Due to other obligations, we did not cover WWE Raw live on Monday, January 16. The following is an “in-order” segment by segment afterthoughts kind of piece regarding last evening’s show as I watch it on DVR. No play by play or move calling here – just reactions. Feel free to weigh in with your 1-5 grade in our show poll that you can find by going to this link.
WWE Raw, Aired on USA Network on 1/16/2017 from Little Rock, AR:
They acknowledged the death of Jimmy Snuka, and aired the traditional Martin Luther King tribute video package.
Roman Reigns came out to cut the show opening promo, where he talked about how he wouldn’t complain about losing the US Championship to the numbers game of Jericho and Owens. He said Owens would be complaining about Jericho locked in a cage at the Rumble and he would headline Wrestlemania after beating Owens at the Rumble.
Paul Heyman interrupted and said he was the calm before the storm because Lesnar was in the building. He eventually dished the spoiler that Lesnar would win, but Reigns said he must be sleeping or eating because he’s not in the ring with Heyman. Jericho and Owens came out and Jericho teased winning the Rumble and Owens retaining so they could face off at Mania.
Seth Rollins came out then and said he missed last year’s Wrestlemania so there would be no better way to get in the main event than by winning the Rumble. Braun Strowman then came out but didn’t talk, then Lesnar came out. Sami Zayn attacked Strowman and the brawl was on. The brawl ended with Reigns being F5’d and Lesnar standing tall over everyone. He and Strowman glared at each other but Strowman backed away.
This was a good opening segment where WWE worked hard to make Reigns sound reasonable. All in all, they did a good job of hyping the Rumble with the players involved. They focused on the star power and some of the possible showdowns that could come to pass in the Rumble match. Lesnar came off like a badass by standing tall over everyone at the end of the segment.
Match #1 – Enzo Amore and Big Cass def. Rusev (w/Lana) and Jinder Mahal. Worth pointing out is the middle-aged mother chanting along with Enzo’s schtick. Cute and cool-killing all in the same move. WWE invested a lot into getting heat on Rusev and Jinder, so it shocked me that Enzo and Cass went over clean here. Hopefully they will find a way to put the heat back on the heels, because this didn’t seem like the end of the line for these two.
Jack Gallagher joined the commentary team for the next match, as did Austin Aries. They hyped Gallagher vs. Ariaya Daivari on 205 Live in an “I Forfeit” match.
Match #2 – Ariya Daivari def. Lince Dorado. These two didn’t get near enough time to do anything really special. Dorado did pull off a nice springboard cutter at one point for a cool spot. The Cobra Clutch helped build a submission finish for Daivari in advance of the 205 Live match he has with Gallagher. Dorado seems to be positioned as an enhancement talent, but he gets a reaction – he’s someone that WWE should be spotlighting instead of treating as enhancement.
They recapped Sasha Banks getting attacked during the day by Nia Jax as she was working out in the ring, and Cole noted that she was being evaluated by doctors when Jax attacked her.
This was solid and made the feud feel a bit more realistic given it happened outside the normal television action. That made this stand out more than if it would have happened during the show backstage or in the ring.
Match #3 – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson def. Sheamus and Cesaro (c) by disqualification in a Raw Tag Team Championship Match. They did a “Dusty finish” here in order to give the heels what seemed like a title win but ended up yanking the belts from them. Doing it in that fashion was awkward and a bit unconventional, but, the match was entertaining and the finish helped breathe some life into the feud. The guys also worked hard, which got the live crowd into the match.
After hyping Charlotte’s talking segment they recapped the opening again, then hyped the main event. They then moved on to the commentary team talking about the passing of Jimmy Snuka. They fed it to a video tribute and tweets from different wrestlers.
This was bold. I probably wouldn’t have gone here with the recent news that surfaced about Snuka’s legal issues and whether or not he would stand trial for the death of Nancy Argentino. Snuka was charged with involuntary manslaughter and third degree murder charges, but the charges were dropped due to Snuka’s incompetence to stand trial only. This really stands to open the company to criticism. A simple acknowledgment would have been fine. While I offer condolences to the family in their time of loss, picture how the family of Nancy Argentino would feel, especially if they saw that video package.
