By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,545)
Live from Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena
Aired January 2, 2023 on USA Network
[Hour One] The Raw opening started and then they quickly cut to a shot of “The Bloodline” members Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Solo Sikoa, and Sami Zayn raising hell at ringside. Sikoa tossed a security guard over the barricade. Jimmy put on a broadcast team headset and said they were taking over the show. Zayn and the Usos tipped over the broadcast table. Zayn looked into the camera and said The Bloodline runs the show.
Kevin Owens’ entrance music played and he walked out with a mic in his hand. Zayn spoke from the ring and told Owens that it was a hostile takeover. Zayn said people were going to get hurt and claimed that Owens was to blame.
Owens said he could have sworn he had something to say and that’s why he had a microphone. Owens said that after hearing Zayn, he just wanted to punch him in the face. Owens tossed the mic aside and started to make his way toward the ring.
Adam Pearce ran out with security. Pearce called for Owens to stop. Pearce said The Bloodline has done this far too long. He said it’s not happening anymore and told the security guards to remove The Bloodline from the ring and from the building. Sikoa wiped out the security guards as they entered the ring. Owens ran to the ring and was immediately outnumbered.
Shelton Benjamin, Cedric Alexander, Montez Ford, Angelo Dawkins, Luke Gallows, and Mustafa Ali ran out and they cleared The Bloodline from the ring. The Bloodline started to exit through the crowd. Pearce told them they weren’t getting out of Dodge that easy. Pearce said he was booking them all in matches. Zayn yelled that whatever happened next was on Pearce’s hands…
Backstage, Byron Saxton interviewed Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair about her title match against Alexa Bliss. Saxton asked about Bliss’s “shifting behavior.” Belair said she’s not a victim. Belair said Bliss wanted the match, while she wants to prove while the championship belongs with her…
The broadcast team of Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves stood in front of the tipped over broadcast table. Patrick said he didn’t even get a chance to wish viewers a happy new year. They hyped the two title matches, and a special look at Cody Rhodes. They said the Raw Women’s Championship match would kick things off… [C]
Powell’s POV: An NWO Lite opening. The Bloodline attack made for a fun start to the show, but these attacks are fairly tame or stopped quickly. They really need to pack more of a punch if they are going to keep doing these.
Pearce was backstage with a group of wrestlers. The Street Profits and Kevin Owens told Pearce that they want matches against The Bloodline members. Elias said he wanted a fight against Sikoa, Pearce booked them in a street fight. Pearce also booked The Usos and Sami Zayn vs. The Street Profits and Owens…
Musical artist Hardy was shown standing in the front row. Graves said Hardy will perform live at the Royal Rumble… Entrances for the Raw Women’s Championship match. In between entrances, footage aired of the angle from two weeks ago that resulted in Bliss slamming a vase over Belair’s head after the Bray Wyatt symbol flashed behind her…
1. Bianca Belair vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship. Ring announcer Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Belair dropped Bliss with a shot to the mouth to start the match. Bliss charged at Belair, who comically held her back in Scrappy Doo style with one hand and then hit her again.
Bliss came back with a dropkick to the back of Belair, who ended up at ringside. Bliss went for a sliding dropkick, but Belair caught her and ended up swinging her into the ringside barricade heading into a commercial break. [C]
Belair dominated the offense coming out of the break. Belair charged Bliss, who moved, which led to Belair going through the ropes and into the ring post. Bliss pulled the braid of Belair to perform a backbreaker and then covered her for a two count.
Belair battled back with three bodyslams and then performed a handspring into a standing moonsault for a near fall. Belair showed some frustration over not getting the pin. Bliss, who had a bloody nose, sent Belair to ringside. Bliss performed a senton dive and landed awkwardly on her knees (though she appeared to be fine). [C]
Bliss dropkicked Belair into the corner and ended up covering her for a two count. A short time later, Belair powered up Bliss to block her move attempt and set for a KOD, but Bliss elbowed her way out of it. Belair came right back with a backbreaker.
