January 2, 2017
From the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL
Your hosts are Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Michael Cole
The show starts off with Mick Foley in the ring, sporting a goatee and a new haircut. He talks about making New Year resolutions and will now right down the city they are in on his hand and has some fun with that. He then talks about Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at the Royal Rumble with Chris Jericho suspended above the ring inside of a shark cage. Owens & Jericho come out to interrupt as they ask Foley if he thinks its funny to hang Jericho in the air as Jericho says he will be like a “sexy pinata.” Owens & Jericho then go off on Foley for all he has done to them as they tell him about no longer standing for his actions. Foley then tells Owens he wants to see what type of host he will be as tonight, the “Kevin Owens Show” will debut with Goldberg as his guest. Jericho & Goldberg then ask some of the questions they have for Goldberg as Owens wants to ask some warm up questions to Foley and asks him why he thinks its right to abuse his power on RAW. Stephanie McMahon then interrupts as she tells Owens & Jericho that Foley did not abuse his power but does wish he consulted her first. Foley then asks Stephanie about wishing he was consulted when she made Zayn vs. Strowman a Last Man Standing match. Owens tells them enough as he calls Jericho and himself “National Treasures” as Stephanie laughs at that. She then tells them Roman Reigns will defend his United States Championship against Jericho and Reigns will lose the title if disqualified. Owens & Jericho huddle briefly as they want Rollins banned from ringside. Foley then wants Owens banned as Stephanie has had enough and goes off about Smackdown beating RAW in the ratings as she then makes Owens vs. Rollins tonight and that will happen next, with the loser banned from ringside during the U.S. Title match. She then tells Foley to get his act straight as they are now in a ratings war.
I did not care for this segment. Felt it was lazy and gave us matches we’ve seen ad nauseam over the past few months. Plus, even though it was shorter than most opening talk segments, it still went on for much longer than it should have. They did have Stephanie show anger over losing to Smackdown in the ratings last week which makes sense I suppose but the purpose was to seemingly screw over Reigns with the DQ stipulation in place.
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins hammers away then hits Owens with a dive to the outside. Rollins leaps off the top to attack Owens as they are now brawling at ringside. Back inside, they continue to go back-and-forth. Rollins gets two with a blockbuster then we head to break and return with Owens working a chinlock as during the break he took control by catching Rollins with a DDT. Owens gets two with a senton as he is now taunting and kicking Rollins, who fights back. Owens launches Rollins over the top rope with a backdrop then tries for a cannonball but Rollins moves away as Owens hits the barricade. They head back inside where Rollins hits an enziguiri after a reversal sequence as both men are down. Rollins hits a few forearm smashes but Owens catches him with a clothesline. Rollins then stops a cannonball attempt and sends Owens into the corner. Rollins hits a super kick then tries for a Pedigree but Owens blocks that. Rollins sends Owens outside and hits a tope before beating him down in the timekeeper’s area. Rollins runs into the ring to beat the count then heads back out but Owens hits him with the ring bell. However, the referee sees this and disqualifies Owens. Rollins then tries to hit Owens with a pedigree but Owens is able to escape (12:01) **.
Thoughts: The match itself was subpar and never got out of first gear. Rollins was not over much at all here and the finish can be used to split Owens and Jericho at least but the match itself was really disappointing.
Cesaro vs. Karl Anderson w/ Luke Gallows
Sheamus is on commentary. Anderson knocks Cesaro down then works the arm. Cesaro catches Anderson’s foot then decks him and gets two with a gutwrench suplex. He gets two with an uppercut to the back of the neck but Gallows provides a distraction and it allows Anderson to boot him off of the apron as we head to break. We return with Cesaro breaking out of a chinlock then hitting a deadlift suplex as both men are down. Cesaro fights back with uppercuts but misses one in the corner and gets booted in the face. Anderson gets a nearfall with a clothesline but Cesaro fights back then hits a double jump crossbody for a nearfall. Cesaro tries for the swing but Gallows interferes and ends up walking into a spinebuster as Anderson gets two off of that. Sheamus leaves the booth to be at ringside near his partner. Cesaro comes back with a springboard corkscrew uppercut then they have a reversal sequence that ends with Cesaro placing Anderson on top and hitting a dropkick. Gallows tries to interfere as Sheamus pulls him off the apron but that ends up crotching Cesaro then Anderson leaps off of the top with a neckbreaker and gets the win (10:56) **1/2.
Thoughts: Solid match but a week after needing to cheat in beating the Golden Truth it appears they are once again positioning Gallows & Anderson as Tag Team title contenders and how they’ve been used since their feud with the New Day ended its going to be a challenge for fans to take them seriously again.
