KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 23, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They opened with a highlight video package of Kevin Owens beating up Roman Reigns in recent weeks with power bombs through tables and against ring aprons.
-Roman Reigns made his ring entrance. Boos. Sound suddenly drops, but the director finds pro-Roman signs. Cole hyped Owens defending the Universal Title against Reigns on Sunday at the Royal Rumble with Chris Jericho locked in a cage above the ring. When Reigns looked at the crowd before entering, another surge of boos. The director promptly found an “I Love Roman Reigns” sign and a cardboard cutout of Reigns’s image. The music stopped and Reigns circled the shark cage that was in the ring. He said in six days there will be over 40,000 people going nuts in Alamo Dome, and Jericho will be in the middle of that storm locked inside the shark cage. He said that means he’s one-on-one with Owens, and therefore he’ll be holding the Universal Title “over my head, baby.” He was suddenly interrupted by Owens’ music. Reigns acted surprised.
A “Y2J” broke out as Owens paused before speaking from the stage. Owens said Reigns sounds quite delusional to him. He said he seems confused, but maybe that’s because he got powerbombed on the edge of the ring apron. He said Reigns has been powerbombing people for years, but how many people can say they single-handedly powerbombed Reigns through an announce table. He said only one person has done that. “And I am the one!” Owens declared. Reigns said he’ll be the one who’s about to get whopped in front of the whole world and his best friend. Reigns did a shoulder shrug to show he was ready for a fight.
Jericho predicted he is a stupid idiot. The crowd popped. He said it was hilarious when he gave Reigns a Code Breaker and captured his U.S. Title. He said he’ll be hanging from the top of the Alamo Dome on Sunday “like a very sexy piñata.” He said there is nothing stopping him right now from knocking those pearly white chiclets down his throat. Reigns asked if he just gave him a rematch. He asked the crowd. Jericho shook his head no, beginning to panic a bit. The Reigns fans cheered and chanted “Yes!” Reigns told Jericho to come teach him a lesson during the U.S. Title rematch tonight.
Owens laughed and said he’s got the rematch. Jericho was not happy. Owens said he has almost a psychic vision that Reigns will be locked inside the shark cage by the end of the night. Reigns said he has a feeling he’s going to win the U.S. Title tonight in Cleveland and also beat him for the Universal Title at the Rumble. Reigns said he is “the guy,” something Owens will “never be around here.” Some boos for that, of course. Cole said it’s up to Mick Foley to make the rematch official.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was paint-by-numbers fine. Reigns was Reigns, minus any silly one-liners that blew up in his face. Owens connived to put Jericho in a match that could serve him, in the sense that it weakens Reigns before Sunday, but Owens likely plans to interfere on Jericho’s behalf and can claim he was just confident that Jericho can beat him anyway.)
-A commercial aired hyping the NXT Takeover: San Antonio line-up with a focus on Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Robert Roode for the NXT Title in the main event. [c]
-They replayed the apparent WWE Raw Tag Team Title win by Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson over Sheamus & Cesaro last week, only to be overturned by the original referee. Cole said they said they were cheated out of the tag titles, and proved they can beat Sheamus & Cesaro. Cole announced that as a result of last week’s controversy, a tag team title rematch will take place at the Royal Rumble next Sunday during the Kickoff Show with two referees assigned to the match.
(1) LUKE GALLOWS (w/Karl Anderson) vs. CESARO (w/Sheamus)
Cesaro powered Gallows over with a salto suplex. Gallows didn’t cooperate in order to show off Cesaro’s brute strength, although it’s strange that Cesaro legitimately struggling to do a move is seen as making him look stronger than when the opponent cooperates and “makes it look easy.” They cut to an early break a minute in. [c]
During the break Sheamus chased Anderson to the back after Anderson interfered. Gallows took advantage and took control of Cesaro. At 6:00 Cesaro signaled for the Cesaro Swing. Gallows wiggled free and rolled to the floor. He saw Sheamus and shoved him. Sheamus held back on striking back as the ref warned him. Cesaro then gave Gallows a boot to knock him to the floor. Sheamus then clotheslined Gallows at ringside. Cole said that’s why there are two referees on Sunday. Saxton called it good teamwork. Graves said turnabout is fair play. Anderson returned to ringside and dropkicked Sheamus into the ring apron and distracted the ref as Gallows was tapping out to Sheamus. The ref didn’t see it, distracted by Anderson. When Cesaro got up, Gallows caught him with a boot to the face and then face planted him for the win.
