By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Columbus, Ohio at Schottenstein Center
[Q1] The opening video aired… The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton…
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho stood in the ring and were booed. Owens welcomed viewers to “The Chris and Kevin Show.” Owens pointed out that he put Jericho’s name first. Owens said there is nothing he won’t do to make sure that the WWE Universal Championship stays with him, even if it means taking a Codebreaker from his best friend. Still shots aired of the Roadblock main event.
Owens said he didn’t know what Jericho was going to do. He said as much as the Codebreaker hurt, it paled in comparison to Jericho not being his best friend anymore. Jericho told Owens that the Codebreaker hurt him more than it hurt Owens. Jericho said he had to make the referee and all of the muttonheads believe. Jericho said he wants Owens to believe, so he called for Owens to take “The Hug of Jericho” and told him to “bring it in, man.” They hugged.
Jericho called Santa Claus a stupid idiot. He accused Santa of stealing his list gimmick and put him on the list, which drew some cheers. Mick Foley made his entrance. The stage was covered in Christmas trees and presents. Foley said Santa knows when you’re naughty and nice, and Jericho has been naughty. Foley set up still shots of the heels taking powerbombs from Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
Owens said that could have ended his career. Foley called it payback. Owens said he’s a national treasure. Jericho ripped on Foley’s jacket. Foley took it off to reveal horrible Christmas attire. He said it was the worst thing Jericho has seen and told him to drink it in. Foley announced a tag team match for “right here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.” Foley was booed for getting the town wrong, so he corrected himself. Owens boasted that they made sure he would retain the championship, so they would figure out something.
Foley said that stops at the Royal Rumble. Foley said Santa brought a present from the North Pole. A shark cage lowered from the ceiling and had its own music and lighting. Foley announced Owens vs. Reigns in a rematch at the Royal Rumble with Jericho inside the shark cage. Jericho rejected it. Foley said he would make sure he never appeared in a WWE ring again. Jericho said he’s afraid of heights.
[Q2] Jericho stepped inside the shark cage while complaining about the shark cage not being safe. Foley locked the shark cage. Foley said the key was in his fanny pack and then struggled to find it. Foley said the bad news is he messed up and forgot the key. Foley said Jericho wouldn’t take flight until he gave the symbol, and he wasn’t giving it until then. Foley made the symbol while saying it and Jericho was raised inside the cage. Jericho threw a fit and yelled, “Open the door” more times than Hodor said “Hold the Door.” Foley told Jericho to have a nice day…
Powell’s POV: I’m pretty sure every Shark Cage match I’ve ever seen has ended with the person in the cage dropping a foreign object into the ring. That said, this was an entertaining segment. I assume Jericho and Owens worked the crowd before the match to get the boos they received to start the show because they tend to get more cheers than boos these days. They were comical here, yet Jericho showed some ass as he was raised above the ring. You can tell that he, Owens, and Foley have a good time working together. Meanwhile, shouldn’t Seth Rollins be pissed since his plan was to beat Jericho, then Owens, and then get his match with Triple H?
The broadcast team recapped the previous segment. Jericho was down from the cage and was hyperventilating backstage while medical personnel checked on him… Cole hyped Rollins and Reigns vs. Jericho and Owens as the main event…
Enzo Amore and Big Cass made their entrance to a big pop. They did their entrance schtick on the way to the ring. Once in the ring, Cass said Rusev took the coward’s way out. Rusev’s entrance music cut off the “sawft” routine…
1. Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore). Cass worked over Rusev with punches and kicks in the corner. The referee called for the bell because Cass blew off his ten count. Cass eventually stopped and a woozy Rusev made his way to the back with Lana…
Rusev defeated Big Cass by DQ in 1:00.
The broadcast team hyped Sasha Banks discussing her loss to Charlotte for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Quick, painless, and forgettable. How long is this feud between one man and a tag team going to last?
[Q3] A somber Sasha Banks hobbled to the ring on one crutch with a brace on her left knee to sell the damage in the Iron Man match. Still shots of the match were shown. They used a black and white shot because of the bloody nose that Sasha suffered late in the match. The crowd applauded Sasha briefly before she spoke.
