SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE RAW TV REPORT
JANUARY 30, 2023
AIRED LIVE ON USA
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-They opened with a video package on Cody Rhodes talking about his comeback and then footage of him eliminating Gunther to win the Rumble on Saturday night.
-They went live to the arena with a focus on the WrestleMania Hollywood sign.
-Mike Rome introduced Cody. He came out to the same theme music, including his opening line, “Wrestling has more than one royal family.” He came out wearing a suit, naturally. The big screen and augmented reality graphics were red, white, and blue. A “Cody! Cody!” chant broke out briefly. Then a “You deserve it!” chant started before he spoke.
Cody played into the chants and cheers. He said, “So, what do you guys want to talk about?” He said every week there is someone new watching the show. He said he isn’t the same person he was when he started his journey 15 years ago on that show. He talked about pulling up to Ohio Valley Wrestling, which had a sign on the door that said, “Tomorrow’s Superstars today.” He said he drove a “beater Volkswagen.” He said he told himself he’d be WWE Champion in two years and become the next John Cena. That got a few scattered boos. He said he was ambitious, but a bit delusional.
He wondered whether that younger him would like to hear what lied ahead. He ran down his list of gimmicks and achievements including being “Dashing Cody” and giving out grooming tips. He made a reference to his wife, and then losing his best friend (his dad) and replacing him with someone with the same eyes (his baby). He talked about being on fire and bleeding all over the world, and that he took an excursion with a focus on the industry’s health, but he ended up neglecting his health. He said that person went on to win the 2023 Royal Rumble and punched a ticket to WrestleMania. Another “Cody! Cody!” chant rang out.
“Truth be told, I wouldn’t tell him a single thing,” he said about his current self and younger self. He said he every step was worth it. He said his song, “Kingdom,” has come everywhere with him. He said the opening words are his, which is that wrestling has more than one royal family. He said WWE has more than one royal family, but for it to be validated and vindicated in his heart, he has to stand across from an entire Bloodline including the Tribal Chief. Boos rang out. He said he has to stand across from the Lebron James of this generation of pro wrestling. A “Roman sucks!” broke out.
He said WrestleMania is in 62 days. He said at WrestleMania, undesirable has already become undeniable, but undeniable has become uncrowned, and on that night, it ends. He said after WrestleMania, he can be the Tribal Chief and Head of the Table, but the one thing he won’t be after WrestleMania is the WWE Undisputed Universal Champion. His music played and he smiled. Graves said the mission statement is clear and Cody is highly motivated.
His music was cut off and replaced by The Judgment Day’s. Finn Balor asked if he was returning to do something original or “are you going to knock off all my old stuff just as you’ve done before.” Dominik Mysterio said Cody ruined their plans at the Rumble. He said Rhea Ripley won her match and everyone will have the honor to hear her declare her choice of opponent for WM, but he was supposed to win the Men’s Rumble match. Balor laughed about how Rey Mysterio didn’t make it to the ring for the Rumble. Dom said Cody put his hands on him and he ruined his moment at the Rumble. He said if he did that to him in prison, he wouldn’t be standing there. “You’d have got got.” Priest said Dom should be the only multi-generational wrestler to headline WrestleMania, not some suck-up who gets whatever he wants. Priest said Ripley earned it by entering no. 1 while Cody was handed no. 30. “How does that even happen?” he said. Dom said Cody owes him an apology for ruining his moment.
Cody asked if he was trying to scare him straight. Fans laughed. He said he has immense respect for his dad. Dominik said that’s funny because he doesn’t have respect for his dad, especially his dad Dusty. Cody said he thinks he gets what’s going on. Fans chanted, “Kick his ass! Kick his ass!” Cody said he could play it safe and try to stay healthy until WM or he could kick any of their asses tonight. His music played again.
As Kevin Patrick and Graves hyped upcoming matches, Edge’s music played and he jumped The Judgment Day. Adam Pearce and other officials and security jumped into the fray. Cody went after Dominik as they cut to a break.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really strong opening promo from Cody. He exudes self-confidence and plays convincingly and effectively into the “destiny” aspect of his journey. There is a real main event gravitas to his presentation. Pro wrestling fans like pro wrestlers who aren’t shy about how much the world title means to them. It validates their investment in the whole genre. Giving him an immediate diversion from talking about Reigns for two months is smart.) [c]
-Freeze-frames images from the Royal Rumble aired.
