As the WWE creeps ever closer to the Royal Rumble, how would Monday’s episode of Raw shape up with only two weeks to go? Live from Memphis, Tenessee, this week’s Raw provided the most awkward television the red brand has delivered in recent memory.

The show would start with Roman Reigns and his broken version of The Shield (who received a plethora of boos from the crowd), and add a new faction to the mix that could have an exciting 2018. Raw would move on to leave the live crowd without action for lengthy periods of time, had a strange moment with Hardy and Wyatt, and more than that, showed evidence the WWE literally threw the script together at the last possible moment, or at least spent so much time on one backstage stunt that the rest of the show fell by the wayside.

Could the company save the overall delivery of the show? Here are your winners and losers for Raw, January 8, 2018.

Winner: The Balor Club

In what fans might have worried would be a one-time appearance, WWE is pushing The Balor Club and this writer couldn’t be more happy about it. The threesome looked like they were enjoying themselves and Finn Balor appears completely rejuvenated. Not only were they the only highlight of the first segment of the show, WWE used moments of the rest of the program to talk their history in Japan and as a cohesive team and group of friends. To make things even better, Balor hinted that the group will stick together for some time when he said, “2018 will be the year of The Balor Club”.

Finally, some good news to come out an episode of Raw in some time. This is absolutely fantastic for the tag team of the Good Brothers and Balor, all of whom needed this change. That they picked up a win in the main event was huge!

RELATED: FINN BALOR WANTS A MAJOR CHARACTER CHANGE

Loser: The Champions Club

Reigns started the show by claiming Samoa Joe wasn’t up to the challenge of beating him last week. It was pretty cocky considering Joe almost took the belt. Reigns said he fought for his fallen brother Dean Ambrose but the crowd didn’t seem to care. It got worse when Jason Jordan interrupted and came to the ring to a chorus of boos. It was a horrid way to start the program.

If we’re going to be frank, this trio of Reigns as IC Champ and Rollins and Jordan as an ugly version of the tag champs is slowly killing The Shield. WWE needs to change the direction of this idea in a hurry, even if it’s just to get Jason Jordan to a heel turn.

Winner: The Miz

After a first hour of the show that was anything but smooth even The Miz’s return segment started awkwardly. Elias introduced him with a song (what a terrible waste of Elias), and the Miztourage argued with each other over giving the Miz their personal items thanking him for making 2017 and memorable year.

Fortunately, the Miz saved the segment by emphatically stating 2018 would be The Miz’s year and he was back and looking straight at Roman Reigns. The “A-Lister” would stop at nothing to become the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time and a goofy segment got serious in a hurry. The Miz was coming for Roman and he convincingly sold that he could actually take Roman’s belt.

That the show closed with him taking out Roman Reigns shows how much the WWE has planned for The Miz in 2018.

Loser: Jason Jordan

Simply put, the crowd hates Jason Jordan. And, it’s not the kind of hate the WWE is looking for. Fans chanted “Who’s your daddy” wouldn’t wait patiently as Jordan fumbled through his lines and then laughed as Jordan looked completely awkward trying to suck up to Reigns. The whole first segment was awful timing and looked like a segment that was thrown together at the last minute.

Jordan did everything but beg to be included in The Shield. He looked pathetic (maybe that was the point), he spoke out of turn and his tag team partner Seth Rollins didn’t look too pleased. The only thing that saved this was The Balor Club coming out. Fans actually liked seeing them.

The only thing that saved Jordan was the end of the show where he did a good job of alienating himself from the group. That part at least appeared planned.

RELATED: WHY ENZO AMORE WON’T BE IN THE MIXED MATCH CHALLENGE

Winner: Titus Worldwide

It was an interesting decision to give Apollo Crews a victory over Sheamus but it’s huge for Crews and Titus Worldwide. The WWE added Dana Brooke to the group and from that point on decided to give the group a push. How long the push is sustained is uncertain but they badly needed someone to throw them a bone and it looks like the WWE is going to.

The good news too is that despite the loss, this really doesn’t hurt Sheamus. He can afford a loss like this every once and a blue moon.

Loser: Matt Hardy

What is the WWE doing with Matt Hardy? That’s an honest question because it’s extremely hard to tell. Hardy debuted for the first time as his “Woken” character for in-ring action and admittedly things started well. Hardy got a new theme song which was much more suited for his character than the Team Extreme music, but WWE didn’t even bother to change the video graphics and he entered with the “Extreme” Matt Hardy graphics behind him. It reeked of technical laziness.

Then, after defeating Curt Hawkins in a quick squash match, Bray Wyatt came to the ring and instead of saying anything to further their feud or getting into a battle with Hardy, the two had the most awkward laugh-off in the history of WWE. What felt like minutes went by and it was everything each could do to come up with a new way to laugh.

Wyatt’s video vignette graphic hit and the segment was over. I’m sure that wasn’t weird for the live audience at all.

RELATED: WOKEN MATT HARDY DEBUTS NEW ENTRANCE MUSIC WITH STRANGE PRESENTATION

Winner: Kane/Lesnar/Strowman

The segment that involved Lesnar, Kane, and Strowman was so much better than last week’s debacle it’s difficult to describe how much better. The surprise attacks were fresh and when Strowman took over backstage, he was a one-man demolition crew laying waste to everyone.

He knocked out both of his Royal Rumble opponents and in a stunt unlike any that’s been done in the company for months, Strowman used a grappling hook to bring down an entire staging truss wall on top of Lesnar and Kane. It was truly the best part of the entire show and brought fans back to the Strowman that did nothing but leave a wake in his path.

PREVIOUSLY: WINNERS AND LOSERS FOR RAW – LESNAR AND KANE LACK CHEMISTRY

Loser: Rhyno and Heath Slater

The idea of this duo “toughening each other up” is a neat idea, but when does it become an old idea? After multiple weeks or Slater and Rhyno getting destroyed, are they finally coming to the conclusion that they’re not being toughened up, they’re being shown to be unequipped to handle the competition in the WWE right now?

At it’s best, this is a storyline to make a couple of enhancement talents different than other jobbers.

Winner: Samoa Joe

Proving to be more and more of an asset, Samoa Joe had another strong week on the mic. He effectively explained away his loss to Roman Reigns by stating he took years off Reigns’ career. Then he effectively entered himself into the Royal Rumble and took aim specifically at John Cena.

This is setting up something between Joe and Cena and hopefully, it leads to Joe going over. That would be the right move.

Winner and Loser: Nia Jax

It was refreshing to see someone actually step up to Asuka and it makes sense that it was Nia Jax, but was it a good idea to have these two meet up before the Rumble? The WWE might have had a Royal Rumble moment on their hands that they just threw away in a short segment on Raw.

The company had purposely kept the two away from the each other and now it looks like they just scrapped that idea to plop these two into a program. It was then announced they’d be going one-on-one next week on Raw.

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