This week’s WWE Raw featured CM Punk & Cody Rhodes meeting face to face, Seth Rollins addressing his future and a Drew McIntyre-Damian Priest match.
The Royal Rumble is this Saturday night, January 27th. There is no more Monday NFL competition against Raw until September. The interest in the WWE product and television ratings should be going up this time of year.
It was mentioned by Michael Cole that it was episode #1600 while hyping up the Cody Rhodes-CM Punk face-to-face for later in the show. It was Cole on commentary with Wade Barrett.
Let’s Hear from Seth Rollins
Seth “Freakin” Rollins made his entrance as the World Heavyweight Champion wearing a neon green jacket and pants along with a black shirt. There is also a black brace on the left knee. Rollins had the World Heavyweight Title around his waist.
The fans kept singing Seth Rollins’ song to show support to him as Rollins took his sunglasses off and he had tears in his eyes. The fans chanted “Thank You Seth” for him. Seth welcomed New Orleans to Monday Night Rollins. Rollins said that it had been a long week, so he really appreciated that ovation.
Rollins said that seven days ago, he was in this ring defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Jinder Mahal (the crowd boos) and Rollins reminded us that he won. Rollins said he jumped off the ropes with a moonsault and he felt his knee go in a way that it’s not really supposed to go. Rollins said he finished the match, he beat Jinder Mahal (the fans cheered), he spoke to the crowd and he sat down in the back. Rollins said when he sat in the back it set in that he might be out for a long time. Rollins said earlier in the night, he talked about how every title defense he only gets better and gets stronger. Rollins said that made him feel like a bit of a liar.
Rollins said he thought that it was a real possibility that he might miss WrestleMania. The fans chanted “NO” repeatedly. Rollins said that he did an MRI and the results were not great. Rollins said that he has a grade two tear MCL, a partially torn medial meniscus and with surgery, we’re looking at 3 to 4 months. Rollins said if it was up to him he would be out here stomping heads into the mat, but unfortunately it’s not just up to him. Rollins said we don’t really know what the future holds. Rollins said he’s taking it day by day, week by week and here comes Imperium.
GUNTHER walked out with the Intercontinental Championship and he went into the ring with Rollins. Gunther had Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci with him. The fans booed Gunther for the interruption. Rollins said if you want to make an example of him, just do it.
Gunther spoke about how Rollins should concentrate on him. Gunther said it has felt like they have been avoiding eachother. Gunther wanted to let Rollins know what he thought of Rollins. Rollins said okay. Gunther said that Rollins has been labeled a workhorse champion from the beginning and fight honestly for every victory. Gunther spoke about Rollins bringing respect, dignity and honor to the championship. Gunther said that Rollins was a champion everybody could be proud of…just like Gunther.
Gunther said now it pulls at his heartstrings to see Rollins like that and we found out that Rollins might not make it to WrestleMania. Gunther said he was honestly sad.
Rollins said they should have let Seth finish. Rollins said what he was about to say is he didn’t give a damn what the doctors tell him. Rollins said he didn’t have to give a damn how hard he has to rehab or push this knee, he will keep this promise and he will take this title into WrestleMania. Rollins said he would do every single thing in his power to walk out of WrestleMania as the World Heavyweight Champion.
Gunther said he was really happy to hear that. Gunther told Rollins he admires that and he respects that a lot. Gunther said that Rollins reminds Gunther of himself a lot. Gunther said that on Sunday, he’s going to win the Royal Rumble (it’s on Saturday) and Gunther said he’s going to choose Rollins as his opponent at WrestleMania. Gunther said with all due respect, he’ll target Seth’s knee and back and everything that is not 100%. Gunther said he’d beat Rollins and become the World Heavyweight Champion. The fans chanted “you suck” at Gunther.
Rollins said he appreciated his honesty. Rollins said he could challenge Rollins at WrestleMania, but he wanted Gunther to remember who he was coming after. Gunther told Rollins to remember who was coming after him. They shook hands. Cole made it clear that the Rumble is on Saturday night.
