WWE Raw: The Royal Rumble Go-Home
January 24, 2017 7:26 AM - Season 25, Episode 21 - Subscribe

Finally, six weeks after the last time we gathered, it's time for what is generally the most fun show of the year, with the added bonus that the Rumble winner is less apparent than it has been for a long, long time.

The Royal Rumble match: A fairly stacked Rumble, with 21 names so far. In order of their announcements:
Goldberg (in his second Rumble; it seems more likely that he will be facing Lesnar at WM rather than making a title run)
Brock Lesnar (in his third Rumble; ditto)
The New Day (looking for something to do since losing the tag team belts, because they don't appear to care about them anymore)
Chris Jericho (despite also being involved in the Universal Championship match)
Braun Strowman (one of the best monster heel bookings in a long time, and rumors are that he's been a heavy favorite at Titan Tower)
Baron Corbin (the first SmackDown declaration; also rumored to be a popular choice to start his main-event push)
The Undertaker (in his first non-WM match since the 2015 Hell in a Cell; an early favorite in the betting, due to the nostalgia / Streak / victory lap factor)
Dean Ambrose (the Intercontinental Champion is unlikely to leave his feud with The Miz)
The Miz (ditto; he'll almost certainly be in the next main event scrum, but not yet)
Dolph Ziggler (will they try to push him one last time?)
Cesaro and Sheamus (their "Yay! Boo!" thing mimics their chances of winning the Rumble: Yeah, no)
The Wyatt Family (Randy vs. Bray at WM seems pretty firmly plugged in at this point)
The Big Show (even without the Shaq WM match already in ink, this is a hard Nope)
Sami Zayn (well, we can hope, but nah)
Big Cass (but not Enzo)
Rusev (but not Jinder)
That's 21 out of 30. Look for a few nostalgia entries, one or two NXTers (word is that Samoa Joe will make his main-roster debut here), and possibly an AJ Styles-level surprise.

Kevin Owens (champion) vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship, with Chris Jericho in a shark cage suspended over the ring: Here's hoping they handle the shark cage stipulation better than they did in the Dusty finals. The prevailing wisdom is that the fourth Reigns Empire starts here and KO slides down to feud with his best friend for the US title. Sigh.

AJ Styles (champion) vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship: Practically a mirror image of the Universal title match, with the "divisive" face challenging the upstart popular heel. Odds are that they won't both go the same way, and making Roman a star is a probably bigger priority than letting Cena get the world title record.

Charlotte Flair (champion) vs. Bayley for the Raw Women's Championship: Charlotte has been backsliding a little on the promo scale, leaning too heavily on her PPV record and Bayley's embarrassing youthful fandom. Word is that they're prepping the Hugger for a "WrestleMania moment", which will presumably not be retaining her title in Orlando.

Rich Swann (champion) vs. Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship: Evil!Neville has been the best thing about everything he's touched for the last month, including 205 Live and the UK Championship Tournament. Will the King of the Cruiserweights claim his first main-roster(-adjacent) title?

Cesaro & Sheamus (champions) vs. The Club for the Raw Tag Team Championship: This is currently scheduled for the pre-show. That's all we need to know about where these guys are right now.

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax: The only non-title non-Rumble match on the card, also slotted on the pre-show. The injury angle gives them a way to sell Nia Jax as a monster while not damaging Sasha.

We may see another match added on SmackDown tonight (all of the non-World SD titles are currently not on the card).
posted by Etrigan (35 comments total)
If one were to compile a list of the last five years' promos that got me the most excited about potential storylines and left me the most disappointed with how those storylines never materialized, the obvious first choice is Mark Henry's retirement swerve. The number two position, though, is one that not as many people have seen: Cody/Stardust's "Get the Attitude Out" promo. Every big PPV it just feels more and more relevant. If you average the ages of the three guys with the biggest pushes going into the Rumble (Lesnar, Goldberg and Undertaker), you get nearly 47 years old. That's just... not what the company needs right now.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:17 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Can we tack Smackdown onto this post? A mediocre-to-bad show, but the Cena / Styles segment was straight fire. I'm afraid that Styles might wind up in limbo when this feud wraps up, but it really has been great.

