1/15 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Asuka vs. Nia Jax, the Royal Rumble build continues, hype for Raw 25

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from San Antonio, Texas at AT&T Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a video that recapped last week’s drama involving Braun Strowman, Brock Lesnar, Kane, and a grappling hook… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary…

Braun Strowman made his entrance. He said he wanted to tell the fans a short story. He said a Beast and a Machine met a Monster at the Royal Rumble and the last one standing was the Monster Among Men and he became the new Universal Champion.

Powell’s POV: Story time with Braun Strowman, bay-bay?

Kurt Angle headed to the ring while flanked by security. Angle said he had a story too, but it didn’t have a happy ending. He said Strowman put lives in danger and did thousands of dollars in equipment damage. Angle said Strowman created an unsafe working environment. Angle said they settle things in the ring, not backstage with a grappling hook.

Strowman said he does things when and how he wants and that includes becoming WWE Universal Champion. Angle said Strowman is lucky that Lesnar and Kane can still compete in the match. However, Angle said it was no longer a Triple Threat match and Strowman wouldn’t compete at all. “Braun Strowman, you’re fired,”Angle said before leaving the ring. Strowman eventually followed…

The broadcast team addressed the firing. Graves said it had to be a difficult decision, but it was undoubtedly the right call. Cole said Strowman would not be in action on Raw. He hyped Asuka vs. Nia Jax instead, and Graves hyped Roman Reigns vs. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel in a handicap match…

Backstage, Strowman was walking with security behind him when he suddenly stopped and told the biggest of the men to make him leave… [C]

Powell’s POV: Vince McMahon needs to give Angle some pointers on how to deliver the firing line. Honestly, they probably asked him to be low key with the idea being that he was worried about how Strowman would respond. Either way, this is a nice hook for the remainder of the show. Obviously, they’re not firing Strowman, but the hook is how he ends up keeping his job and whether he gets his title match back. The negative for me was Cole didn’t sell the firing effectively as he and the others discussed the situation and he made that awkward transition into hyping the women’s match.

A Raw flashback aired with Hugh Jackman punching out Dolph Ziggler, presumably because Ziggler had awful hair at the time…

[Q2] Backstage, one of the security guards told Strowman that he had to leave. Strowan responded by beating up all of the security guards and tossing many of them around. One of the security guards even went through a table. Strowman yelled that he wasn’t finished and he wasn’t leaving until everybody “gets these hands”…

Cole showed better emotion as he yelled about Strowman being out of control. Graves and Booker were also worked up. Booker said they need to call the police…

1. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke). Footage aired from last week of O’Neil and Crews scoring the upset over Sheamus and Cesaro. The heels worked over Crews heading into a break. [C]

Crews performing a standing moonsault on Cesaro and got a two count before Sheamus broke up the pin. Sheamus and Cesaro were about to perform their finisher when Jason Jordan’s music played and distracted them. Crews rolled up Sheamus and pinned him to win the match. Seth Rollins came out afterward and didn’t look happy with Jordan…

Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews beat Sheamus and Cesaro in roughly 9:30.

Backstage, Strowman kicked a door down and entered an office in search of Angle. He picked up a chair and threw it through a television and then proceeded to trash the room…

[Q3] An ad for Raw 25 hyped the Bellas Twins, Jacqueline, Terri Runnels, Torrie Wilson, Maria Kanellis, Michelle McCool, and Kelly Kelly as appearing…

Powell’s POV: Titus Worldwide getting upset wins over Sheamus and Cesaro still doesn’t do anything for me. Will they be added to the Raw Tag Title match at the Royal Rumble? Meanwhile, there may be more returning stars than WWE has minutes of television next week. WWE is going all out for this.

A Mixed Match Challenge video aired to hype tomorrow night’s debut…

Backstage, a crew member entered catering and warned everyone that Strowman was coming. Strowman showed up and slammed Curt Hawkins through a table. A worker with a chocolate cake froze in his tracks. Strowman took a bit of the cake and stormed off…

Homer’s POV: Mmmmmm, chocolate cake.