Sasha said she literally gave her blood, sweat, and tears. She said she laid it all on the line and left it all in the ring. She said tapping out twice didn’t just nearly break her leg, it broke her heart. Sasha said she walked out of the match without her women’s championship. She said it kills her to say that the better woman won. Sasha said she doesn’t feel like The Boss anymore. Sasha said she learned how to win and lose with respect. Sasha called for Charlotte to come out so that she could congratulate her.
There was a long pause and then Nia Jax made her entrance instead. Once in the ring, Jax sized up Sasha while walking around her. Nia said she doesn’t know why Charlotte wasn’t there and she didn’t care. Jax said Sasha will never be The Boss to her. She called her weak, wounded, and a little girl. Nia kicked the crutch out from under Sasha’s arm, and Sasha fell to the mat. Jax picked up Sasha and tossed her across the ring. Jax picked up the crutch and teased hitting Sasha with it, but instead just tossed it aside and left the ring…
A shot aired of Cedric Alexander and Alicia Fox. Saxton said Alexander would face Noam Dar after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Why not have Nia hit Sasha’s bad knee with it?!? That was a decent angle, but it would have been so much better if Jax had done more than simply toss Sasha across the ring. Still, I like the idea of Sasha moving on and facing Jax, and this would seem to free up Charlotte for Bayley. Believe it or not, Roadblock may actually have been the end of the line for the Charlotte vs. Sasha feud at least for now.
[Q4] Backstage, Sheamus and Cesaro were standing around with their tag titles when Mick Foley entered the room and said he felt like a proud poppa for putting them together. Foley said they have changed the face of the tag division. Foley introduced the new Raw Tag Titles.
A referee entered the room and told Foley there was an emergency. They cut to Braun Strowman roughing up a crew member while asking where Sami Zayn was at. Foley entered the picture and tried to talk Strowman down. Strowman said he wanted Zayn in a match or else. Foley said he talked Zayn into leaving and he’s a couple hundred miles away. Strowman said it would be “or else”…
Powell’s POV: As usual, the Raw title belts have the red leather and just don’t look good. The crowd reaction was mostly crickets, but there were some boos. Meanwhile, you have to think that Zayn blew off Foley telling him to leave because ducking Strowman goes against everything his character has been about lately.
2. Cedric Alexander (w/Alicia Fox) vs. Noam Dar. Austin Aries sat in on commentary. Alexander got off to a start start and dumped Dar to the floor heading into a break during the opening minute. [C] Alexander continued to dominate the offense and hit the Lumbar Check for the clean win.
After the match, Dar cut a promo while lying on the floor. He said he beat Cedric two weeks ago. He said they are not even because Alexander has what he wants – Alicia Fox. Dar said all he wants for Christmas is Fox…
Cedric Alexander defeated Noam Dar in 5:10.
New Day was shown walking backstage… [C] A commercial hyped Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper, who will have Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton in his corner…
Powell’s POV: The cruiserweights received a five minute match, but roughly three minutes of it consisted of commercials. Dar trying to steal Alexander’s girlfriend is a fine idea, but they really should have done more to cement the Cedric and Alicia pairing so that it packed more of a punch.
[Q5] New Day made their entrance and delivered a promo as they walked to the ring. Xavier Woods said their historic tag title reign hit a roadblock after 483 days. Kofi Kingston said Ric Flair could not have become a 16-time champion without losing 15 times. Big E said that will be Charlotte in a moment. Funny. E said they can’t become three-time champs without losing a couple times. Woods said they will definitely become champions (insert hip swivel again).
Cesaro and Shemaus made their entrance. Shemaus was about to mock New Day, but Cesaro stopped him and said they spoke about it earlier. Sheamus named himself the tag team champion. Cesaro said his name. They said their names back and forth with the crowd responding accordingly.
Powell’s POV: The only thing missing is one of them yelling “I’m the tag team champion.”
Kingston couldn’t believe they gave them new tag titles. He said their run had to end at some point, and they’re happy that if someone had to do it “it was you.” Shemaus thanked them. New Day shamed Shemaus and said they were talking to Cesaro. Sheamus and Cesaro bickered with one another on the ring apron. The fans gave Sheamus the “shame” treatment again. Sheamus boasted that he’s the reason they became champions.
