Monday Night Raw
Date: January 2, 2023
Location: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
We are inching closer to the Royal Rumble and that means it is time to start setting up the show. With so many wrestlers needed to get into the Royal Rumble matches, there are only going to be so many spots left for other matches. At the same time though, only one person has been announced for either Royal Rumble so they might want to start picking up the pace. Then again, they might want to have a lot of surprises this time. Let’s get to it.
We open with the Bloodline (minus Roman Reigns/Paul Heyman) wrecking havoc at ringside. Sami Zayn says they’re taking over tonight but here is Kevin Owens to interrupt. Sami calls this a hostile takeover but Owens says he wants to punch Zayn in the face. Cue Adam Pearce and company to tell Owens that this isn’t happening tonight or all year. Security goes after the Bloodline but gets dropped, drawing Owens into the ring. Some low level stars run in to go after the Bloodline and the team is chased off. Pearce says if the Bloodline is here, they’re going to be in a match tonight.
Bianca Belair is ready to face Alexa Bliss, no matter what kind of Bliss she is.
Post break the wrestlers who chased the Bloodline off want some matches, with Elias demanding a fight against Solo Sikoa. Works for Adam Pearce, as does the Street Profits/Kevin Owens vs. the Usos and Sami Zayn in a six man tag.
Women’s Title: Alexa Bliss vs. Bianca Belair
Belair is defending and wastes no time in hitting Bliss in the face to start. They head outside with Belair sending her into the barricade as we take a break. Back with Belair running her over with a shoulder and telling Bliss to bring it on. Bliss sends her into the corner, takes a bow, and stomps away.
Belair is back with some right hands and muscles Bliss up with a suplex to block a DDT attempt. Some forearms to the back have Bliss rocked but she sends Belair to the floor, setting up the running flip dive off the apron. We take another break and come back again with Bliss putting on a chinlock.
With that let go, Bliss’ standing flip dive is countered into a rollup but Bliss counters the KOD. Belair muscles her down into a backbreaker and hammers away in the corner. Bliss gets smart by pulling her out to the floor by the hair….where there is a man in a Bray Wyatt style mask. That’s enough of a distraction for Bliss to throw her back in….but there is another man in a Bray Wyatt mask (different hair).
Then the Bray logo pops up on screen and Bliss beats up the referee. There’s no bell yet so Bliss beats up Belair too and sends her into various things. There’s a DDT onto the steps and Belair (with her busted open) is mostly out. Bliss hits another DDT onto the steps and referees come out. The bell never rang but we’ll say the match was thrown out at 18:00.
Rating: C+. This was getting good before the ending, which wound up being more Bliss storyline stuff. You can only get so far with that as this was her big chance and now it’s just another version of Bliss gets upset and goes violent, which has kind of been shoved into the ground. The match was working fairly well, but you can only go so far when it seems like it is setting something else up. That seems to be the case with a lot of Bliss matches/moments, and it needs to go somewhere soon.
Post break, here’s everything you just saw.
Austin Theory is ready for Seth Rollins because he is the future and Rollins is the past.
Elias vs. Solo Sikoa
Street fight. Elias promises to show Sikoa what WWE stands for and we’re ready to go, with music themed weapons at ringside. Sikoa powers him into the corner to start and hits a hard clothesline to take over. They head outside with Elias missing a guitar shot but sending Sikoa right through a drum kit. A drum cymbal to the head knocks Sikoa silly and we take a break.
Back with Elias being sent into a speaker near the entrance, followed by some mic shots to the head. They get inside again with Elias’ electric keyboard shot being shrugged off, allowing Sikoa to grab a Samoan drop for two. Another keyboard blast gives Elias two and some tambourines to the head send Sikoa into the corner.
