WWE Raw Report CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 1/19: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - final Rumble hype, big "Legends Reunion" theme, Brock Lesnar, Bryan's Raw in-ring return, more
Jan 19, 2015 - 10:02:46 PM
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WWE Raw TV Results
January 19, 2015 - Episode #1,129
Episode #3 of 2015
Live in Dallas, Tex.
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
- The Card: final Royal Rumble PPV hype, Legends Reunion theme, WWE World Hvt. champion Brock Lesnar advertised, Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt, a Rumble Legends panel of Ric Flair & Hulk Hogan & Shawn Michaels, IC champion Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose in a non-title match, and more.
Live Raw on USA Network
WWE Raw opened with the annual tribute video package on Martin Luther King, Jr. on MLK Day. Included were still photos of Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Condoleezza Rice, and Nelson Mandela, then jesse Owens, Thurgood Marshall, Muhammad Ali, and Barack Obama. Raw went to a live shot of Michael Cole, JBL, and Booker T standing up at the announce table applauding the video.
The standard Raw intro video played before WWE returned to the arena for full pyro and fireworks. Cole noted they are six days away from the Royal Rumble and sold out at the American Airlines Center. Cole hyped the big list of Legends scheduled for Raw Reunion.
After a pause, Brock Lesnar's music played to bring out the WWE World Hvt. champion flanked by Paul Heyman. Cole said Lesnar has been stewing all day and he's ready to explode. In the ring, Lesnar paced around while Heyman tried to keep him calm.
Heyman spoke first. He tried to introduce himself, but Lesnar took the mic and said he wants to fight and kick Seth Rollins's ass. Lesnar said when he shows up, he's here to fight. In the past, this would have been a heel line with Lesnar bailing from the ring to prove he doesn't really want to fight, but Lesnar is in-between right now, so it came across like a babyface line wanting to fight.
Instead, Triple H's music played to bring out Hunter to discuss matters with Lesnar. From ringside, Hunter said he understands why Lesnar is upset. "Seth Rollins embarrassed you last week," Hunter said, drawing a smirk from Lesnar. Hunter, now in the ring, said maybe they should all just calm down, go to the back, get Lesnar a big juicy steak, and he and Paul will talk this out like businessmen. Heyman told Brock that Hunter is trying to be reasonable.
"Are you here to fix this, or are you here to fight?" Lesnar asked Hunter. Heyman tried to calm down Lesnar, telling him he's the one who pays the bills. "Calm down!" Paul shouted at Brock. Suddenly, Stephanie McMahon's music played. Steph marched down to the ring with Kane in a suit and Big Show dressed to wrestle. Steph told everyone to calm down and be businessmen.
In the ring, Steph said they need to think about this. Everyone kind of circled around the ring as Lesnar sold not trusting The Authority. Suddenly, Seth Rollins spoke from the video screen. "Brock, Brock, Brock," he said annoyingly. Seth said Brock is always two steps behind. He vowed to take Brock's WWE Title at the Royal Rumble. Paul responded that the adults are talking here. He turned to Hunter to tell him to get a leash on his puppy, otherwise Brock will fix this and there will be a pile of bodies in this ring. Heyman said if he doesn't fix this, the spoiler for Sunday is that the winner and still reigning, defending, WWE champion is ---
John Cena's music interrupted to bring out Cena in a new light blue color scheme t-shirt and cap. Cena told Paul not to spoil anything, and for Seth to shut up. Cena said they've already signed a contract and kicked the crap out of each other, but he came out here to talk to The Authority. Cena said they schemed this big plan to get rid of him, but it hasn't worked, because everything they say and do lights a fire in him like he's never had before. "I will never give up!" he said. He vowed to take that fire to the Rumble and say, "The Champ is here!"
[Q2] Cena brought up The Authority firing three Superstars, and then blaming it on him. He said he would do anything to get them back. He called Steph and Hunter two big pile of ashes. He told Dallas that they're the world's two biggest ash-holes. Cena's music played, but Steph cut it off and called her pupil back to the principal's office. Steph said this is truly the turning point for Cena's career because he used to overcome all of the odds and win at the end of the day. But, that's not who he is today.
