WWE Raw results, recap: Braun Strowman, Kane battle appears never-ending

With the holidays fast approaching and more than a month remaining before the 2018 Royal Rumble, it might be difficult to find confidence in Raw delivering a three-hour show capable of moving you.  

If last week was an aberration in that sense -- with strong in-ring work and a series of quick-moving and impactful segments -- Monday night saw a return to the expected. While the long and entertaining matches were thankfully still there for the second successive week, the commitment to creative over the length of the show sadly wasn't.

And then there was the ending. If the idea was to send fans home happy, WWE woefully failed again as Kane was booked to yet another main event on Raw in 2017 with the kind of booking that puts a damper on anything good that came before it.  

Braun Strowman, Kane close the show … again 

Announced early Monday on social media as a No. 1 contender's match, the winner of Strowman-Kane would secure an opportunity to challenge for Brock Lesnar's universal championship at Royal Rumble in late January. The match didn't begin until 11:01 p.m. ET and ended shortly after. Strowman's hot start was countered by a pair of chokeslams which forced him to twice kick out on two. Kane was then forced to do the same after Strowman responded with one of his own.  After spilling outside and into the crowd, Strowman hit a running clothesline through Kane and the barrier wall, resulting in both superstars getting counted out. Strowman continued the beatdown by using the steel steps and setting up a table inside the ring. Following a brief rally from Kane with a chair, Strowman shocked him by sitting up in Kane/Undertaker fashion. Strowman closed the show with a running powerslam through the table.  

The idea of 50-year-old Kane, in 2017, routinely securing valuable real estate in the main event of Raw has jumped the shark to such epic proportions that it has to be a troll job at this point by WWE creative. If it's not, the company has inadvertently succeeded in both burying Finn Balor's character and watering down its most red-hot superstar in Strowman. Taking the pulse from the crowd reaction (or lack thereof) yet again was enough to confirm that.  

With still more than six weeks to go until Royal Rumble, it's understandable that creative might be dragging its heels a bit to stretch storylines out through the holidays`. But the gratuitous use of Kane, which no fan in their right mind could've asked for or been excited about, remains an unforgivable sin. Forget the less offensive task of forcing viewers to suspend disbelief enough to accept his favorable booking of late, the fact that it has been presented in such a mailed-in fashion only exasperates the issue. Does WWE have the guts to include Kane in a triple threat title match at Royal Rumble? Like a car wreck you can't turn away from, we can only sit and watch to find out.

Kurt Angle, Jason Jordan angle builds momentum

Jordan approached the Raw general manager backstage and apologized for barging in and demanding a match one week ago. But after Angle accepted with a smile, Jordan pulled a whiny 180 and questioned his father for not giving him a match with Samoa Joe tonight before adding, "No wonder Stephanie [McMahon] was on your case last week." An annoyed Angle finally snapped: "Listen, I'm going to say this to you as the GM and not your father." He went on angrily explain to Jordan how "holding your own" in big matches is not the same as winning and that he will get the match he covets when Angle says so. "OK, dad," Jordan said, "or maybe I should say, 'OK, Kurt.'"  

Still sore upset about last week, Jordan crashed Joe's match against Dean Ambrose and watched from a folding chair on the stage like Joe previously did to him. Lured to ringside mid-match by Joe's trash talk, Jordan's presence nearly cost Joe when Ambrose rolled him up for two. Jordan continued to get involved when the action moved outside as Joe applied the Coquina Clutch from behind until Ambrose knocked down both with a suicide dive.  Jordan's temper got the best of him and his attempt to enter the ring and attack Joe created a distraction of the referee. Ambrose hit an elbow from the top rope onto Joe but the referee was late to the count. After Ambrose got into Jordan's face outside, Joe hit a flying forearm through the ropes on Ambrose and a senton onto Jordan. Joe then applied his Coquina Clutch on Ambrose in the ring to produce the tap.  

