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WWE Day 1 Raw Review (02/01/2024)

By Mick Robson

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We typically don't review episodes of Raw and Smackdown on The Arena Media. I'm making an exception this week because we have special themed episodes of Raw and Smackdown that are actually named after former PPVs (or PLEs), and since we had no WWE PLE in December, and there's a while until the Royal Rumble, I thought, "hey, why not?"

There's a loaded card for this edition of Raw, highlighted by two title matches. In the main event, the World Heavyweight Championship is on the line as Seth Rollins defends against Drew McIntyre. Also, Rhea Ripley puts up the Women's World Championship against Raw newcomer Ivy Nile. Also also, Becky Lynch meets Nia Jax in a grudge match years in the making. Plus much more!

One particular thing worth mentioning- online rumours swelled in the days preceding Day 1 of a former WWE Champion appearing on Day 1. Triple H took to Twitter (or X, it'll always be Twitter to me, dammit) to say he could "neither confirm or deny the rumours" but told us to tune in. Well, if it was a bullshit Internet rumour, nothing would be said, so strap in! Stone Cold? Batista? Big E?

Let's do this!


Raw opens with the sound of Michael Cole's voice, which sounds like it's coming live through the arena speakers. It's not a production glitch, as he and Wade Barrett are standing in the ring with live mics to run down the card. Cole also confirms the rumours of a former WWE Champion appearing, but we'd find out later in the show. A fresh, unique way to open the show, I wouldn't be against them keeping that for future weeks of Raw, but if not, it worked well for this special episode.

The intro was kept brief, as Becky Lynch's music hits and she comes out for the opening match. Good move opening with a star as big as Becky, but in saying that, this San Diego crowd is hot regardless!

A nice pre-match video airs for Lynch vs Jax. Hey, they didn't go black and white for Becky's blood from THE punch! Love to see it.

Match 1: Becky Lynch vs. Nia Jax

A rough start that I think was intentional, as they both kinda brawled with each other in the opening moments. Clear story of Nia as a monster and Becky as the underdog here. Cool spot where Jax crashes and burns with a cannonball into the barricade after Becky moves, and she just makes it back in the ring before the count of 10. Becky goes for the Disarm-her then a traditional armbar, but gets powered up into a powerbomb by Nia. The impressive power display continues with a top rope Samoan Drop, but Becky continues to kick out. Lynch starts unloading with strikes, forcing the ref to intervene as Nia was in the ropes. Becky goes up top for perhaps a guillotine leg drop, but Nia punches her out of mid-air. The An-Nia-later (Banzai Drop) follows, and gets the 3 count!

Winner: Nia Jax (at 11:50)

Star Rating: ***1/2. One of the better Nia Jax matches I've seen! Look, I'm generally not a fan of Jax. But if they're going to use her, and use her like a monster, then she needs to gain some wins. I liked the way this was done too, with Becky's fury boiling over and perhaps losing due to that emotion.

A focus on Becky's bloody face post-match. It's a work this time, as a bad camera angle clearly showed Becky biting the blood capsule before she jumped into the punch. I daresay this feud continues and The Man gets her win back, perhaps in a No DQ match of some sort?

We get a recap of Shinsuke Nakamura's "The American Nightmare Before Christmas". I'm shocked Nakamura was able to say things like "bastard" and "your father was inbred." I welcome anything that gives my wrestling show more edge! These are adults fighting, right? They shouldn't be using insults like "poopy".

Cody Rhodes comes out. Of note, he's in his wrestling gear rather than a suit. He's ready for a fight. He calls out Shinsuke, but instead Shin appears on the screen, complete with animations of him beating up Cody, and captions. He says, "I finish your story, and close your book." Nakamuyra then blows mist into the camera lens to end the segment. I'd expect a big match to come between these two in the weeks before the Rumble, and this was nice hype for it.

