Date: January 3, 2022
Location: Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC
The Big Takeaway --
Raw started and ended well but the middle of the show was no good.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman appear to be together again.
Bobby Lashley beat Big E, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins to earn a title match against Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. However, when asked for comment about the match, Lesnar seemed focused on seeing Roman Reigns on Smackdown this Friday.
Show Recap --
There was a recap of Brock Lesnar winning the WWE Championship at Day 1.
Raw kicked off with a big fireworks display before the announcers ran down tonight’s card.
The lights went dark and came back on to reveal Paul Heyman standing in the ring. Heyman introduced us to his client — the new WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar/Paul Heyman segment
Lesnar chucked the steel steps in the ring to give himself a podium to stand on. Lesnar shouted out his good buddy Roman Reigns who must be at home watching the new and the real champion. Lesnar said, “Get well soon, buddy” and added, “South Carolina. Acknowledge me.”
Lesnar thanked Heyman for pulling the strings on Saturday to help make him the new champion.
Heyman explained the circumstances that led to Lesnar being added to Day 1’s title match before saying Lesnar would defend the title at the Royal Rumble against the winner of tonight’s number one contender’s match.
Heyman said if Seth Rollins was such a visionary he would realize that his wife would leave him if he couldn’t beat Lesnar at the Rumble. He figured his wife wouldn’t leave Rollins for Kevin Owens because he can’t beat Lesnar either.
Heyman suggested they request a trade to Smackdown because the tribal chief is suddenly very vulnerable without his special counsel. In fact, after just one week without him, Reigns went ahead and got Covid.
Heyman said that Lesnar and Bobby Lashley had never met before Saturday. The first time they met, Lashley speared Lesnar through the barricade. Lashley also speared him in the ring and put him in the Hurt Lock.
Heyman had no trouble admitting that Lesnar may not have gotten out of that hold but also suggested that Lashley attacked Lesnar each time from behind. If it were a one-on-one match, Lashley would simply go down as the All Mighty Brock Lesnar wannabe.
Heyman put over Big E as a great champion (as a few fans applauded) and suggested he would still be champion if he did not have to face Lesnar. If Big E were the challenger at the Rumble, it would be an honour to watch that match — but Big E would still lose. Heyman concluded that Lesnar would still be the champion at the Rumble no matter what.
Randy Orton and Riddle had a meeting in the back. (Oddly, Riddle approached Orton but said nothing and scooted away which led to commercials. Riddle approached Orton again after the break for the segment.) There was some comedy before Orton implored Riddle to listen to him.
Before the match, Chad Gable cut a promo before he and Otis attacked Orton and Riddle. Otis laid out Riddle with a suplex outside the ring. The match was underway after a break.
Alpha Academy defeated Raw Tag Team Champions Randy Orton & Riddle in a non-title match
Riddle tried to make a hot tag to Orton but Gable pulled him off the apron. Otis ran over Orton before heading back in the ring. Riddle tried an RKO but Otis countered into a World’s Strongest Slam for the quick pinfall win.
(This was only about three minutes long on TV.)
Sarah Schreiber interviewed MVP and Lashley. MVP called tonight a Herculean task for Lashley. Lashley said, “Brock Lesnar fears me.”
Omos was shown with Kevin Patrick before they went to break. There was a long AJ Styles/Omos video package before Patrick asked Omos for his reaction to Styles’ comments. Omos put his hand over Patrick’s face before saying, “that’s how I react.” That was dumb.
(I know it’s been going on for weeks, but they’re turning down the live crowd for a lot of these backstage segments and adding fake crowd noise. There was no reaction to Lashley's statement and they added canned booing to Omos’ comment.)
There were entrances for the upcoming mixed tag match before the announcers ran down tonight’s card yet again, even though the show is less than an hour old. This led to yet another break. If you couldn’t tell already, they’re really padding this show again.
Mixed tag team match: 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke & Reggie defeated Tamina & Akira Tozawa (1:21)
Tozawa kicked Tamina by accident after Reggie avoided a boot. Tamina smacked Tozawa and Reggie followed with a flipping seated senton into a pin for the win (Corey Graves called the move the “whoopee cushion.”)
They said before the match that the title could change hands and Brooke retained because her team won. This was all very stupid.
Becky Lynch promo
Lynch knew that it was the resolution of every woman on the roster to win the title but she had no interest in giving it up. She said many have tried but none of them can beat her.
