Monday Night Raw Review: The Allstate Affair

On the night after Christmas, Monday Night Raw travelled to Chicago, Illinois and the infamous Allstate Arena. The biggest subplot of the show wasn’t the Shield vs. JeriKO, it wasn’t the debut of Emmalina, and it wasn’t Charlotte vs. Bayley. In fact, the biggest story of the night happens Tuesday night. SmackDown Live is set to have an amazing show. John Cena is returning, most of the titles are on the line, and the Undertaker is scheduled to appear. How in the world could Monday Night Raw respond? Here’s Ryan Smith with his Monday Night Raw Review: The Allstate Affair.

Monday Night Raw Review: The Allstate Affair

Stephanie McMahon, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns

Everyone’s least favorite McMahon made her way to the ring to open the show. The Chicago crowd pelted her with CM Punk chants, and she responded by crushing them, saying “If you can keep that up for another two minutes, you’ll last longer than Punk did”, referring to his UFC fight. The crowd was still reeling with Seth Rollins made his way to the ring.

Rollins asked Stephanie about her Christmas, before digging into Triple H, saying Stephanie needed to let The Game be a man and fight him. Rollins then admitted he knew Triple H wasn’t there, but he wanted a fight, and he wanted that fight to be with Braun Strowman.

No sooner did Rollins demand that fight than United Sta- Is he United States Champion? He never defends the belt and he leaves it backstage half the time. Anyway, Roman Reigns made his way down to the ring.

Chicago absolutely hijacked the segment, and it hurt everyone. Reigns also wanted a fight with Strowman, and Rollins requested a mini-Shield reunion. Then Stephanie pretended to get hyped up and stick her fist out like the Shield used to. Everyone’s least favorite McMahon teased getting Dean Ambrose on the show and reuniting the faction for one night only.

Then she revealed that she was only teasing everyone, and that Rollins would face Strowman while Reigns would defend his title against an opponent yet to be revealed.

It was a good segment. The crowd tried to hijack it, and both Reigns and Rollins stumbled over some lines, but for once, McMahon was actually pretty good.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

The New Day vs. Sheasaro

The WORLD FAMOUS TWO TIME CHAMPS made their way to the ring to take on Sheasaro for a shot at the tag titles. Weirdly, it was Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston going for the titles, and not Big E.

At this point, I asked my girlfriend what she thought of the match. She said “The New Day looks very Christmas-y”. When you’ve seen the same match so many times, you start looking new places for analysis.

Wanna know what the big problem with the brand split is? You have a match that can give you several different variations, and we’ve still seen this match a thousand times. Kofi and Big E, Kofi and Woods, Woods, and Big E, it doesn’t matter, they’ve all wrestled Sheasaro at least once. And if not Sheasaro, then at least Gallows and Anderson. It just gets stale.

Dear WWE, 

Once you realize that Reigns isn’t a main eventer, and you want to make Sami Zayn or Braun Strowman Universal Champion, just let Reigns and Rollins be tag team champions. Please?

A Shield Mark

Cesaro hit the swing at one point, and I realized something terrible. The count is almost never correct on the swing. People definitely count more than once during a rotation. I’m from Chicago. I love my city, but c’mon guys, get it together.

Eventually, Sheamus tagged in, Xavier didn’t see it, and he ate a Brogue Kick as Sheasaro retained.

Segment/Match Quality- 6/10 Woo’s

Nia Jax vs…. Scarlett Bordeaux?!

I wish this wasn’t a squash match because I legitimately marked out for Scarlett Bordeaux. Obviously Nia Jax ate her alive, but I met her at a ROH show and she was an absolute sweetheart.

Hey, who cares if Bordeaux has been working on the indies for years and Jax literally started wrestling two years ago, monsters gotta eat, am I right?! Man, I wish I was related to The Rock.

In all seriousness, what’s the point? We know that Nia Jax is a monster. Is crushing someone that isn’t a household name really helpful at this point? She’s already thrown WWE Superstars around.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Bayley and Charlotte

Chicago is one of the most merciless, vicious, unforgiving wrestling crowds in the world. And even then mark out for Bayley. This crowd takes no prisoners and shows no mercy, but they still love the girl next door.

I don’t think it’s physically possible to hate Bayley. She’ll never turn heel. It’s just not possible. Even Charlotte kinda likes Bayley. Even Kevin Owens kinda likes Bayley. She’s america’s sweetheart.