WINNER: Gallows in 8:30.
-Backstage Foley talked with Stephanie McMahon on a speaker phone. He said tonight has the makings of a great Raw. He pitched Jericho vs. Reigns in a U.S. Title rematch. Steph asked why. Foley said they needed a rematch. Sami Zayn barged in and asked Foley how he should go about announcing his entrance into the Rumble match. Foley said he is just in, but Steph interrupted and said that’s not how it works. She said he has to earn it by beating Seth Rollins. [c]
-They went to the announcers on camera. Saxton excitedly said Reigns could be a dual champion by Sunday if he wins tonight and on Sunday. Graves said he sat down with Bayley earlier to talk about her title match on Sunday. He said he gained new respect for her.
-A sit-down promo aired with Bayley. He asked how she felt about wrestling for the WWE Raw Women’s Title on Sunday. She said, “Wow!” She said it still gives her goosebumps. He asked why she thinks Charlotte is using her lifelong fandom as a negative. Bayley said that’s what got her in the chair she’s in today and her title shot on Sunday. She said she remembers the feelings of being on the other side of the barricade and if “a Superstar” pointed at her, it made her night. She said she gets excited backstage, but once she walks through the curtain, the Bayley Buddies come up and the crowd gives her energy “and they make me feel like I can do anything.” Graves asked if that includes beating Charlotte for the title. Bayley said a lot of people don’t think she can do it. She said they trained together for years at the Performance Center and Charlotte looks like she was born inside the ring. She said she doesn’t have her bloodline, but she has two victories over her. She amped up and said she’s walking out of the ring on Sunday with the title. Graves wished her luck.
-Cole noted Charlotte is 15-0 defending her title at PPVs.
-Backstage Foley said Stephanie wanted him to tell her that he has a match against Sami tonight. Seth asked why, since they teamed up last week. Foley said she’s playing up the idea of it being every man for himself. Foley broke the news that if Sami wins, he gets Seth’s spot in the Rumble match. Foley said he doesn’t agree with that decision. Seth said he gets what’s going on and it’s clear what he has to do. He said he will win tonight, win at the Rumble, and win at WrestleMania so he can “throw it right back in Stephanie’s and her coward of a husband’s face.” [c]
(2) SETH ROLLINS vs. SAMI ZAYN – Royal Rumble slot at stake
Seth came out first. Cole said it was announced on Facebook that Big Show has entered the Rumble. Graves said they better reenforce the ring for this one. Sami then came out to his music as Seth stared a hole in him. Cole said the winner is in, the loser is out. The announcers noted that Seth missed the Rumble and WrestleMania last year. Graves said this has the feel of a championship match. Seth dove through the ropes and drove Sami into the ringside barricade at 3:00. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Seth had Sami in a mid-ring armbar. At 7:00 Sami scored a near fall. He climbed to the top rope. Seth leaped up and set up a superplex. Sami shoved him down and leaped off. Seth ducked. Seth gave Sami a blockbuster off the top rope for a near fall. A minute later Seth scored another near fall with a Falcon Arrow. They really went nuts with crowd reaction cutaway shots. Sami threw a forearm to show signs of life. They exchanged blows mid-ring. Seth gave Sami a knee and then a sling blade. When Seth set up a Pedigree, Sami avoided it and hit a DDT. He then went for the Helluva kick, but Seth avoided it and set up a Pedigree. Sami backdropped Seth over the top rope to the floor. Some fans chanted “This is awesome!”