The action spilled over to ringside where a man wearing a black monster mask was standing in the front row. A security guard wanted to pull the man away, but he remained in place and Bliss was distracted by him for a moment. Bliss rolled Belair back inside the ring and started to head to the top rope for her finisher, but she was distracted by the masked man again.
The Wyatt logo flashed twice and affected Bliss both times. Bliss attacked the referee. Bliss went after Belair and ended up running her into the ring post, the barricade, and the ring steps. Bliss performed a DDT on the bottom piece of the ring steps.
Bliss stood on the ring steps and looked down at Belair, who had some blood on her chin. Bliss teased leaving and then came back and performed a second DDT on the ring steps. Bliss headed to the back while a “One More Time” chant broke out. EMTs came out with a stretcher while Belair held her neck on the floor…
Bianca Belair fought Alexa Bliss by an apparent disqualification in roughly 19:00.
Powell’s POV: There was a lot of clunkiness throughout the match. They avoided having an actual finish, as the referee stayed down after Bliss attacked him, and then Bliss just walked off after the second DDT on the ring steps. I was hoping for a payoff to everything that’s been going on with Bliss, though I probably should have known it wouldn’t happen since the Bray Wyatt saga is still unfolding.
The broadcast team recapped the previous match. Patrick said there was no winner, but Graves said Bliss attacking the referee triggered a disqualification. Additional footage showed Belair being helped to the back by her husband Montez Ford. Patrick said Belair was being evaluated backstage…
Highlights aired of the Austin Theory and Seth Rollins verbal exchange from the last Raw of 2022, followed by Theory hitting Rollins with a title belt later in the night…
U.S. Champion Austin Theory was interviewed by Cathy Kelley on the backstage ring set. Theory said his confidence was at an all-time high. He said 2022 was his year and 2023 will be as well. Theory said Rollins is the past, whereas he is the now. Theory boasted about having a “forever reign.” Theory looked into the camera and said, “Not too bad for a kid, huh Seth?”…
Elias was introduced and then sat on a stool in the ring and played his guitar. Elias was going to play a song, but he was interrupted by Solo Sikoa’s entrance theme…
2. Solo Sikoa vs. Elias in a Music City Street Fight. There were guitars, drums, an amp, a keyboard, a tambourine, a piano, and other music related items at ringside. They brawled to ringside where Elias slammed a cowbell over Sikoa’s back and ran him into the ring post.
Elias swung a guitar at Sikoa, who ducked it, causing Elias to smash the guitar on the ring post. Elias tossed Sikoa into the drum kit that was set up on the floor. Elias picked up one of the cymbals and hit Sikoa with it, causing Sikoa to tumble into the timekeepers area as they cut to break. [C]
The brawl continued at ringside and then Elias slammed a keyboard over Sikoa’s back once they were back inside the ring and covered him for a two count. A “Breaking News” graphic was acknowledged by Graves and stated that Belair was undergoing medical evaluation.
[Hour Two] Elias hit a pair of splashes in the corner and then put Sikoa down with a spinebuster, which received a mild pop. Elias beat Sikoa with a tambourine and then clotheslined him to ringside. Elias followed and slammed the keyboard over his back.
Elias picked up a broken guitar, but then spotted Hardy holding a guitar in the crowd. Elias took the guitar from Hardy and returned to the ring where Sikoa caught him with a superkick. Hardy entered the ring and slammed the guitar over Sikoa’s back, but Sikoa didn’t flinch. Hardy left the ring while Sikoa flashed a mean face.
Elias hit Sikoa with a flying knee. Elias went up top with a broken guitar and leapt into a Samoan Spike. Sikoa performed a uranage slam off the apron that sent Elias crashing onto the piano at ringside. Sikoa covered Elias on the piano and got the three count.
Solo Sikoa beat Elias in 14:25 in a Music City Street Fight.
After the match, Sikoa grabbed a guitar and teased going after Hardy. Sikoa placed the guitar next to the fallen Elias and then went to the ring steps and looked down at him…
Powell’s POV: Do all musicians bring guitars to WWE events? I saw Buccaneers’ tight end Kyle Rudolph at Smackdown last year and I’m now wondering if he secretly had a football or shoulder pads with him. Anyway, they worked hard during the brawl. I still don’t care for Elias getting so much offense against Sikoa, but at least Sikoa went over strong in the end.
