5 Moments of Raw – Jan 23rd, 2017

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1. Triple H Cost Rollins His Royal Rumble Spot – Stephanie made a match between Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn, where if Sami won he would take Rollins spot in the Rumble match. Triple H’s entrance music played during their encounter, giving Zayn the opportunity to roll his opponent up and win the match. Rollins looked confused with no Triple H in sight.

Reaction: This has been a long time coming, and it’s obvious Rollins will face Triple H at Wrestlemania in a grudge match. It gave Sami a much-needed victory over a main event level guy, as well as insert him in to the Rumble match. I’m not sure why the build needed to start here and not on the Raw after the Rumble, but I guess it leaves the door open for something to happen on the PPV. Triple H could enter the Rumble match, giving Rollins the chance to cost him and further this long-term feud.

2. Big Show Confronted Braun Strowman – Following a eight-man tag in which Strowman won by pinning Enzo, the Big Show returned to Raw and stared Strowman down. Much like previous Strowman stare downs, he slowly backed away and said he only does things “on his own time”.

Reaction: Rather intrigued with how they’ve paired Strowman up with Goldberg, Lesnar, and the Big Show this week. It means Strowman HAS to do something significant in the Rumble, otherwise all these stare downs have been for nothing. He has to eliminate a big name (or many names) to further his monster persona and push him toward main event level. Also, I was happy to see Big Show for a change, he’d grown stale having been around for years. He’s looking good but we know his career is winding down and he won’t be involved in anything major going forward.


3. Reigns Locked Owens In The Shark Cage – After the opening promo a United States title rematch was approved. When Kevin Owens noticed his friend Chris Jericho was going to lose, he interfered and saved Y2J’s US championship switching hands by getting him disqualified on purpose. Owens and Jericho tried to lock Reigns in the shark cage, but it ended up being Owens locked in the cage while Jericho succumbed to another spear.


Reaction: It’s crazy when the Universal and United States champion can’t stop one man in Roman Reigns. Since “The Guy” lost his US title, it’s become almost a guarantee that Owens will lose his Universal title. The shark cage is meant to keep Jericho and Owens apart, but NXT fans will remember how Paul Ellering helped his team The Authors Of Pain by dropping a weapon to them during the Dusty Tag Team Classic Final .. so Jericho could do something similar. Just because he’s up there doesn’t mean he can’t help in some way. Reigns is looking TOO strong in this feud .. which I feel is a red herring. Owens needs a win on his own, and only then can he be considered a great Universal Champion.

4. Cedric Alexander Pushed Noam Dar Over – After recent developments, Alicia Fox accompanied Noam Dar to the ring for his match. Later in the night, Dar gloated in front of Cedric and Fox that he “stole his girlfriend”. Cedric didn’t seem too bothered about losing Fox, but was more inclined to push Dar over seen as he attacked him last week with Drew Gulak.

Reaction: Oh boy .. this feud. Alicia Fox is now “broken”, Cedric doesn’t care, and Noam Dar thinks he “stole her” from Cedric. None of this makes sense! Fox was slapping Dar last week, yet she’s with him now? Dar was stood in front of Fox saying to Cedric “Sorry I stole your girlfriend”, but Cedric doesn’t care and is happy she moved on, while she stood there accepting the fact she was stolen like a piece of property.


You would think getting Fox by Dar’s side would help him get a win .. but nope. You would also think Dar wouldn’t sell a push like a F-5 through a table .. but he did. Oh no .. Cedric pushed Dar over, that’s going to make us tune in to 205 Live! And apparently, according to Fox .. Cedric almost made Dar “cry”. Someone kill this feud please .. also fix Fox’s character as it’s mindbogglingly bad.


5. Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, And The Undertaker In The Same Ring – After a severely botched promo from Goldberg (with blood trickling down his face), Paul Heyman appeared and introduced his client Brock Lesnar. As the two stood in the ring for the first time together since Survivor Series, the lights went out, and when they came back on The Undertaker was stood in the ring. The show ended with all three men staring each other down, and after Raw went off air Lesnar and Goldberg backed away to give Undertaker the ring.

Reaction: I think Goldberg was so surprised by the blood on his face he forgot his lines. He knew it was messed up, so he was likely thinking about what Vince was thinking then getting to his lines. I can’t blame him really, Goldberg’s never been a mic guy and we should forgive him for messing up. He confirmed on Instagram that he’d headbutted the door too hard off-camera before his entrance, and some thought he might have picked up a concussion. I was fully expecting a Lesnar/Goldberg confrontation, but The Undertaker as well? I did not see that coming.

The tease of these three men in the same ring together during the Rumble match was a satisfying end to Raw. They didn’t need to do anything else, they’ll do their talking on Sunday. This is how you hype the Rumble concept, and I’m looking forward to it more than previous years as there’s no clear favourite. Two interesting facts about this moment .. 1) It was the first time Undertaker and Lesnar had been in the ring together since Taker lost to Lesnar at Hell in a Cell 2015, and 2) It was the first time The Undertaker and Goldberg stood in the ring together on live television. Goldberg’s first WWE run saw him on the Raw brand, while Undertaker was on Smackdown .. so they never crossed paths.

Conclusion

Not a bad Raw. Aside from the illogical Cedric/Fox/Dar triangle and Goldberg’s botch, the show was easy to watch. Something Raw’s suffered with lately has been closing shows on a high note, and this weeks episode ended with an incredible teaser which will be remembered for years. WWE has done a good job promoting this years Rumble by stacking the deck and not hinting a clear favourite.


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