By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,546)
Live from Birmingham, Alabama at Legacy Arena
Aired January 9, 2023 on USA Network
[Hour One] The Raw opening video aired… The broadcast team was Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves, and Mike Rome was the ring announcer…
Kevin Owens made his entrance while Patrick hyped that he will challenge Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. The crowd chanted “KO.” Owens thanked the crowd and then started to address his upcoming title match before he was quickly interrupted.
JBL’s entrance music played and he walked onto the stage. JBL said the fans in Alabama were one generation removed from walking on all fours. JBL said that not even the people in Alabama think that Owens can defeat Reigns. JBL introduced Baron Corbin.
Corbin said there’s no way Owens can beat Reigns. Corbin got heat from the crowd by dropping a football line while saying that Reigns is Georgia, while is Alabama. Corbin said he will win the Royal Rumble and then go on to defeat Reigns again. Corbin said this time the match will happen in the main event of WrestleMania.
Owens put his face down on the top turnbuckle. JBL asked if he was having a food coma. Corbin said that if Owens wanted to take a nap, he would be happy to put him to sleep. Owens said he was in the type of coma where JBL and Corbin spoke for three minutes and said nothing of interest.
Owens said he was dressed for a fight because he assumed The Bloodline would show up and pick a fight. Owens said ‘you two blowhard will do just fine. Owens said Corbin could charge the ring and take a Stunner or they could have an actual match and he could take a Stunner. JBL agreed to the match…
1. Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin (w/JBL). An official entered the ring and called for the bell to start the match. The match spilled over to ringside. Corbin stuffed a powerbomb attempt and then chokeslammed Owens onto the ring apron heading into a break. [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m not a college football guy, but even I know that it took some balls for WWE to schedule this event in Alabama on the same night as the college football championship game. It feels like Alabama plays in the championship game nearly every year, but WWE caught a break this year. WWE should really save themselves any concern by booking the Raw that runs opposite the championship game in Minnesota. I feel safe in assuming that my Golden Gophers won’t come anywhere near the championship game in my lifetime.
Owens was in offensive control coming out of the break and performed a Swanton Bomb for a near fall. Corbin stuffed a Stunner attempt, but Owens superkicked him. Owens ran into a big boot. Corbin did his usual slide to ringside and rush back to the ring and then performed a DDT for a near fall.
Corbin performed the Deep Six and acted shocked that he didn’t get the pin even though everyone kicks out of the Deep Six. Corbin ran the rope and ate a kick from Owens who followed up with a Stunner and then covered Corbin for the pin.
Kevin Owens defeated Baron Corbin in 8:40.
After the match, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso showed up at ringside. Owens held his own with the duo, but then Solo Sikoa showed up and The Bloodline members dominated Owens. Sikoa superkicked Owens over the barricade and into the timekeepers area.
Owens picked up a weapon and hit hit Jey with it, then tossed a chair at Jimmy. Owens held onto a chair and ran off the trio. Sikoa wanted to charge the ring, but his brothers held him back. Adam Pearce came out with producers and referees and ordered The Bloodline trio to head to the back…
Patrick hyped an update on Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair following the Alexa Bliss attack from last week… [C]
Powell’s POV: The match was fine. It wasn’t the type of match that will suddenly make fans think that Owens has a chance to beat Reigns, but I’m not sure that anything short of a win over Brock Lesnar would move that needle.
The Usos and Sikoa were walking through the parking area and told Pearce that they leaving. Pearce spoke about the winners of a tag team match earning a tag team title shot. Pearce said the Usos were leaving, but Sikoa had to stay for a match against Dolph Ziggler. The Usos protested, but Pearce told security to escort the Usos out of the building…
Powell’s POV: Sikoa being forced to face Ziggler in a match as punishment is laughable. Well, unless Sikoa makes the first entrance and is forced to suffer through Ziggler’s sorry ass entrance theme.
A video package recapped Alexa Bliss snapping and attacking Bianca Belair and the referee during last week’s Raw Women’s Championship match…. Patrick and Graves spoke at ringside. Patrick said Belair received stitches. Graves spoke about Bliss being fined when he was distracted.
Alexa Bliss walked onto the broadcast desk and accused Belair of hiding. Bliss labeled herself the face of evil. She said she didn’t feel bad. She said she hasn’t felt this good in a long time. Bliss said she has finally taken control and spoke about not being afraid to use her hands to claw the championship away from Belair.
