1/3 WWE Raw Results: Powell’s live review of Brock Lesnar’s first appearance as the new WWE Champion, Big E vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins in a four-way for a shot at the WWE Championship, Damian Priest vs. Dolph Ziggler for the U.S. Title, AJ Styles vs. Omos

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

WWE Raw (Episode 1,493)
Live from Greenville, South Carolina at Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Aired January 3, 2022 on USA Network

[Hour One] Raw opened with a recap of Brock Lesnar winning the WWE Championship at WWE Day 1… Pyro shot off on the stage and then the broadcast team of Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton checked in from ringside and hyped the previously advertised matches and added Queen Zelina and Carmella vs. Rhea Ripley and Nikki ASH for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles…

The lights went out and when they turned on, Paul Heyman was standing in the ring. Heyman introduced himself in his usual style and then said, “Tonight, as an advocate, I’d like to introduce you to my client and new reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion of the world, Brock Lesnar.”

Lesnar made his entrance with the WWE Championship draped over his shoulder and then raised it over his head while he walked to the ring. Lesnar slid the title belt inside the ring and motioned for Heyman to pick it up. Heyman went to the ring apron temporarily while Lesnar picked up a piece of the ring steps and tossed it inside the ring.

Lesnar stood on the ring steps and had Heyman hand him the belt and a microphone, then thanked him. Lesnar gave a shout out to “my good buddy” Roman Reigns. Lesnar said Reigns was probably sitting at home watching Raw and seeing the real WWE Champion. “Get well soon, buddy,” Lesnar said.

“South Carolina, acknowledge me,” Lesnar said. There were some boos. Lesnar said he also wanted to acknowledge his advocate for advocating his free agency and for all the strings he pulled on Saturday that helped make him the WWE Champion. Lesnar shook Heyman’s hand and passed him the mic.

Heyman said that if you think things are interesting in the ring, you should see the things that happen behind the scenes such as when he negotiated Lesnar’s free agency and his spot in the WWE Championship at WWE Day 1.

Heyman announced that Lesnar will defend the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble against the winner of the four-way Raw main event. Heyman spoke about the four entrants in the four-way match. Heyman said Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens should try to be traded to Smackdown where Reigns is vulnerable without him. Heyman pointed to the fact that it’s been a week and Reigns already has COVID.

Heyman said Lesnar and Lashley never spoke backstage, nor shook hands. He said Lashley speared Lesnar the first time they met, and recalled Lesnar hitting his F5 finisher on everyone other than Lashley. He also noted that Lashley was able to put Lesnar in his Hurt Lock finisher. Heyman said things could be different if Lashley had to face Lesnar face to face.

Heyman said he and Lesnar have nothing but admiration and respect for Big E. Heyman said it would be an absolute honor to witness a Lesnar vs. Big E match. Heyman said Big E would lose, but it would still be an honor to watch him lose to Lesnar…

Randy Orton was shown standing backstage. Riddle showed up on his scooter. Orton looked annoyed. Smith hyped RKBro vs. Alpha Academy as coming up after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: The live crowd seemed understandably confused by whether to cheer or boo Lesnar and Heyman. Lesnar taunting Reigns and the line about being the true champion should add fuel to the fire when it comes to speculation regarding an eventual title unification match between the two.

Backstage, Orton asked Riddle where he’d been. He objected to Riddle’s attire, which included shades and gold chains. Orton had Riddle hand him the shades and chain, then asked Riddle about his resolutions, which include listening to him more often. The duo made their entrance…

A video package recapped Orton and Riddle beating The Street Profits to retain the Raw Tag Titles at WWE Day 1…

Powell’s POV: I guess the idea was that Riddle was acting like a rapper because he hung out with Migos at the pay-per-view. It would have been wise to show the video package that included Migos accompanying RKBro before that segment. The live crowd seemed about as unimpressed with the humor as I was, but they still popped for their entrance.