Steph said Cena personally lied to each and every one of them by bringing The Authority back. Steph said Cena can make all of his corny little jokes, but they are here because of Cena. Steph claimed that Cena is single-handedly responsible for all three wrestlers (Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback) getting fired. She saved her final comment for Cena not being the man he used to be anymore. From the video screen, Seth said Cena's a loser and a failure. He said no one wants to cheer a loser. And, everyone knows that Cena is a failure except for John Cena. He said he can agree with Brock that Cena's time is up, so he should remove himself from the Royal Rumble.
Cena responded by mocking Seth for stumbling over his lines, then vowed to find him wherever he's hiding in the building and beat him up. Cena vowed to earn respect at the Rumble when he wins the title. He then proposed they sweeten the pot for the Rumble: when he wins at the Rumble, The Authority has to give Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback their jobs back.
Hunter polled the crowd. He said it does seem like the audience is very interested in that, but the problem is he gave them an opportunity to get their jobs back, but he failed. Boos. Hunter said he's inclined to make this happen, but Cena has to put something on the line. Tonight, Cena has a match. If he wins, all three men will get their job back. But, if Cena loses, not only are all three men still fired, but he gives up his spot in the WWE Title match. Hunter told Cena to put his money where his mouth is. Cena thought it over to build the drama, then Steph reminded Cena that he would do anything for his friends. Steph asked if he's all talk. Cena prepared to talk, but Hunter cut him off and said they're going to put it up to the audience. Do they want to see Cena fight and put it on the line, or do they think Cena is a failure? The crowd wasn't quite sure what they were voting on and Cena stood on the entrance ramp thinking things over as the segment ended.
[ Reax: Such an unnecessarily long, long segment to get to a weird App vote question. It's just not possible to have a talking segment go this long with so many boorish personalities in the mix and keep the ball in the air in compelling fashion. At some point, the ball is going to hit the ground and someone has to throw it back in the air to start over and re-build momentum. At the end of the day, you're not even sure what was agreed on for tonight and the Rumble after 20 minutes of talking to book-end Brock's opening declaration that he just wanted to fight. ]
Up Next: Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt.
[Commercial Break at 8:23]
Back from break, Bray Wyatt was completing his ring entrance. Daniel Bryan then made his ring entrance to loud "Yes!" chants as Cole plugged Bryan making his Raw in-ring return tonight after eight months on the sidelines. Cole added that Bryan also has to face Kane this Thursday on Smackdown.
1 -- DANIEL BRYAN vs. BRAY WYATT
Bryan took control early on, then knocked Bray out of the ring to the floor. Bryan followed with a big splash down onto Bray. Suddenly, Kane's music played. Kane walked out on-stage still dressed in his corporate suit. Kane stared down Bryan as Raw cut to break.
[Q3] [Commercial Break at 8:30]
Back from break, Bray chucked Bryan into the barricade on the outside. Bray took control back in the ring, targeting Bryan's neck/shoulder. Meanwhile, the announcers talked about Bryan trying to make it to the Rumble having to survive Bray tonight and Kane on Thursday. "Yes!" chants rallied Bryan, who elbowed out of a headlock until running into a big clothesline. Suddenly, they cut to a second mid-match commercial with Bray in control.
[Commercial Break at 8:38]
Back from break, Bray was still in control working on Bryan's neck. But, Bryan caught Wyatt in the corner and delivered a big running clothesline. Rapid-fire "Yes!" kicks followed. Then, a top-rope Frankensteiner for a two count. Bryan followed with left-foot kicks to the chest. One after another. Big wind-up, but Bray ducked the kick and Bryan dumped him to the outside. Bryan followed with a flying suicide dive to the outside.
