KELLER’S WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT
JANUARY 30, 2017
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton.
-Michael Cole introduced the show cold without a video package or pyro.
-They went right to Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho coming out to the ring. The announcers commented on freeze-frames of the Universal Title match ending with Braun Strowman costing Reigns the match. Jericho proudly wore the U.S. Title belt around his waist. Owens, who was limping and selling the beating he took, had the Universal Title belt over his shoulder. He introduced himself as “Your Universal Champion.” He said Jericho is “your WWE United States Champion.” Owens said nobody thought he had a chance to walk out with his championship, but he’s spent a career proving people wrong. He said last night he proved so many people wrong, if he were to put all of their names on a list, it’d be longer than the List of Jericho. Owens said he proved the Raw general manager Mick Foley wrong. He said Foley was stacking the deck against him every chance they got, setting them up for failure, but he didn’t fail. “I am the best, I am the man, I am the guy, I am the one!” he roared.
He said he is man enough to admit that he had some help. As it seemed he was about to thank Braun Strowman, he turned to Jericho and said it was him, and his friendship kept him going. He said he knows getting in the cage was the worst experience of his life, but he made it through as champion because of him. They hugged.
Owens said Jericho proved last night he is the greatest Royal Rumble competitor of all time. He said four hours, 56 minutes, and 12 seconds is how long he’s been in the Rumble cumulatively in his career. (If you subtract the time he wasn’t actually in the ring, it’s about 19 minutes, though.) He said he valiantly faced 29 others and lasted over and hour in the match – an hour and one minute. “I’m the 61 minute man!” he said. He told fans to type in “#61minuteman.” He said the only reason he didn’t win is he was suffering from vertigo from hanging above the shark cage. They were interrupted Braun Strowman.
Cole said Strowman is the real reason Owens is the Universal Champion today. Graves said Cole can’t prove Owens wouldn’t have won without Braun’s involvement. Owens said he was just about to thank him. Braun said he didn’t want his thanks. He said he did what he did because he can’t stand Roman Reigns. A “Thank you, Strowman!” chant broke out. “And I want the title shot you promised me.” Owens denied that he said any such thing. He thanked him for the interference, but he’s dead wrong if he thinks interfering in a match he wasn’t asked to interfere in. Strowman said he has the proof. He pointed at the big screen. They showed Owens saying last month on Raw that Strowman is next in line for the title once he beats Reigns at the Royal Rumble. Owens claimed that must be Photoshopped. Strowman said he wants a Universal Title shot tonight or else he’ll “break you in half right now.”
Foley walked out onto the stage and said he doesn’t appreciate Strowman interfering, but at least now he understands why. Foley said Owens did promise Strowman a title shot. Owens said he cannot do that to him because he went through so much last night. He said Foley should know what it feels like to go through a match like that. “Not tonight!” he said. “I went through hell and back last night.” Foley said it might be a round trip because he might go through hell again when he faces Strowman tonight.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not sure where this is headed later. There’s a chance Strowman wins and defends against Reigns at WrestleMania. More likely, Reigns costs him the match to get “even” for costing him the title shot at the Rumble. Either way, it puts Strowman in a “tweener” or “lone wolf” role since he’ll be cheered against Owens (and by anti-Reigns fans in general). I’m not sure Foley was quite as angry as an authority figure should be at someone for making a mockery of a title match he set up presumably with the goal being to give Reigns a fair shot at beating Owens. Giving him a title shot after what he did Sunday night feels like rewarding someone for actions a G.M. should be fighting against. He easily could have said the “verbal contract” was voided after Strowman interfered in an ongoing title match, “and let that be a message and a lesson to the rest of the locker room.”)
-Cole said Jericho would face Sami Zayn next. He said it’s a great opportunity for Zayn.
