WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 9
Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker made their returns to Raw Monday night, but it was Chris Jericho, another legendary competitor, who stole headlines with his victory over Roman Reigns for the United States Championship.
Though it came with the assistance of Kevin Owens, Y2J captured the one title that eluded him throughout his Hall of Fame career. It was the perfect way to cap off what has been an incredibly and unpredictably great run.
The Phenom announced his entry into the Royal Rumble, and HBK hyped his new movie, but not without blasting a current Superstar with his trademark Sweet Chin Music.
Braun Strowman continued his path of rage, Seth Rollins looked to slow him and a match between the two was booked.
The cruiserweights were in action, Bayley looked to build on her momentum and New Day found a new way to torment Titus O'Neil.
Find out exactly what went down Monday, how each segment graded out and analysis for every match with this look back at the January 9 episode of WWE's flagship show.
Opening Segment Chaos and United States Championship Match
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley discussed performance reviews before Seth Rollins arrived and announced his entry into the Royal Rumble match.
Braun Strowman appeared and demanded a match with Goldberg or Roman Reigns and then warned, "or else."
Rollins blasted Strowman, and a brawl ensued as referees attempted to pull them apart.
Out in the arena, the United States Championship match between Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho got underway. Just minutes in, Strowman interfered, followed by Rollins, and the match was called off.
McMahon, fuming, confirmed that the title match would still happen and that Rollins would now face Strowman one-on-one.
Roman Reigns fought Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho to a no-contest in a handicap match for the United States Championship
This was certainly an energetic way to kick off the show, though it is unknown if it can dent the audience the National Championship Game will pull in over on ESPN.
The wild, chaotic feel was a nice break from the formulaic nature of Raw. Unfortunately for fans, none of the programs involved in the opening segment chaos are hot enough to capture their attention and drag them away from the football game.
Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman
Rollins tried to take the fight to Strowman, attempting to knock the monstrous competitor off his feet.
Everything he tried, though, failed.
A suicide dive, a flying knee to the head...none of it dropped the big man. Everytime he soared through the air, Strowman caught him.
It was not until Rollins and Strowman fought atop the ropes that The Architect was able to shove him off and deliver a frog splash that netted him a two-count.
The action spilled outside the squared circle, where the referee counted both men out. After the bell, Strowman tried to obliterate Rollins with a chair, but the former WWE champion wrestled the chair from him and stood tall to close out the segment.
Seth Rollins fought Braun Strowman to a double count-out
The storyline of Rollins trying everything he could to put Strowman down was intriguing and made for a very solid match. The finish, though not the most satisfactory, did protect both men and allows the feud to continue if Creative opts to go in that direction.
An effective segment all the way around.
Jack Gallagher vs. Drew Gulak
Jack Gallagher looked to continue his winning ways on Monday Night Raw, squaring off with Drew Gulak in singles competition.
Gulak tossed Gallagher around early and caught him with a big clothesline from the middle rope.
Gallagher went through his shtick and finished Gulak off with a running double dropkick in the corner.
Gallagher offered to extend a proverbial olive branch to Ariya Daivari on 205 Live after the match and then threatened fisticuffs if it has to come to it.
Jack Gallagher defeated Drew Gulak
Gallagher may be one of the most entertaining and original characters in WWE, but it is time to move past these extended squashes that do nothing to advance his character or story.
Drew Gulak may be the most talented wrestler in the cruiserweight division, but he very rarely gets to prove as much as he is stuck jobbing or tagging with Tony Nese.
This was a throwaway match that did nothing to benefit either man.
Shawn Michaels Returns to Raw and Big Cass vs. Jinder Mahal
Shawn Michaels made his way to the ring, returning to Raw for the first time in quite awhile.
He admitted to missing the fans and then implored them not to try to pressure him into one more match. He predictably hyped his movie, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, before Rusev's music interrupted and The Bulgarian Brute, Lana and Jinder Mahal made their way to the squared circle.
Rusev talked movies before Big Cass and Enzo Amore arrived on the scene.
A brief promo ensued, complete with Michaels referring to Rusev and Mahal as "haters" before a match between Cass and Jinder was booked.
After the commercial break, Cass bowled over Mahal until the former member of 3MB fought his way back into the bout, courtesy of some running knees to the side of the head and a solid rear chinlock. Cass attempted a comeback, but Mahal cut him off.
At ringside, Michaels caught Rusev with Sweet Chin Music, providing just enough of a distraction for Cass to take advantage and deliver the Empire Elbow for the pinfall victory.
Big Cass defeated Jinder Mahal
This feud needs to end now.
The ongoing issues between Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Rusev and Jinder Mahal have benefited exactly zero of the men involved. In Rusev's case, it has about killed his heat following an eventful fall that saw him feuding with Roman Reigns.
As for Michaels' return, it was wasted on a poorly scripted segment that did not even properly sell his film, let alone advance the story.
Lince Dorado vs. Neville
Lince Dorado returned to Raw but found himself the unfortunate next victim of The Man That Gravity Forgot, Neville.
Despite a quick start, Dorado fell prey to the nastier, angrier Neville's hard-hitting offense.
A new submission, the Brit's take on the Rings of Saturn, scored the victory for the NXT alumnus.
After the match, Neville went to apply the hold again, but cruiserweight champion Rich Swann made the save and chased his rival from the ring.
Neville defeated Lince Dorado
The match was a squash for Neville, who continues to be one of the freshest and most interesting personas on Raw.