And of course Mojo Rawley wins a spot in the Rumble. Because ... I don't know why. I hate Mojo Rawley so, so much. Breaking Ground soured me on him so hard.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:35 AM on January 25, 2017

I missed Breaking Ground, so I won't mention that I kinda like Mojo as a lower-card doofus. Lemme catch up.

But I'm glad they had a battle royal to get a spot, because they should do that for every Rumble, tournament, or other special multiperson match/event.
posted by Etrigan at 5:51 AM on January 25, 2017

Yeah I'd love to see more matches/on screen events used to determine who gets into the Rumble. The Sami/Seth match was probably the best Raw Weekly match in months, and advanced both characters so, so well. I know there's no way WWE is ready to put Sami in the main event at Mania, but it really seems like they're working towards getting him into a meaningful program. I'd love for him to take the role of guy who is one of the first four in and one of the last four out.

Mojo's appearence on Talking Smack a few weeks back made it clear they're gonna give him a singles push, and I'm interested to see where that goes. He said, in as many words, that he's gonna be dropping the hype gimmick. I've never been terribly impressed with him in-ring, but he's clearly a smart dude and with a reworked gimmick could be a very interesting mid-carder.

In terms of the Rumble itself, I think Samoa Joe is definitely coming and I wouldn't be shocked if he won. Having two belts really opens up how this thing is going to play out. Honestly, I suspect the winner of this match is going to challenge Reigns for the Raw belt and it'll be the #3 event at WM after Lesnar/Goldberg and Cena/Undertaker (see more below.)

So, some predictions:

NXT Guys Coming: Samoa Joe, Tye Dillinger (Even though everyone expects this, him coming out at 10 would be amazing. Would it lead to every entrant thereafter resulting in the crowd "counting down" with 10 every time? Yep! Might it happen regardless? Yep! I would also accept a swerve where The Miz comes out at #10 to Dillinger's music.)

Debuts: I totally thought they would bring in Hero/Ohno, but it sounds like he's going to toil around NXT for a bit. Omega debuting would be nuts but I honestly don't think he's leaving NJPW just yet. So maybe nobody?

HoFers/Other Surprises: HBK is hosting the pre-show so I doubt he's in. Also really think he should just do one more match rather than an event like this. Angle says no... but maybe yes? I also strongly suspect that at some point in the next year Daniel Bryan is going to get cleared to compete so he and Miz can actually have a match. Kicking that off with him in the Rumble would be AMAZING, but that might be too chaotic an environment for a return that would probably come with stipulations.

Winner: I really don't know! I guess I'm picking either Strowman or Samoa Joe.

Reigns vs. Owens: Reigns. Blech.

Cena vs. Styles: Styles, dirty. Between now and WM, belt ends up on Undertaker (maybe at EC.) Cena beats him and breaks the record at WM. (I think all of Undertaker's recent Raw visits are more about ratings than him being "on" that brand. I think they actually had a plan when he threatened all the Smackdown guys before the Survivor Series.)

Charlotte vs. Bayley: Charlotte. And lord this feud needs help. Hell, the whole Raw women's division needs help.

Jax vs Banks: Jax. See above.

Swann vs. Neville: They'll give this to Neville because they're not shy about moving the belt around to advance stories. Feels like the Cruisers are starting to catch their stride a bit. Hoping we see Mustafa Ali get some chances at the top of the card. He's awesome.

Cesaro/Sheamus vs. The Club: Cesaro/Sheamus. Not going to move these belts in a pre-show. But I wouldn't be shocked if they drop the belts to the club at Fastlane. Sidenote: Can we have The Revival called up to Smackdown ASAP? American Alpha needs someone solid for a title feud. This could be Ascension or Vaudevillains, but clearly the WWE is done giving either of them a chance (the Vaudevillains both going over the top rope to start the battle royal was just awful.)
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:54 AM on January 25, 2017

The Sami/Seth match was probably the best Raw Weekly match in months, and advanced both characters so, so well

Seriously, what a match. I haven't watched Raw in ages, and I didn't even mean to watch this one, but I turned it on and caught this match and was just glued to it. Of course it was the stupid, obvious finish, but I'm not going to complain too much if they keep putting on matches like that.

