WWE: Monday Night RAW was LIVE from The Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL on 1/2/17!
The Universal Champion, Kevin Owens, and the “Sexy Pinata” Chris Jericho start the show off along with the Raw GM, Mick Foley, who has a very nice new haircut and beard trim. Foley talks about writing city name’s down on his hand to remember them since he “R-Truth’d” the town last week. Jericho says it’s a travesty that he’ll be in the “cage of Jericho”, lock it in maaaaan! After he wins our hearts, we find out via match booking from Stephanie McMahon, who has come down to the ring, that Jericho will be in a US Title match tonight against Roman Reigns, and if Reigns loses via countout or DQ, he’ll drop the strap to Y2J. Seth Rollins will battle Kevin Owens after the break, and the loser is banned from ringside for the main event. Kevin Owens will also host Goldberg in the first ever “Kevin Owens Show” talk segment later tonight. Looking like it’s gonna be a decent program and it needs to be, especially since Smackdown straight up beat Raw in the ratings last week, as Steph acknowledges. They then head to commercial.
Seth Rollins defeats Kevin Owens via DQ after KO used the ringbell to strike Rollins. Members of the Scrum Sports family are in attendance at the show tonight and they surely enjoyed these trusted hands duking it out. They employed the usual spots, a top rope blockbuster from Rollins and hard hitting offense from KO, which was working well, until the action spilled outside the ring. KO used the ringbell and the ref ended the contest leading to KO being banned from ringside for the US title match tonight. Rollins will probably end up costing Reigns the belt by accident and we’ll have a new US Champ, at least that’s my prediction. We’ll see how things shakedown.
Karl Anderson defeats Cesaro via pinfall with a top rope neckbreaker. This was a wonderful match and a great opportunity for fans of the fed to enjoy Anderson’s solo work. The man once made it to the G1 finals against a very game Shinsuke Nakamura. The end came as Sheamus ran down to the ring to stop Gallows from interfering and he unintentionally caused Cesaro to get crotched and then handled by the neckbreaker. A great victory by Karl Anderson over the always entertaining Cesaro and so far, this has been a solid Raw. We’ll see if the dam holds.
Braun Strowman defeats Sami Zayn via a ten count in a Last Man Standing match. Zayn was actually given a surprising amount of offense against the monstrous Strowman. The action was fast and furious and spilled to the backstage area. Strowman worked Zayn over with brute strength and power offense and Zayn utilized everything from a steel chair to his own frenzied offense. It didn’t ever seen to be teased, at least in my opinion, that Zayn was going to win and Strowman did just that. It’s sort of a head scratcher as to why they did this, especially considering they made such a spectacle out of having Zayn surive the ten minute challenge. Unless Zayn dumps Strowman from the rumble match itself, I don’t know what to make of this one. Strowman dumped a stretcher that Zayn was on after the decision was final and then he introduced Zayn to the ringside barricade before a break in the action.
There’s a backstage segment which showed highlights of the “Gentlemen’s Duel” last week on 205 live between Jack Gallagher and Ariya Daivari. We then get to enjoy a backstage segment featuring Gallagher and the former tag team champions, The New Day. There’s a zany skit involving umbrellas. I chuckled. Gallagher is over like rover. They head to a commercial.
Xavier Woods defeats Titus O’Neil via pinfall with a rollup. Titus was trying to utilize his “Titus Brand” before the match to sell himself as a new member of the New Day. He didn’t “make it a win” however as 2017 starts off just as badly as 2016 ended for his win/loss record as Xavier beats him in a quick match.
Backstage, Bayley happens upon Stephanie McMahon and questions her as to Dana Brooke being made the special referee for her match against Charlotte last week. It leads to Steph flip-flopping between being a face and a heel as she does so often and saying that Bayley is just ordinary and average and that she never wanted her on Raw, Foley did. Bayley states her case and it leads to Stephanie booking her against Nia Jax in a number one contendor’s match with the winner getting a shot at Charlotte for the belt at the Rumble. Bayley leaves with Stephanie mocking her by humming her theme music.
Cedric Alexander is backstage with Alicia Fox heading towards the ring for singles action as the duo runs into Noam Dar. Dar apologizes for basically being a creeper and he calls Alicia “sweet cheeks”. Cedric gets frantic, but Alicia tells him to focus on his match next.
