WWE Raw results (1/15): Powell’s live review of Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal for the World Heavyweight Championship, Finn Balor and Damian Priest vs. R-Truth and The Miz in a non-title match

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

WWE Raw (Episode 1,599)
Little Rock, Arkansas at Simmons Bank Arena
Aired live January 15, 2024 on USA Network

[Hour One] The annual video package for Dr. Martin Luther King aired… Michael Cole welcomed viewers to the show and they aired a shot of snow piled up in front of the building. Seth Rollins was shown walking backstage with his adorable daughter in his arms, and then Jinder Mahal was shown walking elsewhere in the building. Wade Barrett hyped their match for the World Heavyweight Championship…

Powell’s POV: Let the record show that there is more snow on the ground in Arkansas than there is in my area of Minnesota. No, I’m not complaining.

Cody Rhodes made his entrance dressed in a suit. Cody asked the fans what they wanted to talk about. He said there’s a Collin Raye song about Little Rock. He said his wife really likes the song and gave her a shout out. Cody said they could talk about him beating Shinsuke Nakamura or the reason he came back to WWE. Cody said the Royal Rumble is right around the corner.

Drew McIntyre’s entrance music interrupted Cody. McIntyre headed to the ring wearing a leather jacket and his black kilt. Once in the ring, McIntyre asked Cody what he wanted to talk about.

McIntyre said Cody has been back for a minute, but they haven’t really had a chance to talk. He said they grew up together in WWE and are roughly the same age. McIntyre told Rhodes that he is proud of him.

McIntyre recalled when they were tag team champions and asked Cody if he remembered their team name. Cody told him it was The Dashing Ones. McIntyre joked that it’s hard to believe they didn’t go to the top with that name. McIntyre said they didn’t get far as a team because they didn’t have the perspective they do now.

McIntyre said they both had to leave WWE to get their heads screwed on right. He said they weren’t ordinary wrestlers outside WWE. He said Cody became so undeniable that WWE called him back. McIntyre recalled his last match outside WWE being with Cody Rhodes. He also recalled Cody telling him that he was a future world champion.

McIntyre told Cody to keep his head down and keep doing what he’s doing and he will be the first member of his family to win the championship. McIntyre said Cody would finish the story, but not before he finishes his own story.

Cody noted that they both declared for the Royal Rumble. Cody said McIntyre could win or Jey Uso could win or CM Punk could win the Rumble. Cody said you can’t count out anyone in a Royal Rumble match.

McIntyre said that since Cody followed in his foot steps, he would give him some advice. McIntyre told him he didn’t have to wear suits because he’s not running for office. He said Cody doesn’t have to smile all the time. McIntyre said he did the same thing because he felt like he had to be a leader, but he told Cody to be himself.

Cody said he’s not an act. He said he smiles when he comes out because this is what he loves. He said he appreciates the opportunities he’s had because he’s made them for himself. Cody said they are similar, but whereas Cody is thankful for his second chance, McIntyre complains about his.

McIntyre asked if the real Cody was a wolf in politician’s clothing. He asked why Cody brought Jey Uso back to Raw. He said he wishes Cody wasn’t a kiss ass at times, but he likes him. He complained about Damian Priest being an idiot for trying to cash in his Money in the Bank contract during his title match because he would be champion now if it wasn’t for him.

McIntyre said the story belongs to him at WrestleMania. Rhodes said McIntyre uses the word “if” a lot. He said McIntyre is filled with grievances and he wants Cody to be the same way. Cody said that when he talks about finishing his story, he looks at himself and the fans.

Cody said if McIntyre wanted to settle things in WrestleMania, he would give him something to complain about. Cody brought up McIntyre mentioning their last match outside of WWE and said he had to ask him one thing. “Who won?” Cody asked before dropping the microphone and leaving the ring…

Powell’s POV: A strong verbal exchange with a rare on-air reference to a match that took place outside WWE. Per Cagematch.net, the match they referenced took place on April 30, 2017 for WCPW in Coventry, England. McIntyre had already worked some NXT matches, but I believe he had some commitments to wrap up that he agreed to do before he re-signed with WWE.

Backstage, Damian Priest confronted R-Truth. He said he thinks Truth is a funny guy, but he took issue with him selling Judgment Day merchandise in the parking lot. Truth handed him a wad of cash and said it was Priest’s cut.

