By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,495)
Live from Tulsa, Oklahoma at BOK Center
Aired January 17, 2022 on USA Network
[Hour One] Jimmy Smith welcomed viewers to the show while acknowledging Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton…
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch made her entrance. The broadcast team recapped segments from last week while hyping some segments for this show. Lynch welcomed fans “to the big time.” She said the Royal Rumble was less than two weeks away and the women’s division has never been hotter, which she took credit for.
Lynch mentioned some of the legends who will be entering the Rumble match with the hope of facing her. She said she gave Doudrop the opportunity of a lifetime. Lynch said the fans weren’t clamoring for Doudrop to get a title match. She said Doudrop didn’t earn a title shot, Lynch said she got Doudrop the title match. Lynch said a Doudrop will never be champion as long as she runs the industry.
Doudrop made her entrance to a flat reaction. She entered the ring and said Lynch didn’t get her anything, she earned her title match at the Royal Rumble. Lynch said she got Doudrop a victory last week and would do the same this week if she follows her lead.
Bianca Belair made her entrance and entered the ring and said she’s the EST of WWE. Belair said Lynch is so afraid of her that she had to interfere in last week’s No. 1 contenders match. Belair said Lynch is just buying time because she has entered the Royal Rumble match. Belair said she would go through all of the entrants and then main event WrestleMania again.
Liv Morgan made her entrance and said that she may be teaming with Belair, but she is also entering the Rumble match. Morgan said she would be the winner of the match. Morgan entered the ring and said that in order for that to happen, Belair would be one of the 29 women she would outlast on her way to WrestleMania.
Doudrop made a snoring noise and told the babyface duo to shut up. The women pushed and shoved while the referee stood between them. Smith said their tag team match was coming up after a commercial break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A basic opening segment with a couple of Rumble match entry announcements. I was really hoping that Doudrop was going to respond to Lynch mocking her name by switching back to Piper Niven.
Backstage, Chad Gable and Otis were wearing gradation attire for a segment later in the show. Gable was rehearsing a speech…
1. Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and Doudrop vs. Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan. Doudrop put Belair down during the opening minute and then Lynch tagged herself into the match. Doudrop wasn’t pleased about it. Lynch told her that she knows what she’s doing, then ate a drop kick from Belair, who tagged out. Morgan worked over Lynch and went for a pin that Doudrop broke up.
Belair went after Doudrop and failed to hoist her up for her finisher. Lynch hit Morgan with a Manhandle Slam and went for the cover, but Doudrop broke it up. Doudrop went for the cover, but she wasn’t the legal person in the match. Doudrop tagged herself in and then performed a splash on Morgan before pinning her…
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and Doudrop beat Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan in 3:00.
After the match, Doudrop performed a sit-down splash on Lynch from the second rope…
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised they didn’t try to fill more time with that match, but it accomplished what was needed in terms of giving Doudrop a boost heading into her title match with Lynch. I’m still not sure who the creative forces want the fans to cheer in their match or in the Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins match.
Backstage, Reggie and WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke spoke with Edge and Beth Phoenix. Edge said Reggie can do things that he can’t even wrap his mind around. Reggie asked if that meant Edge thought he had a chance in his match. Edge said hell no. Phoenix complimented Brooke, who said it meant everything to her.
Damian Priest showed up and hugged Edge and Phoenix after Reggie and Brooke left the scene. Edge said he liked the new side that Priest has been showing. Priest asked Edge for advice on the Royal Rumble match. Edge started to give him some advice when Phoenix was handed a note.
Phoenix read the note and it said that Maryse wanted to meet her in the ring for a conversation. Edge said he knew Miz and Maryse too well for that, so he would accompany his wife. Edge and Phoenix left the picture.
Kevin Owens showed up and told Damian Priest that he was looking forward to their match and said they could work a clean match and show off their scientific side. Owens told Priest that he had an announcement to make and would see him later…
The broadcast team hyped The KO Show with Seth Rollins as the guest. Owens made his entrance for the talkshow segment… [C] Jimmy Smith hyped the Elimination Chamber for Saturday, February 19 in Saudi Arabia…
Kevin Owens stood in the ring and welcomed viewers to the KO Show while working in a jab at the host city. Owens introduced Seth Rollins as a man he was proud to call his best friend and would soon call the WWE Universal Champion.
Seth Rollins made his entrance while highlights were shown of his Smackdown segment with Roman Reigns. Owens told Rollins that he admires him. Owens praised Rollins’ clothes and said he admires his courage even more. Owens said people don’t realize how much guts it took for Rollins to show up on Smackdown and confront Reigns. Owens said Reigns talks about being Head of the Table, but it was Rollins who set the table for him.
