This week’s edition of Monday Night Raw was the last edition of the show prior to Sunday’s Table, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view event. The focus of the show was built around two matches: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman in a Steel Cage match main event as well as Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose defending the Tag Team Titles against Sheamus and Cesaro.

Here’s a recap of all of those bouts.

The reunited Shield displayed a lot of confidence

Raw general manager Kurt Angle started the show with a promo introducing The Shield because he knew that’s what the crowd wanted. It led to the trio of Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose making their entrance to the classic Shield song (similar to Roman Reigns’ current song), wearing Shield attire and making their entrance by walking down the steps in the arena. The crowd was really excited about it, which was great to see because it’s easy to like those guys.

When they got into the ring, Reigns threatened Angle by saying when they get in the ring, they like to kick ass. Rollins calmed him down and referenced his heel turn against them three years ago, but said they were back and better than ever. Ambrose ranted about how maybe he made a mistake saying they could take on four, five or six guys, but maybe not. Ambrose challenged Miz, Strowman, Sheamus and Cesaro to fight right now.

That led to Miz, Strowman, Sheamus and Cesaro appearing on the stage. Angle stopped them from going down to the ring and to save the match for TLC while hyping the two big matches.

The point of this was just to show The Shield was back together in their signature attire, with the old entrance and music. The promo showed they were ready for a fight.

Miz TV with Braun Strowman as a guest

The Miz did a promo in the ring with his teammates Sheamus and Cesaro, along with his Miztourage member Curtis Axel. No Bo Dallas again. I’ll get into that more later. Miz brought out Strowman, who talked about how he was going to beat up Roman Reigns in the Steel Cage match later.

The Miz pointed out how Ambrose mentioned that The Shield can beat a lot of guys in a match, so he was about to announce a fifth member of his team when Kurt Angle showed up to interrupt. Angle told him he can’t just do that.

That led to Angle announcing a stipulation for Reigns vs. Strowman by saying that if Reigns wins, then it’s a 3-on-3 match at TLC with Strowman removed. But if Strowman wins, then it’s 3-on-5 with Miz getting to pick a fifth guy for his team. Angle also banned everybody from ringside in the Tag Team Title match and Steel Cage match, which proved to be pointless in the cage match.

This was mostly a “Raw is too long, so let’s kill some time with talking” segment, but they did add some intrigue to the main event with the winners getting rewarded if they pick up the victory.

Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus & Cesaro to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles

This was a really good match by these two awesome teams, which was expected. They know what they are doing out there and built up the hot tag to Ambrose really well. Once Ambrose got in there, the action really picked up. I loved the spot where Ambrose tried to send Cesaro into the ring post like at No Mercy when Cesaro suffered the injury to his teeth, but Cesaro stopped himself on the turnbuckle to prevent hitting the ring post again. That was a clever move.

I thought the finish of their No Mercy match was better than this, but it was still good. Cesaro and Sheamus went for a double-team move that didn’t work, Rollins kicked Sheamus, Ambrose hit a clothesline on Sheamus, Rollins followed with a knee to the face of Cesaro and Ambrose finished off Cesaro with the Dirty Deeds for the win. It went about 12 minutes and the crowd was really into it.

The result didn’t surprise me at all. There’s still a lot of legs to Rollins and Ambrose as Tag Team Champions on Raw. While I don’t expect it to last all the way to WrestleMania or anything like that, there’s no reason to take the titles off them yet.

There was a comedy bit with Curtis Axel wanting to beat up Reigns, so Strowman, Cesaro and Strowman told him to do it. Later, Miz went looking for Axel and Miz found Axel hanging upside down by a forklift after we saw Axel walking up to The Shield guys. Miz told Renee Young that he thinks highly of Axel, but he was not going to be the fifth partner.

Before I get to the main event, please check out my exclusive column here at The Comeback talking about The Shield’s history, their run as singles guys and their future. I don’t want it to be some short-term reunion. I hope it’s meaningful for all three guys.

Braun Strowman defeated Roman Reigns in a Steel Cage match, thanks to Kane

There have been so many Strowman vs. Reigns matches this year. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve written about them. The chemistry is obviously there, since they have been wrestling on television and live events for about seven months. The cage door was locked, so there was no escape out the door possibility. Reigns went for a climb at one point and was blocked by Sheamus and Cesaro, who were then attacked by Ambrose and Rollins. With Reigns nearly out of the cage, Strowman brought him back in with a suplex from the top of the cage. It was a big fall by Reigns, but they did it safely.

The fight between Ambrose and Rollins against Sheamus and Cesaro saw them go backstage and eventually into a parking garage. The Miz, who was on commentary for this match, followed them back there and shut the garage door to keep them out of the building.

