This week’s WWE Raw featured CM Punk addressing an injury, GUNTHER defending the Intercontinental Title against Kofi Kingston, Finn Balor & Damian Priest defending WWE Tag Team Titles against #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) and more.
It’s the Raw after the Royal Rumble. I liked the Royal Rumble PLE overall, but I wouldn’t say it was that special either. Cody Rhodes and Bayley were the big winners during the Rumble matches on Saturday night. A few hours before this Raw, we also found out about CM Punk’s injury and we’ll learn more about that during Raw as well. There’s been a lot of behind-the-scenes news that we have covered well on TJRWrestling, including Vince McMahon being removed from the TKO/WWE Board of Directors due to a lawsuit alleging deviant sexual behavior from the former WWE Executive Chairman. It certainly hasn’t been a slow news week or slow news month to start the year.
Looking ahead, it’s Elimination Chamber on February 24, so we have about four weeks to get there and then WrestleMania 40 takes place on April 6th and April 7th. Bring it on.
It started with Michael Cole talking about what was coming up on the show. That was followed by a video package showing Royal Rumble PLE highlights.
Cody Rhodes was shown arriving at the building earlier in the day.
The first hour of Raw was commercial-free this week. Pat McAfee made his entrance and joined Michael Cole on commentary. Cole said there is breaking news that Cole and McAfee will be the commentary team on Raw moving forward.
Analysis: Welcome back to Pat McAfee in a commentary role. Pat is back on regular commentary in WWE as he reunites with Cole. They were great on Smackdown together in the past. Pat’s a busy guy with a daily sports show Monday to Friday for three hours, but I guess he’s willing to take on this new role as well. That probably requires Pat to fly on a private jet to get to Raw on Mondays and go back right after Raw back home in Indianapolis for his Tuesday show. Busy guy. It also helps being really rich.
Let’s Hear from CM Punk
CM Punk made his entrance wearing one of his shirts and his right arm in a sling. The fans chanted Punk’s name. Punk said he came real close on Saturday night and he felt he had it in the palm of his hands. Punk said he’s not mad about anything and congratulated Cody Rhodes. Punk said Cody’s earned it and he busts his ass. Punk wants to see Cody go to WrestleMania and finish his story. Punk talked about going back to back to win the Royal Rumble is a hell of an accomplishment like the Tampa Bay Lighting winning two straight Stanley Cups recently.
Punk said he feels a little bit unlucky. Punk said in the course of the Rumble, he tore his right triceps. Punk said maybe he can tape it and make it to Elimination Chamber and make it to WrestleMania, but it’s not in the cards. Punk said he didn’t want anybody to feel sorry for him. Punk spoke about how maybe he won’t ever get to main event WrestleMania.
Punk mentioned his friend Chad Gilbert who has cancer and he has a wife and daughter. Punk visits his friends, he’s never in a bad mood and he’s never down about it. Punk said that is soul-crushing. Punk said this is a flesh wound. Punk said that he loses more than he wins. Punk mentioned his two fights in the UFC, he said he lost, but he did it and he said yes to that opportunity because it scared the crap out of him. The fans chanted “CM Punk” for him. Punk said that it scared him. Punk said coming back here scares him. Punk said that this is just a bump in the world. Punk says Best in the World are those people who fight cancer, firefighters and people who save others. Punk said he just entertains us. Punk said he’ll keep doing it until the wheels fall off. Punk said it’s adversity, he has overcome it and he doesn’t focus on the negativity. Punk talked about how every day you wake up, you keep going, you put on your family’s table and that’s what he is going to do. Punk said WrestleMania 40 isn’t in the cards…and here’s an interruption from Drew McIntyre.
Analysis: Good job by CM Punk with that speech. I feel bad for Punk being hurt even though he said he didn’t want us to feel bad for him. Punk will be back by the summer hopefully or maybe end of summer. I wish him the best.