Priest told Truth to go ahead and sell the merch without being too loud about it because the rest of the crew is bothered by it. Priest also told Truth not to tag in during his tag team match later in the show. Truth told him the got what he was saying and then gave him one of the t-shirts he was selling…

Dominik Mysterio and JD McDonagh made their entrance heading into the first commercial break… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped the contract signing for the four-way match for the WWE Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble, and Logan Paul appearing on The Kevin Owens’ Show… DIY made their entrance…

1. “DIY” Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. Dominik Mysterio and JD McDonagh. The DIY duo were in offensive control heading into a break just a few minutes into the match. [C] Gargano was isolated by the heels until he caught Dom with a slingshot spear. Gargano was about to make the tag when McDonagh pulled Ciampa off the apron. Dom picked up a two count heading into another break. [C]

Gargano had Dom pinned following a double team move, but McDonagh broke up the pin. McDonagh dropped Ciampa with a headbutt. Gargano superkicked McDonagh, then Dom superkicked Gargano, who bounced off the ropes and turned Dom inside out with a clothesline. A “this is awesome” chant broke out.

A short time later, Dom went for a 619 that Gargano blocked. Ciampa sent Dom to ringside and then McDonagh went after Ciampa, who battled back and tagged in Gargano. The DIY duo hit their Meet in the Middle finisher on McDonagh and then Gargano pinned him…

“DIY” Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa defeated Dominik Mysterio and JD McDonagh in 18:15.

Powell’s POV: That’s more like it. This match is an example of what got DIY over in NXT. It wasn’t Gargano’s quirky and/or cutesy promos, it was simply good and sometimes even great tag team wrestling.

Footage aired from earlier in the day of Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae telling Adam Pearce that they are ready and 2024 will be their year. He said he knows they believe that and tried to say he would take it into consideration before he was interrupted.

Chelsea Green and Piper Niven entered the picture. Green complained that she pinned Kayden Carter last week and then complained the referee for making a slow count. Pearce shot her down and booked the two teams in a match… Green and Piper made their entrance for the match… [C]

Cole plugged the charitable auction for Triple H’s seats the Royal Rumble, which ends tonight… A brief video aired on Hartwell and LeRae, who claimed they will be the new tag team champions in 2024. They said they were champions in NXT and while it’s been a different story on the main roster, that ends now. The duo made their entrance…

2. Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae vs. Chelsea Green and Piper Niven. Niven performed an early shoulder breaker on Hartwell and then knocked LeRae off the apron. Green tagged in and slapped Hartwell, who was then clotheslined by Niven. Hartwell was sent to the floor. Green threw a kick from the apron that Hartwell ducked before tripping her.

Hartwell returned to the ring and then Niven tagged in while LeRae was still down on the floor. Niven sent Hartwell into the corner and then went for a move from the ropes that Hartwell avoided. LeRae returned to the apron and took a tag while a split shot showed WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Kayden Carter and Katana Chance were shown watching while backstage.

A short time later, Hartwell avoided Niven’s crossbody block. Green made a blind tag and went for her finisher, but LeRae had also tagged into the match. Hartwell put Green’s legs over the middle rope and then LeRae performed a Lionsault onto Green before pinning her…

Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae beat Chelsea Green and Piper Niven in 3:30.

Powell’s POV: The former champions lost their rematch and then set up the next challengers. It’s formula stuff, but it just doesn’t seem like any of these teams are getting over.

Gunther and Ludwig Kaiser were shown walking backstage… [C]

A Nia Jax video package showed her looking dominant over various opponents. Jax said no one will beat her in the Royal Rumble…

Rhea Ripley was shown watching the video while Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor, and JD McDonagh stood by. Dom asked Ripley who she thought Jax was talking about. Ripley said she had to go address her division. Damian Priest showed up and crossed paths with Ripley.

[Hour Two] Balor asked Priest where he’d been. Priest said he was the only one who had an issue with Drew McIntyre running his mouth. Priest said he spoke with Adam Pearce about it. McDonagh brought up R-Truth. McIntyre barked back at him.

Balor asked if Priest was defending Truth. Priest pulled out the stack of cash that Truth gave him and said it was just his cut. McDonagh asked if he would get a cut. Priest pointed out that McDonagh’s name wasn’t on the shirt and said probably not. Priest and Balor agreed to focus on their match…

Ludwig Kaiser stood on the stage and introduced Intercontinental Champion Gunther. The duo headed to the ring. Gunther was booed. Kaiser scolded the fans. Gunther noted that it was two weeks until the Royal Rumble and said he could feel and smell the desperation. He also said he thought he could smell excrement since they were in Arkansas.

Gunther said that he watched while he was away and he saw other wrestlers arguing over who would win the Royal Rumble and at WrestleMania. Gunther recalled entering the Rumble in the number one spot last year and being one elimination away from winning it. A “Cody” chant broke out briefly.

