KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 9, 2017
NEW ORLEANS, LA.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves.
-Stephanie McMahon said, during a close-up of just her, that she was incredible excited to do her Performance Review for someone. The camera panned back to reveal Mick Foley, with a crew cut haircut this week. He’ll be bald by next week. Foley said he was excited they could do it right here in New Orleans, La. Stephanie noted he wrote it on his hand and he’s gotten some things wrong in 2016. She said first she wanted to address some rumors. Stephanie said the WWE Universe wants the rumors to be true that Undertaker will be on Raw tonight, but last she checked Undertaker was a Smackdown wrestler. Foley said he doesn’t have concrete evidence, but he has a strong feeling.
In walked Seth Rollins doing his goat laugh. He said he was officially entering the Royal Rumble. Braun Strowman barged in and said he wants Roman Reigns or Goldberg. Seth stood up to him and said he can’t just interrupt like that. They went to chest to chest. Foley said Goldberg isn’t even in the building and Reigns already has a match. Seth said he can give Braun what he wants. He threw some punches. Braun threw him against a wall as Steph yelled for help. Several referees ran in. She threatened to fire everyone, yelling at the top of her lungs.
-The announcers introduced the show as Reign’s entrance music played. Saxton explained that whomever pins Reigns will be the U.S. Champion. A video package aired of Reigns and Goldberg spearing Strowman last week. Back live, Reigns was entering the ring to a mixed reaction. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho walked out together to Owens’ music. Owens held up his hand to shield Jericho’s view from the shark cage on the stage. Formal ring entrances took place for the U.S. Title match. Cole explained Owens and Jericho will have to tag in and out like a normal tag team match. Strowman’s music then played and he marched out. Reigns met him at ringside and fought briefly with him. Strowman threw him back it the ring. The three heels beat up on Reigns. Seth ran out with a chair to make the save. Reigns recovered and joined Seth in beating Strowman on his back with chairshots. Strowman rolled to the floor.
Stephanie walked out and said she won’t let this match not take place. She said in order to take away any excuse Reigns might have, he’s going to give him time to recuperate. In the mean time, she was booking Seth vs. Strowman.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was refreshing if only because no one stood in the ring for 8 to 12 minutes and talked about something that could be said in 45 seconds. It’s always a bit suspicious when they start with the announced main event or put a big match on early in the show. As with Charlotte and Sasha Banks, something is likely to happen to delay the full match with a finish until later. It’s good to see a babyface be heroic and run out to offset a three-on-one heel beatdown on a fellow babyface.) [c]
-The announcers talked about a graphic of Seth announcing on Twitter earlier that last year he missed WrestleMania, but this year he’ll make history by winning the Rumble.
(1) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. SETH ROLLINS
Strowman took control pretty early, including just bashing Seth on the back like a club, taking Seth down. Cole said many people are going to see Strowman as a favorite to win the Rumble. At 4:00 Strowman knocked Seth off the ring apron to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
Seth made a comeback after the break and dove at Strowman through the ropes. Strowman stayed on his feet, but touched his hands to the mat to retain his balance. Back in the ring Seth dropkicked his left leg and Strowman went down to one knee. Seth then gave him a running knee and then a kick to the head and Braun went down finally. Seth landed a frog splash at 10:00. Braun kicked out with force at the two count. Seth leaped off the corner ringpost toward Strowman at ringside, but Strowman moved. Seth landed hard against the ringside barrier. When Strowman went after Seth at ringside, they both got counted out.
WINNER: Double countout at 11:30
-After the match, Seth grabbed a chair and challenged Strowman to come get him. Every time Strowman teased entering, Seth swung a chair at him to keep him away. Strowman then decided to leave. They showed a sl0-mo of Seth landing on the ringside barrier, then a crowd shot of two women and a little boy reacting to it.
-Cole plugged that “Mr. WrestleMania – The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels will be on Raw later. He threw to a preview of “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” movie. There was less than one second of Michaels in the preview. [c]
-They showed scenes of New Orleans and then NFL quarterback Drew Breeze at ringside.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Graves showed off a voodoo doll of Saxton. Saxton got nervous. They showed Nia Jax losing to Bayley last week after Sasha Banks created a distraction.
-Backstage Bayley talked to Sasha Banks. Bayley asked Sasha about her knee. Sasha talked about the Bayley-to-Belly she gave Jax off the second rope last week. Sasha said she has Bayley’s back when she face Charlotte. Charlotte walked in mock-clapping. Charlotte said Sasha has never defeated her for her title at a PPV because no one has. Sasha said she’s defeated her for her title, though. Charlotte said she wins it back each time. Jax came in and kicked Sasha’s bad leg out from under her. Charlotte hit Bayley from behind and threw her into some storage crates. Jax and Charlotte stood over the fallen babyfaces. Jax then grabbed Charlotte and shoved her into crates, then left.