An Uncle Howdy video aired on the big screen and interrupted Bliss, who watched it with an angry look on her face. “Do you feel like you are in charge?” Howdy asked. Smoke filled the stage and then Uncle Howdy made his entrance while Bliss continued to look angry rather than like she was in a trance… [C]
The “Damage CTRL” trio of Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky made their entrance, and then Michin followed. She was introduced as “Michin” Mia Yim. Before the match, Bayley got a mic from ringside and said she wanted to send a message to Becky Lynch. Bayley said Lynch wasn’t at Raw because she was either jealous of what she has with Kai and Sky or because she can’t stand that she lost to her. Bayley gave Kai and Sky the night off and then told Lynch to watch what she would do to her friend…
2. Bayley vs. “Michin” Mia Yim. Kai and Sky walked to the back while the match started. Michin set up for a suicide dive while Bayley was at ringside, but Bayley moved and Michin stopped at the ropes. Michin went to the apron and caught Bayley with a kick. [C]
Bayley stood on the floor and then suplexed Michin from the apron to the floor. Back in the ring, Bayley covered her for a two count. A short time later, Bayley caught Michin in a backslide and then put her feet on the ropes for leverage while scoring the pin. Graves said it was another rough night for Michin and The OC…
Bayley defeated “Michin” Mia Yim in 8:50.
Powell’s POV: A basic match with Bayley cheating to win. There was no mystery regarding the outcome, though Graves’s post match line was interesting.
The broadcast team announced that Johnny Gargano was unable to compete due to a grade two AC sprain…
Candice LeRae was interviewed by Cathy Kelley in the backstage area. Nikki Cross was briefly shown watching in the background. LeRae said Gargano was bummed that he couldn’t compete in Tag Team Turmoil, but their goal is to get him back to 100 percent. LeRae was asked what’s next for her and she spoke about the Royal Rumble.
Rhea Ripley interrupted the interview and mocked the idea of LeRae winning the Rumble. Ripley called LeRae delusional. LeRae said she thinks she has just as good of a chance as winning as Ripley and ended up challenging her to a match during Raw. Ripley said squashing LeRae like a bug would make a great homecoming gift for Dominik Mysteiro…
U.S. Champion Austin Theory was shown walking backstage and the broadcast team said he would be up next… [C]
The broadcast team announced The Street Profits vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Finn Balor and Damian Priest vs. Chad Gable and Otis vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin as the Tag Team Turmoil match for a future shot at the Undisputed WWE Raw Tag Team Titles…
U.S. Champion Austin Theory made his entrance for an in-ring promo. “The Champ is here,” Theory started. Theory mocked the idea of Seth Rollins outclassing and beating him. The crowd gave him the “What?” treatment and he played into it by telling them to shut their mouths. A “we want Rollins” chant broke out. Theory took a jab at Rollins for suffering a knee injury last week.
Seth Rollins’ entrance music played. Rollins came out on crutches, then dropped one and played air guitar with the other. Rollins brought the crutch to the ring with him while the crowd chanted his theme song. Theory said Rollins was acting like he was 100 percent, but he was not and the fans know that he beat him last week.
[Hour Two] Theory recalled Rollins labeling himself as the mountaintop. Theory said that if that’s the case, then he’s the pinnacle of the industry. Theory said Rollins is one of the best, but “I’ve surpassed your ass.” Theory said he’s on to bigger and better things like winning the Royal Rumble. Theory said that once he wins the Rumble, he would headline WrestleMania and would leave as the U.S. Champion and the new Undisputed WWE Universal Champion.
“Are you done?” Rollins asked before removing his shades. Rollins said his knee is not one hundred percent. “But my knee will be one hundred percent just in time for me to win the Royal Rumble,” Rollins added. He said it will be one hundred percent in plenty of time for him to main event WrestleMania. Rollins said he just came out to hear the crowd sing his song. The fans obliged. “I’ll see you at the Rumble, kid,” Rollins said. Rollins handed his crutch to Theory and rolled out of the ring.
Once Rollins got to ringside, Bobby Lashley’s entrance music played. Patrick said it was the first time Lashley appeared on Raw in four weeks and recalled him attacking a WWE official. Lashley walked past Rollins. Theory told Lashley not to enter his ring. Lashley entered the ring and ended up spearing Theory. Lashley played to the crowd and then tossed Theory over the top rope.
