1/9 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Undertaker and Shawn Michaels appear, Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho in a handicap match for the U.S. Title

newrawlogo1By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from New Orleans, Louisiana at Smoothie King Arena

[Q1] Backstage, Stephanie McMahon spoke with Mick Foley about giving performance reviews. Foley, who had a buzzcut, worked in a hometown pop after reading it off his hand. Stephanie mentioned the “rumors” of Undertaker appearing. Foley said he had a strong feeling he would be there.

Seth Rollins entered the picture and said he wanted to tell them face to face that he was entering the Royal Rumble match. Braun Strowman showed up and demanded to face Goldberg or Roman Reigns “or else.” Foley noted that Goldberg wasn’t even in the building. Rollins said he could help Strowman, then punched him and brawled with him until several referees pulled them apart. Stephanie barked at Foley to get them under control… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary…

Roman Reigns made his entrance to more boos than cheers and walked past the shark cage that was set up on the stage. The broadcast team spoke about the handicap match and said that if Chris Jericho or Kevin Owens pinned Reigns, that wrestler would win the U.S. Championship. A recap of last week’s show closing angle played. Owens and Jericho made their entrance for the match while the broadcast team hyped the WWE Universal Championship match for the Royal Rumble…

Powell’s POV: WWE has 15 minutes before the big college football national championship game’s advertised start time, so I assume that’s why they are getting right to this match. Plus, they worked in hype for Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, so they are making good use of the time.

1. Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho in a handicap match for the U.S. Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Braun Strowman headed to the ring and fought with Reigns, then rolled him inside for Jericho and Owens to work over. Seth Rollins ran out and worked over the heels with a chair. Reigns hit Strowman with a chair, then he and Rollins struck Strowman with a chair to knock him to ringside.

Roman Reigns fought Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho to an apparent no-contest in a handicap match for the U.S. Championship.

Stephanie McMahon came out and said the match would not end that way, nor would Raw start that way. Stephanie said she promised the fans a handicap match for the U.S. Title, and they would get one. She spoke about that match taking place later in the show. Stephanie booked Rollins vs. Strowman. Jericho and Owens were heading up the ramp going into the break… [C]

[Q2] 2. Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman. The broadcast team played up the Rollins’ tweet acknowledging that he’s in the Royal Rumble and plans to headline WrestleMania. Rollins showed some life after being beaten down early, but Strowman slammed him back down at 3:50. Strowman dumped Rollins to ringside heading into a break. [C]

Rollins performed a suicide dive on Strowman coming out of the break, but Strowman didn’t go down. Back in the ring, Rollins caught Strowman with a running knee and went for a cover, but Strowman kicked out strong. Rollins performed a springboard flying knee that didn’t knock Strowman down.

Rollins went up top and jumped off, but Strowman caught him. Strowman sat Rollins on the top rope, but then ran into a boot to the head. Rollins went for a blockbuster, but Strowman caught him again. Rollins and Strowman fought for position on the ropes. Rollins head butted him, then kicked him off. Rollins performed a frogslash and covered Strowman, who kicked out aggressively again.

Rollins stood on top of the ring post and jumped at Strowman on the floor. Strowman moved and Rollins crashed into the barricade. Strowman tossed Rollins over the barricade. The referee counted both men out as Strowman was dragging Rollins toward the ring. After the match, Strowman grabbed a chair, but Rollins kicked him through the ropes and took the chair from him. Strowman avoided Rollins swinging the chair and eventually headed backstage…

Braun Strowman fought Seth Rollins to a double count-out in 11:25.

Cole hyped Shawn Michaels appearing to promote his new movie…

Powell’s POV: A good match with Strowman looking like a monster, and Rollins clicking as a babyface trying to stand up to him. The post match with the chair was really flat with the crowd getting quiet, but everything else seemed to work well. I wonder if WWE will pull back on Rollins talking about wanting to face Triple H now that we’re supposed to believe that Seth wants to win the Rumble match and headline WrestleMania in a title match?

[Q3] [C] NFL star Drew Brees was shown at ringside with his kids… The broadcast team recapped Bayley beating Nia Jax last week thanks to a distraction by Sasha Banks…

Backstage, Sasha and Bayley spoke about Bayle’s title shot. Sasha said she believes in Bayley, and then they could have a match after that. Sasha said that if Dana Brooke tries anything, she will have Bayle’s back.