Gunther said he lasted longer in the Rumble than anyone in history, so this year he would win the Rumble match and main event WrestleMania.

Gunther shifted his focus to the injury that Giovanni Vinci suffered and the revenge that Kaiser got last week when he left Kofi Kingston lying. Gunther said Kaiser showed grit, confidence, and courage. “Well done,” Gunther said before hugging Kaiser.

Xavier Woods walked onto the stage and said that he and Kaiser have a problem. Woods said Kaiser was the reason that Kingston wasn’t at Raw. Woods challenged Kaiser to a match and said he could accept. He asked Kaiser if he had to ask his daddy for permission.

Kaiser looked like he wanted to respond and then looked at Gunther, who handed him the mic. A “Who’s your daddy” chant broke out. Kaiser asked Woods if he dared to challenge him after seeing what he did to Kingston last week. Kaiser said what he did to Kingston was nothing compared to what he would do to him. “I will take your head as well,” Kaiser said while accepting the match.

Woods climbed onto the apron and ended up sending Kaiser to ringside and then threw punches at him. A referee sent Woods to the ring… [C]

3. Ludwig Kaiser vs. Xavier Woods. The match was joined in progress. Cole said Kingston suffered a cervical neck sprain due to the Kaiser attack and could be out a couple of weeks. Kaiser was on the offensive heading into a break. [C]

Woods had a bloody lip when they came back from the break. Woods eventually clotheslined Kaiser to ringside and then kicked him through the ropes, which sent Kaiser over the broadcast table. Kaiser threw an office chair at Woods, who ducked it. Woods kicked Kaiser’s knee and then slammed the office chair on top of his back for the disqualification.

Ludwig Kaiser defeated Xavier Woods by DQ.

After the match, Woods grabbed a folding chair that Kaiser kicked into his face. Kaiser placed Woods over the ring steps and then got a running start, but Woods recovered and hit a standing double stomp. Woods picked up a piece of the ring steps and threw them at Kaiser, who avoided them. Kaiser hopped the barricade while the referee held Woods back…

Powell’s POV: It was nice to see Woods act seriously for a change. I hope this feud is the start of a real change in the tired New Day act. By the way, they are using a different stage set tonight. I’m not sure if this is the new norm or if they couldn’t use the regular set for some reason. The two large side portions stick out from the smaller middle section, and there are two scaffolding trusses that the wrestlers walk between when they come out. I prefer the elevated stage that they used in the past and I wasn’t as crazy about the giant video screen as others, but I see this one as a minor downgrade.

Bronson Reed was shown wearing a suit and shades. He removed the shades and said there’s a man in WWE who holds a championship and does not realize that sooner or later it will belong to him… [C]

Cole hyped the Ted series for Peacock…

Powell’s POV: If you enjoy the Ted movies, you’ll like the series. Good dumb raunchy fun.

Backstage, Byron Saxton asked Xavier Woods about his emotions. Ludwig Kaiser attacked Woods. Jey Uso showed up pulled Kaiser off Woods. Kaiser backed off and a group of referees arrived. Jey gave Kaiser the death stare and then checked on Woods…

A video package spotlighted Jinder Mahal and his segment with Seth Rollins from last week…

Akira Tozawa and Maxxine Dupri made their entrance… [C] Cole hyped tickets being on sale for the Backlash and Smackdown shows that will be held in France… Ivar and Valhalla made their entrance and were introduced by ring announcer Samantha Irvin…

4. Ivar (w/Valhalla) vs. Akira Tozawa (w/Maxxine Dupri). Tozawa charged Ivar, who put him down with a kick to the face. Ivar mocked Tozawa for being a little man. Tozawa slapped Ivar and then used his speed to connect with a couple of kicks. Ivar popped up Tozawa for a move, but Tozawa DDT’d him on the way down.

Tozawa ripped his t-shirt off and then ran into an around the world powerslam. Ivar hit Tozawa with a running crossbody block. Ivar went to the ropes. Maxxine climbed onto the apron and distracted him long enough for Tozawa to hit a sunset bomb and score the upset pin.

Akira Tozawa defeated Ivar in 2:00.

After the match, Tozawa and Dupri were celebrating when Valhalla hit Dupri with a forearm that sent her crashing into Tozawa. Valhalla got Dupri in the ring. Tozawa followed and was hit by a spin kick from Ivar. Valhalla performed a popup headbutt and then kicked Dupri out of the ring. “Sometimes in life when you win, really you lose,” Barrett said. Ivar performed a top rope moonsault on Tozawa. Ivar and Valhalla posed while standing over Tozawa…

Powell’s POV: A cute upset win for Tozawa. There’s clearly a limit to how far the creative forces intend to push Ivar these days and he got his heat back with the post match beatdown, so why not?