Sheamus said New Day disgraced the tag titles for 483 days. Sheamus said if New Day could hold the titles that long, he could hold the tag titles for 20 years. Woods mocked the idea of Sheamus being able to break their record. Woods boasted about all the merch that’s been released. He said they sustained themselves on the power of positivity. E said Sheamus will never touch their reign because New Day rocks.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson walked onto the stage and called the wrestlers in the ring a bunch of nerds. They also took credit for helping Sheamus and Cesaro winning the tag titles by softening up “Nerd Day.” The Shining Stars made their entrance and tried to sell everyone on a trip to one of their timeshares. Cesaro tore up the pamphlet, which led to a brawl. The babyfaces quickly cleared the ring… [C]
[Q6] 3. Sheamus, Cesaro, Big E, and Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) vs. Primo, Epico, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson. Cole said the match, which was joined in progress, was made official by Mick Foley during the break. Gallows performed a chokeslam on Kingston heading into another break around 3:30 into the televised portion of the match. [C]
Kingston went for a tag, but the heels pulled his partners off the apron. Gallows and Anderson performed the Boot of Doom, but he kicked out. Kingston made the hot tag to Big E, who worked over Anderson with belly-to-belly suplexes. E ran the ropes and Sheamus tagged himself in. Later, they did a bunch of rapid fire spots that concluded with Cesaro performing the swing on Epico and then applying the Sharpshooter for the win…
Sheamus, Cesaro, Big E, and Kofi Kingston beat Primo, Epico, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson in 10:40.
Powell’s POV: The odd couple routine with Sheamus and Cesaro feels like a retread, but there’s no arguing with the live crowd’s reaction to it. While it’s not doing much for me, the fans are definitely into it at this point. I hoped the match was going to create friction with New Day and the new champions, but it was pretty straight forward aside from Sheamus tagging himself into the match.
The opening segment with Jericho, Foley, Owens, and the shark cage was recapped…
Powell’s POV: And that’s how Chris Jericho got the name Odor.
[Q7] Backstage, Big Cass told Enzo Amore that Rusev got everything he had coming to him. He said they needed to focus on having fun in Columbus. A man handed them a certified letter. It was a letter requiring Enzo to go to sensitivity training because he exposed himself to Lana… [C] A video hyped John Cena’s return to Smackdown for next week…
Powell’s POV: Are they going to make Enzo and Cass look like the dumbest guys in the room again?
A Royal Rumble video aired. Cole said the road to WrestleMania begins in six weeks…
Neville made his entrance for a promo. He said he destroyed Rich Swann and TJ Perkins and the people cheered for him. He said that’s rich because the only time they cheered him before was because he when he was vulnerable and because he’s small. Neville said he doesn’t need their pity, and he’s going to destroy everyone in the cruiserweight division.
Rich Swann walked onto the stage and asked what happened to Neville, a man he used to respect. Neville continued yelling as he said he taught Swann everything he knows. He said Swann’s career has skyrocketed. He asked where the respect and gratitude are for the true king of the cruiserweights. Swann walked to ringside and said Neville can call himself whatever he wants, but the title makes him the very best in the division.
Brian Kendrick made his entrance. “How dare you talk to Neville like that,” Kendrick said. He said what Neville has been through was an outage. He said he wondered where Neville was and said they couldn’t start a cruiserweight division without him. He said Neville is a pioneer and none of this would be possible without him, which is why they see eye to eye. Neville said Swann needs to be taught his place.
The heels surrounded Swann, who threw the first punch. The heels quickly got the better of Swann, and then Neville had Kendrick stand back so that he could put the boots to him. TJ Perkins ran out for the save, but ate a kick from Neville, who kicked both babyfaces. Kendrick applauded. Neville motioned for Kendrick to have his way with the babyfaces as he left the ring. Kendrick hit Sliced Bread No. 2 on Perkins…
Powell’s POV: Not a good promo from Neville, who basically yelled his way to ineffectiveness. I love the idea of turning Neville, so hopefully someone will coach him up.
[Q8] Backstage, a woman named Coleen McCarthy led a sensitivity training class for Darren Young, Bob Backlund, Bo Dallas, and Jinder Mahal. Enzo Amore entered the room. He said he was there because he showed his Italian sausage. He said it was Cass’s fault for locking him out of his locker room when he didn’t have his close. McCarthy asked how long he and his partner have been having marital difficulties. Enzo said they are “into chicks.” She said they have a lot of work to do. Jinder introduced himself. She asked how he spells his name. Enzo stood up and said “sawft.” [C]
Powell’s POV: Wow, this is awful. I thought Enzo was walking into another Rusev and Lana trap. Instead, he walked into a terrible first part of a skit.
