There were some positive things to take from the first Raw of 2018. Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe got together in a great match, Braun Strowman looked as strong as ever, and The Club, featuring Finn Balor and The Good Brothers appears to have reunited which will make diehard fans extremely happy. None of these was a bad way to kick off the new year. But, not everything was perfect.
Enzo Amore wound up in the hospital due to the flu so the Cruiserweight match had to be postponed, Alexa Bliss got handled and it made the titleholder less than worthy, and Brock Lesnar‘s return felt wasted when he and Kane had little-to-no chemistry. Some good matches mixed with some strange decision-making left this particular Monday more of a wash than anything else.
Here are your winners and losers for Raw on January 1, 2018.
Winner: Samoa Joe
— WWE (@WWE) January 2, 2018
To say that Samoa Joe is delivering strong work as of late would be an understatement. His mic work was stellar on Monday and he legitimately looked like he had a chance at taking away Roman Reign’s Intercontinental Title.
The only downside to Joe’s performance (or at least his official loss) is that it leaves his future unclear. Is he still in the title picture? Will he go after Reigns again? Or, is WWE setting up some sort of new challenge for him to tackle? It would be a shame if he didn’t get a good push after this because the way he’s been going, he deserves to stay in a prominent position on the show.
Loser: Alexa Bliss
Understanding the match between Asuka and Alexa Bliss was set up to make Asuka look unstoppable, it was odd to do so at the expense of the current Raw Women’s Champion. It was also a strange choice to put them together so quickly after Asuka has been featured on the show stringing wins together of mostly pitiful opponents. The match felt rushed when it could have been saved for a much bigger moment. A good unstoppable force doesn’t work unless she’s meeting a legitimate opponent and while Bliss got in a little offense, she wasn’t much of a threat. If the WWE is going to make the current champ look like she can’t even compete, what’s the point? Is Bliss going to be forgotten that quickly so Auska can look stronger than everyone else?
Winner: The Club Reunion
— WWE (@WWE) January 2, 2018
Perhaps WWE had nothing better to do with Finn Balor or perhaps they have a plan but they stuck him with his old partners but you could tell Balor and The Good Brothers were completely rejuvenated. Balor was legitimately happy to be teaming with Gallows and Anderson and here’s hoping this leads to something more permanent over 2018.
This could be the chance Balor and The Good Brothers have to get over and it would be great for fans if they could make a bit of a run. They are good friends in real life, and when Gallows and Anderson first showed up, the WWE neglected to go for the easy storyline of their reunion. Perhaps we’ll see that come to fruition now.
Loser: Brock Lesnar
— WWE (@WWE) January 2, 2018
It’s amazing to see just how little work Brock Lesnar has to do to get paid huge money. This was another example of carting him out, letting Heyman talk him up and then have him stand there and look intimidating. It’s not often they ask him to get physical.
Tonight that was one of those rare nights but with Kane, the chemistry just wasn’t there. From Lesnar’s paused exit from the ring waiting for Kane’s music to hit, to the awkward chokeslam to the laughing spectacle that was the WWE roster trying to break them up, it didn’t work. The least Lesnar can do when asked to perform so little is make those few appearances memorable for the right reasons. It wasn’t all his fault but tonight’s clash just wasn’t good enough to sell the Royal Rumble main event.
Winner: Braun Strowman
The segment with Strowman and Rhyno was set up to make Strowman look even more destructive than he already is and it worked like a charm. It wasn’t just about dominating Rhyno either. When Strowman invited Slater into the ring and then dominated both, including three powerslams apiece, he walked away looking like a man who can’t possibly lose at the Royal Rumble.
This was a much better way to put over one of the combatants in the Royal Rumble Triple Threat match. It would have made more sense for Lesnar to stand at the top of the stage and watch the destruction.
Loser: Wyatt vs Crews Segment
Something felt like it was missing in the segment that was Bray Wyatt versus Apollo Crews. Fans seemed to be waiting for a “Woken” Matt appearance that never came except on the big screen which was far too familiar to some of their other confrontations. At this point, the feud is a month in and we haven’t really hit second gear.
The plus here is that Wyatt picked up a win and perhaps the WWE will put some energy behind him succeeding. Another positive is that Dana Brooke may have stumbled onto a character that might work for her. But, overall, the segment was a letdown and the Wyatt/Hardy feud doesn’t feel like it’s really going anywhere.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Even fans who aren’t in love with Roman Reigns should admit he had some great matches in 2017. He started off 2018 in similar fashion with a great match that shows he really is underrated as a worker. If his match on Monday will represent the kind of quality he’ll provide all year, WWE fans could be in for some match of the year candidates.
His match with Joe wasn’t the best fans will ever see but if you add the strength of that bout with a couple good moments backstage Reigns was definitely a winner.
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