By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,497)
Live from Cincinnati, Ohio at at Heritage Bank Center
Aired January 31, 2022 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with the WWE math attendance figure that was announced for the Royal Rumble along with a video package with highlights from the event… Pyro shot off the stage and then Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton checked in on commentary…
“WWE official” Adam Pearce stood inside the ring and welcomed viewers to Raw. Pearce hyped Bobby Lashley defending the WWE Championship in an Elimination Chamber match on the event of the same name on February 19. He noted there would be five challengers in the match.
New WWE Champion Bobby Lashley’s entrance theme interrupted Pearce. Lashley, who wore an awesome red and black suit, came to the ring with MVP. Once in the ring, MVP scolded Pearce for putting Lashley in an Elimination Chamber match against five challengers.
Lashley asked Pearce who the hell he thinks he is. He said he was supposed to be out celebrating his win over Brock Lesnar. Lashley said he was a better amateur wrestler, a better MMA fighter, and a better WWE Champion than Lesnar. Lashley asked the crowd who the conquerer, beast, and champion is now.
Brock Lesnar’s music played and he came out dressed in his ring gear. A smiling Lesnar took a lap around the ring before entering it. Lesnar took the mic from Pearce. Lesnar told MVP to shut up and threatened to stick his cane up his ass. Lesnar asked Lashley if he was really going to stand there and pretend to be the champion.
Lesnar asked Lashley where the pride was in the way he won the match, pointing out the parts that Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman played. Lesnar said he wasn’t mad at Lashley, but he said he was made at Reigns and Heyman. Lesnar gave Lashley credit for having a good match before the interference.
Lesnar recalled entering and winning the Royal Rumble match. He pointed out that he gets to choose who he fights at WrestleMania. “No need to worry, Bobby, it’s not you,” Lesnar said. “At WrestleMania, I’m going to face Roman Reigns.”
Lesnar claimed that his match with Reigns would be a title vs. title match. He pointed out that he was dressed to fight and then challenged Lashley to a rematch for the WWE Championship. Lashley said he pinned Lesnar once and could pin him again. MVP tried to talk him down. Lesnar asked Lashley if he was going to let his manager hold him back.
MVP claimed that after conferring with the WWE Champion, Lashley said that Lesnar should go to the back of the line and earn his title shot. Lesnar called Lashley something that was censored. MVP continued to plead with Lashley, who eventually left the ring with his title. There was more audio muting while the duo yelled at one another.
Pearce said Lashley will defend the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber against five men. Lesnar said he wanted in. Pearce announced that Lesnar would be one of the five challengers in the Elimination Chamber match…
Powell’s POV: A hot opening segment with some major star power. Lashley and MVP drew good heat, and the fans really wanted to see Lesnar get his rematch. It’s a big development that Lesnar teased that it will be champion vs. champion at WrestleMania. That could explain why they are having the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship rather than the usual approach of having a Chamber match for a shot at the championship at WrestleMania.
Footage aired of the recent drama involving Rhea Ripley and Nikki ASH. Ripley made her entrance for a match against ASH heading into the first commercial break… [C]
The broadcast team hyped the previously announced Elimination Chamber qualifying matches for later in the show… Nikki ASH made her entrance while clips aired of her attacking Mighty Molly during the Rumble match…
1. Rhea Ripley vs. Nikki ASH. Ripley dominated the match early. She performed a suplex that caused ASH to roll to ringside and sell back pain. Ripley followed and ASH rushed back to the ring. Ripley returned to the ring and then ASH rolled to ringside. When Ripley tried to follow, ASH caught her in the ring apron skirting and threw punches at her. [C]
ASH performed a nice tornado DDT for a near fall. ASH went up top and leapt over a charging Ripley, then hit her from behind. Ripley stuffed a neckbreaker attempt and countered into the Riptide and then got the three count…
Rhea Ripley defeated Nikki ASH in 8:10.
Powell’s POV: I was surprised to see Ripley go over. I thought they might stretch out this feud a bit longer, especially after they gave ASH the Molly beatdown moment at the Rumble.
