WWE is coming off of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view Saturday, which had an ending that left every wrestling fan speechless. So, I am sure there were a lot of people tuning into Monday night Raw to see more from Sami Zayn and The Bloodline.
However, Zayn and The Bloodline were nowhere to be seen tonight.
Instead, men’s Royal Rumble winner, Cody Rhodes, would be kicking us off. This is Rhodes’ first appearance on Raw since June 6, he’s been out of action with a torn pectoral muscle.
Rhodes really had adrenaline in his soul, as the entire arena was chanting ‘Cody’ and ‘you deserve it’ as soon as he grabbed the microphone. Cody then began to give the same speech he gave every week before he got hurt, it’s all about the journey!
Rhodes said he is happy that his journey has had its ups and downs, and he gives a run-down of everything he has done over the years. He quickly comes to tears as he said he is the first person in the Rhodes family to win the Royal Rumble and he has punched his ticket to WrestleMania.
Rhodes then touched on his theme song and the words, ‘wrestling has more than one royal family.’ He said WWE has plenty of royal families including The Bloodline, and he is ready to face Roman Reigns.
He said in 62 days at WrestleMania, Reigns’ championship reign comes to an end and he can still be the tribal chief, but he will no longer be the world champion! The lights then go out and The Judgement Day has made their way out to confront Rhodes.
Finn Balor said all Rhodes does is rip off his old stuff and Dominick Mysterio said Rhodes ruined The Judgement Day’s plans because he was supposed to win. Dom said Rhodes is lucky they aren’t still in prison because he would have ‘got got!’
Rhodes tries to reason with Dom by bringing up his dad Rey, but Dom said he doesn’t respect his own dad and he doesn’t respect Cody’s dad either. Cody then challenged any member of The Judgement Day to a match here tonight!
It seemed like this opening segment was over but then, ‘you think you know me?’ Edge came running out attacking all three members of Judgement Day, and we went to commercial with a brawl between Judgement Day, Edge and Cody.
Elimination Chamber Qualifier: Seth Rollins vs. Chad Gable
Prior to Raw, it was announced that at Elimination Chamber Austin Theory would be defending his United States Championship in the chamber. There will be a number of qualifying matches throughout the night, but up first is Seth Rollins taking on Chad Gable.
This match had a quick start with Gable locking Rollins in the ankle lock within the first minute, and he quickly followed that with an O’Connor roll German suplex. Gable had all the control and was able to land a diving headbutt for the two-count before we head into a commercial break.
Gable really locked into injuring the leg of Rollins and landed quite the dragon screw. He then went for the moonsault, but Rollins rolled out of the way and was able to land a buckle bomb.
The highlight of the match was Gable beautifully reversing an enzigiri into an ankle lock. However, the submission still wasn’t enough and Rollins got out hit a pedigree and scored the win booking his ticket to the chamber.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Candice LeRae vs. Iyo Sky
In the women’s Royal Rumble, Candice LeRae was eliminated by Iyo Sky, so LeRae was hoping to get some revenge on Raw. Since Sky had Damange Ctrl in her corner, LeRae brought Michin out for some backup.
This match started quite slow, but thankfully picked up nicely and Sky was able to land a suicide dive onto LeRae. However, Sky was not able to get much control and LeRae came right back with a springboard crossbody to the outside onto Sky.
LeRae threw Sky back into the ring and she delivered a missile dropkick from the top rope. Later in the match, Sky went for her moonsault, but LeRae caught her and hit Sky with an avalanche German suplex from the middle rope for a two-count.
LeRae kept her foot on the gas hitting a poisonrana, but then Damage Ctrl made their presence felt. Bayley got up on the apron distracting LeRae and Sky was able to get a roll-up and steal the win. It’s unfortunate that such a great match had to end with an interference.
Winner: Iyo Sky
It was now time for the winner of the women’s Royal Rumble, Rhea Ripley, to make her decision about who she wants to face at WrestleMania. Ripley had an outstanding performance in the rumble, winning as the first entry in the match.
