Monday Night Raw Review: Steel Cage-Mania

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Surprise mother truckers, Ryan’s Monday Night Raw Review is back! It’ll be an interesting episode. Will Roman Reigns acknowledge his beef with Cody? Will we see more Woo-crushing Shield magic? And how will the cage match between Reigns and Braun Strowman go? Only one way to find out, tonight, at Steel Cage-Mania!

Monday Night Raw Review: Steel Cage-Mania

Kurt Angle… and The Shield

The show opened with Raw general manager, Olympic gold medalist, and WWE Hall of Famer, Kurt Angle. I still mark out every time Mr. Clean comes out, but I do have to wonder if/when we’re going to see him wrestle in a WWE ring again. Angle was hyping up Shield when the words, “SIERRA, HOTEL, INDIA, ECHO, LIMA, DELTA” boomed from the system and the Shield came down to the ring in full-blown Shield garb. Wanna guess how many Woo’s this segment has, even if they all started talking about sufferin’ succotash son?

They circled Angle in the ring, just like they used to. They teased beating the Hall of Famer down, before taking the mic. Seth Rollins recapped how the Shield use to dominate, before briefly and awkwardly tip-toeing around how he may or may not have taken a chair to his “brothers” three years ago.

Dean Ambrose was next, and he cut a vintage Shield Dean promo, and it fired me up. He’d been missing that edge in his promos, and it was good to see him talking with purpose again. He’s one of the best microphone guys in the business when motivated. Anyway, the Shield called out Strowman, The Miz, and The Bar, and the men came out, ready to fight. However, Kurt Angle, who I totally forgot was still at ringside, said they wouldn’t be wasting that on free TV, and that the match would be happening at TLC.

However, Angle also said The Bar would get their tag team title shot tonight, and Strowman would get his cage match with Reigns. Then they started talking about how it’s going to be one of the best episodes of Raw ever. Well… You started the show with an authentic Shield entrance, so… you’re off to a good start.

Segment/Match Quality- 11/10 Woo’s

Elias and The Good Brothers

When we came back from commercial break, Elias and the Good Brothers, and yes, the Good Brothers, not The Club, were sitting in the ring. This is, by far, the weirdest version of Bullet Club I’ve ever seen. Elias was going through his normal bit when Karl Anderson interrupted him and asked if he and Luke Gallows could warm up their vocal chords. After making some goofy noises and singing the word nerd, the trio started singing the Honky Tonk Man‘s theme. Uh… these guys were IWGP Tag Team Champions.

The trio started singing a song where the lyrics were “Jason, is a nerd” before Jason Jordan, Titus O’Neil, and Apollo Crews came out. It was beautiful, and I know they were supposed to be the babyfaces, but I was more than a little upset when they showed up.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

Elias Club vs. Jason Jordan, Apollo Crews, and Titus O’Neil

The babyfaces started hot, clearing the babyfaces out of the ring and standing tall as we went to commercial. However, by the time we came back, it was an evenly contested bout. The problem with this match is that it was obviously put together to get Jason Jordan over, and he was easily the worst wrestler in the match. Crews eventually got the pinfall on Anderson, but not until after Jordan cleaned house. Solid match, but nothing to write home to Mrs. Foley about.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Cedric Alexander w/Rich Swann vs. Marty Scurll Knockoff w/The Brian Kendrick

I remember when WWE kicked off the new cruiserweight division, I really thought Cedric Alexander was going to be the ace. He’s talented, but his character work needs some help. That angle with Noam Dar and Alicia Fox did him no favors, and then he got hurt. Now the division is about Neville, who may or may not be with the company, Kalisto, and Enzo Amore.

Anyway, THE Brian Kendrick tried to help his buddy, Marty Scurll knockoff out, but Rich Swann cancelled him out, and Cedric was able to get a big win. Okay, but now what? If the cruiserweights were on the main roster, maybe the two teams could be moving into the tag title picture, but instead? Meh?

Segment/Match Quality- 7/10 Woo’s

Miz TV w/Braun Strowman

Miz and the Bar and Curtis Axel and WHERE IS BO DALLAS? came to the ring with the whole TLC set. He hyped up how Miztobar would’ve crushed the Shield if Kurt Angle hadn’t gotten involved, but they didn’t want to cost Sheasaro (throwback) their tag title match tonight.

