WWE Raw went live from Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 22. It was the go-home show for Royal Rumble PLE. Seth Rollins gave his health update in a major announcement. Cody Rhodes and CM Punk came face-to-face, and Drew McIntyre fought Damian Priest. Let’s review what happened on the Monday Night Raw before Royal Rumble.
Seth Rollins Major Announcement
Seth Rollins kicked off the show to give a health update and to discuss his plans. The crowd gave a huge ovation to the World Heavyweight Champion.
They sang his song and chanted, “Thank You, Seth”. Seth was wearing a knee brace. He talked about last week when he beat Jinder Mahal, but his knee gave out in the middle of the match.
Rollins said that he has a grade 2 tear of MCL and a partially torn meniscus, and it will take two to four months to recover after surgery.
Imperium interrupted Rollins. Gunther entered the ring while Kaiser and Vinci stood at ringside. Gunther said that Seth is a proud champion like me.
The Ring General told him he was sad for Rollins for missing WrestleMania. Rollins said you must have waited to hear what I wanted to say next.
Then Seth claimed that nothing could stop him and he would do whatever hard work it took to go into WrestleMania as champion and then walk out of WrestleMania as champion.
Gunther said that he was happy to hear that. He claimed to win the Royal Rumble and go on to challenge Seth Rollins at WrestleMania.
Gunther said he would target Rollins’ knee, his back, and everything that is not 100% to beat him and become the World Heavyweight Champion. Both Gunther and Seth shook hands and left.
Analysis: Now, that was an announcement you expect from a guy like Seth Rollins. He showed his never-give-up attitude. Gunther looked like a credible name to win the Royal Rumble. The Ring General has improved well on the mic.
Tag Team Match
Imperium vs. New Day
Kofi and Xavier attacked Kaiser and Vinci when they were at ringside. So, they booked in a match. Vinci was back in action and delivered a running crossbody block on Kingston.
Kofi came back with a missile dropkick. A few punches and chops were exchanged in the ring. Vinci delivered a back suplex on the apron, and Ludwig ran Woods into the barricade.
Woods bounced back with a superkick. Kofi and Kaiser were tagged in. Kingston with a double axe handles off the top rope on Kaiser.
Kofi landed consecutive suicide dives on Kaiser and Vinci at ringside. They all brawled out at the ringside, and the referee counted them.
They fought through the crowd. All four men were down after crashing through some tables.
Winner: Double Count-Out
Analysis: It is an intense story between New Day and Imperium. They all can deliver a banger in a stipulation match.
The Judgment Day Clubhouse
Backstage, Cameras showed the Judgment Day’s Clubhouse. Rhea Ripley said that Priest and Balor will defend the Undisputed Tag Team Titles next week against DIY.
Priest claimed to take care of McIntyre tonight. Priest also stopped Ripley from going into Adam Pearce’s office.
Rhea said that Finn Balor will be at ringside for Dominik’s match, and she wants a vicious side of Balor.
Ivy Nile vs Valhalla
Valhalla initially got some offence and took Nile out at the ringside with a running forearm. We saw a headbutt from Valhalla.
Valhalla made a pinfall attempt with rope assistance, but the referee caught her. Nile won with an Avalanche Bulldog.
Winner: Ivy Nile
Analysis: Ivy Nile is going with some momentum into Royal Rumble, and you can expect a vital performance from her.
Backstage: New Day was alongside Jey Uso. Kofi challenged Gunther to a match next week.
– We saw Damage CTRL sneaking around on Raw.
Women’s Royal Rumble was Hyped
Nia Jax arrived in the ring to address the WWE Universe. She claimed to have squashed both Rhea and Becky.
Jax talked about last week when Rhea and Becky wanted to face each other at WrestleMania. Jax said that Ripley chose Lynch because she could beat her.
Becky Lynch came out and told Jax to shut up. Lynch said that Jax beat her, but it gave Nia something to discuss for the next five years.
Lynch said that everyone in the back agreed that nobody likes Nia Jax. Becky sarcastically said she’s unsure what she will enjoy more, her win or Nia’s loss in the Royal Rumble match.
Bayley entered the mix. The Role Model started with “Ding-Dong!” and called Becky and Nia “Idiots”. Bayley made her intentions clear of winning the Royal Rumble. Bayley shoved Becky into Nia.
Becky and Nia brawled, and The Man delivered a Manhandle Slam on Bayley. Jax sent Lynch out of the ring over the top rope, signaling her elimination from the Royal Rumble match. Jax delivered a leg drop on Bayley and smiled.
Analysis: They all made their points to win the Royal Rumble match. It was cool to see Bayley on Raw.
The Miz vs Dominik Mysterio
As we discovered earlier, JD McDonagh and Finn Balor were at ringside. The match began at a quick pace with punches and arm drags. Dom sent The Miz outside and distracted the referee, which allowed Balor to attack.
Dom then crashed Miz with a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Mysterio landed a slingshot senton bomb for a near fall. Miz bounced back with a kick to the midsection and his patented clotheslines in the corner. Dom again got the control thanks to a distraction from JD.
After the break, Miz fought back with two clotheslines and a Reality Check for a two-count. Balor tried to interfere. Miz took out Balor with a baseball slide and delivered a hurricane to McDonagh on the outside.
The A-Lister landed a springboard crossbody block in the ring for a near fall. Miz with the IT Kicks setting up for a Skull Crushing Finale. Dom avoided it and delivered a 619 with an assist from Balor. Mysterio splashed a frog, and he won the match.
After the match, Balor continued the attack on The Miz. DIY made the save. Gargano delivered a slingshot spear to McDonagh, and Miz landed a Skull Crushing Finale. Gargano and Ciampa were ready for Meet in the Middle on JD, but Balor pulled him away.