Chad Gable and Otis made their entrance. Gable spoke about his 4.0 GPA and told the crowd not to boo education. Gable said Orton and Riddle would learn the meaning of acceptance when they accept that they would lose their tag titles to Alpha Academy. Gable and Otis attacked Orton and Riddle before the bell and cleared them to ringside. Otis followed and suplexed Riddle on the floor… [C]

1. Raw Tag Team Champions “RKBro” Randy Orton and Riddle vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in a non-title match. The match was joined in progress. Riddle was isolated early. He nearly made the tag, but Gable pulled Orton off the apron. Orton got the better of Gable on the floor until Otis put him down. Back in the ring, Otis stuffed Riddle’s RKO attempt and then powerslammed and pinned him…

“Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis defeated Raw Tag Team Champions “RKBro” Randy Orton and Riddle in a non-title match in 2:40 of television time.

Powell’s POV: Creative needs to build up a heel tag team and they took a step in the right direction by giving Alpha Academy a win.

Backstage, Bobby Lashley and MVP were interviewed by Sarah Schreiber. She brought up what would happen if Lashley won the four-way match. MVP cut her off and told her not to get ahead of herself. He said it was a Herculean task to beat three men in the four-way match. MVP smiled and walked away. Lashley was silent for a moment, then looked into the camera and said, “Brock Lesnar fears me”…

Omos was shown with his arm around intimidated interviewer Kevin Patrick… [C] A video package recapped the AJ Styles and Omos split…

Backstage, Patrick asked Omos how he reacts to Styles saying he regrets taking him under his wing. Omos put his hand over Patrick’s face and said, “That’s how I react”…

Tamina and Akira Tozawa were in the ring. Dana Brooke and Reggie made their entrance for what was billed as a mixed tag team match for the WWE 24/7 Championship. The broadcast team explained that the title would change hands if Brooke was pinned or submitted. They shifted to promoting the four-way match and headed to a break while all four wrestlers were in the ring… [C]

2. Dana Brooke and Reggie vs. Tamina and Akira Tozawa for the WWE 24/7 Championship. Tozawa accidentally kicked Tamina during the opening minute. She responded by punching him. Reggie dove onto him and scored the pin…

Dana Brooke and Reggie beat Tamina and Akira Tozawa in 1:10 in a WWE 24/7 Championship mixed tag match.

Powell’s POV: Yes, they really stood in the ring throughout a commercial break just to have that 70-second match. And what an amazing hook that was to keep viewers watching throughout the break. Yikes.

Highlights aired of Becky Lynch beating Liv Morgan to retain the Raw Women’s Championship at WWE Day 1…

Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch made her entrance for a promo… [C] An ad for Smackdown questioned what’s next for Roman Reigns and the WWE Universal Championship now that Brock Lesnar won the WWE Championship…

Lynch said there’s something about the new year that inspires hope in people. She said everything can change for the better when the clock strikes midnight no matter how long you’ve failed in the past. She said she knew that every woman in the locker room had the resolution to win her title, just as her resolution was to remain champion. She said they can’t beat her.

[Hour Two] Lynch said she reflected on the last year and determined that she became a work of art. Lynch said she makes fans feel because that’s what good art does. She referred to herself as WWE’s “Vincent van Goat.”

Lynch said the fans weren’t going to lose those ten pounds, get the job they were looking for, or get the hell out of South Carolina. Lynch said Liv Morgan failed on the first day of the new year.

Liv Morgan made her entrance. She said Lynch knows just how close she became to winning the championship. Morgan entered the ring and said the only thing he ever promised herself was that he would give it her all. Lynch said maybe someday Morgan will win the championship after she retires.

Bianca Belair made her entrance and joined Lynch and Morgan inside the ring. She said she took a Doudrop detour and stood aside while Morgan had her opportunity, but now she’s back in the hunt. Lynch said they could start a support group and talk about how they almost beat her.

Lynch said that support group is actually called the women’s locker room. Morgan asked Lynch what she would know about the women’s locker room when she hasn’t been inside of it in years. Morgan and Belair clashed, then Lynch told them to work it out amongst themselves and get back to her.

Belair and Morgan teamed up to clear Lynch from the ring, then fought one another. Belair had Morgan hoisted up for her KOD finisher when Lynch broke it up. Lynch put Belair down with a Manhandle Slam…

Powell’s POV: Well, bring on the Triple Threat.