Highlights aired of last week’s spelling bee involving RKBro and Alpha Academy, as well as Randy Orton beating Chad Gable in a singles match after Riddle beat Otis with a scooter…
Kevin Patrick stood backstage hosted the second round of the academic challenge, which pitted Riddle against Chad Gable in a scooter race. After some verbal back and forth, R-Truth started the match with a flag. It was billed as a fifty lap race…
Smith hyped the next installment of Alexa Bliss’s therapy session… [C]
Bliss was lying on the therapist’s couch coming out of the break. He asked what she was thinking about. She spoke about how Lilly was always there for her. He asked what would happen if Lilly somehow returned. She spoke about how much fun they would have together. The therapist showed her a Lilly replica doll while pointing out that it wasn’t the real Lilly. He asked how it made her feel. “Lilly,” she said while smiling…
Smith set up a sponsored recap of Edge and Beth Phoenix beating The Miz and Maryse at the Royal Rumble… The Miz made his entrance or a match against Dominik Mysterio… An NXT 2.0 ad spotlighted Carmelo Hayes… [C] Still shots aired from the Rumble event…
2. The Miz vs. Dominik Mysterio (w/Rey Mysterio). A graphic listed Bianca Belair vs. Carmella for later in the show. Dom went for an early 619, but Miz avoided it and rolled to ringside. Dom grabbed Miz, but then clotheslined Dom over the top rope. Miz shoved Rey to the ground and returned to the ring. A short time later, Miz ran the ropes and then acted like Rey tripped him. The referee ejected Rey. Miz smirked at Rey, then hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Dom and pinned him…
The Miz defeated Dominik Mysterio in 2:10.
Powell’s POV: A simple match to give Miz back whatever heat he had before the Rumble loss. I assume he’ll end up facing Rey on next week’s show.
WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke was walking backstage when Tamina attacked her. Brooke escaped and then Riddle and Gable cruised by on their scooters. A graphic listed them as being on lap 18 out of 50…
Kevin Owens made his entrance. A graphic listed the KO Show commemorating the beginning of the road to WrestleMania… [C]
A graphic boasted about WWE’s Tik Tok follower count…
Backstage, Riddle stopped when he encountered Omos. Riddle told Omos that he had beautiful eyes, then told him that he had to go. The lap count was up to 25 out of 50… Smith hyped Ronda Rousey’s appearance for later in the show…
Kevin Owens welcomed viewers to his show. He hyped the two-night WrestleMania and then spoke briefly about facing Austin Theory in an Elimination Chamber qualifier.
[Hour Two] Owens introduced Seth Rollins and said he should be the WWE Universal Champion. The broadcast team expressed surprise that Rollins was able to appear given the beating that Roman Reigns gave him with a chair after their match at the Rumble. Highlights from the Reigns vs. Rollins match and the post match attack were shown.
Owens called the attack disgusting and said it happened because Reigns knew he couldn’t beat Rollins. Owens said Rollins is the Universal Champion of his heart. Rollins said that meant a lot to him. Rollins said he didn’t have the title belt, but he has a permanent piece of real estate in the brain of Reigns. He said he can go back there anytime he wants and when he does he will come back with the Universal Title.
Rollins said that was Smackdown business, whereas this was Raw. He brought up the Elimination Chamber for the WWE Championship. Rollins said he had an announcement about it. Owens said Rollins didn’t tell him about it. Rollins said it was a surprise and then called for a drumroll.
Rollins announced that he will be one of the entrants in the Elimination Chamber match. Owens was happy at first, then acted thrown off because Rollins didn’t have to qualify for the match like he has to. Rollins said he qualified via his performance at the Rumble.
Owens suggested that Rollins tell Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville that he would walk from the match if Owens wasn’t given a spot in the match without a qualifier. Rollins wasn’t keen on that idea. Austin Theory made his entrance for the match against Owens… [C]
Powell’s POV: A fun segment with Owens feeling slighted because he has to win a qualifying match while Rollins was simply given a spot in the Elimination Chamber match. There was no real change in the Rollins’ act despite the fact that he was the babyface in the match against Reigns. Of course, they could still make him the babyface, particularly if he and Owens split up soon.