Sami climbed to the top rope, but Seth rolled into the ring and kicked Sami in the head. Sami slumped over. Seth climbed to the top rope and set up a Pedigree off the top rope. Sami blocked it and pounded away at Seth’s back. Then he hit a top rope sunset flip powerbomb for a near fall. Sami hit an exploder suplex in the corner a minute later. He set up the Helluva kick again. He charged at him from the ring apron, but Seth blocked it and then hit the Pedigree on the ring apron. Seth rolled Sami into the center of the ring. A “Holy sh–!” chant broke out. Triple H’s music then played. Apparently Triple H is there to announce another WWE Network special or hype NXT Takeover or something. The music played, but he never came out. Sami then small packaged the distracted Seth for the three count.
WINNER: Sami Zayn in 16:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Why would Sami want to win that way? Why would fans cheer Sami taking advantage of a distraction created by Triple H?)
-The announcers hyped Goldberg appearing on Raw later. Graves said he makes history wherever he goes. Then they hyped the 5 p.m. ET Kickoff Show and said Shawn Michaels will be a special guest star during the pre-show. They threw to footage of Michaels winning the Rumble in 1995 after only one foot hit the floor when British Bulldog thought he eliminated him. [c]
-A commercial aired for Neville vs. Cedric Alexander on “205 Live.”
-Backstage a seething angry Seth looked for Triple H. He knocked a phone out of a guy’s hands backstage. What a dick. Foley said he’s not saying it was Stephanie, but someone was in touch with someone in production to play the music. Seth yelled that it’s a conspiracy to take away his dream and another year of his life. He stormed off. Foley said he’d find answers.
-A video feature aired on Mustafa Ali. He said when people hear his name, they’ve already made up their mind about him, but he changes that as soon as they see him in the ring doing his thing.
(3) ARIYA DAIVARI & TONY NESE & DREW GULAK vs. MUSTAFA ALI & T.J. PERKINS & JACK GALLAGHER
Austin Aries joined the announcers on commentary. Daivari opened against Gallagher, but instantly tagged in Gulak. Ali rallied against Gulak a couple minutes in. All six were in the ring briefly. Ali then landed the reverse 450 for the win.
WINNERS: Gallagher & Perkins & Ali in 4:00.
-They showed New Day being wacky backstage.
-A commercial hyped “the final five episodes” of Holy Foley after the Royal Rumble on Sunday on WWE Network. [c]
-The New Day came out, although there was more time spent on fans dancing than New Day coming to the ring. They poured Booty O’s down the mouths of fans. Graves said the fans are baby birds and it’s unsanitary. Xavier Woods said they’re going to win the Rumble and go on to win at WrestleMania and become the Universal Champion. Enzo & Big Cass interrupted. They did their mic work on the way to the ring. Rusev, along with Lana and Jinder Mahal, interrupted them and called them all “big goofs.” He mocked Big E and Big Cass for putting “Big” in front of their names. The crowd chanted “USA!” He said everybody knows that they’re big and everybody knows that he’s handsome, and now everyone knows he is officially entering the Royal Rumble match. Everyone also knows Lana is a sweet lady who hangs out Renee Young and only speaks with a Russian accent when on Raw and that Rusev lives in Nashville and loves country music.
Titus interrupted. Big E interrupted Titus and said last week he promised to never bother them again. Titus said that’s not why he’s out there. Titus tried to explain himself. Xavier interrupted and said it’s now getting disrespectful. He challenged him to fight outside. Titus asked what that means. Kofi explained. Titus astutely announced that he was just informed they have themselves an eight-man tag team match up next. He said it’s all of New Day with Cass & Enzo versus all four of them. Xavier said there’s only three of them unless he’s counting Lana. Xavier said Lana is fine and they respect her for being fine. He asked who the fourth man is on their team. Braun Strowman then came out. Graves said he’s never been happier to hear that scream than now.