Seth Rollins was shown standing backstage when Kevin Owens excitedly approached him. Rollins said he was trying to figure out what to do about Paul Heyman. Owens said they could figure that out later, but they needed to figure out what they were going to do in the four-way match.

Owens suggested they stick to the plan they had and said it didn’t matter who won the match and the WWE Championship because the winner would defend the title against the other at WrestleMania. Rollins said he loved it and they both agreed that they could trust one another. “Hey, you’re not lying, are you?” Owens asked after Rollins walked away…

Rhea Ripley and Nikki ASH made their entrance for the WWE Women’s Tag Title match. Queen Zelina and Carmella followed while the broadcast team hyped other upcoming matches… [C]

3. Queen Zelina and Carmella vs. Rhea Ripley and Nikki ASH for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles. Graves sold the story that ASH is the weak link for her team while Saxton stood up for ASH. Carmella wore a black mask. Zelina escaped a fireman’s carry attempt and then rolled up and pinned ASH. Smith called it a great performance by Zelina and noted that she did it all alone. Graves said he’s tired of being right…

Queen Zelina and Carmella beat Rhea Ripley and Nikki ASH in 2:40 to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Titles.

Powell’s POV: More of the same. The story requires ASH to lose a lot and at least they kept this predictable match brief.

The broadcast team set up the video footage of Johnny Knoxville announcing his entry in the Royal Rumble match…

“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins made their entrance. Meanwhile, a pre-tape aired with Ford and Dawkins announcing themselves as entrants in the Rumble match. Smith said they would face Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez after a break… [C]

Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio delivered a backstage promo. Rey did all of the talking and said they would both be in the Rumble match… Crews and Azeez made their entrance…

4. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez. Late in the match, Azeez picked up Dawkins on the floor, but Dawkins slipped away and shoved him into the ring post. Back in the ring, Dawkins slammed Crews to the mat and then Ford performed a top rope splash and pinned him…

“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins defeated Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez in 2:15.

Powell’s POV: Crews’s run on Raw continues to be disappointing following his Intercontinental Title reign on Smackdown. There’s no shame in losing a tag team match to the Profits, but Crews wasn’t protected in any way by having it happen so quickly.

U.S. Champion Damian Priest was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber. Priest said he would beat Ziggler if he could maintain his calm and cool Priest said, but he acknowledged that Ziggler could pull out the Damian side of him. Priest said he would retain his championship either way. Priest made his entrance while a graphic noted that he could lose his title by DQ or by count-out… [C]

WWE authority figures Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville were talking backstage when an angry Doudrop showed up. Doudrop complained about Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan each wanting another title shot. She demanded a title shot. Deville booked her in a Triple Threat against Belair and Morgan and for next week’s Raw said that the winner would challenge Lynch for the championship at the Royal Rumble…

Dolph Ziggler made his entrance to his singles match entrance theme. Robert Roode clearly has good taste in music and presumably refused to accompany Ziggler to ringside…

5. Damian Priest vs. Dolph Ziggler for the U.S. Championship (the title can change hands if Priest is disqualified or counted out). Mike Rome delivered introductions from the floor once both men were in the ring. Ziggler hit a tornado DDT on the floor during the opening minute of the match. [C]

Priest went up top and was shoved to the mat by Robert Roode. Ziggler hit a Fameasser and covered Priest for a good near fall. Priest snapped. Priest went to ringside and attacked Roode. Priest grabbed a chair and wound up to hit Roode with it, but he noticed the referee’s count and returned to the ring with the chair.

Ziggler begged Priest to hit him with the chair. Roode climbed onto the apron and encouraged Priest to hit Ziggler. Priest threw the chair at Roode’s face and knocked him off the apron. Ziggler performed a Zigzag for another good near fall. Ziggler went for a superkick, but Priest avoided it and hit the Reckoning for the win…

Damian Priest defeated Dolph Ziggler in 9:00 to retain the U.S. Championship.

