1/29 Powell’s WWE Royal Rumble Kickoff Show coverage – Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the Raw Tag Titles, Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax, six-woman tag match

By Jason Powell

WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and social media
San Antonio, Texas at the Alamodome

Renee Young welcomed viewers to the show and was joined by Booker T, Jerry Lawler, and Shawn Michaels at their desk on the floor of the Alamodome. Michaels said it was good to be home in San Antonio, and he got to have lunch with his mom, so he’s a happy man. There was a loud “HBK” chant from the fans gathered behind the panel…

Charly Caruso checked in from the social media lounge. No word on whether they finally discovered that Tom Phillips used it as his mobile killing room and that’s why he’s no longer hosting the segment. Dean Ambrose will answer the worst of the fan submitted questions later in the show…

Peter Rosenberg was outside the building with the other fans…

Young set up footage of Seth Rollins’ surprise appearance at NXT Takeover: San Antonio on Saturday night. They replayed the clip of Rollins calling out Triple H, who brought security with him. Michaels said Rollins won’t win head games with Hunter, he needs to get him inside the ring…

A “Remember the Rumble” video package aired and featured various statistics…

The hosts hyped the three Kickoff Show matches…

A Charlotte vs. Bayley video package aired. Young noted that there would be over 40,000 fans in attendance and questioned how Bayley would handle that. Renee also spoke about Bayley’s accomplishments. Lawler said she is so likable that you want to hug her, but it’s not going to be enough when she faces Charlotte. HBK defended Bayley’s fandom. He said that’s where “a lot of us started and we didn’t do half bad.” All three panelists predicted a Charlotte win, while Young picked Bayley…

Rosenberg did what Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino could not do at the New Japan Wrestle Kingdom 11 event by walking down the stage and toward the ring. He explained the rules of the Royal Rumble match and said the winner will main event WrestleMania. He also played up the possibility of surprises and set up a video that showed Edge’s surprise return in 2010…

1. Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Nikki Bella vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya. Mickie received more cheers than boos during her entrance. Natalya was mostly booed. The Smackdown broadcast tea of Mauro Ranallo, JBL, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips were on commentary. There was an early spot with the three babyfaces all suplexing the heels. Nikki and Lynch performed sliding kicks, then Naomi dove onto the heels heading into a break. [C]

The heel trio isolated Lynch. Natalya cut off a comeback and knocked Naomi off the apron. Lynch fought her way free and sent Natalya to ringside. As Lynch was reaching for a tag, Natalya pulled Nikki off the apron. Lynch eventually caught Bliss with an enzuigiri and tagged in Naomi. Nikki and Lynch fought off James and Natalya’s interference, then Naomi hit a split-legged moonsault on Bliss and pinned her…

Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Nikki Bella beat Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya.

Powell’s POV: As much as I would have showcased the returning James here, they do have Elimination Chamber coming up in two weeks, so I assume they are building up Naomi as Bliss’s challenger for the Smackdown Women’s Championship for that show.

The broadcast team spoke briefly about the match and then set up a video package on the WWE Universal Championship match…

Backstage, Charly Caruso tried to interview Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. They took over the interview and Jericho spoke about being hung above the ring in a shark cage above all the “stupid idiots.” He called it a beautiful cloud of Jericho. Owens said Mick Foley has something against them, pointing to Jericho being in the shark cage and then having someone else tell him that his match is a No DQ match. Owens recalled Owens saying he’ll show that he’s the guy. Owens said he’s been proving people wrong his entire career and he will be “the guy with the Universal Title.” A nervous Jericho said he will be “the guy in the sky.” Owens told Jericho that he will have the best seat in the house and he will give him the best show of all time. Jericho told Caruso that he wished Charly was there because she’s better…

Young clarified that it was Charly interviewing them. The Raw broadcast team made their entrance. Lawler said he was once in a shark cage and he was up so high that his nose bled…

They went to Rosenberg on the floor. They yelled and made a bunch of noise while he said he would be joining the panel for the second hour…

2. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the Raw Tag Titles. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary for the match and played up the match having two referees. The bell rang and Cesaro immediately dropkicked Anderson and covered him for a two count. At 3:30, Gallows caught Cesaro with a boot to the head, then kicked Sheamus, who was on the ring apron heading into a break. [C]

Around 7:00, Anderson covered Cesaro and used the ropes for leverage, but the ringside referee caught him. Cole said that’s where the second ref comes into play. Cesaro came right back by launching Anderson into the air and hitting him with an uppercut on the way down. Cesaro tried to follow it with a Neuatrizer, but Anderson avoided it. Cesaro hit the Swiss-1-9 and then hit a hit cross body block for a two count.