Footage aired of the Cody and McIntyre opening segment…

A graphic listed CM Punk stating on Instagram that it’s time for him and Cody Rhodes to talk and lay all of their cards on the table next week on Raw…

Rhea Ripley was shown walking through the backstage area… [C] Cole and Barrett thanked fans for braving the weather to join them, as well as Chris Pierce for the theme they used for the MLK tribute…

Backstage, Chad Gable, Otis, Brutus Creed, and Julius Creed checked on Tozawa and Dupri. Ivy Nile showed up and said that she will talk to Adam Pearce, and make sure Valhalla pays for what she did. Gable said he would teach Ivar the difference between being a coward and an alpha…

Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley made her entrance for an in-ring promo. Ripley said she is sick and tired of people like Nia Jax running their mouth and claiming that it is their division. Ripley said it is her division and said that’s why “this is my championship.” Ripley said that whoever wins the Royal Rumble would waste their opportunity if they should choose to face her at WrestleMania.

Becky Lynch made her entrance and joined Ripley inside the ring. There was a “Becky” chant. Lynch said they are very different people who went on similar journeys. She said they grew up in a foreign land and dreamt of coming to WWE and becoming the best to ever do it.

Lynch said one of them went on to win the main event of WrestleMania while the other did not. Lynch said another difference is that one of them has a natural ability and a finesse that is unmatched.

[Hour Three] Lynch said the other has the heart of a lion and a relentlessness and determination that is unmatched. Lynch said they are the best to ever do it. Lynch said she has a voice in her head that keeps her awake. She said the voice says, “I think you might be better than me.” Ripley smirked.

“But I need to prove you’re not and to do that I need to take that title from you,” Lynch said. “And to do that, I need to win the Royal Rumble. I need to point at the sign. I need to declare that at WrestleMania, it will be Mami vs. The Man.”

Ripley said there’s only one other person who wants Lynch to win the Rumble more than Lynch does. “And that’s me,” Ripley said. “I’ll see you at WrestleMania.” Ripley’s entrance theme played and she locked eyes with Lynch until she dropped off the apron. Cole said there’s a long way to go, but the road to WrestleMania begins at the Royal Rumble…

Powell’s POV: Regardless of whether Lynch wins the Rumble or Elimination Chamber match, I still expect her to face Ripley at WrestleMania. But I also continue to wonder if Jade Cargill will debut during the Rumble match and what that might lead to.

Backstage, Jackie Redmond introduced Seth Rollins, who said it’s freezing cold, then welcomed everyone to Monday Night Rollins. Redmond noted that she could see Rollins’ breath, which was true. Rollins turned his focus to Jinder Mahal and built him up as the best version of Mahal “and a deserving Jinder Mahal.” Rollins said he wouldn’t have it any other way…

The Miz made his entrance… [C]

Powell’s POV: You really could see Seth’s breath throughout the promo. Is there no heat backstage? That was odd. I guess I haven’t noticed if you could see the breath of other wrestlers who spoke in the backstage area tonight.

Damian Priest, Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio, and JD McDonagh made their entrance while R-Truth walked behind them. Once in the ring, Truth dropped a wad of cash and picked it up before giving some to Balor and Dom. McDonagh wanted a cut, but Truth told him that he needed to be a member. Miz questioned Truth about what was happening…

5. Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Finn Balor (w/Dominik Mysterio, JD McDonagh) vs. The Miz and R-Truth in a non-title match. Truth started the match while Cole recalled Priest telling Truth not to tag into the match. Balor went right at Truth, who dropped him with a punch and then apologized. Balor tackled Priest and put the boots to him. Truth rolled to the floor. A “Let’s go Truth” chant broke out. [C]

Miz had an offensive flurry and sent Priest over the broadcast table. Miz caught Balor with a lung blower and covered him for a two count. Miz set up for his finisher, but Balor countered out of it. Miz clotheslined Balor in the corner. Truth tagged himself in and hit a scissor kick on Balor. Truth showed some remorse, but he punched McDonagh off the apron.

Priest took out The Miz. Priest and Truth spoke. Balor tried to roll up Truth, who rolled through and dropped Balor with a kick. Truth approached Priest, who hit him with the South of Heaven chokeslam. The fans booed. Balor crawled over and pinned Truth…

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Finn Balor defeated The Miz and R-Truth in 8:05 in a non-title match.

Powell’s POV: The Truth silliness continues to be a big hit with the live crowds.