3. Kevin Owens vs. Austin Theory in an Elimination Chamber qualifier. Owens was the early aggressor, but Theory came back with a nice roll into a dropkick that led to a two count. Owens came back and chased Theory to ringside, where Theory caught him with a kick and then slammed him onto the ring steps [C]
Owens dropped Theory with a DDT. Owens went up top, but Theory cut him off with a punch, which Smith actually called a beautiful move for some reason. Owens knocked Theory down and went for a swanton, which Theory avoided. Theory put Owens down with a standing blockbuster for a two count.
Theory set up for his finisher, but Owens slipped away. Owens ran into a forearm and then Theory performed a fisherman’s buster suplex over his own knee and then covered Owens for another near fall. Owens came right back with a similar move onto his knee for a near fall of his own.
Owens kicked Theory and went for the Stunner, but Theory pushed him away. Owens superkicked Theory and then performed a swanton for a good near fall. They ended up fighting on the ropes. Owens got the better of it and suplexed him from the middle rope. Owens covered Theory, who put his foot over the bottom rope.
Theory rolled to the floor. Owens followed and viciously attacked him. Owens went for a powerbomb on the apron, but Theory slipped away. Back inside the ring, Theory hit the ATL and scored the pin…
Austin Theory defeated Kevin Owens in 11:25 to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match.
Powell’s POV: A really fun television match and a big win for Theory. I hope they are building up frustration in the Owens character, because he’s always at his best when his character finally snaps.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins were backstage drinking from their solo cups when Riddle entered the picture (Dawkins was wearing a Cincinnati Bengals t-shirt). They gave him a drink and encouraged him. Riddle drove away on his scooter. Chad Gable showed up and they didn’t give him a drink. Otis showed up and gave him a drink. A graphic noted that they were on lap 39 out of 50. The finish line was shown at ringside…
Dawkins made his entrance with Ford for a singles match against Dolph Ziggler. Ring announcer Mike Rome put some extra emphasis on Dawkins being from Cincy, which was good for a pop from the crowd… [C]
More still shots aired from the Rumble event… Highlights aired from the Rumble of the punishment that Johnny Knoxville took in the match from AJ Styles and Montez Ford… Dolph Ziggler made his entrance to the Dirty Dawgs entrance theme (thank you) even though Robert Roode was not with him…
4. Angelo Dawkins (w/Montez Ford) vs. Dolph Ziggler. Graves said Ziggler has taken on the roll of a gatekeeper. The bell rang and Ziggler immediately hit Dawkins with a flying knee and covered him for a two count. Ziggler remained in offensive control and then mocked the Ickey Shuffle (a dance performed by Bengals legend Ickey Woods back in the day). Dawkins came back with a punch. In the end, Dawkins performed a double underhook suplex and scored the pin…
Angelo Dawkins defeated Dolph Ziggler in 4:30.
Powell’s POV: I really thought the Cincy crowd would be rowdier tonight given that their Bengals won the AFC Championship yesterday. There’s a lot of Bengals gear in the crowd and they’re not a bad crowd by any means, but it’s not the big party atmosphere that I thought it would be. The match was fine in that it gave the crowd a hometown guy to root for, but it didn’t really play into any current storylines.
Riddle and Gable were shown neck and neck in their scooter race. A graphic listed that they were on lap 49 out of 50. The broadcast team pointed out that the finish line is right in front of their desk, then set up a WWE 2K22 video game ad… [C] The Veer Mahaan video aired. Yes, he was still listed as “Coming To Raw”…
Kevin Patrick stood at the finish line for the scooter race along with R-Truth, who held the checkered flag. Patrick asked Truth who he thought would win. “The Bengals,” Truth said for an easy pop. Gable had a lead over Riddle as they arrived on the stage. Gable slipped at the bottom of the ramp. As Riddle approached the finish line, Otis showed up and crushed him. Gable stood up and drove his scooter around Riddle, then crossed the finish line.
Riddle stood in the ring and complained about the way Gable won. Gable took issue with Riddle labeling him a cheater. He said he didn’t need to cheat to make the Olympic team, to earn his master’s degree, or to earn his 4.0 GPA. Gable assumed that Riddle wanted a match. Gable gave him one against Otis… [C]
Powell’s POV: Team USA should really consider bringing in Otis for the upcoming Winter Olympics. Just imagine what he would do to speed skaters before they could cross the finish line. And the men’s hockey team could use him as a goalie. How can you score on a guy who takes up the entire net?
