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WWE RAW TV REPORT
JANUARY 16, 2023
CINCINNATI, OHIO AT HERITAGE BANK CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
– The “Then, Now, Forever, Together” opening brand stamp aired. Then the Raw opening aired.
-They went to the arena where pyro blasted on the stage at Kevin Patrick introduced the show. He called it “a high-stakes, epic journey ahead.” He said the six-way elimination match was “a blockbuster main event.”
-The Usos made their entrance along with Solo Sikoa. They replayed the ending to Smackdown’s Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens match where the Usos and Solo ruined Sami’s chance to beat KO on his own, much to his consternation and confusion. Patrick said many questions remain about how Sami feels about it.
Jimmy Uso said “The Bloodline is now in your city.” Jimmy said they run Smackdown and Raw every single week. He said before Solo put a beating on Mustafa Ali tonight, they want to address what happened on Friday. He said he hopes KO got the message that you can’t cross the Tribal Chief and get away with it, and he’ll learn one last hard lesson at the Royal Rumble. He said they have big plans for Raw 30. Jimmy said every generation of The Bloodline will be joining them in an acknowledgment ceremony for Roman Reigns. Jey said they’re going to beat The Judgment Day tonight because “they the twos and we the ones.” The Judgment Day’s entrance theme played.
Rhea Ripley, Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio, and Damien Priest walked out. Ripley said The Judgment Day run Raw. Balor said they ran the gauntlet last week and now they are running straight for The Bloodline. Fans booed. Jimmy laughed at them from inside the ring. The Judgment Day entered the ring. Balor said he wanted to thank “the ex-con Dom” for stepping up and helping them earn a title shot. Balor winced as he got worked up. Priest told him to calm down because he and Dom have things covered. He said those Raw Tag Team Titles are coming permanently back to Monday nights. More scattered boos.
Priest said they always say they run Raw. He asked if they have ever stepped up to The Judgment Day before, though. Dom sniffed and few times and said he smells the fear because they’re scared. Jimmy and Jey laughed. Jimmy asked, “Scared of who? Scared of you?” He told Dom to check their track record. Jey and Jimmy listed the teams they’ve defeated, including Rey & Dominik. Dom said he hears them talking, but they wouldn’t last a minute in a cell with the prisoners he dealt with. He said in the pen, they called the Usos “wannabes.”
Dom said Solo is just standing back there doing nothing. Solo stepped up to his face and had an intense staredown. Ripley stepped between them and stared at Solo. Solo looked at her and then back at Dom. He stepped back, looked at the Usos, and then stepped forward toward Ripley again. Dom hit Solo. Solo knocked Rey down. A brawl broke out with everyone. Graves said Dom did what you do in the prison yard – you walk up to the biggest guy and punch him. Mustafa Ali then leaped off the top rope and pounded away at Solo. Graves said that match was up next.
(Keller’s Analysis: Dominik was great here. So were the Usos reacting to him. I’m glad Dominik is wrestling and not Balor in the match against the Usos, although I can’t believe I’m saying that. Seeing Dom interact with the Usos will be a blast.) [c]
(1) SOLO SIKOA vs. MUSTAFA ALI
The match was joined in progress. Patrick said Ali is as brave as it comes and wants retribution for the Bloodline attacking him a few weeks ago. They replayed that during the break, Solo took over control. They cut to an interview from earlier in the day of Byron Saxton interviewing Ali as he arrived. Ali said he’s taking on Solo to get payback. He threw Ali into the ringpost around 5:00. Graves said Ali won’t be recovered in time for Royal Rumble 2023 so he should begin thinking about 2024.
The Usos entered the ringside area and entered the ring. KO’s music played. Solo turned and looked at Owens walking toward the ring. As KO tried to take on the Usos at ringside, Ali surprised a distracted Solo with a leaping DDT off the second rope for a two count. Ali climbed to the top rope and went for a 450, but Solo moved. Solo then caught Ali with the Samoan Spike for the win.
WINNER: Solo in about 7:00.
