01/11 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman return, Chris Jericho interviews New Day on the Highlight Reel

By Jason Powell

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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from New Orleans, Louisiana at Smoothie King Center

[Q1] A video recapped the Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus main event from last week that had Vince McMahon as special referee. It included Vince’s announcement that Roman Reigns would have to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against 29 men in the Royal Rumble match… Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary and noted that Raw debuted 23 years ago with Undertaker in the main event…

A large number of wrestlers stood on the stage. Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon made their entrances and headed to the ring. Vince told viewers to take a look at the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He explained that one of the men on the stage will make history. Stephanie said it all starts with throwing Roman Reigns over the top rope.

Vince and Stephanie teased that the winner could be Dolph Ziggler or Kevin Owens or New Day. They played around with New Day and said “that ain’t booty.” The Wyatt Family video flashed and when the lights came on, they were standing at ringside. Bray Wyatt stood on the broadcast table and recalled saying anyone but Roman Reigns. Vince agreed and said it could be anyone, including Brock Lesnar.

Roman Reigns’ music played and he made his entrance through the crowd and joined Vince and Stephanie in the ring. Vince acted intimidated by the thought of Reigns attacking him again. Reigns said he wasn’t going to attack him. However, he had a question. “What if I win?” Stephanie laughed, and JBL cracked on commentary at one point that Reigns’ odds were worse than the Powerball.

Stephanie said Reigns could even have to face Dean Ambrose. Vince booked Ambrose in the first match. Sheamus took a shot to the back of Ambrose’s head and knocked him down. Sheamus stepped over Ambrose and headed to the ring, then Vince announced that it would be Sheamus vs. Ambrose after the break…

Powell’s POV: The segment was about Vince and Stephanie gloating. They really limited Reigns by having him merely ask what if he wins. Perhaps this is a “be careful what you wish for” moment, but I thought we should have heard more from Reigns. By the way, Dot Net Members are getting their first look at the new and improved website that went live minutes before Raw. If you haven’t checked our All Access website lately, it is also new and improved.

[Q2] [C] 1. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus in a non-title match. The match was joined in progress. Ambrose sold early and then recovered enough to perform a suicide dive heading into the break. [C] The back and forth action continued after the break.

[Q3] Ambrose went for another suicide dive, but Sheamus caught him with a bunch through the ropes and then threw him into the barricade and ring steps. Sheamus picked up Ambrose to run him into the post, but Ambrose slipped off and shoved Sheamus’s head into the post. The referee counted them out.

Dean Ambrose fought Sheamus to a double count-out in 14:00 of television time.

After the match, Ambrose was roughing up Sheamus when Kevin Owens attacked him from behind. Owens threw punches at Ambrose and was setting him up for a powerbomb on the table, but the several referees intervened. Owens released Ambrose, but then ran back and kicked him while he was down…

The announcers stood at ringside and hyped the Royal Rumble and WWE Network. They also hyped The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho interviewing New Day. They also hyped Roman Reigns in a One vs. All match that the McMahon Family set up earlier…

Powell’s POV: My apologies for missing the One vs. All announcement earlier. I thought Vince and Stephanie were referring to the Royal Rumble match. A good brawl between Ambrose and Sheamus, and a good post-match attack by Owens. It is a little surprising that Sheamus wasn’t given some type of a win simply because they desperately need a wrestler to click as a top heel. Maybe they don’t see him as being the guy despite his recent title reign. By the way, Sheamus was busted open hard way when Ambrose ran him into the ring post.

Backstage, Dean Ambrose told Renee Young that he was still breathing and that’s bad news for Kevin Owens…

Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon spoke with Paul Heyman spoke backstage. Stephanie assumed Brock would want to be in the Royal Rumble because the title will be at stake. Heyman said his client is a prize fighter who wants to fight for the biggest prize of them all on the biggest stage of them all.