Analysis: The good news is that it’s not an ACL tear and based on what Rollins said, he will hopefully be able to stay healthy enough to compete at WrestleMania in two and a half months. I think WWE will be cautious with Rollins and we might not see him wrestle again before WrestleMania, but that’s up to him. The fans were awesome in showing Rollins a lot of support during his promo. As for Gunther interrupting, I certainly didn’t expect that, but whenever we get that Gunther-Rollins match it’s going to be amazing. I still think it’s Rollins-CM Punk at WrestleMania, but at some point, we’ll get Gunther against Rollins too.
— WWE (@WWE) January 23, 2024
The New Day’s Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods attacked Kaiser & Vinci at ringside. The New Day went into the match because that match was coming up next.
The New Day – Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs. Imperium – Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci
Kofi hit an impressive dropkick on Vinci with Kofi leaping off the middle turnbuckle. Woods stomped on Vinci in the corner. Vinci sent Woods throat first into the top rope followed by a clothesline. Kaiser tagged in with a kick to Woods’ chest. Woods blocked a kick, Woods hit some chops and an enziguri kick. Woods sent Vinci over the top to the floor. Kaiser pulled Woods out of the ring, Vinci suplexed Woods on the apron and Kaiser sent Woods into the barricade. The show went to break.
Vinci was working over Woods with strikes, but when Vinci charged, Woods dropped him with a superkick. Kofi tagged in against Kaiser with an elbow smash off the top rope. The fans were going crazy. Kofi clotheslined Kaiser out of the ring, Kofi hit a suicide dive on Vinci and Kofi hit a suicide dive on Kaiser too. Vinci hit a baseball slide kick on Kofi with Vinci as the illegal man. Woods attacked the Imperium guys with a running dropkick. Kofi threw Kaiser into the barricade. The guys kept fighting on the floor, so it was a double countout. It went about nine minutes.
Match Result: Double Countout
Analysis: **3/4 It felt like this was headed for a non-finish the moment it began. I thought all four guys showed a lot of intensity. I like that the story is continuing.
The fight continued with Vinci sending Kofi over the barricade. Woods fought with Kaiser at ringside and Woods sent Kaiser into the barricade. Woods hit a knee to the face of Kaiser. Kaiser sent Woods into the ring post and over the barricade. Vinci was fighting with Kofi in the crowd. They were all in the crowd as Kaiser teased a chair attack on Kofi, but Woods saved his partner. Woods beat on Vinci with punches. Woods and Kaiser were on equipment cases as Woods punched Kaiser a few times. Woods lifted Kaiser, but Vinci saved his partner. Imperium teased a suplex on Woods, but Kofi saved his partner. Kofi tackled Vinci and Woods tackled Kaiser as all four guys went crashing through two tables on the floor. The fans chanted “holy shit” for that. All four guys were down selling as Cole said this rivalry is so far from over.
Analysis: The table spot is always a good way to get a strong reaction from the crowd. It was a clever way to end it. It’s obviously going to lead to another match between these teams. They’ll have some sort of stipulation match in the future.
The covers of the WWE 2K24 video game were shown. Cody Rhodes is on the cover of the Standard Edition, Rhea Ripley & Bianca Belair on the cover of the Deluxe Edition and there’s a 40 Years of WrestleMania theme too.
They showed the trailer of the video game. I think it looks amazing. I don’t play video games anymore, but hopefully gamers like it.
Still to come: CM Punk and Cody Rhodes face to face.
A video aired about the Drew McIntyre-Damian Priest match coming up later. They said that was the main event.
The Judgment Day were in their clubhouse arguing about a bunch of different things. Rhea Ripley told Damian Priest & Finn Balor they have to defend the Tag Team Titles against #DIY next week. Priest left to get focus on his match. Rhea Ripley tried to motivate Finn Balor by telling him to be at ringside with Dominik Mysterio & JD McDonagh later. Rhea said she hasn’t seen the vicious side of Balor lately, so Balor said he’ll show it tonight. Finn and the guys left while Ripley was left alone.
