Has it really been a week since last Raw? It feels like it’s been a million years – because nothing happened – and also no time at all – because nothing happened. It was a dull Raw, and while this one should, theoretically be better, because it’s a new year, but I can’t actually promise that. But hey, apparently there’s Goldberg this week, so that’s good, right? This is also the last Raw recapped using my old laptop, as my new one turns up tomorrow, and will be able to play WWE 2K17. So don’t expect me to be prompt with anything after that arrives.
Oh, and Happy New Year, reader. We made it to 2017. Now to see if Raw will finish us off.
We’re welcomed to Tampa, Florida by Mick Foley, who… has had his beard trimmed and his hair cut, and therefore looks less like he’s stumbled in from the street looking for somewhere warm to sleep. He talks about his shark cage plan, and points to where it’s lurking on the stage like it’s the biggest heel in this feud. Kevin comes out to interrupt him, along with Chris, who skirts around the cage like my cat skirts around anything new to the house. Chris seems really focussed on getting Kevin to call him a sexy piñata, which really makes me want to write a Gaywatch. Kevin and Chris mock Foley’s haircut, and try to teach him the alphabet. I really hope this is how Kevin taught his kids the alphabet. “A is for how awfully people treat daddy, B is for best friend, C is for cannonball….” Jericho basically cries at the idea of being locked in a cage, and Kevin says that Foley has a personal issue with them both. Are Kevin and Chris the LGBT storyline we’ve been promised? Oh, please let them be the LGBT storyline we’ve been promised.
Foley gives Kevin his own talk show, The Kevin Owens Show, and says his first guest will be Goldberg, which of course makes the audience chant. Kevin doesn’t like that Foley gets to pick his guests, but says he’s got some questions for Bill anyway. Steph comes down and says that Mick isn’t abusing his power, and that he has the right to do what he wants. Kevin says he and Jericho are national treasures, which is adorable, and Steph makes a match for Roman to defend the US title against Jericho, and if he’s DQ’d or counted out, he loses the title as well. Kevin and Chris whisper in each other’s ears, and Chris says he likes the idea, but apparently he wants Seth to banned from ringside. Foley manages to botch a name, and Steph says she’s sick of hearing that SmackDown Live is the best place to be. Well… maybe make a better show? They basically had a mini PPV last week, and all you’re offering me is more managerial bullshit. So, Steph says Kevin and Seth are having a match now.
MATCH: Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Kevin’s already in the ring, holding his title, as we start this off, and Seth strides out like he’s just got off a very fat horse. New year, same old extra Seth. Commentary have dressed in black and grey, in mourning for when Raw was interesting. Byron’s the odd one out, in black, by the way. The loser of this match will be banned from ringside for the Roman vs. Jericho match tonight.
- Blows early from both men, Kevin rolling out, Seth coming over the top rope onto him. He gets Kevin back into the ring, and they do the same thing again. Commentary says Seth started the new year with a bang – how do they know? Was it one of them? Anyway, they trade blows on the outside, and Kevin slams Seth into the barricades. When Seth rolls back in, he puts the boots to Seth.
- Dragging Seth upright in the corner, chop from Kevin, followed by chops from Seth, but Kevin quickly gets the upper hand again, dragging Seth around by the hair. Snapmare from Seth, followed by a swift kick, and a cover for one.
- Wristlock from Seth, Kevin fighting out with a huge blow, taking Seth down hard, followed by a kick to the chest and a stomp to the face. Seth clings to the ropes, and Kevin drags him upright for more chops again. Whip to the corner, Seth gets the boot up and comes off with a Blockbuster, pin for two.
- Back from commercials, Kevin has Seth in a headlock, and then my stream fails. I come back for Kevin with a stomp to Seth’s chest, and commentary sort of talk around the idea of Seth and Roman being friends against as Seth punches Kevin. He rebounds towards Kevin, who sends him over the ropes and hard into the barricades.
- Seth gets back up on the apron, but Kevin shoves him down, leaving Seth sprawled against the barricades. He goes for a cannonball, but Seth moves out of the way. My stream fails again, but I get back to Seth back in the ring, kicking and punching at Kevin, but Kevin catches his leg and kicks him in the knee.