They showed the sensitivity training continuing. Graves said Enzo hates it because it reminds him of high school, which were the six toughest years of his life…
4. Titus O’Neil vs. Sin Cara. Braun Strowman came out and attacked both men in the opening seconds. Strowman power slammed Titus on the floor. Sin Cara dove at him from the ring, and Strowman caught him and awkwardly turned and slammed him while losing his balance. Strowman picked up Sin Cara and carried him up the ramp. Foley came out and told him to put Sin Cara down. Strowman threw Sin Cara off the stage and into a Christmas tree before he crashed onto a table that was covered with gift boxes as part of the set…
Titus O’Neil fought Sin Cara to an apparent no-contest.
Powell’s POV: Hey, maybe Braun can swing by the sensitivity training room while he’s on his rampage? Better yet, can Strowman pay a visit to the writers’ room? If nothing else, the big Sin Cara bump onto the tree and onto the gift table was a pretty cool visual.
Backstage, Owens asked Jericho if he’s okay. Jericho yelled that he was not okay. Owens told him to calm down and concentrate on their match. Jericho said he felt like a sexy piñata while in the cage with everyone laughing at him. Owens played to his ego and they agreed that Rollins and Reigns would get “it” when they faced them in the main event…
[Q9] Charlotte made her entrance while Graves gave the hard sell to viewers to buy the network to see the match, saying they would never forget it. Charlotte showed off the belt and told the fans to bow down to their queen. She said she would call Sasha Banks out, but she didn’t think she’d make it after what happened earlier. Charlotte boasted that she beat The Boss out of Sasha Banks.
Charlotte said she is the greatest superstars she’s ever seen. She said you could put her in any era and she would dominate. She said Trish Stratus and Fabulous Moolah don’t measure up. She declared herself the queen of pay-per-view.
Powell’s POV: Ronda Rousey made her entrance. Okay, she didn’t, but remember that line just in case.
Bayley made her entrance after Charlotte told the Ohio State fans that Clemson will beat them in the playoffs. Charlotte asked why Bayley was interrupting her. Bayley said she was there to congratulate her. She said Sasha vs. Charlotte will go down as the greatest feud in WWE women’s history. Charlotte cut her off and said Bayley belongs with the fans paying to watch her.
Bayley said now that the Charlotte vs. Sasha rivalry is over, she thinks it’s time for the Charlotte vs. Bayley rivalry to begin. Bayley reminded Charlotte that she is 2-0 against her and hasn’t forgotten what she did to her at Survivor Series. Charlotte said she didn’t get called up with her, Sasha, and Becky Lynch is that she’s not good enough. Bayley said she was willing to prove she was on the spot. There was a brief Yes! chant.
Charlotte balked at the idea of Bayley challenging her after everything she’d gone through. Charlotte said Bayley was dressed like a fifth grader and they could go to school. Charlotte called for a referee. A ref ran out while Cole said Foley would make it official… [C]
5. WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte vs. Bayley in a non-title match. Cole said Foley made the match official during the break.
[Q10] Bayley got the better of Charlotte and performed a Flair strut at 4:45. Bayley had Charlotte down and then went “around the world” on her back and acted dizzy afterward. The live crowd didn’t seem to care about that spot. Charlotte ducked to ringside heading into the break. [C]
Charlotte had offensive control coming out of the break and caught her with a nice chop off the ropes that Bayley sold well. Bayley came back with punches and went on an offensive flurry. Bayley went to the ropes and played to the crowd, but Charlotte pulled her down.
Charlotte went up top and performed a moonsault for a two count, which Charlotte acted surprised by. Bayley hooked Charlotte’s shoulders and got a two count. Charlotte threw another round of chops. She went for another chop only to have Bayley caught her in a backslide for the pin. Graves played up that Charlotte’s shoulder wasn’t down for the full three count, which Cole and Saxton agreed with…
Bayley pinned Charlotte in 14:45 of a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: A decent match with the story told that Bayley has Charlotte’s number and is now 3-0 against her. I actually like that Charlotte’s shoulder was up. It feels like she loses as much as she wins these days.
