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Five Stars From WWE #RAW25 (1/22/18): Stone Cold, DX & More!

WWE held it’s 25th anniversary celebration for it’s flagship show last night. I wouldn’t say it was a bad show, but filming in two different locations proved challenging. This was also the go home WWE Raw for the Rumble, so WWE was mixing nostalgia with also trying to build to it’s second biggest pay per view. The actual 25th anniversary was January 11th and I think doing this show last week would have been more beneficial. The returns of Austin, Undertaker and DX took up a ton of time, which made segments with the tag champs and Universal title picture seem rushed. There were some bright spots though, so let’s get to the five stars!

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5. Austin Got McMahon!

WWE Raw started in the best possible way. Stephanie, Shane and Vince opened with a promo celebrating Raw’s historic feat. Vince then dove into his Mr. McMahon character and instantly got the crowd to turn on him. The crowd chanted ASSHOLE while Vince took sole credit for the success of Raw while claiming he didn’t need anyone else’s help to make the show such a success. That cued the best sound in the world: glass shattering followed by Stone Cold Steve Austin death marching to the ring swearing up a storm.

If you’re a younger fan that didn’t watch Austin on a weekly basis during the Attitude Era, you got a small sense of how much crowds love him last night. Austin didn’t speak a single word, yet had the crowd on the edge of their seats for the entire first segment. He stunned Shane (twice) and Vince, and even had a few Steveweisers along the way. Also, this picture belongs in a museum somewhere:

4. No One Is Ready For Asuka

The 8 women tag wasn’t anything special, but I did like the post match angle. If Asuka is in a match, whether it’s singles, tag or a battle royal, she should be the favorite to win. Her NXT run was done so perfectly and no other women on Raw has been built to even be in the same ballpark as her. I love Sasha Banks and Nia Jax, but Asuka is on a different level, and she should be portrayed that way. I’m glad she was the one to make the statement last night by tossing Mickie, Sasha and Bayley over the top rope. The match would’ve benefited from being on a regular Raw as it needed more than a few minutes, but that wasn’t happening last night. Asuka should go into the first ever women’s Rumble as the odds on favorite. I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t win.

3. The Miz

The best match by a mile was Miz vs. Roman Reigns for the IC title. Miz is coming off a landmark 2017, and in his first match in 2018, he won the IC title for the 8th time. This outcome could mean that Reigns wins the Rumble and main event’s WrestleMania again, but I’m focusing on the positives for now. This was a really good match that I think benefited from time constraints. Reigns’ best matches are always in the 10-15 minute range. When they go longer than that there’s usually a lot of stalling. When they don’t you get matches like last night where everything matters.

Miz had a game plan that obviously featured Axel and Dallas causing as many distractions as they could. While Reigns was seemingly able to overcome them, he turned his back on Miz one too many times. Miz was able to uncover the middle turnbuckle and use Reigns’ habit of constantly running at you to his advantage. He knows that Reigns loves the spear and the Superman punch. Miz positioned himself perfectly in front of the exposed turnbuckle, moved out of the way and let Roman knock himself out. One skull crushing finale later and Miz is your new IC champ. Reigns doesn’t look bad because he lost a 3 on 1 battle and knocked himself out. Miz looks great because he used his surroundings and stable mates to his advantage. Great stuff.

2. Walk With Elias

On Christmas day Elias and John Cena had a really good match. Elias has been one of the better parts of Raw for awhile now, so it was cool to see him interact with John. Unfortunately Elias lost, but he proved he could hang with big match John. Last night Elias got put on The List by Chris Jericho and hit John Cena with a guitar. Not too shabby. The Jericho bit was a lot of fun and I wish those two would be interacting more. I’d honestly watch them argue about the perfect amount of scarves all day. When Cena first came out I was worried he was going to shoulder block and AA Elias and that’d be it. That ALMOST happened, but Elias got out of the AA and hit a mean low blow. He followed that up with a guitar shot to the back and then hit the Drift Away.

Now, this is obviously going to set up Elias vs. Cena at Elimination Chamber and/or Mania. Does that make me nervous for Elias? Yes, yes it does. I’ve seen Cena take the L on a random Raw or B level PPV too many times. I’ve also seen him win the match with the biggest possible audience watching too many times as well. Rusev and Bray Wyatt, I’m looking your way. Could that happen with Elias? Of course. Best case scenario is Cena eliminates Elias in the Rumble. That costs Elias a title shot at WrestleMania and Cena gets revenge for last night. If they do fight at WrestleMania, Elias should go over, whether it’s clean or not. Or Cena wins LOL.

1. DX + Balor Club = Too Sweet

The final segment & match from the Manhattan Center was a lot of fun. If you’re a a fan of The Revival you weren’t thrilled they got beat up. The Manhattan Center audience was there for D-X though, so you knew it was coming. The only thing I would have changed is the finish of the match. While Gallows & Anderson aren’t a bad team, they’ve never been consistently built up on Raw. The Revival are the best tag team on the roster and should very rarely lose normal tag matches. I enjoyed the post match stuff, and The Revival can do much worse than getting beat up by D-X, Scott Hall and the Balor Club.