Jordan wasn't given anywhere near the 47 minutes he shouldered to open last week's show, but he was just as impactful this time around in terms of furthering the storyline and developing his entitled character. His constant bickering with Angle has produced plenty of planted seeds toward an intriguing heel turn that feels sooner than later. And consider the new wrinkle of his beef with Ambrose to be nothing short of promising. Jordan can do no wrong at the moment and Raw would be smart to ride the hot hand while killing time ahead of Royal Rumble.  

What else happened on Raw? 

  • Samoa Joe sets trap for The Shield: Joe opened the show by saying Reigns is nothing without The Shield and challenged him to come out solo and finish their beef. With Ambrose and Seth Rollins watching backstage, Reigns took the bait and a hockey fight ensued. The Bar quickly ran in from the crowd to triple team Reigns as Joe applied his Coquina Clutch. Ambrose and Rollins ran in to help, only for the trio of heels to overcome and stand tall.  
  • Paige & Mandy Rose def. Bayley & Mickie James via pinfall: "Ladies, I think it's time to put your hair up and square up because Absolution is a symphony of carnage and the music is about to start," Sonia Deville said during the pre-match promo. Her stablemates then stayed hot with another victory as Paige took advantage of late chaos by interrupting James' MickDDT attempt with a superkick, leading to a pin by Rose.  
  • Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy repeat dueling video promos: Not much new was revealed for Week 2 as the alternating laughing returned. Hardy said "the great war has perpetuated for eons … and now it continues on the battlefield known as WWE." Bray called him "the yin to my yang" before saying, "how I have been waiting for you." After Hardy talked about previously "walking hand in hand" with Sister Abigail's soul before she became addicted to evil and inhabited Wyatt's body, Bray closed with, "Why would you follow a jester when you can walk in the footsteps of a king. Choose your sides wisely. Only one of us can survive."  
  • Finn Balor def. Curtis Axel via pinfall: Axel and Miztourage stablemate Bo Dallas mocked Balor's entrance before beating him down before the match. After selling an injured left shoulder, Balor quickly rallied and went on to hit his Coup de Grace for the win as he slowly rebuilds.  
  • Seth Rollins def. Sheamus via pinfall: With their tag team partners banned from ringside, these two put on a heck of a free TV match over two long segments. Rollins sold an injured left knee throughout and rallied for a trio of dramatic near falls late. The finish came when Rollins sidestepped a brogue kick before hitting a superkick of his own and a Kingslayer knee for the 1-2-3.  
  • Cedric Alexander def. Ariya Daivari (via pinfall), Tony Nese and Mustafa Ali: WWE pulled the suspended Rich Swann from his No. 1 contender's match following his real-life arrest for domestic assault. A new bout was created with the winner facing Drew Gulak next week. The match featured one high spot and near fall after another, highlighted by Alexander's combo of a standing Spanish fly into a lumbar check on Ali. Alexander would go on to hit the latter on Daivari for the pin.  
  • Nia Jax flirts with Enzo Amore: The cruiserweight champion began with a backstage lecture of Gulak for insinuating that he would take Amore's title after defeating Alexander. Jax interrupted and answered Amore's catchphrase question with a sultry, "I'm doing just fine." After the champion responded in nervous but interested fashion, Jax closed with a flirty, "Enzo, we should talk some time when you are not busy."  
  • Intercontinental Championship -- Roman Reigns def. Cesaro via pinfall to retain the tite: Consider this the match of the night with incredible pay-per-view intensity. Both guys sold out from start to finish as Reigns worked overtime to sell a right arm injury that became the storyline of the match. Each attempt at rallying from Reigns was met by Cesaro countering to intensify the injury. In the end, Reigns countered out of a Gotch neutralizer attempt to hit his spear for the 1-2-3.  
  • Absolution forced to stand down: Asuka's scheduled match with Alicia Fox never took place thanks to a backstage attack on Fox's arm by Absolution. The heel faction came out to approach Asuka and threaten her to get out of their way. After initially fighting them off, Asuka succumbed to the number's game. But just as Paige was set to attempt her finisher, Sasha Banks' music hit and the entire Raw women's division -- heels and faces alike -- ran in to attack Absolution. Paige and Deville eventually escaped and pulled Rose out by her legs before scurrying away. 
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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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