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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 10, 2022
PHILADELPHIA, PA. AT WELLS FARGO CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-A lengthy video package aired recapping last week’s main event.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is a good idea considering the main events are seen by a significantly smaller number of viewers than the first hour typically is. Plus, it’s just good to emphasize what’s most important and refresh people’s memories.)
-They went live to the arena where Jimmy Smith introduced the show as the camera panned the audience.
-Brock Lesnar’s entrance theme played and he made his way to the ring along with Paul Heyman. Corey Graves plugged Lesnar’s match against Bobby Lashley at the Royal Rumble. They cut backstage to Lashely and MVP watching Lesnar and Heyman on a monitor. In walked Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, cheering him on. Cedric said since they’re back together as the Hurt Business, they’re glad he’s finally getting this match against Lesnar. Lashley asked what he was talking about. He said there is no more Hurt Business because he works alone, so get the hell out of there. Shelton and Cedric looked disappointed and then left.
Lesnar was pacing and smiling in the ring. He said he excited to be back in Philadelphia. Then Lashley’s music interrupted. Lesnar looked irked. Lashley and MVP walked to the ring. MVP introduced Lashley to boos from the audience. Lashley said as one super athlete to another, it’s an honor to look him the eye and tell him that for 20 years, he has been ducking and running from him. Lesnar laughed. “With all due respect, it’s an honor for me to be in the ring with me,” Lesnar said in a mocking tone. “And I must apologize, Bobby. For the last 20 years, I’ve been winning championships in this ring and other rings, so that doesn’t fall on me, that falls on you.” He said he didn’t have a clue who he was until he met him at Day 1. He said it’s his fault he didn’t climb the ladder of success and enter the same arenas he did. He said if they had met, he’d have already beaten him and they wouldn’t be in the ring again tonight.
Lesnar told MVP and Lashley that they’re dressing fancy. He asked MVP what the thread count is. Lashley said Lesnar is a comedian now. He said they’ll sit front row watching him do his stand-up routine as a former WWE Champion. Lesnar told Heyman, “Knock knock.” Heyman said, “Brock Lesnar does a knock knock joke in Philadelphia. I thought I saw it all.” He then told Brock, “Who’s there?” Lesnar: “Bobby…” Heyman: “Bobby who?” Lesnar: “Exactly.” Fans laughed. Lesnar told Lashley that it’s impossible to beat him, especially when you’re a Brock Lesnar wannabe. He dropped the mic in front of Lashley and left. Heyman strutted behind Lesnar, laughing the whole way.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s fun watching Lesnar have fun out there. Lashley is carrying himself like a top star opposite of Lesnar in the ring. They’re making this match feel like years in the making. I’m still not sure how connected and sequential the Lesnar-Heyman dynamic is with everything on Smackdowm with them and Reigns, though.)
Cedric and Shelton jumped Lashley. Lashley easily fended them both off. He rammed Shelton into the ringpost and threw Cedric into the ringside barricade.
(Keller’s Analysis: I was thinking that segment with Shelton and Cedric was to plant the seed of them being involved in the finish of the Lesnar-Lashley match at the Royal Rumble – perhaps helping Lashley win to earn his renewed interest in aligning with them or perhaps helping Lesnar win to give Lashley an out. It seems clear if they do interfere, it’ll be against Lashley, not helping him.)
-Graves commented on a clip of Otis pinning Riddle last week in their match.
-Backstage, Riddle was talking to himself about summoning his inner Viper when in walked Randy Orton. Riddle said he’s trying to ascend to a higher plain of enlightenment. Orton said he can do what he wants in his free time, but this isn’t his free time. He blamed Riddle for not tagging him in last week, leading to their loss. He said the stakes are higher this week. Orton wrote on Riddle’s hand with a marker: “Tag In Randy.” Riddle said he has good handwriting. Riddle said after their match tonight, maybe they should go out for cheese steaks. Fans cheered.
-Orton and Riddle made their ring entrance. [c]
-Graves plugged the Doudrop vs. Bianca Belair vs. Liv Morgan match coming up later.
-They showed a clip of Otis and Gable working on neck strengthening exercises to protect against the RKO.