I’m glad they’re finally doing something meaningful with Balor, and this struck me as a passing the torch moment for he and the Club. While the moment was cool, it won’t mean a thing if they don’t keep building him up moving forward. I doubt Finn wins the Rumble, but he should be entering very early and stay in for awhile. If Gallows & Anderson are also in the Rumble, they can help him fight off elimination. The Revival can dump them out somehow, and Finn is eventually eliminated after a historic showing. Win win for everybody.

-Ryan

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Five Stars From WWE Raw (1/8/18): Miz, Braun Strowman, Balor Club & More!

Raw was live from Memphis, Tennessee last night as we inch our way closer to the Royal Rumble. The Miz finally returned from filming a movie, Braun Strowman tried to murder Brock Lesnar & Kane and the Balor Club continued to be too sweet. Here are the five stars from the January 8th, 2018 edition of WWE Raw.

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

5. The Miz, Always & Forever

Before he left to film the new Marine movie, The Miz was the best part of Raw. He’s always been great on the microphone, but his in ring work is back to where it was when he was the defending WWE championship in the main event of WM 27. He has enough experience now to cater matches to his opponents strengths. That allows both he and his opponent to shine, which is something that doesn’t happen enough in WWE. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are tremendous here as well, especially the bit with the gifts. Axel not getting Miz a gift and offering up his sports coat was probably my favorite moment of the show and these three continue to be magic together.

In his first promo of 2018, Miz lists all of his accomplishments from 2017 (including being Rolling Stone’s Superstar of the Year). He also talks about ‘gifting’ Reigns the IC title because he wanted the title to be defended every week while he was gone. That’s so, so good. Miz’s passion for the IC title makes it the most important title on the show, and I cant’ wait for his match with Reigns in two weeks.

Miz, Dallas and Axel show up again after the main event to attack Reigns, Rollins and Jordan. I’m not confident angering Roman Reigns is the best way to go, but Miz definitely has a game plan. If there is a God, Miz will be IC champ again before the Rumble.

4. Samoa Joe

Another consistently great part of Raw has been whatever Samoa Joe is doing. Case in point, he took on Rhino last night in a quick, physical match then declared his entry into the Rumble. He also seemed to call out John Cena and guaranteed that he would eliminate him in the Rumble. If history in any indicator, the opposite will happen, but I’m all the way in for Samoa Joe taking old man Cena to the wood shed. I really hope everyone else on the roster is paying attention to how Miz and Joe utilize promo time, because they’re far and away the two best guys on the roster right now.

3. Braun Strowman, Murder Machine

Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar was a dud at No Mercy. The build was fantastic, the match was a let down but in general whenever those two are near each other it’s fun to watch. What’s not fun to watch is Kane doing anything in 2018, so I’m torn on the triple threat title match scheduled for the Rumble. After last night’s segment with Braun, Kane & Brock, I’m back on board. As a rule of thumb, Braun Strowman should always be destroying something and/or someone. Last night he did both.

After a run of the mill promo from Paul Heyman, Kane attacked Brock Lesnar on the stage. They brawled backstage where Strowman attacked them. Kudos to Brock Lesnar who is secretly the king of getting thrown around. That toss into the crew equipment looked brutal. After the quick beat down, Braun turned into a human spear gun and threw some type of hook onto the top of the metal scaffolding. He then proceeded to pull down the scaffolding with his bare hands, crushing Lesnar and Kane. Heyman’s reaction was pitch perfect as always, and if we’re going to have Kane main event a major pay per view in 2018, I’m glad they’re at least making it insane.

2. Nia Jax vs. Asuka

Even though Nia Jax vs. Asuka is taking place next week, I’m still adding it here. Nia is the only believable challenger for Asuka, so I’m glad they’re pairing them up ahead of the women’s Rumble. What makes the Rumble so fun are the mini feuds within the match. Before this segment the only friction was Absolution/Sasha, Bayley and Mickie James. Nia vs. Asuka is a great second story line to add to the match, and hopefully WWE uses the next two Raw’s to build more. I also enjoyed how Nia was able to play different characters within the same show. She showed her softer side when she checked on Enzo and her monstrous side when she attacked Asuka.

While we’re talking about Asuka, I don’t want to forget the best news of the night. That would be Miz and Asuka pairing up for the Mixed Match Challenge.

1. Balor Club

Last week WWE finally paired up Balor, Gallows & Anderson and formed the Balor Club. It was such a no brainer that I can’t believe it’s taken this long to do it, but at least it’s finally happening. This week they interrupt ‘The Shield’ to explain why it took so long for them to reunite, which I always appreciate. Balor, Gallows and Anderson always knew they could team up whenever they wanted, but they desired success on their own. I can buy that for Balor, but I would not consider what Gallows and Anderson have done so far on Raw a ‘success’.

Either way I’m glad they’re together and they seem to be having a blast. While last week they beat Elias & the Miztourage, this week they faced a tougher test. This isn’t The Shield we’re used to, but Jordan, Rollins and Reigns are still a solid team. Balor Club triumphed again, and this pairing should push Finn back into the main event and make Gallows/Anderson a legitimate threat of a team. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

-Ryan

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