Charlotte walked into the picture and accused Sasha of acting like she cares about Bayley. Charlotte and Sasha bickered, then stopped when Charlotte noticed Nia Jax entering the scene. Jax kicked Sasha’s bad knee. Charlotte threw Bayley into a production crate. Jax kicked Sasha’s knee again. Charlotte laughed and patted Jax on the back, only to have Jax back her up against the production equipment…

The broadcast team recapped footage of the Ariya Daivari and Jack Gallagher feud… Jack Gallagher made his entrance for a cruiserweight match… [C]

Powell’s POV: I dig the way they continue to make Jax her own monster rather than having her align with Charlotte or other heels. Meanwhile, Brees is a legit NFL star and a beloved figure in New Orleans. I’m surprised they didn’t work him into the show somehow even if just for a brief interview.

3. Jack Gallagher vs. Drew Gulak. Austin Aries replaced Byron Saxton on commentary for the cruiserweight match. Gulak did not get a televised entrance. Gallagher did his handstand on the top rope spot. Gallagher also performed his running dropkick and got the win…

Jack Gallagher beat Drew Gulak in 3:10.

[Q4] After the match, Charly Caruso interviewed Gallagher in the ring. He said he feels he would be entitled to give Daivari a thrashing, but instead he wants to extend the olive branch. He explained that it’s a chance for them to sit down on 205 Live and negotiate and agreement. Gallagher said he would be forced to engage him in fisticuffs if it doesn’t work…

Shawn Michaels was hanging out with TJ Perkins backstage… [C]

Powell’s POV: Nothing new from Gallagher this week, as he ran through his usual offensive moves during his match, and his latest oddball request for something involving Gallagher was tame compared to the duel.

An ad for Smackdown hyped John Cena vs. Baron Corbin…

Backstage, Mick Foley was searching for Undertaker. Stephanie showed up and asked about Taker. Foley asked Steph to trust him and said he would be there. Stephanie said she had to rely on fact, and his entire performance review hinges whether Taker appears. Stephanie gave him one hour. Foley said he would be there…

Shawn Michaels made his entrance and then said he had to catch his breath because it was a long run. He said he’s missed the fans and coming out on a regular basis. He said he especially feels that way at this time of the year. Michaels said things tend to pick up a bit in January with the Royal Rumble.

Michaels noted that the Rumble is in his hometown of San Antonio. He recalled the Rumble from 20 years ago and how he won it in his hometown. He put over some of the names in this year’s Rumble match and said he’s much more comfortable sitting on the outside looking in considering some of the names involved.

The fans chanted “one more match” at Michaels. “Don’t you try to pressure me,” Michaels said. He said he was going to teach kids how to stand up to peer pressure. He said he was there to speak about his new movie “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” and said it was his first acting job on the big screen.

Rusev’s music played and he, Lana, and Jinder Mahal headed to the ring. Rusev and company headed to the ring. Rusev wanted Lana to appear in the movie. He suggested they use CGI as they did in Star Wars to get her into the film. Rusev said he’s the Bulgarian George Clooney, and his wife is more beautiful than Emma Stone.

[Q5] Enzo Amore and Big Cass came out. Enzo is still using the motor scooter. Michaels told them that the heels were being haters. After some back and forth, this led to Big Cass vs. Mahal being announced with Michaels saying he would stay at ringside… [C]

Powell’s POV: Ugh. A lousy segment with Michaels being in silly dad mode rather than HBK mode. Michaels and Rusev seemed to be having fun, but they were among the only ones.

4. Big Cass (w/Shawn Michaels, Enzo Amore) vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Rusev, Lana). The match was joined in progress. Michaels hit Rusev with Sweet Chin Music. Cass hit a horrible twisting slam and followed up with the Empire Elbow for the win…

Big Cass beat Jinder Mahal.

[Q6] The broadcast team recapped the opening segment and hyped the handicap match… [C]

Powell’s POV: First Goldberg, now HBK. Is Rusev’s new gimmick getting his ass handed to him by stars of the Attitude Era? I might care if they didn’t ruin Rusev after WrestleMania 31 by making him a comedy figure. Enjoy Braun Strowman’s monster push while it lasts. He’ll be a comedic oaf in no time.

Emmalina is still premiering soon…

5. Neville vs. Lince Dorado. Aries was back on commentary for the cruiserweight match. Dorado jumped out to a quick star. Neville came back and applied the Rings of Saturn (called by Aries) for the win…

Neville beat Lince Dorado in 3:00.

After the match, Neville applied the hold again. Rich Swann ran out and threw punches and clotheslines at Neville. Swann caught Neville with a kick, then went for a big kick, but Neville rolled to the floor. Aries said it was good to see that type of fire out of Swann, and he would need it to have any chance to beat Neville…

Cole said Foley has roughly 35 minutes to produce Undertaker. The broadcast team set up a Royal Rumble flashback video on Edge… [C]

Powell’s POV: Neville continues to be the best thing going in the cruiserweight division. Unfortunately, there’s not much else happening outside of his feud with Swann.