Rollins said Reigns is rattled, nervous, and scared. He recalled Reigns taking the low road by taking shots at his family and then pointed out that the Usos couldn’t get he job done when they tried to attack him. Rollins said Reigns is playing checkers while he’s playing chess. Rollins said taking the title from Reigns will be like taking candy from a baby.
Rollins said he would bring the WWE Universal Championship back to Raw. Owens clarified that Rollins would be staying on Raw if he wins the title. Owens said they wouldn’t need Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley because Raw would have the best champion in Rollins, who then said he might get rid of Lashley when they meet later in the show.
Owens announced his entry into the Royal Rumble match. Owens said that when they both win, they could give everyone the biggest WrestleMania main event when they face one another. Rollins said he liked where Owens’ head was at.
U.S. Champion Damian Priest interrupted the love fest. Rollins barked at Priest about interrupting his time. Priest told him to shut his mouth and said both men are delusional idiots. Priest said no one thinks Rollins can beat Reigns, and no one believes Owens will win the Rumble. Priest told Owens to avoid “waking him up” during their match, which he said was staring now… [C]
Powell’s POV: Reigns vs. Rollins is hard enough to sell without having a babyface wrestler state that no one thinks Rollins has a chance to win. Strange call.
A Royal Rumble video aired… A Veer Mahaan video package aired for the first time in a few weeks. He was still listed as “coming to Raw”…
2. U.S. Champion Damian Priest vs. Kevin Owens in a non-title match. Priest threw an early kick at Owens, who went to ringside. Priest followed and then leapt from the ring steps into a superkick from Owens, who then went to the apron and splashed Priest on the floor. [C]
Owens performed a Swanton on Priest or a near fall. Owens executed a Popup Powerbomb moments later for another near fall. Priest stuffed a kick and then connected with one of his own before putting Owens down with a chokeslam for a near fall of his own.
Owens sold a knee injury. Priest tried to whip him across the ring, but Owens fell to the mat and sold the knee. The referee called for a trainer. While the trainer was talking, Owens suddenly kicked Priest and then dropped him with a Stunner for the win. “It’s a miracle,” Graves exclaimed regarding Owens’ miraculous recovery…
Kevin Owens defeated U.S. Champion Damian Priest in 10:55 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: A finish that played into Owens being a liar while also setting him up for a U.S. Title match. By the way, Smith referred to the match as a “challenger’s match” rather than going with their usual weird “championship contenders match” slogan. I’m not sure if Smith misspoke or if that’s their latest lingo for replacing the “non-title match” description for reasons that only make sense to Vince McMahon.
Highlights aired from last week of Chad Gable and Otis defeating Randy Orton and Riddle to win the Raw Tag Titles…
“Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis made their entrance for their “graduation ceremony” dressed in graduation caps and gowns… An ad for NXT 2.0 focused on Elektra Lopez… [C]
The broadcast team hyped the Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins match for later in the show… A video package recapped last week’s Nikki ASH and Rhea Ripley breakup…
Nikki ASH was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber on the backstage ring set. She blamed Rhea Ripley for the breakup of their team. She said she hopes people will realize that superheroes have to do things that regular people don’t understand…
Gable and Otis stood in the ring behind a podium with the Alpha Academy logo on it. The tag title belts were set up on a table and there were plants on each side of the podium. Gable delivered his now usual talk about having a 4.0 GPA and then took shots at the host city.
[Hour Two] Gable said he could go on and on while talking about himself. “My list is long,” Gable said while holding his hands apart. He turned the focus to his “prized pupil” Otis and said he was proud of him. An RKBro chant broke out. Gable scolded the crowd for interrupting the ceremony.
Gable said Otis didn’t have a last name that he knows of. Gable presented Otis with his diploma, kissed him on the cheek, and told him the floor was his. “Pomp and Circumstance” played. Otis spoke briefly before he was interrupted.
Riddle made his entrance wearing a cap and gown. Riddle said he wrote a speech at a breakfast buffet earlier in the day. Riddle spoke about how it felt like it was just last week that he and Randy Orton were Raw Tag Team Champions.
Gable eventually interrupted Riddle and said he wasn’t invited and the people of Oklahoma couldn’t afford to lose another brain cell while listening to him. Riddle ended up asking for a rematch. Gable said he would give it to him if him and Orton proved their aptitude in an academic challenge.
Otis got annoyed by something that Riddle said and went to ringside. Meanwhile, Orton entered the ring and dropped Gable with an RKO. Riddle hit a distracted Otis with an RKO on the floor and then joined Orton inside the ring. Orton put a cap and gown on and then accepted the challenge…
Powell’s POV: I wish they would have trimmed a couple of minutes off of this segment and gave it to the women’s tag team match that opened the show.