[Q4] As Bryan returned to the ring, Kane yanked him down on the ring apron behind the ref's back. Bryan then took a corner attack from Wyatt, who followed with Sister Abigail. Bray covered Bryan for the win. The crowd was hushed, sounding dejected as if watching a returning star QB throw three INTs and get blown out in his first game back from injury.
Post-match, Kane attacked Bryan in the ring, delivering a chokeslam before ripping off his suit jacket. Kane pounded away on Bryan, then paused before pounding away on him again. An older man on the front row looked like he was ready to hop the guardrail and get after Kane. Kane left the ring as Bryan sold pain.
WINNER: Wyatt at 16:13. This was a "tell" that either (a) WWE management does not see match outcomes as important or (b) Daniel Bryan is not a big-enough deal to be protected, as the announcers would have been produced to spend a good amount of time discussing what this means for Bryan's comeback. Yes, Kane interfered, but did Bryan return too soon? Is he rusty? Does he have the 2014 magic? Is this the beginning of the end? Almost like how the Patriots's season started with a rough start and blow-out Monday Night Football loss, setting up questions of whether the Patriots's dynasty is over, if Tom Brady is over the hill, etc. Then, it set up the big rally that answered all the questions with the Patriots back in the Super Bowl. The way WWE handled it was like the match is over, they move on, and the audience is left with a helpless feeling of why did Bryan lose? Or, from an insider perspective, why did WWE have Bryan lose his first Raw TV match back from injury?
Graphic: Text almost comically filled the entire screen plugging the Yes/No App Vote with the over-complicated Cena question. Cole then read a tweet from Dolph Ziggler. Speaking of "tells," Ziggler is fired, right?
Still to come: Hogan, Flair, and Michaels on a Royal Rumble Panel.
[Commercial Break at 8:49]
Back from break, Cole read a tweet from another "fired" star, Erick Rowan.
Backstage: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, in NWO t-shirts, walked up to Triple H to talk about old times. Shawn Michaels, in hunting gear, approached Hunter to tell him to get out of the Vince, Jr. suit, get on the Legends panel, or hire back Cena's buddies so they can mess around with them. Hunter retorted by saying he doesn't go to Michaels's workplace and criticize him for shooting "defenseless animals." Michaels laughed in his face, then Fake X-Pac walked in doing crotch chops left and right. It was Damien Sandow doing Sean Waltman's bit, then the real Waltman/X-Pac walked in to do an imitation game with Sandow. The Miz walked in to take exception to Waltman using his stunt double, then sent Sandow away to get dressed. Miz tried to get some too-sweets, but Hunter, HBK, Hall, Nash, and Waltman no-sold. Nash casually asked Hunter what kind of show he's running, then Hunter hung his head in shame.
Up Next: Legends Panel.
[Commercial Break at 8:56]
Earlier Tonight: WWE replayed Triple H posing an App question to John Cena of whether Cena will fight to get Ziggler, Ryback, and Rowan their jobs back, or whether the audience has lost faith in Cena's ability to fight. Cole then read another tweet from a "fired" star, Ryback.
[Q5 -- second hour] Backstage: John Cena was standing by with Renee Young for a fake conversation as they await the App vote results.
In-ring: Byron Saxton was standing by to introduce the Royal Rumble Legends Panel. Out first was Hulk Hogan dressed in red & yellow Hulkamania colors. Next out was "Nature Boy" Ric Flair dressed in a suit. JBL hyped Flair's matches against the Von Erichs 30 years ago down the road at Texas Stadium as Saxton opened the ropes for Flair. Out last in his home-state was Shawn Michaels dressed in camo hat, button-down shirt, and cowboy boots.
Once everyone was in the ring, they sat down on stools. It took Michaels a little while, selling being tired from his ring entrance and potentially compromised by tight jeans. Saxton opened things up by asking a question related to the John Cena App vote. Michaels huffed and puffed, then said yes. Flair: no. Hogan: definitely yes.
