Notes In Observance – WWE Raw 1/2/17: The Season Premiere
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.
The Season Premiere
– The General Manager Mick Foley/WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens/Chris Jericho/Commissioner Stephanie McMahon opening in-ring segment was a “Raw” way to start the new year – 20-minute talking segment. Woot woot. Anyways, Foley sported shorter hair in a cut that didn’t look finished. We have to take him seriously now? He poked fun at his lack of ability to remember the city he was in, as he used it for a cheap laugh. Owens/Jericho made claims that Foley abused his power and criticized that Seth Rollins was rewarded for his deviant behavior. In turn, Foley booked the first episode of The Kevin Owens show as a talk show where Goldberg would be his first guest. Steph’s portion involved some brief disagreements with Foley, but she stood by him and subsequently booked Jericho to face WWE United States Champion Roman Reigns for the Title. She added that if Reigns was counted out or disqualified, he’d lose the belt. Afterwards, she brought up how “sick” she was that SmackDown Live beat them in the ratings last week (interesting) and booked Owens against Rollins, where the loser would be banned from ringside during the US Title match. Guess now it can be a “ratings war” since SD Live beat Raw for once, but wouldn’t that be something for Raw to stay away from? It’s as if they invited people to skip them and watch SD instead. Anyways, good hype for later segments and the Owens-Reigns WWE Universal Championship Royal Rumble match where Jericho would be hung in a shark cage.
– The Owens-Rollins match where the loser would be banned from ringside in the US Title match was good, though we’ve seen it before. We appreciated that they seemed to be more physical, but the spots were repetitive, like Rollins’ blockbuster and Owens’ DDT. The stipulation was also misleading to us. It sounded like it was being encouraged that the winner cheat during the Title match. Both men avoided each other’s finishers, before it ended flatly. Owens used the ring bell as a weapon and got disqualified, which meant that he’d be banned. Post-match, Owens tried to attack Rollins and escaped when the tables turned. Will Rollins ever get to Triple H? He’s spinning his wheels here.
– The Cesaro-Karl Anderson match with Sheamus on commentary felt average at best, but a breath of fresh air. It appears that Anderson/Luke Gallows will be pushed as WWE Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus/Cesaro’s Rumble opponents. Sheamus did alright on commentary as he acted calmer and put over his partner, who was athletic in his own right. Cesaro hit a flawless double springboard cross body. Gallows’ interference attempt before Cesaro could hit the big swing drove Sheamus down to ringside to even the score. Anderson hit a fierce spinebuster for a two-count. Cesaro/Anderson stood on the top rope as Gallows climbed onto the apron. Sheamus yanked him off, as Gallows yanked the rope on the way down. That drove Cesaro to a halt and knocked him off the top rope. Anderson hit a wild jumping neckbreaker from the top to pin Cesaro. Perhaps maybe they’ll be serious about a Gallows/Anderson Title run, but will they do it so early at Cesaro/Sheamus’ expense?
– The Last Man Standing match between Sami Zayn and Braun Strowman was actually well-hyped from a week out and had a great video package. Strowman had been a beast who ran through the roster, yet Zayn was able to survive 10 minutes with him at Roadblock: End Of The Line, which set the monster off further. To add to the visual effect, Zayn had a big shiner on his left eye. The match wasted no time with a “hardcore” theme as Zayn smartly went at Strowman with stiff kendo stick shots that he seemed to hide away at ringside knowingly. Strowman snapped it in half. Zayn reached for another and hit him over the head with it. Strowman countered Zayn’s barricade moonsault as he caught him and dropped him down. After he missed Zayn at the post with a running charge, Zayn pushed him back into it. You could also see that Strowman had some nasty welts from the kendo shots, which added to our enjoyment. Zayn went for his through-the-ropes DDT to the floor, but Strowman caught him with a stiff right. Zayn began to get dominated like matches of old, as Strowman purposely stopped the count to cause more punishment. Things got better as they walked towards the backstage area by the announce table. Zayn hit Strowman with a lead pipe and shoved him into equipment cases. The monster answered back as he threw Zayn onto a pile of high cases. Zayn avoided a case thrown at his head and hit him with a steel chair to the back. Strowman threw Zayn several times into the LCD screens onstage. The biggest tease for Zayn came when he hit a cross body that took Strowman off the stage and through two tables below. Of course, Strowman got up at five and launched Zayn down the ramp as the crowd began to chant, “This is aweosme!” and Strowman was in control from that point. Two running powerslams on the floor later and Zayn was done. The real good stuff came post-match when Strowman went for more as he pushed Zayn off a stretcher when medical personnel and Foley came down to check on him. He threw Zayn into the barricade to finish the assault. Freaking awesome. Zayn showed a lot of fight and gave it a shot, while Strowman asserted his dominance. Better than we expected.