Highlights aired of John Cena and Kevin Owens beat Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn on Smackdown… Patrick hyped Owens and The Street Profits vs. Zayn and The Usos as coming up next… [C] Nashville imagery was shown… Entrances for the six-man tag match took place…
3. Kevin Owens and “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, and Sami Zayn. The Profits wore Tennessee Titans themed gear. Dawkins sold for the heels early on. Owens tagged in and got the better of the Usos and then teased going after Zayn, who dropped off the apron. Owens gave Zayn a crotch chop.The heels regrouped and worked over Owens while Ford was shown looking distant on the apron (due to Belair’s storyline injury). [C]
Jey superkicked Dawkins off the apron. Ford remained expressionless while looking down at his partner. Owens reached for the tag, but Ford’s mind was elsewhere. Owens slapped the chest of Ford to tag him into the match. Ford blocked strikes from Zayn and Jimmy from the apron, then performed a top rope dive onto both men. Graves said The Bloodline might regret waking up Ford, who had a flurry of offense on Zayn.
Ford had Zayn pinned after frog splashing him, but Jey ran in to break it up. Jey was set to ringside where Dawkins shoulder blocked him. Ford tossed Zayn to ringside next to Jimmy and then performed a flip dive onto both men.
Solo Sikoa arrived at ringside and went after Dawkins. Owens fought with Sikoa until Jey took out Owens with a superkick. Ford threw Zayn back in the ring and was distracted by Jimmy attempting to interfere. Ford cleared Jimmy from the apron with a punch, and then Zayn hit a distracted Ford with a Helluva Kick before pinning him.
Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, and Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens and “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins in 11:40.
The Bloodline members continued to attack the babyfaces afterward. Sikoa grabbed a chair from ringside. Zayn had Sikoa give him the chair, but then Sheamus and Drew McIntyre showed up and took out Zayn and Sikoa on the floor and then cleared the Usos from the ring. Zayn told the Usos and Sikoa to “hang back until Friday”…
Patrick hyped Dexter Lumis vs. Chad Gable for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Boy, Adam Pearce sure showed The Bloodline, who won both of the matches he booked them in. Anyway, it was a good six-man tag match with Zayn getting a bounce back win after losing the tag team match on Smackdown. I wish the brand split rules meant something, but I also like the crossover appearance by Sheamus and McIntyre to push their Undisputed WWE Tag Team Title match against the Usos for Friday’s Smackdown.
Kevin Patrick hyped the Royal Rumble event, including the Pitch Black match between Bray Wyatt and LA Knight. Patrick also recapped AJ Styles suffering a broken ankle at a WWE live event last week. Graves sent his best wishes to Styles…
4. Dexter Lumis vs. Chad Gable (w/Otis). Lumis charged Gable, who ran away from him to start the match. Gable eventually shut down a run of Lumis offense with a German suplex. Lumis rolled to ringside. Gable followed and shoved him into the ring post. Otis tried to take a cheap shot, but Lumis avoided it, causing Otis to hit the ring post. Lumis returned to the ring and was rolled into a pin by Gable. Lumis reversed the pin and got the three count…
Dexter Lumis defeated Chad Gable in 4:10.
Powell’s POV: The live crowds continue to be very quiet during Lumis matches.
A Cody Rhodes video aired. He spoke about returning at WrestleMania and it being another shot at the first dream he’s ever had. Clips aired of Dusty Rhodes along with Cody stating his desire to win the championship that his late father never did. The video also included footage of Cody beating Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match despite wrestling with a torn pectoral muscle. Patrick labeled this the first part of the video…
“Damage CTRL” Bayley, Iyo Sky, and Dakota Kai were shown walking backstage. In the background, Adam Pearce could be seen chatting with MVP, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin… [C]
An ad for Smackdown hyped The Usos vs. Sheamus and McIntyre for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles and questioned what’s next for new Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair…
“Damage CTRL” Bayley, Iyo Sky, and Dakota Kai made their entrance. Bayley recalled the faction being born at SummerSlam. Bayley also boasted that she beat Becky Lynch and claimed that she did it all by herself.