Winner: I really don't know! I guess I'm picking either Strowman or Samoa Joe.

Yeah, those are my top picks, too, and maybe not even in that order. Strowman v Reigns at Wrestlemania would likely be a stinker, but Joe could work a good match and draw just by virtue of it being his Wrestlemania debut.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:38 AM on January 25, 2017

I cracked up on RAW when Sami was told you don't just get to declare yourself in the rumble, you have to do something to get in...unless you're Big Cass and you just declare yourself in about 15 minutes later?

But seriously, Foley says they need a US Title match on RAW because they need a big marquee match. Well, they got it out of Sami/Seth, so they could have gone ahead and canned that US Title match.

If they want Take to have the WWE Championship by WM it's not even that hard. Have Shane show up on RAW after the Rumble for any flimsy reason (which wouldn't be hard to come up with, on the night after a joint-brand PPV), have Taker walk into Steph's office while he's there. Shane says "oh good, been hoping I'd bump into you. we drafted you, WTF?" and have Taker say "You want me? Fine, you got me, in the Elimination Chamber!" and boom, Taker wins EC match (which is perfect for him because he can watch 80% of it from the safety of his capsule) and heads to WM the champ.

Has it been long enough since they did a Rumble Double-Simultaneous-Elimination ending? Maybe Strowman/Taker final two, simultaneous elimination, both get a shot at their show's title at WM.
posted by jermsplan at 11:02 AM on January 25, 2017

Catching up on last night's 205 Live now. Cedric vs. Neville is a great, great match. There's so much talent here, I really hope they are able to catch fire. I think they've gotta get this out of the big arenas though. These crowds aren't helping.

Standing Spanish Fly
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:38 AM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Standing Spanish Fly

Can someone look around for my chin? I dropped it over here somewhere.
posted by Etrigan at 11:43 AM on January 25, 2017

Standing Spanish Fly


A buddy and I have been talking about how to make the Cruiserweights more interesting (I mean, I think everyone is asking this question at this point), and the biggest hurdle we keep coming back to is how many moves that were Cruiserweight moves in the 90s and early 2000s are now just "every match" moves by every sized wrestler.

What do you all think about the WWE passing a style-change rule that prohibits non-cruiserweights from doing a collection of moves without prior big-match approval?

I mean, when Angle did a moonsault off the top of the cage, or Lesnar attempted a shooting star, no one is against that. It's outrageous because it seems uncommon. But I swear to god I will not be upset if Cesaro never does another Cesaro-one-nine or whatever they're calling that terrible move. And basically everyone should stop doing suicide dives, 90% of them look like garbage (and Big E looks like he's going to die literally every time). I'm conflicted on things like Charlotte's gorgeous moonsault. Cena never needs to do a frankensteiner again. Big men should stop going to the top rope unless it's to just drop their weight via a leg or elbow or crossbody or shoulder block. Leave everything with a twist or flip to the little guys.

I don't know, part of me feels like I'm being a "get off my lawn" type basically just asking for wrestling to go back to what it was in the Attitude Era, but that's not exactly it. I love the increased athletic ability and some of the crazy jumping and suplexing that goes on. But there's a clear watering down happening, and it's not like Ambrose can't do a suicide dive, but it's not like it's a spectacular looking move when he does it, and it makes it less impressive when someone who can really fly does one.

I seem to recall a story from back in the day that no one was allowed to do Superkicks when HBK was doing sweetchin music. And someone's book (maybe Jericho's?) talked about the general principle of working with the show bookers to say "hey, I'm planning to hit a meaningful X in the main event, please don't let someone do that move in an earlier match tonight". I just feel like the Cruiserweights are getting killed right now by watching guys twice their size do shitty looking versions of their staple moves.
posted by jermsplan at 8:16 AM on January 26, 2017

It'll never happen -- we're long past the point where two big guys trading punches and chinlocks can hold a kid's attention for ten minutes. Though I wouldn't mind a great lessening of suicide dives.
posted by Etrigan at 9:09 AM on January 26, 2017

I'm in favor of limiting suicide dives if only so I never have to hear Mauro yell "tope suicida!" again.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:17 AM on January 26, 2017

posted by Etrigan at 9:21 AM on January 26, 2017

Okay, now that we're past SmackDown, I hereby open the Official FanFare Royal Rumble Match Betting Pool.

