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.
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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.