-Afterward, KO gave Solo a stunner and then threw him into the ringside steps. KO cleared the announce desk and threw Solo onto it. The Usos attacked Owens. KO threw chairs at the Usos as Adam Pearce and other officials tried to stop him. Owens was held back as the Usos retreated. “Owens is a madman!” said Graves. Owens stood on the announce desk as his music played and Patrick plugged Reigns vs. KO at the Rumble.
(Keller’s Analysis: KO’s intensity doesn’t promise a victory for him against Reigns, but it does signal he’ll be bringing the fight to him.)
-A promo aired with Bobby Lashley speaking about the six-man elimination match later. He said these aren’t hoops Theory is making him jump through, it’s just producing extra victims. He said he’ll put him away for good at Raw 30.
-Graves hyped the six-way elimination main event. [c]
-Postcard shots aired of Cincinnati, Ohio.
-A video played on Cody Rhodes’s injury and path to recovery. Patrick and Graves talked excitedly about Cody’s return and then threw to Saxton backstage.
-Saxton said he’s tried all day to get word with Pearce. He said it’s been a revolving door of Superstars trying to talk Pearce into letting them into the Rumble. Elias said 2022 was a wild year for him as he left, watched his brother’s career take off and then fizzle out far too soon, and then he came back and lost his best friend and a match to The Bloodline. He said he’ll right some wrongs as he begins the vengeance tour after winning the Rumble. MVP walked up to Elias and said if he ever wants his fingers to strum the guitar again, don’t bother Pearce about the Rumble. He said the winner is a done deal. Elias thought MVP said he was winning the Rumble and said he hasn’t been relevant for years. MVP said he could arrange for him to face the Rumble winner later on Raw. Elias agreed. MVP said it’s easy money and he’d talk to Pearce.
(Keller’s Analysis: I do enjoy Elias talking with a straight face about his brother’s career taking off and then fizzling. I’m kind of hoping Elias enters the Rumble early, gets tossed out, and then a beardless Ezekiel enters later and also gets eliminated.)
-Patrick plugged the Street Profits vs. Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin was up next. [c]
(2) THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN & CEDRIC ALEXANDER
Shelton got the better of Dawkins early. Cedric then got the better of Ford, including a one-armed slam on the edge of the ring apron. They cut to a break with MVP watching from the entrance area. [c]
Cedric dove through the ropes and hit Ford. When Dawkins went to splash Cedric in the corner, MVP leaped onto the ring apron to try to pull him out of the way but he was late. The ref turned to tell MVP to get off the ring apron. Meanwhile, Cedric and Shelton double-teamed Dawkins. Dawkins survived and leveraged Cedric’s shoulders down for the win. Cedric and Shelton were upset with MVP at ringside.
WINNERS: The Street Profits in 9:00.
-Cathy Kelley interviewed The Judgement Day backstage. Balor said he’s ready for the Six-Pack Challenge, inferring he has a six-pack. Chad Gable and Otis walked up to them and said he couldn’t believe his cauliflower ears when he overheard them. He said they barely snuck by the Alpha Academy. He said they’ll get their redemption tonight. Ripley told him to walk away before she does something to him. Dom said he spent all day and all night “in the yard” working out. Gable said he must supplement a strong body with a strong mind. He said he has to work on both. He told Dom next time he’s in prison he should sign up for an Alpha course. Dom said he doesn’t want to know what prisoners would do to someone like Gable. Priest said that’s enough and told them to take a walk. Gable said Otis doesn’t have his daily steps in yet, so it’s a good idea. They turned and left. [c]
-Some snippets aired of soundbites from WWE wrestlers the last time WrestleMania was in L.A. They were doing Robert De Niro impressions.
-Becky Lynch made her ring entrance through the crowd. Becky brought up the Bengals playoff win and said she even dyed her hair orange for the occasion. She called Bayley out, and referred to her as “Karen.” Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky walked out. Bayley was wearing a San Francisco 49er jersey. She protested being called “Karen.” Becky said she is “a Karen.” She called Bayley a dope. Patrick said that’s a nasty insult in Ireland.