Reigns made his big comeback after Strowman dominated most of the match. Reigns connected with three Superman Punches. All of a sudden, Kane’s music hit and the red light filled the ring. Strowman hit a splash on Reigns, but Reigns came back with a Spear. That’s when Kane emerged from under the ring. Kane was in full red and black attire with the red/black mask on his face. Kane hit two Chokeslams on Reigns. Strowman hit a Running Powerslam. Kane hit a Tombstone Piledriver on Reigns. Strowman hit another Running Powerslam on Reigns and pinned him. That means it took five big moves to beat Reigns.

After the match was over, Miz said it is pretty obvious after what happened, but his five-man team at TLC will be Braun Strowman, Kane, Cesaro, Sheamus and The Miz vs. The Shield’s Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose in a 5-on-3 match. Raw ended with Kane and Strowman standing over a fallen Reigns.

When I heard about the 5-on-3 possibility earlier on Monday, I thought that Samoa Joe would be the guy on the heel side because he was expected to be back from being on the shelf for over the last month. Nope. Hopefully, Joe is back in time for Survivor Series because he is missed.

Kane hasn’t been seen on WWE TV this year because he’s running for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee (see above photo). The election is next April, so the assumption was that Kane would be off until then or maybe he was retired since he is 50 years old. I thought he was done, but this is wrestling where nobody ever retires. He is back. It’s cool for nostalgia since October 1997 is 20 years since Kane debuted at the first Hell in a Cell match (I wrote about that here), but it’s not like the world is clamoring for 3-on-5 matches either. I’m okay with it. With that said, I don’t love it either. I’d rather see a 3-on-3 match.

If WWE wants to try to explain why Kane would target Reigns, they can say that Kane was mad about how Reigns bragged about retiring The Undertaker (Kane’s storyline brother) at WrestleMania. With no more episodes of Raw before TLC, I doubt WWE is even going to try to mention it but for fans like us sitting at home, that’s a theory we can use that makes sense.

As for who wins at TLC, I’ll get into that more in the preview on Friday. For now, I’ll just say that it would be very surprising to me if The Shield were to lose their first official match back as a group.

This Week’s Raw Matches

Here are the other matches that were on Monday night’s card.

Jason Jordan, Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil defeated Elias, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

There was a “concert” before the match with Gallows and Anderson joining Elias in his pre-match song. That was funny with Anderson singing Honky Tonk Man’s song while Gallows “sang” about nerds. It was probably the best Elias pre-match song because of the Good Brothers getting involved.

The match was fine with Crews getting the hot tag and the win for his team. I thought this was going to be a win for Jordan since WWE continues to try to build him up, but he played a minor role in the match. O’Neil was barely in the ring. Anderson took the pinfall for his team in a match that went seven minutes.

I’m very surprised that Jordan and Elias are not in a match at TLC, considering how hard WWE has tried to push both guys as newcomers on the Raw brand.

Cedric Alexander defeated Jack Gallagher

Gallagher as a heel is a lot less interesting than when he was a face. Weak-looking submission moves from him don’t help. Alexander had fellow cruiserweight Rich Swann out there to watch his back, so when Brian Kendrick tried to help Gallagher, Swann nailed Kendrick with a DDT on the floor. That led to Alexander hitting the Lumbar Check on Gallagher to win the match, which was short at around four minutes.

It was also announced that at TLC, Alexander and Swann will face Gallagher and Kendrick.

Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox

Fox complained about Banks making her tap out in a tag match last week, so they had a singles match this week. Banks won clean in about three minutes with the Bank Statement submission after Fox was on offense early on.

After the match, Banks was being interviewed backstage and Fox attacked. When referee Darrick Moore showed up to break it up, Fox shoved him. They said that Fox was fined for it. Banks vs. Fox was announced for the TLC Kickoff Show, which should mean another win for Banks.

This isn’t an interesting feud at all. It feels like just a way to get Banks on the show since she’s popular.

Mickie James & Bayley defeated Alexa Bliss & Emma

This was set up after Emma and Bliss did a promo together where they decided to team up against Mickie and a partner. Bliss suggested Betty White as Mickie’s partner to continue the old jokes that are really bad.

It was a standard tag match where the heels worked over Bayley for most of it leading to the hot tag for James. Good job by Mickie after the hot tag with the crowd getting excited as she hit some of her signature moves. Mickie got a two-count after a Thesz Press off the top and Emma made the save, so Bayley took care of Emma. Bliss knocked Bayley to the floor, which allowed Mickie to capitalize with a superkick on Bliss to pin her. Normally, Mickie does a spin kick there but doing a superkick looks even better. They got a decent amount of time at around 12 minutes.