Winner: Dominik Mysterio
Analysis: It was a decent match. The post-match angle was necessary to make DIY look like a credible opponent for The Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles.
Backstage: Damian Priest was interviewed backstage about his match with Drew McIntyre later on the show. R-Truth arrived with a stack of money as Priest’s cut.
Damian told him that this was serious stuff, and Truth walked away. Priest then talked about McIntyre. He said that Drew lost to Roman, Gunther, and now Seth. He said that McIntyre is jealous of him.
Damian said he would be the champion by cashing in the briefcase or winning the Royal Rumble.
– Bronson Reed challenged Jey Uso to a match next week.
Ivar vs Chad Gable
Gable got the momentum initially, but Ivar cut him off with a spinning slam. Gable avoided a back suplex and landed a dropkick.
Chad had a flipping neckbreaker and a headbutt from the top rope for a near fall. Ivar avoided the German Suplex from Gable and crashed him with a splash on the floor.
Gable delivered a huge superplex from the top rope. Later, Ivar delivered an underhook sit-out powerbomb for a two-count.
Gable caught him in the Ankle Lock, but Ivar escaped and delivered a seated senton in the corner. Ivar with a leg drop from the middle rope for a near fall. Gable again caught him in the Ankle Lock, but Ivar somehow reached the bottom rope.
Ivar landed a massive sit-out spine buster for a near fall again. Gable delivered a bridging German Suplex for a near fall.
As Gable was headed to the top rope, Valhalla appeared to distract him, allowing Ivar to hit a Doomsault for the win.
Analysis: It was a hell of a match. Ivar has delivered top-notch work as a singles star. Gable’s stock is going down again.
Cody Rhodes and CM Punk Face-to-Face
Cody Rhodes arrived and entered the ring. Before he could say anything, CM Punk came out. Both of them stood face-to-face in the ring. Punk said that it took so much for them to reach this moment.
Punk hoped he and Cody would still be friends after the Royal Rumble. Rhodes asked the crowd and CM Punk, “What do you wanna talk about?”.
CM Punk brought a story from the past. He said that Cody’s father, Dusty, asked Punk to keep an eye on Cody while he was in OVW. Punk said he’s proud of Cody Rhodes as he is a bonafide main-eventer.
Punk said that he will be breaking his promise to Dusty at the Royal Rumble as he will punch Cody and do whatever it takes to win the Royal Rumble and the main event of WrestleMania.
Cody said he and Punk had been friends for so long, but they won’t be in the Royal Rumble match. Cody said that Punk can separate business from personal. Rhodes claimed that this business was personal for himself as he was born in this business.
Cody mentioned “the pipe bomb”. He said that Punk inspired so many people with that promo. But Punk left and never passed the torch.
Cody said he is more of a CM Punk than CM Punk himself because he followed everything said in the pipe bomb. Rhodes said that he has only one forward direction to go, and that goes through CM Punk.
Cody was about to walk off, but Punk spun him around, and they went nose-to-nose. Cody later embraced Wade Barret and told him he would win the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: An extremely intense segment between the top most possible winners of the Royal Rumble. Both men are confident heading into Royal Rumble.
Tag Team Match
Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark vs Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae
Katana Chance and Kayden Carter, the Women’s Tag Team Champions, were at ringside for this encounter.
A notable spot came when Candice delivered a hurricane on Stark, sending her through Baszler. We saw a spinebuster from Hartwell on Stark.
Piper Niven and Chelsea Green were closely watching this from backstage. LeRae delivered a Codebreaker to Stark and a senton bomb to Shayna.
As LeRae was focused on Zoey, Baszler caught her in the Kirifuda Clutch. Stark made a tag and hit Z-360 for the win. The Kabuki Warriors attacked the tag team champions after the match.
Winners: Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark
Analysis: It was a dull match from the women’s division. Baszler and Stark can be a violent team if booked properly.
Backstage: Jinder Mahal approached Adam Pearce alongside Veer and Sanga. Pearce asked Mahal to meet him in the office.
Drew McIntyre vs Damian Priest
The main event was hyped well, where Drew McIntyre battled Damian Priest. They start things with headlocks and shoulder tackles. At ringside, Drew delivered a belly-to-belly suplex. Both competitors again exchanged chops and punches.
Priest delivered a Broken Arrow on McIntyre on the commentary table. In the ring, Priest crashed Drew with a clothesline for a two-count. They laid out each other with dual big boots.
McIntyre angrily got up and delivered violent clotheslines, a belly-to-belly suplex, and a neckbreaker. Priest avoided the Claymore kick and went for a spin kick. McIntyre avoided this time and delivered a spinebuster for a two-count.
Drew delivered the Glasgow Kiss. Priest came back with a Broken Arrow for a near fall. Drew rolled out of the ring. Priest landed a springboard somersault and threw him back inside. R-Truth emerged out of nowhere to give Damian Priest his cut from the merchandise sales. Priest shoved him away, and Truth told him that he’d put the money in the briefcase.
Damian returned to the ring, where he suffered a Future Shock DDT at the hands of The Scottish Warrior. Truth got on the ropes and asked Priest for the password to the briefcase. McIntyre laid out the Truth.
Priest took advantage of the moment and delivered the South of Heaven chokeslam. The referee was messing with R-Truth. Priest angrily threw Truth out of the ring. McIntyre was waiting for him, and he delivered a Claymore Kick for the win.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: It was a fun main event, and Drew McIntyre got the much-necessary win before Royal Rumble. R-Truth’s involvement was worth watching, but he’ll soon pay for Priest’s loss in the match.
Overall, it was a fantastic show. Seth Rollins is not going anywhere and is determined to make it to WrestleMania.
Cody and Punk exchanged a heated war of words, and things look great for the upcoming Royal Rumble Premium Live Event.