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Raw recap & reactions (Jan. 9, 2023): Hurt Business picks up

The road to the Royal Rumble begins in earnest with new Raw tag team championship contenders, and more teases about a certain business being back in business.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. Even with the most recent unfortunate news regarding WWE and one old man, Royal Rumble season is always fun. So let’s truly kick it off this week and hope we get some exciting WWE TV between now and that fateful Saturday night in San Antonio.

As per usual, Claire has you covered with all the play-by-play. I’m here for color analysis with none of the Corey Graves baggage!


HURT BUSINESS PT. 2!

Bobby Lashley returned this week. In fact, he did it during a promo between Seth Rollins and Austin Theory where both men formally entered the Royal Rumble. Lashley bypassed Rollins because of Rollins’ bum knee, but he decimated Theory then made his Rumble intentions clearer than white crystal. Cool. Right?

Not really. The coolest thing happened later. Byron Saxton tried interviewing Lashley but MVP interrupted and stated the two men have “business” to discuss.

Now, for those who missed it, we’ve gotten several Hurt Business teases in the past few weeks. The group reforming seems inevitable. But WWE is, thankfully, putting an actual story together for this thing rather than just putting the four men together again in their best suits. MVP and Bobby chopped it up like men. MVP apologized for his transgressions, told Lashley that he convinced Adam Pearce to bring back Lashley, and also mended fences with Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin. MVP says that “this thing” works best when they’re all on the same page.

But Lashley, while thankful for MVP intervening on his behalf, isn’t ready to forget everything. At least not yet. And that makes sense! MVP and Omos made Lashley’s life a living hell for several months. MVP called Lashley everything but a child of God and betrayed their brotherhood all out of jealousy.

That’s a lot.

Years of friendship thrown away over limelight don’t just come back because of one solid favor. Lashley will eventually get there and I look forward to the plot machinations that get him to the point where he’s ready to handle his business differently, but this is the right call for now. It acknowledges continuity, it creates build, and puts emotional investment into a story.

The one reason anything related to the Bloodline works so well for me is because they’re all treated like human beings with human emotions. If WWE gives everyone involved in this Hurt Business reprisal the same treatment, we’re in for a treat.

Extracurriculars

More Blood

Kevin Owens is me right now. Face down, dejected, and wondering why he’s listening to Baron Corbin in 2023. Of course, Baron’s purpose here was heating up KO as the Canadian preps for his match with Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. Owens getting the win was academic with that in mind, so the true story was the aftermath. While Owens celebrated, Jey Uso emerged from the crowd, signaling a Bloodline attack.

It’s great that KO got the best of them here, beating back the Usos and Solo Sikoa with a steel chair. Adam Pearce, still the worst person at his job, put a stop to all the shenanigans but clearly has a problem with maintaining any type of order when it comes to the Bloodline.

Sure, he sent Jimmy & Jey home for the night, and issued a strict warning to KO, but I need an authority figure with a bit more teeth. Seriously, even when he told them to leave, they showed up and celebrated with Solo after he defeated Dolph Ziggler! The man has about as much authority as a kid on a big wheel.

The match aside, which was fine but Baron just doesn’t do anything for me, this was another fun start to Raw.

Do You Feel in Charge?

Alexa Bliss? Meet Uncle Howdy. I like this kernel of Alexa’s story where she’s fighting for agency and recognition while someone else, most probably a man, tries wrestling it away from her. Not literally. At least not yet. After the commentary team told us Bianca Belair is home recuperating after what Alexa did to her face the last time Raw was a thing, Ms. Bliss grabbed a microphone.

Alexa said this is the best she’s felt in years because while Bianca might be the champ, she’s the one standing. She used a couple Bray-isms, like saying she has the whole world in her hands, and called herself the face of evil. This isn’t about Bray or Howdy; this is about her and she’s in control.

At this point, Howdy showed up on the big screen, interspersed with old footage of Alexa as the Harley Quinn to Bray Wyatt’s Joker, and some eerie footage of playgrounds. Seriously, ever since Are You Afraid of the Dark, empty playgrounds with slow swinging swing sets always gets a 100 on the 1-10 creepy scale.

The weirdest part of the segment came at the end: Howdy showed up at the entrance with Alexa standing in the ring...and then we go to commercial. I know the mystery is part of the thing here, but it’s bugged out when something like that happens and not only do we go to commercial, but no one acknowledges it when the show resumes.

That said, I hope we get something interesting and empowering here with Alexa taking back her narrative.

Out on Bail Fresh Out of Jail California Dreaming...

