It’s about time Roman Reigns caught a break.
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WWE Raw was live last night from Houston, Texas, the same city and venue that hosted Sunday night’s Survivor Series. Survivor Series was a tale of two shows as certain matches were great (Shield/New Day, Lesnar/Styles) and others not so great (men’s and women’s 5 on 5). But hey, any time you can make HHH punk out guys on both Raw and Smackdown and pick up the win in the main event of a pay per view in 2017 you have to do it, right?
The best thing about WWE is that whether you loved or hated a pay per view, the next night there is always a Raw to keep things rolling. Instead of a traditional review, I’m going to pick out the five best things from last night and hopefully get a good old fashioned pro wrestling discussion started.
5. Samoa Joe
It’s so refreshing having a motivated, bad ass Samoa Joe back on Raw. While it would be nice for Joe’s success to not be at the expense of Finn Balor, victories like last night do sky rocket him up the title contender ladder. The biggest compliment I can give Joe is that everything he does has a purpose. His goal for every match is to lock the Coquina Clutch on his opponent, because when it’s locked on tight there is no escape. Finn and Joe have great chemistry dating back to their NXT days, and while this match isn’t going to blow anybody away, it was crisp and served it’s purpose.
In an era where everyone does the suicide dive through the middle rope, Joe’s might be the best. Not only does he dive through the rope, but he winds up mid dive and finishes it off with a stiff forearm shot. He wore Balor down enough so that when the Coquina Clutch was locked in, Balor was incapacitated and TKO’d. Great opening match.
I wasn’t a fan of either 5 on 5 match at Survivor Series, but I am glad that Asuka eliminated three members of Team Smackdown and won the match for Team Raw. That was such a layup decision that I’m not going to give WWE any credit for it, though. I’m glad that Asuka is steam rolling through the women’s division, and last night’s match against Dana Brooke is a great example of how she should look from here on out.
Asuka should not just be another member of the women’s division. She should be the one that everyone else fears, and she should stay undefeated, win the women’s title from whichever unlucky soul has it, and then keep winning forever. She’s so good and unique and I love the tweak to her entrance where the arena goes dark and her mask appears on the screen before her music hits. The crowd is already into it, so let’s keep this gravy train rolling and turn Asuka into a cult hero.
3. Paige, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville
During the women’s fatal 4 way number one contender’s match, we heard a familiar screech that has been missing from the women’s division for far too long. Paige made her long awaited return, and at first I thought it was odd to come out and cut a promo during an actual match. Thankfully it all made sense in the end, as Paige brought NXT’s Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville along with her to send a message. Deville is a former MMA fighter who also appeared on Tough Enough and had been with NXT since late 2015. Rose is a former bodybuilding and fitness competitor who appeared on the same Tough Enough as Deville and has also been with NXT since late 2015.
Since the brand split the women’s divisions on both shows have been extremely thin, so adding three women in one segment was a smart move. Plus, you’re bringing in newcomers Deville and Rose alongside a household name like Paige, which will ease their transition to the main roster. I also like bringing in some NXT stars that don’t have a track record in NXT, as it gives them a clean slate on whichever show they appear on. The women’s division needed a little chaos thrown in, and this segment plus their backstage attack on Bliss were two steps in the right direction.
2. Roman Reigns
I don’t love the title change in the main event, but with Rollins and Ambrose back to battling The Bar, Reigns needed some type of direction. His two lifelong enemies are either feuding with Kane (Strowman) or dead (Wyatt) so it made sense to send him after the only other singles title on the show. Reigns is becoming the master of the WWE style title match, and while a lot of this match had to do with the brilliance of Miz, Reigns is still very good in the ring. The only thing I ask moving forward is for Reigns to turn into John Cena when he won the US title and defend the IC title as much as possible. He’ll win all of the matches, but he’ll also elevate whoever challenges him.
1. The Miz, Always
Since early June Miz has been the IC champion, and while he hasn’t defended as often as he should have (or wanted to) he and the Miz-Tourage have been one of the best parts of Raw for awhile. Whether it’s Miz TV or being in the main event of Raw or pay per views, Miz has consistently delivered, and I was sad to see him lose the strap last night. I love him, Axel and Dallas and hope that they continue to be an important part of Raw. I’m going to assume that Roman will be champ for at least a little while, but once the time comes for him to move on to bigger things (Brock Lesnar), I wouldn’t hate Miz getting a chance for his 8th reign as IC champ.