On 6th November 2017, WWE aired the 1276th episode of Monday Night RAW on the USA Network, taped earlier that day at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. The show featured Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins defending the Tag Team Championships against Cesaro & Sheamus, Kurt Angle booking The Miz in a match with Braun Strowman on Miz TV, Samoa Joe facing Finn Balor, as well as appearances from Kane, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Alicia Fox and Asuka...but was it any good? Lets take a look!
Tag Team Championship Match: Cesaro & Sheamus def. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose (C) via pinfall (15:18)
Cesaro and Sheamus demanded a Tag Team Championship match from Kurt Angle, with Angle replying that the pair needed to do something for the brand to prove themselves, at least I think that's what happened as for some reason the show cut back to the arena mid-segment Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins cut a promo ahead of their match, which was mostly discussing the potential colour of bruises, but ended with a cute moment from Renee Young when she attempted to join in during the Shield fist-bump.
At the heart of the show's main event was a bloody good tag team match, with the energetic Rollins and Ambrose battling against the methodical Cesaro and Sheamus. Many of the elements that were present in their superb performances at SummerSlam and No Mercy were present here. Rollins and Ambrose's wicked fun face shine, Sheamus and Cesaro effortlessly controlling the crowd and Ambrose owning it when clawing his way from underneath and then Rollins silky hot tag sequence. Perhaps, the only thing missing was some of the visceral energy that the No Mercy clash got following Cesaro's teeth colliding with the ring post! The highlights for me were a pair of near falls towards the finish, the first coming with a feeling of momentum building for the heels as they sent Ambrose into the barricade with a crucifix powerbomb and then a powerbomb and diving clothesline combination on Rollins for a late kick-out, whilst the latter one saw Cesaro make a last minute save for his partner after a Rollins frog splash followed Dirty Deeds. Whilst there was a feel of going over old ground, it was still great to see a match of this quality on RAW.
The finish is the main talking point though as The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) turned up from SmackDown, their music played and they appeared in the crowd, mirroring three week's earlier when the blue brand invaded. The entire RAW roster came out lead by Kurt Angle, after Woods claimed this was #UnderSiege2, only for New Day to laugh and leave Team Red looking like fools in the arena. I mean, everyone but Samoa Joe who looked like he was ready to pull Kofi Kingston's head off his shoulders and throw it at Big E. In the melee though, we ended up with new Tag Team Champions as Sheamus stole the win for his team, with the match never being officially stopped after the New Day appeared. Whilst it meant that we didn't get more of the two teams being great, we were left with a pretty memorable moment and a surprising title change. With Cesaro & Sheamus now scheduled to face The Usos at Surivivor Series and Roman Reigns returning next week on RAW, we now have an open door to a Shield vs. New Day match at Survivor Series, which is pretty fucking exciting.
Kurt Angle appears on Miz TV (9:02) &
Braun Strowman def. The Miz by disqualification (5:04)
Braun Strowman def. The Miz by disqualification (5:04)
A slightly pedestrian opening segment as Kurt Angle guested on Miz TV, with their seeming too be too many objectives to fit into nine minutes of talking. You had Miz trying to get a feud going with SmackDown's Baron Corbin ahead of their match at Survivor Series, Angle keeping the feud with Shane McMahon ticking, Angle addressing Kane attacking Daniel Bryan last week, and Miz having problems with Angle following Braun Strowman attacking the Miztourage last week. All this going on ended up with the segment spending a lot of time in wordy exposition, throwing to footage from previous weeks and without a whole lot of anything actually happening. Angle finally turned up towards the end when he revealed he'd promised Strowman a match with the Miz later on in order to get the Monster Amongst Men on the RAW Men's Survivor Series team. Overall, the segment had too much length and not enough going on, but it did have Curtis Axel standing around sad with a neck brace in the background.
Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel appeared to act as the angel and devil on The Miz's shoulder backstage, with Dallas offering a pep talk, whilst Axel suggested they should just run.
Braun Strowman threw The Miz around. Boy, did Strowman throw Miz around. This was a bowl load of fun, because Strowman kept throwing the Miz around. Basically, Miz would run away and then Strowman would catch up with him, because he's big and fast and agile and then lob him somewhere else because he's big and strong and beardy. Also, Strowman punches Bo Dallas in the face, which made an amazing noise and chucked Curtis Axel into the barricade, neckbrace and all. The DQ finish with Kane appearing was a mild disappointment, because I wanted to see Strowman throw Miz into some other things for a bit. This performance surely earns Strowman an Intercontinental Championship shot in the future.
After Kane sat up following a Running Powerslam, Strowman took out The Miz and Bo Dallas, sending a message to the Big Red Machine.
Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor [Prince Devitt] ended in a Double Countout (11:17)
Titus O'Neil got some mic time, saying things were about to get ugly for Samoa Joe and also saying "Titus Worldwide". Unfortunately for O'Neil, Joe would end up attacking him and Apollo Crews on the ramp, before issuing an open challenge, that would be answered by Finn Balor.
Another really good television match as Finn Balor and Samoa Joe renewed their 2015/16 NXT rivalry. Joe worked well in control, with a presence that makes you take notice when he's beating someone up and Balor looked great when fighting from underneath, getting cut off repeatedly in the early stages, picking up the pace only to take an sly elbow from the Californian to keep him back down. When Balor lifted the pace later on in the bout, Joe matched him leading to a number of stellar exchanges with Joe cutting off Balor's finishing sequence after dodging the corner dropkick and hitting a running senton being the standout moment. Smooth, physical and exciting, with more than a hint of their Takeover: London epic. Obviously, the finish was again disappointing, as Joe hiptossed Balor onto the ramp before a double countout, because we all want to see a real conclusion, but it makes sense as part of the whole picture heading into Survivor Series, with a potential full-time feud between the pair heading into 2018 looking promising.
Post-match, Joe and Balor continued to scrap until security separated them, then after Kurt Angle added the pair to the Men's Survivor Series team, Balor dove off the stage with a flying forearm smash.
Bayley & Sasha Banks def. Alicia Fox & Nia Jax via submission (8:54)
Sasha Banks and Bayley were interviewed about not being picked for the Women's Survivor Series team yet.
A basic tag outing, that was most notable for the crowd singing to Bayley and how the performers interact it. Banks joining in whilst on the apron was super cute and Nia Jax goading the crowd when in control showed how she's grown as a performer over the last year. The wrestling was mostly passable with Bayley working the face in peril role, with Jax and Fox working quick tags, before a Banks hot tag would signal the beginning of the end. The Banks hot tag was the highlight with a meateora, tilt-a-whirl rana and double knees in the corner to Fox lifting the energy that had been lacking for most of the match. There were opportunities to better use Bayley in the face in peril role and Jax and Fox lacked a little something as the dominant heel pairing. Fox would eventually tap out to Banks Statement.
After the match, Alicia Fox added Sasha Banks to the RAW Women's Survivor Series team.
Pete Dunne def. Enzo Amore via pinfall (3:48)
Pete Dunne was on RAW! I mean, we had to sit through Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore rambling on for what felt like at least a day and WWE sort of botched his entrance by having Kurt Angle come out to Dunne's music to announce that Dunne was there, but who gives a fuck about that, Pete Dunne is here! The rest didn't really matter, because I had a big smile on my face watching Dunne come out, walk to the ring and twat Amore in the face. He looked every inch of the star that he has become since I first entered the world of British wrestling in 2013. Pete Dunne, man, on Monday Night RAW. 2017 is mad for the graps. If you want more of Dunne check out his work in Attack! Pro Wrestling, Southside Wrestling Entertainment, Fight Club: Pro, Kamikaze Pro, PROGRESS Wrestling, Over the Top Wrestling, Revolution Pro Wrestling, Shropshire Wrestling Alliance, Triple X Wrestling, Lucha Forever, 4 Front Wrestling, Great Bear Promotions, Pro Wrestling Chaos, WhatCulture Pro Wrestling and get out there and find the next Pete Dunne for yourself.
A quick squash for Dunne's debut over the Cruiserweight Champion, not a bad way to make a statement on your first night on RAW, eh? Corey Graves put over Dunne something rotten on commentary, en route to a match-winning Bitter End.
Guitar on a Pole Match: Jason Jordan def. Elias [Elias Samson] (4:17)
Elias buried Noel Gallagher and Wonderwall, before doing an acapella tune about Manchester being full of losers etc. It was a nice riff on the idea that Elias' guitar was hung up ready for the match, but content-wise was pretty much a carbon-copy of any recent Elias promo.
A sloppy bout with a lame gimmick, Elias and Jordan were all over the place here, with each move come across as awkward and clunky. The crowd booing Jordan didn't help the situation, but having him just twat Elias in the back with a guitar to close the match was a bizarre piece of booking that deserved derision, with WWE showing a lack of an understanding of it's audience again.
Later in the show, Kurt Angle added Jason Jordan to the RAW Men's Survivor Series team.
Asuka [Kana] def. Stacy Coates [Courtney] via submission (1:10)
Asuka goes to 4-0 on RAW, with another super speedy squash, locking in the Asuka lock for the submission victory.
Post-match, Alicia Fox announced that Asuka would be part of the Women's Team at Survivor Series.
Women's Champion Alexa Bliss talked about Natalya being a cat lady and some other things in an interview with Charly Caruso
Watch - Ambrose & Rollins vs. Cesaro & Sheamus, Strowman vs. Miz, Balor vs. Joe, Pete Dunne's debut
Avoid - Jordan vs. Elias.