Look...nothing I type does justice to this week’s Miz TV featuring Dominik Mysterio and the Judgment Day. Nothing. Dom is killing it right now and this was no different. Just watch it and prepare to chuckle.

Prison Grit

That Miz TV segment led right into the Tag Team Turmoil main event. Recapping the whole thing is moot but I’ll cover the important parts. First off, Damian Priest handled his business. Dude wrestled for about an hour, so give him a standing ovation. Secondly, the Judgment Day carried the last hour, as they were clearly the center of attraction for the turmoil main event.

They went through The O.C. (Caaaaliforniaaaaa), the Alpha Academy, and, finally, the Street Profits. Each match had its own flavor, with the Street Profits match topping my list as the pinnacle. Why? Well, besides the fact we got the Profits, we also got Dom showcasing some prison grit.

Finn Balor went out with a rib injury after using Chad Gable as a human shield during Otis’ Vader Bomb. Adam Pearce gave Damian two options: Forfeit the match as a result of Finn’s injury, or Dom takes his place. Dom, fresh out of prison and still stinging from his time getting three hots and a cot, said he wasn’t ready. But he reluctantly took one for the team.

Dom also got the W for his team as well, with a lot of help from Rhea, as he pinned Montez Ford while Rhea held Dom’s legs and applied some extra leverage.

The Usos, still not listening to Pearce, showed up at the end of the show and confronted their new challengers.

While I love the Profits, giving the Judgment Day the W is the right move here. They’re hot, Dom is killing it, and his whole act is bringing out different flavors from everyone in the crew. Giving them the Raw tag team titles or at least putting them in this position only means good things.

Watch the entire main event, it’s worth your time.

(Almost) Flawless Victory

About that Solo Sikoa victory I mentioned earlier. Dolph made Solo look like a stud and almost got the victory. Of all Solo’s matches, Dolph came closest to giving the Street Champ his first L.

Dolph took a lot of punishment in a match he wanted just for revenge. Solo and the rest of the Bloodline went on a warpath a few weeks ago and Dolph was in the way. Ziggler declined a spot in this week’s tag team turmoil match with Mustafa Ali by his side all because he wanted payback. He almost got it too, but made one fatal mistake when he went for a Famouser.

After finally staging a comeback, Dolph almost pinned Solo twice. He then used Solo’s momentum against him and dodged a turnbuckle attack, then followed it with a kick to the knees. That’s when Dolph went for the Famouser and found himself in a precarious position. Solo caught Dolph and put him in a powerbomb position. But rather than drop him, he tossed him off his shoulders and nailed Dolph with the Samoan Spike as Ziggler fell back to Earth. It was an incredible sight. Even if you don’t watch the whole match in its entirety, please watch that.

Dedicated to Becky

Bayley wrestled Michin—that’s her name this week—and dedicated the match to Becky Lynch. Bayley knows Becky’s out there watching and lurking, but also knows she’s jealous of the fact Bayley has friends. Becky doesn’t have her own Damage CTRL, so, yeah, she’s mad. At least that’s how Bayley sees it. Michin stood in as one of Becky’s “friends,” which meant Bayley made an example of her. And by that, I mean she cheated for the W. Another solid match that I wish got a bit more build, or at least got a surprise appearance from Becky.

That actually played itself out later, as Michim confronted Bayley backstage for cheating. Bayley did the typical heel thing and said nobody likes a whiner, called in her girls, and beat up Michim with IYO SKY & Dakota Kai’s help. Bayley then offered Michim advice that gives the whole situation more gravity and intrigue: Don’t step up for someone who won’t be there for you.

That’s real and throws some complications in the relationship between Becky and Michim.

Poor Pixie

Candice LeRae challenged Rhea Ripley because mami interrupted her backstage interview. This also served as some Royal Rumble prep, as both women declared they want a piece of the women’s Rumble.

It went as you expected. Rhea dominated for the most part and I gotta say, it didn’t do much for me. I like both women a lot but seeing Rhea dominate so thoroughly bores me at this point.

Finally...Answers

Remember Bronson Reed helped Miz defeat Dexter Lumis? Well, we finally know why. Bronson showed up on Raw and essentially said they’re not friends. If Miz wants his help, then it’s all about that CREAM. Miz took offense to that because he believes they’re friends. Yeah, well, you’re not, bruv.

More Nightmare

We got part two of Cody’s comeback video this week. I predict he’ll announce his return during the final part of these videos.


The main event rocked and the show kept it moving for the most part. This was a fun night with possibly some official Royal Rumble entries, and the Usos finally have new challengers. It wasn’t a flawless show, but it was pretty good.

Grade: B+

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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