Video package on the Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman feud to hype up their Last Man Standing match tonight.
We now get a video package on the Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar match from Survivor Series.
Last Man Standing Match: Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman
Zayn starts off by using his speed to his advantage. He beats on Strowman with a kendo stick until Strowman snas it and tosses Zayn across the ring. They head outside where Strowman catches Zayn’s moonsault block from the barricade and rams him down. Zayn gets up at 6 then slams Strowman into the post a few times but gets punched down trying his rope dive DDT. They head back inside where Strowman inflicts more pain as Zayn rolls outside before the break. We return with Strowman beating on Zayn in front of the broadcast position. Strowman tosses Zayn backstage but Zayn grabs a pipe and uses it as a weapon. He pushes Strowman into the equipment cases but Strowman comes back to toss Zayn on top of a stack of crates. Zayn rolls away as Strowman flings a case at him then flies off with a forearm smash. Zayn uses a chair to beat on Strowman as they head towards the stage. Strowman tosses Zayn onto the stage then steps on the chair Zayn tries to grab before slamming him into the wall. Zayn escapes from Strowman’s shoulder and then they fight towards the edge of the stage as Zayn takes them off with a crossbody. Strowman gets up at 5 then manages to hit Zayn with a running clothesline on the ramp. Strowman then hits a running powerslam on the floor as Zayn is just able to get up at the 9 count. Strowman then beats Zayn down some more and breaks the count at 7 before hitting another running powerslam on the floor as that gets the win (15:14) ***1/4. After the match, Strowman whips Zayn into the wall and inflicts even more punishment as medics and Foley come out with a stretcher with Strowman finally leaving.
Thoughts: Good match. Strowman came out of it looking like a monster and Zayn got over as a fighting babyface who refuses to quit. This feud helped out both guys a great deal and the match was fun to watch and the crowd even started a “this is awesome” chant at one point.
We get a video package on the “Gentleman’s Duel” that took place this past Tuesday on “205 Live” where Jack Gallagher defeated Ariya Daivari. After that, Gallagher is backstage with his umbrella teaching the New Day how to duel but leaves when they start shaking their hips and acting goofy.
The New Day come out to the ring for their New Year’s resolutions. Xavier talks about some ups-and-downs in 2016 but as a whole it was wildly successful as they became the longest reigning WWE World Tag Team Champions. Big E said to kick off the New Year they’ve entered themselves into the Royal Rumble match. They get interrupted by Titus O’Neill, who is mocking Big E. Titus then tells New Day just what they need to reach their 2017 goals and that is a new member of the New Day and that is the “Titus Brand.” He shows off his rhythm then tries to grab Francesca II but Xavier tells him no one touches “his girl” but him then proceeds to play the New Day chant with a whistle as the crowd applauds as Big E cracks a joke about them all knowing that he “blows” as the New Day cracks jokes about him. Titus then calls Xavier the weakest link of the New Day as Xavier challenges him to a match. Titus then cheap shots him and goes outside where he accepts the match and calls out for a referee. Titus was amusing here but I have no idea if this is going to lead to something or just an excuse to bring Titus out in front of the crowd since he played football at the University of Florida.
Xavier Woods vs. Titus O’Neill
Xavier hits a few kicks and a rolling elbow but Titus boots him down. Titus chops Xavier in the corner then hits a slam before applying a chinlock. Titus mocks the New Day then Xavier escapes and hits a few more kicks. Xavier pulls the ropes down on Titus then flies out with a tope con hilo as he rolls him back inside for two. Xavier tries a crossbody but Titus catches him and hits a backbreaker. Titus picks Xavier back up nonchalantly and that allows Xavier to surprise him with a sunset flip and that gets the win (3:52) 3/4*.
Thoughts: Despite his charisma, Titus still stinks in the ring and as a professional wrestler in general. Looks like the New Day need to find something to do now as dicking around with Titus is a complete waste.
Bayley backstage with Stephanie. Asks about her victory being expunged but wants to know why Dana Brooke was made special referee. Stephanie tells Bayley she probably cannot understand but Charlotte has high-powered attorneys then talks about how she never even wanted her on RAW. Stephanie says that Foley thought she could be the face of the women but has no pedigree and is average, much like the fans. Bayley tells Stephanie she might not have a famous last name or grew up in the business but she believes in herself. Stephanie then tells Bayley she almost made a believer out of her and will be in a #1 Contender’s match tonight against Nia Jax.
Cedric Alexander & Alicia Fox are walking backstage. Noam Dar is there and tells Cedric how they got off on the wrong foot and wants to apologize. Cedric tells him to apologize to Fox and he does but calls her “sweet cheeks” then runs off as Fox stops Cedric from going after him and to focus on his match.
Drew Gulak w/ Tony Nese vs. Cedric Alexander w/ Alicia Fox
They start off going back-and-forth until Alexander takes control with a headscissors and a dropkick. Gulak then slams Alexander against the ropes and stomps away. Gulak gets two with a backdrop then uses a modified octopus hold on the mat. Alexander reaches the ropes and fights back. He hits Gulak with a spinning back elbow and a handspring enziguiri. Nese gets up on the apron and Fox yanks him off as that distracts Alexander, allowing Gulak to sneak up from behind with a rollup as he grabs the tights for the win (2:28) *1/2.
Thoughts: Fun for the time they had but the story here is the Fox/Alexander angle. Gulak looked like the biggest loser jumping around on the ramp in shock that he won a match but it was probably by design. I think they have something in Alexander but this storyline is not going to get him over the way its going and given the company’s track record with romance angles, I doubt it ever will.
WWE United States Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Chris Jericho
Jericho lands some shots in the corner but runs into a clothesline. Reigns comes back with a Samoan drop for two as we get some dueling chants for Reigns that Cole notes as his “usual raucous response.” Jericho drills Reigns with a missile dropkick then targets the neck but misses a running attack as both men are down. Reigns lands a few clotheslines but tries a Superman Punch from the apron and gets knocked off in midair with a springboard dropkick. Reigns tries to charge at Jericho but is shoved into the post as Jericho rolls back inside as Reigns beats the ten count as we head to break. We return as Reigns fights out of a chinlock but runs into a knee smash. Jericho taunts and slaps Reigns, who fights back. Reigns eats boot on a charge but is able to block a bulldog from Jericho as he hits corner clotheslines that ends with a back suplex for a nearfall. Reigns sets up for the Superman Punch but Jericho sidesteps that and hits an elbow smash. Reigns is able to get his knees up on a Lionsault then they work a reversal sequence that ends with Jericho applying the Walls of Jericho. Reigns breaks and catches Jericho in midair with a Superman Punch as that gets two. Jericho avoids a spear but fails to get over Reigns in another Walls of Jericho. Jericho rams Reigns into the post then distracts the ref by untying a turnbuckle pad and grabbing the belt as he tosses it to Reigns and falls down acting like he got hit. Reigns explains what happened to the official then Jericho sneaks in with a Codebreaker but Reigns is just able to kick out. Jericho starts kicking Reigns in the ribs but misses a charge in the corner and hits the exposed steel then Reigns catches him with a spear for the win (12:57) ***.
Thoughts: Good match. For once, there was no interference in this one although with Jericho doing so despite being banned from ringside in the past, you have to wonder if he will confront Owens about that soon.
Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins
Swann is not here tonight due to injuries he suffered from “205 Live.” Kendrick jumps Perkins before the bell but Perkins fights back and hits a springboard crossbody for two. Perkins hits a few kicks as the camera cuts to Neville watching the match on a monitor in the locker room. Kendrick is back in control and gets a nearfall with a cradle suplex then works a surfboard. Perkins breaks and heads up top but Kendrick cuts him off. Perkins slides off and takes Kendrick off with a springboard hurricarana. Kendrick sends Perkins into the corner but Perkins blocks Sliced Bread #2 and hits the Detonation Kick before putting on the knee bar and getting the win (2:42) *1/2. Neville is then shown once again watching the monitor from the locker room.
Thoughts: Crowd was dead for this and we’ve seen these two wrestle each other countless times already on TV. They pushed the Neville vs. Perkins match for “205 Live” as both guys in the match tried hard for the little amount of time they had.
We get a video package on the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament.
Big Cass and Enzo Amore, in a wheelchair, head out to the ring as Cass will be facing Rusev & Jinder Mahal in a handicapped match.
Emmalina promises that her return will be worth the wait as she is still coming soon.
Handicapped Match: Rusev & Jinder Mahal w/ Lana vs. Big Cass w/ Enzo Amore
Enzo does his entrance promo routine from the motorized wheelchair as Cass promises to drop both men by himself. The match starts with Cass beating on Mahal in the corner. Rusev makes a blind tag but Cass boots him down after taking Mahal outside. Mahal goes over to Enzo as Cass runs out to chase him away. Back inside, Cass blocks a kick from Rusev but Mahal provides a distraction and that allows Rusev to finally connect with a thrust kick for the win (1:47) DUD.