Match 2: Kofi Kingston & Jey Uso vs. Imperium (Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci)

Kofi's wrestling in basketball shorts? Damn, HUGE crowd participation during Jey's entrance! Imperium take early control of the match before we head into a commercial break. Back from break, Kofi catches a leaping VInci with a dropkick, and next minute the doctor is in the ring, and the ref waves the match off. On replay, the dropkick legitimately caught Vinci in the jaw and rang his bell. Unfortunate end to this tag match before it really got going.

Winners: Kofi Kingston & Jey Uso (via referee stoppage)

Star Rating: N/A

We get a recap video of the highly-successful WWE Holiday Tour, which shattered records in multiple cities. Of course, the highlight was CM Punk's in-ring return to WWE, as he beat Dominik Mysterio at Madison Square Garden.

The Miz makes his entrance for Miz TV with the Judgment Day. R-Truth comes out and is greeted warmly by Miz. Truth does the "all rise with the Judgment Day", and as Miz notes, it gets a far more positive reception than usual. The Judgment Day come out- and damn, we're in San Diego, and Dom is still getting booed out of the building in his hometown. There's a little back and forth with JD, over Priest jokingly claiming he was out of the group after a loss to Truth last week. Miz apparently can make matches, as we get the reunion of Awesome Truth (Miz & R-Truth) to face JD and Dom.

Match 3: Awesome Truth (The Miz & R-Truth) vs. The Judgment Day (Dominik Mysterio & JD McDonagh)

Wade Barrett is quite funny on commentary, at one point sticking up for JD, telling Cole that Priest was only joking last week- only to low-key rip on him by saying he has "the largest head in all of WWE". Cole mentions the previous run Miz and Truth had as Awesome Truth, mentioning that they feuded with Triple H... leaving out a fairly big name there, Cole! R-Truth is hilarious in this match, being conflicted between teaming with Miz and being part of the Judgment Day as he believes he is. An impressive moment early where Truth- now in his early 50s- hit the jumping splits and the Lie Detector spinning forearm! Still conflicted though, he "joins" the Judgment Day side and goes to hit Miz- but strikes JD accidentally instead! Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale on JD for the win.

Winners: Awesome Truth (at 7:30)

Star Rating: **3/4. Fun stuff! The ongoing storyline of Truth believing he's in the Judgment Day- for no particular reason and despite all evidence to the contrary- continues to be a riot.

A vignette airs with Chelsea Green and Piper Niven entering a nightclub. They confront Kayden Carter and Katana Chance, demanding a rematch for the tag titles. The champs accept before throwing a drink in their faces. Security separates the ladies.

An ad for a new mobile game airs, WWE Mayhem. Goldberg's seen in the trailer- he never won the proper WWE Championship, but was a World Heavyweight and Universal Champion. Could he be the one appearing later on Raw?

Match 4: Women's World Championship- Ivy Nile vs. Rhea Ripley (c)

Rhea controlled the early going, but Ivy comes back with some nice moves, including a Rough Ryder and a satellite DDT. Rhea fires back with a headbutt and a missile dropkick. Ivy has a close moment with a German Suplex from the second rope which looked BRUTAL (no pun intended). Ivy goes to leap at Ripley, but is headbutted out of the air, kneed in the face and hit with a Riptide. And still.

Winner: Rhea Ripley (at 13:00)

Star Rating: ***1/2. This was a great match. Rhea needed something like that on her resume after holding the belt for a long time without a lot of quality title defences, and it was an instant credibility boost for Ivy Nile in her first Raw match. Well done to both.

We've got the return of a former WWE Champion next. After a pause, Jinder Mahal's music hits, and the Modern Day Maharaja walks out. Hahahaha! The crowd looks extremely disappointed, as almost everyone had their phones out ready to record a big legend's return, only to be let down when it was only Jinder, one of the most unpopular WWE Champions of all time.

Jinder chastises the crowd for being disappointed, and then counts himself amongst the greatest WWE Champions. He goes on a anti-USA rant, including speaking in Punjabi, afterwards saying that it was the US National Anthem in Punjabi, and the people should all be ashamed of themselves.