An ad aired for Miz & Mrs. (a/k/a The Marjo Show) returning in June… Adam Pearce came out and announced that the Riddle vs. Otis match would be an Elimination Chamber qualifier…
Powell’s POV: Well, that was random. The Angelo Dawkins character should be so pissed right now.
5. Otis (w/Chad Gable) vs. Riddle in an Elimination Chamber qualifier. Otis was dominant to start and picked up a two count off of a splash in the middle of the ring. Otis also performed a spinning back elbow, which Graves put over strong. A short time later, Gable blasted Riddle with a shoulder block that Riddle sold with a big bump.
Riddle eventually came back by clotheslining Otis over the top rope. Riddle hit Otis with some forearm shots and then ran the ropes, but Otis put him down with a clothesline. Riddle made another comeback and performed a series of punches and kicks until Otis grabbed him and suplexed him. Riddle used his quickness to connect with some running forearms, then knocked him down with a pair of ripcord knee strikes. Riddle performed a Floating Bro and landed on the leg of Otis, who sold knee pain. Otis stuffed an RKO.
[Hour Three] Riddle performed a Floating Bro onto a standing Otis, which led to Riddle scoring the pin…
Riddle defeated Otis in 7:25 to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match.
Powell’s POV: I got a big kick out of this match. Riddle sold really well for Otis’s powerhouse antics before he came back and got the pin.
Rey Mysterio was shown warming up for his qualifier. Dom entered the picture and rubbed his father’s shoulders. AJ Styles was shown somewhere else in the building warming up for the same match… Entrances for the Bianca Belair vs. Carmella match took place… [C] Additional Rumble still shots were shown…
6. Bianca Belair vs. Carmella. Carmella rolled to ringside and had her assistants put her black Gimp mask over her face. Belair jumped out to a fast start. Carmella slapped her. Belair got up and chased Belair to ringside, but Carmella attacked her once they returned to the ring.
Carmella hit a series of elbows to the head of Belair in the corner. Belair went for a bodyslam, but Carmella slipped off and pulled Belair down and applied a chinlock. Belair came back and ended up hitting the KOD before getting the clean pin…
Bianca Belair defeated Carmella in 5:30.
Powell’s POV: There was no mystery regarding the outcome of this match and it felt like it went longer than it needed to. I’m okay with it, though, as the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions should have some in-ring credibility. This was a showcase win for Belair along with the usual comical Graves gushing over his lady on commentary.
Footage from Alexa Bliss’s therapy session was shown. They hyped additional footage from Bliss’s journey back to Raw as coming up after the break… [C] The therapist handed Lilly the replica doll. Bliss got emotional…
Backstage, Raw Tag Team Champions Chad Gable and Otis were interviewed by Kevin Patrick. Gable said the final part of the academic challenge with Randy Orton and Riddle would be a quiz bowl. He said RKBro would lose just like the Bengals will lose the Super Bowl…
Highlights aired from the opening segment with Bobby Lashley, MVP, and Brock Lesnar, including the announcement that Lesnar will be in the Elimination Chamber match… AJ Styles made his entrance for the final qualifying match… [C]
Cincinnati Bengals imagery was shown. Graves insulted skyline chili. Funny. The third part of the academic challenge was hyped for next week along with a plug that Raw will be on Syfy…
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised that WWE hasn’t done more to push that Raw will be on Syfy the next two weeks due to USA Network’s coverage of the Winter Olympics. It’s possible I missed an earlier plug or two, but it’s not like they’ve gone out of their way to really drive that home.
Rey Mysterio made his entrance while the broadcast tried to sell his match with Styles as being pay-per-view, er, premium live event worthy…
7. AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio in an Elimination Chamber qualifier. A graphic listed Rousey’s appearance as occurring later in the show. Styles went for an early baseball slide under the ropes onto Styles on the floor, but Styles put his knees up. Styles came back with a huracanrana that sent Styles into the barricade. [C]
Mysterio, who wore Bengals colored gear, went on the offensive until Styles dodged a dropkick. Styles performed a Ushigoroshi. Styles came back and went for a 619 that Styles avoided. Mysterio avoided the Phenomenal Forearm. Styles tried to roll Mysterio into a Calf Crusher, but Rey stood up and threw a kick at the head of Styles, which led to him getting a two count.