Lynch had some time to reflect and realized she was a work of art. If you go to a museum, the art can make you feel because that’s what good art does. Good art reveals the truth and that’s what Lynch was. Lynch called herself Vincent Van GOAT (a Dexter: New Blood reference) and she informed the fans they would not realize their resolutions.
Lynch said that Liv Morgan broke her promise to the fans and to herself. Morgan interrupted.
Morgan said Lynch knew just how close she came to winning the title on Saturday. Morgan always gave it her all and that’s what she did at Day 1. Lynch said that was lovely, and maybe she will win the title won day, but that wouldn’t be until after she retired.
Bianca Belair interrupted. She was sick of hearing from Lynch and wasn’t buying her hype. Belair claimed that she stepped aside to deal with Doudrop and give others an opportunity but she was right back in line for Lynch’s title.
Lynch didn’t seem interested and suggested that Belair and Morgan start a support group for people who have lost to her. She realized that it already existed and it was called the women’s locker room. Morgan was surprised to hear Lynch acknowledge the women’s locker room considering she hasn’t been with them in years.
Lynch suggested that Morgan and Belair had an issue that they needed to sort first. Morgan and Belair gave each other a look before tossing Lynch from the ring.
Belair and Morgan faced off before quickly getting into a brawl. Belair was about to give Morgan a KOD but Lynch knocked them down from behind.
Lynch posed with her belt as she backed up the ramp.
Owens approached Rollins in the back. Rollins asked Owens if he should staple Heyman’s lips together or rip out his tongue. Owens suggested they work together again tonight, and if they did, they could end up wrestling each other for the title. Rollins said he trusted Owens and agreed to his plan. Owens, not a dummy, wondered if Rollins might be lying.
Queen Zelina & Carmella defeated Rhea Ripley & Nikki ASH to retain the Tag Team Championships (2:34)
The champs retained quickly after Zelina rolled up Nikki. Ripley acted shocked.
This was a nothing segment and they moved on from it fairly quickly.
They played the Johnny Knoxville video announcing he will be in the Rumble match.
Montez Ford, Angelo Dawkins, Rey Mysterio, and Dominik Mysterio also declared for the match.
The Street Profits defeated Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez (2:18)
Another quick match that saw Ford pick up the win with a frog splash on Crews.
There have been less than 10 minutes of wrestling so far 90 minutes into the show.
Schreiber asked Damian Priest about the stipulation in tonight’s title defense (if Priest gets counted out or disqualified, he loses the US title). Priest did a dumb promo explaining the two sides to his personality and what that meant for Dolph Ziggler.
Doudrop approached Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce. She was pissed that Belair and Morgan were getting chances ahead of her again. Pearce asked what she was actually angry about. Doudrop asked if “grandpa” was deaf and explained she was pissed that the same women kept getting the opportunities.
Deville announced a triple threat between Doudrop, Belair and Morgan next week, and the winner would face Lynch at the Rumble for the title. Doudrop was happy with this.
(They added fake cheering for Deville’s announcement.)
Damian Priest defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the United States Championship (9:37)
Ziggler hit a tornado DDT off the barricade which led to break less than a minute into the match and the action during the break automatically made this the longest match of the night so far.
Priest fought back after the break but Ziggler came back with a nice running knee strike for two. Priest responded with kicks and a cliffhanger DDT for two.
Ziggler had the referee distracted which allowed Robert Roode (who did not enter with Ziggler) to drop Priest from the top rope. Ziggler followed with a fameasser for a nearfall.
Priest decked Ziggler before going after Roode. He was about to attack Roode with a steel chair but entered the ring instead so he wouldn’t get counted out. Ziggler dared Priest to use the chair on him but Priest chucked it at Roode instead. Ziggler used the momentary distraction to hit a Zig-Zag for a nearfall.
Ziggler tried a superkick but Priest countered into Reckoning for the pinfall win. The crowd was into the last few minutes.
Austin Theory approached Vince McMahon in the back for a segment they filmed with at least two cameras. Vince gave him a hard time for apologizing and saying he didn’t mean to interrupt when he did interrupt. Theory asked about his rematch with Finn Bálor. McMahon sort of blew this off and said that Theory would be in the Rumble. McMahon said Theory would win and main event WrestleMania. Theory was speechless.
