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WWE Monday Night Raw Live Reaction for 1/2/2017 – The Road to Royal Rumble Begins, Goldberg to Appear, Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman, Bayley’s Next Move, More

WWE comes to us from the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL on this first Monday of 2017.  The Royal Rumble is a few weeks away, and the man who declared to be in the event first – Goldberg – will be on the show tonight.  What does he have to say about competing in the Royal Rumble, and his chances to earn the title shot that comes with winning the match?  Bayley got screwed over by Charlotte last week when Charlotte had Dana Brooke referee their match and cheated to win.  How will she respond?  Also, Sami Zayn has been trying to get his shot at Braun Strowman and he will this week, but in a last man standing match.  Who will come out on top?

Show Open, Live from Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL;

Mick Foley was in the ring, and he’s got a haircut.  He acknowledged it then noted that he had taken to the habit of writing the city he is in to avoid future mistakes.  He did the bit and started to call out the wrong city but looked to his hand and corrected himself.  That drew some chuckles.  He said that part of the new vision for the new year had started before he left, and noted the shark cage on the stage.  Cue the interruption from Jericho and Owens.

Owens picked on Foley and asked if he thought hanging Jericho 100 feet above the ring was funny.  Jericho referred to himself as a sexy pinata, then Owens said Foley abused his power by giving Roman Reigns another title shot.  Jericho complained about Seth Rollins abusing him backstage, saying Rollins was rewarded with a match.  He said when he pulled off genius by saving Owens’ championship at Roadblock, Foley punished him by putting him in a cage.  Owens and Jericho agreed that the abuses of power end tonight, and they wouldn’t stand for it.

Foley agreed, and said he had heard about the Kevin Owens Show, but never saw it.  He said he wanted to see if he had the chops, so the Kevin Owens Show would debut tonight, with Goldberg as his guest.  Owens said he liked it but found it weird that Foley was booking his guest.  Owens asked what Foley would do about Roman Reigns, but Stephanie McMahon interrupted.

She took control, saying that Mick wasn’t going anywhere and he didn’t abuse his power.  She added that she wished he did speak to her about the shark cage first.  Mick said he wished she would have consulted him about Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman in a last man standing match on the show tonight.  Owens said no one cared, and wanted them to address the issues with Reigns and Rollins because he and Jericho are national treasures.  Steph booked Jericho vs. Reigns for the US Championship, and if Reigns gets counted out or DQ’d, he will lose the title.  Owens asked for Rollins to be banned from ringside.

Foley flubbed a line by demanding Jericho be banned from ringside as well, but meant Owens since Jericho is the one in the match.  Steph set things right and said Owens would face Rollins, with the loser being banned from ringside.  Stephanie said she was upset about Smackdown winning the ratings last week and was tired of hearing about it being the land of opportunity.  She told Foley to get his act together, Jericho to get ready for his match, and Owens to stay put because he was facing Rollins, next.

Bill Says:  Foley’s new look, well, it’s not really all that flattering to say the least.  Making it worse is that he was all over the place on the mic.  I think the Owens/Rollins match will be good, but it’s a re-run; we’ve seen it a lot of late.

Match #1 – Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins;  Loser is banned from ringside for Jericho vs. Reigns

Winner:  Seth Rollins by DQ

The Reax:  Owens was DQ’d when he used the ring bell against Rollins.  He argued with the official afterward, then Rollins tried to get a Pedigree but Owens escaped.  The match was fine, but it’s just getting overexposed.  Owens and Jericho are an ongoing joke set of heels more than top heels like they should be.  It feels like a midcard act.   All four of these guys are getting hurt by the current booking approach.

They hyped Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman for later.