-They showed the arrival of Austin Theory earlier in the night. Patrick said he’ll be on the VIP Lounge with MVP later. Graves said Cody vs. Balor was scheduled for tonight.
(1) SETH ROLLINS vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Otis) – Elimination Chamber Qualifier
Gable took control and they cut to an early split-screen break 90 seconds in. [c/ss]
Back from the break, Gable was focusing on Seth’s leg. He went for a top rope moonsault, but Seth moved and then buckbombed Seth. Both were down and slow to get up. Gable went for Chaos Theory, but Seth escaped and landed a Falcon Arrow for a two count. Seth clutched his knee afterward. Both were slow to get up again. Seth went for a Stomp, but Gable avoided it. Seth went for a Pedigree, but Gable countered into a jackknife for a two count. They reversed each other’s shoulders down for two counts. Gable applied an anklelock. Seth powered out and rolled up Gable for a two count. Gable went back to an anklelock. Seth kicked out again. Seth rolled Gable into a Pedigree for the three count.
As Seth celebrated, Patrick said the men’s Chamber is for the U.S. Title and Theory will be in the match defending his title against five others. Graves said being U.S. Champion assures you a high-profile spot at WrestleMania.
WINNER: Rollins in 9:00 to qualify for the Chamber. [c]
-The showed headlines from various major media entities about the Rumble.
(2) IYO SKY (Bayley, Dakota Kai) vs. CANDICE LERAE (w/Michin)
They showed a clip of LeRae saving Michin from an attack by Damage CTRL two weeks ago on Raw. They cut to a brief split-screen plug for a movie early in the match. Sky made a comeback and landed a dive through the ropes with a crossbody onto LeRae at ringside. LeRae knocked Sky off the ring apron as they were re-entering the ring. LeRae then dove onto Sky on the floor. Both were slow to get up as they cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
LeRae controlled the action during the break. LeRae landed Poison Rana for a near fall at 8:00. LeRae lifted her knees on a top rope moonsault attempt by Sky and then rolled up Sky. Kai distracted the ref, so Sky recovered enough to kick out. LeRae set up a move, but Bayley jumped on the ring apron and interrupted it. Sky then rolled up LeRae for the three count. Graves suggested Michin could have done more to offset the interference of Kai and Bayley.
WINNER: Sky in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: After a little bit of a rocky start with an overly ambitious opening sequence, the match was solid.)
-They went to Patrick and Graves at ringside who reflected on Ripley’s Rumble win. They showed Ripley walking backstage. Patrick said she’ll select the champion she’ll face at WrestleMania next. [c]
-More Rumble highlights were shown.
-Ripley made her ring entrance. She said she came out alone without the rest of The Judgment Day because she wanted all the attention on herself. She said three years ago he just turned 24 and her career was just getting started and she was the NXT Champion. She said she came to Raw and challenged Charlotte, who had won the Rumble that year. She challenged her to a match at WrestleMania. She said Charlotte put her in her place. She said Charlotte seems to always be in the title picture and she’s always at the top. She said she (Ripley) is the disruptor. “I don’t like the natural flow, I don’t like the normal formula, and I don’t like when things are overplayed,” she said. She paused, then advised Charlotte to enjoy everyone rising and bowing down to her because they’re about to rise to Rhea Ripley. She said she’ll put her in her place at WrestleMania.
(Keller’s Analysis: The promo was a little too deliberately paced, just begging for “What?!” chants, but the crowd didn’t go there. That was nice. They also didn’t react too much overall, though.)
-Cathy Kelley interviewed Seth Rollins backstage. He said he’s going to beat five others in the Chamber and take the U.S. Title from Theory and defend it at WrestleMania. She asked about Logan Paul eliminating him in the Rumble. His exuberance disappeared and he turned and walked away. [c]
-They showed postcard shots of Tulsa.
-Patrick commented on freeze-frames of Sami whacking Reigns with a chair. Graves said there’d be more on that later on Raw.