“Don’t be trying to change my plans again,” Vince said. Funny. Heyman told Vince that he’s trying to give him what he wants and sang the praises of the WWE Champion defending the title against Lesnar at WrestleMania. “I don’t like it,” Vince said. Heyman was surprised. Stephanie interjected and said they should take the conversation behind closed doors because “there are all kinds of people in this hallway. They all entered the McMahon office together…

Powell’s POV: Let me get this straight, they are worried about people overhearing them, but they don’t notice the television camera right in front of them? That was bizarre. Why not just have Stephanie acknowledge the camera’s existence and then go into the office? Still, it’s interesting that the Vince character doesn’t want Lesnar challenging for the title at WrestleMania. Keep in mind that Lesnar has not been advertised for the Royal Rumble yet, but he is advertised for the Fastlane pay-per-view.

Stardust made his entrance for a match… [C] New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was shown standing in the crowd at ringside…

[Q4] 2. Stardust vs. Titus O’Neil. Cole got excited when Titus smiled to the crowd and told viewers that Titus “loves to have fun!” JBL and Saxton humored themselves by dropping references to the late David Bowie. Titus won clean with his finisher. However, Stardust attacked him from behind and ran him into the barricade several times…

Titus O’Neil beat Stardust in 3:25.

Powell’s POV: Just when it looked like this feud was over following a couple of clean wins for Titus, Stardust attacks him after the match to keep it going. I’m cook with that, but there really should have been more distance between this post-match attack and the one in the opening match.

Cole did some network business by congratulating Mr. Robot on winning two awards at the Golden Globes…

Chris Jericho made his entrance for The Highlight Reel. He showed fan reaction to his return on the Jeritron, including one that said “rooty tooty booty is my new favorite saying” which didn’t get much of a reaction from the crowd.

[Q5] Jericho mentioned his return to save WWE coincides with Star Wars being number one at the box office (yes!) and Guns N Roses playing together again (hell yes!). He said his saving WWE starts now and culminates at the Royal Rumble when he wins the match and the title.

New Day made their entrance and complained that he didn’t even introduce them as guests. He said they were just mad because he called them “rooty tooty booty” last week and tried to get the crowd to chant it. It didn’t get much traction and New Day cut off whatever chants there were.

The Uso Brothers came out carrying their Slammy Awards. Ugh. Xavier Woods said the only worse candidates for tag team of the year are Ricky Gervais and Mel Gibson. The Uso Brothers wanted a match. Kofi Kingston pointed out that they have three members and there are only two Uso Brothers. Jericho called him a dumbass and pointed out that there are six men in the ring. Jericho challenged them a tag match where he would be in the corner of The Uso Brothers…

Powell’s POV: Rooty tooty booty? That skinny jeans and whatever the hell else he’s wearing? Jericho has to be playing an obliviously dated character, right? Jericho has always had a zany sense of humor, but I can’t tell whether he’s setting up his latest character switch or if he’s suddenly old and out of touch (welcome to the club, Chris). I want to believe he’s one step ahead of us and hopefully we’ll find out that is the case.

3. Kofi Kingston and Big E (w/Xavier Woods) vs. The Uso Brothers (w/Chris Jericho) in a non-title match. Cole referred to it as tag team action, so it appears it’s just a non-title match.

[Q6] The New Day members took control. Woods played his trombone to gloat, but he grew timid as he approached Jericho and ran away from him. [C] New Day was in control and Woods was back in his corner playing the trombone. Jimmy Uso nearly made the tag, but Big E pulled Jey Uso off the ring apron. Cool spot. Jey Uso eventually took the hot tag and worked over both opponents.

Later, Woods’ interference prevented the Uso Brothers from performing a top rope splash. Jericho took the trombone and broke it over his knee. Woods was horrified. Meanwhile, one of the Uso Brothers rolled up a distracted Kingston and pinned him. “The Uso’s do it, the Uso’s pin the tag team champions,” Cole exclaimed…

The Uso Brothers defeated Big E and Kofi Kingston in a non-title match.