A musical celebrity (Hardy, who sings the Royal Rumble theme song) gives Elias a guitar but Sikoa hits a superkick. Hardy gets in and hit guitar shot to the back has no effect. That’s enough for Hardy to run off, leaving Elias to hit the jumping knee. A top rope guitar shot is Samoan Spiked out of the air, leaving Sikoa to Spinning Solo Elias through a piano for the pin at 14:21.
Rating: C-. This was a good bit longer than it needed to be and it felt like they were just filling in time for a good chunk of the match. Again, part of the problem with the Bloodline is that it is hard to buy the members in any serious danger save for any major opponents. That isn’t going to be the case with Elias, making this a bunch of goofy weapons shots until a big weapons spot to end the show.
We look at John Cena and Kevin Owens defeating Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn on Smackdown.
Street Profits/Kevin Owens vs Bloodline
The brawl is on before the bell with the non-Bloodline taking over. We get the official start with Jimmy getting a shot on Dawkins, allowing Sami to come in for a front facelock. That doesn’t last long either as it’s off to Owens, who takes over on Jey while yelling at Jey. Ford is up but doesn’t want to tag in as he is worried about Bianca Belair. Owens gets stomped down in the corner and we take a break.
Back with Ford coming in off the hot tag to clean house, including a standing moonsault for two on Zayn. Everything breaks down and Dawkins runs Jey over in the corner. Ford is back with the running flip dive onto Jimmy and Zayn but here is Solo Sikoa to take Dawkins out. Owens goes after him but gets superkicked, leaving Zayn to Helluva Kick Ford for the pin at 11:40.
Rating: C. This got going and I could buy Owens and the Profits as a bigger threat to score an upset here. It was also nice to have Ford be upset about something that happened earlier in the show, as he should have been. There is no reason to have him be all normal so well done on some logic. Sami gets a win back to keep the team happy, but Roman Reigns is going to be waiting on him.
Post match the beatdown stays on but Sheamus and Drew McIntyre run in for the save. Now they feel like a threat to the Usos this week on Smackdown.
AJ Styles is confirmed to have a broken ankle, meaning he will miss the Royal Rumble.
Chad Gable vs. Dexter Lumis
Otis is here with Gable, who runs away from Dexter to start. After hiding behind Otis doesn’t work, Gable grabs a hot shot for a breather and starts in on Lumis’ arm. A northern lights suplex gives Gable two but Lumis is back with a takedown of his own. Gable grabs a German suplex and sends Lumis outside, where Lumis gets posted. Otis misses a clothesline into the post though, leaving Lumis to counter La Majistral into a cradle for the pin at 4:09.
Rating: C. This version of Gable continues to be a chore to watch, which is a shame as he is a rather talented star. That being said, watching him in the same role week in and week out gets old fast as they have cranked the annoyance up as far as it can go. Gable needs something other than the one note catchphrase because he is too good to be stuck with it. Lumis getting a more normal win is a good thing for him, as this was more of a way to keep him active.
Video on Cody Rhodes’ return last year, including the injury which took him back out of action. More on this later.
Here is Damage Ctrl for a chat. Bayley brings up the team starting here at Summerslam so it is nice to have one good thing come out of this city. However, we need to talk about the Iris elephant in the room. Bayley beat Becky Lynch, which brings out Becky to tell Bayley to shut up. Becky talks about Bayley having to get out of someone’s (unnamed) shadow and now she has own team. It is going to be a matter of time before the rest of Damage Ctrl turns on her but Bayley rolls it off. The challenge it out for tonight but Bayley shuts that down too. Instead, Becky can just fight the rest of the team, 2-1. Sure.
Becky Lynch vs. Damage Ctrl
Non-title and Bayley is at ringside. Becky Stunners Sky over the middle rope to start and nails an enziguri to drop her for two. Kai comes in and gets legdropped, followed by a running forearm in the corner. A kick to the face staggers Lynch though and Sky sends her into the apron on the floor. The double teaming is on, including Sky front facelocking Becky on the floor. Cue Michin to join Becky though and the hot tag brings her in to start the house cleaning.