Enzo Amore and Tony Nese headed to the ring. Enzo had his ankle wrapped and limped to sell his “injury” last week. Cedric Alexander came out, then pointed to the stage. Goldust made his entrance. Goldust took issue with Enzo comparing himself to Boris Karloff. Goldust said there will be only one word to describe Alexander after the Rumble: champion. Alexander then led the crowd in chanting sawft at Enzo… [C]

Powell’s POV: When it came to things I wasn’t expecting on Raw tonight, I’ll put the Karloff reference just a notch ahead of a wrestler leading the crowd in chanting another wrestler’s line against him.

[Q4] The Strowman rampage continued backstage with him knocking over metal rods and rolling a garbage dumpster past a fleeing official…

2. Cedric Alexander (w/Goldust) vs. Tony Nese (w/Enzo Amore). The match was joined in progress. Goldust harassed Enzo at ringside. Alexander won with the Lumbar Check…

Cedric Alexander pinned Tony Nese.

Powell’s POV: The crowd popped for the Lumbar Check, but not much else from the actual match.

Backstage, a production staff cleaned up Angle’s office while Kurt told a referee that he may have to call the cops to bring in the SWAT team. A second ref entered the room and said Strowman was headed for the production trucks. “Oh, God, they’re worth $12 million,” Angle said…

An ad for Smackdown hyped the two semifinal matches of the U.S. Title tournament (shockingly not what Shane’s reaction would be to those matches)… [C]

Powell’s POV: It’s worth watching Angle deliver the $12 million line again for his over the top poor acting. It was laugh out loud funny.

Strowman entered a production truck and threatened to shut the whole show down. He asked a crew member if he smashed an item would it shut down all the monitors. “How do I shut this stuff off?” Strowman asked. Strowman barked at the crew members to leave, which they did. He also left the truck without damaging anything other than paperwork. The crew members started to settle in when the camera shook to make it seem like the production truck was shaking.

Strowman drove a semi-truck into the area. He tried and failed to tip it over. Angle showed up. Strowman exited the scene for a moment, then turned to and actually tipped over the truck as the cameras cut to a ridiculous number of camera angles. Strowman then headed back into the building while people followed and implored him to leave.

[Q5] Strowman headed back into the arena in front of the fans and turned his focus toward the broadcast team. Strowman picked up Cole by the back of his pants and eventually carried him to the side of the stage. Angle a group of security members showed up. Angle said he called off the cops and Stephanie McMahon called and ordered him to rehire Strowman. Angle pleaded with Strowman to let Cole go. Strowman let out a primal scream and looked like he was about to leave, but he stopped and ended up tossing Cole onto the security guards below… [C]

An ad for Raw 25 hyped Undertaker, DX, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, The Dudley Boyz, Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Eric Bischoff, New Age Outlaws, Chris Jericho, The APA, and Steve Austin…

Powell’s POV: Hey, that guy who put over Kenny Omega in Japan has been added to the list along with Bischoff. By the way, Jericho is on my list…of favorites for displaying a photo of him and his entire family in their Minnesota Vikings jerseys. Skol! Meanwhile, the Strowman angle is downright absurd and yet entertaining, albeit at times for all the wrong reasons.

Tom Phillips came out and replaced Michael Cole on commentary. They recapped the footage of Strowman tipping over the truck. They also hyped the Reigns vs. Axel and Dallas handicap match…

3. Asuka vs. Nia Jax. Asuka threw a couple of kicks at the thigh of Jax, who responded by tossing Asuka across the ring. Asuke caught Jax in a submission hold on her back at 1:00, but Jax broke free and came back with a backbreaker. Asuka caught Jax coming in with an arm bar. Jax got to her feet, picked up Asuka, and tossed her into the corner of the ring heading into a break.