Analysis: That’s Rhea Ripley looking like a leader again. I would love to see #DIY take the Tag Team Titles off Balor & Priest. I want there to be more actual teams going after the titles instead of two singles guys like Balor & Priest holding them for so long.
Ivy Nile was interviewed briefly backstage by Jackie Redmond ahead of her match. Maxxine Dupri was there too. They didn’t say much. The Creed Brothers hyped up Nile a bit.
It was women’s action up next with Ivy Nile making her entrance with Maxxine Dupri.
Valhalla vs. Ivy Nile (w/Maxxine Dupri)
A rare match for Valhalla, who we used to know as Sarah Logan. Valhalla hit Nile with a knee to the ribs. Nikki Cross was walking around by the entrance area. Nile was sent out of the ring, so Valhalla hit her with a forearm. Nile hit an enziguri kick. Nile with two uppercuts along with a headscissors takedown. Valhalla nailed Nile with a headbutt and tried to use the ropes to assist the pin, but the referee saw it. They went up to the turnbuckle where Nile hit a bulldog off the top rope for the pinfall win after three minutes. The fans popped for that ending.
Winner by pinfall: Ivy Nile
Analysis: *1/2 A clean win for Nile with the top rope bulldog giving Nile the decisive victory. The crowd was understandably quiet here because they aren’t big names. The crowd did react to the finish at least, so that’s good.
The New Day were backstage when Jey Uso walked up to them with some ice packs. Jey was excited about what they did out there. Jackie Redmond asking Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston when this ends. Woods said they are not 12-time Tag Team Champions for no reason and they have been the best thing for a decade. Kofi said that people think that they can’t down when the time is right. Kofi said that’s what happens when you push them. Kofi said that Jey Uso isn’t the only one going after titles because Kofi is challenging GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Title next week on Raw. The New Day left. Jey Uso said “YEET” to end it. I should point out also that Damage CTRL was walking in the background as well, so they are on Raw this week too.
Analysis: Gunther against Kofi next week is cool with me. Gunther should win that, but it should be a competitive match as usual.
Let’s Hear from Nia Jax
Nia Jax entered the ring to boos. Jax bragged about how she squashed Rhea Ripley when she first wrestled her. Jax said that Becky Lynch got squashed too when Jax faced her. Jax mentioned that they were in the ring talking about wanting to face eachother at WrestleMania. Jax said that Ripley knows that she can’t beat Jax and Becky is on her path to WrestleMania. Jax said that Lynch knows any path with Jax in it ends with Lynch getting squashed again. Jax said she’d kill both of their dreams. Jax said she’ll go to WrestleMania…and here’s Becky.
Becky Lynch walked out telling Jax to shut up and called her a dope. Lynch congratulated Jax for beating her and said that’s something new to talk about for the next five years. Lynch said she knows she has a big target on her back, but nobody has a bigger target on her back than Jax. Lynch said that it’s because that locker room doesn’t agree on everything, but they all agree that nobody likes Jax. Lynch said that Jax throws her weight around and probably injured half of them. Lynch said she doesn’t know what she’ll enjoy more – winning the Royal Rumble for the second time in her career or watching Jax lose.
Bayley made her entrance even though she’s from Smackdown. Bayley said she came here to find Rhea Ripley, but this is almost better. Bayley joined Jax and Lynch in the ring. Bayley said she was there to make one thing absolutely clear – she’s winning the Royal Rumble and will point to the WrestleMania sign. Bayley shoved Lynch into Jax and Jax went after Bayley. Lynch was back up throwing punches. Bayley snuck up on Lynch, who hit Bayley with a Manhandle Slam. Jax threw Lynch over the top to the floor. Jax hit a leg drop on Bayley to end it. Referees showed up to stop the fighting. Jax’s music played as Jax stared at Lynch.
Analysis: I thought this was effective in the sense that all three women showed a lot of confidence and made their points well. It also wasn’t one of those promos that went on too long, so they made their time count. I think of the three women, Lynch is the most likely winner. Bayley will probably last a long time and Jax may have the most eliminations, but I think Lynch will be the winner. It feels predictable, so maybe there will be some surprises. I’ll have more thoughts on it in the Royal Rumble preview article later in the week.
