January 30, 2017
From the Laredo Energy Center in Laredo, TX
Your hosts are Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Michael Cole
Still photos from the Universal Title match last night at the Royal Rumble.
Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho start off the show. Owens talks about proving people wrong last night and that he has been doing this is whole life. In fact, if he put those people on a list it would even be longer than the “List of Jericho.” Owens then calls out Mick Foley for proving him wrong and screams as he calls himself “The One.” Owens then talks about how Jericho proved himself as the greatest Royal Rumble competitor of all-time as he has spent almost five full hours on part of Royal Rumble matches in his career, more than anyone else in history. Jericho tries to get himself over as the “sixty-one minute man” as that was how long he spent in the match last night and that he would have won the match if not for the vertigo he suffered last night from being suspended above the ring inside of a shark cage. Braun Strowman interrupts and says he is out here because he cannot stand Roman Reigns and that he wants a title shot. Owens thanks Strowman for his help last night, even though he did not ask for it but that he will not get a shot. Strowman then shows footage from last week where Owens promised to give him a shot at the title if he took care of Reigns as Strowman then tells Owens he will break him in half if he does not get a title shot tonight. Foley comes out and confirms that Owens offered Strowman a title shot as Jericho chimes in that it was “CGI” footage while Owens said it was just something he said as he desperately tries to get Foley to change his mind. However, that fails as Foley makes Strowman vs. Reigns for the Universal Title tonight.
The segment was fine. I thought Strowman did a solid job here and Jericho was entertaining. Owens was good as well as this nicely set up the main event for tonight’s show.
Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn
The announcers listed off all of the finishing maneuvers Zayn took last night as he works the arm of Jericho for a minute. They take turns chopping each other then Jericho ducks outside for a breather but Zayn dropkicks him down. Back inside, Jericho uses the referee as a shield while Zayn is on the apron then takes Zayn down with a springboard dropkick. They head back outside where Zayn takes Jericho down with a moonsault block from the barricade just before the break. We return as Jericho works a chinlock. He gets a nearfall with an enziguiri then roughs him up in the corner until Zayn fights back with a clothesline. Jericho cuts off Zayn up top then takes him off with a hurricarana as he stands over Zayn, who rolls him up for two. Zayn catches Jericho coming off the top and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Zayn sets up for the Helluva Kick but Jericho rolls outside. Jericho gets Zayn to chase him around then heads inside where he tries and fails to put on the Walls of Jericho. Zayn comes back with a tornado DDT but Jericho sidesteps a charge and puts on the Walls of Jericho. Zayn eventually makes it to the ropes then Jericho starts kicking him in the ribs. Zayn sends Jericho into the corner with an exploder then connects with the Helluva Kick for the win (11:40) ***1/2.
Thoughts: I thought this was a really good match. Jericho was great as the veteran while Zayn’s selling and big moves all worked out well. Looks like Zayn is now a contender for the United States Championship. However, Zayn’s character direction, which is a person who annoys everyone and is inept, is just a garbage gimmick for a babyface.
More still photos from the Royal Rumble are shown.
Backstage, Cesaro and Sheamus are arguing over losing the Tag Team Championships and then Cesaro called out for Sheamus for trying to eliminate him in the Royal Rumble. Bayley interrupts and talks about how they all have to be on the same page as they face Charlotte & Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows tonight. Bayley gets them to participate in a group hug but their opponents interrupt and make fun of them for losing last night and how they are “nerds” and “failures.” The heels cut a good promo here and I liked how Sheamus really did not want any part of the group hug.
A video package on Seth Rollins’ quest to get Triple H to confront him as that leads to tonight’s “Face-to-Face” between Rollins and Stephanie McMahon.
Owens approaches Stephanie backstage and talks about doing everything he can to live up to the expectations of Triple H and herself as he then talks about how it is unfair to face Strowman after his match last night. Stephanie agrees and promises to confront Foley after meeting with Rollins tonight.