[Q6] [C] Asuke was selling coming out of the break, but she caught Jax with a kick. Asuka followed up with a couple of spinning back fists and a kick. Asuka scooped her up for a Samoan Drop, but Asuka countered into a rollup for just a one count. Jax took some kicks, but picked up Asuka and powerbombed her. Jax eventually covered Asuka for a two count and then showed frustration.

Asuka caught Jax in a kneebar, but Jax reached the ropes to break the hold. They went to ringside where Jax caught Asuka going for a kick and shoved her back first into the edge of the ring. With Jax on the ring steps, Asuka kicked her leg out from under her and Jax took a bump on the steps. Jax barely beat the referee’s count to keep the match going at 10:15.Jax struggled to get to her feet twice, but she couldn’t put weight one leg. The referee called for the bell…

Asuka defeated Nia Jax via ref stoppage in 10:40.

After the match, a second referee and a trainer ran out to check on Jax. The referee pulled the trainer into the position he wanted him in. Alexa Bliss ran out to check on Jax as well.

Powell’s POV: The match was entertaining and they had a finish that didn’t settle anything. Here’s hoping that if that the match feels more important whenever they come back to it. Yes, they advertised it a week out, but it wasn’t placed in a meaningful spot on the show nor did they give it the big match hype. This is a match that could main event Raw with the right build and as much as the way this match was positioned was irksome, hopefully it can lead to bigger and better things.

Backstage, Angle was picking up the pieces of his office when Jason Jordan entered the room and thanked Angle for believing him and giving him an opportunity to become a tag team champion. Jordan was all smiles. Jordan said he had his eye on Strowman and was right behind Angle the whole time. Jordan said that on behalf of his partner Seth Rollins, they are ready to defend the tag titles at the Rumble. Jordan said Rollins is too proud to admit it, but a match would help him out. Angle asked who they wanted to face. Jordan said the match wasn’t for them, but rather for Rollins. Jordan suggested Rollins face Finn Balor. Angle signed off on the match…

Phillips announced that Cole was very shaken up. Graves said he was sticking his neck out a bit by stating that he thinks Stephanie made a mistake in rehiring Strowman. They set up the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. video package (which can also be found on our main page).

[Q7] The crowd respectfully clapped following the video… [C] Backstage, Alexa was in Jax’s locker room as Jax was icing her leg. Alexa said she thought Jax would have destroyed Asuka. Enzo entered the room. “I got this,” Bliss said. Enzo said he did too. Jax decided Enzo had it covered, so Bliss left the room. Enzo told Jax he was sorry she got hurt…

4. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder vs. local wrestlers. The opponents were not introduced or mentioned by name. Booker just said they were kids trying to make a name for themselves. The Revival won with the Shatter Machine…

The Revival won a squash match in 1:35.

After the match, Charly Caruso tried to interview The Revival, who asked if she was sure she wanted to give them a live mic on national television. Dawson said what she just witnessed was tag team excellence and a clinic that had been missing from WWE for a long time. He said they are students of the game who don’t run backstage to play video game. He said they are only worried about mastering holds and winning matches.

Caruso asked which old school wrestlers they are most excited to meet next week. She mentioned the New Age Outlaws, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin. Dawson said there was nothing old school about those men and they are the reason the business is a mockery. He said they are not sports entertainers, they are professional wrestlers. Dawson said they were the real deal, not something created in a WWE boardroom. “This is our universe,” Dawson said. He added that they will set the tone for the next 25 years…

Powell’s POV: I enjoyed the mic work, but I have a fear that they take about 35 Stunners next week. I hope to see some Stunners and all, but leave these two out of it.