Drew McIntyre walked into the ring as Cole mentioned that Punk eliminated Drew from the Royal Rumble. Drew said that he said terrible things about Punk in the past. Drew spoke about how he has never been much of a spiritual person, but he wanted Punk to know that Drew prayed for this and it happened. The fans booed that. Drew said when he got into that Rumble, he targeted Punk and violently assaulted Punk. Drew said he couldn’t let Punk win it. Drew said he was mad that Punk eliminated him, but then he heard about Punk’s injury and Drew said mission accomplished because he exercised the demon that is CM Punk. Drew said he’s going to find a way to the main event of WrestleMania and he’s going to live CM Punk’s dream…again. The fans chanted “CM Punk” at that point.
Punk said that his heart hurts more than his triceps does. Punk said that he’s going to rehab the triceps and he’s going to main event WrestleMania. Punk said when he comes back, he’s coming right for Drew. That led to Drew trying to attack Punk, but Punk avoided it and fought back briefly with some weak punches. Drew nailed Punk with a headbutt. Drew stomped on Punk’s bandaged right arm. Sami Zayn ran out for the save due to his issues with McIntyre and Zayn punched Drew a few times. Drew bailed from the ring. Some officials checked on Punk in the ring. Cole called Drew a vile, disgusting, pathetic excuse of a man. Zayn and the officials helped Punk up back to his feet.
Analysis: That was pure evil from Drew. That’s about as low as it gets when you have somebody say that they prayed another person would get injured and that he targeted Punk in the match. It’s a way to get some heat on Drew and set up Punk against Drew whenever Punk comes back in the next six months or perhaps sooner than that. Sami Zayn going after Drew makes sense since Drew took out Zayn in the past, so Zayn has a score to settle with McIntyre. That also sets up a match for later.
The Judgment Day’s clubhouse was shown with Rhea Ripley trying to motivate the guys. Damian Priest & Finn Balor were ready for their WWE Tag Team Title match. Balor said they’ll show the world just how vicious they are.
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa aka #DIY talked about how they were going to show the world who they are…they are #DIY. That match is coming up. No commercials in this first hour as I mentioned.
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: The Judgment Day – Finn Balor & Damian Priest vs. #DIY – Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano
Priest overpowered Ciampa early, Balor tagged in and Gargano tagged in for some double team offense. #DIY sent their challengers out of the ring leading to Gargano/Ciampa jumping onto both guys on the floor. Ciampa was back in with a running back elbow on Balor. Priest took control with a slam on Ciampa and Balor was back in for a two count. Gargano made the tag, but the referee didn’t see it and the heels remained in control. Ciampa tried to fight out of the heel corner leading to a sunset flip on Priest for two. Priest came back with a punch to the jaw. Balor tagged in leading to Ciampa reversing Balor and Ciampa hit a reverse DDT for two. Gargano tagged back in with a clothesline/bulldog combo on both guys. Gargano kicked Priest on the floor and Gargano hit a slingshot Spear on Balor for a two count. Balor reversed a move on Gargano leading to an elbow drop to the chest. Priest tagged in, Gargano got a rollup for two and Ciampa sent Balor into the barricade. Gargano hit an assisted flipping neckbreaker on Priest for two. Priest powered out of a move by legal man Ciampa followed by Priest hitting an elbow smash. Balor stomped on Ciampa’s chest followed by Priest hitting a big leg drop for two. Ciampa hit Priest with a knee to the head, but Priest hit a powerslam for two because Gargano broke up the pin. Balor made the tag, Ciampa broke free and knocked Balor off the top rope while Gargano hit a DDT on Priest. Ciampa hit an Air Raid Crash off the middle turnbuckle for just a two count. The fans thought that was it. Gargano tagged in leading to the Meet in the Middle double team move (superkick/knee) as Gargano covered Balor for two, but Priest pulled Balor’s leg under the ropes to break up the pin. Gargano dove onto Priest on the floor. Balor got an inside cradle on Gargano for two. Balor hit a Slingblade followed by a dropkick into the ropes. Balor jumped off the top with Coup de Grace but Gargano avoided it. Gargano applied the Gargano Escape on Balor while Ciampa put the Sicilian Stretch on Priest. Priest powered out of it and slammed Ciampa onto Gargano to break up the submission. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for the great action.
