By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Goldberg Announced His Participation in the 2017 Royal Rumble Match
Goldberg came off just as well here as he did when he first returned to Raw last month. I don't know if he's writes his own material or not, but his lines never sound scripted. It made sense to have him kick off the show considering his shocking win over Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series was the only thing fans were talking about coming out of the event and I liked how he didn't simply thank the fans and leave. Instead, he announced his involvement in the 2017 Royal Rumble match. Although he teased wanting a world title, I doubt he wins the Rumble. I see Lesnar costing him the contest to set up a third and final match for WrestleMania 33.
Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day def. Cesaro and Sheamus
I'm glad they didn't wait until Roadblock to hold this championship rematch because the build would have been similar to what we saw going into Hell in a Cell with Cesaro and Sheamus not being on the same page. Now that they've lost by pinfall to New Day, they can move on or split up. As for the match itself, it was entertaining in that I bought into all the nearfalls because obviously New Day are closer to the end of their historic title reign than the beginning. The questionable finish had fans talking, though. Are they on the verge of turning heel again? They sell so much merchandise I would be surprised, but I could see them being the heels in a program with Enzo Amore and Big Cass eventually.
Cedric Alexander def. Ariya Daivari
Daivari talking bfore the bout was a nice change of pace because I don't think we've heard from any of the Cruiserweights in the ring in the past other than The Brian Kendrick. That said, I'm so sick of the stupid Indian stereotype where they wear the turban, speak Indian and trash Americans/Canadians. It's such a tired troupe. As I've said time and time again, Alexander is an absolute star, and this was essentially a showcase for him. Here's hoping the Cruiserweights will receive more character development on the new WWE 205 Live show debuting next week.
Seth Rollins Interrupted WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho on The Highlight Reel
Owens and Jericho did tease tension last night, so I did honestly think for a second that they were parting ways here. Thankfully, that did not end up being the case. Them simultaneously blaming Roman Reigns as the reason Team Raw lost at Survivor Series was hilarious and the crowd popped big. This did a fine job of setting up Rollins vs. Owens for the WWE Universal title later on in the night, and I will never complain about Jeri-KO getting time to talk.
Rusev def. Enzo Amore
The backstage bit that saw Amore appear to be naked in front of Lana was one way of getting to this match so it wasn't completely random, I guess. Rusev made that segment funny, but you had to know Vince McMahon was behind it. Either way, this was a simple squash and it marked the first time in over a month that Rusev looked dominant. All signs seem to point to Rusev vs. Big Cass happening at Roadblock, but as previously noted, I'd rather see Enzo and Cass enter the tag title picture.
The Club def. The Golden Truth in a No. 1 Contender's Match For the Raw Tag Team Championship
The Club fared fairly well at Survivor Series, so I can understand why they were put in this match, but why The Golden Truth? They weren't even a part of Team Raw last night! I had a bad feeling The Golden Truth would win since we've seen Club vs. New Day a million times before, but I'm happy we'll be seeing it one more time instead of Golden Truth vs. New Day. This match was decent enough and it served its purpose in earning Club a title shot.
Braun Strowman def. Sami Zayn
If Mick Foley is a babyface authority figure, how did Stephanie McMahon convince him that it was a good idea to punish Zayn for losing at Survivor Series? Didn't he see that Zayn was screwed by The Miz and Maryse? Strowman brutally decimated Zayn here, and these are the types of matches Zayn thrives in as the ultimate underdog. Strowman has grown on me since arriving on Raw, but I fear he'll be put in a program with someone such as Big Show or Mark Henry before long. It could help get Strowman even more, sure, but the matches could be abysmally bad.
Sasha Banks and Bayley def. Raw Women's Champion Charlotte and Nia Jax
I never thought I would say this, but I think I might have groaned when Banks interrupted Charlotte during the pre-match promo. We see so much of these two together that I am beyond ready for them to move on to something new and start building up new stars in Raw's women's division. I realize Banks still has her championship rematch clause, but she has already won the belt on Raw twice, so I hope Charlotte successfully retains next week so they can put the rivalry to rest for now. The tag team match that followed was well-wrestled and Banks beating Charlotte was effective in establishing her as a threat to the title heading into next week's title match.
Rich Swann def. T.J. Perkins and Noam Dar in a No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match For the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
I liked that these were the three guys put in the No. 1 Contender's match because, unlike the tag team match earlier, Swann, Perkins and Dar all have issues with Kendrick from the past month. The in-ring action was enjoyable, but putting the Cruiserweights in that third hour is never a smart idea. I also appreciated the hype for WWE 205 Live next Tuesday and Swann vs. Kendrick should be a great first main event for the debuting program.
WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens def. Seth Rollins in a No Disqualification Match
If I had to rank the three matches these two have had in recent months, this would be behind their Hell in a Cell encounter but better than their Clash of Champions match. They have awesome chemistry together and the crowd was engaged in everything they did. Furthermore, they made the most of the extreme stipulation and Reigns and Jericho being banned from ringside ensured they wouldn't get involved. Of course, Jericho helped Owens anyway, but it was from the crowd, so therefore didn't disobey Foley (not to mention him disguising himself as Sin Cara was hilarious if you know the story behind that). Ending this feud now opens up a few different possibilities for Roadblock for both guys, but I assume Owens will defend against Reigns while Rollins faces off with Jericho.
Although Survivor Series didn't do much for me on the whole, this was a solid follow-up episode that set in motion several storylines for the upcoming Roadblock pay-per-view in addition to confirming two title matches for next week's show. Goldberg's appearance, the No Disqualification main event, and the tag title match all contributed to this being a newsworthy night and one of the better editions of Raw in a while.