Saxton asked Flair if winning the 1992 Royal Rumble was the greatest moment of his career. At the moment, it was. They showed photos of Flair winning the WWF Title in the '92 Rumble. Flair stood up and hyped men like Michaels, Hogan, and "Macho Man" Randy Savage in that match.
Michaels was then asked about his Rumble victories. Michaels said it's the epitome of what's in the future. If you win the Rumble, the future is WrestleMania. He said he knows these three men would be nowhere without the Royal Rumble. And, there would be no Mr. WrestleMania without the Rumble.
Hogan was asked for his Rumble memories. Hogan said he remembers the competition in this ring. He said every man was a super-talent fighting his life and you never knew who was coming from behind or down the ramp. Hogan said Hulkamania helped him survive.
Saxton noted there are 22 Rumble winners in history. Who is the pick to win this year? Michaels said he's going for someone who's a little out there and not all there - Bray Wyatt. The crowd booed a bit. Hogan took exception, then Michaels said this is the second time they've done this with Hogan needling him. He went back to Summerslam 2005, talking tough to Hogan. Hogan told him he doesn't want any of this. "Yeah, you're probably right," Michaels comically said before sitting down.
Hogan gave his pick - the underdog Daniel Bryan. The crowd cheered and did some "Yes!" chants, but it was tempered by Bryan's surprise loss earlier in the show. Flair then picked a guy who walks on the wild side, Dean Ambrose, which generated loud cheers.
Big Show's music interrupted to bring out Hogan's old pal. Show said they have three Hall of Famers, three Rumble winners, and three so-called Legends in the ring. But, he doesn't see Legends. The crowd chanted, "You Sold Out," at Show, who shouted back that he did what was best for his family. Hogan responded by telling Show that maybe he didn't hear the crowd, but they don't want him out here anymore. Show told Hogan that it's not his time anymore, so pipe down.
[Q6] Show claimed that all three of them have been a little jealous of him, especially "brother" Hogan. Show reminded Hogan that he beat him for the WCW World Title in his first night. He said that still haunts him. What about you, Flair? Show said Flair put him in the figure-four and he broke free, chokeslammed him, and took him out of his top spot. Flair lightly bounced against the ropes smiling toward Show.
Next, Show ran down Michaels, saying he faded out of the picture. Because he knew that Show would eat him alive. Michaels looked toward Hogan for his reaction before Show called all three of them washed-up hasbeens. Flair's Leo Mazzone-like rocking against the ropes grew in pace as he became agitated by Show's tough talk. Show vowed to win the Rumble, saying no one in the back, not Ambrose, Bryan, Wyatt, Rusev, or Roman Reigns, can eliminate him. Show then told the Legends to leave the ring right now, or else he'll send them back to the old-folks home.
"Are you done?" Flair asked. He removed his jacket and started warming up before giving Show a chop to the chest. A few right hands bounced off Show, then Flair bounced the ropes and walked right into a KO Punch. Flair dropped to the mat, then Show blamed the crowd for Flair taking the KO Punch because they made him do something stupid.
Suddenly, Roman Reigns's music played. Reigns marched down the ring steps toward the ring as Cole called Show a bully making a fool of himself. Reigns hit the ring, checked on the Legends trio, and hit the ring to stand up to Show. Show told him to calm down before something bad happens. Show vowed to KO Reigns. "Now, get out of my damn ring!" he said. Instead, Reigns punched him in the face. Reigns bounced the ropes, walked into a chokeslam grip, slipped out, and clotheslined Show over the top rope to the floor. Show retreated up the entrance ramp to the back as Reigns stood tall in the ring. Meanwhile, medics checked on Ric Flair at ringside. Reigns got in the shot walking to the back with Hogan, Michaels, and an injured Flair.
Backstage: Renee was still standing by with John Cena to look at the App results. To the video monitor, which showed 85 percent "Yes" for Cena fighting tonight. He said some people might have voted "Yes" to put Cena's WWE Title shot at the Royal Rumble on the line tonight and possibly get him out of the match. Or, some might believe he's still capable of fighting and winning tonight. Cena said he wants to fight and he wants the match tonight.