Pick as many people to win the RR as you want. You get 1/(picks) points if any of your picks wins. Therefore, if you pick Lesnar OR Goldberg OR Undertaker, and Undertaker wins you get 1/3 point. If someone else picks Lesnar OR Undertaker, they get 1/2 point. Closest to 1 wins.

One hitch: Anyone who has not been officially entered as of right now (see list above, plus Mojo Rawley) is considered to be "FIELD". If you pick someone besides one of those 22 persons, that entry will be turned into "FIELD" and combined with any others. So if you pick Kenny Omega OR Kurt Angle OR Lesnar, you will be considered to have two entries: Lesnar and FIELD, and if JBL wins, then you get 1/2 point.

Winner receives a very valuable prize and/or trophy. I will judge how much effort I feel like putting into the prize based solely on how good the RR PPV is.

Tiebreakers, in order:
  1. Who is the WWE (SmackDown) Champion as of the end of the Royal Rumble PPV?
  2. Who is the Raw Women's Champion as of the end of the Royal Rumble PPV?
  3. Who is the Universal Champion as of the end of the Royal Rumble PPV?
  4. Who are the Raw Tag Team Champions as of the end of the Royal Rumble PPV?
  5. Who is the Cruiserweight Champion as of the end of the Royal Rumble PPV?
If we get to this point, then I'm just gonna flip a rigged coin and give it to whoever I like more.
posted by Etrigan at 9:31 AM on January 26, 2017

I'll stick with Samoa Joe and Strowman, so I suppose that's FIELD and Strowman.

1. Styles
2. Charlotte
3. Reigns (ugh)
4. Cesaro/Sheamus
5. Neville
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2017

Baron Corbin.

1. Styles
2. Charlotte
3. Owens
4. The Club
5. Neville

My new theories: Corbin and Styles win. In the Elimination Chamber something happens between Cena/Taker that leads to their WM match, so Styles will need an opponent. And I don't know how/why, but the fact that it's going to be Corbin helps the WWE turn Styles face between now and then.

The Club takes the tag belts during the pre-show, which leads to Cesaro/Sheamus fighting during the Rumble itself of blame for the loss, which ultimately leads to the WM blowoff or reunion to reclaim titles, depending on how WWE takes it.

Y2J and Owens are too crafty to not figure out how to have Jericho help in some way, so whether by win or DQ, Owens retains.

Charlotte continues her reign as the crowned Queen of PPVs, until Bayley breaks it at WM where all faces win.
posted by jermsplan at 7:23 AM on January 27, 2017

Okay, this is crazy, but I'm gonna go all-in on FIELD. I promise I wasn't even considering this when I made the rules, but I got to thinking: There are too many paths open for them, and history shows us that when there's a bunch of possible ways forward, Vince tends to choose Chaos. So what would be most chaotic?
Imagine Kurt Angle coming back for one last run.
Imagine Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, or Bobby Roode elevating NXT to an official third brand.
Imagine Kenny Omega or Chris Hero getting the "Hottest free agent in the world!" pop.
Imagine Penta el Cero Miedo or Rey Mysterio or Prince Ricochet Puma coming out of the audience (which helps Vince kill a rising but struggling new breed of promotion).
Imagine Broken Matt Hardy or Bobby Lashley throwing a TNA title belt in the trash on their way to the ring (regardless of whether they're officially titleholders as of Sunday, they've presumably got the souvenir belts that ex-champs get).
Imagine either of the losers of the WWE or Universal championship matches deciding he's going to do it again at WM.
Imagine Seth Rollins deciding he's gonna stick it to HHH by winning the Rumble and main-eventing WrestleMania as his own man.
Imagine Finn Bálor, who only needs to do a couple of quick moves in a wrestling-light event like the Rumble and can then continue to recover for two months.