Drew Gulak defeats Cedric Alexander via pinfall with a rollup. Distractions on the outside by Tony Nese and Alicia Fox lead to the downfall of Alexander once again this week and more importantly, it is the first victory on Raw for the grappler Gulak. That’s a pretty big deal for him, but this story-line is painful to watch because it’s such a waste of Alexander’s immense talent. Let him go out and wrestle and entertain hands. He was a fine heel for a short time in ROH, but the crowd was invested in him for his incredible showing in the CWC and his match of the year contendor against Kota Ibushi. I’m pleased for Gulak and the action was decent for time allotted, but the outside involvement took away from the in-ring product and it cost Alexander a victory. “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” Austin Aries was on commentary for this one and he stated the obvious for good fans enjoying the product at home. He told Alexander to stop bringing Alicia to ringside. The show started off quite watchable, but it’s losing the lead to Smackdown once again as they seem to be phoning it in again so far tonight.
Roman Reigns defeats Chris Jericho via pinfall with a spear to retain the US Title. Well, they continue to book Reigns like he’s untouchable for the second week in a row. Jericho pulls a page out of the Eddie Guerrero playbook as he tries to get Roman DQ’d with a flop, but the referee takes the title belt away from Reigns instead of biting on the fake. Jericho removes the turnbuckle and falls victim to his own attempt as he gets introduced to it by Reigns, leading to a spear and a three count. I’m indifferent to it. The match was enjoyable, Reigns can work a fine contest and he was able to do so against the veteran Jericho, but it’s the same formula again this week and it’s a Roman Reigns victory and fans of the US Champ will get to go home happy instead of those looking for a fresh take on the Raw product. They are certainly not making a strong case to garner the attention of the Smackdown Live audience giving them almost the exact same show formula for the third week in a row. Either way, the match was what it was and the in-ring presentation was good for what it was with the wiley Jericho falling victim to his own failed attempt at exposing the turnbuckle.
“You Might Have Too.” That was a response by Michael Cole to Corey Graves making a comment about Emmalina premiering soon and him being glad to wait until 2018. When your lead commentator is making cracks about comebacks that should have taken place months ago, you’ve got real trouble. Jinder Mahal and Rusev are waiting in the ring after the vignette for a tag team match against Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Enzo is still in the wheelchair which he miraculously rose out of last week, but I suppose he’s still “wounded”. Big Cass says he’ll compete in a handicapped match against the two himself. Corey Graves makes me laugh out loud as he refers to Enzo and Cass as Krang from Ninja Turtles, with Cass being the mechanical body and Enzo being the pink brain. That was hilarious.
Rusev and Jinder Mahal defeat Big Cass via pinfall in a handicapped match with a big kick by Rusev on Cass. This was incredible short and over almost as quickly as it began. Mahal was grieving Enzo on the outside and Cass went to make the save. Cass got back into the ring stopped one boot attempt, but he fell prey to another and that was that. After the match, they show highlights of the Last Man Standing match from earlier in the evening. The women’s champion, Charlotte, comes out just before the break as she’ll be on commentary for the number one contender’s match up next!
Bayley defeats Nia Jax via pinfall with a Bayley-To-Belly suplex off the ropes to become the number one contender for the women’s title. Sasha Banks came out to aide Bayley with a well timed distraction. Nia was dominating the contest early, but after the distraction, Bayley took advantage of the opportunity to hit the suplex and come away with a title opportunity. Charlotte was fun on commentary, easily one of the best heels in the business right now. It looks like they’re building towards the scheduled Nia Jax/Sasha Banks program as well. Up next and more than likely to end the show, we’ll see “The Kevin Owens Show” featuring Bill Goldberg.
“The Kevin Owens Show” starts out after the break with Chris Jericho flanking his best friend and some nitwit standing there with a sign for the KO show plastered over his face. Chris Jericho puts Tampa on the “List of Jericho” for their repeated Goldberg chants. Jericho then introduces himself as the third man to enter himself into the Royal Rumble match. Owens is flustered as he wonders how a Jericho victory and a title match at ‘Mania will affect their friendship and Jericho says that no matter what happens, the belt stays in the family. Goldberg is out after that to massive cheers. He and Kevin Owens have words and Jericho plays into the situation as well. Goldberg tells Jericho that he’ll be “first” in the rumble match as it relates to eliminations. Paul Heyman comes out and says that he’s got a spoiler for the Tampa crowd and that it’s simple, Lesnar wins. Roman Reigns eventually makes his presence known and then Braun Strowman factors into the equation as well. The show in Tampa ends as Strowman eats a huge double spear from the US Champ and Goldberg himself. The fans react for Goldberg and Reigns takes in the adulation as well and that’s all she wrote for Raw in Tampa!
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