What do you do when Smackdown Live beats you in the ratings for the first time ever? Well if you’re RAW you bring back Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker of course! It may be a quick fix but the promise of such big stars will almost always pop a rating. The return of these two legends was not the only reason for watching RAW this week though.
The show began with Stephanie McMahon’s performance review of Mick Foley being rudely interrupted by Seth Rollins. Then Rollins’ interruption was even more rudely interrupted by an irate Braun Strowman! After being double speared by Goldberg and Roman Reigns last week Braun wanted one of the two perpetrators, or else (of course). Well before Mick could attempt to calm Strowman, Seth took it upon himself to wind the behemoth up even more. A brawl ensued inside Stephanie’s office and it took a whole lot of security to pull the two apart.
Then on to some in-ring action. Well, almost. The previously hyped bout of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho vs Reigns in a handicap match for the US title was about to begin when Strowman once again made his presence felt. Just as Braun was dishing out a little of the ‘or else’ he had promised, enter Seth Rollins. The Architect went to town on KO and Y2J with a steel chair and was quickly joined by a rejuvenated US champ so the pair could turn their attentions to Strowman. After sending the man mountain from the ring Stephanie emerged to try and quash the chaos. The commissioner announced that the 2-on-1 would be postponed until later that night, and instead the night’s opening match would be Seth vs Braun, a decision both competitors seemed pretty pleased with.
The last time these two squared off WWE did a great job of doing damage to neither man. Well consider that mission accomplished for a second time. Some great spots in this one and enough offense from Seth for it not to be a one-sided beating from Braun. Rollins even got a two count at one point, impressive considering I can’t even remember Strowman being covered in one on one competition before now. A double count out to end it, and I would not be adverse to seeing these two do battle again sometime soon.
Two men have breathed some much needed new life into the cruiserweight division. One is Neville, who we’ll get to later, and the other is Jack Gallagher. This past Monday Gallagher made short work of Tony Nese before taking to the microphone to address his ongoing rivalry with Ariya Daivari. Rather than issue his fellow CW another challenge, the Brit actually put forward the idea of a parley between the two. A truce in other words. Whether Daivari takes him up on the offer will become clear on this week’s 205 Live.
Just as you thought Shawn Michaels was teasing a ground-breaking return to the ring for the Royal Rumble, turns out he only came back to RAW to promote his new movie after all. Well turns out Rusev isn’t best pleased that his wife Lana is not a part of HBK’s upcoming cinematic debut. So much so that if it had not been for the arrival of Enzo and Cass the self-proclaimed ‘Bulgarian George Clooney’ and his new pal Jinder Mahal may have put the boots to the visiting hall of famer. After some vocal jibes from Don Parmesan and Muscles Marinara, plus a couple of digs from HBK, Rusev accepted the challenge to a match from Big Cass. Well, actually he nominated Jinder Mahal. Not a great match, but we did get to see Mr Wrestlemania plant a sweet chin music on The Bulgarian Brute ringside. Meanwhile, Cass picked up the win between the ropes.
As promised, a little on the other man raising the game in the cruiserweight division, Neville. Although I’m starting to notice a pattern that the CW matches on RAW are pretty meaningless and simply act as a stepping stone to the real action. For example, Neville made short work of his opponent Lince Dorado. Post match the man that gravity forgot placed Dorado in the rings of Saturn and refused to let up. Rich Swann to the rescue, showing a much more urgent, vicious and angry side to the CW champ that we’ve really been crying out for. Swann showed that he’s more than just a dancing, filler champion and hopefully we see more of this side of Rich Swann going forward.
Sheamus and Cesaro have some new foes in the form of Gallows and Anderson. This week it was the turn of Sheamus and Gallows to take part in singles action while their tag partners joined the commentary team. Turns out, apart from Gallows of course, Karl Anderson doesn’t play nice with others and sparked a brawl with Cesaro up on the stage. Gallows took advantage of a distracted Sheamus but couldn’t quite finish off The Celtic Warrior. The Irish half of the RAW tag champs landed a Brogue kick on Gallows in return and swiftly followed it up with the 1-2-3.
The evening began with Mick Foley promising Steph (am I not allowed to call her that or is it just Bayley?) that he would find The Undertaker. Well just as the GM’s time was almost up the bell tolled, the lights went out, and The Phenom emerged. While there was some confusion as to where The Deadman’s allegiance lies in terms of brand, he quickly cleared that up by announcing that he answers to no one. That wasn’t his biggest announcement, however. Turns out Taker will be joining Goldberg, Lesnar, and 27 others in the Royal Rumble. Big news, and for now I’m going to try and ignore the fact that for a brief moment it cut to Braun Strowman watching on with a very pleased look on his face backstage.
Bayley is the number one contender to Charlotte Flair’s RAW women’s championship. She can partly thank Sasha Banks for that after her interruption last week. Turns out Nia Jax was still pretty upset about that and with the help of Charlotte attacked the pair backstage. Well Banks and Bayley wanted revenge and despite requesting the match go down next week, Stephanie made it for later that night. It did not go well for an already beaten and battered Sasha and Bayley. After taking care of The Boss, Nia turned her attention back to RAW’s resident hugger and dispatched her with a signature leg drop, picking up the win for herself and Flair.
While Sheamus and Cesaro have moved on to a feud with The Club, former champs The New Day seem content with winding up Titus O Neil on a weekly basis. This week they made Titus relive his humiliating keg run from his 2010 NXT days. After being pushed to his limit once again O Neil found himself in a match with Kofi, and once again was on the losing end. Next week I’m assuming will be Big E’s turn.
And finally the main event. The handicap match that was supposed to kick off the night’s proceedings. Well I can see why they saved it until last. As the match began I expected nothing more than yet another week of Roman making our Universal champion look stupid while he continued to make us slowly forget that the US championship even exists. How wrong I was. JeriKO set the tone from the off, beating down Reigns before the match even began. A struggling champion tried to rally multiple times once the match had begun but to no avail. The final telling blow? KO’s signature pop-up powerbomb to the ring apron. If Roman had kicked out of that I may have all but given up hope. A code breaker swiftly followed and much to my surprise The Big Dog did not get his shoulder up. Chris Jericho is our new United States champion. The one title the sure fire hall of famer had never won. A great ending to RAW, but now I fear that all signs point to a new Universal champion being crowned come January 29th.