The broadcast team hyped the One vs. All match involving Reigns facing apparently everyone on the roster…

Cole discussed the John Cena injury news and said he would not compete in the Royal Rumble match. Cole said Cena had a serious tear in his rotator cuff, but he had surgery and was doing rehab the next day. “John Cena will be out a number of months,” Cole said…

[Q7] Cole hyped the U.S. Title match for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: They still aren’t saying that John Cena is out of WrestleMania, but the “number of months” clarification regarding his injury is probably the closest we’ve had to clarification, as the event is no less than three months away. Meanwhile, I like that Cole put over the Uso Brothers beating the tag champs in a big way. It’s such an obvious thing to do that I feel silly praising them for making a fuss over the tag champions losing a non-title match, but it’s one of the many things that the weird Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn broadcasting approach has neglected at times over the years.

The WWE Heroes commercial aired… A “Real Facts” graphic noted that Dolph Ziggler has “a successful improv and standup comedy career” outside the ring. Um, what’s your definition of successful?…

Backstage, Heyman told Stephanie to tell her father the error of his ways. He said he’s once again right, and he hyped the big box office idea of Lesnar challenging for the title at WrestleMania. Stephanie said Lesnar entering the Rumble match is the biggest opportunity that Heyman’s client has.

Heyman said he understands the position that Steph is in with her husband and father. “Go tell them that Brock Lesnar says no,” Heyman said. Stephanie told Heyman to tell the man whose contract Vince McMahon owns that he will compete in the Rumble match. Stephanie told Heyman not to get so close to her ever again. Heyman backed down and said he would go talk to his client…

Powell’s POV: In case you missed the message, Stephanie McMahon and the rest of her family have bigger dicks than Paul Heyman has.

JBL stood in the ring with his creepy grin and set up the Hall of Fame video package for Sting. After the video, they read some reaction to Sting entering the Hall of Fame and then hyped that tickets for the event go on sale on Friday…

The Wyatt Family made their entrance. Cole hyped The Dudleys vs. The Wyatt Family in a tables match. He said it was the first time in four years that a table match would take place on Smackdown… [C]

Bray Wyatt was about to speak in the ring when he was interrupted by the Social Outcasts new music. Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas headed to the stage wearing their # Social Outcasts t-shirts and cut a promo as they headed to the ring. Axel said they are four links, one chain. Bo said they are like the Four Musketeers. Slater said they were there for a fight…

[Q8] 4. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman vs. Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas. Strowman destroyed Axel. Wyatt checked in and yelled something about New Orleans being “my own city.” Ryback’s entrance music hit and he hit the ring only to be outnumbered by the Wyatt Family. However, the Social Outcasts helped Ryback clear the ring…

Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman fought Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas to an apparent no-contest.

Powell’s POV: Wait, the Social Outcasts are babyfaces? Bo was back in cornball mode after last week and Rose never left it. I wanted to like this as something different for the undercard wrestlers, but this was weak. For that matter, so is not announcing the Wyatt Family as the winners by DQ.

Footage aired from Smackdown of Kalisto pinning Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match… Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Kalisto, who said the U.S. Title represents opportunity to him. He said John Cena gave everyone a chance. He said Eddie Guerrero held his own and fought with pride. Kalisto said Del Rio runs from a fight and isn’t a true champion. “Tonight, I’m going to give it my all,” Kalisto said…

Powell’s POV: It’s good to see Kalisto get some mic time, but I didn’t come away feeling anything for his character. He tried to relate to viewers in such a generic way. He didn’t really say anything to rally the fans behind him.

Alberto Del Rio made his entrance. JBL credited Del Rio with “sending John Cena on vacation.” Once in the ring, Del Rio boasted that Cena won’t be in the Royal Rumble match. Del Rio also said that Cena isn’t going to WrestleMania “because I broke him.” Del Rio said he’s going to break Kalisto, whom he said reminds him of a mosquito. Del Rio said he squashes mosquitos…

Powell’s POV: Who wrote that crappy promo? It’s nice to see them give someone credit for putting Cena on the shelf, but that didn’t elicit any reaction from the crowd. And don’t even get me started on the mosquito line.