The Royal Rumble “By The Numbers” video aired, but it said that the video would continue later. It’s always great to see that video. I enjoy it. There have been 1310 people in Royal Rumble matches and 34 winners total.
Dominik Mysterio made his entrance with JD McDonagh and WWE Tag Team Champion Finn Balor by his side.
Becky Lynch was shown walking backstage when Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley walked up to her. Ripley said that maybe Lynch should make other plans for WrestleMania.
Analysis: I love how before Royal Rumble we have to pretend like winning the Royal Rumble is the only way to get a title shot. We know Elimination Chamber is coming right after, yet we have to act like the Royal Rumble means so much more.
The Miz vs. Dominik Mysterio (w/Finn Balor & JD McDonagh)
The Miz was shown talking to R-Truth earlier in the show. Truth mentioned “Tom & Nick Mysterio” and Miz had to tell Truth it was one guy. Good comedy.
Miz did a couple of arm drags and a rollup. Dominik delivered a kick leading to Miz hitting a clothesline. Dominik tossed Miz out of the ring, Dominik distracted the referee and Balor nailed Miz with a punch. Dominik hit a suicide dive onto Miz on the floor. Back in the ring, Dominik hit a senton splash onto Miz. Miz came back with a knee to the ribs along with a running corner clothesline. Balor distracted Miz, so Dominik kicked Miz and Dominik knocked Miz off the apron to the floor.
Dominik was still in control until Miz hit two clotheslines and Miz hit the backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for two. Miz went after Balor on the apron, so Dominik rolled up Miz for two and Miz rolled up Dominik for two. Miz kicked Balor on the floor and a headscissors on JD on the floor. Miz hit a springboard cross body block on Dominik for two. That’s not a common Miz move, but it looked good. Miz worked over Dominik with kicks to the body and a head kick. Dominik countered Miz to send Miz into the ropes. Miz avoided a 619 kick, but then JD distracted the referee while Balor hit a jumping kick on Miz. Dominik hit the 619 kick. Dominik jumped off the top rope with a Frog Splash on Miz for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dominik Mysterio
Analysis: *** The classic “numbers game” booking where JD distracts the referee leading to a cheap shot by Balor and Dominik capitalized on that to get the win. It protects Miz in the sense that it wasn’t a clean win. Good action for the most part. The fans were into it.
After the match, Balor attacked Miz with punches. That’s when #DIY made the save to clear the ring of Dominik and Balor. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale on JD. Balor pulled JD out of the ring to save his buddy. The Judgment Day retreated at that point while the faces posed in the ring.
Analysis: The Miz lost because of the numbers game, but at least he had help after the match.
Damian Priest was interviewed by Jackie Redmond, who noted that Priest’s match with Drew McIntyre was months in the making. Priest congratulated Dominik for his win. R-Truth walked in with a stack of bills for Priest and Priest said it wasn’t the right time, so Truth left with the money. Priest said that Drew likes to be real. Priest said that Drew was the man when everybody was struggling and now Drew can’t beat Roman, can’t beat Gunther and can’t beat Rollins. Priest said that whether it’s cashing in or winning the Rumble, he will be champion. Priest said that Drew would receive his punishment tonight.
Analysis: A good promo from Priest. I have no idea when Priest might cash in that Money in the Bank briefcase, but I do get asked about it a lot. Your guess is as good as mine, my friends.
Chad Gable entered for singles action without the Alpha Academy by his side.
Bronson Reed was featured in a promo in a darkened room. Reed mentioned that Jey Uso is focused on winning singles gold this year and Reed said he wanted the same thing. Reed challenged Jey Uso to a match on Raw next week.
They showed Chad Gable training earlier by lifting up Otis to get Chad ready for his match with another big man Ivar. Maxxine Dupri gave Gable a “Thank You Crew” towel. Akira Tozawa tried lifting Otis, so that was an awkward ending to the segment.