Cesaro cut his promo in weeks, and it made him sound like the bad guy from “I Am Number Four” with his broken teeth. The crowd chanted “You Look Stupid” at Sheamus, and while he tried to clap back, Miz cut in, saying “have you guys looked in a mirror” to the crowd, showing him how it’s done. The team promised to crush the Shield before introducing Strowman.

Strowman explained that the Shield had to team up to beat him because they all failed by themselves, and that he wouldn’t stop until he crushed each and every one of them, starting with Reigns in the cage tonight.

Miz called an audible, saying since the Shield think they can beat anyone, they should be able to face off against Strowman, the Bar, Miz, AND Curtis Axel. Kurt Angle came out and said that the Miz was going too far and that he wouldn’t allow it. The two bickered, and eventually it was decided that if Strowman beat Reigns in the steel cage, they could have Axel. However, if Reigns won, the Bar and Miz wouldn’t have Strowman on their side.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox

Sasha Banks is still on Raw… Interesting. Ya know, once upon a time, it felt like the four horsewomen were the stars of WWE’s women division. Now? Not so much. Now she’s wrestling Alicia Fox. Great.

Banks came out hot, hitting the Bank Statement, almost submitting Fox to start the match, but she was able to find the bottom rope. There was a little back and forth, but eventually Sasha locked her in the Bank Statement again, getting the win. Admittedly, the breakdown that Alicia Fox had after the match was hilarious. She’s always played crazy very, very well.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Enzo Amore

Corey Graves makes Enzo segments watchable, I swear. Anyway, Amore rolled the clip of Mustafa Ali costing him the Cruiserweight Championship last week. He was channelling WCW Chris Jericho, claiming it was a conspiracy and intentionally saying Ali’s name wrong. Hey, wait a second, Jericho lost the Light Heavyweight Championship too. Funny how that works.

Kalisto came out and interrupted Enzo, and while his promo skills aren’t great, what really hurt him was that the crowd just didn’t care. This is not a feud that I want, and let me tell you why. Obviously Kalisto is significantly better than Enzo in the ring, but Enzo is also THAT much better on the mic.

Anyway, Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, Noam Dar, and Ariya Daivari jumped Kalisto, and Enzo name-dropped Rey Mysterio, because apparently he can say whatever he wants. Mustafa Ali rushed the stage and temporarily cleaned house. Eventually the numbers game got to Ali, and the heels were standing tall.

I don’t understand. How do the cruiserweights benefit from this? What happened to hating him for making a mockery of their division? Was this supposed to make me want to watch 205 Live? Because unless I hear Rey Mysterio’s music hit, I don’t see it happening. I guess I understand why Neville quit.

Segment/Match Quality- 2/10 Woo’s

The Shield vs. The Bar

You have no idea how long I’ve waited to write that. In all honesty, how much do you wanna bet that this tag team match will be better than the match on Sunday? I mean, I love Strowman, and I think Reigns is a lot better than people give him credit for, but these four are the ones bringing the burgers to the barbecue.

It’s so crazy looking at Rollins and Ambrose in that gear. On one hand, my brain doesn’t even register what I’m seeing because I’ve watched the Shield run back so many times. On the other, it feels like a dream come true.

Anyway, this match was a blast. They did a fantastic job of getting the heat on Seth Rollins, while making sure he couldn’t make the tag to Dean Ambrose. The crowd was ridiculously into everything they did, and it was because both teams played their roles perfectly. The sequence leading up to Rollins finally getting the hot tag was incredible, and I’ll reiterate what I said earlier, this is the best Dean Ambrose I’ve seen in years.

Another fantastic sequence saw Ambrose tease flinging Cesaro into the ringpost, which is what cost Cesaro his teeth, only for the Swiss Superman to land on the turnbuckle, flip off into Ambrose, who attempted a dirty deeds, which Cesaro reversed, slipping out of the ring, just in time for Rollins and Ambrose to both hit suicide dives. Phew.

This match was pay per view quality. I mean really, it was fantastic. Rollins and Ambrose got the win after Cesaro ate the Kingslayer and Dirty Deeds. Raw and SmackDown would both better shows if The Bar vs. Shield and Usos vs. The New Day kept happening.