[Q7] [C] Backstage, Stephanie barked at a man who was moving a fake plant in her office. Sasha and Bayley arrived. Steph told Sasha that she’s the only boss. Stephanie said she would give them the tag match they wanted, but it would take place tonight even though Sasha was not 100 percent. She told them to get the hell out of her office…

5. Luke Gallows vs. Sheamus. Karl Anderson and Cesaro sat in on commentary. Anderson wasn’t happy that Cesaro joined them. After some back and forth action, Gallows caught Sheamus with a boot to the head and knocked him to ringside. [C]

[Q8] Sheamus was setting up for the Brogue Kick when he was distracted by Anderson attacking Cesaro. Gallows eventually walked into a Brogue Kick and was pinned…

Sheamus beat Luke Gallows in 9:00.

Foley was shown backstage. Graves said his time was up and questioned whether Undertaker would appear… [C]

Powell’s POV: They replayed Anderson throwing a water bottle at Cesaro and then diving onto him, which caused the initial distraction. Apparently, WWE is booking a 50/50 feud with the tag wrestlers trading wins in singles matches rather than using the singles match to build up the abused Anderson and Gallows team heading into a tag title match.

Backstage, Charly asked Roman Reigns if he felt physically prepared to defend his title. He said it doesn’t matter how he feels or how many people he’s defending against. He spoke about spearing the guts out of Owens and Jericho, and holding the U.S. Title over his head…

Foley stood in the ring and said he and Undertaker went to the depths of hell together. He said he was calling on Taker one more time for one more encounter on Raw. Foley said he needed Taker to take a trip from the dark side “to be here, right here, in New Orleans, Louisiana.” Foley said he’s been doing this for 32 years and he’s known no greater honor than to stand in the ring and feel the chill as the lights go out and the gong sounds. He recalled Paul Bearer showing him the hair on his arms standing up.

The lights went out and the fans cheered. Stephanie McMahon came out and apologized on behalf of Raw for Foley failing to produce the Undertaker. Stephanie said Foley left her with no choice but to give him his performance review publicly. She praised some of his ideas, but said for all of those she feels like they take two steps back. Worst of all was letting Smackdown beat Raw in the ratings. Stephanie asked Foley what she has to say for himself when it comes to Taker not showing up. Foley started to apologize.

Undertaker’s music played and he made his entrance.

[Q9] Taker entered the ring and took the mic. He paused while the fans chanted Undertaker. “I’m back,” Taker started. “And I think it important that the world should know that I will be entering the Royal Rumble.” Braun Strowman was shown watching the announcement on a backstage monitor.

Taker said he answers to no one and goes where he wants and when he wants. “Nobody controls the Undertaker,” he said. Taker approached Stephanie in the corner, leaned in, and said, “No one.” He spoke of returning to where his streak met its demise, but he returning to the site and said he dug 29 holes for 29 souls and will bring the dark side to the Rumble match.

Taker said that once he wins the Rumble, he will return to the main event of WrestleMania. Taker said anyone who stands in his way will rest in peace…

Graves hyped the handicap match, and Saxton hyped the women’s tag match for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: I absolutely love the way WWE is loading up this Royal Rumble match with so many strong contenders. It’s interesting they showed Strowman watching, but I do see Taker among the favorites given that he could face either AJ Styles or John Cena for the WWE Championship. As down as I am on the quality of Raw most weeks, the Rumble is going to be a blast.

An ad for 205 Live hyped Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar…

Backstage, Charly interviewed Owens and Jericho. The heels spoke about being the Universal and U.S. Champion. Jericho said they are already national treasures and even international treasures, and now they can be the face of America and Raw… Bayley and then Sasha Banks made their entrances for the tag match.

[Q10] Footage of the backstage attack from earlier in the show aired. Charlotte and Nia Jax made separate entrances…

6. Charlotte and Nia Jax vs. Bayley and Sasha Banks. Sasha had her left knee taped. She started the match and Graves accused her of trying to steal the glory. Saxton said she just wanted to compete. [C] The heels isolated Bayley. Jax knocked Banks off the apron, then tagged in Charlotte, who continued to rough up Bayley. Jax made a blind tag and knocked Bayley down, then followed up with a legdrop for the win…

Charlotte and Nia Jax beat Bayley and Sasha Banks in 8:50.

Powell’s POV: It seems odd to have Bayley pinned when she’s the one challenging for the title, and Banks had the injury excuse. I’m guessing we get a rematch next week with the babyface duo going over. Even so, there’s no buzz about Charlotte vs. Bayley at the moment.

