Monday Night RAW Turns the ‘Paige’

The night starts out with Stephanie McMahon gloating about her husband, Triple H, who enters the ring not even a moment before Kurt Angle comes hustling out, upset over his surprising intrusion at Survivor Series. He issues Triple H a light threat, but not long after that comes Jason Jordan, who is very riled up and very eager to take on Triple H. Stephanie has his back, saying “Triple H isn’t afraid of anyone in that locker room.” Cue Braun Strowman, who towers over Triple H and intimidates him into backing out of the ring. He and Stephanie retreat, but not before Stephanie sets a match between Jordan and Strowman, mostly, it seems, as a punishment for Jordan.

Samoa Joe Vs. Finn Balor

Samoa Joe and Finn Balor have a good match that starts with Samoa Joe coming out of the gates swinging – literally – and ends with him knocking Balor unconscious with the Coquina Clutch and winning the match. I’m not following the storyline here as closely as I am with some of the other current feuds, but they’re both really good wrestlers, and their styles are different enough to create some very solid and enjoyable matches.

Backstage, Jason Jordan confides in Kurt Angle that he isn’t actually operating at 100% due to his knee injury, and that he doesn’t think he can actually wrestle Strowman. It seems like he’s bluffing to get out of the match, but whether or not he is, Angle won’t have it and tells him it’ll reflect poorly on both of them if he calls it off. Jason Jordan gives an impassioned pep talk to himself about how he’s got Angle blood coursing through his veins and he can defeat anyone, and runs off.

Asuka vs. Dana Brooke

Asuka has a bone to pick with Dana Brooke after their little quarrel last week, and it seems Brooke made a really bad call getting on Asuka’s bad side. This match could not have been any easier for Asuka, who pretty much sweeps the floor with Brooke. Aside from getting another slap in, Brooke barely lands anything and gives Asuka a quick victory. She is, continually, a highlight of the show and the women’s division and this match was no exception. If this is a long-term feud, it’s probably going to be pretty one-sided, but I’m game.

The Miz is excited to introduce Roman Reigns as the guest on Miz TV, but instead gets The Shield in all its glory. They gloat a little bit about their victory and their success so far, which upsets The Miz, who feels like he should be thanked for being the catalyst that reunited them. After some choppy waters and a lot of audience chanting, The Miz watches in horror as The Shield lays waste to the Miztourage. He continues his horror over into the latter half of the show when he learns he is to face Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship, which he tries to talk Angle out of, but to no avail.

Another tag match between 2/3 Shield and Sheamus and Cesaro. I am loving Ambrose and Rollins as a tag team, and they put on good matches, but I am admittedly a little sick of this pairing. Our boys win, as we knew they would, continuing their tag team momentum as well as general Shield fanfare overall.

Backstage, Jason Jordan goes to Matt Hardy for advice on how to take down giants. Matt Hardy gives him some harsh but honest advice about how Strowman is truly the monster among men and should not be taken lightly. Jordan looks concerned and less confident than before, and he hurries off.

Alexa Bliss is mad about losing to Charlotte Flair last night, and so she comes out to vent about it. Even madder, though, is Mickie James, who knows that she deserves Bliss’ title and is ready to claim it. Unfortunately, Bayley feels the same way and thinks it’s high time she got the title back. Oh, and Sasha Banks thinks so too. Alicia Fox is pretty convinced she deserves it too. This could have easily turned into a five-way brawl between these women, but Angle comes out and instead declares that it’ll be a fatal four-way and the winner will have a shot at the title against Alexa Bliss. The match gets off to a good start, but it turns out that these four very talented women competing to have a shot at the championship is kind of just an appetizer for the REAL shakeup in the women’s division.

I don’t know how to give this moment its proper respect, so I’ll just say it: Paige is back. After over a year of suspensions, personal drama, and behind-the-scenes controversy, Paige returns to RAW ready to reclaim her space, and she’s not alone. Accompanying her are Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville from NXT, who all quickly lay waste to the four women in the ring. I really did not think we’d see the day Paige came back, at least not this soon.

The last news I’d heard on this front was that Paige was ready to exit the company but that they were clinging to her for death life. I’m not sure if her return has anything to do with the fact that she split with Alberto Del Rio, but all of that is beside the point. After the match, Paige cuts a promo backstage and introduces her two new friends. Alexa Bliss tries to suck up to her, but it doesn’t work, and the three of them attack Bliss and leave her lying on the ground in pain. A very, very exciting moment for RAW that has me eager to watch what happens next.

Jason Jordan Vs. Braun Strowman

Jordan starts the match by slapping Strowman across the face, which I think was a good power move. It doesn’t seem like more than a few minutes before we see Kane’s tired old self hustle his way into the ring with a steel chair and start laying into Strowman. After a particularly brutal attack that focused on his throat, the referees all beg Strowman to seek medical help as he can barely make his way out of the ring, clutching his throat and gasping for air. We later learn that he refused medical help backstage and left the building. Jason Jordan is victorious, sort of; he got lucky and he also seems to have aggravated his bad knee. Although, again, I’m wondering how much he’s milking this injury to manipulate his proud papa.

Enzo and his Zo Train engage in their usual overblown showboating and mockery. Enzo talks about Thanksgiving and what his men are thankful for – mostly for the stuff it seems like he bought them and the confidence he seems to have given them. Akira Tozawa, Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, and Rich Swann come out to call them to task for their behavior and it turns into a match that is typical cruiserweight fare. Some of the moves are exciting, and the performers are good, without a doubt, but the match is long, the stakes are kind of underwhelming, and Enzo is wearing just a little bit thinner on me each week. Mustafa Ali ends the whole thing with an inverted 450 splash and that’s that.

Matt Hardy beats up Elias after one of his terrible songs. The crowd loves to hate it.

The Miz Vs. Roman Reigns

It still baffles me how quickly the audience came back around to Roman Reigns as soon as he rejoined Shield. If this is what they were waiting for, WWE were either geniuses for building to this moment, or idiots for waiting this long. They’ve been trying to get him over with fans forever and the fact that THIS is all it took is almost suspicious. I would have spent a lot more words describing this match – which was a showstopper of a main event for an average RAW – but I read that The Miz is signed on to film another sequel of The Marine and will be gone from the WWE for a few months, and so losing his title tonight was sort of necessary. Still, Roman did deserve the win after putting on a good match and what him being the newly crowned Intercontinental Champion means for The Shield and for his continued redemption arc remains to be seen.