Roman Reigns said a few months ago that he wanted one title for each shoulder, and it would appear that this is still the case. After Jeri-KO interrupted Reigns’ opening interview to talk trash in advance of Sunday’s WWE Universal Title Match (Kevin Owens) and bemoan their eventual fate as a shark-cage inhabitant in said match (Chris Jericho), tempers grew hot and Jericho out-and-out threatened The Big Dog.
Reigns, of course, immediately called Jericho’s bluff and evoked his rematch clause for the United States Title Jericho won off of him two weeks prior, putting himself back in the running to be a potential dual-champion. Owens both accepted on behalf of a hesitant Jericho and promised to put Reigns in the shark cage before the night was over. But the damage may well be done by then, and WWE’s resident sexy piñata — sorry, very sexy piñata — may be relieved of his most precious prize.
If not for a miscue involving the referees last week, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson would be Raw Tag Team Champions. But the good brothers didn’t exactly let themselves wallow in disappointment one week after their non-victory, with Gallows picking up a singles win over Cesaro despite the fact that Karl Anderson was chased away from ringside by Sheamus.
Left to his own devices against Cesaro, The Suntan Biker Man struggled to find an answer for The King of Swing’s multifaceted attack, not to mention some chicanery from Sheamus that let him get a cheap shot in on Gallows. Anderson made his return right as Cesaro locked Gallows in the Sharpshooter, taking out Sheamus from behind and distracting the referee right as the big man tapped. When Cesaro released the hold, Gallows sprang into action with a big boot and fireman’s carry flapjack for the win. So some referee funny business mars the match again. Good thing the title rematch this Sunday will have two.
The mantra of this year’s Royal Rumble Match is “Friend vs. Friend, Foe vs. Foe, Every Man For Himself.” That was put to the test on Raw, where Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn — two guys who, if not friends per se, certainly don’t have beef — went head-to-head over The Architect’s Royal Rumble Match opportunity. It was a stipulation arranged by Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon … and sealed, in part, by her husband.
Zayn turned in a strong performance, though he struggled to close the deal against Rollins down the stretch of the contest. Fortunately for him, the sound of Triple H’s theme song stopped The Architect in his tracks. Rollins, who has been chasing The Game since his former mentor cost him the WWE Universal Title, immediately turned his focus to the stage, and Zayn reacted quickly with a small package. The darndest thing about all this? Triple H never even showed up. And now, Rollins’ Road to WrestleMania just got that much more uncertain. Your move, Rollins.
Well hello there, Mustafa Ali. This Cruiserweight has been lighting up 205 Live for some weeks now, and he’s officially made his Raw debut as the key member of a three-man squad that also included TJ Perkins and “Gentleman” Jack Gallagher. Everyone in Ali’s team certainly did their part, but thanks to a late-breaking scrap where Perkins took out Tony Nese and Gallagher headbutted Ariya Daivari into next Tuesday, Ali provided the finishing touch on a prone Drew Gulak with his signature Inverted 450 Splash.
The field for the Royal Rumble Match has begun to crowd up, and several dark-horse candidates — included newly minted Rumblers Rusev and Big Cass — joined forces for an 8-Man Tag Team Match on Raw to show what they can do. Ultimately, as you would expect, the team that boasted Braun Strowman on its ranks ended up coming through in the clutch. After Kofi Kingston took out pretty much everyone on the outside and The Monster Among Men tagged in to face Enzo Amore, Strowman made short work of Muscles Marinara to earn the win.
His glory was short-lived, however, as another newly announced Rumble Match entrant — Big Show — entered the arena and went face-to-face with Strowman. The Gift of Destruction declined to throw down with the giant, but come Sunday, he may not have the luxury of a quick exit.
The bad news first: Roman Reigns is not United States Champion, despite technically recording a win over Chris Jericho via a disqualification decision. The match seemed to be veering toward a decisively old-fashioned conclusion with Reigns on top when a frustrated Kevin Owens rushed down from commentary to save Jericho’s (Canadian) bacon, dropping Reigns with a series of rights to the face and ending the match in a disqualification.
The good news, however, is that despite Owens’ earlier promise, Reigns escaped the confines of the shark cage. The Big Dog forced his way out of the prison at the last minute and trapped Owens instead. The WWE Universal Champion then watched helplessly as his best friend was Superman Punched off the edge of the cage and Speared for good measure. And then, Owens found out that his title match at the Royal Rumble would now carry a No Disqualification stipulation. He wasn't happy.
Nia Jax has been dining out for a few weeks now on her decimation of Sasha Banks, crowing about how she “broke The Boss.” And after decimating a local competitor named Ray Lyn, Nia took to the microphone to boast once more about the “demise” of Sasha at her hands. Then The Boss returned, seemingly hobbling her way to face Nia with the aid of a crutch.
But what seemed like a doomed attempt to save face quickly turned #legit when Banks attacked, swinging the crutch like a cudgel into Jax’s shin and sides before sending her tumbling outside the ring. With Nia reeling, Sasha drove her point home — along with her knees, straight into Nia’s face.
Noam Dar finally has Alicia Fooooooooox on his arm, but unfortunately, The Scottish Supernova also had Rich Swann’s foot in his face by the end of the night. The Cruiserweight affectionately known as “Mr. Steal Your Girl” certainly used Miss Fox to his advantage in his bout against the WWE Cruiserweight Champion, even employing Alicia as a human shield at one point. But Dar — yep — couldn’t handle this, and Swann uncorked a spin kick to the mush that put Dar down for three.
With The Scottish Supernova dispatched, Swann dared his No. 1 contender, Neville, to come to the ring and throw down. Neville appeared, but stopped just short of the ropes and was ready to make his exit … until Swann lawn-darted him with a suicide dive, sending the self-proclaimed “King of the Cruiserweights” back to his lair with minimal momentum on his side heading into Sunday’s title match.
Goldberg’s return to Raw had the entire WWE Universe shivering with anticipation. But by the end of the night, Goldberg may have been the one with the chills. The former World Heavyweight Champion was first interrupted by the arrival of Brock Lesnar, whom the accompanying Paul Heyman promised would personally eliminate Goldberg from the Royal Rumble Match on Sunday. Goldberg seemed as though he would successfully goad Lesnar to the ring for a fight, but when the two men prepared to throw down, a gong tolled, the lights cut out, and The Undertaker materialized between the two men, bringing them both to a screeching halt. It was a stark reminder that all Roads to WrestleMania must first pass through The Deadman’s yard. All right, Rumblers. Let’s get Rumbling.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Luke Gallows (w/ Karl Anderson) defeated Cesaro (w/ Sheamus) (8:30)
- Sami Zayn defeated Seth Rollins (16:00)
- Jack Gallagher, T.J. Perkins & Mustafa Ali defeated Ariya Daivari, Drew Gulak & Tony Nese (4:00)
- Braun Strowman, Jinder Mahal, Titus O'Neil & Rusev (w/ Lana) defeated Big Cass & Enzo Amore & The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (w/ Xavier Woods) (4:00)
- Roman Reigns defeated Chris Jericho (c) by DQ in a WWE United States Championship Match (10:00)
- Nia Jax defeated Ray Lyn (1:00)
- Rich Swann defeated Noam Dar (w/ Alicia Fox) (7:00)
Other on-screen talent