By Professor Diesel @Diesel_vftr
Happy New Years to one and all. I hope 2018 is your best year yet and professional wrestling’s best year yet as well. This week I’m going to try something a little different. As you may have noticed the name has changed from the Raw Review to the Raw Report Card. The name change is just the first. I’ve been feeling the format I was using was boring and not standing out from the rest. This week I will be assuming you already watched Raw, therefore there’s no need for a play-by-play type description of the matches and promos. Starting this week I’ll be listing my likes, dislikes and grading each segment individually. I hope that this will be more fun to read and a review that’s unlike the rest.
A quick recap of last week’s Raw is how I usually start these things. However there was really only one thing of note from last week. Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan defeated the Bar to win the Raw Tag Team Championships. This week Enzo Amore puts his Cruiserweight Belt on the line against Cedric Alexander. Roman Reigns is also set to defend his Intercontinental Championship in a rematch against Samoa Joe from last Monday. The stipulation for the match is if Reigns gets disqualified Samoa Joe will be crowned the new champ. If you read on you find out whether the the first Raw of 2018 was a good start to the year or a forgettable one. It’s time to get down and dirty and I hope you enjoy the new and improved Raw Report Card.
Opening Promo With Kurt Angle, the Bar, Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins
- Kurt Angle announces that the Women’s Rumble match will consist of 30 participants.
- For the first time since No Mercy Cesaro isn’t wearing a mouthguard in a promo.
- I like how Jason Jordan is a “daddy’s boy” and early on I’m enjoying the relationship between Seth Rollins and Jordan.
- Although I love the announcement of 30 participants in the Women’s Rumble, I feel this could have been done in a backstage segment. Maybe addressing the live crowd over the Titan Tron.
This promo was a way to continue the feud between Jordan and Rollins vs the Bar, which is ok I guess. I’m interested to see how long Jordan and Rollins can coexist.
Segment Grade: B-
Jason Jordan vs Cesaro
- The last few weeks Cesaro has been really good at working a single body part. It’s a classic style of wrestling that is really forgotten about today. I really appreciate it, thank you Cesaro.
- People really hate on Jason Jordan, but like him or hate him in this match he does an excellent job selling the injured knee.
- I didn’t like how Jordan felt like a face during the match and won by distraction. It went against what he was doing in the match. It’s not a big deal but deal and maybe I’m just nitpicking to find something bad in a great match.
This match was a stellar one to begin the new year. The story the two men told in the ring was simply tremendous. I said it a couple of weeks ago and it still holds true, Cesaro is the most underrated wrestler in the WWE. I really enjoyed this match.
Match Grade: A-
Bray Wyatt vs Apollo Crews
- A good thing is they are making the match between Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy feel special when it finally happens because they are making us wait for it.
- Nothing has been done ever to make me care about Apollo Crews, so I can’t care about this match.
- This match really dragged on with no interest from the live crowd. It was so long it had an add break and by that point I’m begging for Matt Hardy to delete, delete, delete this match from my memory.
- The finish was close to the opening match. It also felt out of nowhere and messy.
This match was just filler to bridge the gaps in a 3 hour show. The in ring action wasn’t the worst but it just felt to me like the WWE didn’t care so why should the rest of us. This match was so blah that as I write this I’ve already forgotten what’s happened.
Match Grade: D
Alexa Bliss vs Asuka
- Before the match I’ve loved every interaction with Alexa Bliss in the show so far. I liked how she tried to get out of her match by begging to Kurt Angle. I also really liked how she asked for Nia Jax’s help but Nia had to go take care of a sick Enzo.
- Alexa looks like a scared little girl but she’s still putting up a fight. Usually Alexa would run but I really like she’s fighting.
- Alexa showed dominance over Asuka for a while during the match makes Alexa feel like a stronger champ in result.
In past weeks I have said I disagree with having Asuka wrestle in non squash matches. This was the perfect match to do a non squash. Alexa is champ, so it makes sense why she would be able to fight off Asuka. I wasn’t expecting the match that we got. I was expecting more of Alexa getting scared and run. I really liked this match and I can’t find anything I didn’t like about it.
