The final Raw before the Royal Rumble ended on a high note as Bill Goldberg was joined in the ring by Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. With the crowd going wild, the three part-timers who are considered Royal Rumble favorites had a staring contest as Raw went off the air. Good or bad? Let’s figure it out.
Goldberg’s appearance was advertised last week on Raw and hyped up during the entire show this week. It could have happened at any point during Raw, but WWE saved it for the main event slot because that’s where they felt like it belongs.
It was an awkward segment from the moment Goldberg got out there because he had blood on the top of his head. How does that happen? Announcer Corey Graves explained that when Goldberg is backstage before he gets to the ring, he usually headbutts the door before he comes out and he must have done it so hard that he cracked the top of his head open. It wasn’t a nasty cut, but it was weird watching this stream of blood coming from the head of a guy that didn’t do anything physically.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) January 24, 2017
Goldberg stumbled his way through the promo he was supposed to deliver. He stopped and started three times. At first, I thought it was because the “Goldberg” chants were overwhelming, but I think he legitimately forgot what to say. Performers in WWE are given scripted lines that they have to memorize before they get into the ring, so sometimes you can tell when people mess up and it can come off as awkward. I’m not sure if he was dizzy from hitting his head on the door or if the verbiage was confusing for him. Goldberg was not known for being a great talker in the WCW years. He improved a lot post-wrestling because he had several acting roles in his career.
Paul Heyman interrupted Goldberg by saying that Brock Lesnar was going to win the Royal Rumble. That led to Heyman introducing Lesnar, who entered the arena to a big pop. He wasn’t advertised, but those of us who follow WWE online know that he was going to be there. Goldberg called Lesnar down to the ring for a confrontation.
Goldberg and Lesnar had a face-off, the gong sound hit, the lights went off, the crowd went wild and The Undertaker appeared in the ring. Raw ended shortly after that as Undertaker, Lesnar and Goldberg had a dramatic staredown to send the show off the air.
When the show ended, fans in the arena reported that Lesnar left first, Goldberg left after and Undertaker was the last man left in the ring. Fans cheered Undertaker doing some poses and that was it.
I understand why WWE had them simply do a staredown without doing anything physical, but I would have loved to see a brawl. If you had the three guys throwing punches while others from the back went to the ring to try to break it up only to take finishing moves, that would have really ended Raw in an exciting way. The staredown makes people yearn for more, so that’s why they did it.
The best way I can summarize it is to say that it was a good finish, but not a great one. A brawl would have made it feel special.
As for Goldberg’s bloody head, it is edited out of the Raw photo gallery on WWE.com today. I posted a side by side look on Twitter earlier.
— John Canton (@johnreport) January 24, 2017
That’s because WWE doesn’t want to show blood on their website. The normal policy for accidental blood is to show black and white photos on WWE.com if somebody is accidentally cut open. It’s lame, but that’s what they do as a PG company.
I wrote about Goldberg, Lesnar, The Undertaker and others in the Rumble match on Monday, so check that out to see who I think is winning the Royal Rumble. I’ll have more thoughts on that match and on the entire card in a preview later in the week.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Luke Gallows defeated Cesaro
The match was decent with a cheap ending. Sheamus chased Karl Anderson from ringside, but Anderson came back for the finish with a dropkick on Sheamus. Anderson distracted Cesaro, so Gallows got the win shortly after.
It was announced on Raw that Cesaro & Sheamus will defend the Tag Titles vs. Gallows & Anderson at the Royal Rumble on the Kickoff Show.
Sami Zayn defeated Seth Rollins
Great match between two of my favorites. They went about 15 minutes, had a bunch of believable near-falls and the crowd was chanting “this is awesome” during a few different spots in the match. Rollins nailed a Pedigree on the ring apron, which is pretty deadly because the announcers always tell us the apron is the hardest part of the ring. Rollins was about to win, but Triple H’s music started up. No sign of Triple H. Zayn capitalized with an inside cradle to get the win.
The stipulation of the match was that if Zayn wins, then he gets Rollins’ spot in the Royal Rumble. Rollins was furious about it. I think they’ll find a way to give Rollins a spot in the Rumble match with Triple H costing him the victory. That makes the most sense to me.
Mustafa Ali, TJ Perkins & Jack Gallagher defeated Drew Gulak, Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari
This six-man cruiserweight match was designed to put over Ali. He was given a video package prior to the match taking place. He got the hot tag for his team and finished off Gulak with a reverse 450 Splash for the win. It got about five minutes, which is fine, but hardly a memorable match.
Braun Strowman, Rusev, Jinder Mahal & Titus O’Neil defeated Kofi Kingston, Big E, Big Cass & Enzo Amore
There was a funny promo from Rusev before the match,mm wondering why Big E and Big Cass have “Big” in front of their name. Rusev said that would be like him putting “Handsome” in front of his name. He claimed everybody knows that, which was funny.