Bayley entered the ring and said, “Real mature, Becks, real mature.” Bayley said she’s calling her all those names, but that’s just a sign of her bitterness that she lost to her and that she still has no friends to stand next to her. Becky said she has an arena full of friends. She said Bayley is a sour-faced dope who peaked in 2015. Bayley said she ran NXT while Becky ran off with the other Horsewomen “and you took my spot.” Becky said she wasn’t brought up before Bayley because they saw more in her. She said Bayley had said at the time she wanted to stay in NXT to be a leader and have her own spotlight.
Becky said she was seen as just another body and she wasn’t supposed to be the first woman to win the main event of WrestleMania. She said she did because she lived for it and worked harder than anyone else and she’ll do it until she can’t anymore. She said she knows Bayley loves it, too, but there are differences between them. She said Bayley makes excuses when things don’t go her way, blaming everyone else. Bayley told fans not to bother chanting Becky’s name. Fans chanted “Becky!” She said she became The Man because she was punched in the face by another woman. Becky said maybe she’ll punch her in the face to get her out of the rut she’s been in.
Becky asked if she’s going to keep hiding behind Sky and Kai. Bayley said she didn’t need them to beat Becky and she doesn’t need them now. Becky said so she’ll have no problem facing her next week in a steel cage match. Bayley gulped, but said, “No problem.” Becky called her on her lack of confidence in her inflection. Bayley called her an idiot and said she’d see her next week. Graves wondered if Bayley just made a colossal mistake.
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid back-and-forth segment to set up a big match next week on Raw 30. The talk of their days in NXT together worked here. They’re openly acknowledging Bayley is in a rut as a character, it seems.)
-Backstage Dolph Ziggler was warming up when Ali showed up and said it must be so good to be him, a guy who gets opportunity after opportunity handed to him. Ziggler said nobody gets anything handed to them around there. He said he doesn’t have time to pay attention to him now. Ali hit Ziggler and then asked if he had his attention now.
(Keller’s Analysis: Ali remains rather unintentionally unlikable.)
-Patrick plugged the six-way main event. [c]
-Elias stood in the ring after the break. MVP walked out and said he seemed confused earlier. He said he will be facing the 2023 Royal Rumble winner, but that’s not him, it’s Omos. Omos walked out.
(3) ELIAS vs. OMOS (w/MVP)
Omos kicked Elias down. Elias rolled to ringside to recover. Patrick said Elias is a big human being, but he seems tiny standing next to Omos. Elias punched away at Omos when Omos finally came after him at ringside. He leaped onto his back with a sleeper, but Omos flipped him off of him. He charged at Elias, but Elias moved. When Elias charged toward Omos, MVP blocked him with his cane. Elias picked up his guitar. Omos blocked his guitar swing and headbutted him. Omos smashed the guitar at ringside. Elias kicked Omos as he re-entered the ring. He landed a high knee and then climbed to the top rope. Omos grabbed him by his throat and slammed him to the mat for the three count.
WINNER: Omos in 2:30.
-Saxton interviewed Pearce backstage about Raw 30 next week. Pearce touted what an unforgettable night it’ll be. Akira Tozawa walked in and asked Pearce for a spot in the Rumble. Pearce said he’d have to earn it. Tozawa said he’d like to prove himself in a match. Pearce said no guarantees, but he’ll give him a match to impress him.
-They showed The Judgment Day walking backstage. [c]
(4) ALPHA ACADEMY (Chad Gable & Otis) vs. THE JUDGMENT DAY (Damien Priest & Dominik Mysterio w/Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley)
Gable took control a few minutes in, then tagged in Otis against Priest. Otis did a Fargo Strut and headbutted Priest. Gable tagged right back in. Priest tossed him over the top rope. They cut to a break. [c]
Gable hot-tagged out to Otis and rallied against Priest and an interfering Dom. Otis went to slam Priest, but Priest blocked it. Otis headbutted his chest. Priest superkicked him. Otis powerslammed Priest for a two count. Otis did his Caterpillar routine into a splash on Priest in the corner. He then set up his corner swing splash for Priest. Gable, meanwhile, fended off Dom at ringside. Priest got up and knocked Otis off the second rope with a chokeslam. Gable entered and gave Priest a back suplex. Dominik rolled up Gable for a two count. Gable shifted into an anklelock. Ripley tried to push the bottom rope toward Dom. The ref yelled at Ripley. Priest interfered with a South of Heaven. Dom, grabbing his ankle in pain, crawled over and covered Gable for the three count.