-A commercial aired for the WWE Network “WWE 24” special series going behind the scenes at WrestleMania last year titled “WrestleMania Dallas.” [c]
(1) CHRIS JERICHO vs. SAMI ZAYN
The announcers noted that while Jericho is near five hours in the Rumble cumulatively, the next closest is Triple H at four hours. They fought at ringside a minute in. Jericho used the referee as a shield to sneak in a springboard dropkick to knock Sami off the ring apron. Jericho went after Sami with a slidekick, but Sami moved out of his path. Then he landed a moonsault off the barricade at ringside. They cut to an early break at 3:00. [c]
At 8:00 Zayn hit the Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. A minute later he hit a DDT off the top rope. He set up a Helluva Kick, but Jericho ducked and then applied the Walls of Jericho at 10:00. Zayn reached the bottom rope to force a break. Sami surprised Jericho with an exploder suplex into the corner and immediately landed the Helluva Kick for the clean win.
WINNER: Zayn in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Big win for Sami. That puts him in line for a U.S. Title shot, and perhaps a U.S. Title reign.)
-The announcers hyped Strowman challenging Owens. They also talked about Seth Rollins calling out Triple H at NXT Takeover. [c]
-A video package aired on the history of the Seth-Hunter saga dating back to 2014. The announcers said Stephanie would confront Seth face-to-face in the middle of the ring tonight on Raw.
-Stephane McMahon was on the phone telling someone she has everything under control “and it’s all set.” Owens walked in and said she must’ve seen what Mick Foley is doing, forcing him to defend the title after what he went through last night. He said he has been doing everything possible to live up to her and Triple H’s expectations. He said he’s hurt and Strowman is twice his size. Stephanie said she had no idea Foley would make him defend the U.S. Title tonight and said it’s completely unfair. She said after dealing with Seth, she’ll try to get his match cancelled. He thanked her. [c]
-Cole touted that 52,020 fans jam-packed the AlamoDome for the Rumble.
(2) “PREMIERE ATHLETE” TONY NESE vs. MUSTAFA ALI
Austin Aries joined in on commentary. They touted Ali as a future Cruiserweight Champion. When Ali climbed to the top rope, Nese knocked him off balance and Ali landed on the back of his head and neck. The ref checked on him, then green lighted Nese to finish him with a running knee to the face in the corner. Graves called it a “nasty landing.”
WINNER: Nese in 3:00.
-Aries interviewed Nese afterward on the stage. He said he showed everyone he’s a premiere athlete. He asked how he responds to people who say he doesn’t have charisma. He said those aren’t his words. Nese ignored him. Aries said critics saying trying to have a conversation with him and washboard abs is about as interesting as talking to an actual washboard. Nese said a premiere athlete doesn’t have to answer to his critics.
-Seth Rollins came out to the ring. Graves said Seth has been one of his best friends in the industry for years and he’s never seen him as worked up as he was Saturday night at NXT Takeover. He said he knows Stephanie is back there and very upset because she wanted to come out there first and scold him for his behavior. He said even Billion Dollar Princesses don’t always get what they want. “Suck it up, buttercup, and let’s do this thing. Come on out here. I’m waiting on ya’, babe.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I know Stephanie’s a heel, but that language and tone with her – calling her “buttercup” and “baby” – is just not babyface language. It’s not how parents want kids’ heroes talking. It’s really not probably how women want to hear a guy speak of any women. Then again, if there’s anyone it’s hard to get sympathy for, it’s Stephanie, but still. I’d choose different wording.)
Steph walked out. She said: “Seth, I’m out here to disappoint you on multiple levels.” Seth fired back: “Oh, like you do your husband every single night.” The crowd oohed that. Steph said he can’t rattle her cage by calling her out with his childish insults. She said her husband isn’t at Raw. “Color me surprised,” he said. He said he doesn’t care about her. “When you are going to let him off his leash?” he asked. She said his insults continue. Seth said it’s just a question. Steph said her husband is afraid – afraid of what he might do to him. She said Seth can bring out his dark side and cause him to create what he once thought was his greatest creation. She said she asked Hunter to stay away. She said Seth turned his back on them and missed WrestleMania last year and was banned from the Royal Rumble last night because of his actions on NXT. She said he should be begging her and her husband for forgiveness. She said he owes her and the fans an apology. Seth asked the fans. They shouted “No!” Steph said they don’t deserve an apology, after all, but she does.