Anderson came back with a nice spinebuster at 8:40. Gallows tagged in and they set up for their finisher, but Sheamus broke it up. Sheamus tried to Brogue Kick one of them, but ended up taking out one of the referees instead. Cesaro performed the spin on Anderson and then applied the Sharpshooter. Gallows broke it up with a kick to the head. Anderson covered Cesaro, but Sheamus broke it up. Sheamus tackled and punched both opponents and threatened hitting the refere. Gallows caught Sheamus with a big boot, then he and Anderson hit the Magic Killer on Sheamus. Cesaro cleared Gallows from the ring, but Anderson rolled up Cesaro and held onto his tights while getting the pin…

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeated Sheamus and Cesaro in 10:30 to win the Raw Tag Titles.

Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see Gallows and Anderson finally get a tag title run. It’s really the only thing that can help them mean something again after spinning their wheels for so long. Will Sheamus and Cesaro end up with numbers one and two in the Rumble?

Rosenberg replaced HBK on the panel and admitted it was a downgrade… A “Remember the Rumble” video package aired on Randy Orton’s past win. There was also a Sheamus video earlier that I neglected to mention…

Austin Aries replaced Jerry Lawler on the panel to discuss the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match…

Dean Ambrose was interviewed in the social media lounge. He spoke about Intercontinental Title designs and put over the white belt. He said he wished the back could be done in stingray. He also spoke about Rumble match strategy, including holding onto bottom rope and holding on for dear life. Ambrose was asked whether he would rather face AJ Styles or John Cena. He said he’s beaten both men before and they’ve both beaten him before. Ambrose chose Styles and spoke about fighting him at a Waffle House…

The panel spoke briefly heading into another break. Aries was gone and Lawler was back. They spoke about Big Show being in better shape. Booker said he’s almost in as good of shape as he was when he started his career…

3. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks. Jax took the early control and tossed Banks across the ring and then knocked her down with a clubbing forearm. Jax boasted that she’s the boss. The referee checked on Banks head into another annoying commercial break.

Powell’s POV: They need to find a way to have these commercials air on social media, yet not have them air during the matches on WWE Network. It’s a major turnoff.

Banks went for the Bank Statement coming out of the break, but Jax never went down and used her power to break it. Jax targeted the knee of Banks. Sasha avoided a charging Jax in the corner, then caught her draped over the ropes with knees to the head while standing on the apron.

Banks followed up with a double knee press from the top rope and came up selling the knee. She went for a cover, but Jax kicked out aggressively. Jax came back with a popup Samoan Drop for the win…

Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks in 5:10.

Powell’s POV: That was the right finish given that Jax has the monster image to protect. They probably could have done more to give Sasha an out with the knee injury, the broadcast team did a nice job on the recap of establishing that Sasha may have won the match had the injured knee not bothered her following the double knee press.

The panel pimped WWE Network and then set up footage from NXT Takeover: San Antonio of the Seth Rollins and Triple H angle…

Young interviewed Stephanie McMahon, who was backstage. Stephanie said she would address Rollins’ actions on Monday’s Raw. She added that he was officially banned from the Alamodome. Young asked her for a Rumble match prediction. She said she was pretty positive it would be someone from Raw…

A video package aired on the WWE Championship match between AJ Styles and John Cena…

As the panel was talking, Shawn Michaels’ music played and he headed out dressed in non-wrestling attire. The fans popped big. Michaels did his entrance routine and played to the fans in the ring. Once his music stopped, a loud “HBK” chant started. Michaels greeted the San Antonio crowd and spoke about having lunch with his 84 year-old mother this morning.

Michaels recalled regaining the WWE Championship in front of his hometown crowd 20 years ago. He said this wasn’t about him, though, it was about the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. Michaels said the million dollar question is which man will earn a spot in the main event of WrestleMania.

Michaels mentioned Brock Lesnar (boos), Goldberg (mixed), Braun Strowman (boos), and Undertaker (cheers). Michaels said he didn’t have the answer, so the only thing left to do is get the party started. He told the fans to have fun and make some noise. “And if you’re not down with that, we got two words for you…” he concluded and then the fans filled in the rest…

Powell’s POV: A good appearance for HBK. He fired up the crowd well and I enjoyed this more than him and Rusev making each other laugh on Raw.

Cole mentioned that there had been issues to due signups due to the number of people attempting to do so, but he said those were cleared up…

The panel finally spoke about the Rumble match with just two minutes remaining in the show. Booker said he couldn’t call it. Lawler picked Taker. Rosenberg picked Lesnar. Booker then picked Taker too…

Join me for live coverage of the WWE Royal Rumble event on the main page.


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