Another Raw and and another week that the WWE didn't need to rush storylines and angles paid off with some of the best matches WWE has offered in some time. Led by a match-of-the-year candidate contest between Roman Reigns and Cesaro, Seth Rollins versus Sheamus and the Cruiserweight match was also top notch.
Were three really strong matches enough to make Raw on Monday a clear winner in the eyes of the fans? The WWE faltered for the first time with Absolution, the Kane versus Braun Strowman match was, by many accounts, a disaster and after week that saw Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt delivered iconic promos, the WWE couldn't follow it up with anything but drivel.
This week's show as a mixed-bag of wonderful and terrible. Here are your 5 Winners and Losers From Raw - December 11, 2017.
5. Loser: Absolution
This was the first time in their appearances on Raw that three ladies known as Absolution didn't come off well on the show. Their promos weren't strong and their in-ring work, while average, didn't really give anyone the idea that they are a fierce threesome that would roll through the women's division.
The first signs of the two-thirds of this group still being rookie talents are starting to show. They got an important win but didn't look terribly convincing in their victory.
5. Winner: Opening Samoa Joe Segment
WWE is doing the right thing with Samoa Joe by making him look strong, ready and unwavering in his confidence that he will take down Roman Reigns. That he suckered Reigns in and all three members of the Shield were attacked was well played and an opening brew-ha-ha to start the show is never bad.
Joe is very underrated on the mic and he proved that tonight. It appears as though WWE is setting the stage for him to do big things heading into the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania.
4. Loser: Matt Hardy vs Bray Wyatt Promo
Talk about WWE taking a good thing and ruining it right away. First, it was a near identical promo from the first go-round. Second, WWE added some cheesy transition effects to Hardy's promos. Third, we have no idea why these two don't like each other and WWE didn't really do anything to further that angle.
You had to know something was up when WWE posted a 10-hour video of Matt Hardy laughing on YouTube that they would do something similarly stupid on Raw. They did and no one should be surprised. WWE better get their head out of their butts on this thing and do it right before they ruin something before it gets out of the starting block.
The fact that news broke Sheamus was nursing a major injury only to come out and play a major in-ring role on television is fantastic news for fans of the Celtic Warrior. He clearly was not showing any signs of his spinal stenosis injury that was rumored to be affecting the potential for a WWE future.
Not only did Sheamus compete, he had a fantastic match (possible match of the night) against Seth Rollins. This is one of those times many of us hoped we were extremely wrong when it was reported Sheamus's back was in real trouble.
3. Loser: Finn Balor
Well, if Balor was ever considered an opponent for Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble, it's all but confirmed that's not happening now. Both the Strowman and Kane stipulation, plus another match with Balor in a mid-card squash versus Curtis Axel lays to rest any doubt the WWE simply has no clue where they want to take Balor and his character.
Remember not too long ago how Balor was supposed to go after the Universal Title and the WWE was behind that? Axel and Dallas in successive weeks indicate the company is about as far away from that idea as possible.
3. Winner: Cruiserweights and Drew Gulak
The WWE finally gave the Cruiserweights some time to show what they were capable of and they delivered in a big way. Gulak is by far the best thing about the division right now and what he added on commentary was a nice change of pace.
It's unfortunate that the Rich Swann news had to be the reason all this happened and these guys got another crack at a match that would crown a number one contender but the stars of 205 Live showed that the WWE may be too quick to write these guys off.
2. Loser: Dean Ambrose
The only one of the three Shield members not to pick up a victory and his match wasn't quite as enthralling as the other two Shield bouts but it was still strong. Where it took a turn for the worst was the inclusion of Jason Jordan who's distractions from the contest made the match much less than it could have been.
Of course, not every member of the Shield could win but Ambrose getting the only loss might signify the pecking order of the group and while many probably knew Ambrose was the lowest guy on the totem pole, this probably proves it.
2. Winner: Cesaro
We'll give credit to Roman Reigns here too because he was part of this match and he has a sneaky way of delivering strong matches that he doesn't get enough credit for, but Cesaro was masterful on Monday. He was the best thing in the ring at any point of the 3-hour broadcast.
His technical skill inside the ring is unmatched in WWE. He doesn't always get a chance to put on a clinic but he did on Monday and fans the were the benficiaries of some fantastic wrestling.
1. Loser: Kane and Strowman Continues
It's hard to understand the changes WWE is making with the Kane and Braun Strowman feud. Teasing that this match would end the battle and decide a victor, WWE instead chose to go in another direction. A double countout ended the match and fans will get another round of battles between the two monsters (something very few people probably care to see).
Then, to make the match winner the number one contender to the Universal Title also wreaks of lazy writing. Is WWE really setting things up to waste Brock Lesnar and Strowman at the Royal Rumble? It seems unlikely that Lesnar won't be going into WrestleMania as the champion so that gives Strowman two consecutive losses to Lesnar if he moves on after defeating Kane.
1. Winner: Time
The big winner of the show feels like time. Without a quick pay-per-view turn around, the WWE has ample time each week to slowly build these feuds and that's paying off in a big way. Asuka vs Paige has been held off for weeks until they finally clashed on Monday. The Shield has time to build toward feuds and Reigns is having great matches for the IC Title.
When the WWE isn't cramming a pay-per-view down fans throats every two weeks, it helps. As a result, this week's show delivered some of the best matches the red brand has seen in some time.
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