- Kevin goes for the pop-up powerbomb, but Seth comes back with an enzuigiri, right leg sore from going over the ropes. Kevin goes for the cannonball, Seth didges, and hits a slingblade. Avada Kedavra, Seth goes for the Pedigree. Owens dodges, but follows Seth, who holds the rope down, letting Kevin sprawl on the outside.
- Seth throws Kevin around on the outside, but he goes back into the ring to break the count after throwing Kevin into the timekeeper’s area. When Seth comes back, Kevin hits him with the ring bell, getting himself disqualified – and Seth wins!
After the match, Kevin goes to plead with the ref, and as Seth gets back in, he hits Seth with a glancing knee, and Kevin rolls out, demanding his title be given to him, calling Seth a scumbag as he heads back up the ramp. Seth grins from the ring.
MATCH: Cesaro vs. Karl Anderson
Sheamus let Cesaro finish stripping! Aww, what a sweetheart! Apparently, he’s joining us on commentary, and is that Cesaro with a new shirt? Oooh, I like it. Sheamus looks like he’s got new merch, too. Well, I suppose it’s a new year, got to maximise those profits. Sheamus lets us know that the only title he hasn’t held is the IC title.
- Cesaro and Anderson lock up, Gallows at ringside, early cover by Cesaro. Cesaro falls victim to an early lariat, Anderson with a monkey flip in the corner, Cesaro lands on his feet. Deep arm drag from Anderson, and as Cesaro gets up, he hits a massive uppercut.
- Another huge uppercut, Anderson whips Cesaro into the corner. Kicks to the middle from Cesaro, lifting Anderson for an easy suplex, with a kick out at two. Cesaro with another uppercut, as Sheamus compares himself to a Stark and Cesaro to a Lannister. Big kick to Cesaro’s face after a cheap shot from Gallows.
- Back from commercial, Anderson has Cesaro in a cravate. Cesaro fights out, Anderson lifted into a very delayed vertical suplex. Huge uppercuts to Anderson, but when Cesaro misses, Anderson gets a pin for two off a kick. Huge clothesline again from Anderson, and a near fall.
- Headlock to Cesaro, but he gets out, sending Anderson into the turnbuckles, head first. The two men trade blows, before Cesaro gets the upper hand with the uppercuts. Whip from Cesaro, reversed by Anderson, Cesaro walks the ropes, turning it into a springboard cross-body, getting a near fall of his own.
- Cesaro goes for the swing, but Gallows gets involved, and Sheamus leaves commentary. Spinebuster from Anderson, Cesaro just manages to kick out at two and a half. Anderson lifts Cesaro high, but he lands on his feet. Cesaro goes for the Neutralizer, Anderson managing to get to the bottom rope before Cesaro can try for the Sharpshooter.
- Anderson back with an uppercut and a boot, but when he goes for the corner, Cesaro gets him lifted up on the turnbuckles and hits a high dropkick, followed by an uppercut. He goes high, pulling Anderson up with him, but Gallows is there, pulling at the rope.
- Sheamus interferes, dragging Gallows away, but as he does so, Gallows lets go of the rope, and Cesaro falls, being hit squarely between the legs. He falls hard, and Anderson comes off the top rope with a neckbreaker – and that’s the win.
Damn it, Sheamus and Cesaro just got the titles, can we not tease them breaking up already? I was just starting to enjoy their little spats and the way they work in the ring.
We get a video package on Strowman that’s edited so jerkily that it gives me motion sickness, quite frankly. It does a pretty good job of making him look scary, though, so well done there, as we watch him decimate everyone put in his way, and see his history with Sami.
We get a video package on Survivor Series, with Brock and Goldberg, the match that made us go ‘huh?’ as it was over so very quickly. We review Goldberg attempting to get to the title via the Royal Rumble. And we get to see him later on the Kevin Owens show. Lucky, lucky us.
MATCH: Braun Strowman vs. Sami Zayn – Last Man Standing Match
Jojo looks nice, doesn’t she? I love her doing the ring announcing now, she’s so lovely. Anyway, Sami arrives to the cheers and adoration of the crowd, as per usual. We all love you, gingerbread sunshine, but I also sort of want to mug you in a dark alley and steal your tights. Or convince WWE to sell leggings in that print, whichever’s easier. I think me beating you in a fight might actually be more realistic than WWE listening to the audience. Strowman comes down to the ring, the camera focussing on Sami’s lingering black eye, and how his eyes shut when Strowman’s music plays.
- Sami boxes in early, quick jabs and dodges before he rolls out of the ring and head to the timekeeper’s area, coming after Braun with a kendo stick. They both end up back in the ring, and there’s a few good hits, but Strowman breaks the stick, and throws Sami like he’s nothing. Sami comes up from under the ring with another kendo stick, following Strowman around the outside of the ring.
- Again, Strowman catches the kendo stick, and as Sami goes for his trademark barricade moonsault, Strowman catches him upside down, and bounces him off the barricades. Sami manages to stand, and dodges a charge from Strowman letting him hit the post. He pushes him into the post twice more, before coming through the ropes, where Strowman’s hand catches him in mid-air and the ref starts to count.
- Sami gets back into the ring, and Strowman comes in with a huge corner splash, Sami falling like a starfish, splayed out in the ring. He gets to his knees just to eat another huge clothesline, twice. He then eats a huge shoulder tackle, but Sami comes off the ropes with a lariat, which barely makes Strowman move, but Strowman fires back with one of his own, and nearly snaps him in half. Sami rolls out of the ring with the count on seven, to reset it on the outside, and we go to commercial.
- Back from commercial, Braun has Sami on his knees in the gap between the stage and the floor, and slams him headfirst into the announce table. Sami looks like he’s going to grab Corey’s leg and drag him into the fight as a human shield. Sami’s sort of ambling into the backstage area, shoving a crate at him as they finally get the area lit and Strowman throws Sami throught the curtain into the backstage area.
- Sami finds some sort of pipe, and comes back, smashing it into Strowman’s head, before shoving him into equipment cases. Braun throws Sami onto the top of some bigger cases, then throws one at him, but Sami battles out, and as Strowman staggers away, Sami comes back with a chair. The two stagger back into the main arena, Sami smashing Braun with the chair, but Strowman stands, throwing Sami onto the stage.
- Sami crawls towards the chair, but Strowman strides over, standing on it, and dragging him upright, shoving him into the screen panels under the jumbotron. Strowman lifts Sami high, but he lands on his feet, grabbing the chair and coming back with it, a couple of good swings to the back.
- Strowman catches the chair, but Sami with a kick to his chest knocks him back and they both topple off the stage onto two tables, which collapse. Both men are down, the ref counting to five, but Strowman gets up, Sami up at two. The crowd chants ‘this is awesome’ – and they’re bloody right, you know.
- Strowman grabs the chair as Sami goes to hit him with it, and uses it to launch Sami in a roll down the ramp which looks viciously painful. A running powerslam on the outside, and Sami appears to be down for the count. He starts to stir about five, trying to get up, and Strowman comes back with knees to the face and chest at the nine count, as Sami looks like he’ll stand up.
- Huge blows from Strowman to Sami’s head, and he lies like a starfish as the count rises from the ref again. Once more, at eight, Strowman pulls Sami upright, and hits another running powerslam that makes me physically gasp. Finally, the count hits ten, and Strowman stands with a smug smirk over Sami’s broken, limp body.
Sami’s loaded onto a stretcher after Braun is lording it in the ring, but he can’t help himself, and slams into the stretcher, shoving Sami into the barricades, then picks him up and slams him into it again, before finally retreating, to the admonishment of children. Holy shit, I finally believe in Braun Strowman as a credible threat, and not someone to sort of laugh at. I take it all back, Raw. You keep doing you.
We get footage of the Gentleman’s Duel from 205 Live, because Jack Gallagher is perfect and wonderful, and if I ever meet him, it’ll be in full corsetry and gloves. Marvellous to watch a fellow countryman take down a man while still wearing a bow tie.
We cut to Gallagher trying to teach The New Day to duel with umbrellas, but they get a bit hip-thrusty for him, and so like any closeted English gentleman, he leaves for a lie down and a cold compress.
The New Day are here! They’re going to talk to us about their new year’s resolutions… once the crowd stop cheering them for being awesome, of course. They do their usual almost not PG sex joke, but they will be in the Royal Rumble, so that’s something.
Titus O’Neil tries to do his own New Day style entrance, and this is… weird? He also does weird hip jiggling, and considering he’s just wearing trunks, it’s a big like I’m at a really weird strip club. Titus wants to join The New Day, but as he reaches for Francesca II Turbo, Xavier stops him. Titus has his own whistle, and now it really does look like the tamer areas of gay pride. Titus socks Xavier, and they say they’ll have a match. After what we just had, we get this? I should have gone to the shop before Raw, there’s not enough caffeine in the room for this.
MATCH: Xavier Woods vs. Titus O’Neil
- The match starts as we get in, kicks to Titus from Xavier, but Titus comes back with a big boot, and drags Xavier up, chops to the chest. Slam from Titus, pin for two. Headlock from Titus, boot on Xavier’s chest. Titus drags Xavier around by the hair as commentary degrades in giggles.
- Xavier fights out of a headlock, knees Titus in the face, and rebound off the ropes. Kick to the midsection, followed by a knee to Tiitus’s jaw. Xavier goes over the ropes, holding onto the apron, He kicks Titus hard, and lets him fall over the ropes, then comes over the ropes himself, landing on Titus on the outside.
- Back in, Xavier goes high for a cross body, but Titus catches him, slamming him to the ground. Titus goes for a fireman’s carry, but Xavier comes out of it, sunset flip, and pins Titus! He wins!
Bayley approaches Steph, and asks how she let Charlotte have the upper hand in the last match. Steph says that she’s never liked Bayley, never wanted her, and that she’s just ordinary. Bayley takes a deep breath and tells Steph that she knows she belongs in WWE, that being ‘just Bayley’ is good enough for her. Steph says that Bayley’s nearly convinced her that she can do it, so tonight she’s in a #1 contender spot – against Nia Jax.
Noam Dar approaches Cedric and Alicia backstage and says that it’s a new year, and he’s a new man, and he’s sorry for his antics. Cedric says he should apologise to Alicia, and so he does. Just, he also calls her ‘sweetcheeks’. Oh, Noam, I liked you and everything.
MATCH: Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander
Alicia Fox walks Cedric down the ramp, because she doesn’t trust him to walk on his own without having a fight, or something like that.
- Wristlock to start, Alexander trying to get out, wheelbarrow, dropkick from Alexander, early pin. Blows to the face on Gulak, who catches Alexander in the stomach in return, before lifting him and bouncing him off the ropes. Cedric lands hard.
- Gulak locks in but Alexander makes it to the ropes, Tony Nese at ringside watching his buddy. Blows to Alexander’s midsection, he rolls over Gulak and punches to him, followed by a back elbow and a handspring kick.
- Alicia drags Nese off the apron, and I really want to watch her fight him, but while Alexander is distracted, Gulak gets him rolled up – and that’s the win!
- Nese and Gulak leg it up the ramp to get away as fast as they can, and Alicia goes to console her man.
MATCH: Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho – United States Championship Match
Poor Roman, he walks towards the shark cage and grins, as the crowd alternates between low, bass boos, and high-pitched screaming. I’m not saying it’s all women who love him, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly men who are loud in their dislike of him. Corey Graves mentions ‘thoroughbred’ which gives me flashbacks to Roman in trunks. Ah, those were the days. Jericho heads down the ramp, looking at the cage a couple of times, looking a little edgy as he heads to the ring.
- The two circle each other a couple of times, before Jericho goes in with punches, getting Roman in the corner, and shoving his shoulder into Roman. Whip into the corner, but Roman comes straight back out with a shoulder tackle. Telegraphs back body drop, kick from Jericho, but Roman gets him to the ground and pins him for two. Dropkick from Jericho, pin for two.
- Jericho gets Roman down with his throat on the ropes, leaning down hard. He comes in for a rebound, but Roman dodges, Jericho’s knee getting caught up. Clotheslines from Roman, reversal of the whip, big blow to Jericho.
- Jericho in the corner, gets Roman over the ropes, but he stays on the apron, Jericho comes in with a massive dropkick that sends Roman flying off the apron and into the barricades. Jericho on the outside, dodges and lets Roman slam into the ring post. As Roman writhes in pain on the floor, theref gets to nine before he leaps back into the ring, taking huge kicks from Jericho the second he’s back in.
- Back from commercials, Jericho has Roman in a headlock, the crowd chanting for him as he fights out. Whip reversal, Jericho hitting Roman in the gut and sending him down hard. Roman rallies, blows to Jericho, but he walks into a boot in the corner. Jericho goes for the running bulldog, and is thrown into the corner turnbuckles, with Roman then lifting him high, slamming him into the mat back-first. He gets a pin for two.
- Roman preps for Superman Punch, Jericho catches him with a high elbow and goes for a Lionsault, Roman getting his knees up. He roars for the crowd, but runs into a kick. Jericho goes for the codebreaker, but Roman lifts him high – but Jericho manages to flip them! Jericho gets the Walls of Jericho locked in, in the centre of the ring, and Roman slips out of the hold, rolling Jericho into a small package for a pin for two.
- Roman fights Jericho away, he goes over the ropes and up high, leaping down straight into a Superman Punch! Jericho looks totally out, but when Roman pins him, he gets a shoulder up at two. Roman roars again, going for the spear, but Jericho tries for Walls again. He dodges Roman’s charge, Roman smashing into the corner post.
- Jericho takes the cover off the turnbuckle, then heads to the timekeeper’s area and grabs Roman’s title, holding it carefully as Roman looks at him. Then he throws the title to Roman, lands on his back, and the ref thinks Roman hit Jericho. Roman pleads, the ref believes, and Jericho hits a Codebreaker! Pin for two and a half.
- Roman fights back, and as Jericho charges him, he dodges, letting Jericho’s head bounce off the exposed turnbuckle! He turns, and heads right into a spear – and Roman retains!
The crowd cheer, which is how Roman matches always seem to end, and Jericho basically cries his way up the ramp and Roman stands there, holding his title high. And hey, Roman didn’t even need Seth to help him out.
MATCH: Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins
Ah, this rivalry again. Well, I can’t say it didn’t work when they sold us Sami and Kevin over and over, but I’m basically hoping Neville shows up again, because I love dark Neville. He looks like he came from the darkest timeline where he slaughtered everyone else on the roster, and has come to this one to do the same.
- Kendrick rushes Perkins, lifting him high, Perkins flipping out. Flying cross-body from Perkins, pin for two on Kendrick. Kicks from Perkins and a second pin for two. We’re shown Neville watching backstage.
- Wristlock from Kendrick, who heads out of the ring and sends TJP bouncing back holding his arm, Kendrick heads back in and pin for two. Fisherman’s from Kendrick, pin for two.
- Shoulder lock from Kendrick, TJP kicks out, both men struggling to their feet, but as Kendrick approaches, another kick from TJP. He goes high, Kendrick gets him seated on the turnbuckles and heads up. Kendrick hunched on the top now, TJP swings him down to the floor hard. Blows from Kendrick, goes for Sliced Bread #2, but Perkins catches him. Detonation kick! And that’s the win!
We’re shown scowling Neville backstage as TJP stands in his victory.
EMMALINA! Isn’t going to be here yet.
MATCH: Rusev & Jinder Mahal vs. Big Cass
No, I don’t care about this anymore. Enzo’s in a motorised wheelchair now, and again, I’m thinking of all those people who can’t afford them. Lana looks marvellous, of course. I’m not recapping this match, I’m tired of this shit. Poor Lana, all her angles are so terrible.
Jinder and Rusev win, of course.
As per usual, my internet goes down with less than twenty minutes on the clock, so I guess I don’t get a women’s match. I tell you, once I get some paid journalism work under my belt, I’m damn well getting better internet.
Bayley faces off against Nia Jax, with Charlotte on commentary, and Sasha comes in with the assist to make sure that pal Bayley gets her title shot at the Royal Rumble! A feud with four ladies in it! Sort of!
We end the night with Goldberg and Kevin Owens, with Braun Strowman coming in to interrupt, and eating a double spear from Reigns and Goldberg. And that’s Raw!