Monday Night Raw Recap: The Shield is back

Despite Hell in a Cell having been a SmackDown-exclusive pay-per-view, the air of unpredictability of the final moments of Sunday night seemingly bled over into Monday night as Raw kept its audience on its heels until the final moment. Though the groundwork was laid for most of the matches to come at the TLC pay-per-view, which is already less than two weeks away, there were only two matches announced for the card when Raw kicked off Monday night. The three-hour episode in Indianapolis was undeniably dedicated to the reunion of The Shield that was almost three years in the making, but even the TLC main event that Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose will be involved in was altered over the course of Raw.

The resurrection of The Shield: Did they bite off more than they can chew?

Miz TV was inevitably going to be the platform for the official reunion of The Shield, but everyone wondered how it would happen. The second-ever edition of "The Mizzies" (after the first edition three months ago served as the beginning of Ambrose and Rollins' reunion) went out of its way to be overly aggrandizing, setting up Miz and Cesaro & Sheamus, who eventually came out to accept "best supporting actor" awards before a fall.

Reigns was the first to step out from behind the curtain, and after he and Miz traded a few words, the moment everyone was waiting for happened in slow motion. Each member of The Shield came out to their own entrance music and once they stood together there was instant electricity inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The trio ran roughshod over Cesaro, Sheamus and Curtis Axel before turning their attention to The Miz, who got trapped in the middle of everything. A Dirty Deeds from Ambrose, appropriate enough considering the lengthy history between him and The Miz, was followed by a triple power bomb that Michael Cole in particular was calling "the Shield bomb" throughout the night (another unnecessary attempt at over-branding, but that's an issue for another day). Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose met in the middle of the ring, standing over the fallen body of The Miz and put their fists together in solidarity.

The deed was done, and a main event of The Shield versus Miz and The Bar in a TLC match was soon made for the pay-per-view of the same name.

Only that wasn't the end of the night for The Shield.

After Braun Strowman defeated Matt Hardy in a surprisingly competitive match, he carried Hardy over his shoulder and up to the top of the stage, where he was met by Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns, conveniently decked out in their brand new T-shirts. An assisted spear by Reigns was followed by a triple powerbomb through the commentary table, and then the trio boasted to Charlie Caruso backstage that they would take on any and all comers. Miz, late in the night, used that to persuade Kurt Angle that his team had a right to a fourth member -- and wouldn't you know it, Strowman broke down the door at that very moment, and the main event for TLC was set.

A 3-on-3 match had about as predictable an outcome as they come, but adding in Strowman as a wildcard with all of the various elements and weapons involved gives the TLC main event an added edge that feels just about right. Reigns and Strowman will also face off in a steel cage match next week to reignite their feud and further set the stage for one of the most anticipated matches of the year.

Now ... Will they each get their own entrances? Will Reigns' music be the substitute for The Shield's old entrance theme? Will they come through the crowd? The reunion was an awesome moment, and seeing them in action was equally thrilling, but the match to come in Minnesota will be something else entirely.

Cruiserweights continue to hot potato the title as Kalisto claims the gold

Just when you think you have it all figured out with the cruiserweight division, everything turns on a dime (pun intended). After Enzo Amore eliminated all of the other competition through his cowardly 'no contact' clause, newly dubbed cruiserweight Kalisto became the exception last week, and gave Enzo a proper introduction to what he was capable of.

On Monday afternoon, a cruiserweight championship match between the two of them was announced for TLC, but during an in-ring segment with Amore and Kurt Angle, the match was pushed up to Monday's Raw main event. The lumberjack stipulation seemed rife with possibilities for shenanigans and a cheap Amore victory, carrying on his momentum and growing cowardice as he established truly interesting conflict atop the 205 Live roster.

While there was indeed some chicanery, the biggest such moment saw Mustafa Ali pull a seemingly victorious Amore out of the ring just before a three-count, and it ultimately set the stage for a Salida del Sol from the top rope that earned Kalisto a sincerely puzzling cruiserweight championship victory.

After Amore seemingly made a measurable difference in both the live audience sticking around and the number of people watching 205 Live on the WWE Network, one has to wonder what caused such a haphazard change in direction. Might it have something to do with the fact that Monday would have been Eddie Guerrero's 50th birthday? Sure, and it could reverse course in a heartbeat if Amore earns the title back at TLC. But with the cruiserweight division in such a precarious position, playing hot potato with the title seems like a dangerous game to play.

Raw women can't escape never-ending series of multiway matches

During the past few months, Raw has struggled mightily to keep all of the women on the roster occupied in a variety of different rivalries. It's led to numerous multiway matches for the title, multiway matches to determine the No. 1 contender to the women's title and, most recently on Monday night, a multiway elimination match to determine who would face Asuka in her debut match at TLC.

Sooner or later, the Raw women's division would benefit greatly from the establishment of a true hierarchy -- and that may finally happen when Asuka joins the fray. It's nice to have the champion in peril and having to watch her back from all sides sometimes, but it would also benefit the division greatly to have a few different ongoing and separate storylines to explore some depth of character for the women not directly in the title picture.

They've been on the precipice of a Bayley vs. Sasha Banks rivalry for months on end, and Nia Jax has been an established powerhouse, but the time has come for the women on Raw to achieve true equality. Multiple ongoing storylines over the course of a three-hour show shouldn't be that hard to do.

In the match itself, Dana Brooke, appearing in only her second Raw match since June, was the first of the five participants to go out. Some sneakery helped Alicia Fox to hit an axe kick to eliminate Bayley, Banks knocked Fox out with a Banks Statement and Emma swooped in with a roll-up to claim the right to be Asuka's first main roster victim.

Bray Wyatt reveals Sister Abigail in earnest

The moment shared by Bray Wyatt, or Sister Abigail, if you prefer, and Finn Balor, was a creepy, hard-to-explain deluge of weirdness. The clip can mostly speak for itself.

If this is Wyatt's last real chance at main roster relevance, a knockoff version of Balor's split personalities doesn't seem so promising. We'll have to see what the entrance, character and in-ring approach look like and how they differ from Wyatt's typical style, but on the surface, it may struggle to resonate. We shall see.

Hits and misses

  • Mickie James isn't old. She's the same age as Samoa Joe (38), and younger than Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Bobby Roode, AJ Styles (all 40) and Matt Hardy (43). There has to be a hook to a rivalry, but most of what we've seen between James and Alexa Bliss has felt a bit forced.

  • Speaking of Hardy, he fought valiantly in a losing effort against Strowman -- putting up as much, if not more, resistance than Ambrose and Rollins in the past few weeks.

  • Titus O'Neil plays a mean banjo, or at least an enthusiastic one. Neither he nor Apollo Crews can seem to figure out Elias, though, as The Drifter keeps putting a hurting on "Titus Worldwide."

  • Jason Jordan essentially beat Gallows & Anderson single-handedly. The match between Jordan and Anderson was solid, but it didn't seem to do any of the three many favors.