Anyway, Bayley was talking about how she pinned Charlotte to become the number one contender when the current Women’s Champion came out. Charlotte rolled the footage of last week, showing that Charlotte did, in fact, kick out of the pin.

Apparently, Charlotte went to Stephanie and had the loss expunged. This week, Stephanie was the heel commissioner, and oh my god is this stale. When was the last time a McMahon wasn’t being a worthless heel authority figure?

Anyway, Charlotte decided to give Bayley a rematch. The caveat? That Ms. Piggy Dana Brooke would be the special guest referee.

Segment/Match Quality- 6/10 Woo’s

Bayley vs. Charlotte w/ Dana Brooke (Special Guest Ref)

As good as Bayley is, Dana Brooke is bad. There have been plenty of people that have improved dramatically this year, but Brooke is not one of them.

Bayley went to hit the Belly to Bayley, and Brooke couldn’t even get her arm out of the way. What should have been a quick move took a second too long. Fortunately said finisher rendered Brooke useless, and a new ref came in.

After a fight with the ref, Charlotte was able to hit the Belly to Bayley, and would’ve won the match, but Brooke returned and pulled the ref out of the ring.

Then Charlotte rolled Bayley up, foot on the ropes, and Dana counted three seconds in a single Mississippi. Good storytelling? Sure. Entertaining television? Nope. Not at all. Boo.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Neville vs. T.J. Perkins

Austin Aries was on commentary, and when asked how Neville improved the CruiserWeight division, he said that it was like him replacing Byron Saxton on commentary, it was great. Annd uh… He wasn’t wrong. He wasn’t wrong at all. WWE needs more Austin Aries.

The crowd was actually pretty into this match, and that’s a big part of why Chicago is the best wrestling crowd in the world. Come at me, Tokyo Dome. The crowd duelled with chants of “Let’s Go Neville” and “TJP”.

There was a bad part in this match. Early, TJP obviously whiffed on a kick to Neville, but the “Man that gravity forgot” still sold it and rolled out of the ring. Just bad form, gents.

Very few people wrestle a character anymore. Seth Rollins wrestles the same as a heel and as a babyface. But Neville was wrestling maliciously and aggressively. He threw stiff punches and kicks, and looked absolutely remorseless.

Now for the bad. This match slowed down at points, and that’s the opposite of what the division is supposed to be about. There were moments of highflying excellence, but far too much time was spent mat-wrestling and grappling at a slow pace. It’s possible to be a grappler and still work a fast pace, just look at Dean Malenko.

Neville eventually got the win when Perkins attempted to roll him up, but got caught. The man that gravity forgot grabbed the former CruiserWeight Champion’s tights for the three count.

Neville cut one hell of a promo after the match. He ripped into the crowd and the entire country, and it was just wonderful. He had the Allstate Arena in the palm of his hands, and he announced that he would be facing Rich Swann on 205 Live tomorrow night.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

Enzo & Cass, Rusev w/Lana and Jinder Mahal.

Big Cass rolled his tag team partner onto the stage… in a wheelchair. Enzo Amore said that sensitivity training wasn’t for him, and actually cut a pretty funny promo about Rusev and Jinder Mahal. Annnnd then Cass picked up a microphone, and it became painfully obvious just how much he needs Enzo.

Every Cass promo is the same. It’s slow and boring and predictable. It lacks the wit or charm that Enzo’s promos have, and whenever Vince inevitably gives Cass a big singles push, I hope they keep Enzo on as his manager.

Cass called out Rusev and Jinder and they both came to the ring, with Lana. Mahal and Rusev surrounded Cass when Enzo leapt out of his wheelchair, knocking Mahal off the ring. As it turns out, it was Enzo and Cass that set the trap this time.

Segment/Match Quality- 6/10 Woo’s

The Shining Stars vs. Darren Young and Bo Dallas

This was a strange tag team match, but it didn’t last long. Braun Strowman showed up, destroying everybody. He threw a Christmas tree at Bo Dallas, and destroyed everyone else in the ring, completely ignoring a chair shot to the back.

Raw? More like Monday Night Braun.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

Braun Strowman vs. Seth Rollins

My favorite wrestler in the WWE came to the ring, and his career flashed before my eyes. Boy, how great was that triple threat at the Royal Rumble? That’s the night everyone knew he was a main eventer. Miss the blond streak though.