Match #2 – Karl Anderson (w/Luke Gallows) vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus);

Winner:  Karl Anderson

The Reax:  Late in this one, Gallows got on the apron and Sheamus grabbed him.  In the confusion, Cesaro got crotched on the rope then took a top rope neckbreaker from Anderson to score the win.  The two put on a good match in the ring.  My only concern is the booking of Gallows and Anderson.  I feel like I’m on repeat here but I want to see them be badass heels and do bad things.  Heels saying “dorks” and “nerds” are nuisances.  The heel in a story should do something that truly angers the babyface.

They ran a video package putting Braun Strowman over in advance of the last man standing match, which is next.

They show various members of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers at ringside.  They then run a promo for Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and the Royal Rumble.  They remind us that Goldberg will be on the Kevin Owens Show later.

Match #3 – Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman; Last Man Standing Match

Winner:  Braun Strowman

The Reax:  This was a fine example of a walking brawl.  In this case, it was necessary and it worked, because Strowman is just too green to really make a long form match work without some shortcuts.  Zayn got in a ton of offense here, so he doesn’t walk away from this without gaining something.  The finish with Strowman picking Zayn up and slamming him before letting him down for the count as well as the post match angle (see below) makes Strowman seem ruthless and like he doesn’t care about his opponent.  Good work here.

After, Strowman stood as Foley and trainers checked on Sami.  EMT’s loaded him  up onto a stretcher and start to roll him out but Strowman knocked the stretcher over.  He grabbed Zayn and tossed him into the barrier then left.

They hyped Reigns vs. Jericho for later.

They recapped the duel between Jack Gallagher and Ariya Daivari on 205 Live.  They went backstage where Gallagher is shown with his umbrella.  The New Day was with him, and they all had umbrellas too.  They did some comedy together and Gallagher leaves.  Cole hyped New Day giving us their resolutions for next.

New Day came to the ring and started to cut their promo.  They talked about their 2016 and being the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions.  Big E said in order to ring in the new year right, they will dip their stick into the Royal Rumble match.  Kofi mentioned their New Year’s Resolutions, but that brought out Titus O’Neil who mocked New Day’s entrance.

He did a dance and headed out to the ring.  He said in order for them to reach their goals, they needed a new member of the group.  He said they were probably wondering who and offered himself.  He demonstrated the ability to do the catchphrase but Woods cut him off from using the trombone, saying no one touches his girl but him.  He said he came prepared, and did the catchphrase with a whistle from the PTP days.

Big E stopped him and said we all know he blows.  Titus asked them to imagine his face on the Booty O’s box, and Woods said people would rather see him on a milk carton.  Titus called that a strong joke from the weakest link in New Day.  Woods stepped up and said he would show how weak he is and they could have a match if he was man enough.  Titus threw a sucker punch then rolled out.  He said they were on and called for an official.

Bill Says:  New Day in a feud with Titus?  Damn, how far can the former tag champs fall so fast?  Jokes aside, the segment was better than expected.  If this goes on beyond a one-night thing, this could get bad quickly, but in this one spot it was fine.

Match #3 – Titus O’Neil vs. Xavier Woods;

Winner:  Xavier Woods

The Reax:  Woods won by reversing  a sit-out powerbomb into a sunset flip.  This was just kind of “there” and no one really got all that interested into it.

Backstage, Bayley asked Stephanie why she let Dana Brooke be the referee last week.  Steph said Charlotte’s lawyers really gave her no choice, but to be honest she didn’t want Bayley on Raw in the first place.  Charlotte has pedigree, class, and star power but she’s just Bayley.  Steph called her ordinary and that’s not good enough to be the face of Monday Night Raw.  Bayley said she might not have the last name nor did she grow up on the business like her or Charlotte, but she belongs in WWE and on Raw.  She’s just Bayley, and that’s good enough for her.  She’s not going to let anything stand in her way.  Stephanie agreed to give her a chance and booked her in a #1 contender’s match against Nia Jax.