(1) RK-BRO (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. OTIS & CHAD GABLE – Raw Tag Team Title match
They did formal ring introductions, then exchanged some words mid-ring as the ref held up the tag belts. Riddle and Gable mat wrestled at first. Riddle springboarded with a twisting flip onto Gable. Riddle and Orton posed as they cut to an early break. [c]
Gable was in control after the break. Otis tagged in, but Riddle hit a Floating Bro, taking Otis down. Otis tagged in Gable just as Riddle tagged in Orton. Gable snapped Orton over the top rope, then climbed to the top rope. Orton knocked Gable off balance and delivered a top rope superplex. Both were down and slow to get up. Gable snuck a tag to Otis. Orton went for an RKO. Gable shoved Orton into Otis’s arms, and Otis powerslammed him to win the match. They cut to fans reacting in shock. Graves called it a “shocking, shocking scenario.”
WINNERS: Gable & Otis in 9:00 to capture the Raw Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: If they wanted to extend this feud to the Royal Rumble, they kind of had to have Otis & Gable win the titles and put Orton & Riddle in chase mode. Their reign feels more legit since Orton took the pin rather than Riddle. Gable and Otis, both on their own, are so talented, and they have good chemistry together, so it’s nice to see them get this push.)
-A pre-taped segment aired where Damian Priest announced that he debuted in the Royal Rumble last year and he’s going to win this year. He said he will still be U.S. Champion, and the only question will be which title belt is on his other shoulder after WrestleMania.
-Backstage, Priest and the Street Profits were hanging out. Priest said he’s glad they have each other’s backs tonight in their tag match even if they won’t in the Rumble in a few weeks. Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford asked Priest which version of him will they be dealing with. Ford asked about the Solo cups. Priest said he absolutely wants Solo cups. Preist said they’ve beaten up Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, and Apollo Crews before, but he’s up for giving them one final beat down. The Profits yelled, “We want the smoke!” Byron Saxton said he’s “digging this tandem.” Graves called him a dummy and said it’s a trio, not a tandem.
-The Profits made their ring entrance first. [c]
-A promo aired with Bianca Belair who said last year she showed why she is the EST when she won the Rumble and went on to win the Smackdown Title at WrestleMania. She said she’ll walk into WM as Raw Champion after she wins tonight and then beats Becky Lynch at the Rumble.
(2) THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) & DAMIAN PRIEST vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE & APOLLO CREWS (w/Commander Azeez)
The heels were all in the ring when Priest’s ring entrance took place. Before the bell, they replayed a clip from Smackdown of Johnny Knoxville “qualifying” for the Royal Rumble after dumping Sami Zayn over the top rope. Graves said he’s crazy to want to be in the Rumble. As the match began, Graves said people continue to underestimate and disrespect Ziggler. The Profits and Priest cleared the ring after Roode intervened illegally. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Crews had Ford pressed above his head. He dropped Ford, then landed a standing moonsault before tagging in Ziggler. Ford hot-tagged in Dawkins and he took Roode down with a flying elbow to the chest. He tossed Crews out of the ring, then took down Ziggler. Back to Roode, he charged the corner and splashed him. Crews broke up his pin attempt. Next, Priest set up a powerbomb on Crews when Azeez approached. Priest turned toward Azeez and asked him if he was going to do something. Crews gave him an enzuigiri. Ford landed a flying flip dive onto Crews and Azeez at ringside. Back in the ring, Roode schoolboyed Dawkins for a near fall. Ziggler blind-tagged in and gave Dawkins a surprise Zig Zag for the win.
WINNERS: Ziggler & Roode & Crews in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action throughout. They’re giving previously mid-card teams big wins tonight.)
-The Smackdown Breakdown aired, focused on the interaction with Reigns, Heyman, and Lesnar including Lesnar challenging Reigns to a title vs. title match followed by the news of Seth Rollins being Reigns’s opponent at the Rumble. [c]
-The announcers hyped Lesnar vs. Lashley at the Rumble.
-Seth Rollins came to the ring and told Philly he’s in a great mood. He said it’s because the Rumble is on the horizon. He said he doesn’t need a penguin looking snake oil salesman to do his negotiating for him. He said he took matters into his own hands. He said there are a few things in life that are certain – death, taxes, and he always beats Reigns every single time. Big E’s music then played and he walked out. Big E said this is incredible news and he’s so excited for him. He said he’s as excited as Gritty after a big Flyers win. Seth cackled and asked what Gritty is. Fans booed. Seth asked why he’s there. Big E said he’s put money down on him to win at the Rumble. He said he has officially entered his name into the Rumble match.