I don’t like James pinning Bliss because I think they should have had Emma take the pin. Plus, I want James to win on Sunday and seeing her pin Bliss makes me think Bliss is winning at TLC.

After the match, Mickie did a backstage interview talking about how Alexa’s words have hurt her, but she’s proud of her accomplishments in this business. Mickie mentioned she had a three-year-old son named Donovan at home that is her greatest accomplishment and she wanted to bring home the Women’s Title for the seventh time for him. I liked that they did that because it showed how much a win would mean for her. It makes her even more likable as a veteran face.

 Other Key Items From Raw

1. Finn Balor had a message for Bray Wyatt, aka Sister Abigail

Finn Balor did a promo talking about Wyatt doing his Sister Abigail stuff last week. He then spoke about some mythology stuff that I have no idea about. Balor said he’ll slay the monster with a demon of his own. They did a crowd shot and then cut to Balor staring at the camera saying that his demon dreams about nightmares. After Balor spoke, the Demon face paint version of Balor was on the screen to show that he can become The Demon at any time. Balor said that his Demon is dying to meet Sister Abigail and the Demon said “run” to end it.

This was pretty bad. I’m sure it appeals to some kids watching, but when I watch this I cringe a bit because I think it is damaging to both wrestlers. This feud has gone on for way too long. We already saw Balor do the Demon thing to beat Wyatt at SummerSlam, so is it really needed again? Do it less often to make it feel more special.

It was announced that at Sunday’s TLC, “The Demon” Balor will wrestle “Sister Abigail” Wyatt.

There was no Bray Wyatt at Raw for the second week in a row. Last week, Wyatt was only there in a taped segment. I’m not sure what the story is, but Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer mentioned his brother Bo Dallas is dealing with an illness, so both of them missed the last two weeks. Wyatt’s girlfriend, JoJo the ring announcer, also wasn’t there this week with Mike Rome filling in for her. Hopefully, this illness isn’t too serious.

2. Enzo Amore got revenge against Kalisto, thanks to some help from friends

Enzo Amore did a promo complaining about losing the Cruiserweight Title to Kalisto last week in a Lumberjack Match, thanks in part to guys like Mustafa Ali who interfered to cost him the win. Kalisto went out there to try to shut him up. In terms of promos, Enzo’s was way better than Kalisto.

Enzo continued the trash talk and then Kalisto was attacked from behind by heel cruiserweights Ariya Daivari, Drew Gulak, Tony Nese and Noam Dar. They all beat down Kalisto together. Mustafa Ali went out to try to save Kalisto, but the heels took care of him. No other faces went out there to try to save Kalisto, which is weird. It was designed to put over Enzo, who dropped Kalisto with his “Jordunzo” finisher where he puts his boot to the guy’s face.

You may recall that a few weeks ago, all of the cruiserweights beat up Enzo yet here he is getting help from four of them. I think that can be explained by saying that the other cruisers are mad that Kalisto got a title shot in his first match in the cruiserweight division and he won the title, so they wanted to get revenge on him. It makes sense.

3. Asuka’s main roster debut was hyped up for TLC this Sunday

There were two more videos that aired to promote Asuka’s main roster debut at TLC on Sunday. I think WWE has done a great job of building her up with videos over the last month. Asuka should beat Emma easily at TLC and likely go on a long undefeated streak like she did in NXT. Eventually, when she loses a match it will be a big deal, but there’s no reason for that to be any time soon.

Looking Ahead to WWE TLC

The next Raw brand WWE pay-per-view is TLC this Sunday, Oct. 22 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match: The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) vs. Braun Strowman, The Miz, Kane Cesaro & Sheamus

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James

Finn Balor as The Demon vs. Bray Wyatt as Sister Abigail

Asuka vs. Emma

Cruiserweight Championship: Kalisto vs. Enzo Amore

Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann vs. Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher

Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks (Kickoff Match)

That may be the full card, but something could be added before Sunday since guys like Jason Jordan, Matt Hardy, Elias and others are not on the show.

In Closing

I thought it was a pretty good show, thanks the build up to the main event match, the stipulation for it and the surprise ending with Kane. It was well done along with the Tag Team Title match as another highlight.

There were some low points like the Finn Balor segment and some of the other midcard stuff was boring. The crowd was loud most of the night, so that certainly helped too.

I’ll be back Wednesday with a Smackdown review and on Friday, I’ll have the TLC preview.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He's written for WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah.com and many other places. You can follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net.