Ivar vs. Chad Gable
Gable hit a running kick as soon as the bell rang. Gable ran the ropes, Ivar caught him and Ivar hit a spinning slam. Gable came back with a dropkick. Ivar went for an elbow drop, Gable avoided it, Gable kicked the knee and Gable hit a swinging neckbreaker. Gable jumped off the top rope with a headbutt for two. Ivar punched Gable in the face leading to Ivar lifting Gable for a suplex over the top to the floor. I think they were both going to tumble over, but Ivar didn’t go over. They improvised with Ivar hitting a splash off the apron onto Gable on the floor.
They went up top where they stood on the top rope and Gable hit an overhead superplex off the top rope. The fans popped big for that. They went tumbling over the top to the floor. Ivar went for a spin kick on the floor, Gable moved and Ivar kicked the post. Back in the ring, Ivar was able to recover with a sitout Powerbomb for two. Gable did a leg whip takedown. Gable rolled through leading to an Ankle Lock on the right leg. Ivar kicked Gable off him and Ivar sat down on the chest of Gable. Ivar went to the middle turnbuckle and jumped off with a leg drop for two. Gable picked the ankle of Ivar again leading to an Ankle Lock on the right ankle again, but Ivar managed to get his hand on the bottom rope to force a break. Ivar hit a spinebuster for two. Ivar went up top for the Doomsault, but Gable avoided it. Gable hit a bridging German Suplex for two. The fans thought that was it. Gable went to the ropes, Ivar went after him and Gable slipped behind Ivar leading to a German Suplex off the ropes. Gable went up top, but Valhalla showed up to scream in Gable’s face. Ivar slammed Gable down. Ivar went up top and hit a Doomsault onto Gable for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ivar
Analysis: ***1/2 That was great with some big spots by both guys throughout the match. Gable suplexing Ivar multiple times was so impressive. The presence of Valhalla cost Gable the match because Ivar capitalized on the situation to get the big win. It was similar to the Dominik-Miz match earlier in the show. These guys really worked hard, had some creative spots and got the crowd into the match too. At some point, I’d like to see Gable get some significant singles wins, but for now, he is usually losing these kinds of matches.
CM Punk was shown walking backstage for the face to face promo segment. Cody Rhodes was also shown walking backstage for the promo segment up next.
A commercial aired for the Bianca Belair/Montez Ford reality show called Love & WWE. It debuts on Hulu on February 2nd. There are eight episodes.
Cody Rhodes And CM Punk Go Face To Face
Cody Rhodes was up first with adrenaline in his soul. Cody entered by wearing a suit and the fans popped big for him as usual. The fans sang along with the “Kingdom” theme song as well.
CM Punk made his entrance wearing one of his sweatshirts with the fans popping for him. As Punk walked out to the ring, Cole reminded us that it was ten years ago at the 2014 Royal Rumble when CM Punk wrestled in his last match in WWE. Punk shook hands with Cody. There were “CM Punk” chants and then there were “Cody” chants right after that.
Punk said that they have been on very different paths to get here. Punk said that on Sunday morning, he hopes they are still friends, but for right now, let’s just enjoy this moment.
Cody asked New Orleans and CM Punk, what do you want to talk about? That led to more “CM Punk” chants.
Punk told Cody that he wanted to talk about Cody’s dad Dusty Rhodes. Punk said that in 2007, Dusty told Punk that he was sending Cody to OVW to start his journey as a pro wrestler. Cody said Dusty told Punk to keep an eye on Cody. Punk said that when the American Dream asks you for a favor, you say yes. Punk said that Cody didn’t get into any trouble and didn’t fall into vices that he saw their contemporaries do. Punk said he’s watched Cody go from being a preliminary guy into this main event superstar that Cody is today. Punk said that he was proud of Cody. Punk told Cody that in the Royal Rumble, he’s going to be looking for Cody and do what he has to do to win the Royal Rumble because Punk is going to win the Royal Rumble to main event WrestleMania.