Tony Nese vs. Mustafa Ali
Ali works the arm for a bit then takes Nese down with a hurricarana. Nese attacks Ali and sends him down but runs into a boot in the corner. Ali gets two with a victory roll but Nese turns him inside out with a clothesline for two. Al i fights back and hits an enziguri from the apron. He gets two with a neckbreaker and tries for his inverted 450 splash but fails and splats on the mat as Nese then finishes him off with a running knee smash (3:47) **. After the match, Austin Aries interviews Nese about the critics who call him boring and dull as Nese says the “premiere athlete” does not have to answer to his critics.
Thoughts: Good action and I liked how Nese’s new gimmick is that he does not really talk much as it plays to his strengths as he is really bad on the mic but in the ring is strong, athletic, and works crisp. These two had a nice little match here and I’m in favor of Nese getting a bit of a push within the Cruiserweight Division.
Seth Rollins comes out and tells Stephanie to come out as he is waiting. She finally enters as he makes fun of Triple H for not being man enough to confront him. Stephanie tells Seth that Triple H is not here tonight as Seth says he is all done tonight as he does not care what she has to say. Stephanie tells Seth that her husband does not want to destroy Seth, who at one time was his “greatest creation.” Seth calls out Stephanie for acting crazy as Stephanie goes on a tirade about Seth turning his back on the Authority and how he has not sniffed success since returning from injury and he should be begging them for forgiveness. Seth says he is sorry for exposing her husband as a “gutless snake” and that he needs his wife to do his dirty work. Seth calls himself the greatest threat to Triple H’s legacy but Stephanie says her husband is a creator and a destroyer before saying that Seth is nothing but the architect of his own demise. Seth then tells her he has nothing to lose and his next stop might be at WWE Headquarters or even their own house where one of their children could answer the door as he will not stop until getting his hands on Triple H. Stephanie then tells Seth that she lied and Triple H was coming to the arena and looking for him as she drops the mic and leaves while Seth smiles.
I liked how Seth stood up to Stephanie but bringing kids into the storyline is a heel tactic, not that of a babyface. Anyway, Triple H will finally be appearing on TV and will hopefully explain his actions and that is the biggest takeaway here.
Bayley & Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Charlotte & Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Cesaro takes of Anderson then Gallows to start the match. Charlotte distracts him as Gallows kicks Cesaro off the to rope and out to the floor as we head to break. The action returns with Anderson slamming Cesaro for a two count. The crowd rallies behind Cesaro as he fights back but Anderson cuts him off and hits a spinebuster for a nearfall. Gallows tags as Cesaro breaks away and makes the tag as Sheamus runs wild. He gets two with a flying clothesline then lands some clubbing forearms across the chest. Charlotte runs in to interrupt as that allows Gallows to fight back. Sheamus kicks Gallows in the head then Cesaro tags and gets a nearfall as the match breaks down. Gallows escapes a swing attempt and tags Charlotte as Bayley is now in the match. Cesaro’s second attempt at a springboard plancha wipes out the guys on the floor as Bayley reverses a figure-eight attempt and hits a Bayley-to-Belly for the win (7:43) **1/4.
Thoughts: The action was just okay here as Bayley gets another pin on Charlotte to remain in the title hunt.
Backstage, Stephanie berates Foley for not consulting her before making Owens defend the Universal Title tonight against Strowman. Foley tells her he was hired to do a job and that he is not stupid. He then brings up how Triple H’s music played and he was nowhere to be found as Stephanie said that was a production error as Foley does not want to be treated as someone whose an idiot as Stephanie assures Foley he is not stupid and that Triple H will be here tonight. Foley wants Stephanie to keep the title match for tonight and she remains silent as a way to confirm as Foley leaves.
More Royal Rumble still photos.
Neville comes out for his Cruiserweight Championship coronation. He tells us the Cruiserweight Title belt is his crown and last night he proved to us “peasants” that he is in fact the King of the Cruiserweights but Rich Swann interrupts. Swann says it pains him to see his belt with Neville but will wait as he has a rematch coming. Swann is asked why he interrupted as Swann could not listen to him go on anymore about the fans. Swann then says he respects Neville for winning and offers a handshake but Neville says you do not offer a hand to a king but rather get on your knees and bow. Swann leaves as Neville says you do not turn your back on the king but Swann was waiting for the sneak attack. They mix it up as Swann takes Neville down with a roundhouse kick then flies outside and takes him out with a dive as Neville crawls up the ramp while an angry Swann stares him down from the ring.