He said when he called our her husband on Saturday, he had his security do his dirty work. He wondered where the real Triple H went. “That is not The Game, that is not the Cerebral Assassin. That’s a scared dude,” he said. “I am the greatest threat to his legacy that he’s ever seen.” He said judging by how she looks at him, she knows it’s true. Steph looked at him and said, “I look at you with nothing but disgust. You don’t measure up to Triple H. He’s a creator, he’s a destroyer, he’s a king. You’re what? An architect? You’re going to be an architect of your own demise.” Seth said she doesn’t get it. “I’ve got nothing left to lose,” he said. He said what happens if his next stop is WWE headquarters and he invades the next Board of Directors meeting. He asked how the suits and ties will feel, or her father. He even threatened to show up at her front door where one of her kids might answer the door. He said this doesn’t end until he gets his hands on Triple H. “And I slay the King!” She said she lied, and Triple H is on his way to the arena. “Triple H is coming, and he’s coming for you!” She dropped the mic. Seth smiled and laughed. Cole said the confrontation is finally going to happen tonight. Graves said Seth will get what he has asked for and has risked his career for.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good hook to stay tuned until later. Not only a Universal Title match, but a Hunter-Seth confrontation. Steph getting to stand up to Stephanie is better than most wrestlers have an opportunity to do. Not sure about bringing her kids into it, though.)
-They went to the announcers on cameras. They threw to a recap of the show-opening segment.
-A commercial aired hyping John Cena celebrating his WWE Title win on Smackdown tomorrow night. [c]
(3) CESARO & SHEAMUS & BAYLEY vs. KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS & CHARLOTTE
Cole touted this as episode 1,236 of the longest running episodic TV show in history. Cesaro gave Gallows some vicious uppercuts early. Charlotte distracted him by blowing him a kiss. Gallows then kicked him off the top rope to the floor. They cut to an early break. [c]
Cesaro springboard leaped onto Gallows and Anderson at ringside with Sheamus holding them in place. Meanwhile, Bayley fought out of a Figure-Eight and landed the Bayley-to-Belly for the win. Cesaro looked shaken up afterward for a few seconds. Not sure if he was selling or not.
WINNERS: Bayley & Cesaro & Sheamus in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That gives Bayley a win to rehab her a bit from the clean loss at the Rumble.)
-Steph scolded Foley for not telling her he planned to book Braun in a title match against Owens. She asked if he had a brain fart. “Did you purposely not tell me or did you just forget?” she said. Foley said he understands and respects that he answers to her, but she hired him to do a job. He said last he heard her husbands music play and he was nowhere to be found. She said that was on his watch. She said the WWE production team made an error. Foley said he looked stupid last week, but he asked her not to treat him like he is stupid “because I assure you, I am not.” She said she knows he is not stupid, and she assured him that her husband would be there. He asked her to let him keep his word and keep the Owens vs. Strowman match, which he said should be good. She said nothing, and it seemed to imply the match was on.
-Graves hyped that Neville would be out next. [c]
-Neville came out to his full entrance. Graves said Neville did what he said he was going to do. He looked around at the crowd with disdain. He said tomorrow night at 205 Live, he’d have the coronation for his title reign. He said 205 Live from now on belongs to The King. He said he proved last night that each of the sniveling little peasants were wrong. “You never believed in me. You never supported me. You never cared about me! But look at me now!” He was interrupted by Rich Swann. Swann said as much as he’d like to enter the ring and throw fists, he’s going to wait. The building was silent. He said he’s going to wait because he has a rematch coming. He said he couldn’t sit back there and listen to the garbage he’s been spitting for one more second. He said the fight going on between him and the WWE Universe is just in his head. He said he doesn’t like him, but even he has to admit he’s one of the very best. He said he proved that last night at the Royal Rumble and he respects him for that. Neville told him if that’s so, bow to the king. Swann turned to leave. Neville said he shouldn’t turn his back on the king. He attacked him. Swann came back with a nice round kick to the head of Neville. Then he dove through the ropes and tackled Neville.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE’s got to figure out how to get a babyface in the Cruiserweight Division over. Swann came out to silence. Neville is a very good heel, but he’s not a broad enough personality to carry the entire division.) [c]
-In the training room, the trainer was wrapping Sasha’s knee. Bayley walked in and asked her what she was doing. Sasha said getting ready for her rematch. Bayley said it’s better if she waits for her knee to be healed. She said she’s already a three-time Raw Women’s Champion and has nothing left to prove. Sasha stood up and said she’s not okay with coming up short.