-They went back to the announcers. Austin Aries replaced Saxton. They recapped the Gentlemen’s Duel on “205 Live” two weeks ago. Then they showed Ariya Daivari hanging Gallagher upside down last week and beating on him. Graves said Daivari had a right to get revenge for being embarrassed by Gallagher the week before.
-Gallagher made his ring entrance. [c]
(2) JACK GALLAGHER vs. DREW GULAK
The bell rang to start the match as soon as they returned. Aries said the winner can maybe afford to finally buy knee pads.
WINNER: Gallagher in 3:00.
-In the ring afterward, Charly interviewed Gallagher. He said he feels within his rights to give Daivari a thrashing, but as an extraordinary gentleman, he’d like to settle it with honor and not mindless brutality. He invited Daivari to meet him on “205 Live” in parlay. He said it’s an opportunity for two gentleman in combat to agree to a truce, but otherwise it could come to fist-to-cuffs. Graves said he cannot wait.
-Backstage they showed T.J. Perkins chatting with Shawn Michaels backstage. Michaels was being zany, trying to learn TJP’s entrance moves. [c]
-A video package aired hyping John Cena vs. Baron Corbin live on Smackdown tomorrow night.
-Foley was searching for Undertaker backstage. Stephanie walked up to Foley and asked if he’s seen him yet. Foley asked if she trusts his innate feeling of when the Undertaker is present. Stephanie said as reliable as his feelings are, she needs facts. She said his entire performance review hinges on producing Undertaker. She said he has to stand in the middle of the ring in the next hour. Foley said he’ll be there.
-Shawn Michaels came out to his entrance music. He played up being really winded. He told the fans to keep chanting his name because he needs to catch his breath. He said he has to say he has missed the fans, especially at this time of year. “In January, things just start to pick up a little bit,” he said. “It might have something to do with the Royal Rumble being just down the road.” He said he has a lot of memories of the Rumble, and this year it happens to be in his hometown of San Antonio, Tex. He talked about how some people weren’t born when the Rumble last happened in San Antonio 20 years ago. He said he’s more comfortable on the outside looking in when you look at that stacked list of big wrestlers. Fans chanted, “One more match!” He said: “Don’t you try to pressure me.” He said he’s going to set an example of standing up to peer pressure.
He said he was there to talk about his new movie. He told them not to give him a hard time about plugging something. He said a week from Friday, everyone should go see him do his first acting in a movie. He was interrupted by Rusev, Lana, and Jinder Mahal. Rusev said for the movie to be successful, he should put Lana in it. Shawn said the movie already has been made and edited. “They can’t just put somebody in it when it’s already been done.” Rusev said he doesn’t care. He said they should just use “your stupid CGI” to put Lana in it. Michaels said CGI doesn’t really work that way.
The crowd chanted “Sweet Chin Music.” Rusev stopped and said, “What? He doesn’t do that anymore.” Michaels asked if he could get that big heavy leg up that high. Rusev said probably not, but that’s beside the point. Rusev smiled and said he’s the Bulgarian George Clooney. He said Lana is more beautiful than Emma Stone and she should have won a Golden Globe. He spun Lana around. Michaels said it makes him uncomfortable when he talks about Golden Globes while spinning his wife around. Rusev said it must be an American joke because he doesn’t get it. He said he wants his wife in the movie because without her, the movie will fail and everyone will forget about it, just like his career. Big Cass’s music played. The crowd popped. Enzo rolled out in a wheelchair with him.
Enzo did some of the usual mic work and then they both entered the ring. Enzo said normally he doesn’t normally do this, but the realist guy in the ring is Shawn Michaels. Enzo asked, “What’ve we got over here?” Michaels said the kids call them “haters.” Enzo said Lana is a phenomenal actress because she has to wake up every morning next to Rusev and act like she’s not repulsed. Cass suggested Rusev could be in “40 Year Old Virgin” or they could both be in “Beauty and the Beast” along with a few other movie titles, including a penis play on words when he said, “The Pianist.” Michaels and Enzo were confused. Cass explained he was referencing a guy who plays the piano. Michaels said he’d like to join in with a joke of his own: “Dumb and Dumber.” Rusev said, “Okay, that’s enough you American pigs.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I think Rusev was onto something there. They were just all standing there being dicks, no pun intended.)