[Q11] Back at sensitivity training, McCarthy wanted to a role reversal exercise. Bo asked if they could say “Bo-gin” rather than “begin.” Ugh. Bob Backlund and Darren Young did the role reversal bit with Backlund impersonating Young and doing squats. Enzo said he understands the exercise and partnered up with Jinder Mahal. He said he had a job and got fired. Jinder said he was Enzo and had little man syndrome and overcompensates with his mouth and bad attitude. Enzo asked if it would be bad taste if he slapped the taste out of Jinder’s match. McCarthy said it would be. He said he wouldn’t do it and that shows the training is working because he’s more sensitive…
The broadcast team hyped the main event…
Powell’s POV: Let me get this straight, WWE has an army of writers and producers under Vince McMahon, and yet this awful sensitivity training skit somehow made the cut? Humor is subjective and all, but the live crowd may have chuckled once so far. I don’t care what the payoff is, this isn’t worth it.
Emmalina is premiering soon. Graves read a social media post from Emmalina saying all the fans care about is the Four Horsewomen and she won’t fall at their feet…
McCarthy gave certificates to the graduates. Enzo told her he would be more sensitive in all areas of his life. He said he would be more sensitive to his tag partner and as a lover. He said they could exchange instragram info and he could reach out to her with issues of sensitivity late at night and slide in for some hands on advice.
Rusev entered the room. Enzo tried to leave, but Jinder Mahal blocked his exit. Rusev and Jinder put the boots to Enzo and worked him over. Rusev held Enzo, then Lana entered the room and slapped him. Rusev put Enzo through a table…
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made separate entrances for the main event… [C] A 205 Live ad listed the main event as Neville and Brian Kendrick vs. Rich Swann and TJ Perkins…
Powell’s POV: I guess Rusev has a tag partner for his feud with Enzo and Cass. Listen to the crowd’s reaction to the attack. They didn’t care. The crowd was so quiet that you could hear two or three guys chanting “Corey Graves” immediately after the segment aired. WWE needs to give up on this whacky variety show bullshit. They should be embarrassed to have put any of that on the air.
[Q12] Owens made his entrance, then motioned for Jericho, who made his entrance with Owens while Cole played up the idea of how high in the air Jericho’s shark cage could be in the Alamodome…
6. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. The heels tried to leave around 4:00, but Rollins ran out and dove onto them to stop them. Back inside the ring, Rollins performed a running forearm on Jericho in the corner, then Reigns put him down with a clothesline heading into a break. [C]
[Overrun] The heels isolated Reigns coming out of the break. They actually cut to a shot of a kid who had his head in his hands looking bored while Owens worked over Reigns. Roman powered up out of an Owens headlock and performed a Samoa drop before making a tag to Rollins, who performed blockbusters on both heels. Rollins also performed a neckbreaker and DDT combo on both opponents.
Jericho avoided a Pedigree, but took a boot to the head before being clotheslined to the floor. Rollins followed up with a suicide dive onto both heels. Reigns took out Owens with a Superman Punch on the floor. Rollins hit a flying knee on Jericho in the ring, but Jericho put his knees up when Rollins went for a frogsplash.
Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho. Rollins reached the ropes to break the hold. Jericho went for a springboard move only to eat a Superman Punch from Reigns. Reigns waited for the hot tag. Rollins was about to make it when Braun Strowman pulled him off the apron and worked him over. The ref called for the bell.
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins fought Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho to an apparent no-contest in 17:05.
After the match, Jericho and Owens put the boots to Rollins. Strowman entered the ring, causing Jericho and Owens to leave. Strowman slammed Rollins with a punch to the chest and then performed a running power slam on him. Jericho and Owens threw Reigns inside the ring. Strowman yelled that everyone will fall before he power slammed him to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Strowman’s attack actually added some juice to the end of the show. The possibility of the babyfaces winning clean or the heels cheating to win weren’t all that exciting, so at least this felt fresh. Overall, though, this was a lousy show. I just can’t get past how awful the sensitivity training skits were and how much it brought down the show. It doesn’t help that we’re getting another Reigns title chase, yet we didn’t even hear from the guy the night after he was screwed out of the championship. Jericho and Owens were entertaining, and the women’s segments were solid, but there was little else to like about this bad variety show. I will have more to say in an All Access audio review on Tuesday morning. Thanks for watching along with me.