[Q8] A Raw 25 flashback focussed on Daniel Bryan leading the Occupy Raw segment…

Elias sat in the ring with his guitar. He noted that he hoped Michael Cole was okay. Funny. Elias brought up the Royal Rumble and said he wrote a song about one of the entrants. Elias sang a song about John Cena and having retribution for him for what he did on New Year’s Day. He also took a jab at the San Antonio Spurs that drew major heat. Elias sang an introduction for Miz and Miztourage, who made their entrance heading into a break… [C]

The Miz stood in the ring with a mic while Dallas and Axel stood by. Miz said he received welcome back chants last week even though he was only gone for six weeks. He said the fans recognized that the spark was missing from Raw and it wasn’t John Cena or Brock Lesnar, it was him. Miz said he will deliver a moment at Raw 25 that will have people talking for the next 25 years. He said he would reclaim his Intercontinental Championship. Reigns made his entrance for the handicap match…

[Q9] 5. Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns vs. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel (w/The Miz) in a non-title handicap match. The usual mixed reaction for Reigns. Booker said the Miz’s goal is to eliminate all the competition mafia style. The heels worked over Reigns early on. Reigns went after Miz late in the match. Axel took advantage and rolled up Reigns for two. However, Reigns came right back with a spear and scored the pin…

Roman Reigns beat Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel in a handicap match in 8:15.

Powell’s POV: Vikings fan Axel should have called “Buffalo Right, Seven Heaven” and he and Dallas would have won that match in dramatic fashion. #skol

The broadcast team hyped Lesnar vs. Strowman vs. Kane for the Royal Rumble, and Rollins vs. Balor as the main event of Raw… [C]

[Q10] Brooklyn Brawler was added to the list of Raw 25 attendees…

6. Sasha Banks (w/Bayley, Mickie James) vs. Sonya Deville (w/Paige, Mandy Rose). Deville threw some nice knees and punches and was in offensive control during the opening minute. Banks came back and went to the ropes, but Deville caught her with a kick to the ribs on the way down and pinned her…

Sonya Deville beat Sasha Banks in 2:25.

Powell’s POV: Well, I didn’t see that one coming. I’d love to think it means something, but how they follow up is the key. And if we’ve learned one thing about the women’s division it’s that WWE loves parity booking when the title isn’t involved. For those not watching the show, there was no mention made of Paige’s injury. EDITOR’S NOTE: Frankie NYC pointed out that the broadcast team did acknowledge Paige’s neck injury and said she is out of the Royal Rumble match. My apologies for missing that.

A video package aired on Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Mark Henry, Titus O’Neil, Roman Reigns, Alexa Bliss, and Apollo Crews visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis…

Backstage, Seth Rollins let Jason Jordan know he wasn’t happy about him getting involved in the tag match earlier or speaking to Kurt Angle on his behalf. Jordan said he could go talk to his dad. Rollins said Jordan has to realize they are teammates. He said he doesn’t have a problem with what Jordan did but rather with the way he did it…

Woken Matt Hardy made his entrance for a match…

[Q11] 7. Woken Matt Hardy vs. Heath Slater (w/Rhyno). The match was joined in progress. Booker said he’s known Matt a long time, but he doesn’t know the guy in the ring. Hardy intimidated Slater by hovering over him and saying “yes” as Slater was ducking between the ropes. Hardy punched Slater, who fell to ringside. Rhyno barked encouragement to Slater. Hardy bit the hand of Slater a short time later. Hardy hit a Side Effect for two. Hardy put Slater away with the Twist of Fate…

“Woken” Matt Hardy beat Heath Slater in 3:35 of television time.

The broadcast team set up the WWE Hall of Fame video package for Bill Goldberg…

Powell’s POV: More of the same with Woken Matt. It’s fun, but it remains to be seen whether WWE will go all the way with this as they did in TNA. Meanwhile, the Goldberg video package was very well done. Between that video package and the work on the MLK video package, tonight has been a nice reminder of just how good the WWE crew really is. Also, check our main page for details on the HOF pre-sale that includes one of the codes for Wednesday if you want to beat the rush. Finally, I was wrong about WWE not acknowledging Paige’s neck injury. They actually did state that she was out of the Rumble match due to the injury. Thanks for Frankie NYC for pointing out my mistake.