Priest got the tag against Gargano as the fans chanted for #DIY and Gargano broke free leading to Ciampa tagging in. Gargano worked over Balor with punches, then Ciampa with a knee on Balor and Priest superkicked Ciampa out of the ring. Priest teased a move on Ciampa onto the commentary table, but Gargano jumped onto Priest. Priest gave Gargano a flatliner onto the commentary table. Back in the ring, Ciampa rolled up Priest for two. Priest punched Ciampa. Priest hit a Razor’s Edge on Ciampa and Balor jumped off the top with Coup de Grace on Ciampa for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Damian Priest & Finn Balor
Analysis: ***3/4 That was an excellent match. It’s tough to find the time to write about how awesome it was because it’s a commercial-free first hour. I thought that they did a nice job of working at a fast pace throughout the match and there were plenty of nearfalls for both teams. This is one of those title matches where I felt like a title change was possible, but it wasn’t to be. While Ciampa & Gargano are so fun to watch, I guess WWE doesn’t feel like putting the titles on them yet. Priest & Balor are a good team that works well together. I just think a title change would be refreshing because there are a lot of talented teams in the division. Anyway, I really enjoyed the match. These four guys worked very well together.
Let’s Hear for The Judgment Day
After the match, The Judgment Day’s Dominik Mysterio & JD McDonagh joined Damian Priest & Finn Balor in the ring. They bragged about the win. Priest invited R-Truth out there to join them.
R-Truth told the fans to rise for The Judgment Day. Priest tried to talk about what happened at the Royal Rumble. Truth said he relocated Priest’s cash into crypto, he found Priest’s taxes and he liquidated all of his assets. Priest said there’s no way you know what any of that means. Priest said that The Judgment Day is a family and Truth said they’re like a family. Truth said Priest is like an older brother (Truth is way older) and Truth said Finn is like a weird uncle. Truth mentioned Tom & Nick, so the fans booed Dominik. Truth said JD is like the step-brother that you don’t want to admit is in the family.
Priest told Truth that The Judgment Day is a family, but Truth is not in the group. Priest said that he likes Truth and he likes him and he is very funny. Priest said that’s why he won’t be the one that does this. Priest called for Dominik, but it was JD attacking Truth from behind with punches and kicks. The Miz ran out in his ring gear to try to save Truth in the ring. The Judgment Day beat up The Miz. Dominik went up top and hit a Frog Splash on Miz. The Judgment Day stood tall over Miz & Truth.
Analysis: Poor R-Truth getting his ass kicked by The Judgment Day and The Miz did his best to help, but it didn’t happen. This might put an end to Truth thinking he’s in The Judgment Day, but with Truth you never really know.
CM Punk was shown getting helped backstage with Raw GM Adam Pearce talking to him. They said medical personnel would check on CM Punk.
It was announced that Sami Zayn will face Drew McIntyre.
Shayna Baszler & Zoey Stark vs. Piper Niven & Chelsea Green
Niven was in there first for her team and Baszler worked over Niven’s arm. I missed a bit because I was writing about previous segments due to the lack of commercials. Green avoided an attack from Stark and Green hit a neckbreaker for two. Green tried to tag out, but Baszler pulled Niven off the apron. Stark hit the Z360 knee on Green for the pinfall win. It lasted about three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Shayna Baszler & Zoey Stark
Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to give Baszler & Stark a dominant win. The crowd was dead for this since they were two heel teams. I think Green could be successful as a face due to her comedic skills, but for now, she remains in a heel role.
Cody Rhodes is up next on Raw. They went to a commercial 53 minutes into the show, so it was nearly one hour commercial-free.
A commercial aired for Elimination Chamber on February 24th in Perth, Australia. It’s a much earlier start time for many of us.
A video aired about WrestleMania 40 and it’s 68 days away. I’m looking forward to it.
Let’s Hear from Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes made his entrance with adrenaline in his soul and he was dressed in a suit as usual. The fans popped big for Cody while shouting out the “WHOA-OH” parts of the song as loudly as ever. Cole mentioned Cody lasted over 43 minutes and he eliminated four men to win the Royal Rumble match for the second year in a row. The fans chanted “you deserve it” before Cody could say a word.
Cody: “So…Tampa Bay, what do we want to talk about?” Cody said he had something in mind to say first in response to his own question, but on his way out there he heard something for the first time that was music to his ears. Cody asked ring announcer Samantha Irvin to say it one more time. Samantha introduced the 2023 and 2024 Winner of the Men’s Royal Rumble match. Samantha is a tremendous announcer.