Miz & Maryse/Edge & Beth Phoenix segment
Miz and Maryse entered. Miz said they were outraged over the outcome at Day 1 after he was only one Skull Crushing Finale away from winning. Miz called himself a two-time grand slam champion and shouldn’t have to prove himself against Edge who was only a one-time grand slam champion.
Miz mentioned Beth Phoenix costing him the match and said Edge deserved to lose because of what he did to them last week. He played a replay of the “brood bath.” Miz said the crowd enjoyed that because they were miserable and they wanted to see bad things happen to good people but true love would overcome.
Miz claimed Edge hid behind his wife and wondered what kind of man did that. The crowd yelled, “you!” Maryse said Miz would never do that because he was brave and handsome. Maryse said she would punch Phoenix in the face if she were here tonight.
Beth Phoenix entered to her music before Edge entered to his. Phoenix wasn’t surprised to see Maryse not act on her word and Edge wasn’t surprised to see Miz full of excuses. Phoenix said it was her own idea to get involved at Day 1.
Edge had an idea too. He suggested a mixed tag match at the Royal Rumble. The crowd cheered and chanted “yes.” Miz hesitated before Phoenix pressed him for an answer. Miz accepted but Maryse wasn’t happy about that. Phoenix psyched out Maryse with a fake punch and Maryse fell on her ass (like Edge did to Miz a few weeks ago). Maryse stormed off and Miz chased after her.
Patrick interviewed Big E. He said being WWE Champion meant a lot to him and it meant something to a lot of people too. There was no shame in losing to Lesnar. What he won’t do is wallow in self-pity. The next chapter would be the best chapter and tonight was the start of him reclaiming what is his. There wasn’t a soul on earth who could stop him.
Omos defeated AJ Styles (3:46)
Styles used strikes and tried to outsmart Omos but Omos just cut him off with a big boot. Styles fought back and tried a Phenomenal forearm but Omos swatted him out of mid-air.
Omos hit a big press slam before hitting a tree slam for the decisive win.
Next week: Alexa Bliss’ journey back to Raw. (She isn’t necessarily returning next week based on how they phrased this.)
I know it’s been Rollins’ nickname for a while, but they’re really all-in on calling him Seth “Freakin’” Rollins. I hope one of the announcers calls him Freakin’ Rollins like he’s Hitman Hart.
Owens entered, they went to break, they aired the Bliss video, everyone else entered, and they went to break again.
Fatal 4-way match: Bobby Lashley defeated Kevin Owens, Big E and Seth Rollins (18:40)
This was excellent.
Big E hit Owens with a spear through the ropes less than a minute into the match. It looked like he landed hard but he popped right up to face off with Lashley in the ring. Lashley got the better of that exchange and gave Big E a vertical suplex before doing the same to Owens.
The crowd chanted for “Bobby” as he sprinted toward Owens for a spear outside the ring but Owens moved and Lashley crashed through the barricade. Big E suplexed Rollins on the mats before clearing the announce table but Owens saved Rollins. Owen and Rollins gave Big E a Shield powerbomb through the table which led to break.
Owens and Rollins continued to team up on Lashley and Big E. Big E gave Rollins an STO but ran into an Owens superkick and Lashley decked Owens.
Big E and Lashley gave each other a look and decided to go after Owens and Rollins. Big E and Lashley chased them through the crowd, up the stairs, into the arena concourse. (This particular area of the concourse was sectioned off from the fans which makes these moments feel fake.) Big E slammed Owens through a merch table which led to break.
Rollins, Big E, and Lashley continued to fight the crowd near an entryway until Owens crashed through them with an insane dive off a railing. “This is awesome” chants.
Owens gave Big E a senton and Rollins followed with a frog splash. Owens actually didn’t break up the cover and watched as Rollins got a nearfall. They both hit superkicks and Owens hit a pop-up powerbomb but Lashley pushed Rollins into them to break up the cover.
Lashley tossed around Owens and Rollins but Rollins pushed Big E into a Lashley spear. Lashley also speared Rollins.
Owens tried a stunner but Lashley blocked it and hit a spear for the pinfall win.
It’s Lesnar vs. Lashley at the Rumble.
Lashley got a few moments to celebrate post-match as the announcers put over the win and the Lesnar/Lashley match.
Patrick approached Lesnar in the back. Lesnar wanted Reigns to know that he’d be on Smackdown on Friday.