– We finally got some history with the “Extraordinary Gentleman” Jack Gallagher-New Day backstage segment. Gallagher’s “umbrella duel” lessons with the former Tag Champs marked the first time we saw a Cruiserweight competitor interact with somebody other than a Cruiserweight. Could the roster segregation finally be over?
– The ND-Titus O’Neil in-ring segment started out alright when ND made the stereotypical New Year’s Resolution jokes and spoke about how they were all in the Rumble match. They were interrupted by a horrendous impression of Big E’s classic intro, revealed to be O’Neil. We felt this segment drag all the way down. It’s like O’Neil now makes everything less cool by default. What have they done? Anyways, we got a ridiculous proposal by O’Neil to join ND as he “auditioned” and the crowd actually cheered for his dancing. The guy does have charisma, but we had to know ND wouldn’t be into that. This set up an Xavier Woods-O’Neil match when O’Neil/Woods traded personal jabs as O’Neil referred to him as the “weak link.” O’Neil snuck in a cheap shot and wanted to call a Referee out. Guess we’ve seen worse things, but eh.
– The Woods-O’Neil match was unfortunately forgettable besides for the finish, where Woods pinned him with a sunset flip. The joke’s on The Titus Brand because he’s the weakest link, you know. Ha ha ha. Next.
– The Bayley-Steph backstage segment had the right idea, but lacked logic. It made sense for Bayley to question how Steph could let Dana Brooke be Special Guest Referee last week after her victory was expunged from the record books. Steph used that as a way to talk down to “ordinary” Bayley and put WWE Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte over as “the pedigree.” They went the Zayn route, as Steph claimed she never wanted Bayley on the show. Bayley made this half-hearted speech that she felt she belonged because she fought for a long time. Apparently it won over Steph because she booked another WWE Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender match between Bayley and Nia Jax. Yup, even though Bayley was cleanly defeated by the Champion herself last week in an attempt to gain another victory because the previous one was expunged because of Charlotte’s rich money lawyers, she was getting another shot anyway just because.
– The Cedric Alexander/Alicia Fox/Noam Dar backstage segment continued Dar’s creepy pursuit of Fox as he called her “sweet cheeks” after he claimed he was a new person with the new year. The “beautiful foooooox” held her man back, of course.
– The Alexander-Drew Gulak match with Austin Aries on commentary carried off last week’s 205 Live when Tony Nese was able to pin Alexander after Fox’s ringside antics caused her to be ejected and her man to be distracted. Nese was at ringside this time in a suit (not sure why the Nese/Gulak duo wear suits when not in the ring, perhaps they’re classy Cruiserweights) as we got average action at best. An early highlight involved a Gulak body slam that took Alexander onto the ropes and back onto his neck. As Nese climbed on the apron, Fox yanked him off and flipped out. Alexander was distracted again. Gulak scooped him up and pulled on the tights for the win. On one hand, we like that they had a repeat of 205’s finish, but aren’t we supposed to be on Fox’s side given how creepy Dar acts towards her? Why portray her as a bad influence on Alexander’s in-ring career?
– The WWE United States Championship match between Champion Reigns and Jericho with Owens banned from ringside and Reigns with no Champion’s advantage began on a decent note. The crowd began dueling chants as Jericho hit a nice missile dropkick on the Champ’s lower jaw. He hit his top rope dropkick to knock Reigns off the apron. This was actually a good effort, as Jericho knows how to work the crowd and get the best out of Reigns. Jericho avoided the Drive-By as Reigns flew knee and head-first into the ring post. Nice tease as the Referee counted all the way to nine before Reigns just beat the count. The Title would’ve changed hands there. Reigns began to work some power spots and dropped Jericho on his back. We questioned what the point of the opening match stipulation was if Rollins wasn’t going to actually be out there at any point. Jericho applied the Walls Of Jericho, but Reigns escaped and hit the Superman Punch as Jericho leaped off the top rope. Near-fall. Jericho used some heel smarts as he undid the protective padding and grabbed a chair while the Referee put it back together. He pulled an Eddie Guerrero as he threw the chair at Reigns to catch and laid down on the floor as the Referee turned around. When it looked like it wouldn’t work, Jericho popped up and hit a Codebreaker for a close near-fall. That even got us. Jericho ended up hitting his head on the exposed steel and turning around into a Spear to lose. So much for that. How many times can Owens/Jericho get US Title shots?