That's fifteen possibilities, and it doesn't even count the one that would immediately be on the front page of every sports (or even news) website in the world: Woman to Main-Event Biggest Pro Wrestling Card of the Year.

As for the others:
  1. Styles
  2. Charlotte
  3. Reigns
  4. Club
  5. Neville

posted by Etrigan at 7:51 AM on January 27, 2017

Hell, you know what? I'm gonna go ahead and plump for Taker, because it's more fun that way.

1. Styles
2. Charlotte
3. Owens
4. The Club
5. Neville
posted by uncleozzy at 7:55 AM on January 27, 2017

I read a lot of wrestling-related online content, but I don't know anything about wrestling.


1 Styles
2 Charlotte
3 Reigns
4 Club
5 Neville
posted by box at 7:25 AM on January 28, 2017

I actually think field is probably the smartest bet. Who knows if the losers of the title matches end up joining the rumble, those would be more good chances for field.

Also, I've been thinking I shouldn't have just written off y2j. That friendship has been on the rocks already, Jericho must have some end date not that far in the future. And my god what a match it would be if he helps Owens win tonight then wins the rumble and faces Owens at mania
posted by jermsplan at 11:30 AM on January 29, 2017

oh damn. show has already surprised me multiple times.

Roman enters rumble, eliminates Strowman: -180
Roman interferes in rumble, eliminates Strowman: -330
Roman wins rumble: +250

Sorry for anyone who bet on Strowman to win it, that recently dropped to +2750
posted by jermsplan at 5:12 PM on January 29, 2017

Well shit, how about that.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:39 PM on January 29, 2017

Yeah, I got nothing. To quote Farooq: Damn
posted by jermsplan at 7:42 PM on January 29, 2017

Okay, no one picked the winner, so we'll go to the tiebreakers.
  1. Cena is WWE Champion. No one picked that.
  2. Charlotte is Raw Women's Champion. Everyone picked that.
  3. Owens is Universal Champion. spiffyrob, Etrigan, and box are OUT.
jermsplan and uncleozzy are the only two left, and they each have the same picks for the fourth and fifth tiebreakers, so it's a tie. Per the rules, I will flip a rigged coin and pick who I like better...

Tomorrow night, in this very thread.
posted by Etrigan at 7:47 PM on January 29, 2017

Haha, so excited. A coin flip is better than I deserve. Here's a potential tie break question: who does Randy challenge - which show? I say he jumps to Raw.
posted by jermsplan at 8:04 PM on January 29, 2017

Maybe Bray takes the belt off Cena at EC and we get Orton/Wyatt at WM?

Reigns at 30 was infuriating and the surprise entrants were underwhelming (even, alas, Dillinger) but on the whole I thought the Rumble did what it needed to do. Strowman looks even stronger, Corbin gets a boost by knocking him out, Brock looks like a beast but ALSO jobs out to Goldberg again (lol) Undi looks badass, and Orton totally deserves the win.

The Reigns thing is just so weird. Strowman interferes in his match to cost him the victory, and then Reigns is a surprise entrant into the Rumble that Strowman dominates for a while, but they don't cross paths? He gets to eliminate three dudes including Undi to Orton's one?

And beyond the Rumble... just great matches. I think Styles/Cena was a step down from their SummerSlam match, but that's a super high bar. Like everyone else, pretty damn shocked to see Cena win, but I can live with it. Owens/Reigns was way, way better than expected.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:05 AM on January 30, 2017

Maybe Bray takes the belt off Cena at EC and we get Orton/Wyatt at WM?

Yeah, this is what I'm thinking, given Orton's win.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:44 AM on January 30, 2017

(or we get an Evolution re-do where Flair helps Orton against Cena)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:47 AM on January 30, 2017

Solid work-shoot at the end of RAW by HHH. At least I, for one, can imagine an awful lot of that was truer than he probably lets himself admit most of the time.
posted by jermsplan at 1:35 PM on January 31, 2017

Do we think the problem with the Smackdown tag division is that it's 4/6 NXT callups, and the bookers of the main roster are still struggling to figure out how to effectively use NXT folks who aren't 6' 6" and 250 pounds? Man, I wanted the Ascension to win that match so badly. I'll give the bookers this: while I hated the way they decided to end the match they really had me going there. From the moment AA came out second to last I genuinely thought The Ascension were going to win the belts. So they got this mark, well played.
posted by jermsplan at 7:24 AM on February 13, 2017

Started a new job last week, and I don't imagine I'll really have time to watch everything each week. Raw, for sure, will be the first thing to fall off.