(3) BARON CORBIN (w/JBL) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO (w/Dexter Lumis) – Elimination Chamber Qualifier
Corbin came out to some spinoff of Elvis’s “Viva Las Vegas.” Then clips aired of last week’s Raw where I.R.S. collected most of Corbin’s poker winnings as taxes. Corbin punched Gargano out of mid-air a minute in. Then he chokeslammed him against the ringside barricade. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
Gargano sling-shot speared Corbin for a near fall. Graves said it would have been “one of the biggest upsets in recent history.” (Huh?) A faint but audible “Johnny Wrestling” chant started briefly. When JBL made a move toward Gargano at ringside, Dexter approached him with a steel axe. He chopped JBL’s hat. JBL fell backwards in fright. Graves yelled for someone to call the cops. Back in the ring, Gargano small packaged Corbin for the win.
WINNER: Gargano in 9:00 to earn a spot in the Chamber. [c]
-A graphic touted that the Royal Rumble was the most viewed in history, beating last year’s record by 52 percent.
-VIP Lounge: MVP introduced his segment and then introduced Theory, touting his bravery for defending his U.S. Title inside the Chamber. Theory lounged on a leather couch in the ring. MVP told him to make himself comfortable. Theory stood and thanked MVP for the invite. He said when he was just a little kid, he used to watch the VIP Lounge. He said that was a long time ago. He said he’s there to help him reinvent the Lounge and make MVP relevant again. He said it could be the ATL, “Austin Theory Live.” MVP said there’s a ring to that. He said hot trends come and go, but classics never go out of style. He said after the Chamber, he might not be live anymore.
Fans chanted “You suck!” Theory told them to shut up “because I am the champ.” Theory said MVP calls him the champion, but he also called Bobby Lashley the champ. He asked if he thinks Lashley can beat him. MVP said yes. Theory said he’s just messing with him. He shifted to talking about the Chamber. He said when he was in the last Chamber, Brock Lesnar F5’d him off the Chamber. He said he still stands because he is the ruthlessness the new generation needs and no amount of aggression can stop him.
MVP said he likes his confidence. He said he was once a brash, young U.S. Champion in a Chamber and Undertaker chokeslammed him off of a pod. He said Theory is terrified, but he’s doing a good job hiding it. He said you never know who is going to be in the Chamber. Theory asked if that was a threat. MVP said it’s a warning. MVP said Lashley is more dangerous than the Undertaker to him. Theory said he’s already defeated Lashley twice, and he will be defend his U.S. Title in the Chamber and Lashley won’t be in it. “Let’s talk about something that’s not the past,” Theory said.
MVP said he and Lashley are no longer business partners, so he cannot speak on his behalf, but he could give him advice for his health. Theory interrupted and asked MVP if he cares about his health. MVP said he does a little. Theory said he should be worried about his health, and Lashley’s health, because Lashley is his meal ticket. Lashley’s music played and he walked out.
Lashley entered the ring. MVP tried to calm him down. Theory told Lashley to “listen to your daddy.” MVP stepped aside and Lashley attacked Theory. When Lashley went to spear Theory, Theory yanked MVP into his path.
(Keller’s Analysis: Fans didn’t seem to know who to side with after MVP insulted the fans, but then Theory insulted MVP. The Lashley-MVP relationship continues to be in limbo. Theory continues to carry himself like a fast-rising star.)
-Byron Saxton interviewed The Judgment Day backstage. He asked about their altercation with Edge earlier. Balor said he’s not hard to find. He said he works Mondays. He said as for Cody, that no. 30 spot should have been his. He said Cody has been stealing from him for years. He said he’s coming to collect.
-A segment aired with Dave Bautista talking about his new movie. [c]
-Miz came out and complained about not being given a proper segment on Raw 30, then being assaulted by Kevin Owens last week, and then getting a terrible number in the Rumble. He said everyone ganged up on him because they knew what a threat he was. He said when he got to the airport, people began chanting “First man out!” Fans began chanting that. He raised his arm and asked if they know what that means. He said when his hands goes up, their mouths go shut. He demanded to be treated with respect.
Pearce walked out and said Miz always wants an opportunity. He said the newest member of the Raw roster has been beating down his door for an opportunity – Rick Boogs. Boogs ran out in a black singlet and tassels on his boots. Miz looked at him like he was a freak with six arms and two heads. Boogs entered the ring after playing air guitar on his way to the ring. Miz asked Pearce if he wants him to have a match with Boogs. He said he has a $10,000 suit his wife bought him. Pearce said the best way for Miz to prove he’s awesome is to wrestle Boogs right now.
