WWE Raw for January 23, 2017
Watch: USA Network, Hulu
Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland, Ohio
Welcome back Wrestling With Words readers to another review of Monday Night Raw! Tonight is the go home show for the second biggest show of the year, the Royal Rumble. Goldberg is set to appear on the show and the final build for all the feuds that have been boiling up the past month and a half are about to finally cap off. Let’s jump right into this review.
Roman Reigns makes his entrance to kick off the show. Roman reminds the crowd that this Sunday, Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring in a shark cage during his title match for Kevin Owens’ Universal Championship. Just then, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho make their entrance to a big pop. Kevin Owens says he’s the only person to ever powerbomb Roman Reigns through a table on his own which he accomplished last week. Roman Reigns responds by saying that Kevin Owens will be the one that gets whooped in-front of anyone at the Alamo Dome this Sunday. Chris Jericho chimes in to make a prediction for the Royal Rumble that Roman Reigns is a stupid idiot. Chris Jericho then says there’s nothing stopping him from coming down to the ring and knocking Roman’s teeth down his throat right now. Roman asks if that means he’s going to get his rematch for the United States title which Kevin Owens accepts on Jericho’s behalf. Roman Reigns ends this segment by simply stating that he’s going to win the United States title tonight and also win the Universal title at the Royal Rumble. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens were charismatic as always and Roman was his usual robotic self. In fairness to Roman however it’s not like he has much left to say at this point in the feud. Also, It seemed a bit weird to me that the crowd booed Roman heavily at his entrance, but cheered him during his promo.
Luke Gallows def. Cesaro
As both teams make their ways to the ring for this match it’s announced that Cesaro and The Club will face off for the tag team titles at the Royal Rumble, but with two referees due to the false finishes their matches have had in the past. This seems like it could be interesting, but the logic of it will mostly like fall apart during the actual match and there will be a false finish regardless.
Cesaro and Gallows go back and forth until Karl Anderson makes the distraction which allows Gallows to land a big boot for a 2 count just before heading to commercial break. After commercial we come back to Luke Gallows in complete control of Cesaro. Gallows goes for a suplex, but Cesaro reverses it into a suplex of his own that looked like a serious feat of strength. Cesaro starts to build momentum with a flurry of uppercuts and then hits a tornado DDT for a two count. Cesaro tries to go for the big swing, but Gallows rolls out of the ring. Sheamus gets in his face and Cesaro tries to get him to back off. Gallows hops on the apron and takes a kick from Cesaro and then a clothesline from Sheamus when the referee wasn’t looking. Cesaro locks in the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring, but Karl Anderson comes running down the ramp and dropkicks Sheamus in the back. This distracts Cesaro which allows Luke Gallows to land the flapjack for the three count.
This was a short match that allowed The Club to build even more momentum going towards the Rumble. Booking wise this sets up well for either The Club to win the titles at the Rumble or have Sheamus and Cesaro overcome and retain.
Backstage Mick Foley and Sami Zayn are talking to Stephanie McMahon on speaker phone. Sami asks Stephanie what he has to do to get in the Royal Rumble match and she tells Sami he has to earn it by beating Seth Rollins. This puts a troubling look on both Sami and Mick’s faces. Sami leaves to go prepare for the match and Mick picks up the phone to talk to Stephanie. Stephanie tells Mick something he doesn’t like and says that he will let Seth Rollins know whatever Stephanie told him.
A video is shown of Corey Graves interviewing Bayley. Corey asks why she thinks Charlotte is using Bayley’s life long fandom of the WWE against her. Bayley doesn’t really understand why Charlotte is doing it and that Corey should ask Charlotte herself. Bayley also goes into detail about what it’s like to be a role model for the WWE fans. Bayley says her fans are what calm her nerves when she comes out of the curtain and the reason she’s humbled to be in the WWE. Lastly Bayley says that she has two victories over Charlotte that will give her the edge in their title match.
Backstage Mick Foley informs Seth Rollins that he has a match against Sami Zayn and that if Sami wins then he gets a spot in the Royal Rumble. However, the spot Sami gets if he wins is Seth Rollins’ spot.
Spot in the Royal Rumble: Sami Zayn def. Seth Rollins
Rollins and Zayn start out the match with some technical wrestling. Sami rolls out of the ring and Rollins follows up with a Suicide Dive just before commercial break. After the break Seth Rollins has maintained the advantage in the match. Sami is able to get a Blue Thunder Bomb when Rollins went for the springboard knee for a two count. Zayn goes for a crossbody from the second rope, but Rollins counters by rolling through and going for the pin which results in a near fall. Sami follows up with a Michinoku Driver for another near fall. Sami goes top rope again, but Rollins stops him and lands a blockbuster for yet another convincing near fall. Rollins lands a superkick on Sami Zayn while he’s on his knees which Sami sells so well. Rollins follows this up with a falcon arrow and hooks the leg for a two count. The two exchange blows on their feet until Rollins hits the ropes and lands a jumping knee strike (which had to be a tribute to Kenny Omega’s V-Trigger) then he grabs a Sami by the wrist and pulls him in for the Sling Blade (also a bit Okada/Omega esque). Rollins then attempted the Pedigree, but Sami Zayn escaped it and sent Rollins into the corner. Sami went running in for the Helluva Kick, but Rollins countered trying another Pedigree. Sami escaped the Pedigree again by back body dropping him to the outside. Sami climbed the top rope, but Rollins blocked him and tried to go for the Pedigree off the top rope and into the ring. Sami reversed it with a sunset flip power bomb for a two count. Sami tried to land a Dragon Suplex, but Rollins escaped and hit a enzuigiri. Sami came back at Rollins with an Exploder Suplex into the corner. Rollins rolled out to the apron so Sami went to the outside and attempted the Helluva Kick from the apron. Rollins stopped Zayn and landed a Pedigree on the apron! Sami was out and had the match won until Triple H’s theme hit. Rollins eventually realized that Triple H wasn’t gonna show up, but when he went to go for the pin Sami caught him with a small package for the three count.