[Commercial Break at 9:23]
Almost 90 minutes into the show, the second match was set to begin...
2 -- IC champion BAD NEWS BARRETT vs. DEAN AMBROSE -- non-title match
Barrett was in the ring back from break, then Ambrose made his ring entrance. Another early break after back-and-forth action.
[Commercial Break at 9:28]
[Q7] Back from break, Barrett was in control working on Ambrose with a headlock. Ambrose made a comeback, then finished off Barrett with Dirty Deeds. This reinforced a pre-Raw conversation between Barrett and Kane on the Network pre-show about The Authority questioning Barrett since capturing the IC Title, citing his loss to Sin Cara two weeks ago on Smackdown.
WINNER: Ambrose at 8:11.
Still to come: Cena faces a mystery opponent.
[Commercial Break at 9:36]
Ringside: Various members of the Dallas Cowboys were shown sitting ringside. JBL said the Cowboys were a correct catch away from making the NFC Championship. He said perhaps they should have deflated the football.
Announcers: Cole, JBL, and Booker hyped the Royal Rumble on WWE Network.
Rumble by the Numbers: The annual video package played running down stats on the historical match. Kane's next record to be broken is total number of wrestlers eliminated, as he is one shy of Shawn Michaels's mark. Also, Triple H has the most total time in the Rumble match.
[Q8] In-ring: New Day's music played to bring out Xavier Woods, Big E., and Kofi doing a rhythmic speech on the way to the ring. Xavier said they're so positive because if the rage comes out, then everyone goes to the hospital. So, they will make sure everyone has a smile on their faces. Xavier and Co. tried to get the audience to sing along heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:47]
Tomorrow night: Santino's Royal Rumble Lottery Spectacular. Cole said Santino will be looking back at past Rumble moments. The title implies focusing on this year's Rumble entrants and perhaps revealing some entry spots, but Cole made it sound like a file footage show.
3 -- NEW DAY (BIG E. & KOFI KINGSTON w/Xavier Woods) vs. TYSON KIDD & CESARO (w/Natalya, Adam Rose, and Rosebuds)
Back from break, the opposing parties were in the ring and ringside. Adam Rose hopped on the ring apron to distract New Day, allowing Cesaro to control Kofi. Cesaro delivered the Big Swing, but Big E. broke up the pin. Kofi then tried to tag out to Big E., but Cesaro hoisted him in the air. Cesaro carried Kofi toward his corner, but Kofi used his athleticism to kick Kidd off the apron, flip over Cesaro, and pin him for a three count.
Post-match, New Day celebrated on the outside while Cesaro sold shock over the result. Meanwhile, Natalya slid into the ring to check on Kidd and the Rosebuds sang and danced with New Day while Rose seethed in the ring.
WINNERS: New Day at 3:02. This was one of those matches where WWE had a chance to hype all of the involved parties having the opportunity of a lifetime to win the Rumble on Sunday, make their career in one night, and get the main event spot at WrestleMania, with this match a chance to build momentum heading into Sunday. A back-story for the mid-card stars linked to the big-time Rumble match would make them seem important, overall, and give the audience a reason to care when their entrances play at the Rumble. As opposed to that familiar sound of silence when some wrestlers are introduced and the audience doesn't care, have a bond with the wrestler, or think they have a chance to win.
Still to come: Cena vs. mystery opponent with Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback potentially re-instated.
Up Next: The NWO is spotlighted via Nash, Hall, and Waltman.
[Commercial Break at 9:55]
Smackdown plug: Daniel Bryan vs. Kane in now a No DQ match. Also, Bryan's Rumble spot is on the line. The announcers did not mention that Bryan's loss earlier in the show makes his Rumble spot seem like it's even more in jeopardy. WWE had Bryan lose tonight, then did not use it to set up the next match. Instead, Booker and JBL were produced to do the "Thursday? Thursday?" marketing of the new night of the week.
