Happy New Year! Welcome to tonight’s Raw Report. Your main event is a United States Championship Match between Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho. I wanted to take a moment and thank The Coach (@TheCoachESPN) for his props on Twitter during UFC 207 coverage. Coach, you nailed it. Also, if you ever want to hit me up, don’t forget to do so @TheMagnumDA.
Mick Foley is out and he’s back with the tennis ball haircut! He’s written “Tampa” on his hand, presumably as a self-deprecating way to joke with himself about botching his recent lines.
He talks about the shark cage, which brings out Kevin Owens and the sexy piñata himself, Chris Jericho. They protest the use of this cage, and proceed to rip on Foley for his haircut. Foley wants to wipe the slate clean, and then gives us the debut of the Kevin Owens show. His first guest? GOLDBERG.
Stephanie McMahon comes out and books a match between Owens and Rollins, where the loser would be banned from ringside during tonight’s main event. Foley then flubs his line AGAIN, saying Jericho would be banned from ringside. Now…Stephanie’s reaction to this is something to behold. She sets the matches straight, but does it in such a way that she basically makes it known to everyone that Foley forgot his lines. As if Foley wasn’t already self-conscious about this. I fear that Foley’s time with WWE will not last much longer.
Match #1: Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
Rollins gets in some right hands and two crossbody blocks from the top rope to start. They trade chops on the outside, and KO takes over by throwing Rollins into the barricade. Inside, Owens gets some kicks to the gut and they trade chops some more. The announcers are making each other laugh with Oprah jokes. Good lord. It’s 2017, guys. Get a clue.
Rollins works on the arm, but KO knocks him down. Owens looks especially well-fed tonight…if he’s not careful, Vince is going to notice. Seth turns things around with a Blockbuster, but it only gets two. After the commercial, Owens is back in control with a DDT, a senton, and a sleeperhold. Finish shows Rollins trying to hit the pedigree, but he gets thrown to the outside. Rollins attacks him and hits a suicide dive. While they’re outside, Owens uses a ringbell for the DQ, meaning that KO is banned from ringside for the main event tonight. Again, more of an angle than a match…but it was good while it lasted. **1/4
Match #2: Cesaro vs. Karl Anderson (non-title)
Sheamus is ringside on commentary, leaving his partner on his own. That really shows what a team player he is. Chain wrestling to start, and Cesaro tries to get a quick cover for two. Anderson drops Cesaro and whips him into the corner. Cesaro reverses him while Sheamus describes the differences between he and Cesaro (who cares if they wear different outfits outside of wrestling?)
Cesaro gets kicked to the outside, and we go to commercial. Out of the break, Cesaro breaks out of a sleeper and deadweights Anderson into the air. There’s been more camera time for Sheamus than Cesaro here…it’s kinda weird. Cesaro misses an elbow in the corner, and Anderson tries a cover for two. Finish shows Cesaro dropkicking Anderson right in the face for two, but he kicks out. As they go back up to the top rope, Gallows attempts to interfere but Sheamus holds serve. In doing so, he crotches Cesaro on the top rope, which leads to Anderson hitting a crushing neckbreaker from the top rope for ONE, TWO, THREE! Anderson’s biggest singles win during his WWE run. **1/2
Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman buildup video. This is going to be ugly.
Match #3: Last Man Standing – Braun Strowman vs. Sami Zayn
Sami uses his speed early on, and smacks Braun with a kendo stick on the outside. No DQ! Eventually, they go inside and Braun takes over. Zayn gets tossed across the entire building, but somehow he finds another kendo stick and goes to work. Zayn tries a moonsault, but he gets plucked out of mid-air and immediately dropped. Sami gets up at the 6-count and catches Braun by throwing him into the post. He tries the goofy corner DDT, but Braun hits him right in the face and drops him again.
Sami gets up again at 6, but Braun gets a running start and smashes Sami in the corner. They do a sequence where Strowman completely decks Sami with a lariat, but Sami is courageous enough to get up at the 4 and 5 count. Unfortunately, he keeps getting dropped every time he tries to get up. Makes for good drama, because the crowd is definitely getting behind him. After the commercial, they’re at the side of the stage brawling. Braun is throwing Zayn into anything nearby, screaming “HAVEN’T YOU LEARNED YOUR LESSON?!” God, Strowman would be a terrifying teacher.
Zayn is thrown to the backstage area, but he recovers and grabs a pipe. He whacks Braun with it, and throws him into the equipment case. Just as he’s building momentum, Strowman gets a counter. He tries to KILL Zayn by tossing a case over his prone body, but Sami moves and continues to fight against Braun. Sami holds a chair up over Strowman’s head, but Braun catches him and counters again. He eventually throws Sami Zayn into the background of the stage, but Sami fights back and grabs the chair again.