(4) THE MIZ vs. RICK BOOGS
A ref entered the ring. Miz protested. “In this part of the country, you could trade Miz’s shoes for a house,” Graves said. Boogs acted ridiculous, like he was being shaken up inside a salt shaker. The crowd wasn’t sure how to react. Boogs gut-wrenched Miz over and back several times, then pressed him into the air and powerslammed him for a three count.
WINNER: Boogs in 1:o0.
(Keller’s Analysis: Boogs looks right out of WWF circa 1984-’92 , like he has had “protein supplements” mainlined into his veins the last nine months.)
-Backstage, they showed Gable and Otis walking backstage. The Maximum Males Models were nearby and sneered. Mansour and Mace called him disgusting and grotesque. Maxxine Dupri said, “It’s Perfect.” Mansour and Mace weren’t sure what she meant. [c]
-A video recap aired of the huge angle with The Bloodline and Sami Zayn at the end of the Rumble on Saturday.
-Graves called it the ultimate betrayal, but they were left with more questions than answers. He said they hope they get some answers on Smackdown on Friday.
-Bayley made her ring entrance, they replayed what happened last week on Raw 30 when Damage CTRL attacked Becky Lynch before the match officially began. Bayley laughed about what happened last week and how Damage CTRL “took out Becky and made history.” She said they entered the Rumble so confident and they were dominant. She said her favorite moment was eliminating Becky Lynch. She said she’s done with her and now they’re going to move on. Becky’s music interrupted.
Becky told Bayley, “Shut up, Bayley, you stupid fool.” She said they’re not done until The Man says they’re done. She said Bayley is forgetting that she already won the Rumble. She said she just wanted to be sure Bayley “and your girls didn’t.” She criticized Bayley for costing the fans a chance to see the cage match last week. She said Bayley didn’t want to lose and then have to admit she’s better than her.
Bayley cackled and said she’s not making excuses. She said she’s smart and she told Becky to read a book or something. Bayley said she has to make everything about her. Becky said it’s her birthday. Bayley said she doesn’t care about that. Bayley said she knows Becky and she doesn’t like her. She said she’s overrated and isn’t good enough to be champion again or be in the ring with her one-on-one. She said she’s not even good enough for her husband, Seth. She said the only reason Seth married her is “because he knocked you up.”
Becky said she thought they were only fighting over wrestling all this time. She said their rivalry dates back ten years in NXT in Orlando, so she proposed they end this once and for all in a cage match in Orlando next week. Bayley said no. Becky said she thought she’d say that. She put the mic down and said she’d be right back. Bayley said she didn’t have time for that. Becky returned, dragging Kai with her. Kai’s ankle was inside a chair. Becky threatened to stomp on it as she asked Bayley to accept the fight. Bayley accepted the match as Becky was winding up. (Bayley’s a good friend, huh?) Becky told Bayley she can bring her friends with her, but she should go check with Iyo in the back right now. [c]
-Kelley interviewed Pearce backstage. He said he is excited to announce the Becky-Bayley cage match is official next week. He said since Ripley chose to face Charlotte, he’s in charge of deciding who will face Bianca Belair at WrestleMania. He said the women’s Elimination Chamber match will determine that. He said Racquel Rodriguez, Liv Morgan, Nikki Cross, and Asuka were the final four in the Rumble, so they’ve already qualified. He said next week Michin, LeRae, Piper Niven, and Carmella will square off in a Fatal Four-way match to determine the final two next week. Chelsea Green interrupted and complained to Pearce about the unacceptable accommodations she’s been given. She asked for a private dressing room, fresh spring water, and Swiss chocolate. She wanted it resolved immediately. Pearce said they’d go find some Swiss chocolate for her. [c]
-They aired a clip from earlier in the day of Dolph Ziggler arriving. As Saxton was about to interview him, Mustafa Ali interrupted and claimed Ziggler was about to get another opportunity handed to him. Ziggler said he doesn’t book the show, but since he’s on it, he’ll steal it. Graves said Ali has become the most obnoxious person in WWE. He said he used to have time for him, but now all he does is whine and moan.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t know if they intended to land here with Ali’s character, but he did become really annoying so they might as well lean into it.)