Becky Lynch made her entrance with a mic in hand. Lynch said it’s the same thing week in and week out from Bayley. Lynch called Bayley a fraud. She said it took Bayley years and years to get out of somebody’s shadow and it only took her a year to pull her right back there.
Lynch recalled calling Sky and Kai lackeys for Bayley, and said it’s actually the other way around. Lynch said Sky and Kai do the hard work and it’s only a matter of time before someone turns on someone else. Bayley said Lynch was just upset because she lost. Lynch said she doesn’t get mad when she loses, she gets better.
Lynch said Bayley made a good point when she said it all started in Nashville, then said they could end it in Nashville. Bayley laughed at her and said no. Bayley said she already beat Lynch fair and square. She said that since Lynch has an obsession with Kai and Sky, she should find a partner. Lynch said she didn’t have her phone on her, but said she would take her chances in a two-on-one handicap match… [C]
5. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky (w/Bayley) vs. Becky Lynch (and a partner). The broadcast team said Adam Pearce made the match official and emphasized that it was being fought under tag team rules.
[Hour Three] The champions got the better of Lynch in and around the ring for a stretch. Michin’s entrance music played and she ran out and stood on the apron. Lynch tagged in Michin, who got the better of the champions. [C]
Lynch hit Kai with a missile dropkick and covered her for a two count. Lynch and Michin followed up with a double superplex. Michin made the cover, but Sky ran in and broke it up. A short time later, Michin used her legs to drive Kai’s face into the match, which drew gasps from the crowd.
Michin had the pin, but Bayley put Kai’s foot over the bottom rope. Lynch attacked Bayley. Michin hit Sole Food on Kai, but Sky had tagged in and performed her moonsault onto Michin and pinned her…
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky defeated Becky Lynch and Michin in 13:50 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: There was no mention of Mia Yim, so apparently she’s going by Michin again. This was well booked. I like that Lynch sold as much as she did before Michin arrived. The Man is great, but she shouldn’t be Superman. I also liked the finish in that the tag champions didn’t take a needless non-title loss, and it put heat on Bayley without doing any damage to Lynch.
Backstage, Cathy Kelley interviewed Seth Rollins, who asked the crowd who was ready to sing. He said 2023 was looking a lot like 2022 with The Bloodline showing up and Austin Theory trying to take his spot. Rollins said Monday nights will belong to him as long as he’s breathing, and so would the U.S. Championship later in the night. Rollins said Theory would do everything he could to keep the title, which he digs because that’s how much the title means. Rollins said Theory is good, “but he’s not me”… [C]
Musician Jimmie Allen was shown in the crowd and introduced by Mike Rome… The broadcast team recapped the end of the Raw Women’s Championship match…
Backstage, Byron Saxton interviewed Bliss, who still had dried blood under her nose. Saxton said Bliss appeared to have completely lost control. Bliss said she gained control over Bianca’s headspace. Bliss said Belair now knows that she is the only threat and that the Raw Women’s Championship belongs with her…
Footage aired of Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley showing up for Christmas at Dom’s grandfather’s house, which led to Dom being arrested…
New footage aired of Dom wearing a white tank top. He said it’s not a game. He said he served hard time. Dom said prison changes a man. He said people might think it’s over for him, but he’s just getting started. Dom put a toothpick in his mouth and said he would see Mami soon…
Austin Theory made his entrance for the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: Hardened convict County Jail Dom, er, Prison Dom is hilarious. I love both of the holiday videos they produced and you have to assume this will all lead to a great showdown match between Rey and Dom at WrestleMania.
A Bronson Reed video package aired…
Powell’s POV: It just hit me that Reed didn’t get involved in Dexter Lumis’s segment tonight. Hopefully that means Reed will be his own man and won’t play the role of Miz’s muscle or tag partner in a feud with Lumis and Johnny Gargano.