Highlights aired of Finn Balor beating Austin Theory in a match from last month…
Backstage, Austin Theory joined Vince McMahon inside his office. In an amazing coincidence, Vince said he was watching Theory’s loss to Balor from last month. Theory pointed out that he beat the hell out of Balor afterward. McMahon told Theory he wanted him to beat up Balor later and threatened to beat up Theory if he failed. McMahon said that he would take a selfie after he beats up Theory and send it to Theory’s mother…
Finn Balor made his entrance for the match against Theory… An ad for Friday’s Smackdown focused on Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins and listed Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi in a “championship contenders match”… [C]
WWE’s annual video tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aired and received a nice round of applause from the live crowd…
3. Austin Theory vs. Finn Balor. Theory’s entrance was also televised. Balor rolled to ringside early in the match. Theory followed and ran him into the barricade. Balor returned the favor and then delivered a sling blade clothesline. [C]
Balor slipped out of an ATL attempt and rolled up Theory for a near fall. Balor went up top for his finisher, but Theory rolled out of the way. Theory dropkicked Balor and followed up with his ATL finisher and scored the pin.
Austin Theory defeated Finn Balor in 6:05.
Theory took his post match selfie and then attacked Balor. Theory put Balor down with his finisher again and then took another selfie…
Powell’s POV: While Balor continues to spin his wheels, this was a good win for Theory. It was nice to see him win clean rather than steal a win. Even so, this feud feels flat even though I enjoy the work of both wrestlers.
Rhea Ripley was interviewed in the backstage area by Sarah Schreiber. Ripley asked what kind of hero attacks their friends. She said that if Nikki ASH believes she’s the hero then she’s more delusional than she thought. Ripley said she would have to show ASH exactly who she is. Ripley made her entrance for their match… [C]
Nikki ASH made her entrance for her match against Ripley. Queen Zelina and Carmella made their entrance and mocked both women from the stage. ASH attacked Ripley from behind and ended dumping her to the floor and then running her into the ring steps…
Highlights aired from last week of Omos manhandling Reggie…
Backstage, Dana Brooke gave Reggie a pep talk while Tamina, R-Truth, Akira Tozawa, and a referee sat behind them eating popcorn. Brooke encouraged Reggie to stay away from him… Omos made his entrance… [C]
4. Omos vs. Reggie (w/Dana Brooke). Before the bell, Tamina, R-Truth, Akira Tozawa ran out to go after Brooke’s 24/7 Title. Brooke entered the ring and crawled through Omos’s legs to avoid them. Omos took out Truth and Tozawa, then stared down Tamina until she left the ring. Omos turned and Reggie dove from the ropes at him, but Omos caught him and finished him off quickly…
Omos beat Reggie in 0:28.
Powell’s POV: Omos would be WWE’s biggest babyface in my mind if he wipes out the entire 24/7 division and crushes the title belt with his bare hands.
Highlights aired from last week of Maryse walking out while Miz was cutting a promo on Edge and Beth Phoenix…
Maryse made her entrance for her face to face segment with Beth Phoenix… [C] Maryse called for Phoenix to come out alone so that they could speak woman to woman and mother to mother.
Beth Phoenix made her entrance was accompanied by Edge. They stayed in the entryway. Maryse said the mixed tag team match scheduled for the Royal Rumble needed to be cancelled. She said she didn’t want the match, Phoenix doesn’t want it, and the fans don’t want it.
Maryse gave the crowd the “really” treatment when they disagreed with her and told them she has the mic and can be louder than all of them. A “you suck” chant broke out. Maryse said she and Phoenix made the women’s division what it is today and women main event WrestleMania because of them. Maryse said they shouldn’t be fighting, they should be best friends.
“I think I speak for every single person in this arena when I say, would you just shut up,” Phoenix responded. Phoenix said she wasn’t buying it and neither were the fans. She assumed that Maryse took acting lessons from her husband. Phoenix said the mixed tag match was going to happen and she wouldn’t miss out on the chance to team with her husband for the first time. Phoenix said she definitely wouldn’t miss the chance to Glam Slam her.
[Hour Three] Phoenix said she wanted to give the fans a preview and then entered the ring. The Miz came out and fought with Edge at ringside, which distracted Phoenix. Maryse hit Phoenix from behind with her purse. Maryse joined Miz on the stage and then revealed that she had a brick in her purse…
Powell’s POV: This was fine in terms of putting some needed heat on Maryse heading into the match.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins delivered a backstage promo. Dawkins asked Ford if he was going to throw him over the top rope in the Rumble match. Before he could answer, Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio showed up. Rey said he and his son would outlast 29 other men in the Rumble. The Profits still want the smoke.