Cody said that he knows you come to Raw, WWE live, Smackdown and the PLE is on the superstars to give you the best action and escape from any worries that you might have. Cody said sometimes they need to escape too. Cody said that everything is good and all is well, but on Saturday, you will never know how much Cody needed you. Cody told the fans he is endlessly grateful for that. Cody looked emotional, but then he moved on. Cody wanted to make WrestleMania 40 official…and here comes World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins.
Seth “Freakin” Rollins made his entrance as the World Heavyweight Champion in all blue attire and some shades as usual. Big pop for Rollins as the fans sang his song like they usually do. Rollins got into the ring with Cody as the fans kept singing the song.
Rollins told Cody that Tampa Bay is right because Cody deserved it. Rollins said that over the past year, they’ve developed a mutual respect between them. Rollins congratulated Cody on back to back Royal Rumble wins while shaking hands. Rollins told Cody if he chooses to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, you’re making a big mistake. Rollins told Cody that he should fight Seth instead. Rollins wanted Cody to hear him out. Rollins said that Cody spoke at the Royal Rumble press conference saying he was The Guy, but Seth said that Cody is not The Guy. Seth said Roman Reigns is not The Guy because Seth is The Guy. Rollins said that this World Heavyweight Championship is “THE” title in WWE.
Rollins said last year it made sense to go after Roman Reigns, but that was when there was one champion. Rollins said that he knows Cody has been focused on Reigns. Rollins spoke about how for the last year, they have been making the towns while traveling at live events and it was Seth’s World Heavyweight Title in the main events of those shows while noting that it wasn’t the WWE Title held by Reigns. Rollins said that this title came to be because every single one of these people were sick and tired of Roman Reigns. Rollins said that they were sick of Roman barely showing up, never defending the title and cheating to win every time he had the opportunity to be an honorable man. Rollins said that this title is for us and all of us have leveled the playing field with the World Heavyweight Championship. Rollins said we don’t need to pretend that Roman Reigns is a God anymore. Rollins said we don’t need Roman Reigns at all.
Rollins asked Cody what title do you want? Rollins asked if you want the Hollywood Title, the Hulk Hogan Title, the one for posers and frauds and for people who politic their way to the top…or do you want the Dusty Rhodes Title? Rollins asked if you wanted the workhorse, blue-collar championship because that’s what the World Heavyweight Championship means. Rollins said it’s about who is the very best between these ropes. Rollins said that it’s not about Dusty because this is about Cody and his decision. The fans chanted “Cody” as Rollins paused for the chant. Rollins said he didn’t need an answer right now. Rollins told Cody to think about this because it’s the biggest decision of his entire life and Rollins wants to know what is in here – Cody’s heart. Rollins asked Cody what kind of man does he want to be? Cody looked puzzled by it all.
Cody responded by saying he has an insane amount of respect for Seth. Cody said that this was the last thing he thought he would be thinking about. Cody told Rollins he’ll think about it. Pat summarized that it sounds like a maybe. Cody left while Rollins stood in the ring watching him.
Analysis: That was an interesting segment. Yes, Cody made it clear he’s going after Roman Reigns but he never made it official and this is a case of Seth trying to convince Cody to go another route so that Seth could get a main event match. Cody Rhodes spoke from the heart and was about to say he was going after Roman Reigns, but then there was that interruption from Seth Rollins. I thought Seth’s promo was terrific. Seth put it all out there about how those two guys have been top stars on the Raw brand for the last year and he wanted Cody to pick Seth’s World Title instead of Roman’s WWE Title. Seth did make a lot of good points, but obviously, the legacy of the WWE Title is greater. We know Cody is probably going to pick Roman Reigns, but on January 29th we don’t need to know the WWE Title match for WrestleMania yet. I think that Cody is going to explain that he wants the legacy of the WWE Title and he wants to be the one to end Roman Reigns’ championship reign, so that’s why he’ll pick that title. Seth made great points, but there’s no reason to go away from the Cody-Roman match. It should be Cody-Roman at WrestleMania 40 and I think it will be.
Kofi Kingston was backstage with Xavier Woods as Kofi spoke about how when people think about The New Day, they think about the fun, but they forget about the fact that New Day wins championships. Kofi said that’s what he’ll do tonight when he beats GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Championship.
Jey Uso made his entrance for singles action. The crowd loves Jey and they are certainly into that hand motion that Jey does during his entrance.
This Friday on Smackdown, Roman Reigns begins his road to Wrestlemania. Plus, US Champion Logan Paul returns and we saw a clip of Kevin Owens attacking Paul after their match at the Royal Rumble. We’ll see how that’s followed up on during Smackdown.
A video was shown of former NXT Champion Bron Breakker making his Royal Rumble debut. Bron was dominant during the match with power moves and his Spear on several different people.
Jey Uso vs. Bronson Reed
Reed used his power to run over Jey along with a headbutt. Reed hit a clothesline. Jey avoided a charging Reed and sent Reed out of the ring. Jey hit a suicide dive onto Reed on the floor. Reed shoved Jey into the ring post. Reed charged, Jey moved out of the way and Reed hit the ring post. That led to a break.
Jey got some offense going with punches. Reed sent Jey to the apron leading to Jey hitting a jumping kick to the head and Jey hit a cross body block off the top onto Reed for a two count. Reed blocked a kick attempt and Reed hit a senton splash onto Jey for two. Jey nailed Reed with two straight superkicks along with a jumping kick to the head for two. Jey went up top, Reed went after him, Jey punched him down to the mat and Jey jumped off the top, but Reed moved. Reed nailed a Death Valley Driver for a two count. Reed hit a running a splash on Jey against the turnbuckle. Reed jumped off the top with a Tsunami splash, but Jey moved and Reed hit the mat. Jey hit a superkick followed by a Spear. Jey went up top and Jey hit an Uso Splash for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jey Uso
Analysis: *** A good match that was competitive with both guys looking like they had a shot to win. Reed moves around the ring well for a big man, he has a lot of believable power moves and he sells properly too. Jey getting the win gives him some positive momentum. I thought Jey would make more of an impact in the Royal Rumble, but he didn’t do much even though he was in there longer than anybody else.
Jey Uso celebrated the win with his arm swinging routine while McAfee joined the crowd doing it.
They showed Andrade’s return at the Royal Rumble along with highlights from his WWE run. Andrade is back in WWE.
Andrade was shown in the office of Raw General Manager Adam Pearce. Andrade signed a Raw contract. Nick Aldis, the Smackdown GM, walked into the office. Pearce informed Aldis that Andrade just signed a new Raw contract while Aldis said that’s a shame because Smackdown had a great contract for him. Aldis congratulated Andrade and Andrade told Aldis to say hello to Senorita for him. Aldis talked to Pearce they had to discuss the Elimination Chamber. Aldis got a call and said it was Bron Breakker, so he had to take the call. Aldis left.
Analysis: That was an interesting backstage segment to officially put Andrade on Raw. Andrade is married to Charlotte Flair, who is going to be out of action for seven to nine months after ACL knee surgery earlier this month. Once she is back, I assume Andrade and Charlotte will be on the same brand. The senorita mentioned was likely Zelina Vega on Smackdown, who used to be Andrade’s manager.
GUNTHER, the Intercontinental Champion, did a promo talking about how Kofi Kingston will remember this night for the rest of his life. Gunther said after tonight, he would forget about Kofi. Gunther said when he’s done with Kofi, he’ll carry on as the longest-reigning and greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Gunther wished Kofi good luck. That match was up next.
There were more videos shown about the Royal Rumble including plenty of surprises in the Women’s Royal Rumble match.
Becky Lynch was interviewed backstage by Jackie Redmond, who asked what was Plan B for Lynch. Lynch said she let a lot of people down and she let herself down. Lynch said Plan B is that she doesn’t stop until she’s back at the top. Lynch said she won’t stop until that title is in the main event where it deserves. Jackie summarized it by saying that Lynch is a fighter.
Analysis: I think the plan for Lynch is to face Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania, so assuming Lynch is in the Women’s Elimination Chamber match, I’ll pick her to win it. I think Ripley-Lynch has been the plan for about a year too.