This might be the best match I’ve seen on Raw since I started reviewing it. A great TV match that was entirely back and forth throughout, plus moves/spots we rarely get to see on WWE TV. This is the first time I say a match on Raw is worth going out of your way to watch.
Backstage Rollins is furious that he was just cheated out of his spot in the Rumble. Foley confronts him to say that he had nothing to do with it and that Stephanie must have contacted someone in the production truck
Mustafa Ali, Jack Gallagher & TJ Perkins def. Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, & Tony Nese
Just before this match they showed a well put together video package of Mustafi Ali for his Raw debut. This was a very short cruiserweight match that the crowd didn’t really care for, as par for the cruiserweights. Mustafa Ali got the pin on Drew Gulak with the inverted 450.
The New Day make their entrance. Xavier Woods barely got to talking until Enzo and Cass’ theme hit to an impressive pop from the crowd. Big Cass announces that he’s entering the Royal Rumble match. Then Rusev and Jinder Mahal made their entrance were Rusev also announced that he will in the Royal Rumble. Titus O’Neil makes his entrance last to complain that he isn’t in the Royal Rumble like everyone else. However, Titus was out in the ring because there’s supposed to be an 8-Man tag match. Xavier Woods wanted to know who the fourth member of their team was and then Braun Strowman’s theme hit.
This match was already underway after commercial break. Braun Strowman got the tag in and completely destroyed Enzo with a clothesline. Enzo tried to mount a comeback and jumped off the top rope, but Braun caught him and landed the running powerslam for the victory.
After the match Big Show’s pyro hit and he made his entrance to stare down Braun Strowman. Braun and Big Show had a long stare down in the ring until Braun backed away and yelled that he does what he wants when he wants.
United States Championship: Roman Reigns def. (DQ) Chris Jericho (c)
Kevin Owens was on commentary this match and he took a lot of attention off the action for me because he was just going so hard into Byron Saxton which was very entertaining. Roman went for the Superman Punch, but Jericho caught him with a brutal dropkick. Jericho attempted a Codebreaker, but Roman caught Jericho and landed a powerbomb. Owens got off commentary and ran down the ramp asking for the cage to be lowered right after Roman hit Jericho with the Superman Punch. Owens put Reigns in the cage, but he couldn’t get it locked before Roman started to fight back. Roman ended up locking Owens in the cage after spearing Jericho. After commercial Kevin Owens had made it out of the cage and was arguing with Jericho. Charly Caruso came out to tell Kevin Owens that Mick Foley made his title match against Roman Reigns this Sunday a No Disqualifications match. Kevin Owens completely flipped out over this and asked for the match to be canceled.
A video of Corey Graves interviewing Charlotte is shown just like Bayley was interviewed earlier. Charlotte admits that she’s privileged, but she still has proven she’s the best athlete the WWE has ever seen. Charlotte also said she never meant to embarrass Bayley, she just wanted to show the WWE Universe who Bayley is. Finally Charlotte ended the interview by saying all eyes will be on her after Sunday.
Nia Jax def. Rae Lynn
Right away Nia takes out Rae Lynn and drags her into the corner for the Yokozuna drop for the three count.
After the match Nia Jax was interviewed. Nia Jax said her victory was dedicated to Sasha Banks. Banks made her entrance with a crutch and attacked Nia with it. Nia ran at Sasha, but Sasha got out of the way and Nia way fell to the outside of the ring. Sasha landed the diving double knee strike on Nia Jax before walking away.
Rich Swann def. Noam Dar
Noam Dar came out to the ring with Alicia Fox for the first time on Raw. Noam Dar tried hiding behind Alicia Fox during the match, but ultimately Dar took the loss via the Rich Kick. After the match Swann got on the mic and called out Neville. Neville came running down the ramp and almost entered the ring, but decided to fake out Rich Swann. As Neville turned to walk away Rich Swann dived through the ropes to take Neville out.
Backstage Cedric Alexander was getting interviewed. It was announced that Cedric will face Neville on tomorrow’s episode of 205 Live. Noam Dar and Alicia Fox came in to interrupt. Noam Dar asked if everything would be good between them, but Cedric pushed Noam Dar down for jumping him last week. This sent Alicia Fox into a frenzy as Cedric simply walked away.
Goldberg made his entrance as the finale of tonight’s episode. Goldberg headbutted his locker room door so hard that he actually started to bleed because of it. When Goldberg came out to the ring he had some trouble with this lines, but he finally said that he will do anything to become Universal Champion. Just as Goldberg was about to say everyone in the Rumble is next…Paul Heyman interrupted. Heyman introduced Brock Lesnar who came out to a huge reaction from the crowd. Lesnar got in the ring with Goldberg and as the two stared each other down, the Undertaker’s GONG hit. I wasn’t expecting this one at all. Undertaker showed up in the ring with Lesnar and Goldberg and the three stared at each other as the show closed out.
WWE RAW (JANUARY 23, 2017)
Good - 7.5/10
Welp, this is the highest I've rated a Raw since I started reviewing them every week back in November. This show had a great match between Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins that was one of the best on TV matches WWE has had in a long while. The other wrestling that happened on the show wasn't spectacular, but everything seemed to get set-up just about as best as they could with what they had before the Royal Rumble this Sunday. The final segment of the show was phenomenal. The Cleveland crowd wasn't expecting Brock to come out at all and then when Undertaker showed up they lost it. A great ending to a good Raw!