Cody said that Punk is not alone in saying that when you see Cody, you can’t help but see Dusty. Cody mentioned all the people in WWE that think of Dusty. Cody talked about how he has become his own man. Cody said he showed up in OVW, no matches under his belt and was a complete nepotism hire. Cody talked about Punk being on the independent scene for ten years. Cody said Punk could have treated him poorly and instead Punk treated him like a peer. Cody said they became friends. Cody said in the Royal Rumble, there are no friends.
Punk asked about Sunday morning and said that he knows there are no friends in the Rumble because Punk has been in more of them than Cody has. Punk said he didn’t grow up in the business the way that Cody did. Punk mentioned Dusty was one of the greatest of all time. Punk talked about how he didn’t think of Cody as a nepotism hire. Punk said he saw the burden of Cody’s last name and how hard it would be to get out of that shadow, but Cody has done it with flying colors. Punk pointed out that Cody’s in a suit while Punk is wearing what he wore to the gym today. Punk said he didn’t have Dusty Rhodes as his dad who was recognized on the streets. Punk said that his father was a regular guy – an electrician. Punk said it’s ironic because he’s more of the American Dream than Cody is. The fans let out an ”ooohhh” reaction to that.
Cody spoke about how he wanted to talk about the Pipebomb. Punk tossed the WWE logo off the microphone. Cody said that Punk inspired countless wrestlers with that promo and Cody was one of them. Cody said that Punk left and he didn’t pass the torch off because he walked away. Cody said he picked up the torch. Cody said that everything that Punk spoke about, Cody literally did. Cody said that when Punk talked, Cody walked and that makes Cody more CM Punk than Punk is.
Analysis: Those were some great lines by both guys making those personal points.
CM Punk took off his sweater saying that it was getting a little hot in here. Punk got in Cody’s face. Punk said that Cody has carried this company for two years and Cody is on the cover of the WWE 2K video game. Punk talked about how he was coming to take it all away from Cody.
Cody said that Punk was looking out for Cody again. Cody said his dad Dusty quoted John Wayne all the time. Cody said that he only has one direction he can go and that’s forward. Cody said that direction goes through Punk. Cody walked off, he bumped Punk’s chest and Punk spun Cody around. Punk and Cody had a staredown. The fans were standing up as they went to nose to nose. There were “Cody” chants and “CM Punk” chants. They left the ring on opposite sides. Punk told the announcers he would win the Royal Rumble and to bet on him.
Analysis: I thought it was an excellent promo exchange. They made it feel personal by having Punk said he was more of an American Dream than Cody and then Cody said that he was more of a Punk than CM Punk was because of what Cody did outside of WWE before coming back. They got plenty of time, made their points extremely well and had the fans in the palm of their hands. Did you notice how there were no “WHAT?” chants during that? The fans were focused on every week because they knew it was a big deal and they treated it that way. I’m leaning toward a CM Punk Royal Rumble win as my prediction, but I certainly won’t mind a Cody Rhodes victory. I enjoyed this segment.
A video aired about January 23, 1984 when Hulk Hogan beat The Iron Sheik to win the WWE World Title for the first time and Hulkamania was born 40 years ago. Hogan talked about how he didn’t know how powerful it would become. Hogan said it blows his mind that it’s 40 years of Hulkamania. Hogan talked about current stars Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Cody Rhodes and said that Hulkamania will live forever. Hogan mentioned the Women’s Royal Rumble with Bayley, Becky Lynch and the list goes on and on. Hogan mentioned guys he would bet on in the Men’s Royal Rumble like Cody Rhodes, CM Punk and you never know who’s going to show up. Hogan even said he might have one left in him.
Analysis: I’m not a huge Hulkamaniac because Randy Savage was my guy in those days. With that said, it’s fine for WWE to honor Hogan’s legacy. I sure hope Hogan doesn’t try to wrestle again at his age and after so many back surgeries. Just stay away, brother.
There was women’s tag team action after a break.
A commercial aired for the Royal Rumble PLE promoting the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship with Roman Reigns defending against Randy Orton, LA Knight & AJ Styles.
A video aired about 40 Years of Hulkamania. They promoted some of the merchandise that’s available on WWEShop now.
Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Shayna Baszler & Zoey Stark
The Women’s Tag Team Champions Kayden Carter & Katana Chance were at ringside watching the match.
Baszler overpowered LeRae against the turnbuckle. LeRae hit three armdrags on Baszler. Indi tagged in with punches on Stark followed by a boot to the head. LeRae got the tag, Indi held onto LeRae’s hand for balance and LeRae walked the top rope leading to headscissors on Stark onto Baszler on the floor. They went to break there.
LeRae knocked down Baszler with punches and a running dropkick. Chelsea Green & Piper Niven were watching on a TV backstage. Le Rae hit a double team move on the heels including a splash onto Baszler. Stark kicked Indi out of the ring. Baszler tried to choke LeRae, Stark made the tag and Stark hit the Z360 knee to the face of LeRae for the pinfall win after seven minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Shayna Baszler & Zoey Stark
Analysis: *3/4 It was the usual from the Women’s Tag Team division. They really don’t get that much time for these matches when you consider they went seven minutes and we only saw four minutes of it. Stark’s finisher looked impressive on LeRae, who sold it very well.
After the match, Katana Chance & Kayden Carter went into the ring with their titles. Asuka & Kairi Sane attacked Chance & Carter from behind since Asuka & Sane get a Women’s Tag Team Title match on Smackdown. Asuka and Sane were joined by Dakota Kai. It was a simple beatdown with punches and kicks on the champions, who had to sell it like they were brutally attacked.
Analysis: It was a simple way to try to build the title match on Smackdown.
Drew McIntyre was interviewed by Jackie Redmond, who asked if Drew had anything to say to Cody Rhodes or CM Punk. Drew said he already talked to them over the last two weeks. Drew said that he was sick of people like Damian Priest putting a negative spin over what Drew accomplished. Drew spoke about the men he broke during that time. Drew told Priest he’s not ready to be a World Champion. Drew said everybody talks about a destiny and a story, but there’s only one Chosen Onoe and you’re looking at him.
Analysis: Drew is crushing it as this heel character. I am enjoying it a lot. Sign a new contract, Drew. Please stay for a long time.
The Damian Priest-Drew McIntyre match was next.
There was a backstage scene with Natalya & Tegan Nox walking up to Bayley and Damage CTRL complaining about them being on Raw. Pearce politely asked Natalya & Nox to leave. Pearce said she invited Bayley to promote the Royal Rumble and Asuka/Sane to promote the Women’s Tag Team Title match on Smackdown, but instead they are causing chaos. Pearce mocked Nick Aldis because Aldis likes looking in the mirror. Bayley said get used to seeing them after Asuka & Sane win the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Bayley and Damage CTRL left.
Jinder Mahal and Indus Sher walked up to Adam Pearce. Mahal wanted to know what Pearce had planned for Mahal. Pearce said they can meet in Pearce’s office. Pearce: “I need a drink.”
The second part of the Royal Rumble Match “By The Numbers” video aired. It mentioned Brock Lesnar’s 13 eliminations in 2020 as the record in the Royal Rumble match. Natalya is the only woman to be in the six Women’s Royal Rumble matches. Kane has the most Royal Rumble matches at 18, but Kofi Kingston will move into second place with his 16th appearance this year. They showed some shocking returns as well.
The announcers went over the Royal Rumble card:
* 30-Man Royal Rumble Match. There were only six male wrestlers pictured.
* 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match. There were only four women wrestlers pictured.
* United States Championship: Logan Paul (c) vs. Kevin Owens
* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles vs. LA Knight
Analysis: I think they need to add one or two more matches to the card, but I don’t know what those matches will be.
Damian Priest was up first as Mr. Senor Money in the Bank and half of the WWE Tag Team Champions. Priest was alone without The Judgment Day group.
Next week on Raw:
* Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: Damian Priest & Finn Balor vs. #DIY – Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano
* Bronson Reed vs. Jey Uso
* Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER vs. Kofi Kingston
Drew McIntyre made his entrance for the main event.