Graves thanked Hardy for “Sold Out” being the official Royal Rumble theme, and once again pointed out that Hardy will perform the song live at the Rumble… Seth Rollins made his entrance…
6. Austin Theory vs. Seth Rollins for the U.S. Championship. Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The crowd chanted Rollins’ entrance theme loudly as the match started. Rollins got the better of Theory early on. Theory rolled to the floor and tried to swipe at Rollins’ who jumped to avoid it. Rollins placed Theory over the barricade and then climbed onto the broadcast table and delivered a leaping knee to Theory. [C]
Theory took offensive control and had Rollins down at ringside heading into another break. [C]
Powell’s POV: Just a quick note to say that I’m joining the masses in praying for Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills, who had CPR performed on the field before being rushed to the hospital where he is in critical condition at last check. This led to the indefinite postponement of tonight’s Monday Night Football game, so it’s obviously a very scary and serious situation.
Theory went for a suplex, but Rollins caught him in an inside cradle for a two count. Rollins tried to pick up Theory, but he fell over and came up holding his knee. Theory went after Rollins, who put him in powerbomb position, but Theory ended up on the ropes instead.
Theory knocked Rollins down, but Rollins shot back up and superplexed Theory, who got right up and performed a neckbreaker over his knee and then covered Rollins for a two count. Rollins laid on the mat and clutched his leg for a moment. Rollins appeared to be favoring the knee, but he hit a spinning kick that left both men down. The referee checked on Rollins and then communicated with Theory.
Rollins sat up and looked at the crowd, then struggled as he got back to his feet. Rollins and Theory traded punches while the crowd did the “yay/boo” bit. Rollins blasted Theory with a rolling elbow and then turned him around and hit him with another to the back of the neck.
Rollins set up for a Stomp, but he acted like his knee gave out and then Theory rolled to ringside. Theory grabbed his title belt and tried to leave. Rollins caught up to him and threw him over the barricade and then chased him back inside the ring. Theory wound up to hit Rollins with the belt, but Rollins superkicked him. Rollins performed a top rope frog splash for a good near fall.
Rollins went for a Stomp, but Theory stuffed it. They fought for position and Theory ended up shoving Rollins into the referee. Rollins’ knee buckled, but he came right back with a Pedigree. A second referee ran out while Rollins covered Theory for a near fall. Rollins spoke to the second ref, who spoke to Theory. Rollins went for a Stomp, but Theory stuffed it. While the second referee checked on the first referee, Theory low-blowed Rollins and then hit him with A-Town Down and pinned him…
Austin Theory defeated Seth Rollins in 23:40 to retain the U.S. Championship.
Theory celebrated his win and the show concluded moments after the match…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining main event. I hope Rollins was embellishing, but there was a lot of communication between him and both officials. I’m not sure how the finish was affected, but I like the end result of Theory stealing the win.
Overall, a solid show. My biggest disappointment is that there were no Royal Rumble developments unless you count the announcement of Hardy performing live at the event. For that matter, they didn’t bother to advertise anything for next week’s Raw. I will have more to say about Raw in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
I like Alexa Bliss. I like Bianca Belair.
This needs to hurry up and end.
Kevin Patrick seems like a nice dude. But he is becoming legendarily bad as the voice of Raw. They need to find someone who makes the action seem important or dramatic or whatever. He does not convey the emotion of the moment
Alexa Bliss and clunkiness. Like Peanut Butter and Jelly.
Alexa needs a magic mask that lets her beat everyone except in Saudi Arabia, just like Bray.
They do need a new voice for Raw, Kevin Patrick just ain’t cut out for this at all. The guy on NXT should be the voice of Raw that dude be funny with Booker T and Wade Barrett.
TheGreatestOne – “I hate tiny wrestlers who are not believable and could obviously never win a fight.”
TheGreatestOne – “I like Alexa Bliss.”
I agree.Move Vic Joseph to Raw.
Isn’t next week supposed to be the 30th anniversary episode?There was no mention of it unless they’re doing it the following week..
Not sure what they are doing. The anniversary is January 11, so next week would be the closest to the actual date. That Raw will run against the NCAA football championship game, and they may want to time the anniversary show to be closer to the Rumble. When they did the 25th anniversary Raw, it was held on January 22.