Emmalina is still premiering. Who cares? Sami Zayn tried to talk strategy with Rollins and Reigns but they weren’t having it.
Tony Nese was to face Rich Swann, but Neville attacked Swann from behind before the match could start. This was a good angle with the hottest commodity in the cruiserweight division in heel Neville.
Backstage, Neville talked to Mike Rome. He said Rome might think he’s a bad guy but he’s a hypocrite like everyone else in the U.S.. He said Swann might think he’s a proud champion but he’s too proud to admit he’s been defeated, then promised to break his spirit at the Rumble. Again, Neville continues to be a bright spot in the division as he has been terrific as the ultra-aggressive heel. They don’t need the anti-American part of it, but everything else is believable and intense.
New Day came out for a promo segment and talked about entering the Rumble. They said if one wins, they all win. Titus O’Neil came out and said he would rather replace them rather than join them, which led to Big E putting the Rumble slot up against Titus. If Titus won, he got the Rumble slot, and if Big E won Titus had to stop bothering them.
Match #4 – Big E (w/Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) def. Titus O’Neil. Ultimately, this was an annoying segment but the least of the annoying segments between these guys. And teasing that the three of them starting the Rumble is deflating, because they’d stand around until the fourth man entered.
Charlotte came out for a promo segment where she brought up Bayley’s “fangirl” past and showed pictures of Bayley with John Cena, Rob Van Dam, Bret Hart, Ivory, and others. This part of it went on for far too long and could have been handled differently. The live crowd didn’t seem to be engaged in it. Bayley then came out and addressed her, closing with a poem of “Roses are red, violets are blue, at the Royal Rumble I will beat you.”
Bayley’s part of this segment though came off very well. It’s like WWE answered our prayers about presenting Bayley in the right way and effectively showcase her as an underdog and a long-time fangirl who is finally getting to live out her dream of being a WWE superstar. She came off like a woman fans could relate to, especially younger fans. Well done.
They recapped the opening segment, focusing on Lesnar’s appearance, then hyped the six-man main event. Strowman asked Owens and Jericho what they wanted and they tried to talk strategy but Strowman had none of it. He slipped in a version Taker’s “I do what I want, how I want, and when I want” line from last week’s show, almost as if they were teasing something there – or not.
Match #5 – Cedric Alexander def. Brian Kendrick. Alicia Fox got involved here to help Alexander get out of a submission hold, which was bizarre because the official watched her push the ropes toward him but did nothing. Alexander didn’t “take her back” though when she wanted to hug him afterward, so that’s a plus.
They interviewed Nia Jax, who called Sasha a “wannabe tough girl” and said she broke the Boss, and now people are buzzing about the right woman. Decent follow-up to the earlier video work.
They talked to Alicia Fox backstage, who ended up doing her flip-out routine on the interviewer. That routine is now getting tired and silly.
They ran a video package for Kurt Angle being the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017, which you can check out about at this link.
After some hype for 205 Live and incidental hype for Goldberg being on Raw next week, it was time for the main event.
Match #6 – Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens def. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Sami Zayn. One of the ongoing complaints about Raw has been the repeating pattern of Owens, Jericho, Rollins, and Reigns facing each other in some combination (one on one, handicap match, tag team match, etc.) week after week. Those combinations have run the program into the ground. But, in this case adding in Sami Zayn and Braun Strowman helped add some spice to the situation. It made the match feel fresh and the action was fine. They bought into Zayn finishing Strowman with a high cross body block.
They did a post match brawl that ended with Owens getting the better of Reigns and putting him through the commentary table. That made Owens come off more like a legitimate and credible heel rather than one half of a heel comedy duo with Chris Jericho.
A good show, which I would probably class as “average” in the reader poll. They did a good job of focusing on the Royal Rumble match itself, which is something that I always enjoy. There are a number of big stars in this match this time, so it helps add to the importance. Hopefully, they don’t give away the winner with the remaining weeks of television going into the event.
Thanks for understanding on the delayed reaction to last night’s show. Hopefully next week we will be back on track with live reaction during the event. Got questions or a Favorite Thing in Wrestling from this show or other events? Be sure to hit us up @RingRap on Twitter so we can discuss them on Wednesday’s Ring Rap Audio show. See you then!