Last week's Raw signaled the changing of the tide in quite a few ways. Most of all Survivor Series season was over which meant a return to in-house rivalries. WWE also crowned a new Intercontinental Champion and welcomed back Paige along with two new female NXT Superstars. It was pretty action-packed and a tough ask for this week's Raw to follow suit. What was promised was Roman Reigns' open challenge plus more action from Paige and her newfound friends. Naturally those two instances will be included among others in this week's 5 Huge Takeaways from the show.
5. Apparently WWE Superstars Get Sabbaticals And Honeymoons
It's no secret that the life of a WWE Superstar is pretty much non-stop. In fact when you're a full time pro wrestler the only time off you really get is if you suffer an injury. As it stands the Raw Superstars will even be working on Christmas Day! Well according to Michael Cole maybe things have changed. The first match on Raw this past Monday was a singles affair between Seth Rollins and Cesaro. Not a bout to be sniffed at, but where exactly were the competitors' respective tag team partners? Well apparently Dean Ambrose is on his honeymoon and the other half of the Tag Team Champions, Sheamus is taking his 'annual sabbatical' in Ireland. Maybe WWE have turned a corner and are actually letting their Superstars take time off.
4. Are Absolution Ready For Asuka?
Paige, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville returned to Raw this week and now the three of them have a collective name, Absolution. First up for the ladies was a six-woman tag team match, or at least that's what was booked. Instead the trio took out two of their opponents back stage (Mickie James and Bayley) then did the same to a lonely Sasha Banks who was left stranded in the ring. What was more interesting was their second appearance of the evening. After Asuka defeated Dana Brooke in four seconds (yes you read that right), Absolution came to the ring again. Paige and her comrades had The Empress surrounded but they decided to let her go. Clearly the three of them know better than to mess with the former NXT Women's Champion.
3. The Open Challenge Is Not For Cruiserweights
Shortly after Roman Reigns won the Intercontinental Championship last week, WWE posted an interview with The Big Dog where he declared an open challenge for his newly won title. One of the first men to throw his hat into the ring via social media was 205 Live star Cedric Alexander. Cedric's tweet caused quite a stir and seemed to be a popular choice to face Roman. This week Raw began with Reigns reiterating that challenge, but clearly it doesn't include cruiserweights. Instead Elias answered the call. The match came later in the evening and in all fairness even with Alexander's talent he would have had a hard time putting on a better match than this one. Elias most definitely proved that he is a worthwhile Superstar on the WWE roster, and even though he didn't wind up winning, it was a great advert for himself and whoever Roman will face next. Judging by the attack following the match, that next challenger will be Samoa Joe.
2. Matt Hardy Is In The Midst Of A Breakdown
Matt Hardy hasn't had the best of luck when it comes to his latest run as a singles star. His brother Jeff is currently sidelined through injury and as is so often the case, WWE have been at a loss for what to do with the tag team partner that's left behind. It happened with The Usos, twice with The Revival, and now with The Hardy Boyz. On Monday night they may just have gone and solved that problem however. Matt had a match with Bray Wyatt, a match that he lost. What came after the match though will undoubtedly have fans talking. It seems as if Matt has finally once again become Broken. Something seemed to snap in the veteran's head and we were left watching a troubled Hardy as Michael Cole questioned whether we were witnessing him suffering a breakdown.
1. Nothing Can Keep Braun Strowman Down
Raw's main event turned into something of a merry-go-round. Initially it was supposed to be Jason Jordan versus Kane. However clearly the former lied to Kurt Angle about the severity of his knee injury. All it took was an awkward landing after being tossed from the ring and Jordan was counted out. He tried to fight on and once Kane had delivered enough of a beating Finn Balor entered the fray. That sparked Raw's new, and hence, true main event, but again it came to an unsatisfying end. Finn proved more of a challenge than Jordan to The Big Red Machine. So much so that Kane felt the need to get himself disqualified by using a steel chair on the former Universal Champion. That prompted the last addition to these proceedings, Braun Strowman. Although it wasn't a match The Monster Among Men succeeded where Jason and Finn had failed. Strowman used the steel chair and the steel steps to dismantle Kane, finishing him off with not one, but two chair shots to the throat. The veteran managed to escape through the crowd but not before the damage had been done.