Kofi Kingston entered for the Intercontinental Championship. Kofi is a four-time IC Champion in his career. GUNTHER made his entrance as the Intercontinental Champion, who has held that championship for a record 598 days. Samantha Irvin did the championship introductions.
Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER vs. Kofi Kingston
Gunther hit Kofi with a knee to the spine and that led to a Boston Crab submission. That led to a break early in the match. I know it’s picture-in-picture in the US, but it’s not here in Canada. I don’t recap PIP action anyway.
Gunther was in control with an elbow smash on Kofi’s nose. Kofi fought back with punches, but Gunther hit a chop to the chest. Gunther whipped Kofi into the turnbuckle. Gunther sent Kofi into the turnbuckle again. Kofi kicked Gunther back, but Gunther came back with a body slam. Gunther sent Kofi into the turnbuckle leading to Kofi coming back with a forearm to the head. Kofi got a boot up followed by a kick to the head. Kofi jumped off the top, Gunther caught him and Gunther hit a backbreaker. Gunther applied a Boston Crab again as the show went to break.
The match returned with Kofi getting some offense including a two handed chop and a dropkick. Gunther went for a Powerbomb, but Kofi used his legs to send Gunther over the top rope to the floor. Kofi jumped onto Gunther on the floor, but Gunther tossed the back of Kofi’s neck into the apron. Kofi came back with a hurricanrana that sent Gunther into the ring post. Kofi hit a suicide dive onto Gunther on the floor. Kofi hit another suicide dive. Back in the ring, Gunther went for a chop and Kofi avoided it. Kofi hit the Trouble in Paradise kick for…no cover because Gunther rolled out of the ring. Kofi set up Gunther across the steel steps and Kofi jumped off the barricade with a forearm smash to Gunther’s back. Kofi went up top and jumped off with a Boom Drop leg drop for a two count. Kofi went for Trouble in Paradise, but Gunther caught the leg and Kofi countered into a two count. Gunther decked Kofi with a clothesline. Gunther went for another clothesline, but Kofi avoided it and hit the SOS trip into a slam for a two count. Gunther hit a clothesline, dropkick and a Powerbomb for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: GUNTHER
Analysis: ***3/4 That was an awesome title match. That’s the usual from Gunther and Kofi always delivers in big matches. A lot of the match featured Gunther on offense, but then Kofi made the comeback and it was great after that. Kofi is so likable as a babyface, so the fans are always going to be behind him in a spot like this against a dominant heel like Gunther. I didn’t think that Kofi would win, but I liked some of the spots they did for nearfalls and making it look like Kofi had a shot. Congratulations to Gunther for reaching 600 days as Intercontinental Champion in two more days.
After the match, Xavier Woods checked on Kofi Kingston in the ring. Imperium’s Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci attacked The New Day guys. Kofi sold it like he was exhausted. Kaiser & Vinci sent Woods crashing into the ring post.
Analysis: A cheap attack by the heels, which has been a common theme on this show. That should set up Imperium vs. The New Day again.
There was a replay of earlier in December when Drew McIntyre beat Sami Zayn and Drew attacked Sami’s left leg. Sami took a break until his return after the Royal Rumble.
Sami Zayn was interviewed by Jackie Redmond, who asked how Sami will manage his emotions. Zayn said it was very hard to sit on the sidelines especially because of a man like McIntyre. Zayn said that Drew is targeting CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Jey Uso and himself, so as far as Sami is concerned, Drew needs a reality check and Zayn will give it to him.
The Women’s Tag Team Champions, the Kabuki Warriors duo of Asuka & Kairi Sane made their entrance for a match up next.
Kabuki Warriors – Asuka & Kairi Sane vs. Natalya & Tegan Nox
Sane battled Natalya and then Asuka tagged in with a kick. Natalya sent Asuka into the turnbuckle. Nox tagged in with an uppercut on Asuka followed by a kick. Nox hit a cannonball splash on Asuka against the turnbuckle. All four women were in the ring as Nox & Natalya each hit running kicks on the champions. They went to a break there.