I had no problems at all with the segment, even if Neville’s king act was corny at times. However, the crowd was just dead for this as the Cruiserweight Division continues to struggle with the live audience.
We get still photos from the Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks match at the Royal Rumble. After that, Sasha is in the trainer’s room getting her knee taped up as Bayley enters. Bayley tells Sasha its better to heal up then ask Nia for a rematch. Sasha gets upset and says unlike some people, she does have a problem with coming up short. Sasha is showing some anger here after a string of losses.
A still photo of Goldberg eliminating Brock Lesnar from the Royal Rumble last night is shown.
Owens is in the locker room as Jericho tells him that Stephanie changed her mind as Owens is sick of Foley abusing his power. Owens puts over how Strowman eliminated seven guys from the Royal Rumble match and says its about Team Chris & Kevin and they have to come up with a plan. Jericho reminds Owens that he was not out there when Zayn “cheated” tonight as Owens said he was too busy trying to get his match changed as he then tells Jericho he cannot win without him tonight. He asks Jericho to have his back as Jericho says he does then Owens leaves.
A good segment as Owens was as desperate and scared as he’s ever been while champion while Jericho again started to see through Owens’ act.
WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) w/ Chris Jericho vs. Braun Strowman
Strowman comes out and boots Jericho out of his chair on commentary then puts him through the table with a chokeslam as Owens is in the ring looking on in horror. Owens ducks outside as soon as the bell rings and tries to outsmart him but gets overpowered. Strowman hits an avalanche in the corner and follows with a clothesline as Owens rolls outside. Strowman runs out and knocks Owens into the barricade. Strowman misses a charge and runs into the post as Owens follows with a cannonball into the barricade then rolls inside but Strowman beats the ten count. Owens hits a somersault leg drop then a senton as he heads up top with a frog splash but that only gets two. Owens hits a super kick then goes up top but Strowman takes him out and hits a powerslam as both men are down. Roman Reigns music then hits as he heads to the ring then after a staredown hits a Superman Punch for the DQ (4:39) **1/4. Reigns clotheslines Strowman outside then runs and jumps off of the steps to hit a Superman Punch then follows after that with a running spear from the steps. Reigns heads inside to hit Owens with a spear as Reigns then leaves.
Thoughts: The match went like it should have and the Reigns interference made sense since Strowman cost Reigns the title last night at the Royal Rumble. I thought the action here was good and both men did a fine job in their roles. The past two nights have been key in Strowman’s development as he is rapidly showing improvement while becoming more prominent on TV.
After commercial, Bayley and the trainer help Sasha back to the trainer’s room.
Tornado Tag Match: Rusev & Jinder Mahal w/ Lana vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Enzo & Big Cass’ pre-match routine was lengthy and not that great to be honest. The match starts with all four men brawling. The action spills outside as we head to break and returns with Rusev & Mahal beating on Cass in the corner. Enzo heads up top and takes out Mahal after Rusev gets dumped. Enzo tries a dive but gets caught by both men and dumped across the barricade. Cass comes out as Mahal stomps him hard in the head then Enzo gets double-teamed in the ring. Cass eventually gets up and fights off both men then drops the Empire Elbow for two as Mahal makes the save. Enzo gets up and takes out Mahal then snaps Rusev’s neck off the ropes and heads up top as Rusev is hit with the Bada Boom Shakalaka for the win (9:37) *3/4.
Thoughts: The match wasnt much and hopefully this marks the end of this underwhelming feud. Shocked to see Rusev eat the pin here being that Jinder Mahal was his partner.
Backstage, we see that Triple H has arrived.
We get a sneak peak at the WWE Network’s inside look at WrestleMania 32, which premiers on the Network immediately following RAW tonight.
A limo pulls up and Cole thinks its Triple H but Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman get out as Lesnar is pissed off.
After the break, Lesnar & Heyman head out to the ring. Lesnar smirks at the loud “suplex city” chants then Heyman starts to speak. He talks about every legend as that one opponent who has his number. He mentions how Hulk Hogan ended Andre the Giant’s 15 year unbeaten streak and how Ronda Rousey could not beat Holly Holm before mentioning how Lesnar ended the Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak and how no matter how dominate he looked, Lesnar is linked to his legacy. Heyman also brings up how Lesnar has John Cena’s and Kurt Angle’s number but whenever he mentions Lesnar to the kids, they tell him that Goldberg beat him in one-minute and twenty-six seconds at the “Royal Rumble.” Heyman says that “yeah, but” when Lesnar’s name is brought up must be eradicated and that Lesnar issues one final challenge to Goldberg at WrestleMania.
I liked Heyman’s promo here and much better than the same song-and-dance we’ve gotten from him over the past year or so as this all but confirmed the long rumored WrestleMania match between Lesnar and Goldberg. I liked how Lesnar wants this match to prove he can beat Goldberg. Makes for a much more interesting story.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Sasha hits a few low dropkicks but Jax blocks a sunset flip and pushes Sasha into the corner. Sasha sidesteps a charge but Jax blocks a baseball slide and swings Sasha’s knee into the post a few times. Sasha is shoved inside as Cole thinks the referee should stop the match as Jax stays in control. Jax sits on Sasha’s back and works an inverted single leg crab but the bell rings (2:02) *. Jax puts Sasha back in the hold then Bayley runs out for the save. Jax stares down Bayley, who checks on Sasha. Jax leaves and smile as she heads up the ramp.
Thoughts: Not a whole lot to this match and it made sense for Sasha to lose being injured against a monster like Jax.
Triple H comes out to the ring and talks about how he plucked Rollins from obscurity and gave him the world. He talks about Rollins being the first NXT Champion, the leader of the Shield, and eventually bought into him and standing by his side became the face to the company and the World Champion plus everything he wanted from “this business” but he could not stand the pressure and ended up collasping as Triple H mocks him for crying and handing back everything he ever had, which was given to him on a silver platter, as Triple H said Rollins doing that was like spitting in his face. Triple H says Rollins was a failure when he returned and did not take any responsibility, even blaming him for why he is not the Universal Champion. Triple H tells Rollins he gave him the world and in return got spit in the face. Triple H asks if we know how hard it is for him to not come out and pound Rollins as its not best for business and that he’s trying hard to change, despite what we think. Triple H talks about how every day he puts this behind him and creates stuff for everyone with NXT, where he is done trying to create the next Seth Rollins but is now done trying as he removes his jacket and unbuttons his shirt. He then tells Rollins to get his ass in the ring and meet his destroyer as Rollins heads out. Rollins takes off his shirt on the ramp and heads down but Samoa Joe attacks him in the aisle. Samoa Joe tosses Rollins inside as Triple H walks up the ramp and eventually applies the Kokina Clutch then lets go as Rollins is out cold and the show ends with Joe standing over Rollins.
Triple H’s promo was a bit all over the place towards the end but the big story here was the main roster debut of Samoa Joe as he jumped Rollins from behind and looked like a badass. The beatdown itself was great and made Joe look like a major threat. I did like some of the Triple H’s promo and he still has a ton of presence and finally explained why he attacked Rollins and waited for so long to answer the question. Plus, Rollins still has not gotten his hands on Triple H yet. A great way to end the show.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this was a very good episode of RAW. They started to build towards two of the top WrestleMania matches and appear to be headed towards Reigns vs. Strowman at Fastlane too. I also liked how they are portraying Rollins as a face people want to get behind. Hopefully his reactions will improve since the actions of Triple H have been revealed. All of the segments had a purpose too and strangely enough we did not get any teases of Emmalina’s debut.
I liked Joe’s debut a lot and felt it was a lot more effective than any random Royal Rumble match appearance would have been for him. He is now linked to Triple H and I assume will be on the RAW brand going forward.
Tonight, they did a great job at establishing a direction for Fastlane and even WrestleMania. I thought it was one of the better RAW’s since the brand split.