Big E said of all the things he could dream about and fantasize about, at the top of the list “or close” is to do what he intended to do at Day 1, but do it at WrestleMania. Seth asked what that is. Big E said that is beating Seth to become WWE Champion again. Seth cackled and said he’s happy he’s in the Rumble. Seth said he can’t beat him one on one. Big E said they should test that theory out tonight. Seth said he’s not sure how he feels about that. “I’m not ready,” he said, hemming and hawing. Seth said next week in a better town, perhaps in the Midwest. Big E said that’s a shame. He suggested they just do it right now. Seth said he’s putting him on the spot. Seth yelled, “You’re on, let’s do the damn thing!” A ref slid into the ring and Seth yanked off his robe. The bell rang.
(3) BIG E vs. SETH ROLLINS
Seth tossed Big E to the floor early, then dove through the ropes at Big E, knocking him down. When he went for another dive through the ropes, Big E knocked him out of mid-air, then landed his running splash on the ring apron. They cut to an early break. [c]
Seth hit a high knee after the break to drop Big E and get in sustained offense. Big E made a comeback and speared Seth off the ring apron. Graves had been doubting Big E, but he then said maybe he was wrong after that move. They cut to another break. [c]
Back from the break, Big E landed a belly-to-belly. He hip swiveled and then landed a running splash on Seth. He set up a Big Ending, but Seth escaped. Seth arm dragged Big E and hit a rolling elbow to his jaw. They battled back and forth for a minute, with Seth landing a superkick for a two count. Seth landed a top rope splash next. Graves kept stressing that Big E doesn’t seem like the same competitor he was walking in at Day 1. After several minutes of back and forth action, Seth set up a Pedigree. Big E blocked that, but Seth then landed a stomp for the clean three count. Saxton acknowledged that Seth was the better man tonight.
WINNER: Rollins in 18:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: So that gives Seth “momentum” and added credibility as a threat to Reigns at the Rumble. I assume this is part of a storyline with Big E that will reveal itself in coming weeks rather than just defining him down as something less than a world title level singles star. Those who don’t want distraction finishes and want unpredictable outcomes should be pleased at least with that aspect of this.)
-A video aired announcing the women entered in the Royal Rumble that also aired Friday on Smackdown.
-Rhea Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. made their ring entrance. [c]
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed Ripley and Nikki mid-ring. Nikki said they want to challenge for the Women’s Tag Team Championships. Ripley said that’s not what they planned to talk about; she said they were going to talk about the Rumble. Schreiber asked about how they don’t seem to be on the same page. She asked about the future of the team. Ripley said they’ve had their ups and downs. Nikki interrupted and said what Ripley is saying is there’s no big issue. Ripley said she didn’t finish, but she wanted to talk about it privately. Nikki said they need to talk it out right now. Nikki asked whether she’s thinking of breaking them up. Ripley said it’s best they go their separate ways. Nikki said they’ll get the tag team titles back.
Ripley said it’s not about that. Nikki asked what it’s about then. She asked if she thinks she’s so much better than her because she got pinned last week. Ripley said she never said that. Nikki said she was thinking it. Nikki asked if it ever occurred to her that she was doing her the favor by teaming with her. She said friends stay together through thick and thin, even if one is better than the other. Ripley said she never said she’s better than Nikki. Nikki yelled, “I was talking about me.” Ripley said she didn’t like where that was heading, so she’s out. She said Nikki is making her feel uncomfortable, so how about they shake hands and say good bye.
Nikki paused, then said it’s fine if she doesn’t want to be her teammate anymore. She said she wants Ripley to say she still believes in her, then she’ll shake her hand. Ripley said she always has and always will. She said she wants to be friends and she hopes she still believes in herself. Nikki hung her head and took a deep breath and seemed ready to cry. Nikki asked if they can really still be friends. Ripley hugged and caressed Nikki. They fist bumped, but then Nikki attacked Ripley. She mounted her and punched away at her. “Are you kidding me?” exclaimed Smith. Graves said in this business, you either make friends or you make money. Nikki left the ring and said, “Almost Superheros don’t need any friends.”
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s good they’ve moved to the next chapter with those two. Nikki’s act had more than run its course and never really caught on with most fans, so now she can be renewed as a heel. Will she stick with the same gimmick?)
-Backstage Reggie presented Dana Brooke with a cheese steak. Reggie said something seemed off. He said he can tell with a sixth sense when the 24/7 Title is in danger. R-Truth was rolling a garbage can and saying he could smell cheese. They threw their sandwiches at Truth and it hit Tamina. Tamina tipped over the trash can and Akira Tozawa was inside.