Powell’s POV: This was really well done. They never sold me on the idea that Priest might actually get himself disqualified or counted out, but Ziggler had a pair of strong near falls.

Vince McMahon was talking on his phone backstage when Austin Theory showed up. Vince ended his call and told Theory he didn’t tell him he could enter. Theory apologized. Vince said that’s a sign of weakness and he never apologizes. Vince announced that Theory would be a Royal Rumble match entrant…

The Miz and Maryse made their entrance… [C]

Powell’s POV: Vince is apparently suit shopping at the same store as Herb Tarlek these days. No, I don’t care that most of you aren’t old enough to get the reference.

Smith mistakenly mentioned “Edge and Maryse” and was immediately corrected by Graves. Smith set up a video package that recapped Edge beating Miz with help from his wife Beth Phoenix at WWE Day 1…

[Hour Three] Miz and Maryse stood in the ring with microphones. Miz claimed he was a Skull Crushing Finale away from beating Edge and said he and Maryse were outraged by the way the match played out.

Miz spoke about how he wanted respect from the Edge of the past, not the Edge hot hid behind his wife at WWE Day 1. Miz asked what kind of a man relies on his wife to fight his own battles. Maryse said Miz would never do that because he’s strong, brave, courageous, and handsome. Maryse said that if Phoenix were there, she would punch her in the face.

Beth Phoenix made her entrance still sporting her Fury Road look. Edge followed with his entrance and they walked to the ring together. “You were saying, Maryse?” Phoenix started. Edge said he knew Miz would make every excuse in the book for why he lost at the pay-per-view.

Edge said he doesn’t ask his wife to fight his battles. Phoenix said everything that happened at Day 1 was her idea. Edge proposed teaming with Phoenix to face Miz and Maryse at the Royal Rumble. A “yes” chant broke out.

Miz asked if they were serious. Miz ran through Maryse’s credentials. Phoenix asked for an answer. Miz accepted the challenge. Maryse wasn’t happy about it. Phoenix cocked her fist and Maryse fell to the mat, just as her husband did when Edge teased punching him in a past segment…

Big E was interviewed by Kevin Patrick on the backstage ring set. Big E said being WWE Champion meant a lot to him and it meant a lot to a lot of people. He said there’s no shame in losing to Brock Lesnar. Big E said “we” don’t wallow in self pity. Big E said he had a chance to right the wrongs and had a chance to start his path back to regaining the title…

Powell’s POV: Big E was really good here. He looked flustered to start while selling the loss of the title, then showed really good fire as he spoke about regaining it. I hope creative has a redemption story in mind for him.

AJ Styles made his entrance for his match against Omos… [C] Omos made his entrance…

6. AJ Styles vs. Omos. Omos mocked Styles over his dramatic height advantage. Styles struck quickly and then went to ringside. Back in the ring, Omos caught Styles with a big boot. Omos whipped Styles across the ring and Styles sold it by rolling under the ropes, into the post, and then tumbled to the floor.

A short time later, Styles took advantage momentarily and set up for his finisher, but Omos blocked it. Styles clotheslined Omos over the top rope and then went for the Phenomenal Forearm only to have Omos swat him down with one hand. Omos followed up with his finishing slam and scored the clean pin…

Omos pinned AJ Styles in 3:45.

Powell’s POV: Styles did his best to make this work, but Omos looked really unsure of himself in the ring. I’m surprised that the hype for this match was so underwhelming, especially with the extra week they had after Omos missed their scheduled match last week. Omos is an attraction, but this felt like it was just another match on the show.

The broadcast team recapped highlights of Brock Lesnar’s appearance… Kevin Owens made his entrance for the main event… [C]

Footage aired from Extreme Rules of Charlotte Flair destroying the Lilly doll, causing Alexa Bliss to snap. Smith and a graphic hyped “Alexa Bliss’ Journey Back to Raw” starting next week…

Big E, Seth Rollins, and then Bobby Lashley made their entrances for the main event… [C]

7. Big E vs. Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins in a four-way for a shot at the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. Big E tried to spear Owens off the apron, but it looked like Owens pulled out early and the broadcast team had to explain it away. Back inside the ring, Lashley worked over Owens and suplexed him.