Match Grade: A
Braun Stroman vs Rhyno
- This was a matchup I never knew I wanted to see.
- Stroman challenged Heath Slater to join the match making it a Handicap Match.
- Just nitpicking again but the match was too short.
I like that Stroman can take out a team like it’s nothing. Braun Stroman and his Running Power Slam are over and rightfully so. Just like the Wyatt/Crews match earlier this was just filler, being filler does effect the match grade. However this was fun unlike the other match. It was basically 10 minutes of Running Power Slams and it was awesome.
Match Grade: B-
Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe for the I.C. Championship
- This has a big fight ppv like feel. Just the introduction of the competitors was enough to make me excited for this match.
- Joe feels like a badass and he’s super cocky. He is paying his role to perfection. o n the other side Roman is doing the same.
- Both beat the hell out of each other and neither showed any quit.
- The false finishes are placed in good spots in the match and felt like it might be the end of the match.
Another match where I would have to find something to nitpick to find a dislike. This match and pretty much the entire show has felt like a ppv. The crowd is more involved in this match then they had been all night to this point. This match as of right now is Match of the Year in 2018 no doubt about it.
Match Grade: A
Drew Gulak & Ariya Daivari vs Cedric Alexander & Goldust
- I like the randomness of Goldust coming out to partner with Alexander. It was a surprise because I was totally expecting a cruiserweight.
- Goldust’s is longer than I’ve ever seen it and it really doesn’t look good.
This match was what it was. Another filler match and some more disrespect to the Cruiserweight Division. Why even have the Cruiserweights on Monday nights if you’re not going to take them seriously. Drew Gulak is amazing and him reading Enzo’s statement and correcting the grammar was hilarious. The match though was nothing to write home about.
Match Grade: F
Finn Balor & the Club vs the Miztourage & Elias
- The best news of the new year is that Finn Balor and the Club are tagging together. In fact one could say this news is too sweet. Come on stop shaking your head, what kind of mark would I be if I didn’t make that joke. I really hope this is the start to the Balor Club. Please let it be and I won’t ask for anything else until 2019.
- I love that with Balor and the Club together it feels like they are complete. If anybody didn’t know the history of these men, they would feel re-energized and fresh.
I really hate to say that there were no dislikes again but I’m sorry folks that’s the case. If you have read my previous reviews then you know my thoughts on the use of Balor. Finally they did the right thing and put him with the Club. That alone is enough to make this match great for me. That isn’t all however. The fact that the Balor Club destroyed their opponents with a swagger that has yet to be seen from these three was refreshing. If this goes no further it will be a mistake and they might as well get rid of Balor because they don’t understand him.
Match Grade: B+
Brock Lesner & Paul Heyman Promo
- I hated that Kane just choke slammed Lesner without a fight, but Brock’s no sell was really good.
- It feels like Paul Heyman is on autopilot and him nor Lesner are uninterested in this program.
What a trash segment. For the second time in 3 weeks they wasted a Brock Lesner appearance. Short of the Cruiserweight match earlier, this was the worst thing on this weeks Raw.
Segment Grade: D-
The wrestling on this show was very good. For the first time in weeks storylines progressed through the stories told in the ring. I really appreciate that they made the first show of the year special. The whole episode felt like a PPV and it was nice because it’s been so long since Raw’s last PPV. Take away the Wyatt/Crews match, the Cruiserweight tag match and the Lesner segment and this show would be an A. On the other hand the Balor Club made up for all that in this Professors humble opinion. With looking back on the entire show I’ve decided on a grade and here it is.
Final Show Grade: B+
If you have any comments or you just want to chat about Raw. Or any wrestling at all, you can find me on Twitter @Diesel_vftr. You can listen to my podcast View From the Top Rope on Itunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, Stitcher and Podknife. In association with @kayfabeToday