The Street Profits made their entrance while Graves called out the Mysterios on their flawed Rumble math. The Mysterios made their entrance for an eight-man tag match… [C] The Smackdown recap video aired and spotlighted the Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins segment… The heel team entrances were televised…
5. Rey Mysterio, Dominik Mysterio, and “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. Robert Roode, Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews, and Commander Azeez. There was an early clunky spot as Rey went for a huracanrana and Roode was supposed to catch him, but he couldn’t hold him up. Roode recovered quickly and Mysterio executed a huracanrana over the top rope that put both men at ringside. The teammates for both men bickered while standing over them. [C]
Late in the match, Dom dove from the top rope onto Azeez, who caught him at ringside. Rey dove onto Azeez to take him out. In the ring, Crews rolled up Dawkins for a two count. Dawkins came right back with a sky high slam and then tagged in Ford, who put Crews away with a top rope splash.
Rey Mysterio, Dominik Mysterio, and “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins beat Robert Roode, Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews, and Commander Azeez in 8:15.
After the match, the babyface team celebrated together. Rey and Dom tossed the Profits over the top rope and then smiled about it. Rey followed up by tossing his own son over the top rope. Dom had a laugh about it at ringside…
Powell’s POV: If my Dad threw me over the top rope, I’d slap that old man into the retirement home! Okay, not really. I thought we might see a rematch of last week’s six-man tag match that the Profits lost. Instead, they avenged their loss over the same trio plus Azeez in an eight-man tag match.
Footage aired of Bobby Lashley on last week’s After The Bell podcast, which is hosted by Corey Graves… A Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley video package aired… A teaser aired for the next Alexa Bliss video… [C]
Powell’s POV: I am looking forward to Lesnar vs. Lashley, but I am still surprised that we haven’t had any fun verbal sparring from Paul Heyman and MVP thus far.
Kevin Patrick interviewed The Miz and Maryse as they were leaving the building. Miz boasted that it only took one shot for Maryse to take out Phoenix. He also announced that he was going to throw Maryse an elaborate birthday party next week. They made out to end the segment…
The latest Alexa Bliss video aired. She was in another therapy session with the same therapist, who welcomed her back. He said he couldn’t tolerate another outburst like last week. He said they have a lot of work to do, but he promised that she’ll be on the road to recovery by the end of it.
The therapist played world association with her. He asked about trust, friends, home, and doll. Her answer to each question was Lilly. He said the word imaginary. Bliss stood up and glared at the therapist, who said their time was up and left the room. Bliss sat back down in the chair…
Bobby Lashley and MVP made their entrance for the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m sure the Maryse birthday party will go off without a hitch. What could possibly go wrong? Meanwhile, it appears we haven’t seen the last of the stupid doll. I’m still holding out a tiny bit of hope that Bliss will simply be a deranged character and they won’t bring back the hocus pocus nonsense, but it’s not looking good.
The broadcast team announced the Alpha Academy’s mental aptitude test for RKBro, and Maryse’s birthday party, and a weigh-in segment for Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley for next week’s Raw… Seth Rollins made his entrance…
Powell’s POV: Keep Paul Wight as far away from the scale as possible and the weigh-in should be fine.
6. Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) vs. Seth Rollins. Lashley put Rollins down with a shoulder block during the opening minute. Rollins came back with a kick and then pulled the top rope down when Lashley charged him, causing Lashley to tumble to the floor. Rollins hit Lashley a suicide dive. Rollins went for a second suicide dive, but Lashley caught him and suplexed him. [C]
Rollins was on the offensive coming out of the break and Lashley sold knee paid. Rollins remained in control until Lashley avoided a Stomp and put him down with a Flatliner. Both men got to their feet simultaneously and then Lashley put Rollins down with a pair of suplexes.
A short time later, Rollins came back with a Pedigree and then covered Lashley for a good near fall. Rollins went up top, but Lashley grabbed him by the throat and joined him on the middle rope. Rollins hit him with elbows, but Lashley suplexed him. Cool spot. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin attacked Lashley for the apparent disqualification…
Bobby Lashley beat Seth Rollins by an apparent DQ in 14:05.
Afterward, Lashley suplexed Alexander and Benjamin simultaneously. He suplexed Benjamin again, then hoisted up Alexander and drove him into the ring post. Lashley stood up and speared Benjamin through the barricade in front of the timekeepers area.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso hopped the barricade dressed in street clothes and double superkicked Rollins. The Usos left the ring while Rollins was down in the ring and Lashley got back to his feet at ringside…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining main event with a cheap finish that had to happen. There was no way that either guy could lose clean going into their title matches at the pay-per-view. And while the finish was understandably underwhelming, Lashley destroying Alexander and Benjamin, and the Usos showing up helped make up for it.
Overall, WWE filled the time nicely without giving too much away on a night when they had really strong competition from the first Monday night NFL playoff game. They won’t be opposed by football again until the new season, so it should be interesting to see what type of boost they get in the ratings starting with next week’s Royal Rumble go-home show. I will return shortly with my weekly same night audio review of Raw. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.