Owens went to ringside while a “Bobby” chant broke out. Lashley acknowledged it and then went to the floor and tried to spear Owens, who moved, causing Lashley to crash into the timekeepers area. Big E roughed up Rollins and Owens and cleared the broadcast table.

Powell’s POV: It looked like Rollins saved Owens by pulling him away from Lashley’s spear, but the production team didn’t get a good shot of it.

Big E set up Rollins for a uranage, but Owens saved Rollins at the last second. The heels ran Big E into the ring post. Rollins and Owens piled items on top of Lashley, then powerbombed Big E through the broadcast table. [C]

Highlights aired of Rollins and Owens continuing to dominate during the break. Big E and Lashley agreed to work together and chased Rollins and Owens from the ring, up the stairs, and into the concourse area. Big E put Owens through a merchandise table with a uranage slam. [C]

Big E and Lashley were working over Rollins on the main floor when Owens performed a Swanton from the balcony above. Back in the ring, Owens performed another Swanton on Big E, then Rollins followed up with a frogsplash for a good near fall. Graves pointed out that Owens was actually counting along and seemed content with the possibility of Rollins winning the match.

Owens and Big E were off on a Popup Powerbomb spot and had to do it a second time. Owens went for the cover, but Lashley returned to break it up. Lashley took out Owens with a running shoulder block at ringside. Lashley returned to the ring where he speared Big E, who had been shoved at him by Rollins.

Lashley speared Rollins. Owens superkicked Lashley, then kicked him and went for a Stunner. Lashley pushed him away and then speared him and pinned him to win the match.

Bobby Lashley defeated Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, and Big E in a four-way in 18:40 to earn a WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble.

Graves hyped that Lashley would face Lesnar for the first time ever in the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble. Lashley celebrated his win in the ring while MVP watched and the other wrestlers sold at ringside. Lashley and MVP shook hands and hugged.

Brock Lesnar was shown watching on the backstage monitor. Kevin Patrick approached Lesnar and asked if he had a comment. Lesnar told Patrick to tell Roman Reigns that he would see him this Friday on Smackdown… A graphic listed Becky Lynch, Edge, Beth Phoenix, Chad Gable, and Otis for Raw Talk…

Powell’s POV: A fun main event despite a couple of clunky moments. The outcome of the match was telegraphed at WWE Day 1 when the post match scene focussed heavily on Lesnar and Lashley. That said, I couldn’t rule out that they were planting long term seeds for a WrestleMania match between Lesnar and Lashley, so it didn’t feel like a total lock that Lashley would win tonight, especially after that fiery Big E promo.

Lesnar stating that he will see Reigns on Smackdown is an interesting development both from a storyline standpoint and in terms of it being a sign that WWE officials are confident that Reigns will be able to appear despite testing positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. That’s obviously good news as far as Roman’s health is concerned.

Overall, the matches were kept brief until the main event, so this show had more of a frantic pace than usual. The creative forces are still doing a nice job of filling the three hour marathon without booking a lot of filler matches and segments. Just about everything feels like it has a purpose and the show continues to be much more entertaining than it was prior to the draft. Dot Net Members will hear my Raw audio review later tonight. Let me know what you thought of Raw by grading it below.

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Readers Comments (6)

  1. Becky Lynch is turning into Austin Idol right before our eyes.

  2. Why on earth are the
    matches on RAW so goddamn short? WWE knows they have 3 hours, right? 4 matches with a total ringtime of less than l0 minutes? Holy shit.

  3. “Vince is apparently suit shopping at the same store as Herb Tarlek these days.”

    I was thinking he looked like the love child of Wink Martindale and Shari Lewis.

  4. I liked Owens in the Bruno Samartino shirt. Nice touch.

  5. Tremendous reference to Herb Tarlek and his… ahem, “wardrobe”. For that, you earn a nomination for the 2022 Buckeye Newshawk Award.

  6. also, I think they need more commercial breaks; there just weren’t enough. Sheesh

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