[Q12] The broadcast team recapped the Strowman firing and rehiring form earlier, then hyped various matches for the Royal Rumble…

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance and were followed by Finn Balor. A video aired of Balor saying that the last time he faced Rollins was the best and worst moments of his career. He said tonight will be no accident when he shows Rollins he’s still the better man and it will be too sweet with his good brothers by his side… [C]

Phillips hyped Reigns vs. Miz for the IC Title for next week…

8. Finn Balor (w/Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson) vs. Seth Rollins (w/Jason Jordan). The Rollins entrance was not televised. Balor caught Rollins with a kick from the apron heading into a break. [C]

A Raw 25 Flashback focussed on 1-2-3 Kid pinning Razor Ramon.

[Overrun] Rollins sold a knee pain, yet controlled the offense coming out of the break. At 11:05, Rollins connected with a superkick for a good near fall. A short time later, Balor avoided a Phoenix Splash attempt by Rollins and then caught him with a running dropkick in the corner. Balor went up top, but Rollins ran the ropes and superplexed him. Rollins rolled through and hit a Falcon Arrow for a two count at 13:10.

Rollins went up top and slapped his bad knee a couple of times before going for a frogsplash. Balor put his knees up and then cradled Rollins. There was some confusion, but the referee said Rollins kicked out at two.

Sheamus and Cesaro came out and went after Jordan, who backed up and was between them, Gallows, and Anderson. Sheamus accidentally struck Gallows, which led to the two teams fighting. Balor dove onto the pile at ringside. Balor caught Rollins with a kick from the apron Balor went up top, but landed on his feet when Rollins moved. Balor knocked Cesaro off the apron and then ran the ropes only to have Jordan trip him. Rollins hit the Curb Stomp (apparently now called the Blackout or just The Stomp) and scored the pin…

Seth Rollins pinned Finn Balor in 15:20.

After the match, they showed highlights of Balor appearing to make a three count on Rollins right before Sheamus and Cesaro came out. Back live, they showed Balor struggling to get to his feet with help from Gallows and Anderson as Phillips put over Rollins’ finishing move. The show went off the air with Balor continuing to sell in the ring…

Powell’s POV: It’s cool to see the return of Seth’s old finisher, but the way they stuck with Balor afterward made for a really awkward ending to the show. The idea seemed to be that Rollins had no idea that Jordan interfered and so I assume they will be playing that up next week. I can’t say I was anxious to see Rollins and Balor in the main event given that they don’t have much of a current storyline between them, but they did a really good job and I enjoyed the finish with Jordan cheating. Overall, it’s a good thing that they have Raw 25 next week because it’s not like the storylines are hot heading into the Royal Rumble. I will have more to say in my members’ exclusive audio review later tonight. Thanks for watching along with me.


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The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...


Readers Comments (4)

  1. Not sure a face authority figure should be doing an angle in which they fire the crowd’s favourite monster.

    Apparently Miz’s actions with the garbage truck against Strowman were AOK by Angle but a grappling hook is a bridge too far.

  2. Strowman smash! Strowman destroy! XD

    …OK. Now that that joke is done, it’ll be interesting to see just how Strowman’s path of destruction comes to an end. Until then, let the equipment destruction continue!

  3. Yes!!! Sonya Deville is getting a push!!! Please don’t let Sasha get her win back next week and keep Deville strong. She is an awesome striker and so is Asuka. Hmmmm. Be a great moment in the Rumble to see the two of them square off. Sonya is money if they push her correctly……Good to see the crowds getting behind Nia Jax…..I don’t care if the main purpose was to further the Jordan/Rollins tension but it’s always good to see Balor main eventing.

  4. That employee carrying the chocolate cake who froze when Braun came near him deserves a Slammy and a Golden Globe.

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