Damian Priest vs. Drew McIntyre
It’s rare to see two heels facing off in a singles match main event, but here we are. Drew knocked down Priest with a shoulder tackle. Priest nailed Drew with a forearm followed by kicks and punches. Drew came back with a clothesline. Priest nailed Drew with an elbow smash to the face that sent Drew out of the ring. Priest tried to attack, but Drew caught him and hit an overhead belly to belly suplex on the floor. They battled on the floor where Priest sent Drew into the ring post. Priest picked up Drew and gave him a Broken Arrow slam onto the table. The table didn’t break while Drew bounced off of it to the floor.
The match continued with Priest hitting a clothesline on Drew. Priest nailed Drew with a forearm to the back. Drew came back with a boot to the face while Priest also hit a boot to the face. They got back up with Drew hitting two clotheslines. Drew hit an overhead belly to belly suplex along with a neckbreaker and Drew did a kip-up back to his feet with the fans cheering that. Drew set up for a Claymore Kick, but Priest sidestepped it. Drew hit a spinebuster on Priest for two. Drew lifted Priest, who hit an elbow to the head and Priest sent Drew into the turnbuckle. Priest hit a flatliner for two. Priest charged, Drew caught him and Priest broke free with kicks to the ribs. Drew delivered a headbutt. Drew to the top rope, he jumped off, Priest avoided it and Priest hit a kick to the head. Priest hit a Broken Arrow sitout slam for two. Drew was on the floor leading to Priest jumping off the middle rope and over the top onto Drew on the floor. Priest’s right leg nailed Drew in the head. R-Truth showed up with Priest’s money, so Priest shoved Truth down. Priest kicked Drew, but Drew came back with the Future Shock DDT. Truth asked Priest for the password for the briefcase. Drew set up for Claymore Kick, Truth asked for the briefcase password and Drew punched Priest. Drew charged, Priest caught him and Priest hit South of Heaven, but the referee was looking at Truth, so there was no referee to count the pin. Priest threw Truth out of the ring. Drew hit the Claymore Kick and covered Priest to win. It went 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match between two of the top heels in WWE. The fans didn’t know who to cheer for, but they cheered Drew more than Priest at different points. It was an even matchup throughout the match although Drew took the biggest bump when he was slammed onto the table. R-Truth’s accidental distraction cost Priest the match and gave Drew a quality win.
Drew McIntyre had a brief celebration as the winner of the match. That was the end of the show.
Three Stars of the Show
- Cody Rhodes & CM Punk
- Seth Rollins
- Drew McIntyre
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2024 Average: 7.38
Final Thoughts on WWE Raw
I liked the show. There was a lot of talking since it was the final Raw before the Royal Rumble. I thought all of those promos, plus the Rumble videos helped set the stage for Saturday’s big show. Seth Rollins did a good job with his opening promo explaining the injury situation. The interruption by GUNTHER wasn’t what I expected, so that was interesting. It sounds like Seth Rollins will be able to compete at WrestleMania on that bad left knee, but he might not wrestle much at all before that.
The Cody Rhodes-CM Punk promo exchange was pushed heavily with both guys coming across strongly as favorites to win the Men’s Royal Rumble match. We have to throw our brains out the window a bit and act like winning the Rumble match is the only way to headline WrestleMania in a major title match even though we know Elimination Chamber can get you there too. Other than that aspect of it, I liked how they made it feel personal. They have a lot of respect and they also have confidence.
As far as matches go, the Chad Gable-Ivar match was a lot of fun and probably the best of the night. Just another reminder of how great Gable is and Ivar can put on a quality match too. The Drew McIntyre-Damian Priest main event was hard-hitting, but also a bit awkward since they are both heels. The R-Truth involvement led to the Priest loss and Drew got some positive momentum. Bring on the Royal Rumble on Saturday.
The Royal Rumble PLE is on January 27th at Tropicana Field in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida. Here’s the lineup so far.
* 30-Man Royal Rumble Match
* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles vs. LA Knight
* 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match
* United States Championship: Logan Paul (c) vs. Kevin Owens
You can watch the Royal Rumble on Saturday, January 27, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.