Thoughts: I thought this stunk to be honest. The finish made sense but the execution was bad as this feud is not doing those involved any favors.
Tomorrow night on “205 Live,” Tajiri returns to the WWE. Also, TJ Perkins vs. Neville in the main event.
RAW Women’s Title #1 Contender Match: Bayley vs. Nia Jax
Charlotte is on commentary. Jax overpowers Bayley to start. She hits a shoulderblock and then an avalanche in the corner. Cole puts over Charlotte’s PPV record as Jax drags Bayley into the middle of the ring and gets two. Jax puts on a Cobra Clutch as Bayley escapes and shoves Jax into the corner. Bayley dodges a charge in the corner and sends Jax into the post but gets yanked off the top and clotheslined. Jax drops a pair of elbow drops then hits a leg drop but gets distracted as Sasha Banks’ music hits and that allows Bayley to hit a super Bayley-to-Belly for the win (). Sasha helps Bayley up the ramp as Jax remains in shock (3:40) *.
Thoughts: This was more about angle advancement than an actual match. They protected Jax as she lost via distraction (the theme of the night) and it intensifies here feud with Sasha while Bayley gets a win and a title shot against Charlotte.
Next Week, Shawn Michaels will appear on RAW. Also, Cole tells us their is a rumor that the Undertaker will be there as well.
The Kevin Owens Show premiers now. Owens & Jericho come out and sit down and a desk as Owens blames Rollins for the reason he could not be with his friend in his match tonight. Owens then welcomes the first guest, which is in fact, Jericho. After that, Jericho stands up and asks the crowd why they are no longer chanting for Goldberg as he then puts the city of Tampa on the list. Jericho then breaks the news that he is the 3rd entrant in the Royal Rumble match as Owens is taken aback. Owens wants to know what happens if he wins as Jericho explains they will face each other and no matter what, they both remain the champion. Owens talks about not wanting to fight his best friend but Goldberg’s music hits as he makes his way to the ring. He heads inside and grabs the mic and lets Jericho know that since he is in the Rumble, it means that he is first. Owens tells him to have a seat as they do not need this hostility. Goldberg stands and takes off his jacket as Jericho calls him a “neanderthal” and what happens when you do that on the Kevin Owens show as Goldberg yells out “spear then jackhammer.” Owens wants to know if he is supposed to be intimidated so he decides to toss out the remaining furniture as Goldberg gets into his face and dares Owens to take a shot. Paul Heyman interrupts and says that his client, Brock Lesnar, is not appear tonight but will give a preview as he talks about how Lesnar will toss everyone out but Goldberg says he will take care of Lesnar and whoever wins the Universal Title match at the Rumble when he becomes the champion at WrestleMania. Reigns comes out to tell Owens & Jericho that they are delusion and will not win anything at the Rumble before staring face-to-face with Goldberg. Strowman comes out and says if anyone is winning the Rumble match, its him. He enters as Goldberg and Reigns are still face-to-face. Goldberg & Reigns then hit Strowman with a double spear as the show ends with Goldberg celebrating to his music.
I was not a fan of this segment. They tried to make the Reigns/Goldberg staredown appear epic but the crowd did not seem to care and the lazy execution did not help matters. The “Kevin Owens Show” felt like a giant waste of time as they did a whole bunch of nothing until Goldberg interrupted after Jericho announced he was entering the Rumble. The constant interruptions is a tired trope at this point and Heyman’s part felt pointless, IMO, as Lesnar was never announced and no one expected him there to begin with. I also did not care for Strowman eating a double spear at the end as he should not have ended the show with his back on the mat after destroying Strowman earlier.
Final Thoughts: As a show, I felt it was quite mediocre overall. The top of the card is stale and the Goldberg stuff was disappointing. Plus, the Cruiserweight Division felt like an afterthought with two matches under three minutes as Alicia Fox got most of the focus in a romance angle for a division based off of in-ring action. Nothing was terrible tonight but a lot of it felt uninspired.
On the plus side, they continue to build up Strowman quite well and seem to be focused on building to the Rumble, with Goldberg, Lesnar, and Strowman as the favorites from RAW to win the match. Going forward will be key and I expect them to touch upon Rollins/HHH next week as that was not addressed tonight.
Right now, RAW comes off as a stale, lifeless show. Everything feels repetitive and the poorly scripted dialogue, while not that bad of an issue tonight, has been crippling the babyfaces on the roster for months.