-They cut to Omos backstage. Reggie ran into him by mistake. Reggie apologized. Omos lifted Reggie. Brooke yelled for him to put Reggie down. Omos took a few seconds, but finally did. “You should watch what I’m going to do tonight, because next week I’m going to do worse,” Omos said.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s the most heelish thing Omos has done so far. It’s about time, if the goal is for Styles to be the babyface here, which it clearly is.)
-Omos made his ring entrance. [c]
-A soundbite aired with Doudrop. She said Belair and Morgan blew opportunity after opportunity. She told Becky not to get too comfortable with her title because 2022 will be the year she “finally gets Doudropped.”
(4) OMOS vs. NICK SANDERS
Sanders leaped at Omos. Omos knocked Sanders out of mid-air and then stood on his feet as he tried to scurry away. He lifted him and tossed him down. Then he smashed him in the corner with a running elbow. Omos yelled that it’s too easy. Graves wondered if he imagined his career coming to an end in hot-pink tights with green boots that don’t even match. Omos lifted and dropped Sanders one more time. They showed Reggie icing his head backstage alongside Brooke while watching the match on a monitor. Omos then gave Sanders his head vice slam. He stood on his chest and got the three count. Graves called Sanders “a human piece of gum on the shoe of Omos.”
WINNER: Omos in 1:00.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. A recap aired of the Lashley-Lesnar angle earlier.
-Edge made his ring entrance.
-A commercial aired showing Bron Breaker beating Tomasso Ciampa to become NXT Champion. [c]
-The Cutting Edge: Edge stood mid-ring and said, “Hello Philly!” He gushed about his curvaceous guest, his wife, Beth Phoenix. “The owner of thighs that can crack a coconut, ‘The Glamazon’ Beth Phoenix.” Phoenix made her entrance. Graves plugged that Edge & Phoenix will battle Miz & Maryse at the Royal Rumble.
Edge said to Phoenix that they’ve experienced a lot of life together, but last week was the first time the public got to see them interact. He said just as the Flyers have collected Stanley Cups, they’ve collected 35 titles, more than any other couple in WWE. He said they are also the only couple in the WWE Hall of Fame. He said his wife is a wrecking machine. A highlight package aired on Glamazon with comments from other women such as Natalya, Nikki Bella, Belair, Mickie James, Rhea Ripley, and Charlotte Flair. Edge said he’s so proud of her. “Damn, woman!” he said. “The floor is yours, it’s an honor.” Phoenix said if he’s trying to butter her up for later tonight, flattery will get him everywhere. Edge smiled proudly. “Down boy, let’s put a pin in that,” she said. She said the video was just a sampling of the damage she has planned for Maryse. She took digs at Miz’s rambling and said it has to stop. She said they’re going to finally shut their mouths for good at the Rumble. Miz’s music interrupted. Saxton said, “Why do these two have to ruin everything?” Graves said it’s like a crossover episode with Miz TV.
Miz said he can say with the utmost conviction that he stands with Ben Simmons. “I too would give up 33 million dollars just to not play in this crap city,” he said. “I mean, have you seen yourselves. Can you blame them?” He said he figured they’d come out there and slander them. He said at Day 1, he had Edge beat until he manipulated his wife to help him. “What kind of man has his wife fight his own battles for him?” he said. Edge said that’s rich coming from him. He said he used his wife as a shield to avoid a spear. Miz called it slander. Miz said his insider sources at USA Network said Edge was putting together a video on his wife, so he made one on his wife. An over-the-top video package aired on Maryse. It focused on her doing things outside of the ring including some wedding footage.
Back live, Miz asked if they all realize how big of a star his wife is. “Do you understand how lucky you are to be in her presence and see her live and in person?” he said. He asked Edge and Phoenix if they realize it. Edge said Maryse busted her butt to prove everybody wrong, just like her husband, and she did it. He said he respects her, but his wife can dead lift a damn Buick. He said she smashes things, mostly people. Phoenix said Maryse was happy to interfere against Edge until she showed up. She said the time for apologies is long gone. She said at the Rumble, she’ll wreck her. Miz told Maryse to tell Phoenix she will wish she stayed home with their kids. Maryse left as Miz was talking. Miz looked around, confused. Phoenix said she’ll take great pleasure in knocking his teeth in if Maryse doesn’t show up at the Rumble. Saxton said he’d love to see that. Graves called Saxton a hater. Miz yelled for Maryse.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was probably Phoenix’s best mic work to date.)