[Q9] 5. Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto for the U.S. Championship. Lilian Garcia delivered in-ring introductions for the title match.

Del Rio was the aggressor to start. JBL said it’s not about winning the match for Del Rio, it’s about proving that his loss on Smackdown was a fluke. Kalisto had some hope spots, but Del Rio had him down heading into the break. [C]

Del Rio dodged a top rope move from Kalisto coming out of the break and covered him for two. By the way, halftime of the college football national championship game occurred during this match. Cole said Thursday was a record setting night for Smackdown and a lot of people saw Del Rio lose. Um, what records?

Del Rio went for his superkick, but Kalisto dodged it and caught Del Rio with a rolling kick and covered him for two. Kalisto went to the top rope slowly. Del Rio recovered and cut him off. Del Rio performed a reverse superplex. Del Rio avoided Kalisto’s finisher and then tied him up in the ropes and put the boots to him. Del Rio slowly went for his finisher, but Kalisto avoided it and performed a head-scissors that drove Del Rio’s head into the mat.

[Q10] Del Rio kicked Kalisto in the gut and then went for a followup move, but Kalisto rolled him up and pinned him to win the match…

Kalisto defeated Alberto Del Rio in 15:15 to win the U.S. Championship.

Powell’s POV: A good match with Del Rio looking strong throughout and cutting off Kalisto’s flashy offensive spurts until he was pinned. It’s refreshing to see WWE go with Kalisto as the U.S. Champion. Given all his talk about opportunity earlier and his admiration for John Cena, is it possible that he will bring back the open challenge? I hope so.

The broadcast team put over the win briefly and then shifted their focus to narrating footage from the Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch match from Raw last week…

Backstage, JoJo interviewed Charlotte and Ric Flair, who both received loud “woooo’s” from the crowd. Charlotte boasted that she beat Becky “Flair and square” and questioned why she’s the bad guy. Charlotte said that if Paige taught her anything it’s that there’s no room for sentiment in this business. Charlotte said Becky is the villain and she is the victim. After the two of them walked off, Flair returned and said that’s his little girl and then gave the crowd a woooo…. [C]

Cole hyped Flair’s appearance on the Stone Cold Podcast airing on WWE Network after Raw…

Ring entrances for the Charlotte vs. Brie Bella match took place. However, Becky Lynch attacked Charlotte. Two referees eventually pulled Lynch off Charlotte. “Hey, what the hell are you doing?” Flair asked over the house mic. “She’s in no position, the Divas Champion his not wrestling tonight.” Flair said it was “all because of your Becky Lynch” and then asked, “are you kidding me?” Flair called for the ref to give him his jacket and then did the “fat boy” line before leaving with Charlotte…

[Q11] A backstage shot aired of Heyman speaking with Lesnar. Cole said Heyman had the unenviable task of explaining to Stephanie’s decision to Lesnar… [C]

Powell’s POV: What was Becky wearing this week? Sometimes I dig her look and then there are weeks like this. Anyway, Flair was good in his role and I liked Charlotte’s backstage promo. I wrote on Twitter (@prowrestlingnet) earlier tonight that Lesnar is officially advertised for the Royal Rumble event. Thanks to Dot Net reader Jerry Saunders for passing along the updated advertising.

Backstage, a fired up Becky Lynch told JoJo that Charlotte promised herself she would never use her Hall of Fame father for protection. Becky said she is all alone and her emotions are exactly what they should be. She said that she is the woman who made the champion tap out and you can be certain that she’s going to do it again…

Powell’s POV: A very good promo from Becky. She looked genuinely emotional and her words were believable. That’s the best mic work we’ve heard from her on the main roster and it’s not even close. I also liked JoJo reacting as if she was taken aback by Lynch’s passion. Unfortunately, they cut to Cole, who was as laid back and blah as ever. At least Byron was there to praise Lynch.