Jinder Mahal was meditating backstage when Jackie Redmond asked him for his thoughts on the main event. Mahal said he had absolute clarity. He said he had a seven-year drought, but now the whispers are pouring in and he’s the most talked about star in 2024. He said it’s 12 years in the making narrowed down to one night. He said everyone would be unified when he beats Rollins to become the World Heavyweight Champion…

Shayna Baszler made her entrance and then Zoey Stark’s entrance followed… A Ted ad aired with comments about other people from Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, Eric Bischoff, and The Miz spliced in to make it seem like they were talking about the talking bear… [C]

A subtitled Shinsuke Nakamura promo aired. He said he didn’t cause the damage he desired last week, which made him angry and hungry. Nakamura said Cody should keep an eye open because their story does not end until he says it does. Nakamura said he was turning his hunger toward the Royal Rumble. He said a hungry Shinsuke is a dangerous Shinsuke. Nakamura said he will feast on the dreams of 29 other men…

Tegan Nox and Natalya made their entrance. Footage aired from earlier in the day of Kayden Carter and Katana Chance telling Baszler and Stark that they would see how dangerous they really are after they retain their titles on Friday. Natalya and Tegan Nox showed up after the champions left and then set up the following match…

6. Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark vs. Tegan Nox and Natalya. Kayden Carter and Katana Chance were shown watching the match backstage. A few minutes into the match, Baszler was shoved off the ropes by Nox, who then hit her with a crossbody block. Natalya took a hot tag and worked over Stark for a stretch. In the end, Stark broke up the Hart Attack clothesline attempt. Baszler applied the Kirifuda Clutch on Natalya, who rolled through and got a two count. Baszler maintained the hold and got the submission win…

Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark beat Tegan Nox and Natalya in 5:20.

Powell’s POV: Good effort from the wrestlers, but this was as quiet as the live crowd had been all night.

The broadcast team listed the following matches and segments for next week’s Raw: CM Punk and Cody Rhodes meet face-to-face, Ivy Nile vs. Valhalla, Ivar vs. Chad Gable, and Drew McIntyre vs. Damian Priest…

Jinder Mahal made his entrance for the main event. Veer Mahaan and Sanga walked out behind him and then they all headed to the ring… [C] Seth Rollins made his entrance…

7. Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Veer Mahaan, Sanga) for the World Heavyweight Championship. Samantha Irvin delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cole noted that Nick Aldis wished Mahal luck on social media. Cole said Aldis added that Mahal has been overlooked, and that Smackdown is the land of opportunity, so he’s open to having a conversation.

Both wrestlers ended up at ringside early on. Mahal hoisted up Rollins to run him into the ring post, but Rollins slipped away and shoved Mahal into the post. Rollins hit a flying knee from the apron and then jawed with Veer and Sanga. Rollins looked to the stage.

Damian Priest was shown walking out with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Cole said Rollins’ back was against the wall as they cut to the final break. [C]

Late in the match, Rollins performed a Pedigree and sold his knee giving out. Rollins slowly made the cover. Veer put Mahal’s leg over the bottom rope. Rollins went up top and dove onto Veer at ringside. Rollins went back up top and attempted a splash on Mahal, who rolled out of the way.

Priest was shown pondering the idea of cashing in the MITB contract. Drew McIntyre hopped the barricade and ended up brawling with Priest. They brawled up the entrance aisle and weren’t shown again.

Veer distracted the referee while Sanga slid a chair to Mahal. Rollins hit Mahal and then the referee cleared the chair from the ring. While the referee was clearing the chair, Sanga hit Rollins with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Mahal put Rollins down with the Khallas and covered him for a really nice near fall.

Veer and Sanga climbed onto the apron and protested. The referee ejected them. Mahal set up for his finisher again, but Rollins rolled out of it and hit the Stomp on Mahal before pinning him clean…

Seth Rollins defeated Jinder Mahal in 13:00 to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.

Rollins had his arm raised and then the show concluded…

Powell’s POV: They did a really nice job of making it seem like the deck was stacked against Rollins. In fact, I’m surprised they waited until just before the match to have Veer and Sanga show up rather than building them up as threats to interfere before then. Cole bringing up the Aldis tweet left me wondering if Mahal and Indus Sher are Smackdown bound.

Overall, they filled the time nicely while being opposed by an NFL playoff game, the Emmy Awards, and a big night in politics for the cable news networks. There weren’t any significant Royal Rumble developments aside from Gunther declaring for the men’s match, but they continue to focus heavily on the major players in the Rumble matches. I will be back later tonight with my weekly same night audio review of Raw for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Raw by grading the show below.

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Readers Comments (3)

  1. My favorite character on the show is Dennis!

  2. Damn, they hindered Jinder.

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