[Q9 -- third hour]
At the top of the hour, the NWO theme played to bring out Nash, Hall, and Waltman dressed in black & white NWO t-shirts. In the ring, Hall wanted to take a survey. Did they come for the Raw Reunion? Cheers. Or, the Raw Reunion with the N-W-O? More cheers. Nash took the mic and said the NWO single-handedly created the Monday Night War, which can be seen on WWE Network for $9.99. "You're welcome, Hunter."
Nash took credit for creating "Stone Cold" Steve Austin through the formula of the NWO forcing McMahon to step up his game, which produced Austin, DX, and the Attitude Era. He said the NWO is responsible for everything great that has ever been created, revealing that he's intentionally exaggerating. Waltman then told Dallas, Texas to make a little noise.
Suddenly, The Ascension's music played to bring out Konnor and Viktor. "Oh goodness," JBL said, selling indignation over the duo interrupting the segment. In the ring, Viktor said he sees three old dogs begging to be put out of their misery. Konnor said they're the two to do it. "You suck" chant from the crowd. Nash laughed. Konnor said they were born & bred to rip & shred. Cat-calls from the audience for the one-liner. Viktor claimed that no tag team is better than them. Especially not a team from WCW. The crowd oohed. Viktor said it's their time to rise. "Welcome to the Wasteland." The crowd responded with an "NWO" chant. Hall then threw his toothpick in Konnor's face.
Suddenly, JBL stood up at the announce table, revealing that he was wearing blue jeans and a light blue button-down shirt underneath his jacket. JBL walked around the ring, then noted he thought this might happen. He said he made a phone call to a Legend he knows very well. JBL removed his blue button-down shirt to reveal an APA t-shirt. And out came Ron Simmons to join JBL at ringside to a big reaction. Simmons and JBL embraced, then hit the ring.
Suddenly, the New Age Outlaws's theme played to bring out Road Dogg & Billy Gunn to answer the call. "Wait just a Dallas Cowboys minute," Road Dogg said while sporting a Cowboys t-shirt. Dogg hit the ring with Gunn as all four teams jockeyed for space in the ring. Dogg asked Dallas who invited the jackasses to this segment. Dogg and Gunn roughed up The Ascension, then cleared Konnor from the ring. JBL warmed up his shoulder as if he were warming up in the bullpen, then smashed Viktor with the Clothesline from Hell. The NWO then posed over Konnor as Waltman removed his NWO t-shirt to reveal a DX shirt. NWO music on the way out.
So, Ascension got a rub standing in the ring with three teams that WWE has identified as "legends" to their audience, Ascension was put in their place as the next mid-level heel tag team trading wins & losses with Los Matadores for eight months, or they just got wiped back to NXT? We'll see.
Backstage: The Authority was shown looking at their phone. Steph showed Hunter some tweets or photos or texts or other items of note on her phone as Cole plugged the announcement of Cena's opponent next.
[Commercial Break at 10:11]
Backstage: Triple H and Steph faced the camera. Hunter talked about some sort of mystery video where wrestlers speculated on who Cena will face tonight. Steph asked for a drumroll, then a man appeared ringside with a drum. The drumroll was too loud, so Steph told him to quiet it. So, Cena will face Seth Rollins. The drummer stopped. Why did you stop? More drumroll ... and Big Show. More drumroll ... and Kane. The drummer kept going, so The Authority fired him for not stopping this time. Another man came in and played Taps to signal the end of Cena's career tonight.
[Q10] Ringside: The Bellas joined the announce trio for commentary on the next match...
4 -- PAIGE & NATALYA vs. ALICIA FOX & SUMMER RAE
As the bell sounded, Cole announced that it will be the Bellas vs. Paige & Natalya at the Royal Rumble on Sunday. Nikki said she doesn't understand the relationship, evaluating the booking of the entire Divas division without trying to. In the ring, Paige and Natalya worked together, ending the match with Paige submitting A. Fox for the win. Afterward, they posed on the ropes toward the Bellas, who sold confidence heading into the Rumble.