WINNERS: The Judgment Day in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Gable & Otis are a lot of fun in the babyface slot in a match. I hope they shift them officially into that spot. Good action overall here.)
-A video aired on Martin Luther King Jr. [c]
(5) IYO SKY (w/Dakota Kai) vs. “MICHIN” MIA YIM (w/Candice LeRae)
Sky got in the majority of the offense early. Michin made a comeback and landed a German suplex. Sky scored a near fall with a jackknife cover. LeRae yanked Kai off the ring apron. Michin then landed Eat Defeat for the win.
WINNER: Michin in 5:00.
-Afterwards, Candice fought off an attacking Kai.
-They went to Graves and Patrick at ringside. Graves said he looked into Alexa Bliss’s eyes last week and saw nothing and it terrified him. They threw to a video package on Bliss.
-They showed Bianca Belair backstage. [c]
-They advertised the Royal Rumble. The graphic featured Cody Rhodes front and center. Patrick noted Omos was in the back of the graphic. They also talked about Reigns vs. Owens and the Bray Wyatt vs. L.A. Knight match.
-Belair made her ring entrance. She said she was away for a few weeks and she missed the fans so much. She said if she had her way, she’d never miss an episode of Raw, but with her job, there’s too much risk. She said even if she ends up with a scar on her face after what Bliss did to her, she’d still face her again and again and again and again and again. She said with every risk comes a reward of remaining the Raw Women’s Champion. She held up the belt and got mild applause. She waited for an “EST!” chant to gain momentum. It did somewhat. She said she heard everything Bliss said last week and she wanted to see if she had the guts to step out and say it to her face. Bliss’s music played and she walked out.
Bliss said she fears her because she doesn’t know what to expect from her. Belair interrupted and asked if she really wants to try to win the Rumble to get a title shot. She offered her a match one-on-one at the Rumble. Bliss asked, “What’s the catch?” Belair said the choice is hers. Bliss smiled and said she’d see her at the Rumble. Belair stepped out of the ring and said she’ll see her tonight, too. Belair and Bliss fought in the aisle. Belair tossed Bliss around ringside for a minute. Bliss ducked as she charged at her. Belair flew over the barricade into the front row. A fan stood by with Bliss’s Lilly doll and she cheered for her. Belair rose and attacked Bliss. (I was so sure that fan was a plant for a minute there, but I guess not.) Belair set up Bliss for a her finisher onto two chairs, but her view just happened to be precisely down a corridor where Uncle Howdy stood in fog with his arms raised. She was startled and frozen in place. Bliss then gave a distracted Belair a DDT onto the floor.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was corny. If Uncle Howdy had shown up in a more random place in the arena and caught Belair’s eyes, it would’ve been more believable. That felt so orchestrated as to knock you out of your sense of disbelief. Belair didn’t lean into her usual mannerisms and catch phrases in her promo, but it still feels like a bit of a struggle lately and the tepid crowd response seemed to throw her off.) [c]
(6) BRONSON REED vs. AKIRA TOZAWA
Reed dominated Tozawa. Graves touted Bronson’s size and speed. Patrick wondered what it’d mean to the Rumble if Reed were part of it. Tozawa head scissored Reed a few minutes in. Reed rolled to ringside. Tozawa landed a slidekick and then a running dive. He showed fire to the crowd and got some cheers in return. He went for a running flip dive off the ring apron, but Reed caught him and then slammed him hard into the ringside barricade. That bump looked nasty. Reed then leaped off the ring apron and shoulder-checked Tozawa hard to the mat. Graves said someone has to scrape Tozawa off the ground. Reed threw him back into the ring and then landed a top rope splash for the win.
WINNER: Reed in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tozawa was a good, sympathetic opponent for Reed who made Reed look like a million bucks with his bumps. Reed looked like a potential star here in terms of in-ring moves and demeanor.)
