Team Champion Jason Jordan stormed the scene and defended his team over last week’s victory.
A brawl erupted between the young Superstar and Cesaro which later lead to a 2-on-1 assault in favour of the Heels.
Seth Rollins eventually arrived the scene to even the odds but The Bar still had the last laugh.
A match was later scheduled between Cesaro and Jordan in singles action.
JASON JORDAN VS. CESARO
The match was a desperate one as Cesaro sought retribution as he battled Jason Jordan in singles action.
With Rollins and Sheamus at ringside, The Swiss Superman dominated his opponent with a combination of high-impact grapples and power strikes for most of the early stages of the encounter.
Jordan eventually charged back, unloading on the former Tag Team Champion with a set of manoeuvres until Cesaro aimed for his knee.
Jordan, in pain, managed to hold his ground even after Cesaro scored most of the momentum; this disadvantage tarried until the young Superstar hit his foe with a combination of a suplex and neckbreaker to finally put The Swiss down for the 3 count.
Jason Jordan defeated Cesaro via pinfall.
BRAY WYATT VS. APOLLO CREWS.
The newest member of Titus Worldwide, Dana Brooke together with Titus O’Neil, watched from ringside as their crony Appolo Crews battled Bray Wyatt in singles action.
The action broke out as Wyatt’s methodical offence clashed with Crews’ high-flying attacks; leading to a balanced standoff.
Wyatt later gained the upper hand after wearing down the NXT alumnus with a running Clothesline that stunned Crews to the canvas.
Crews attempted a few comebacks but Wyatt was always on queue to put his light off.
A mini-distraction from Dana Brooke seemed to have derailed Wyatt’s focus, but The Eater of Worlds still emerged victorious after hitting Crews with a devastating Sister Abigail for the win.
After the match, ‘The Woken’ Matt Hardy appeared on the Titantron, playing mind games and promises to delete his rival for good.
Bray Wyatt defeated Appollo Crews via pinfall.
ALEXA BLISS VS. ASUKA (Non-Title match)
‘The Goddess of WWE’ Alexa Bliss was paired in a singles bout with ‘The Empress of Tomorrow’ Asuka, who attacked her during last week’s RAW Christmas episode.
Bliss initially tried to convince the management to cancel the match; but after her plea failed. She, however, sought Nia Jax’s aid but to no avail.
The match kicked off at a very slow pace as the Champ avoided Asuka in the early stages.
Later on, Asuka found her grip and pounded on the 5ft tall Diva.
A misplaced kick opened the door for Bliss, who then punished her opponent by focusing on her ribs.
The match picked its pace as The Empress of Tomorrow battled back, hitting her foe with her best shots that left Alexa reeling.
Ultimately, a devastating Armbar from Asuka forced The Goddess to tapout for the submission victory.
Asuka defeated Alexa Bliss via Submission.
BRAUN STROWMAN VS. RHYNO
After last week’s encounter between Strowman and Slater, Rhyno sought retribution as he battled The Monster Among Men this week on RAW.
With Heath Slater in the corner of his partner, Strowman rolled-over his opponent with a stunning display of immense power.
Somehow, Heath Slater got himself involved in the action and both partners fell to the onslaught of the big man.
In the end, Strowman put away both men with his signature Running Powerslam for the decisive victory.
Shortly after, Kane and Strowman had a mini-backstage vocal confrontation where The Monster Among Men declared he’s RAW’s alpha monster.
Braun Strowman defeated Rhyno.
SAMOA JOE VS. ROMAN REIGNS (Intercontinental Title match)
After the unpleasant ending from last week’s encounter, Roman Reigns returned this Monday night to defend his Intercontinental Championship against Samoa Joe in another singles bout.
Roman Reigns had the lesser advantage as the match’s stipulation favoured The Destroyer in respect to a disqualification.
Both men slugged it out in the early going. Reigns attacked his foe with a set of right-hand strikes but Joe maintained control and overpowered the Champ.
The punishment continued until Reigns found an opening; he fought his way back and sent The Destroyer to the canvas with a Samoan Drop.
The bout found its way to the arena floor, where both Superstars unloaded on each other with the aid of the environmental weapons and steel steps.
A collision with the Referee nearly caused Reigns the title but the decision was scrubbed. The distraction allowed Joe to seize the advantage; even so, Reigns survived.
A spear from The Big Dog put away The Destroyer allowing Roman to successfully retain his title.
Roman Reigns defeated Samoa Joe and retained his Intercontinental Championship.
DAIVARI AND GULAK VS. ALEXANDER AND GOLDUST.
Zo Train’s duo of Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari stormed the ring and delivered a message from The Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore, who was too ill to compete for his title defence.
In frustration mode, Alexander showed up, settling-in for a tag team match against the duo but was a man short.
To a shocking surprise, the former World Heavyweight Champion Goldust showed up and paired with Alexander to battle the Heels.
In the end, a Lumbar Check for Alexander scored the win for his team.
Cedric Alexander and Goldust defeated Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari via pinfall.
Finn Balor, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Elias and The Miztourage
Backstage alongside Kurt Angle, Finn Balor announced that he would be teaming with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson; thereby announcing himself as a contestant in the Royal Rumble.
In the ring, Elias performed for the Miami audience flagged by Dallas and Axel, who sang and played alongside The Drifter.
Finn Balor and The Club interrupted the scene and the match went underway.
Gallows and Anderson wasted no time in beating up everyone on their paths, just after Elias had finished pounding on Balor in the early going.
In the end, a combination of Magic Killer and the Coup De Grace scored the victory for the newly united Bullet Club trio.
Finn Balor, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows win via pinfall.
BROCK LESNAR AND KANE SQUARE OFF.
The final segment of the show started off with the emergence of The Universal Champion Brock Lesnar along with his advocate Paul Heyman.
Heyman took the stage and delivered his trademark microphone magic, only for The Big Red Machine to interfere with his promo.
The Demon Kane stepped into the squared circle and attacked The Universal Champion, laying him flat on the canvas.
As Kane exited the ring hoping to have conquered the beast, Lesnar surprisingly found his feet, standing upright like The Brothers of Destruction; shocking the fans and The Big Red Machine simultaneously.
While Braun Strowman watching from backstage, The Universal Champion and Kane exchanged blows but Lesnar gained the upper hand, sending The Devil’s favourite Demon through the top rope onto the arena floor.
The bout eventually turned into a riot as members of the RAW locker room intervened to calm the situation.
- A surprise victory and a fantastic start for the year for Jason Jordan indicates a potential push for the youngster in 2018.
- Asuka’s victory over Alexa Bliss came as a shock. I hope the push for Asuka’s victory in the race for the RAW Women’s title isn’t so fast-paced. This storyline deserves a slow momentum buildup.
- The Roman Reigns versus Samoa Joe saga suddenly hit a halt; thanks to The Big Dog for eventually rising to the challenge. However, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Samoa Joe’s obsession with the Intercontinental title.
- Fantastic reunion by Finn Balor and his Japanese allies Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. It’s would be nice to see more consistent appearances with these three on the same page.
- The final showdown between The Demon Kane and The Universal Champion was indeed a great way to kickoff 2018.
The highlight of the encounter was when Lesnar mimicked The Undertaker and Kane’s signature sit-up manoeuvre, blowing off steam in the arena.
Above all, both Superstars did well in holding their ends.
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