Cass said if he has a problem, they can solve it in the ring tonight. Rusev then volunteered Jinder Mahal. Cass said he thinks he, Enzo, and HBK have proven there’s only one word to describe them – S-A-W-F-T. Michaels said he’d be staying out at ringside during the match, and if you’re down with that, he’s got two words for them. He held up the mic and the fans finished with “Suck it!” [c]
(3) BIG CASS vs. JINDER MAHAL
Rusev distracted Cass, giving Jinder an opening to hit him from behind. Just as Graves said what Rusev did was legal because he never touched him, Michaels gave Rusev his Sweet Chin Music. Cole said, “He’s still got it!” Cass then gave Jinder a very awkward bodyslam. Cass then followed with the Empire Elbow for the pin. Michaels and Enzo celebrated with Cass afterward. Enzo wasn’t putting any weight on his left leg.
WINNER: Cass in 4:00.
-They went to the announcers on camera as Michaels’s music played in the background. They recapped the angle with Strowman, Jericho, Owens, and Seth earlier. [c]
-Another “The Makeover of Emmalina” vignette aired. She said everyone has waited so long, but she promised it would be worth the wait. “Premiering Soon,” said the graphic. Graves said he’s not a patient man, but he’ll learn it for Emmalina.
(4) NEVILLE vs. LINCE DORADO
Aries again joined Cole and Graves on commentary. Graves said Neville is as dominant as anyone in WWE lately. Neville won with the Rings of Saturn. Neville held on after Dorado tapped out.
WINNER: Neville in 3:00.
-Neville attacked Dorado after the match. Rich Swann made the save.
-They went to the announcers. Cole asked if the rumors were true that Undertaker would be on Raw. He said Foley had about 30 minutes to produce for Stephanie. Graves said he hopes for Foley’s sake that Taker shows up or his Performance Review will be terrible. Cole threw to a video package on Edge, a former Royal Rumble winner. [c]
-Backstage a guy was positioning a fake tree that looked like something I had in my living room in 2003. Steph told him to just get rid of it. She was taking notes when Sasha and Bayley walked in. Sasha said she wants Charlotte and Nia next week. Steph told her to take the bass out of her voice because “the only boss in this room is me.” Sasha got in Steph’s face, thankfully. Bayley pushed them apart. Bayley called her Steph. Stephanie told her to refer to her as “Mrs. McMahon.” She said Bayley should be happy she gets to keep her title match against Charlotte at the Rumble after what Sasha did last week. Stephanie said their match isn’t next week, it’s tonight, even though Sasha isn’t 100 percent. “Take it or leave it,” Steph said. “Now get the hell out of my office.”
(5) LUKE GALLOWS vs. SHEMAUS (w/Cesaro)
Karl Anderson joined the announcers on commentary. Cesaro crashed the announce table. Anderson protested. They cut to a break at 3:00. [c]
Sheamus slammed Gallows at 9:00 for a two count. Not a lot of crowd noise for this. Anderson attacked Sheamus on the stage. Sheamus was distracted, giving Gallows the opening to go for a pin on Sheamus, but Sheamus kicked out. Cesaro made a comeback and attempted a Cesaro Swing. Anderson escaped. Sheamus then surprised Gallows with a Brogue Kick for the win.
WINNER: Sheamus in 10:00.
-A Smackdown commercial aired hyping Cena vs. Corbin. [c]
-An NXT commercial aired.
-They went to Charly backstage who interviewed Reigns. She asked if he was prepared for his U.S. Title defense later tonight. Reigns said regardless of how he feels, he has an obligation to defend his title night after night, “why would it be any different tonight.” He said he is going to spear their guts out and stand tall with is U.S. Title belt held over his head.
-Foley stood mid-ring. He said he and Undertaker have travelled “quite literally to the depths of hell together.” He said he has wounds that he will carry with great pride to his grave. He called on Undertaker for one more encounter right here on Raw. As he began to reminisce about Paul Bearer, the lights went dark. But rather than Undertaker’s music, Steph’s played. She apologized to the Raw audience for Foley’s failure to produce Undertaker. She brought her corporate clipboard with her. She said he has given her no choice but to give Foley his performance review publicly right there in the ring. She acknowledged Foley has had a number of successes, such as Sheamus & Cesaro as a team, the first-ever Women’s Hell in a Cell, and Jericho in Shark Cage. She said for every good decision, there are two steps back. She cited that he put the entire Cruiserweight Division on the line at Survivor Series and put his personal feelings in the way of Sami Zayn. She said she trusted him because he asked her to, but what does he have to say for himself. Foley said he wanted her know how sorry he was. Then Undertaker’s bell sounded and the lights began to flicker.