The match was designed to put over Strowman in a big way. He was the last man left for his team against Enzo Amore. Even though Enzo put up a fight, Strowman took care of him easily with a Running Powerslam for the victory after about five minutes.
After the match was over, Strowman had a staredown with Big Show. More on that later.
United States Championship: Roman Reigns defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification (Jericho retains the title)
This was set up earlier in the show, with Jericho bragging about how he’s better than Reigns and Reigns said that Jericho just offered him a rematch. It was set up for this point in the show.
The best part of the match was Owens on commentary mocking Byron Saxton’s failed wrestling career. I thought it was hilarious how he kept insulting Saxton. Owens ended up factoring into the finish by running down to the ring, attacking Reigns with punches and that led to the disqualification.
— WWE (@WWE) January 24, 2017
After the match was over, the heels tried to put Reigns into the shark cage. Reigns fought out of it, put Owens into the cage and locked him in there. It was great when Jericho was hanging onto the rising shark cage to avoid getting attacked, but Reigns nailed him with a Superman Punch. Reigns hit Jericho with a Spear to end the segment.
Nia Jax defeated Ray Lyn
Jax won in under 30 seconds with a Banzai Drop. Shout out to Yokozuna. Post-match, Sasha Banks showed up with a crutch, which she used as a weapon to attack Jax. It set up Banks vs. Jax on the Rumble Kickoff Show.
Rich Swann defeated Noam Dar
I hated the timing of this match. They were given five minutes for the match and a commercial took place in the middle of it. That means that we only saw two minutes of action with a three-minute commercial in there. Can’t they time it better than that? It would be nice.
Swann called out his Royal Rumble opponent Neville after the match. They had a brief altercation with Swann chasing after him outside the ring, then Neville left the ring again and Swann stopped attacking.
That was the last match. The main event promo segment took place after that.
Other Key Items From Raw
1. Big Show is back and WWE wants to remind you that he’s big!
Big Show returned at the end of the eight-man tag match for a staredown with Braun Strowman. Every year around this time, WWE wants to remind you how big he is and how he’s a threat to win the Rumble match. Will he win? Of course not, but that’s what WWE wants you think.
What WWE doesn’t want you to remember is that Strowman eliminated Big Show from last year’s Royal Rumble. They are going to act as if nobody can eliminate Show from the Rumble, even though he’s never won the match before.
On a more serious note, Show is in the best shape of his career in his mid-40s. He’s probably going to face Shaquille O’Neal at WrestleMania, which has been hyped up for nearly a year at this point. I’m happy he’s healthy and happy, although at this point of his career he’s a part-timer like many other people who were on this show.
2. Charlotte and Bayley talk again
The “Women’s Revolution” that WWE has bragged about for two years has seen women featured more prominently on television, but not on the last two weeks of Raw. Last week, Charlotte and Bayley did a promo segment, but there was no women’s match on the show.
This week, each woman was featured in three-minute sitdown interviews where they said the same things they always do about their characters. The only women’s match on the program was done in about 30 seconds when Nia Jax squashed an unknown wrestler.
I thought their promos were fine, but it didn’t get me any more excited about their match. It sounded like every Charlotte promo and every Bayley promo. That’s not a knock on either of them. It’s just that they were just going over the same bullet points they cover every week.
Looking Ahead To The Royal Rumble
— WWE (@WWE) January 24, 2017
The next WWE pay-per-view is the Royal Rumble this Sunday, Jan. 29 at San Antonio’s Alamodome. Here’s what we know so far.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match: The announced names for the Rumble match are The Undertaker, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Big Show, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Big E, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho, Baron Corbin, Cesaro, Sheamus, Big Cass and Rusev.
There are 21 names from the Royal Rumble page on WWE.com. That means nine names are left, but that doesn’t mean they will announce all 30 competitors because there will be a few surprises.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns with Chris Jericho in a shark cage above the ring.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena
Raw Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley
Cruiserweight Championship: Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville
Raw Tag Team Championships (Kickoff Show): Cesaro & Sheamus (c) vs. Gallows & Anderson – Two referees at ringside.
Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks (Kickoff Show)
There will likely be a few more matches announced on Smackdown Live Tuesday night as well because most of the undercard is Raw matches at this point.
I thought it was a slightly better than average Raw because there was a sense of focus for much of the show in terms of hyping up the Royal Rumble match on Sunday. The best match was Zayn over Rollins, even though there was a bit of a cheap finish. The main event segment was also well done. I still think a brawl would have been better, but I don’t really mind what they did either.
Later this week, I’ll be back with a preview of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view as well as the NXT Takeover San Antonio event. I’ll combine them both in one post, so join me for that.