Ripley told the crowd that she did the unthinkable outlasting all 29 other women and she now has the decision to make. She recalled back three years ago when the then rumble winner and current Smackdown Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair, beat her for her NXT Women’s Championship at WrestleMania.
Ripley said it is expected that Charlotte is at the top, but she wants to disrupt that. She told her to enjoy being the queen because all the queen’s followers will rise for Rhea at WrestleMania. Ripley has officially chosen and challenged the Smackdown Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair.
Backstage, Cathy Kelly was interviewing Rollins and he was talking about how he will be winning the elimination chamber. However, Kelly then made the mistake of asking Rollins about being eliminated by Logan Paul at the rumble. All Rollins could do was smirk and he walked away with no comment.
Elimination Chamber Qualifier: Johnny Gargano vs. Baron Corbin
Johnny Gargano has felt quite wasted since his return to WWE in August, so it’s nice to see him getting this qualifying opportunity against Baron Corbin. Unfortunately, for Gargano, the match did not start in his favor and Corbin got him with a chokeslam onto the top of the barricade early on.
Johnny Wrestling finally got some offence in with a slingshot spear, followed by two superkicks under the chin of Corbin. Just as we thought Gargano was gaining control, Corbin caught him with a deep six for a two-count.
However, Corbin got too excited and started gloating, so Gargano took advantage with a suicide dive. JBL who was in Corbin’s corner then attempted to get involved, but Dexter Lumis came to the aid of Gargano and put an axe through JBL’s cowboy hat!
Back in the ring, Gargano rolled up Corbin for the win and is joining Theory and Rollins in the elimination chamber match!
Winner: Johnny Gargano
It was now time for The VIP Lounge hosted by MVP, and his guest tonight was the United States Champion, Austin Theory. Theory was thankful for the chance to be on The VIP Lounge and he said he was happy to help MVP become relevant again.
MVP brushed off Theory’s small dig and instead asked Theory how he’s feeling heading toward the chamber. Theory said it is gruelling and hard to survive, but he said it’s nothing because he’s the ruthlessness the new generation needs and no aggression can stop him.
MVP said it’s good he’s pretending to not be afraid, but he said he should be concerned about who may end up in the chamber with him. Clearly referencing, Bobby Lashley, but Theory said Lashley will not be getting an opportunity in the chamber.
Theory then continued puffing his chest but out came Lashley and the beat down was on. Lashley went for a spear on Theory, but Theory pulled MVP in the way and he got hit with the spear.
Theory took the chance to run away, but it is pretty obvious to all that Lashley is nowhere near done with him.
The Miz was in the ring upon return from the commercial, and he was there to complain about how the rumble went for him. He was also complaining that he was not even given a qualifying match for the elimination chamber, and he demanded respect.
Adam Pearce came out to answer Miz and said if he wants a match there has been someone begging for a match all day. The newest member of the Raw roster has arrived, Rick Boogs!
This is Boogs’ first appearance since last year’s WrestleMania, but Miz refused to compete because he was in a suit. The suit did not bother Pearce though, and he made the match official.
Rick Boogs vs. The Miz
This match lasted less than a minute and it is insane to me that WWE used Miz as the job guy for the return of Rick Boogs. A complete joke considering how much Miz has done for the company. But, I guess the return of Boogs should be fun.
Winner: Rick Boogs
WWE then made the decision to air the end of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, the moment when Sami Zayn turned on Roman Reigns. This segment was a pure cinematic masterpiece on Saturday, but it was not necessary to just replay the moment tonight.
I understand The Bloodline is a Smackdown faction, but WWE has never cared about the brand split before, so why now? They really missed an opportunity to have Sami or Roman show up on Raw to hear the crowd erupt.
Bayley was now out to gloat about Damage Ctrl’s beatdown of Becky Lynch on Raw last week and about eliminating Lynch in the rumble. She did not get to say much else before Lynch made her way to the ring.
Lynch said their feud is far from over, and she clowned Bayley for not letting their cage match happen last week. The crowd then began chanting at Bayley that she was afraid, but Bayley got personal with her promo.
She told Becky she doesn’t like her, that she is no longer good enough to be a champion and that she is not even good enough for her husband, Seth Rollins. Bayley then had the jaw-dropping line that Rollins only married Lynch because he knocked her up.
Lynch said enough is enough and that his feud has gone on since NXT in Orlando 10 years ago. So, Lynch said next week they should end their feud where it all began, in Orlando, and in a steel cage match!
Bayley was quick to decline, but Lynch then went to the back and dragged out Dakota Kai. Lynch threatened to break the ankle of Kai until Bayley accepted the challenge, next week the steel cage match is finally happening!
Cathy Kelly was now interviewing Adam Pearce, and he confirmed the cage match next week. He also announced that at Elimination Chamber, there will be another elimination chamber match. This one crowns the number one contender for Bianca Belair’s Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania.
Pearce said the first four competitors in that chamber match are: Raquel Rodriguez, Asuka, Liv Morgan, and Nikki Cross. Next week, the fifth competitor will be found in a fatal four-way between Candice LeRae, Michin, Carmella and Piper Niven!
Pearce was then interrupted by Chelsea Green, who returned to WWE at the Royal Rumble. She had some complaints to take up with Pearce about her poor accommodations, seems like her new gimmick is being annoying. Weird.
Elimination Chamber Qualifier: Dolph Ziggler vs. Bronson Reed
Bronson Reed returned to Raw not long ago and he has the chance to qualify for the chamber against one of the most underrated WWE stars of all time, Dolph Ziggler. Reed overpowered Ziggler from the jump, but Ziggler got lucky with a big DDT and Zig-Zag for a two-count.
Ziggler’s luck ran out there and he was caught with a powerbomb and then hit with a splash from the top rope. The splash got Reed the win and sends him to Elimination Chamber.
Winner: Bronson Reed
Cathy Kelly was backstage once again, this time to welcome back Carmella. She has been gone for seven months and it seems she is back to her old Jersey girl gimmick. Before Carmella could say anything else, Asuka appeared behind her and just smiled as blue mist dripped from her mouth! Asuka is definitely the favorite heading toward the chamber
The next two qualifiers for a spot in the United States Championship elimination chamber match were then announced. Next week, it will be Angelo Dawkins vs. Damian Priest and Montez Ford vs. Elias to find the final two competitors.
Cody Rhodes vs. Finn Balor
We have finally made it to the main event, and it would be Finn Balor answering Cody’s challenge from earlier in the night. This would be a battle of two former Bullet Club members, hopefully, we get a too-sweet ending to Raw.
Rhodes got an early jump on Balor and had control heading into commercial. However, as we returned to the action Balor attacked the surgically repaired pec of Rhodes and narrowed in on that shoulder.
Balor was so focused on the shoulder, that Rhodes managed to hit a disaster kick to Balor and followed that with a suicide dive to the outside. He then took out both Priest and Mysterio of Judgement Day before returning to the ring.
As we returned from commercial, Rhodes connected a superplex to Balor from the top rope. Rhodes followed that with a Cody Cutter, but it was only enough for a two-count and Balor came right back with a sling blade.
Rhodes was then thrown to the outside and was surrounded by Judgement Day. It seemed like Rhodes was doomed, but out from the crowd came Edge once again!
Edge took out Priest in the crowd and made his way to ringside to spear Mysterio, but then Ripley attacked him. So, just like Saturday out came Edge’s wife, Beth Phoenix, to hit Ripley with another emphatic spear.
Back in the ring, Balor was ready to hit Rhodes with a Coup de Grace, but Edge jumped on the apron distracting Balor and giving Rhodes time to recover. Rhodes rolled out of the way and then hit Balor with three Cross-Rhodes to get the win in his first match back on Raw and close the show standing tall!
Raw, January 30th, 2023
This edition of Raw had some ups and downs, which is the usual case when it comes to Raw. There were some pointless segments and unnecessarily short matches, and the lack of The Bloodline hurt the show. However, what saved this show was actually the match quality. Rollins vs. Gable, LeRae vs. Sky, and Rhodes vs. Balor were all great and definitely the highlights of this Monday night Raw.