Mysterio went for a huracanrana from the ropes. Styles blocked it and went for a Styles Clash that Mysterio avoided. Mysterio ended up hitting a 619 and then went up top and attempted a frogsplash that Styles avoided. Mysterio hooked Styles into a pin for a two count.
Mysterio countered out of another move and performed a top rope move that Styles rolled through. Styles hit the Styles Clash and scored the clean pin…
AJ Styles beat Rey Mysterio in 11:35 to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match.
A graphic listed Bobby Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. Riddle vs. Austin Theory vs. AJ Styles in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view…
Powell’s POV: A fun match. The broadcast team really tried to sell it as a match between two legends and while that’s true, I wish the company booked them in a way befitting of their legendary status more consistently.
A video package recapped the women’s Royal Rumble match and spotlighted Ronda Rousey winning… Smith hyped that Rousey would make her first Raw appearance in three years after the break… [C]
Eric Bischoff was hyped as the guest host for Raw Talk. No guests were listed…
Women’s Royal Rumble winner Ronda Rousey made her entrance. Rousey looked at the WrestleMania sign and wondered which champion she should face. She brought up the possibility of facing Charlotte Flair or “Rebecca” and said she didn’t know if Rebecca deserved the recognition of facing her.
Becky Lynch made her entrance and called Rousey a little weirdo and mentioned that she was using her government name. Lynch said she wouldn’t blame Rousey if she chose the “appetizer” by choosing to face Flair. She eventually told Rousey that she wanted to know who she was going to beat next, saying that her time is money. Lynch played to the crowd for a response and held up the mic.
Rousey grabbed Lynch’s arm and threw her to the mat. Rousey held the arm while Lynch looked up with some fear. “You’ll have my answer on Friday,” Rousey said. Rousey headed to the back. Lynch got up and grabbed the mic. She said that was rude and spoke about wanting to get the hell out of Cincinnati.
Lita made her entrance to a good reaction. Lita questioned what Rousey’s problem with Lynch is. Lita entered the ring and some fans chanted her name. Lita said Lynch is The Goat, which Lynch agreed with. Lita said Lynch set the division on fire and it’s never been hotter. Lynch said Lita is also legend and she’s been a fan of hers since she was growing up.
Lita said she respects that Lynch is a fighting champion who never backs down from a challenge. Lynch agreed, though she hesitated and wondered what Lita was getting at. Lita asked Lynch to face her at the Elimination Chamber event. Lynch said no. Lita called her on never backing down from a challenge.
Lynch tried to spin things and the crowd booed. Lita told her that it’s okay to say she was scared. Lynch said she wasn’t scared, then told Lita that if she wanted a match at Elimination Chamber, then she had it. Lita got what she wanted and left the ring with a smile on her face…
Powell’s POV: For what it’s worth, it was never stated that the title will be on the line for the Lynch vs. Lita match. Rousey was over with this crowd and Lynch got more boos than usual. All indications are that Rousey will be challenging Charlotte Flair, and that’s a good thing if they want Rousey to be cheered. I don’t think they’ll get the desired crowd reaction if they go with the other match.
Overall, this was a decent episode. The Elimination Chamber qualifiers gave some matches some added purpose. I will have more to say about Raw in my weekly same night audio review. Let me know what you thought about Raw by grading it below.
Excellent episode of Raw coming off the really good PPV. WWE’s momentum is better than it’s been in years now that they’ve gotten rid of 90% of the boring indy midgets and started focusing on real stars again.
Lita’s so popular she can get Becky some real heel reactions.
Thegreatestturd still worshipping right beneath McMahon’s grapefruits
Is WWE really going to go full self-parody by having Lesnar win the Royal Rumble and the Elimination Chamber?
I hope not!I was sick when he won the Rumble and I don’t wanna be sick again!
Let Lashley retain or give it to somebody else for a change!!