-Saxton interviewed an excited Seth Rollins backstage. He said he had his mind made up to go to the Rumble and then WrestleMania, but his eyes have shifted to this U.S. Title opportunity. Seth said they’re in Cincinnati, the town that loves to party and sing. He said officials called him about this match and he is in. He said he’s going to win the U.S. Title and the Rumble and go to WrestleMania to kick Roman Reigns’s ass “as only I can.” He said he wants it all and he wants it now, as Freddie Mercury said. [c]
-The announcers plugged Raw 30 featuring WWE legends including Kurt Angle, Jerry Lawler, Teddy Long, The Bellas, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman, Ron Simmons, Road Dogg, Undertaker, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels. The also plugged the Austin Theory defense of the U.S. Title.
(7) SETH ROLLINS vs. FINN BALOR vs. THE MIZ vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. BOBBY LASHLEY vs. BARON CORBIN (w/JBL)
Ring entrances took place starting with Seth, then Balor, Miz, Ziggler, Corbin, and Lashley. As it appeared the match was about to begin, Theory’s music played and he walked out. The bell rang 32 minutes into the hour and they cut abruptly to a break, which included a commercial for Raw’s 30th Anniversary special next week. (Does Vince McMahon appear on camera or in the arena?) [c]
Theory joined in on commentary. Graves asked if he had his eye on anyone. He said Lashley. Theory said he grew up watching all of these wrestlers, but they’re all old guys past their primes. As Seth, Corbin, and Balor battled on the top rope, Lashley suplexed all of them to the mat. Ziggler and Miz went after Lashley, but he fended off their attacks until Ziggler hit a Fameasser and Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall. When Miz put Ziggler in a figure-four leglock, Graves said he can’t wait to see Ric Flair next week. Ziggler reversed Miz’s figure-four. Seth gave a vulnerable Miz a Stomp for a three count.
ELIMINATION #1: Miz at 8:00. [c]
Corbin and Balor worked together to shove Lashley into the ringpost. Balor returned to the ring and got clotheslined by Seth twice. He rolled back to ringside. Seth leaped off the ring apron with a flying knee to Balor. Seth drank water from a bottle at ringside and then sprayed water in the face of Balor. Seth re-entered the ring and continued his battle against Balor. Corbin and Ziggler joined in the fight. The match paused as Seth and Ziggler stood face-to-face. They decided to work together against Corbin and Balor. Seth rolled up Ziggler seconds later. Ziggler dove through the ropes onto Corbin and Lashley. Balor rammed Ziggler ino the turnbuckle and then dove onto a crowd at ringside seconds later. Theory was standing and pacing at ringside. Ziggler climbed to the top rope and leaped onto Corbin and Balor. Graves called “an uncharacteristic super-high risk.” After some chaos, Seth hit Ziggler with a Pedigree for the three count.
ELIMINATION #2: Ziggler at 16:00. [c]
Lashley’s offense was spotlighted after the break with power moves against various wrestlers leading to a near fall against Seth. As Lashley set up a Hurt Lock on Balor, MVP and Omos walked out. Lashley stopped what he was doing and stared at them. Corbin then hit Lashley with a running clothesline. Balor hit Corbin with a Slingblade and then clotheslined him over the top rope. Balor gave a Coup de Gras to Lashley, but Seth surprised Balor with a sudden stomp.
ELIMINATION #3: Balor at 20:00.
Seth went after Corbin at ringside. Omos intervened and yanked Seth over the announce desk. As Corbin looked toward ringside, Lashley speared him for a three count.
ELIMINATION #4: Corbin in 23:00.
When Lashley yelled down at Omos, Theory hit him with is U.S. Title belt. Omos then tried to chokeslam Theory over the desk, but Theory blocked it. Seth then gave Omos a stomp on the desk. Seth dove onto Theory next and clotheslined him over the barricade at ringside. Seth re-entered the ring and superkicked MVP off the ring apron. Lashley then caught Seth with a spear for the three count.
ELIMINATION #5: Seth in 26:00.
WINNER: Lashley in 26:00 to earn a U.S. Title match against Theory next week at Raw 30.
-Graves hyped The Bloodline Acknowledgment Ceremony next week, plus Becky vs. Bayley in a cage and Lashley vs. Theory for the U.S. Title.