-They went to the announcers who agreed with Bayley’s advice. They talked about Randy Orton winning the Rumble (it’s about time). Cole said, “As many of you know by know…” as he said it. He then said he’ll be in the main event at WrestleMania, but still no mention that he’s guaranteed a title shot. So odd. He then said, “Let’s take you to the big story from Raw on the Royal Rumble match.” He talked about Brock Lesnar getting eliminated by Goldberg. They showed freeze-frames of the match.
-Backstage Owens had his right elbow taped up and his left wrist. He asked Jericho what Foley said. Jericho said Foley said he talked to Stephanie and it’s still on. Owens was distraught. Jericho said no matter what happens, they’ll still be U.S. Champion. Owens said he’s so tired of Foley. Owens said Braun single-handedly eliminated seven men. When Owens said they’re still a team, Jericho said it’s technically a one-on-one match. Jericho said Owens wasn’t out there earlier when Sami “cheated to beat me.” Owens said he was trying to get his match cancelled tonight. He said if Jericho still wants to main event WrestleMania, they can’t do that if he’s not Universal Champion. Owens asked Jericho if he has his back. Jericho said of course because they’re best friends. Owens said they’re going to shove this down Foley’s throat. Jericho looked less than enthusiastic about the situation.
(Keller’s Analysis: Although my preference is for Finn Balor to return and claim his rematch against Owens at WrestleMania, if Owens retains the title that long, this hinted that perhaps the Owens-Jericho alliance is more fragile than it has looked in recent weeks and they could end up facing off at WrestleMania after a break-up after all.) [c]
-Owens and Jericho came out. Jericho joined the announcers on commentary. Owens wasn’t sure that was the best idea, but Jericho assured him he could still be there for him quickly. Owens limped his way to the ring. Braun began his ring entrance and saw Jericho. He walked over and gave Jericho a boot to the chest. Jericho fell off the platform. Braun then picked Jericho up and chokeslammed him through the announce table. Then he pointed at Owens. No music. He just marched to the ring as referees tended to Jericho. Owens began to hyperventilate during formal ring introductions. Cole said Owens looks “scared to death.”
(4) KEVIN OWENS vs. BRAUN STROWMAN – WWE Universal Title match
Owens bailed out. The surprisingly fast Strowman chased after him. Owens entered the ring and dropkicked Strowman off the ring apron. Strowman entered the ring and began bashing Owen and tossing him around the ring. Graves said Owens went through a brutal match against Reigns and there’s no way he’s 100 percent. Cole said Owens is the man who promised last month that he’d give him a title shot if he retained the title at the Rumble. When Strowman charged at ringside, Owens moved. He then gave Strowman a cannonball splash against the ringside barrier. In the ring Owens somersault splashed Braun, then landed a senton and a frog splash. He sold his ribs were hurting. Strowman kicked out at two. Owens superkicked Strowman and then climbed to the top rope. He struggled, though. Strowman picked him up and powerslammed him. Strowman didn’t make the cover right away and struggled to get up. Cole said the late great British Bulldog would have loved that one. Suddenly Roman Reigns’s music played. The ref called for the bell as soon as Reigns entered the ring and delivered a Superman Punch.
WINNER: No contest in 5:00 so Owens retained title.
-Reigns went after Strowman at ringside, right near a woman with a sign that said: “I (heart) Roman.” The announcers explained Reigns’s motivation. Reigns got a mixed reaction, as usual. Reigns leaped off the steps and speared Strowman. Boos. He entered the ring and speared Owens “for good measure,” said Cole. He said Reigns made a statement. As Reigns returned to the back, Graves said Strowman is already back up after multiple Superman Punches and a spear at ringside.
(Keller’s Analysis: A lot of moving parts there, but Reigns costing Strowman the title shot in this situation feels justified. I just wish the announcers seemed to care more about the integrity of title matches. They just kind of blow off two nights in a row that type of interference. Smart to have Graves put over Strowman getting up so quickly in the background.)
