The first WWE Raw of 2018 continued some of what most worked last year.
Roman Reigns thrived in a lengthy championship bout just as he’s done for weeks now. Braun Strowman broke men and left them lying at his feet. And Asuka’s undefeated streak stretched even longer.
It was a night of familiar images, from Jason Jordan getting a lot of spotlight to WWE not having a great handle of the Nia Jax character. But the New Year did bring some fresh elements, too. Finn Balor finally found himself aligning with his old New Japan Pro Wrestling comrades and Elias strumming the guitar.
Even so, the build to the Royal Rumble is not yet in high gear. There is not yet a buzzing energy ahead of the event as WWE is still shaking off the lethargy brought on the holidays.
There was plenty to roar about on Monday’s Raw and ample stuff to make one scratch one’s head. Read on for a look at all of it as 2018 officially got underway.
Cesaro vs. Jason Jordan
Raw general manager Kurt Angle talked up the two upcoming Royal Rumble matches before The Bar confronted him. He noted that the women’s Rumble would have 30 entrants and standard rules.
Jason Jordan emerged to defend himself. His tag team partner Seth Rollins soon followed. The duo bickered before Jordan’s bout began.
In the early part of the match, Cesaro dominated. When Jordan charged back, The Swiss Cyborg went after his foe’s knee, hobbling him. Jordan had to deal with a smothering Cesaro and a leg he could barely put weight on, but survived long enough to steal a win.
His suplex-neckbreaker combo allowed Jordan to keep Cesaro down for a three-count.
Jordan wins via pinfall.
Memorable Moments and Quotes
- “What’s good enough for the men is good enough for the women.”—Angle.
- Fans chant “Daddy’s boy!” to Jordan.
- Jordan catches Cesaro in midair before hurling him into the corner of the ring.
This was a solid match even with how often WWE has turned to a similar narrative with Jordan.
Cesaro expertly built his offense around damaging Jordan’s knee. It helped the two men tell a story of a gutsy warrior fighting through pain while a predator kept clawing at his weak point. Jordan is getting mighty good at selling a bad wheel, too.
The infighting between the tag champs isn’t all that intriguing to this point. There’s potential for an entitled Jordan to be a great rival for Rollins down the road, but there’s plenty of work to be done to get there properly.
Jordan kicking off the first Raw of the year as a champion with a win is indicative of the kind of push we will continue to see him get.
Bray Wyatt vs. Apollo Crews
Dana Brooke and Titus O’Neil stood in Apollo Crews’ corner as he went to battle with Bray Wyatt.
Wyatt’s methodical offense clashed with Crews’ high-flying attacks. The former won out for the most part. The Eater of Worlds tagged the smaller opponent with hard strikes again and again.
Crews’ comeback attempt in response fell short. Wyatt simply overpowered him.
Even a distraction from Brooke couldn’t derail the monster who pinned Crews after a Sister Abigail.
Matt Hardy appeared on the big screen afterward. He promised to delete Wyatt.
Wyatt wins via pinfall.
Memorable Moments and Quotes
- Wyatt rips Crews off the top turnbuckle and nails him with a jawbreaker.
- “It’s like being run over by a Cadillac.”—Corey Graves on facing Wyatt.
- Crews hits a moonsault off the ring apron.
- “You cannot escape my woken wisdom for much longer.”—Hardy.
The slow-paced, low-energy match was mostly only good for showcasing Wyatt’s destructive power. Hopefully, this is a sign WWE will get behind him and keep presenting him as this dangerous.
The Wyatt-Hardy feud has yet to get out of first gear. The anticipation of what’s to come has been better than the actual story.
The Titus Worldwide statistician role could be Brooke’s key to finally gaining some traction. If given some attention, it could be a fun subplot for Raw.
Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka
Alexa Bliss tried to convince Angle to cancel the match. When that failed, she looked to get Nia Jax to stand in her corner. Jax, though, was busy bringing soup to a sick Enzo Amore.
The Raw women’s champ was on her own as a result and approached Asuka warily.
In the match’s opening minutes, Asuka had Bliss on the run. The champ tried to mat wrestle her foe, but The Empress of Tomorrow stayed atop her.
A missed hip attack opened the door for Bliss, who then punished Asuka by focusing on her ribs.
The match’s pace picked up as Asuka battled back….
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