(Keller’s Analysis: Titus came across as the sympathetic figure here and New Day, while they had a point, were jerks about it. Rusev also had the better lines.) [c]
(4) KOFI KINGSTON & BIG E & BIG CASS & ENZO vs. RUSEV & BRAUN STROWMAN & TITUS O’NEAL & JINDER MAHAL
Cole said Mahal is one of the most improved wrestlers on the WWE roster. Based on what? Never winning except that one match against Jack Swagger months ago. They talked about how often Kofi has been in the Royal Rumble over the years and how many highlights they’ve been a part of. Cass hot-tagged in at 2:00. He played to the crowd as he rallied against Mahal, then tagged in Enzo who made the cover. Titus broke up the pin. Big E hit the belly-to-belly. Rusev caught a charging Big E with a knee. Cass gave Rusev a big boot and knocked him off the ring apron, but tumble to the floor too. Kofi then dove onto a crowd at ringside. Enzo schoolboy Mahal for a near fall. He followed up with an Enzo-guiri. Braun tagged in. Enzo looked wide-eyed and psyched himself up. Graves said all of his dreams have come true. That’s very sad. Braun brushed off Enzo’s attack and then nonchalantly carried him around. Enzo broke free and dove off the ropes at Braun, but Braun caught him and gave him a running powerslam for the win.
WINNERS: Strowman & Mahal & Titus & Rusev in 4:00.
-Just as the announcers were wondering who could stop Strowman, the Big Show came out after the match. Cole said he’s in the best shape of his career. They had a staredown. They might have been comparing their beards more than anything else. They milked the tension for a minute. Cole wondered who would make the first move. Strowman backed off and yelled, “I’ll do what I want when I want and how I want!” Show’s music played.
-The announcers on camera hyped the Rumble Kickoff Show with Michaels and Jerry Lawler. Big Show and New Day walked up to them. Show said he didn’t know they moved the announce desk and “it’s pretty cool.” Graves claimed he was just saying Show is going to win the Rumble. Cole threw to a highlight package on the opening segment.
(5) CHRIS JERICHO (w/Kevin Owens) vs. ROMAN REIGNS – U.S. Title match
The bell rang with five minutes left in the first hour. Reigns took early control. They cut to a very early break. [c]
Owens joined the announcers on commentary. The shark cage was hanging above the ring. Saxton and Owens got into it. Owens said Saxton wasn’t good enough to be a pro wrestler and he’d smack the taste out of his mouth if he didn’t show him some respect.
When Jericho and Owens yelled congratulations to each other long-distance, Owens told Saxton he’ll never have chemistry with anyone like that which is why he’ll always be single. Owens said he’s not at ringside because Jericho doesn’t need him to beat Reigns. Graves said Saxton still lives at home with his parents. Owens said that makes it worse and he didn’t even know that. They botched a move when Reigns went to lift Jericho and Jericho wasn’t expecting it. Owens covered for them. Jericho landed on top and began punching Reigns in the face. Owens said that always works. Jericho raised his arms and got some cheers. Reigns then gave Jericho a Samoan Drop, which might have been what Reigns had in mind a minute earlier. Jericho blocked a Superman Punch with a dropkick and then scored a two count. Jericho then set up a Code Breaker. Owens: “Break his code, Chris!” Reigns caught him and then gave him a sitout powerbomb for a two count. Owens looked nervous for the first time. Reigns caught Jericho with a Superman punch. Owens charged to the ring and attacked Reigns, so the ref called for the DQ. Saxton said Owens knew Jericho couldn’t win without his help. Cole said Owens saved Jericho’s championship.
WINNER: Reigns via DQ in 10:00; Jericho retained the U.S. Title.
-Owens and Jericho called for the cage to be lowered. It was. Owens and Jericho threw Reigns inside the cage. Reigns reached through the cage and rammed Owens and then Jericho into the cage. He broke out of it. Then he threw Owens into the cage and locked him in it. Then the cage raised up as Jericho lay off to the side, watching his fate on Sunday. The Reigns fans cheered. Reigns appeared to be having a great time, which is a side of himself he doesn’t show very often. Jericho held onto the cage for a while but Reigns gave him a Superman Punch to knock him off. That probably was doing Jericho a favor compared to Jericho hanging on. Reigns then gave Jericho a spear. [c]
-They went to the ring where Jericho helped Owens out of the cage. The unnamed woman who interviews people on Raw informed Owens that the match is going to be no DQ on Sunday. Owens freaked out and said the match should be cancelled.
(Keller’s Analysis: Owens shouldn’t have been upset as it gave him a huge advantage because Jericho can drop weapons to Owens without fear of getting DQ’d, although based on pro wrestling rules, it really doesn’t matter, does it, if the champ gets DQ’d?)
