Raw Recap: December 11, 2017
S2017 episode 1281 Aired on December 11, 2017

When the dust (and splinters) settled following the monstrous WWE Holiday Week Raw main event pitting Braun Strowman against Kane, Brock Lesnar still didn’t have a Universal Championship challenger for the 2018 Royal Rumble event in January. How will Raw General Manager Kurt Angle resolve this issue?

Bray Wyatt and the WWE Universe met “Woken” Matt Hardy for the first time last week, and the newly reborn former Raw Tag Team Champion continued his war of words with The New Face of Fear, promising to illuminate the masses with his “Woken Wisdom” and “Broken Brilliance” and proclaiming that Wyatt's very presence was the result of an "addiction" that had consumed the soul of Sister Abigail.

Hardy doubled down on his vow to "delete" Wyatt even as the former WWE Champion warned the Universe to choose their allegiances wisely. Despite Wyatt’s proclamation, it was Hardy’s demented cackle that once again got the last word.

Roman Reigns’ status as a fighting champion has already landed him in the path of two hungry up-and-comers. This week, it almost cost him the Intercontinental Title, because Cesaro was The Big Dog’s challenger of the week, and The Swiss Cyborg threw everything at Reigns to attempt to add a second title to his waist.

Even though Reigns prevailed, 90 percent of the bout was a brutal showcase for the challenger, who absolutely decimated Reigns’ arm to take the Superman Punch out of the game by way of some wrenching holds and a thunderous Cesaro Swing into the barricade. Effectively rendered one-armed by his challenger’s game plan, Reigns had to get crafty — rollups, Drive-By, Samoan Drop — to stay in the fight, and when the fight spilled to the outside, Reigns threw caution to the wind and landed a Superman Punch off the steps.

It seemed the high-risk strike would put Reigns back in control, but all it did was send Cesaro into a blind frenzy. A few close calls aside, The Swiss Superman firmly seized control of the match by pulverizing the champion with European uppercuts before hauling a dazed Reigns into the center of the ring to set up for the Neutralizer. But a back-body drop thwarted the challenger, and an exhausted Reigns followed that up with a last-ditch Spear to narrowly — very narrowly — retain his title.

Last week, Kane challenged Braun Strowman to a battle of monsters to determine which colossus holds dominion over Raw. This week, the stakes were raised to a beastly degree, as the winner would be given the right to challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title at the Royal Rumble event. So, who will step into the ring with The Beast Incarnate? The answer isn’t so simple.

WWE officials reinforced the ring to prevent an indecisive conclusion, but Strowman and Kane’s ferocity simply could not be contained. Literally. After Strowman kicked out of two Chokeslams and Kane kicked out of one, the two titans brawled into the WWE Universe, with Strowman plowing Kane through the barricade right as the referee reached a count of 10.

Despite the final bell sounding, the two Superstars continued to clash, using steel steps, furniture dollies and a steel chair in an escalating brawl that ended with The Monster Among Men planting Kane through a table with a Running Powerslam. So, the fight goes to Strowman, but given the end of the match, the question of who will face Lesnar remains unanswered. Perhaps The Beast will have something to say when he returns next week.

In other action … The Shield brawled with Samoa Joe, Cesaro & Sheamus … Paige & Mandy Rose def. Bayley & Mickie James … Finn Bálor def. Curtis Axel … Seth Rollins def. Raw Tag Team Champion Sheamus … Cedric Alexander def. Mustafa Ali, Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari ("Second Chance" Fatal 4-Way Match) … Absolution attacked Asuka … and Samoa Joe def. Dean Ambrose.

Season 2017 episode guides