Segment/Match Quality- 9/10 Woo’s

Finn Balor

Finn Balor came out, and as much as I like Finn, he feels a bit lost right now. That’s not entirely his fault, I get a little queasy every time a Bray Wyatt segment starts, and bringing out Finn’s demon stuff doesn’t help. In Japan, the facepaint wasn’t a demon gimmick, ya know. It was just something cool.

Anyway, Finn was talking about his demon, and how it’s extra super spooky. The camera zoomed in on his face and it would flash between Finn and the demon. Clever special effects? Sure. A good segment? No.

Segment/Match Quality- 2/10 Woo’s

Alexa Bliss and Emma vs. Mickie James and Bayley

I’m starting this match with a bad taste in my mouth, and it’s nobody’s fault but my own. Mickie James’ teammate hadn’t been announced, so I got to thinking, hey, wouldn’t it be so cool if it was Paige? It was not. It was Bayley. Oh well.

That’s why I don’t like secret partners. If you’re going to make something a mystery, people will try to solve it, and the WWE Universe has no shortage of imagination. Paige, Asuka, AJ Lee, Santina, anything. I love Bayley, but I was a little disheartened by her music.

Just throwing this out there. Emma’s gimmick is that she claims she started the women’s division and she deserves more respect. Who did she have that “revolution starting” match against? Just saying, it could be interesting.

Anyway, this match wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t terrible, but sometimes it feels like none of the women on Raw have any momentum.  Shouldn’t Nia Jax be in the title picture? What is Bayley doing? Is Dana Brooke still on the roster? And when Santino gets done trying to beat up Jim Cornette, can he find Santina for us?

After a very sloppy match, Mickie James was able to pin Alexa Bliss, but… come on. Do we really believe they’re going to put the belt on Mickie? No? So it’s hard to get invested. Maybe next week, just give Asuka a title shot.

Segment/Match Quality- 1/10 Woo’s

Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns in Steel Cage-Mania

So, I completely forgot Miz was Intercontinental Champion. I guess he’s been a bit overshadowed by the Shield reunion, but until Michael Cole mentioned it, I had completely forgotten. Whoops. My bad.

I don’t know what it is about Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman in the same ring, but it just works. Maybe it’s because Strowman is one of two people in WWE, the other being Brock Lesnar, that actually gets heat on Reigns. They’re the only believable opponents for him, booking-wise, and it brings out the best in him. Typically, Reigns just runs through his opponents, but he can’t do that with Strowman.

Strowman dominated Reigns for most of the match, using the cage to his advantage. There was one part where Reigns was trapped between the ropes and the cage and Strowman ran all the way across the ring and slammed into him. After finally landing a Samoan drop, Reigns started climbing the cage… and then the Bar showed up… Even though they were banned from ringside.

Rollins and Ambrose were in hot pursuit, chasing Sheasaro away, but the distraction was enough. It gave Strowman enough time to recover… and he hit Reigns with a superplex off the top of the cage. The holy expletive chants were well earned.

Meanwhile outside the ring, the tag teams continued to brawl, the fight spilling into the backstage area. Is this a match or a commercial for WWE 2k18? The Miz, who had been on commentary, crept behind them, locking the Shield and the Bar in the garage, away from the arena.

Back in the ring, both men finally rose to their feet, and Reigns was struggling out of Strowman’s running powerslam. Reigns tried to escape, but Strowman just kept catching him. Strowman eventually tried to escape himself, but it was Roman’s turn to do the chasing, knocking one of Braun’s feet away so he fell, crotch-first onto the ropes.

Reigns went for the spear, but Strowman threw him into the air, BUT Reigns hit the superman punch! Wow! What a great match. Reigns was about to earn the win… and Kane’s music hit. Kane emerged from the ring, hitting multiple chokeslams, feeding the win to Strowman.

Is this really going to be a “you retired my brother” thing with Kane and Roman? Also, Angle banned the Bar and the Shield from ringside… anything gonna come from that? Kurt is about as good a general manager as he is a kayfabe father. Oh well, I’m not letting a silly finish ruin a great match. Good night everyone!

Segment/Match Quality- 10/10 Woo’s

Woo Count- 65/110 Total Possible Woo’s (59%)

Worth Watching?

What part of Sierra, Hotel, India, Echo, Lima, Delta don’t you understand? In all seriousness, Steel Cage-Mania was a solid episode of Raw. The Shield entrance, the tag team match, Elias and the Good Brothers, the cruiserweight tag team match, and Steel Cage-Mania were fun to watch. Give it a try.