The broadcast team shifted from the Divas to setting up a recap of Stephanie showing Paul Heyman how big her dick is…

Roman Reigns made his entrance through the crowd. Cole said the One vs. All match was up next… [C] The broadcast team hyped the Dudleys vs. Wyatt Family in a tables match, and Dean Ambrose and Neville vs. Sheamus and Kevin Owens, and Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio for the U.S. Championship for Thursday’s Smackdown television show…

Vince McMahon’s music played. Vince and Stephanie walked onto the stage then then motioned to the back and The Ascension, New Day, The Wyatt Family, Stardust, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, and Kevin Owens joined them. They all headed to ringside as Cole questioned how the match would work.

[Q12] Vince said this was the first ever McMahon version of One vs. All. Stephanie said Reigns would face each wrestler until he could no longer move. Vince said they would start with Owens…

6. Roman Reigns in a One vs. All match. Vince and Stephanie sat next to the broadcast team ringside while the rest of the heels stood at ringside as Reigns started with Owens. Reigns was distracted by Sheamus on the floor, allowing Owens to catch him with a kick that knocked him to the floor. [C] Owens remained in control while the heels cheered him on from ringside and the McMahon family smiled. Reigns avoided a running senton.

[Overrun] Reigns put Owens down with a clothesline and then jawed at Vince and Stephanie. Reigns put Owens down again and smiled at the McMahon family. He set up for his finisher. The Ascension stood on the apron, but Reigns knocked them off with a Superman Punch. Reigns took out Stardust and then Tyler Breeze, taking Breeze down with a spear.

Vince stood up from his chair and he and Stephanie motioned for all the heels to attack Reigns. New Day, Del Rio, and Sheamus attacked Reigns, then Owens recovered and joined them. The fans chanted “we want Brock.” Sheamus, who had stitches in his forehead, delivered a Brogue Kick.

Lesnar’s music hit. Lesnar walked out with Paul Heyman strutting confidently behind him. New Day assumed he was on their side and motioned for Lesnar to get Reigns. Brock clotheslined them and then took some of the heels to Suplex City. Sheamus attacked Lesnar from behind and threw several shots at him, but Lesnar caught him with a punch and then a clothesline. Lesnar suplexed Del Rio and then Sheamus.

The crowd cheered as Lensar stood tall. Vince and Stephanie were shown watching from ringside. Lesnar pulled Reigns to the middle of the ring and then smiled. Lesnar picked up Reigns and put him down with an F5. Lesnar looked into the camera and glared. Cole said Lesnar was making it clear that Lesnar is entering the Royal Rumble match and is looking to win the title. In the ring, Reigns recovered enough to look at Lesnar while he was lying on the mat. Reigns nodded at Lesnar, who stopped and smiled at him from the stage. Reigns smiled back as Cole closed the show…

Powell’s POV: A good angle to close the show and thank goodness because that match was painful. Reigns vs. Owens would have been fine, but the idea that it was Reigns vs. All was heel authority figure garbage. Still, the closing angle with Lesnar destroying everyone and then F5’ing Reigns was very good. I liked seeing the smile from Reigns that we saw at WrestleMania 31 after he took a ridiculous amount of punishment from Lesnar. It felt like Cole was reading a little too much into Lesnar’s actions meaning he was entering the Royal Rumble, but obviously that’s how he was instructed to call it.

Overall, Raw had its good moments. It was nice to see them advertise a few things for Smackdown. They really need to deliver next week on the go-home edition of Raw. I’m intrigued by Reigns and Lesnar being in the Rumble, but that’s it so far. Everyone else feels like everyone else. It would be nice if we actually heard from the other wrestlers in an attempt to convince us that someone else might actually win. Thanks for watching along with me. I will be back later tonight with Raw audio for members, and again on Tuesday with my WWE Raw Hit List.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. First off, the camera is there and Vince and Steph act like they don’t see it, and you don’t make it a HUGE deal like you do when TNA did it. Secondly, GNR isn’t going to be the original GNR lienup, but like WWE, I guess of if you like something, you have to ignore the bad. Axl, Duff, and Slash are the oringinal members who will be on stage. OH, and btw, Axl’s voice is shot.

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