Asuka and Sane did some double team offense on Nox including a bulldog by Asuka followed by Sane hitting a dropkick. Natalya tried to get the fans to cheer for Nox, but the fans were quiet. Nox fought out of the corner with a kick to Asuka, but Asuka caught Nox’s foot leading to an Ankle Lock. Sane pulled Natalya off the apron to prevent a tag. Nox rolled through on Asuka and Nox got an uppercut. Natalya tagged in with two snap suplexes on Asuka. Natalya hit a release German Suplex on Asuka followed by a spinning discus clothesline. Natalya wanted a tag, but Nox went after Sane and Sane tripped up Nox on the apron. Natalya rolled up Asuka for two. Asuka kicked Natalya to knock her down. Sane went up top and hit the Insane Elbow while Asuka did a neckbreaker and Sane covered Natalya to win. It went about 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Kabuki Warriors – Asuka & Kairi Sane
Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match. The fans weren’t into it. The key spot is when Natalya wanted to tag Nox in, but instead, Nox tried to go after Sane and Sane managed to take Nox out, so there was no tag. I don’t know if that’s going to lead to problems for the Natalya/Nox team. It certainly might lead to issues. Asuka & Sane are a lot of fun to watch. They are a great team.
Kayden Carter & Katana Chance were interviewed in the dressing room by Jackie Redmond. Chance said they would get their rematch for the titles and Carter said they would get their titles back. The title match is next week.
Bayley was introduced as the winner of the 2024 Women’s Royal Rumble match. The rest of Damage CTRL was in the ring to join Bayley for a promo up next.
Analysis: Bayley had an awful win-loss record in the last couple of years and especially in 2023, but when you win the Royal Rumble, people forget about stuff like that.
A commercial aired about NXT Vengeance Day, which is this Sunday, February 4th. I will likely write a live review of that show.
Let’s Hear from Bayley with Damage CTRL
Bayley was in the ring with Damage CTRL’s WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY, the Women’s Tag Team Champions Asuka & Kairi Sane and 2024 Royal Rumble winner Bayley. Bayley said that this is all thanks to her. Bayley said that Damage CTRL was going to take over and nobody believed her. Bayley spoke about how people thought she wasn’t as good as she used to be and people think she lost a lot of matches, but she stands here tall as the Women’s Royal Rumble winner. Bayley said that she came out on top when they have the most stacked women’s roster. Bayley talked about being in the match for 63:03 and wanted Cole to remember it.
Rhea Ripley interrupted the promo as the Women’s World Champion. Ripley walked out saying that Bayley only beat Ripley’s time in the Rumble, but that’s only because Ripley wasn’t in it. Ripley said Bayley doesn’t have gold and if she challenges Ripley then she still won’t have gold. Nia Jax attacked Ripley from behind. They went fighting in the ring around Damage CTRL. Jax knocked down Ripley followed by three leg drops by Jax. Jax hit the Annihilator splash off the turnbuckle. Damage CTRL left the ring except for Bayley.
Jax told Bayley that she could pick IYO or anybody else. Jax said that Rhea isn’t making it to WrestleMania. Bayley spoke about how she’s going to make her announcement on Smackdown about what champion she’s going to go after. They shot that from an angle where IYO SKY was talking to herself about that.
Analysis: Good job by Bayley with her bragging promo. Rhea Ripley facing Bayley is not going to happen, but you might as well tease the idea of it being a possibility. Nia Jax attacking Ripley was done well. It makes Jax look like a huge threat for the title. The logical booking move is to have Jax challenge Ripley at Elimination Chamber in Australia, which is Ripley’s home country so Ripley will be cheered heavily. Ripley will beat Jax there. Jax was born in Australia too. Meanwhile, Bayley saying her announcement for her WrestleMania challenge is coming on Smackdown makes me think that the rest of Damage CTRL will turn on Bayley in that segment. That will turn Bayley face so Bayley will go against WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY at WrestleMania 40. Bayley will beat Sky for the title. It makes sense. I like it.
Sami Zayn made his entrance for the main event.
Drew McIntyre was interviewed backstage before his match. Drew spoke about how he has beaten Sami Zayn many times while Zayn has never beaten him. Drew made his entrance for the main event.