-Kevin Patrick interviewed Austin Theory about facing A.J. Styles next. Theory said this is his chance to impress Mr. McMahon. He said he talked to him earlier and McMahon told him that Styles is a future first ballot Hall of Famer, but tonight he’ll beat Styles. He said Mr. McMahon will have no doubt about continuing to invest in him. Patrick asked if McMahon had any other words of encouragement. Theory said, “Yes he did. He said ‘don’t screw this up.'”
-Styles’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-They showed footage of Otis & Gable winning the Raw Tag Team Titles earlier.
(5) AUSTIN THEORY vs. A.J. STYLES
Theory’s ring entrance aired. He took selfies in the corner before the bell. Saxton talked about Styles’s upcoming match against Greyson Waller tomorrow night on NXT 2.0. Theory chopped Styles in the throat early and took over with rapid-fire offense including a quick cradle suplex for a two count. Theory dropkicked Styles off the ring to the floor a minute later. As he gloated, they cut to an early break. [c]
Styles was in control after the break. Theory came back with a cradle neck breaker for a two count. When Styles made a comeback and set up a Phenomenal Forearm, Waller attacked Styles. The ref DQ’d Theory. Theory took a selfie at ringside. Styles recovered and attacked Waller. Waller scurried away.
WINNER: Styles via DQ in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was good while it lasted.)
-Backstage Patrick asked Waller if he cared to address his tactics. Waller said it was just a preview of what he can expect tomorrow night on NXT.
-Backstage Liv Morgan said she knows what it’s like to be close to a big victory, and she won’t stop trying. She said after she wins the Triple Threat match tonight, she won’t just come close to winning the title against Becky, she’s going to win it this time.
-Becky Lynch made her entrance 27 minutes into the hour. Smith said, “There is swagger in that walk, for good reason.” [c]
-A video aired with Alexa Bliss at a therapist session. She looked over at a desk bell pendulum and made them stop. Her doctor told her to breathe deep. Bliss breathed, then laughed. The doctor said the first step to recovery is admitting she has a problem. She said she does have a problem, “so fix me.” She was acting crazy. He replayed a clip on his tablet of Charlotte tearing apart Lilly. Bliss poured herself a glass of water, but kept pouring until overflowed. She grabbed his neck tie and asked how it makes him feel. She threw the pitcher against the wall and it shattered. She began tearing out pages of his notebook. She said, “I guess I have a problem. Why don’t you write about it?” The therapist said feelings are okay, but there is a line. He ran away and she let out a big yell.
-Becky stood mid-ring as her music faded. She said these three women will fight over the chance to lose to her at the Rumble. She said she’ll lend her talents to the commentary team.
-Belair’s ring entrance took place. Then Morgan made her entrance. Saxton said Morgan took her to the limit. Becky said she wouldn’t say the limit. Then Doudrop’s entrance took place.
(6) DOUPDROP vs. LIV MORGAN vs. BIANCA BELAIR – Triple Threat where winner gets title shot against Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble
Doudrop splashed both Belair and Morgan early in the match. She followed with a Michinoku Driver on Belair. Morgan leaped at Doudrop with a head scissors attempt, but Dropdrop blocked her and then slammed her onto Belair for a two count. Doupdrop applied a cobra clutch on Morgan mid-ring. Morgan avoided a cannonball by Doupdrop, but as she stomped on her afterward, Doudrop dumped her over the top rope onto the floor. [c]
After the break, all three women knocked each other down after a sequence of reversals and big moves. Belair got up first and Doudrop rolled to the floor. Belair rolled up Morgan, but Morgan countered into Rings of Saturn. Morgan kicked Belair into the top turnbuckle a minute later. Doudrop returned to the ring and powerbombed Morgan. Belair leaped off the top rope to break up Doudrop’s cover with a 450 splash onto Doudrop’s back. Becky said that was mildly impressive. Belair stood and fended off Morgan and Doudrop. She slammed Morgan onto Doudrop, then delivered the K.O.D. on Morgan. Lynch broke up her cover. Saxton asked Becky what she was doing. Belair chased Becky around the ring and into the crowd. Doudrop then splashed Morgan off the second rope for the win.
WINNER: Doudrop in 14:00.
-After the match, Becky offered Doudrop a handshake, but when Doudrop reached out to shake her hand, Becky slapped her. Becky went for a Mandhandle Slam, but Doudrop blocked it and knocked her to the floor. Doudrop yelled down at Becky as Becky tried to regroup.
(Keller’s Analysis: Are they giving fans a chance to cheer Becky? Becky was very heelish on commentary and certainly acted heelish against Belair. Or are they thinking fans will cheer Doudrop?)