-They went to Graves’s sit-down interview with Charlotte. Charlotte said one of her earliest childhood memories is watching her father defeat 29 other legends in the 1992 Rumble match. She said it’s a family tradition for the Flairs to dominate the Rumble “while Bayley’s family watches from the couch.” She said Sunday is another chance for her to surpass her father’s legacy. She said Bayley was the heart and soul of NXT, but at the Rumble, she’s going to punish Bayley for ever thinking she’s in her league. She said it’ll make Bayley cry thinking about her dad crying on a couch somewhere. She said she will remain the Queen of PPV and Bayley will remain just a fan.
(Keller’s Analysis: Great segment. Love the change of pace from standing mid-ring and talking.)
-They showed Nia Jax backstage heading toward the entrance stage. [c]
(6) NIA JAX vs. REY LYNN
Lynn looked scared before the match. Total squash.
WINNER: Jax in under 1:00.
-Afterward, Jax dedicated her win to the recently deceased career of Sasha Banks. “What a difference a month makes?” she said. She said ESPN should do a “30/30” on Sasha, but it’d be too tragic. She said now that she’s broken the Boss… at which point Banks walked out on on a crutch. Sasha hit Jax with a crutch. Jax brushed it off and dove at Sasha. Sasha moved. Sasha dove on her, then retreated with a single crutch, staring down Jax as she recovered. [c]
(7) NOAM DAR (w/Alicia Fox) vs. RICH SWANN
Aries said Noam likes the hot chocolate more than Cedric does. Dar rolled to the floor early. He hid behind Fox to stop a dive from Swan. Swan instead kicked Dar in the face seconds later. [c]
Back from the break, Swann KO’d Dar with a spin hook kick to the face for the win.
WINNER: Swann in 7:00.
-Afterward Swann asked Neville, “Where are you at?” He said he’s no king, he’s a jester. Ohhhh! Those are fighting words – centuries ago. Neville came out after a few seconds. Neville stepped onto the ring apron, but then dropped down. Swann dove through the ropes onto him and punched away at him. Neville fled. [c]
-Backstage a woman interviewed Cedric about facing Neville tomorrow night on 205 Live. He said with the Fox and Dar stuff behind him, he can focus on becoming champion. Fox barged in and yelled at him, Dar followed behind. Fox laughed at the notion that he’ll be a champion without her. She screeched. Dar said he’ll always be a winner as long as he always had Fox in his corner. Dar said he wants to be sure there are no hard feelings between them over him stealing his girlfriend. He offered a handshake. Cedric said as far as Fox is concerned, no hard feelings. But he still attacked him last week, so he shoved Dar. Fox said Cedric is nothing but jealous. She said Cedric almost made Dar cry.
-Back to the announcers, Graves said Cedric may need to leave town or change careers because Fox is never going away. They pivoted to hyping the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show.
-They showed Goldberg heading toward the stage from his locker room. He spit on the floor in a bit of a gross moment. It was like a bug flew into his mouth of something. When he arrived at the ring, he was bleeding from the top of his forehead. Graves said the cut was caused by his head-butting the door on his way to the ring. Goldberg said, “Here we go.” The fans chanted “Goldberg.” He thanked the fans. He said, “We all know that the path to the WWE – aw, here you go. You guys have really made me screw up here.” He lost his train of thought and chuckled. The crowd awkwardly laughed, applauded, and chanted “Goldberg.” He said, “Let’s go for a third time.” He said the Universal Championship runs right through the Royal Rumble match. He talked about there being 29 other competitors on Sunday. He said if need be, he’ll spear his way through 29 other men.
Paul Heyman walked out and interrupted Goldberg. Maybe “saved him” is a better description. Heyman said being the marketing genius he is, they should rename the Royal Rumble match. He ran down some of the opponents Goldberg might cross paths with. Eventually Brock Lesnar’s music played. Lesnar walked out. Cole exclaimed, “The Beast is here!” Heyman taunted Goldberg some more. Goldberg asked if Lesnar was going to stand there like a dumbass or come to the ring for a fight. Lesnar circled the ring, then entered the ring. Suddenly Undertaker appeared in the ring, too. The show signed off. ###