WINNERS: Paige & Natalya via submission at 3:02.
Still to come: Cena vs. Rollins, Show, and Kane in a handicap match. JBL said Cena has no chance tonight.
[Commercial Break at 10:20]
Rumble Kick-off: New Day vs. Cesaro & Kidd & Adam Rose in a six-man tag match. On the pre-show panel, it's Renee Young, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves, and Booker T.
In-ring: U.S. champion Rusev was standing by with Lana. Before they could speak, R-Truth's music played to bring out Truth rapping down to the ring. Truth kept rapping in the ring, drawing an annoyed speed-it-up finger motion from Rusev. Truth then addressed Rusev, saying every red-blooded American WWE Superstar is coming for him in the Rumble match on Sunday.
5 -- U.S. champion RUSEV (w/Lana) vs. R-TRUTH -- non-title match
The bell sounded and Truth quickly dropkicked Rusev over the top rope to the floor. Cole said if that happens on Sunday, Rusev will be eliminated from the Rumble match. Rusev angrily returned to the ring and kicked Truth to the mat before slapping on The Accolade. Truth tapped.
WINNER: Rusev via submission at 0:45. Refreshingly, a match that was directly tied to the Rumble match, complete with a talking point on commentary.
Announcers: Cole and Co. discussed some tweets from Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback. Ziggler had the eye-rolling comment about Hunter "terra-ryzing" the roster, playing to insider fans.
Backstage: Seth Rollins was shown confidently walking down the hallway with J&J Security. Seth was stopped in the hallway by Brock Lesnar, who vowed to take out Rollins when it's just them one-on-one at the Royal Rumble if Cena loses tonight. Brock walked off, then Seth gulped and sold concern heading to break. As opposed to instantly going back to over-confidence blowing off Brock's comments.
[Q11] [Commercial Break at 10:30]
In-ring: WWE tag champions The Usos were randomly in the ring back from break. Cole announced a Tag Title match of Usos vs. The Miz & Damien Sandow at the Rumble PPV. Miz and Sandow were in the ring standing at attention waiting for something to happen. Or, for their inset promo to air.
6 -- WWE tag champion JEY USO (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. THE MIZ (w/Damien Sandow)
As the bell sounded, Cole refreshingly talked up the Rumble being a chance to define your legacy and make your career, so what will happen if it's down to Sandow and Miz? Will Sandow give way to Miz? Booker answered by saying there's no way the Rumble comes down to Miz and Sandow. In the ring, Miz worked over Uso as some of the audience chanted for Sandow. Uso came back with a superkick in the corner before coming off the top with a Superfly Splash for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Jey Uso at 2:55.
Announcers: Cole, JBL, and Booker hyped the Rumble PPV price tag on the Network vs. cable PPV. Cole then rhetorically asked if Cena will be part of the Rumble on Sunday.
Earlier Tonight: They cut backstage to Hulk Hogan saying things will only get better for Cena. Hogan tried to be an optimist by presenting a viewpoint that Cena doesn't have the WWE Title and his buddies currently do not have jobs, so he has nowhere else to go but up. More power to Hogan if his argument made sense to him.
[Commercial Break at 10:41]
Rumble announcement: New Age Outlaws have another booking. They face The Ascension on Sunday. Don't remind the Rhodes Bros. what happened to them when they were in a program with the Outlaws this time last year and dropped the Tag Titles at last year's Rumble. Now, Goldust & Cody are losing to Los Matadores regularly on Superstars. (By the way, it's unfortunate that Los Matadores are the lowest rung of the tag team ladder in WWE. They deserve better.)
[Q12] In-ring: The Authority was in the ring and ringside back from break. Seth Rollins confidently stood in the ring taunting John Cena to come on out if he dares. After a pause, Cena's music played to bring out WWE's top star. Cole noted Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback can win back their jobs and enter the Rumble if Cena wins tonight. JBL told them not to make travel plans.