Interesting card last night. I liked that all three women's matches made the main card, even if I'm not a huge fan of Nikki or Natalya (or that feud.) I was super surprised that the tag match went as long as it did, if only because Smackdown weekly has me expecting them to get through a match involving every single team in under 6 minutes. In terms of where they go from here, it seems like now's the time to call up The Revival and install them as top heels. Everything since they won the belts has been AA proving nobody can beat them. So... bring in someone who can?

I know it ain't happening, but man, last night really has me hoping we end up with Styles/Cena again for WM. It's such a more attractive prospect than any of the other matches they're rumored to be a part of. I thought the main event was booked perfectly, although it sucks that The Miz was such a non-factor in it after suffering a similar fate at RR. It looks like they're lining up Styles/Cena and Corbin/Ambrose to feud between now and WM, so I'm not quite sure where that leaves Miz.
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:10 AM on February 13, 2017

Was out at a bar last night and the bartender happened to put Raw on right at the start of the Friendship Celebration segment, so I got to see all of that. Then I got home just in time for Charlotte/Bayley.

When that's all you see of the full 3 hours, Raw feels like a pretty good show!
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:29 AM on February 14, 2017

The end of RAW was pretty fun. I am amused that they will continue to talk about how Charlotte is the Queen of PPV because she never loses, but don't talk about the converse which is that she is literally the worst Free-TV Championship Defender of all time. I mean, haven't any of the oldschool heels told her that these weekly free shows are for chumps and that she should pull hair or poke eyes or grab a chair and get herself disqualified anytime she's even remotely in danger of losing her title on a RAW? For crying out loud...

Congrats on getting a new job, SpiffyRob. Don't worry, there's only, like 45 minutes of RAW that's actually required watching anyway. You'll catch the rest on "Last Week" segments or PPV recap videos or podcasts anyway.
posted by jermsplan at 12:38 PM on February 14, 2017

The end of Smackdown was pretty interesting. Totally left open to multiple paths and interpretations, but I am pretty excited to see what happens between Orton, Bray and Harper. Also, something that struck me on Sunday night but was reinforced tonight: Bray is bigger than I thought! He always had Harper, Rowan and Strowman towering over him, and I guess I never really realized how big he is (or how small the top tier of Smackdown is?).
posted by jermsplan at 10:14 AM on February 16, 2017

I really, really liked the Big Show v Strowman match. Strowman absolutely deserves recognition for most improved wrestler over the last year.
posted by jermsplan at 1:42 PM on February 21, 2017

Definitely scratching my head over Smackdown in recent weeks. There's a ton of power in having Randy (seemingly) give up his WM privilege in deference to Wyatt, but on the flipside, now the Rumble didn't matter? And instead there was a Battle Royal with an unsatisfying finish? And now that will be sorted out next week? But it's still a month away from WM?

Smackdown has earned trust that this is all going somewhere and not just another make it up as they go endeavor, but sketching out every conceivable resulting main event, it's hard to choose one that would actually make all of this WORTH it except for potentially an Orton/Wyatt/Harper Triple Threat. And if that's the case, is that how we end up with Styles vs. Shane as well? Because, you know, ew.

But in the meantime, at least we appear to be getting our first legitimately interesting Tag Team feud since the split (Usos' promo was so perfectly over the top, and their Talking Smack appearance afterward was just aces) and the Corbin/Ambrose and Miz/Cena feuds are building up nicely as well. Shame Naomi went down hurt, but I'm really glad they are resisting the temptation to just turn back to Bliss/Lynch round 1000. One match, belt is back on Bliss, Lynch keeps feuding with Mickie James. Perfect.

I've been a little cool on the Nikki/Natalya feud, but the falls count anywhere match was great!
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:35 PM on February 23, 2017

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