-They replayed Seth raising the stakes and mentioning going to Steph’s house and perhaps her kids answer the door.
-They cut to the parking garage. Cole wondered if it was Triple H. Instead, Brock Lesnar stepped out with Paul Heyman. “Oh my God!” said Cole. “The Beast, Brock Lesnar is here live!” [c]
-Lesnar and Heyman walked to the ring. Lesnar helped himself with his arm a bit on his leap from the floor to the ring apron. He wasn’t feeling quite as confident as usual. A “Suplex City” chant started. Heyman said he is the advocate for the “crestfallen, disgraced beast that stands before you tonight.” He said they are at a point in history where they have to face the most disturbing truth that every all-time great has an opponent who has his number. He said every legend has that one asterisk next to them “best ever” on the list. The “Yeah, butt…” person. Heyman repeated fake folklore from WWE and said Andre was undefeated for 15 years and lost to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania. He brought up Ronda Rousey beating everyone, only to have her face smashed in by Holly Holm. He didn’t add Ronda has two foes on that list, now including Amanda Nunes, the current champ.
Heyman said last night John Cena won the WWE Title, but he can always say, “Yeah, but what about Brock Lesnar?” Heyman said Kurt Angle is going into the Hall of Fame, but “Yeah, but Brock Lesnar?” He said now when he tells his kids that he advocates for Lesnar, they say, “But he lost to Goldberg at Survivor Series in a minute 36 seconds.” A “Goldberg” chant started. He said now everyone is talking about how Goldberg eliminated Brock from the Royal Rumble with ease. He said for someone who lives for their accomplishments, he hates “Yeah, but.” Heyman said the “Yeah, but” has to be wiped out and eradicated and killed. Heyman said this is where you hit the record button because his client now challenges Lesnar “one final time at WrestleMania.” Lesnar pointed at the banner and hopped up and down in place. Heyman said the odds are in Goldberg’s favor, but his client offers Goldberg this: “Yeah, but.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Heyman stumbled in his wording a little at the start, but once he got rolling, just delivered a big money promo. He comes at these relatively basic storylines – Goldberg has crushed Lesnar twice – and adds so many layers and finesse to build the situation into something much greater than seemed possible going in. The “Yeah, but” motivated is just tremendous. His delivery, and Lesnar’s body language throughout, elevated this storyline. You believed when watching it.) [c]
(5) SASHA BANKS vs. NIA JAX
Jax dominated and forced a submission. Dominant. She didn’t relinquish the hold until Bayley ran out for the save.
WINNER: Jax at 2:05
-They showed a clip of the sensitivity training with Enzo going awry. Then they hyped the Tag Team Tornado match up next. [c]
-Before the match Lana said she wishes she could say she is happy to be in their city, but they’re just a small pathetic village. She introduced Rusev as “the man who makes me laugh as he crushes your heroes.” Rusev came out in a nose guard as he did in the Rumble on Sunday night. Graves said for Saxton, a nose guard would be a dramatic upgrade.
Enzo and Cass came out and threw some insults at Lana, Rusev, and Jinder. Enzo and Cass made fun of Jinder’s veins, saying his body looked like a road map. They turned to making fun of Rusev’s nose guard. Enzo said they’re not in the Land of Oz, but the wicked witch is present, pointing at Lana. “As you are aware, I’ve already seen her melt before,” he said as looked down at his crotch area. He said they’re going to beat their brains in, take their courage, and break their hearts. Cass called them the “lolly pop kids” and said they suck so bad, they’ll be lolly gagging. Graves said it was painful to endure, he wishes someone dropped a house on him two minutes ago. Saxton said he’s not sure it’s wise to get Rusev wound up like that before a match.
(6) ENZO & BIG CASS vs. “HANDSOME” RUSEV & JINDER MAHAL – Tornado Tag Team match
They were in Texas, but they didn’t call it a “Texas Tornado Tag Match” as it has been called everywhere for decades. Instead, just a “Tornado Tag Match.” They all brawled to ringside and they cut to an early break. [c]
The heels got the advantage for a sustained stretch. They isolated Enzo in the ring. Cass made a comeback. Graves said Cass was rolling through his opponents like a “freshly oiled tin woodsman.” He was full of Wizard of Oz references throughout the match. Jinder broke up the pin attempt by Cass after an Empire Elbow on Rusev. Cass shoved Rusev into Enzo, and then Enzo snapped his neck over the top rope. Cass then launched Enzo off the top rope onto Rusev for the pin.