(5) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. BRONSON REED – Elimination Chamber Qualifier
Back and forth action early with each scoring two counts. Reed blocked a running Zig Zag attempt and slammed him hard to the mat. Then he leaped off the top rope with a splash for the win. Graves asked if the Chamber is big enough to contain Reed.
WINNER: Reed in 3:00 to qualify for the Chamber.
(Keller’s Analysis: Reed looked good here.) [c]
-Kelley interviewed Carmella who talked about being back where she belongs. She talked about Staten Island. She said she’s going to win the Chamber. Asuka interrupted with her new look. Carmella said Asuka isn’t ready for her. Asuka smiled and blue slime began flowing out of her mouth and her teeth were blue.
-Graves was spooked and asked Patrick to change the subject. Patrick talked about Boogs’s return. They replayed his injury at WrestleMania and being carried out.
-Backstage, Boogs and Montez Ford were laughing. Saxton interrupted him and asked how it feels to be back. He said he feels like he’s climbing a mountain in a loin cloth and he just wants to scream. He then screeched. He said he feels like he’s riding lightning. He said it’s been a long road to recovery, but it’s official, he’s back. The camera panned back to Angelo Dawkins and a not-excited-looking Elias. Elias said it takes true skill to become an artist and he thinks Boogs has potential. Ford said they’re going to party tonight. Boogs ran off. Saxton informed them that they’ll have a chance to earn a spot in the Chamber. He said Dawkins will wrestle Damian Priest while Ford will face Elias. Elias said he’s an American Icon like Elvis and Johnny Cash. He said he needs to become U.S. Champion. Dawkins predicted victory.
-Graves hyped the first-ever Cody vs. Balor match. [c]
-Patrick and Graves hyped the Raw line-up next week.
(6) CODY RHODES vs. FINN BALOR (w/Damian Priest, Dominik Mysterio, Rhea Ripley)
Cody made his entrance first. They locked up 43 minutes into the hour. The announcers continued to emphasize this is the first-ever match-up between them. Graves said everything Cody has done, Balor claims he did first including making a name for themselves in Japan or “striking out on his own to change the game as a whole” (the new euphemism for sparking the movement that led to AEW). Cody lifted Balor for a suplex and then dropped him onto his face and chest. Balor rolled to ringside to regroup. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
Back from the break, Balor took control by countering an Alabama Slam and then blocking him dropdown uppercut. He stomped on Cody’s right shoulder. He stomped away at Cody as the rest of The Judgment Day celebrated at ringside. Cody came back with a Dragon Screw of Balor when he had one leg over the middle rope. He knocked Balor down with a Disaster Kick. He fended off Priest and Dom at ringside, tossing them into the time keeper’s area and over the announce desk. Back in the ring, he snap powerslammed Balor for a two count. Ripley helped Dom up at ringside. Balor countered Cody Cutter into an inverted DDT for a near fall. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
Balor methodically controlled the action during the break. Back from the break, Cody landed a superplex. He landed a springboard Cody Cutter a minute later for a believable near fall. Balor fired back with a Slingblade and then charged, but Cody cut him off with a superkick for a near fall. With Balor down, Cody set up a figure-four and let out a “wooo!” Balor blocked it with an inside cradle. When Cody went for a figure-four again, Balor kicked him to ringside. Priest, Dom, and Ripley surrounded him. Edge ran down the stands. Priest noticed and met him in the crowd. Edge fought through Priest and then beat up Dom at ringside. Edge speared Dom, which got a nice pop. Ripley attacked Edge. Beth Phoenix ran out and speared Ripley.
Cody entered the ring, but Balor swept him down and landed a double stomp and a running missile dropkick. He climbed to the top rope, but Edge climbed onto the ring apron. Balor went for the Coup de Grace, but Cody moved and then hit Crossroads three times for the win.
WINNER: Cody in 15:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. Cody had a good first night back on Raw. It’s notable he didn’t get a true clean win over Balor, but utilized a distraction by Edge to slow Balor’s momentum. It’s kind of crazy that Balor is the set-up for the match people really want to see, Cody vs. Dominik. Are they going to extend this all the way to an Edge & Phoenix vs. Dom & Ripley match at WrestleMania?)