– The Brian Kendrick-TJ Perkins match with Aries on commentary had possible WWE Cruiserweight Championship implications while they showed an angry Neville watching on a backstage monitor. They replayed his defeat and subsequent assault on Champion Rich Swann on last week’s 205 Live. Some fast action to start, but no crowd reaction. Things aren’t clicking the way WWE hoped. Perkins’ springboard Frankensteiner was nice though. Kendrick’s Sliced Bread Number Two attempt caused him to get hit with the Detonation Kick and landed him in the kneebar, where he tapped out. Evidently it set up a Neville-Perkins match for this week’s 205 Live. That should be a blast.
– The Emmalina hype video was literally the same as the last, as she praised us for “being so good” and “waiting so long” that it’d all be worth it. Any day, lady. Maybe this is more of a trolling thing at this point and she’ll actually be Evil Emma again. Please let that happen.
– The 2-On-1 Handicap match between Big Cass and Rusev/Jinder Mahal continued their lame storyline. Enzo Amore sat at ringside in a motorized wheelchair, as he apparently sustained injuries at a recent live event. Forgettable stuff as we saw Cass take down Rusev with a big boot while Mahal slapped Enzo outside. That distracted Cass as he was caught with a Rusev kick to the head. The heels won and that was eh. Where’s this all going?
– The WWE Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s match between Jax and Bayley with Charlotte on commentary was okay at best. Jax used her strength, but ran into the post. She recovered to hit some leg drops on Bayley. Cool finish as Sasha Banks’ music hit and she distracted Jax on the top rope, as Bayley went for a Bayley-To-Belly to get the win. It’ll be Bayley against Charlotte at the Rumble after all. It feels a bit premature to do this with Bayley, but since there are no other babyface women on Raw besides Banks and she’s busy with Jax, what else could they do? At least it was a good way for Banks to get revenge against Jax. That sounds like the better storyline honestly.
– Next week’s Raw would come from New Orleans as “rumor had it” that Undertaker would appear (the same city the streak ended in) and Shawn Michaels was hyped to appear. We wonder if that was an obvious ploy to boost ratings ahead of WrestleMania season. Here come the legends again.
– The Owens/Jericho/Goldberg/Paul Heyman/Strowman/Reigns “KO Show” segment was a great device for Rumble hype as we got some money worthy staredowns. Firstly, the talk show set was hilarious as there was a beach chair for the guest and a guy with a big sign placed over his face with the show’s logo. Owens teased a Goldberg introduction, only to switch it to Jericho. Of course, Tampa Bay as a city was put on the “List” for cheering “Goldberg” on the KO Show. Perfect tension as Jericho “dropped a bomb” that he was also in the Rumble, which didn’t please Owens. Goldberg’s entrance interrupted those quarrels. He threw some chairs around. Owens said he wasn’t intimidated and did the same with the table and other chairs. As they went face-to-face, Heyman interrupted to talk about Brock Lesnar’s high Rumble chances, who wasn’t there. Goldberg interrupted and said he had a date at WrestleMania no matter who was Champion. Reigns came out and we got a staredown between those two. Strowman came down, yanked the mic out of Heyman’s hand and said he’d win the Rumble. The show ended as Goldberg/Reigns hit Strowman with a double Spear to throw him off his feet. With battle lines drawn, it was all about the Rumble. Good on that part.
- Loser Is Banned From Ringside During WWE United States Championship Match – Seth Rollins def. Kevin Owens via disqualification
- Karl Anderson (w/Luke Gallows) def. Cesaro (w/Sheamus) via pinfall
- Last Man Standing Match – Braun Strowman def. Sami Zayn
- Xavier Woods (w/Big E, Kofi Kingston) def. Titus O’Neil via pinfall
- Drew Gulak (w/Tony Nese) def. Cedric Alexander (w/Alicia Fox) via pinfall
- Kevin Owens Is Banned From Ringside – WWE United States Championship – Roman Reigns (Champion) def. Chris Jericho via pinfall to retain
- TJ Perkins def. Brian Kendrick via pinfall
- 2-On-1 Handicap Match – Rusev (w/Lana)/Jinder Mahal def. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore) via pinfall
- WWE Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Match – Bayley def. Nia Jax via pinfall
Posted on March 27, 2017, in WWE and tagged Alicia Fox, Bayley, Big Cass, Big E, Braun Strowman, Brian Kendrick, Byron Saxton, Cedric Alexander, Cesaro, Charlotte, Chris Jericho, Corey Graves, Drew Gulak, Emmalina, Enzo Amore, Goldberg, Jack Gallagher, Jinder Mahal, Karl Anderson, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Lana, Luke Gallows, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Neville, Nia Jax, Noam Dar, Paul Heyman, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Sheamus, Stephanie McMahon, The New Day, Titus O'Neil, TJ Perkins, Tony Nese, Xavier Woods. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.