His aggression has helped revitalize a Superstar who has long been underutilized and a division that needed a true heel it could build around.
The introduction of a submission hold is just what Neville needs to pair with his new attitude, especially since Red Arrow is guaranteed to draw cheers, something he is no longer interested in.
Sheamus vs. Luke Gallows
As Sheamus and Cesaro enjoy their first month as Raw tag team champions, they also continue to run into formidable opposition in the form of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Monday night, The Celtic Warrior battled Gallows in singles competition.
The heels did their best to throw the former WWE champion off his game, going as far as to have Anderson attack Cesaro at ringside. Proving to be a focused competitor, not to mention a villain at heart who really does not care much about his popular teammate, Sheamus shook it off and delivered a Brogue Kick for a pinfall victory.
Sheamus defeated Luke Gallows
The outcome may not be conducive to making Gallows and Anderson look like legitimate threats to the titles; though that should be the primary focus of WWE Creative, Sheamus not allowing the beatdown of his partner affect him is in line with his character.
For a segment that featured questionable booking, that attention to detail was a nice change of pace.
Undertaker Returns to Raw
Mick Foley called out The Undertaker, hoping he would produce The Deadman and not have to face the wrath of his boss, Stephanie McMahon. The lights dimmed, but rather than The Phenom, Stephanie made her way to the ring and apologized for Foley's inability to make good on his word to produce the future Hall of Famer.
The lights went out, and Undertaker made his entrance.
He announced he will be entering the Royal Rumble, while backstage, Braun Strowman was shown watching on a monitor.
Undertaker iterated that no one controls him and that he goes where he pleases, a warning he sent loud and clear to Stephanie.
Short, sweet and to the point.
The Undertaker returned, entered the Royal Rumble and essentially stated he will be on both Raw and SmackDown as he so pleases.
Most importantly, WWE Creative exercised a little foreshadowing by having Strowman watching backstage. While that match may not have been appealing a year ago, the booking of the big man has been so strong that he is a believable threat to The Deadman at this point.
Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Charlotte
One week after defeating Nia Jax to earn a championship opportunity against Charlotte at Royal Rumble, Bayley teamed with a hobbled Sasha Banks to battle the heels in tag team action.
Corey Graves planted the seed for a potential heel turn early in the match, claiming Banks was trying to steal the glory from Bayley while Byron Saxton countered, saying The Boss just wanted to compete. Interesting.
Banks' involvement was limited as Bayley was isolated throughout the match and then pinned following a big leg drop from Jax.
Nia Jax and Charlotte defeated Bayley and Sasha Banks
Why is Bayley losing tag team matches weeks before the biggest match of her career? Sure, it makes sense WWE is telling the narrative of Bayley as the consummate underdog, but killing her credibility by having her lose when her partner is hurt and prime for the picking is ridiculous.
Even if the plan is to eventually have Banks turn on her "friend."
Jax continues to impress and, after a backstage segment earlier in the show, could be eyeing up Charlotte for a future showdown of her own.
New Day Mocks Titus O'Neil, Then Kofi Beats Him
New Day's post-tag team title run continued its bumpy road Monday night as they once again were joined by Titus O'Neil, whom they continued to mock.
This time, they aired footage from NXT back in 2010, where O'Neil embarrassed himself by falling during a Keg Run.
What better way to poke fun of the former Prime Time Player than by making him run the race again. This time, O'Neil's own hubris proved his downfall as he dropped the keg before crossing the line. Frustrated and angry, O'Neil lashed out, only to be challenged to a match by Kofi Kingston.
After the break, Kingston made short work of his opponent, delivering Trouble in Paradise after just three minutes.
Kofi Kingston defeated Titus O'Neil
Like the Enzo/Big Cass/Rusev/Mahal story from earlier in the show, this has done nothing to benefit anyone involved.
New Day has lost tremendous momentum since they dropped the tag titles and now are saddled in a D-level storyline with no obvious conclusion. O'Neil has long been underutilized, but openly mocking him and then beating him is not the way to maximize his potential.
Poor booking all along, much to the detriment of one of wrestling's most over acts.
United States Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho
The handicap match for the United States Championship match finally went down in the night's main event, and Roman Reigns probably wishes it did not.
The Big Dog attacked his opponents before the bell and strategically attempted to lock Chris Jericho in a shark cage, meaning he could focus his attention on Kevin Owens. Instead, he found his arm injured, a bull's eye figuratively painted on it by the calculating opposition.
Reigns fended off his opposition throughout, showing off guts and resiliency, and even bloodied the forehead of Jericho.
Yet no matter what he did, the heels were there to cut him off.
Late, Jericho delivered a Codebreaker. Owens followed with a sickening powerbomb onto the ring apron.
He rolled Reigns back into the squared circle, where Y2J covered for the win and the United States Championship.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens defeated Roman Reigns; Jericho won the United States Championship
Like it or not, this was exactly what it needed to be.
WWE Creative resisted the urge to book the herculean comeback where Reigns bowls over the competition to retain. It booked the match smartly and had the champion go out clean to the top two villains on the show. Why it took two to dethrone him is a question for another time, but it was still a well-booked bout.
It was interesting to hear Michael Cole announce Jericho had finally won the one championship that eluded him throughout his career. That is a staggering fact and one that demonstrates just how decorated a professional wrestler Jericho has been.
Even well into his 40s, he is as relevant as he has ever been.