7 -- JOHN CENA vs. SETH ROLLINS & BIG SHOW & KANE (w/Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and J&J Security) -- handicap match -- Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan get their jobs back if Cena wins
Show started things off against Cena, rocking him around the ring. Seth tagged in and briefly controlled the action before Cena fought back and knocked Seth to the outside. Seth quickly tagged in Kane, who smacked Cena right in the face. More heel work, Cena in trouble, and Hunter & Steph enjoying Cena's beating as Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:50]
Back from break, Seth was working over Cena. On commentary, Cole noted Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback must be watching this match closely from home hoping for Cena to make a rally. Show tagged in and wanted a big corner splash, but Cena rolled out of the way in time. Show then tagged out to Seth, who missed a top-rope move.
Cena with the shoulder tackle, another, sit-out slam, and Five Knuckle Shuffle set-up to Seth. You Can't See Me to Hunter, then the Shuffle to Seth. J&J Security hit the ring, were cleared, and Seth rolled up Cena from behind for a close two count. Immediate sidekick from Seth for another two count. Very quick sequence.
After a reset, Seth tried to charge Cena, but Cena avoided and hit the AA on Seth. Cena covered Seth, but Kane yanked Cena out of the ring. Kane smashed Cena with the ring steps, then the ref started a ten count as Cole called this ridiculous and Hunter & Steph mocked Cena as they stood over him. Hunter counted to eight, then nine, and Cena jumped back into the ring just before ten.
Back in the ring, Kane chokeslammed Cena. Seth then tagged in and prepared to finish Cena, but Sting appeared on the video screen, popping the crowd. JBL tried to calm everyone down by saying it's just a picture of Sting. Suddenly, The Crow music played and Sting walked out on-stage dressed in a Wolfpack-themed red & black trench coat, appearing in the flesh on Raw for the first time. As the lights dimmed for Sting's entrance, Cena rolled up Seth from behind for a three count.
WINNER: Cena a 13:35 to win back the jobs of Ziggler, Ryback, and Rowan.
Post-match: Cena jumped into the crowd and embraced a kid on the front row. Big moment for that kid. Cena continued to celebrate in the crowd as Sting stood on the entrance ramp looking toward the ring. Cena took a victory lap around ringside as the crowd did Daniel Bryan's "Yes!" chant. Hunter then grabbed a mic and shouted, "No!" He said this cannot happen and Sting does not belong here. No more footage of Sting.
[Q13 -- over-run] Brock Lesnar's music played and Brock marched out with Paul Heyman. Brock, who opened the show saying he wants a fight, hit the ring and immediately tackled Seth to the mat. Big Show tried to get Lesnar, but Lesnar cut him off and dropped Kane with an F5. Lesnar then hoisted Show into the air and gave him an F5, too.
As the crowd cheered for Lesnar taking out The Authority's top wrestling heels, Seth ran away to the back with J&J Security, completing Lesnar's interesting shift from bully heel to tweener taken advantage of by The Authority to semi-babyface with a shady past who ended The Streak but fulfilled his promise to fight. Cole excitedly said the WWE Title match and the Rumble match are all on WWE Network this Sunday. Raw signed off just two minutes past the top of the hour, one of the shortest over-runs in years.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The best and worst of WWE TV programming tonight. Some really big moments and appearances to build toward the Rumble and WrestleMania, but also long-term booking issues coming into play, such as the majority of matches feeling inconsequential, or at least not taking advantage of what matches can mean for building stars, bonding wrestlers to the audience, and, in this case, setting up a reason to care for certain wrestlers trying to make their career in the Rumble match.
Overall, the main focus was on the WWE Title match at the Rumble PPV, but there is the Rumble match, itself. They made viewers think it won't be Daniel Bryan's night based on his surprising TV loss tonight, they reinforced Roman Reigns as a favorite, and they gave half-attention to some other stars, such as Rusev. There is the wild card of Randy Orton - does he return in the Rumble match, or get involved in the WWE Title match to neutralize Seth Rollins, who took him out weeks ago, per Triple H's orders?
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