Sami Zayn vs. Drew McIntyre
Zayn sent Drew out of the ring. Zayn jumped onto Drew, who caught Zayn on the floor and Drew tossed Zayn onto the commentary table. Drew went back into the ring to stop the count and back out to send Zayn back into the ring. Drew said something to McAfee, so Zayn hit a suicide dive onto Drew. That led to a break.
Drew remained in control with chops to the chest. There were less than ten minutes left in the show. Zayn tried to fight out of the corner with chops, but Drew tackled Zayn into the corner. Drew chopped Zayn again. Drew tried a lift while they were on the turnbuckle, Zayn fought back with punches to the back and Zayn hit a sunset flip Powerbomb for a two count. Zayn nailed an impressive Tornado DDT for two. Zayn charged, but Drew caught him and hit a spinebuster for two. Drew pulled up Zayn from the mat leading to a sitout Powerbomb for two. Drew charged, Zayn moved and Drew went shoulder-first into the ring post. Zayn tried a suplex, but Drew was too heavy and Drew delivered a headbutt. Drew went up top and Zayn stopped that. Zayn hit a superplex off the top rope. Zayn charged, but Drew hit a clothesline leading to Zayn doing a spinning bump. Drew charged for a Claymore Kick, Zayn avoided it and Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. The fans correctly chanted “this is awesome” for them. Drew gave Zayn a belly-to-belly throw across the ring. Drew climbed the ropes and hit an Air Raid Crash/White Noice off the middle turnbuckle for two. Drew told Sami he has some balls, but some people are out of your league and you can’t touch like Drew McIntyre. Zayn came back with punches. Drew with a headbutt. Zayn set up in the corner, Zayn wanted a Helluva Kick, but Drew got his forearms up for a low blow to block the kick. It looked like an inadvertent low blow, but obvously a blatant move by a heel like Drew to get him more heat. Drew hit a Claymore Kick for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: ***1/2 A very good match as usual from two of the best wrestlers in WWE. Every time these guys wrestle it’s a win for McIntyre, so it was more of the same. Since it was pushed that Zyan hasn’t beaten McIntyre then maybe that’s something that they can build up to in the future. The low blow block from Drew puts him over as a cheap heel even more. It looked accidental, but if they follow up on it next week then they can have Drew say he did it on purpose. I liked the match.
Drew McIntyre celebrated the win by the entrance area while Zayn was selling the low blow in the ring. Drew left happily. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: It was the second straight week where Drew got the win in the main even since he beat Damian Priest last week. I don’t know if Drew is re-signing with WWE or if he has already, but he is being featured a lot and I think he’s doing amazing. Stick around for a while.
Three Stars of the Show
- Drew McIntyre
- CM Punk – Get well soon.
8 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2024 Average: 7.5
Final Thoughts on WWE Raw
I thought it was a great episode of Raw. The best of 2024 so far. The injury news for CM Punk was unfortunate, but he handled it well and I thought he had a very noble babyface speech about coming back from it. Drew McIntyre interrupting it and getting huge heat by saying he prayed for Punk to get hurt was very mean, but that’s what pro wrestling heels should be. Drew is doing amazing work lately. Second straight week where he won a Raw main event too. I sure hope this means Drew is signing a new contract and sticking around WWE for many years to come. The Drew match with Sami was good as usual.
The two title matches were awesome. No surprise there with GUNTHER involved and we know Kofi Kingston can deliver in big matches. I enjoyed that one a lot. The Tag Team Title match with Priest & Balor retaining over #DIY was also outstanding. I thought maybe Gargano & Ciampa would win here, but I don’t mind seeing the champs retain. When you put on long matches for titles and they are treated like important matches, it will mean that much more when those champions lose.
I liked the Cody Rhodes and Bayley promos as Royal Rumble winners. I doubt Cody chooses Seth Rollins and I doubt Bayley chooses Rhea Ripley, but there’s nothing wrong with these two matches when it’s over two months until WrestleMania. Damage CTRL will likely turn on Bayley as soon as this Friday on Smackdown. Pat McAfee’s return as a full-time announcer on Raw was a bit of a surprise. He certainly doesn’t need the money with what he gets from ESPN, but he enjoys being part of WWE. I was entertained by this show.
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.