Taker made his way to the ring. An “Un-der-taker!” chant broke out. He said he is back and he is entering the Royal Rumble this year. They showed Strowman watching on a monitor backstage. A “Yes!” chant broke out. “I answer to no one and I go where I want, when I want,” he said. “Nobody controls the Undertaker.” He sounds like HBK meets Clint Eastwood. He walked over to Steph and said, “No one.” He said he has returned to the city where he suffered his most devastating loss and The Streak came to its demise. He said his journey continues at the Royal Rumble. “I’ve dug 29 holes for 29 souls, and I will bring the dark side to the Royal Rumble match.” He said after he wins, he will return to the main event at WrestleMania. He said if anyone stands in his way, they will… the crowd finished it: “Rest in peace.” Undertaker then said it himself. Cole called it a blockbuster announcement. [c]
-A commercial aired for Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar on “205 Live.”
-Charly interviewed Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. She asked about whether they were excited for Undertaker entering the Royal Rumble. Owens asked her, calling her a “random stranger,” if she was excited about all of the interruptions of the Kevin Owens Show last week. He said Reigns will suffer when they take his U.S. Title tonight. Owens turned to Jericho and said, “Chris, you say things now.” Jericho said after they beat “that stupid idiot Roman Reigns” tonight, they’ll become U.S. Champion. He said the U.S. has a champion they’re ashamed and embarrassed of. He called themselves international treasures. “Maybe it’s time for two Canadians to now be the Face of America and be the Face of Raw.”
(6) CHARLOTTE & NIA JAX vs. SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY
In a subtle hint of what’s to come down the line, Sasha and Bayley had trouble agreeing on who would start. Sasha started against Charlotte. They cut to an early break. [c]
Back from the break, Bayley had control of Charlotte. In the end, Charlotte blind tagged in Jax, but Bayley didn’t realize it. Jax entered and blindsided Bayley, then finished her with a legdrop.
WINNERS: Jax & Charlotte in 10:00.
-Noam Dar was fixing his hair in a mirror backstage. Alicia Fox walked up behind him. He smiled and said he assumed she was there to slap him again. “Make it a good one,” he said. Instead, she tipped him over and kissed him on the lips. Dar stood up and seemed ready to faint. Alicia said, “Cedric was right. You can’t handle a real woman.” Dar had lipstick all over his face and couldn’t hold back his smile.
-The New Day made their ring entrance. [c]
-Back from the break, Titus O’Neal was in the ring with New Day. He wanted a second chance. Kofi said they did research and found footage that shows Titus is most often like a bull in a China shop. They showed footage of Titus in 2010 on NXT of him stumbling during a physical challenge of carrying a keg and fans laughing at him. They replayed it over and over to make a big joke of it. Big E said that looked like a commercial for “Life Alert.” He said Titus was like the old lady who said, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Then Kofi produced a keg for Titus to carry. Kofi said it was filled to the brim with Booty Juice. “Booty Juice, it makes sure your throat is loose,” they said, giggling in self-satisfaction. Titus had 12.7 seconds to carry it around the ring and cross the finish line. He lifted it and carried it around the ring. He did so with 0.6 seconds to spare. But the ref said he dropped the keg right before crossing the finish line. Kofi then offered to air the replay since Titus was protesting. Kofi asked the crowd if they wanted to see him put a whopping’ on Titus. Some cheers, but many just seemed befuddled by this. [c]
(7) TITUS O’NEAL vs. KOFI KINGSTON (w/Big E, Xavier Woods)
WINNER: Kofi with a Trouble in Paradise. [c]
-The announcers hyped Rich Swann vs. Tony Nese on “205 Live” and Noam Dar vs. Cedric. Cole said Brock Lesnar would return to Raw for the first time since his “humiliating defeat” to Goldberg at Survivor Series.
(8) ROMAN REIGNS vs. KEVIN OWENS and CHRIS JERICHO – U.S. Title match
Reigns came out to boos. Reigns went after Jericho and Owens on the ramp. The heels doubled on Reigns and threw him into the ring. They settled into offense for a while, including a Jericho chinlock.
Saxton described Reigns’s offense as “explosively dynamic.” I can just hear Vince McMahon feeding him that line in his ear with all kinds of enthusiasm. Graves asked how much Reigns could have left. He complimented his iron will. Owens gave Reigns a nasty-looking powerbomb on the ring apron at ringside. That got a “holy sh–” chant. Owens and Jericho psyched each other up, then went over to Reigns and threw him into the ring. He was practically dead weight and it took a lot of effort. When they continued to beat on Reigns, Graves told everyone to “drink it in.” He pointed out it’s well within the rules. Cole astutely noted they’re supposed to be tagging in and out. Jericho hit the Code Breaker and got the win.
WINNER: Jericho to win the U.S. Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Vince McMahon wasn’t going to let Reigns lose a one-on-one match before whatever is next for him. This should worry those who don’t want to see Reigns beat Owens for the Universal Title at the end of the month.)