He hits a crossbody block onto Strowman, and both men go off the stage through the table. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…but Braun gets up! Zayn with another chairshot, but he GRABS THE CHAIR AND TOSSES ZAYN WITH IT. Corey Graves, who must be a Pantera fan, called this a “Vulgar Display of Power”. Zayn gets back up at 9, but he’s knocked back down. Strowman then starts interrupting the count to destroy Zayn further. He hits the Running Powerslam on the outside mats, and this time Zayn does not get up. Fun match, best of Braun’s career! **3/4 Stretcher job afterwards to really drive the point home.
New Day comes out for an interview, and declare themselves eligible for the Royal Rumble. This brings out…Titus O’Neil?! I love his New Day intro. Apparently, he wants to join the New Day…which goes over about as well as you think with the boys. The crowd is somewhat receptive to this. When Titus is rebuffed, he then challenges Xavier to a match…calling him the “weak link”. Oof.
Match #4: Titus O’Neil vs. Xavier Woods
Titus dominates to start, pounding Xaiver in the corner. Powerslam gets two, followed by a sleeperhold. Titus continues to jaw at the two New Day members ringside while holding Woods in a submission. He then tries tearing Woods’ face off! Titus misses a clothesline, and Xavier counters with kicks to the legs. He catches Titus with another kick to the face, and Titus is sent over the top rope.
Apparently, this was the part of the show where “Tye Dye Guy” was thrown out for looking too much like Hulk Hogan. So stupid of WWE to do that. Fans chant “Hogan” and forget about this match…which is convenient, because Woods catches Titus with the rollup for three. Eh…the promo was better than the match. *1/4
Bayley and Stephanie are backstage. They basically recreate the 2013 Daniel Bryan/Authority storyline, where Steph says that Bayley will never be the face of women’s wrestling. Steph then calls her “ordinary” to really drive the point home. Bayley says she belongs here, and that she’s simply “Bayley”…and that’s good enough for her. This leads to a #1 Contender’s Match vs. Nia Jax later tonight.
Match #5: Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander
The comment Graves made about Byron scooping up Booty-O’s in the stands had me rolling. Chain wrestling and reversals to start, and Cedric his a monkey flip and an incredible dropkick for two. Drew hits a headbutt to the gut, and BODYSLAMS CEDRIC INTO THE ROPES. Gulak with a back body drop for two. Unique variation of the Octopus Stetch on the ground by Gulak. Cedric tries to fight back, catching Drew with a running forearm and a back elbow. Another wicked kick by Cedric. Tony Nese tries to interfere on Drew’s behalf, but Alicia Fox intervenes. As this is happening, Gulak catches Cedric with a quick one for the win! Short, but fine. *1/2
Match #6: United States Championship Match
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Chris Jericho (DQ/Count-Out Waived for Roman, meaning he can lose the title by pin, submission, c/o, or DQ)
Jericho catches Reigns first and sends him into the corner with rights. Roman counters with…you guessed it, a big clothesline. Samoan Drop gets two, as the battle of wits continue in the stands (“Let’s go Roman!” vs. “Roman Sucks”)…can’t they just be dueling chants without having to say someone sucks? Like…”Let’s go Roman vs. “Y2J” or something. I don’t know…I am not taking up for Reigns, but it just sucks that, seemingly, as long as WWE exists they will continue to have a #1 Babyface that is completely polarizing. I think the fans are craving for a universally loved babyface. They’ve not had one since Bryan. Anyway, rant over.
Reigns charges in the corner but Jericho kicks him in the mouth. Jericho smacks Reigns in the mouth with a dropkick off the top rope, but it only gets two. Jericho drapes Reigns over the ropes and puts a knee in the back of his head. He misses a dive attempt and gets caught in the ropes. Reigns regroups and drills him with the patented…clotheslines. Come on, Lex. Give me a comeback worth a damn. Jericho snuffs out another comeback with yet another dropkick to the chest. On the outside, Reigns goes for the drive-by but gets thrown face-first into the post. He comes back in at the nine-count! The finish is a classic Eddie Guerrero tribute: Jericho unties the turnbuckle and gets the ref to fix it.
While the ref is tidying things up, Jericho tosses Roman the belt and takes a dive. The ref is about to DQ Roman, but he has a change of heart. As this happens, Jericho catches Roman right in the face with a vicious Codebreaker. One, two, NO! Jericho kicks him a few more times in the corner, and charges towards Roman. He misses and hits the exposed turnbuckle! Reigns with a SPEAR! One, two, THREE! Reigns retains the title. You saw some of the spots coming, but it was still very good. ***1/4
Shot of Goldberg’s locker room. What, he can’t change with the boys? He must be embarrassed about passing on that Bar Mitzvah when he was 13.