Strowman dominated early and often. Rollins got Strowman out of the ring and hit a suicide dive… and Strowman didn’t budge. Rollins hit his entire comeback on Strowman, and all he did was stumble. This is exactly how any match against Strowman should be. He sells just enough to give you hope, while never actually suffering.

Rollins tried to hit the Pedigree on Strowman, and his legs weren’t even toughing the ground. It looked like Strowman had Rollins beat when Sami Zayn emerged from the crowd and got his revenge, throwing himself at the beast among men.

After Strowman chased Zayn out of the arena, Chris Jericho snuck in to hit the Codebreaker. The refs finally helped Rollins to his feet, and Jericho decided “meh, why not” and hit the architect with another. Best segment of the night? Best segment of the night.

Segment/Match Quality- 9/10 Woo’s

Gallows and Anderson vs. The Golden Truth

WWE. WWE, focus. Look at me.

If the Golden Truth beat Gallows and Anderson, I’m done. I’m tapping out, I’m quitting, I’m jumping ship. We’re in Chicago. The only city in the country that still cheers for the Club. Do NOT do this.


Goldust came out and viciously threw Karl Anderson around the ring. The Machine Gun Karl Anderson, the guy who wrestled Kazuchika Okzada in the finals of the G1 Climax. And Goldust, the guy the Rock pinned… IN HIS FIRST WWE MATCH.

R-Truth, who debuted in WCW, was actually holding his own with Luke Gallows, and man, I really, really hope the Young Bucks never sign with WWE if this is how they’re going to be used. Gallows and Anderson should absolutely destroy a tag team comprised of two dudes in their mid-40’s with zero combined world championship reigns.

Eventually Karl Anderson rolled up Goldust, and man, I don’t think anyone won this match. Worst segment of the night? Worst segment of the night.

Segment/Match Quality- 3/10 Woo’s

Ariya Daivari vs. Rich Swann

A day before defending his title against Neville, Rich Swann had a match with Ariya Daivari. Swann is wildly charismatic, but since the return of Neville, the crowd has lost a lot of interest in him. He won the match pretty quickly, and the whole bout was pretty uneventful.

After the match, Rich Swann was cutting a promo, accepting Neville’s challenge, when the number one contender attacked him from behind. Neville dragged Swann into the ring, climbed to the top rope, and hit the prettiest finisher in the WWE, the Red Arrow.

Segment/Match Quality- 6/10 Woo’s

Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns

The main event saw Roman Reigns defend his United States Championship against Kevin Owens. With Rollins sidelined, Roman was basically looking at a handicap match against JeriKO.

The two went after each other, early and often, and as always, Owens played the heel role beautifully. He stalked around the ring, taunting Reigns. Eventually Reigns chased him back into the ring, and that’s when Chris Jericho showed up.

Chicago, I love you, but please, stop chanting CM Punk. He left in 2014, it’s almost 2017, he doesn’t care, the WWE doesn’t care, and regardless of what you think of Roman Reigns, he, Jericho, and Owens are putting on a good match.

After Roman Reigns kicked out of a codebreaker from Owens, Rollins came down to the ring and pedigreed Jericho. Roman speared Owens for the win, and then the Shieldmates hit their finishers on JeriKO.

Seriously. Someone in WWE is like, “eh, we need to send the fans home happy”
“Shield reunion?”
“Shield reunion”.

Segment/Match Quality- 9/10 Woo’s

Best Segment/Match of the Night- Monday Night Braun

The segment with Rollins, Strowman, and Zayn was perfect. Rollins was fun to watch, Strowman was a monster, and the feud between the beast and the underdog continues. Throw in the fact that Vulture Jericho came in and hit two codebreakers? It just set everything up so nicely moving forward.

Worst Segment/Match of the Night- The Golden Club

Nobody in the WWE is booked worse than the Club. I can’t imagine that the Golden Truth are merch-magicians, but how is anyone supposed to get excited for Raw when there are bouts like this? Even if you liked both teams, and were emotionally invested, the match just wasn’t any good.

Show Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

This was just a decent show. I had hoped that with Chicago being a great wrestling city, and with SmackDown bringing a killer card tomorrow, that Raw would bring something special.

They didn’t. If you completely missed this episode of Raw, you wouldn’t miss anything. No titles changed hands. And it just felt like every other Raw we’ve seen this month. If you just wanted to sit down and watch three hours, you probably loved it. If you were there in person, I bet you loved it. But I’m a Rawpologist, and I constantly insist the shows are equal. After tonight, man, that’s just not true.

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