Lashley said it doesn’t matter who is in the Royal Rumble because he’s back. Lashley said his suspension had concluded and he couldn’t wait to manhandle everyone in the Rumble match. Theory was shown selling at ringside and then Lashley posed on the ropes…
Patrick hyped Rhea Ripley vs. Candice LeRae as coming up next… [C] Entrances for the next match took place…
3. Rhea Ripley vs. Candice LeRae. Ripley was dominant early on. LeRae avoided being superplexed, slipped under LeRae, and suplexed her from the middle rope. Moments later, Ripley ended up at ringside. LeRae dove at Ripley, who caught her and flung her into the barricade. Ripley tossed LeRae back inside the ring and hit her Riptide finisher for the win…
Rhea Ripley defeated Candice LeRae in 4:25.
Powell’s POV: A total spotlight win for Ripley. I love the way she exudes confidence as a heel.
Backstage, Byron Saxton entered Bobby Lashley’s locker room and tried to talk to him, but MVP asked Saxton to excuse himself because he had business to discuss with Lashley. Saxton left the room, but the camera stayed behind. MVP offered a handshake, but Lashley blew it off.
MVP said he thought Lashley might want to thank him for getting reinstated. MVP asked if they were good. Lashley said he hadn’t punched him in the face yet. MVP said he was trying to mend fences. He said he got Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander to admit the mistakes they made and said they would get an opportunity to put a hurt on The Bloodline depending on how they did in the Tag Team Turmoil match.
Lashley said he wouldn’t forget what went down between them, but they were good. “But not right now, man,” Lashley said. MVP and Lashley bumped fists. MVP said he would accept that, but if Lashley decided to expand their business, his number was the same…
Patrick hyped the second part of the Cody Rhodes video package… [C] The broadcast team hyped WWE Money in the Bank coming to London on July 1 at the 02 Arena…
The second part of the Cody Rhodes video package aired and focussed on his recovery from his torn pectoral muscle. Rhodes said he had been working since he was 20 and had no major injuries, so he thought he was bulletproof. Footage aired from his Hell in a Cell match. He said one of the only things he remembered from the match is that he performed a springboard cutter and he thought he was going to vomit, because he had cramped up in the collarbone that his pec was still attached to.
Rhodes said he hasn’t watched the HIAC match back. He said he knows it resonates with people and he’s proud of it, but he doesn’t think he can because it’s a little scary. Footage was shown of Cody’s surgery. The doctor said he suffered a complete rupture. Brandi Rhodes spoke briefly. The surgeon said things went better than planned because it was a muscle injury, not the tendon injury they thought it was.
Cody said questions started creeping into his head about whether the surgery was successful and whether he would be as good as he once was. He was shown arriving at a training facility and said the work begins now. A graphic listed the video series “to be continued”…
Dolph Ziggler was interviewed by Cathy Kelley, who said he was focussed on being the best, as always. He said The Bloodline went too far when they attacked him recently. Mustafa Ali showed up and said he just spoke with Adam Pearce, who told him that they were given a spot in the Tag Team Turmoil match that Ziggler declined because he wanted to face Sikoa.
Ali questioned what Ziggler has against him. Ziggler said his match with Sikoa wasn’t about tag teams, championships, or Ali. “I hope you can understand that,” Ziggler said. Ali looked a little frustrated as Ziggler walked away… Solo Sikoa was shown warming up while Patrick noted that Sikoa had yet to be defeated in singles competition… [C]
A brief Bronson Reed video package aired and then he was interviewed on the backstage set by Saxton, who asked why he decided to help The Miz. Before Reed could speak, Miz showed up and said he would handle it. Miz said they have each other’s backs and Reed saw he was outnumbered.
Miz put his hand on Reed’s shoulder. Reed shot him a look and then Miz removed his hand. Miz said that if you mess with him, then you mess with “us.” Miz invited Reed to Miz TV. Reed said there was no “us” and said that if Miz wanted something, he should pay him…
4. Solo Sikoa vs. Dolph Ziggler. Both entrances were televised. Ziggler caught Sikoa in an early sleeper, which Sikoa broke by backing into the corner twice before flipping Ziggler off his back. A short time later, Sikoa caught Ziggler lunching at him and then tossed him over the top rope to the floor. [C]
Sikoa continued to dominate the offense coming out of the break. Ziggler dodged a corner splash, causing Sikoa to hit his head on the ring post casing. Ziggler followed up with a DDT for a near fall. Sikoa came back with a headbutt.
Sikoa hoisted up Ziggler for a Samoan Drop and pointed at the camera, but Ziggler slipped away and performed a Zigzag for a near fall. Moments later, Ziggler went for the Fameasser, but Sikoa stuffed it and then hit the Samoan Spike before pinning Ziggler.