Match #7: TJ Perkins vs. The Brian Kendrick
Kicks and European uppercuts by TJ Perkins early. Kendrick takes control with an awesome move…he takes control of an armbar, and holds the move while running to the outside. This propels TJ into the ropes and knocks him back. That was clever! Kendrick then hits a SWANK back cradle suplex for two. Kendrick tries to grab Perkins’ arms, but TJ gets out and hits him with some more kicks. Kendrick and Perkins fight on the top rope, but this leads to sweet hurricurana by TJ for two. Kendrick hits the facebuster into the ropes and goes for Sliced Bread #2, but TJ counters and hits the Detonation Kick! This leads to the Kneebar, and Brian taps in mere seconds! Again, good but short. *3/4 Ooo, a BROODING Neville is backstage watching all of this.
UK Tournament is coming soon to the WWE Network! Check it out, I know I will be.
Enzo and Cass are out to do their thing. I don’t know how he does it, but Enzo is still over even with the stupid wheelchair. Cass is out to fight both men, I guess.
Match #8: Handicap Match – Cass vs. Rusev & Jinder Mahal
Graves compares Enzo and Cass to “Krang” from TMNT. Honestly, I kinda looked at them like Bebop & Rocksteady. I mean, if we’re really being honest…they remind me of Chester and Spike. Boy, Mahal looks pretty…hmm…well, let’s just say he wasn’t drug tested before this match. Cass pounds Mahal in the corner, and then takes him to another corner to pound him. Blind tag to Rusev, and Cass has to fight them both off.
Cass hits a huge boot, but Mahal starts harassing Enzo on the outside. Rusev goes for the big kick, but gets blocked. Mahal starts to distract Cass, which leads to the big kick for Rusev. One, two….three? Wait, really? Just that one kick? What a crock of shit. * Methinks that Enzo is not in Vince’s good graces. You can hear it in Cole’s call…”There goes Enzo, running his mouth again.” Not a good sign.
Replay of Strowman vs. Zayn is shown.
Match #9: #1 Contender’s Match – Bayley vs. Nia Jax
Charlotte is on the outside for commentary. Bayley goes for the leg, but Jax powers her off. Bayley gets a headlock, and is sent to the top. She tries to counter but Jax powers her down. Nia hits the splash in the corner, and Bayley is just completely wrecked at this point. Nia gets Bayley in a pretty ugly camel clutch, but Bayley fights back with reverse elbows. Jax tries to take Bayley in the corner, but she’s thrown into the corner turnbuckle. This enrages her, so she runs full force into Bayley who moves out of the way. Jax sells an awesome crash landing into the corner post, and this gets a reaction from the crowd.
Bayley hits a knee to the face, and tries to go upstairs. Nia Jax pulls her down, and hits a wicked legdrop to the back of Bayley’s head. Jax goes to the top rope, but it’s BOSS TIME. Sasha comes out to distract Nia Jax, and Bayley hits an AWESOME Belly-to-Bayley for the miracle three-count! ** I liked it. I’m still not entirely sure if this could lead to a heel turn by Sasha on Bayley, but we’ll see.
Main Event Interview Segment – The Kevin Owens Show (w/Goldberg)
I don’t know why there is a guy behind this sign, but it’s kinda hilarious. The cheesy table set-up with chairs for KO and Jericho are great too. Owens talks trash and they high-five. Kevin Owens with a predictable, but great buildup for his introduction…to Chris Jericho! When the crowd turns on this, Jericho adds the ENTIRE CITY OF TAMPA BAY to The List!
Then Jericho declares himself an entrant to the Royal Rumble. Ooo, KO does not like this. Before they can work this out, here comes DA’ MAN! Goldberg comes out to massive chants from the fans. Man…again, I can’t say it enough. Having the old WCW music is such a crucial piece of the presentation.
Goldberg comes out and tells Jericho that he’s first. Kevin asks Bill to take a seat into a kid’s lawn chair, which is promptly thrown out. Goldberg and Kevin Owens go face-to-face, but Paul Heyman comes out to interrupt! No Brock with him. Fans are livid. Heyman is interrupted by Roman Reigns, who goes face-to-face with Goldberg.
Braun Strowman interrupts and declares himself to be the winner of the Royal Rumble. I like the idea of putting these guys in the ring to sell the Rumble. DOUBLE SPEAR TO STROWMAN outta nowhere. Goldberg celebrates as we go to credits.
Good first show of 2017! They’ve got a lot of time to build. I dug this show.