WWE Raw results, recap: Massive title change, Paige returns with her own faction
One night after Survivor Series, WWE started some big-time storlines heading into Royal Rumble
One night after a loaded Survivor Series card was nearly spoiled by a curious booking decision to close the main event, WWE made sure to send the fans home happy to end Raw. Monday's three-hour episode, already filled with an equal mix of highs and lows, ended with a bang thanks to an exciting intercontinental championship match between The Miz and Roman Reigns, which felt like it wouldn't have been out of place on Sunday's card.
WWE also did well to repair some of the bad feelings lingering from Sunday's decision to have Triple H sabotage his own teammate by accelerating the storyline. Mixing that with yet another surprising revel on Monday -- Paige's return and the debut of a new women's faction -- and you have an episode of Raw worth talking about as the early seeds continue to get planted on the build toward WrestleMania 34.
AND NEW ... intercontinental champion
Joined by his Shield brethren, Reigns was a guest on Miz TV earlier in the night. The Miz berated him, calling The Shield ungrateful and demanding credit for their reunion (along with residual checks from their merchandise). The crowd responded by giving him a "Miz is awesome" chant. The segment ended with Reigns challenging Miz for his intercontinental title and The Shield taking out Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel as The Miz sheepishly escaped. After the Miz's attempt to beg Raw general manager Kurt Angle to cancel the match were unsuccessful, the two met in the main event.
A long series of dramatic near falls ensued as Miz countered a pair of Superman punches into kicks to the head for two. Reigns then nearly ended matters when he caught Miz off the top rope with a Superman punch. Out came The Bar to provide a distraction, allowing Miz to hit his Skull-Crushing Finale. But Reigns kicked out again, triggering a run-in from Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to deal with Sheamus and Cesaro. Reigns then hit a spear to end the match and complete the career grand slam by winning his first intercontinental title.
Great piece of booking by WWE. Not only did the surprise finish put an exciting bow on the episode, a Reigns-Miz feud has the potential to be fire. This match produced pay-per-view level feels and intertwined nicely with the overarching program against The Miz and The Bar that has been in place since The Shield's reunion.
Kane attacks Braun Strowman ... again
Raw opened with commissioner Stephanie McMahon bragging about the red brand's victory at Survivor Series and ensuring Angle's job security. Out came Triple H to celebrate but he was instantly interrupted by Angle, who got in his face. "This is not Kurt Angle the general manager talking to you, this is the Olympic gold medalist and WWE Hall of Famer telling you that if you ever attack me from behind as you did last night, you can take this job and shove it because I'm coming for you," Angle said. McMahon warned Angle to watch his words in the face of the WWE's COO and Jason Jordan came out to defend his father, anxiously pitching for a match against Triple H. Jordan called him a coward, which forced Triple H to remove his coat. But after McMahon warned that her husband isn't afraid of anyone in the company, out came Strowman for an intense staredown. Triple H ultimately backed away and an angry Steph booked a Strowman-Jordan match for later.
Citing his knee injury that still isn't 100 percent, Jordan pleaded unsuccessfully backstage to have Angle call off the match. Jordan later approached Matt Hardy in the locker room and was discouraged by the advice he received on how to face "The Mountain Among Men." Once the match started, an ill-advised slap to the face was all the offense Jordan would mount as he tweaked his knee while Strowman threw him around the ring.
But just as Strowman appeared to go for the finish, Kane emerged from the crowd to cut out his legs and beat him down with a chair. The finishing shot was a chair to the throat outside the ring, which left Strowman, who later refused medical attention, barely able to breathe.
It's 2017 and Kane won't stop getting in the way of good storylines. After a two-hour focus on Jordan, seeing another gratuitous swerve involving Kane was sure to test the patience of any fan. Even if WWE gets the storyline right in the long term, using Kane's attack as a means to realign him with Triple H and the Authority, the feeling of being trolled yet again by "The Big Red Machine" is hard to shake.
Paige makes surprise return ... with some friends
Raw women's champion Alexa Bliss entered the ring to make excuses and complain about her frustrating loss to Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series. Out came Mickie James, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox in succession to plead their case for a title shot. Angle followed next and predictably booked a fatal 4-way match for a shot at Bliss' title.
It didn't take long after the start of the match for Paige to emerge on the ramp, making her first appearance on WWE television since July 2016. "Did you miss me?" she asked. "I'm back … but I didn't come alone." NXT wrestlers Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville emerged from the crowd to take out Banks and Bayley in the ring with their finishers. Paige followed with a kick to the head on Banks and her Rampaige finisher on Bayley as a scared Fox ran to the locker room.
After the new faction raised their arms and celebrated in the ring, their backstage interview was crashed by Bliss, who applauded them for giving Banks and Bayley "exactly what they deserved." Paige got into Bliss' face for a staredown before viciously attacking her as all three contributed to the beating.
Talk about a shot in the arm for the division. While the union of Paige and a pair of debuting talents (who hadn't even been used in the NXT title picture) might not seem like a natural one, the intensity they showed in delivering their attacks brought something fresh to Raw that has been lacking. Paige can handle herself on the microphone and provided the moment with the arrogance and severity it needed. Rose and Deville were just as impressive in successfully translating the gritty and more realistic NXT style to the main roster. Here's to hoping we see more of that. Paige's return also couldn't have come at a better time, moments after Raw appeared to be going back to the well for another stale multi-women match to determine the next title contender.
What else happened on Raw?
- Samoa Joe def. Finn Balor via submission: Good intensity in this two-segment match. The spots weren't bad, either, including a textbook Tope Con Hilo from Balor and a stiff suicide dive from Joe that crushed Balor into the barrier wall. But it was Joe who received the strong booking in the end when he put Balor to sleep with the Coquina Clutch.
- Asuka def. Dana Brooke via pinfall: WWE continues to do right on the main roster building of Asuka, one night after she was the sole survivor for Team Raw at Survivor Series. Brooke did plenty of selling in this glorified squash match. After Brooke taunted Asuka and slapped her in the face, the former NXT champion answered with a flurry of stiff strikes and two kicks to the head for the 1-2-3.
- Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus via pinfall: Decent action in this otherwise pedestrian match created to reignite the feud between The Shield and The Bar. Sheamus hit the spot of the match with a rolling senton off the top rope which could only get two. In the end, Rollins ran through the ring to hit a suicide dive on Cesaro outside. The distraction allowed Ambrose to hit his Dirty Deeds on Sheamus to end it.
- Akira Tozawa, Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali & Rich Swann def. Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, Ariya Daivari & Noam Dar via pinfall: This eight-man cruiserweight tag team match came to be as a predictable spinoff to a promo by Enzo Amore and his heel faction, the Zo Train. Both the match and the stale dialogue between faces and heels beforehand felt like a low moment for the division. It's just not working. Ali hit a reverse 450 splash on Dar for the finish.
- Elias brawls with Matt Hardy: One night after Elias defeated Hardy handily on the Survivor Series kickoff show, he played a song on guitar taunting him in the lyrics. Out came Hardy in street clothes and nursing a left arm injury. Elias instantly attacked and they brawled until Hardy got the upper hand and Elias retreated to boos.
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