Bill Says:  Why would Bayley not be pissed off about how Stephanie is telling her she is going out of her way to make sure she is not the face of the division?  No passion, no inflection, no apparent drive in her voice.  The Bayley story has been one of fighting her entire life to get to the big stage. Now she’s there and getting sabotaged, and there’s none of that drive anymore.  This needed to be produced a lot better than it was.

Noam Dar approached Cedric Alexander and Alicia Fox.  He offered an apology to Cedric, but Cedric told him to apologize to Alicia.  Dar called her sweet cheeks instead and ran off.  This was silly.

Match #4 – Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak;

Winner:  Drew Gulak

The Reax:  Tony Nese was at ringside with Gulak, and Fox was with Alexander.  Late, Nese got on the apron and Fox pulled him back down.  Gulak rolled Alexander up and grabbed a handful of tights for the win.  Typical distraction finish.  Match was fine for what it was, but nothing special or memorable.

They hyped Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho for next.

Reigns made his entrance, then Jericho, for the US Championship match.

Match #5 – Roman Reigns (c) vs. Chris Jericho; WWE United States Championship match

Winner:  Roman Reigns to retain the US Championship

The Reax:  Jericho ripped off a turnbuckle pad late, then while the referee was distracted putting it back on he grabbed the title belt and tossed it into Reigns’ hands and flopped.  Reigns plead his case to not get disqualified, then Jericho hit him with the Codebreaker.  Jericho charged Reigns, but he moved and hit the exposed turnbuckle and Reigns hit a spear to finish him off for the win.  Jericho took the walk of shame up the ramp and past the cage.

The fans woke up for spots in this match and reacted to the Eddie Guerrero reference a bit.  The stipulations and gimmicks around it kept the formula shook up a little, but again, we’ve seen some combination of these players quite a bit and it’s getting close to the point where I don’t want to see the match.  This, however, was fine for what it was.

Nia Jax vs. Bayley was hyped for later, as was the Goldberg/Kevin Owens segment.

Match #6 – Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins;

Winner:  TJ Perkins

The Reax:  The finish for this came when Kendrick tried for Sliced Bread.  TJ caught him in a fireman’s carry and hit the Detonation Kick.  He locked in the knee bar to get the win.  I’m a bit over seeing these two guys work overall, but it was a decent match.  Now that  Neville has spiced the division up with his heel character, I was hoping for more from the division as a whole but the balance of the division just kind of is produced as if it’s just another match on the card.  It’s not working overall.  205 Live, though, seems to be getting better as a show of late.

We got a video package to hype up the WWE UK Tournament on January 14-15.  Enzo and Cass were shown walking backstage and heading to the ring.

Rusev and Jinder Mahal were in the ring waiting for Enzo and Cass.  They did their entrance routine, with Enzo in a wheelchair.  He did the normal entrance routine from the chair.

Match #7 – Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore) vs. Rusev and Jinder Mahal;

Winner:  Rusev and Jinder Mahal

The Reax:  Cass got the better of Jinder early.  He pushed off a kick from Rusev a bit later, but then Mahal got on the apron to distract him.  Rusev hit a jumping sidekick to get the win.  Mahal is looking JACKED and it’s quick, so I wonder what’s up there.  This is a bad program and Enzo and Cass actually seem bored by it.  WWE took a hot and talented tag team and really defined them down.

They recapped Braun Strowman beating Sami Zayn earlier.

Match #8 – Nia Jax vs. Bayley; Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s match

Winner:  Bayley

The Reax:  Late in this one, Jax went up on the ropes when Sasha Banks’ music hit.  Nia was distracted, which let Bayley hit the Bayley to Belly from the ropes for the win.  Bayley and Sasha stood on the ramp while Charlotte, who was on commentary, held up the belt.

Too soon, in my opinion to give anyone a pinfall win over Nia Jax.  They should have waited on that one for a while yet.  They really have not done a good job of developing Bayley’s character on the main roster at all, including the earlier backstage segment with Stephanie among so many other things.  Even seemingly having no issue with having help to get the title shot goes against her character.  It’s a bit of a mess.