Backstage, Noam Dar was fixing his hair in a mirror when Alicia Fox entered the shot. “Go ahead then,” he told told her while waiting for a kiss. Fox grabbed him and laid an aggressive kiss on him. She said he can’t handle a real woman…

[Q11] New Day made their entrance. Big E poured BootyO’s on fans at ringside. Cole recapped last week’s drama with Titus O’Neil and said New Day had an offer for him coming up after the break… [C]

Titus was in the ring after the break. Titus apologized for attacking Xavier Woods last week. He said he wanted another opportunity to be in New Day. Woods said they got his texts and tweets. Woods said when he told him his DMs were open, he was not talking about him. Titus sang, “It goes down in the DMs.”

Kofi Kingston played footage of Titus running the obstacle course during the NXT show in 2010. They replayed footage of him tripping while running with a keg. New Day thought it was funny. Kofi unveiled a keg at ringside and said it was filled with BootyJuice sports drink.

Titus had to run around the ring with the keg. He beat the time they gave him, but he dropped the keg before the finish line. Titus got upset and shoved Kingston, who asked the fans if they wanted to see him face O’Neil. Some did, most didn’t seem to care, but they did enjoy chanting New Day Rocks… [C]

Powell’s POV: For newer viewers, that wasn’t the NXT you see today. It started as a dreadful competition show even though it was originally dubbed the next evolution in television by Vince McMahon.

[Q12] Cole hyped WrestleMania 34 taking place in New Orleans…

7. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E, Xavier Woods) vs. Titus O’Neil. Titus took control late. Woods played the trombone. Titus dumped O’Neil over the top rope, but E and Woods caught him. Back inside the ring, Kingston caught Titus with Trouble in Paradise for the win…

Kofi Kingston beat Titus O’Neil in 3:40.

Powell’s POV: Well, it’s good to see creative put a lot of thought into what they would do with New Day once they dropped the tag titles. Ugh.

The broadcast team hyped the the UK Championship Tournament for Saturday and Sunday. Saxton hyped the preview that will air on WWE Network after Raw… A shot aired of Owens and Jericho walking backstage… [C]

Rich Swann gets to beat Tony Nese on 205 Live, and Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar is also announced… Brock Lesnar returns to Raw next week…

Powell’s POV: Yes, they spent more time discussing two 205 Live matches than they did in hyping Brock Lesnar’s return.

Ring entrances for the main event took place. Reigns attacked Owens at ringside. He fought Jericho inside the shark cage on the stage. The heels recovered thanks to the numbers advantage and brought Reigns to ringside and ran him into the steps. They rolled him inside the ring. The ref checked on Reigns and then called for the bell to start the match…

[Overrun] 8. Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho in a handicap match for the U.S. Championship. Owens or Jericho would win the title if they win by pin or submission for their team. Jericho applied a chinlock. Reigns eventually went for a Superman Punch. Jericho avoided it and Owens caught Reigns with a punch in the corner. Jericho went for the for the Walls of Jericho, but Reigns flung him off.

Jericho suffered a cut on his forehead. Reigns had Jericho pinned, but Owens pulled him off. Owens caught Reigns with a kick at ringside and then went for a powerbomb, but Reigns backdropped him instead. Reigns caught Jericho with a Superman Punch from the apron. Reigns tried to get back inside the ring, but Owens held his leg, and Jericho performed the Codebreaker. Owens powerbombed Reigns on the apron.

Owens and Jericho threw Reigns back inside the ring and then punched and slapped him. Owens threw Reigns into Jericho’s Codebreaker. Jericho covered Owens and pinned him. Cole noted that Jericho won the only title that eluded him throughout his career…

Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens beat Roman Reigns in a handicap match in 11:00, Jericho wins the U.S. Championship.

Powell’s POV: The vomit reflexes to Reigns winning the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble won’t be as bad as they would have been if he had won it while still U.S. Champion. I was actually hoping that Owens would steal the win and drive a wedge between him and Jericho, but it is kinda cool that Jericho finally won the U.S. Championship. Overall, Raw had some big Royal Rumble related moments and a title change at the end, but it still managed to feel alarmingly lifeless throughout most of the third hour. I will have more to say in a member exclusive audio review later tonight (Monday) and I’ll be back on Tuesday with my All Access audio show and the WWE Raw Hit List. Thanks for watching along with me (or for checking in during or after college football).


The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features guest Eli Drake talking about signing with the NWA, his departure from Impact Wrestling, rejecting an intergender match with Tessa Blanchard, his WWE developmental run, and much more...


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