WINNERS: Enzo & Cass in 9:00.
-They showed Triple H arriving in a limo. Cole said they can only imagine what will happen tonight.
-Cole hyped “WrestleMania: Dallas.” He said he’s seen some great documentaries on WWE Network and he thinks this is the best one. “It’s emotional and it’s compelling,” he said. Graves said fans will see another side of Charlotte’s journey. Graves said fans can see New Day develop the concept for the iconic Booty Os. They went to a sneak peak. [c]
-They replayed Heyman’s challenge of Goldberg for a final match at WrestleMania. Cole said Goldberg just Tweeted that he’ll be live in Portland next week.
-Triple H made his entrance to his full music. Graves said the fans were standing for him. Hunter said he plucked Seth from obscurity and made him a star. He said he sung his praises and made him the first NXT Champion. He said he’d go on to be the leader of The Shield. Then he made him an offer to be the best, “and he bought in in a big way.” He said Seth would become The Man standing by his side. He said he’d become the Face of WWE and the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He said he’d get everything he ever wanted out of this business standing by his side. He said Seth couldn’t handle the pressure. He mocked cried to mock Seth. He said he spit in his face after he handed him everything he had on a silver plater. “And then he hobbled on that ramp into obscurity” and thought he’d come back later as if the world didn’t turn without him. He said the world did turn, and seven months later, when he stood in the ring without him by his side, Seth was an abject failure.
He said Seth didn’t take responsibility for his failures. He said he blamed him. He said he doesn’t feel he owes Seth an apology. He said he feels he is owed an apology. “I gave you the world and you spit in my face,” he said. He asked the fans if they have any idea how hard it is for him to not come to the ring when Seth calls him out. He said he is trying so hard not to be that guy anymore who ends careers and crushes dreams and injures people and doesn’t give a crap about what anybody thinks. He said he’s trying to be something more, so every day he puts on the suit and tie and tries to be a creator. He said then a guy like Seth decides he wants to come to NXT where he is trying to create the next Seth Rollins. He said he is done trying. He took off his jacket. He got some cheers.
He told Seth he doesn’t have to worry about coming to his house because he is standing right there, right now. Seth came out. Cole said it’s about to happen. Suddenly Samoa Joe attacked Seth at ringside. Cole called him Triple H’s heavy. Graves said Joe is trying to destroy Seth after taking NXT to another level. The crowd chanted “Holy sh–!” Hunter looked down at Seth. A loud “Joe! Joe!” chant rang out. Joe was wearing the new Tapout t-shirt. Hunter walked away. Cole said he’s letting Joe inflict the damage. Joe beat up Seth in the ring including three senton splashes. Graves called him one of the baddest guys on the planet. A “This is awesome!” chant broke out. Joe applied Kokina Clutch. Seth began to fade. Cole called for help from the back. Graves wondered who could stop Joe. “Some will call it cowardly, others will call it cerebral” said Cole.
(Keller’s Analysis: There’s Joe, on the main roster! Being linked with Triple H likely assures him a big push out of the gate. There’s a risk he’ll be perceived as Triple H’s lackey instead of a big acquisition for Raw. But he could benefit greatly from the association, too. Joe vs. Seth at Fastlane seems likely. He looked great here, and the crowd reacted like they were seeing a star debut. While seeing wrestlers jump back and forth from WCW to the WWF, or prior the NWA, AWA, WWF, and other territories was a blast for fans of prior generations, the long-awaited debut of standout non-WWE names who have worked in prominent other promotions (ROH, TNA, New Japan) and finally work their way through NXT before debuting on the main roster is the closest modern equivalent. This is a moment many Joe fans will remember. He and Seth should a good match. I like the foundation of the feud being Seth was Triple H’s pick in NXT and now he’s shifted to Joe. Not sure where that leaves Owens, as the Jericho storyline seems to have shifted Owens away from being framed as Triple H & Steph’s “new guy.” Which is fine.)
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