The Kevin Owens Show with Goldberg is next.

Owens and Jericho came to the ring, where there was a guy with a sign on his head that said “the Kevin Owens Show.”  Owens said his guest was a huge star that just has to enter an arena to draw a chant, then introduced Chris Jericho.  Jericho put Tampa on the list for chanting for Goldberg.  Owens was about to introduce Goldberg, but Jericho interrupted to say he would be entering the Royal Rumble.  That upset Owens, because it opened the possibility of Jericho fighting him at Wrestlemania for the Universal Championship.  Jericho said no matter who wins, they remain Universal Champion.

Goldberg’s music interrupted and he came to the ring.  He grabbed a mic from the set and asked if he had it straight about Jericho entering Royal Rumble.  He said Jericho was first.  Owens asked that he cease the hostility, and Goldberg took his coat off and tossed furniture.  Jericho threatened to put him on the list, but Goldberg told him that spears and jackhammers are next.

Owens threw furniture around in an attempt to not be intimidated, and he got in Goldberg’s face to tell him it’s his show.  Paul Heyman made his way out, and he said Brock Lesnar would repeat and repeat ad nauseum at Royal Rumble.  Goldberg told Owens it didn’t matter if it was him or Roman Reigns, they had a date at Wrestlemania.

That brought out Reigns, who told Owens and Jericho that they would win nothing at Royal Rumble.  He stood face to face with Goldberg, but it didn’t register with the live crowd like it was a big moment.  Braun Strowman made his way out and said if anyone was winning the Rumble, it was him.  He got in the ring, but Reigns and Goldberg both speared him.  They nodded at each other, and Reigns left.  Goldberg posed for the fans to end the show.

Bill Says:  There were a lot of moving parts there.  I liked Owens’ reaction to Goldberg, because he actually stood up for himself and carried some intensity, something we hadn’t seen out of him of late.  Reigns and Goldberg staring down should have felt bigger but it really didn’t get what WWE was probably hoping for in that moment.  Strowman didn’t get hurt there especially since it took two men to get him down.

This show was very average at best.  There were some good spots, but there were some very down segments as well.  There’s a lot of lacking character development for any woman not named Charlotte Flair, and Emmalina feels like a joke at this point.  I’m in fact waiting for her to re-debut with a version of the Funkasaurus gimmick.  Nia Jax should not have taken that loss, especially since you have to assume Sasha will go over on her at some point.  And the cruiserweights still seem like they’re being jammed into the show and don’t feel like they fit anywhere other than 205 Live.

Also, Seth Rollins was very noticeable by his absence other than the opening match.  You’d have thought he would have been involved in the main event segment, but he wasn’t.  They need to keep him present if the plan is to face Triple H, even if it’s not working a match every week, to keep that story moving along.  Right now, all he’s doing is scoring DQ wins over comedic heels in rerun matches and that’s not consistent with what you hear him saying at times about tearing down the power structure of the brand to get to Triple H.  It can be a good program, and it can be salvaged, but right now it’s very awkward.

Drew will have more to say about this show and more tomorrow on Around the Ring.  I’ll be back on Wednesday with the first Ring Rap Audio of the year as well as more in pro wrestling.  Thanks for following along tonight.

About Bill Wentz (1498 Articles)
Ring-Rap.com's Senior Columnist, writing with the site since 2009 and a lifelong wrestling fan dating all the way back to the early Wrestlemania years. As a strongly opinionated fan, you can get my thoughts regularly on Ring Rap Audio and Around the Ring on Thursdays, as well as in "Wentz's Blog" in print. Look for my live show reports as well for MMA, WWE, ROH, and more. Outside of wrestling, I have a strong obsession with trucks, winning awards statewide with a truck dubbed the "Brahma Bull Edition." Interact with me on Twitter @Bill_SoonerFan or by email at bwentz@ring-rap.com

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