Solo Sikoa beat Dolph Ziggler in 10:55.
After the match, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso showed up at ringside to congratulate Sikoa. Graves said they were thumbing their nose at Adam Pearce’s authority…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match. I can’t say that I bought into Ziggler’s near falls, but it seemed like some in the live crowd did. Meanwhile, I like that Bronson Reed came off like a gun for hire rather than Miz’s personal muscle.
Footage aired of Dom Mysterio being arrested on Christmas Eve, along with last week’s Dom promo about how prison changes a man…
Dom was shown backstage wearing shades and a bandana over his face while walking with Finn Balor, Damian Priest, and Rhea Ripley. Graves said Dom would be up next on Miz TV… [C]
Graves touted Hardy’s “Sold Out” as the official theme song of the Royal Rumble and promoted his live performance at the Rumble…
Cathy Kelley interviewed Bayley, Kai, and Sky backstage. Bayley said Damage CTRL is the most dominant force in the division. Michin showed up and said Bayley is a fraud and a cheat. Bayley said nobody likes a sore loser, but she was proud of Michin for stepping up to her on behalf of Becky.
Bayley said the difference between her and Lynch is that she’s not afraid to accept help. In this case, she wasn’t afraid to accept some help when it came to kicking Michin’s ass. Kai hit Michin and then Bayley and Kai joined in on the three-on-one beatdown. Bayley had Kai and Sky hold Michin and then told her not to stick up for someone who wouldn’t be there for her…
The Miz made his entrance for the Miz TV segment. He said he’s had a lot of notable guests, including John Cena and Roman Reigns. Miz said this week he would take an exclusive look into the justice system.
[Hour Three] Miz introduced Dominik Mysterio as the Judgment Day’s bad boy. Dom made his entrance along with fellow “Judgment Day” members Finn Balor, Damian Priest, and Rhea Ripley. Dom and Ripley took seats in the ring while Balor and Priest stood behind them.
Miz said that Dom brought his whole crew. Miz said he was expecting Dom and Mami, but the more the merrier. Dom said one thing he learned in prison is that you always travel with your crew. Miz asked him what it was like on the inside. Dom said snitches get stitches. The other Judgment Day members assured Dom that it was okay to tell his story.
Dom told Miz to imagine being locked up with the world’s most dangerous people and not knowing when your next meal would be. He said it was either push or be pushed. Miz asked Dom what he decided. Dom said he did a lot of thinking and decided that if he was ever going to see Mami on the other side, he had to do what he had to do.
Dom said that when life comes at you with crazy changes, you have to grab it by the balls, just like Maryse does to Miz. Priest encouraged Dom to tell the story about scaring a guy straight. Dom said he was in the top bunk when his roommate spoke about pounding a hole in his face. Dom said he hopped down and asked the guy if he had a problem and that was that. “And now I truly know how Martha Stewart feels,” Dom said. Awesome.
Miz said his sources told him that Dom was only in county lockup for a few hours. Dom and Ripley stood up and the Judgment Day group took exception. Miz pointed out that Dom was wearing a $500 flannel. Priest intimidated Miz into saying that he may have been misinformed. Priest said Dom would be there to witness him and Balor winning Tag Team Turmoil. Priest told the Usos that they are coming for the tag titles. Priest turned his focus back to Miz, but he was interrupted.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance for Tag Team Turmoil… [C]
Powell’s POV: Hardened criminal gangsta Dom is honestly my favorite thing on Raw these days. It looked like he raided Uncle Konnan’s closet or at least remembered some of his old WCW attire. The only thing I didn’t care for was The OC coming out just as Judgment Day was about to go after Miz. Why are babyfaces always scripted to stop heels from fighting one another?
5. Finn Balor and Damian Priest (w/Rhea Ripley, Dom Mysterio) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in Tag Team Turmoil for a shot at the Undisputed WWE Tag Titles. The teams of Balor & Priest and Gallows & Anderson started the match. Graves continued to have fun with the Dom story on commentary. Graves continued to have fun with the Dom story on commentary (how could he not?). Priest pulled legal man Anderson to ringside while the referee was caught up with Balor. Priest ran Anderson into the ring steps. [C]
Gallows got the better of Balor and put him down with a shoulder block. Priest ran in and took a superkick from Gallows, who then slammed Balor to the mat and covered him for a two count. Anderson tagged in and set up for a double team move, but Dom tripped Anderson when he ran the ropes while the referee was conveniently tending to Priest. Balor rolled up Anderson and got the three count.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were eliminated by Finn Balor and Damian Priest in 10:20.
Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin were the next entrants. They went right at Balor and Priest and took offensive control. Benjamin performed suplexes on both opponents. Alexander tagged in and got a near fall on Priest following a double team move that required Balor to break up the pin attempt.
Alexander hit Priest with a Neuralyzer kick for a two count. Priest caught Alexander by the throat when he charged in the corner. Balor tagged in. Priest performed the South of Heaven chokeslam and then Balor followed up with the Coup De Grace, which led to Balor pinning Alexander.
Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin were eliminated by Finn Balor and Damian Priest in 15:40.
“Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis were the next entrants. [C] Gable was isolated coming out of the break. Graves said Dom is “like James Dean with street cred.” There were chants of “We want Otis” and he eventually took a hot tag and splashed Priest and Balor in the corner.
Otis looked to the crowd and then performed the Caterpillar for a pop while Gable cheered him on. Balor pulled Gable on top of him while Otis performed a second rope splash. Otis checked on Gable and then turned into a kick from Priest, who followed up with a clothesline on Otis before pinning him.
“Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis were eliminated by Finn Balor and Damian Priest in 24:30.
After the match, Balor sold pain from taking the Otis splash while sitting against the broadcast table. Adam Pearce and trainers checked on Balor, who tried to act like he was fine. Priest tried to pull Balor to his feet, but Balor winced. The trainer told Pearce that Balor was out of the match. Pearce said Judgment Day could forfeit or Dom could replace Balor. Priest agreed and told Dom not to be soft. Ripley shoved Priest.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins made their entrance as the final entrants in the match. [C] Dominik Mysterio officially replaced Finn Balor in the match. Ford was working over Dom coming out of the break. “Oh, little jailbird,” Ford said before putting the boots to him. The Profits isolated Dom.
Priest eventually tagged in. He ended up with a cut in his mouth as there was some blood in his teeth when he looked into the camera and seethed at one point. A short time later, Priest shoved Ford over the broadcast table at ringside. Dawkins performed an impressive flip dive onto Priest and Dom heading into the break. [C]
Balor was shown icing his ribs while sitting on a chair at ringside. Graves comically boasted that Dom had been in the ring for ten minutes. He also said that Dom’s rap sheet looks like his kids’ Christmas list. “He’s a dangerous human being,” Graves said.
Dom set up for a 619 on Dawkins, who shot up and cut off Dom with a flying elbow. Ford took a hot tag and performed a top rope crossbody block onto Dom and Priest. Ford executed a standing moonsault on Dom and covered him for a two count.
Dom wanted to tag out, but Priest was down. The Profits hit Dom with a double team move for a near fall. Priest returned to the corner and tagged in. Priest put Dawkins down with a boot and a clothesline and got a near fall. Ford tagged in and charged Priest in his corner. Priest caught Ford by the throat and Dom tagged in.
Dom went to the ropes and ended up being crotched on the top rope. Ford dove over Dom and the ring post onto Priest with a flip dive on the floor. Ford returned to the ring and hit a 450 Splash on Dom and had the pin, but Priest pulled Ford to the floor. Priest charged Ford, who jumped over him and back onto the apron while Priest crashed into the ring steps. Dom pulled Ford through the ropes and rolled him up. Dom put his feet on the ropes and Ripley pressed on Dom’s feet for leverage while he scored the pin.
Dominik Mysterio & Damian Priest defeated “The Street Profits” Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins, “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable & Otis, Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin, and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson in Tag Team Turmoil in 48:15 to earn a shot at the Undisputed WWE Tag Titles.
After the match, the Judgment Day made their way to the stage area. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso made their entrance and held up the tag titles in their faces while a graphic listed Alexa Bliss, Austin Theory, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin for Raw Talk to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Damn, WWE needs better security. The Usos not only returned once before after Adam Pearce ejected them, but they came back again and made a standard entrance from the back. Anyway, they saved the best for last as far as the show and Tag Team Turmoil was concerned. I really thought the Profits were going over when Ford hit the 450 splash on Dom. I don’t know who they want viewers to pull for when The Usos defend the titles against Judgment Day and yet I am looking forward to what feels like a unique matchup.
Overall, this felt like a basic show due to the strong competition of the college football national championship. It won’t get any easier next week when Raw will be opposed by the NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I will have a lot more to say about Raw (including how they are confusing me when it comes to the Royal Rumble matches) later tonight in my weekly same night audio review of Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).