We take a break and come back with Sky Crossfacing Michin, who powers up and kicks Sky into Kai for a tag. A neckbreaker drops Sky so Kai grabs Becky’s ankle…and Michin makes the tag anyway. Everything breaks down and Becky hits a missile dropkick. A double superplex hits Kai with Sky having to make the save. Becky goes outside to deal with an invading Bayley, leaving Michin to Eat Defeat Kai. That leaves Michin down long enough though for Sky to hit Over the Moonsault for the in at 13:40.
Rating: C+. They got going near the end and the finish felt like Michin got caught rather than getting beaten. The match worked well too as you don’t want Lynch hanging with the champs that long. This should keep us on the way towards a major Becky vs. Bayley showdown and that has all of the potential to steal whatever show it is on.
Seth Rollins is ready for Austin Theory.
Alexa Bliss, with what looks like some dried paint on her face, says she has control of Bianca Belair.
We look at Dominik Mysterio being arrested on Christmas Eve for invading the Mysterios’ house.
Dominik Mysterio, having since been bailed out of jail by Rhea Ripley, talks about how prison is an absence of feeling. This isn’t a game to him and he’s just getting started, so he’ll see Rhea Ripley soon. This is a different way to go for Dominik and the more of his own character he can develop, the better.
Video on Bronson Reed.
US Title: Austin Theory vs. Seth Rollins
Theory is defending. Rollins grabs a headlock to start before clotheslining Theory outside. A knee to the face rocks Theory again and we take a rather early break. Back again with Rolling firing off the fast chops but Theory gets in a shot of his own. The rolling dropkick to the back gives Theory two and he hammers away with left hands. A clothesline sets up a chinlock on Rollins to keep him in trouble. They head outside with Rollins being rammed into the announcers’ table a few times as we take a break.
Back with Rollins Hulking Up and hitting a backbreaker for two. Rollins catches him on top but Theory slips out of a suplex. The brainbuster onto the knee is reversed into a small package to give Rollins two more. The buckle bomb is broken up as well and Theory goes up, only to get superplex into…well nothing actually as Theory reversed into a brainbuster own for two.
They trade kicks to the face until an enziguri drops Theory. Rollins can’t follow up so it’s a double breather. Back up and Rollins wins a strike off, setting up the missed Stomp. Theory tries to leave but gets caught, allowing Rollins to hit a superkick back inside. The frog splash gives Rollins two but Theory shoves him into the referee. Rollins’ knee gives out as he escapes a suplex, though he’s fine enough to hit a Pedigree for a delayed two from a second referee. Theory tries to send Rollins into the referee again, allowing the low blow to cut Rollins off. A chop block sets up A Town Down to retain the title at 22:15.
Rating: B. This felt like a major main event but more importantly it felt like a huge win for Theory. At some point you need to pull the trigger on him and that might be what they are doing here. The fact that it came after what felt like a showdown makes it even better, and now hopefully we get to see where this is going, as Theory could be getting a rocket built for his back.
Overall Rating: C+. The main event boosted up a lot of this show, which was built around long matches. That’s a good thing in theory, but it only gets them so far when the matches are hit and miss. What does help this show is how energized it felt, as it came off like stuff was happening throughout. The only cold match was Lumis vs. Gable and they were in and out in less than eight minutes. It’s not a great show, but there was enough to make me want to see what happens next.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bianca Belair went to a no contest when Bliss attacked the referee
Solo Sikoa b. Elias – Spinning Solo through a piano
Bloodline b. Street Profits/Kevin Owens – Helluva Kick to Ford
Dexter Lumis b. Chad Gable – Rollup
Damage Ctrl b. Michin/Becky Lynch – Over The Moonsault to Michin
Austin Theory b. Seth Rollins – A Town Down
Remember tocheck out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and head over to my Amazon author page with 30 different cheap wrestling books at: