WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown Live
Mike Miceli – Staff Writer
Welcome to another edition of Bell2Bell where we recap both WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown LIVE every Sunday right here on TwoCentsTV!
WWE Raw 1/16/17
Oh Raw… Just when I think I’m out… You pull me back in…
Raw kicks off with, what else? Another talking segment between Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Chris Jericho with a Braun Strowman sprinkled on top. No Stephanie McMahon or Mick Foley (at all during this episode so… I guess that’s progress?).
Roman cuts a truly awful promo with stilted, rehearsed dialogue and canned lines that was almost painful (but not as painful as the Bayley segment… more on that later). He plugged The Shield for a cheap pop and said Kevin Owens can’t beat him one on one. He’s going to take the Universal Championship and main event Wrestlemania. (That’s exactly what everyone is afraid of, Roman)
Paul Heyman comes out and says Brock Lesnar is here at Raw and slays another fantastic promo (there’s no one better, truly). “Goldberg” chants rained down on Heyman, playing into his hand as he said he had a spoiler for the Royal Rumble: “Eat, Sleep, Elimination, Repeat”. Roman tried to crack a joke about this, which fell flat.
Thankfully, Owens and Jericho came out quickly thereafter. They say Owens will retain at the Rumble and Jericho will win the Rumble match. And then the Wrestlemania main event will be the two best friends and no matter who wins, they both win. Owens took umbrage with this and said he’s winning no matter who he faces.
Rollins was out next saying he’s going to win the Rumble and be in the main event at Wrestlemania.
Braun Storuman is out right after that, presumably to say HE’S going to win the Rumble and main event Wrestlemania. But he’s interrupted by Brock Lesnar’s music.
Brock Lesnar came down to the ring to save this meandering segment. Before he could get to ring Sami Zayn came through the crowd and attacked Strowman from behind. A brawl broke out and Lesnar hit Zayn with a suplex before coming face to face with Storwman. Strowman backs off, but Reigns hits Lesnar with a Superman Punch. Lesnar shrugs it off, and hits an F5 on Roman Reigns. This was an overly long, boring segment but at least the Lesnar appearance and ensuing brawl had it end on a high note.
Tag Team action was up next as Enzo (now healed and out of his wheelchair) and Cass came down to the ring to square off against Rusev and Jinder Mahal in what seemed to be the blow off match to this little feud of theirs.
This was an ok match and it was good to see Enzo back in action after being sidelined with a fake/real injury. This was relatively brief which saw Enzo and Cass hit he “Boom Shakalaka” for the victory.
Next up was our first of 3 Cruiserweight Division matches, each as forgettable and pointless as the last. So, I think I’m just going to get them all out of the way now and move on because there are two really good matches I’d rather spend more time on. Ariya Daivari submitted Lince Dorado with his modified “Cobra Clutch” for the win in a quick match. Cruiserweight champ Rich Swann was set to face Tony Nese but he was attacked by Neville before the match could begin.
Cedrick Alexander defeated The Brian Kendrick in an okay match that was given at least a little bit of time. Alexander was able to get the win with some outside help from his “crazy girlfriend” Alicia Fox. This has been an ongoing saga on 205 Live so I won’t recap much of it here, but this goofy high school drama stuff isn’t exactly enticing television.
We had our match of the night with Cesaro and Sheamus defending their tag belts against Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. This was a great match with a wonky finish, but it was nice to see The Club actually look like the dominant heels they can be. Both teams came out of this looking like a million bucks, especially Gallows and Anderson who seem to be slowly (very slowly) recovering from their truly awful booking since the brand split.
Gallows and Cesaro were MVP’s here, carrying a good portion of the match. Anderson and Sheamus held their own as well as the match featured quick tags, believable near-falls, and excellent pacing. The finish was a little… weird. Dusty would be proud. Sheamus accidentally knocked out the ref, and he was then thrown into the ring post and out of the ring. Anderson and Gallows then hit their finisher and another ref ran down to the ring and counted three. New tag champs!
But not really. The original ref came to, quicker than any ref in history, and waved off the second ref’s decision. Instead he disqualified Sheamus for referee contact, which led to a Club victory by DQ. This allowed Sheamus and Cesaro to keep their belts.
Considering how good this match was, I like that they are pushing this feud a little further. But, this is another example of inconsistent officiating and WWE bending the rules on the fly when it suits them. Which I can’t stand. But on the bright side, we’ll probably get a rematch at the Royal Rumble where maybe we’ll see The Club finally take the tag titles? We’ll see…
The New Day came out for their weekly Titus O’neil segment. What is the point of this? Really? Is this going somewhere or do they truly have absolutely NOTHING for the New Day to do now that they’ve lost the belts? As I predicted last week, we had O’Neil against Big E this episode.
This was nothing really special, although for two big guys, they kept the match quick and tight. Titus loses for the third time in a row to a New Day member. Maybe this will lead to some kind of Rumble shenanigans, but I’m sure there’s something better The New Day could be doing with their time. Why not have them feud with Enzo and Cass? Sure it’d be Face vs Face, but the mic work would at least be exciting. Instead we have Enzo and Cass in a boring feud with Rusev, and New Day in a boring feud with Titus O’Neil… zero logic.
Charlotte Flair came down to the ring to make fun of Bayley for being average and more a fan than a wrestler. Charlotte put some of Bayley’s old pictures and poems up on the screen (where she got them, I have no idea) and bullied her a bit. It was a good promo and as I’ve said before, she’s a fantastic heel. Bayley came out after she’d heard enough and stormed down to the ring with purpose. I thought she might attack Charlotte and stand up for herself a bit.
But that didn’t happen. She got on the mic instead, which is… fine. But I think Bayley, at some point needs to show that harder side like we saw when she threw Dana Brooke into those cases a month or so ago.
Bayley started her promo off well with a passionate story about being in the stands with her dad who scraped and saved to get her WWE tickets. How she told him one day she’ll be down there. And she made it. I actually felt for Bayley here. Felt her passion and drive. It was well done. Then… it went completely down hill. Off a cliff actually. I could immediately tell where Bayley’s promo ended and the creative writers took over.
Bayley said she had some poetry for Charlotte right now. (Oh no…) Do you guys want to here it? (Please no.) Roses are red… (Ugh.) Violets are blue… (Meh.) At Royal Rumble… (Sigh.) I will defeat you! (Groan.) Unfortunately it didn’t stop there as we got 2 more of these “poems” before the segment ended. The crowd died a bit with each one.
SIDE NOTE: Did Charlotte’s outfit seriously have a built in cape?
We had another perfect example of Nia Jax shooting herself in the foot. WWE showed a video of Sasha Banks having her medical evaluation in the ring earlier in the afternoon before Raw began. It was an interesting point of view that we rarely (if ever) see. Sasha was running some exercises for the medical team when Jax appeared out of nowhere and attacked her. This was great, very different and WWE should have left it there.
But then we cut to backstage where Jax was standing by with an interviewer and she cut a boring, monotone promo that only served to negate any kind of intimidation factor she built with the attack. Just… stop having her speak. Seriously. She doesn’t need to.
A video package aired announcing Kurt Angle as the headliner for the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2017 and I could not be more exited! I don’t want to speculate to much about Royal Rumble appearances or Wrestlemania potential… but let’s just say I’ve got some fantasy booking ideas that I’ll discuss more on my post-Royal Rumble “Wrestlemania Predictions” article.
We had quite the main event to close the show with a 6-man tag match featuring Reigns/Rollins/Zayn VS Jericho/Owens/Strowman. This was a great match with Sami Zayn as MVP without a doubt. But everyone contributed something to the match (yes, even Reigns) and there were some great spots. Strowman shined as well looking very strong as he threw everyone over the top rope at the start of the match (a not so subtle Royal Rumble nod).
The match was well paced and everyone got their usual spots in. Reigns even got to show a little aggression, which I appreciated. Zayn faced off against Jericho for a bit which is a match I’d LOVE to see at Wrestlemania… or any PPV really. Zayn, predictably, took the pinfall here as all the other guys need to be relatively protected heading into the Rumble. But, I’m okay with that as he looked amazing throughout the match with some serious offense in on all his opponents.
The most interesting portion of the show happened after the main event when an almost 10-minute brawl broke out between the match participants. This was fantastic in every sense of the word. Some brutal hard hitting stuff. Reigns hit Strowman with one of the stiffest, hardest hitting spears I think I’ve ever seen. You could hear the collision on TV it was so hard. I also liked that the commentators cleared out, so the actions of the wrestlers spoke for themselves.
We had more than a few brutal chair shots. Rollins hit Jericho with a pedigree on the metal stage grating. And Owens powerbombed Reigns through the announcer’s table. This was an amazing, entertaining closer to Raw. More entertaining than anything they’ve done in months. MONTHS. Thank you. From the bottom of my jaded, smarky heart.
Raw was a much better show than the last two weeks combined. While the Crusierweights felt like little more than filler, Brock Lesnar at the top of the show, the excellent tag title match, the impressive main event, and the post-main event brawl really made this a pretty fantastic episode
Click below to head on over to page 2 for the WWE Smackdown recap!