This goes on for quite some time, and then The Rock's music hits! Finally, The Rock has come back to San Diego, and everyone is losing their minds. Rock defends the people and America, before saying that Mahal isn't the Modern Day Maharaja, today he's the Day 1 Douchebag. He leads the crowd in a chant of "Day 1 Douchebag", with one side chanting "Day 1", and the other chanting "Douchebag". San Diego run with it for way longer and way louder than I think Rock was expecting. The insults turn physical, and Rock drops Jinder with a spinebuster and People's Elbow.

But wait, The Rock's not done. He says he's hungry, and wants to go out to eat. Should he sit at a booth? Or the bar? (Cheers) Or... should The Rock sit... at the Head of the Table? The crowd erupts for the first time The Rock has acknowledged Roman Reigns in a WWE setting. This is huge! I didn't know exactly where he was going with that line- thought it might have been setting up a pie joke. Rock's done so many meaningless cameos, I kinda stopped expecting him to do anything of substance with WWE again, especially after this whole segment was "Fun Rock Cameo 101".

Cole and Barrett give a shocked reaction on camera and focus on that final line. 'Paul Heyman, call Roman Reigns," says Wade Barrett. It indeed looks like it's on! Hearing a lot of people say it'll be Rock vs. Reigns at Elimination Chamber in Perth, as Perth officials have asked for The Rock to be there. They may be funding the event, but I can't see Australia getting a match of that magnitude. I would absolutely love it, considering I'll be there ringside, but I can't see that match happening anywhere other than WrestleMania. We just might get a segment in Perth to build up the Mania match, though?

Match 5: Shayna Baszler & Zoey Stark vs. Tegan Nox & Natalya

Those poor ladies, having to follow a Rock appearance. The crowd was spent. Or maybe they just weren't into it. Either way, next to no reaction. Baszler blasts Nattie with a knee. Tegan tags in and has a bit of a run. Big kick by Shayna stops the mometum, Nattie breaks up the cover, then takes a superkick from Stark. Z-360 by Stark on Nox and that'll do it.

Winners: Shayna Baszler & Zoey Stark (at 5:30)

Star Rating: **. Pretty meh, but it was in a death spot. Wouldn't have mattered if they had the greatest match ever in the history of the women's tag division (not an overly high bar, but still). I do feel bad for them being in that spot. They may have also had time cut after the length of Rock's segment.

An excellent video package airs for the Seth/Drew main event.

Next week on Raw: CM Punk returns, Cody vs. Nakamura, Green/NIven vs. Carter/Chance for the women's tag titles. 

Match 6: World Heavyweight Championship- Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins (c)

Rollins flies around in the early going but is caught by Drew in a belly to belly suplex on the floor. Drew works the back, and in a big moment pops back from a Rollins superplex with a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. Rollins returns fire by catching a Claymore in a sit-out powerbomb. Pedigree connects for a near fall.

Priest comes out with his MITB briefcase looking to cash in, but McIntyre stops him. The Scottish Warrior hits the Claymore- but he hooked the leg too hard, and Rollins' foot found the ropes. Seth fights back and hits a Pedigree on the announce table, followed by a Stomp in the ring. The champ retains!

Winner: Seth Rollins (at 18:05)

Star Rating: ***3/4. High quality, all-action match. The attempted Priest cash-in added another layer of chaos, and with McIntyre being something of a tweener at the moment, I wonder if he'll now find himself in the Judgment Day's crosshairs?

Overall Thoughts

I feel validated in my decision to review this episode of Raw, as it was a very strong one. The two big women's matches and the main event would not have looked out of place on a PLE. Can't go wrong with three PLE worthy matches on a Raw. And then there's The Rock segment. Mahal was a great bait and switch, and he was allowed to go on long enough that I actually feared they were using Day 1 and the "former WWE Champion" hype to rebuild the Maharaja. Thankfully, The Rock came out. And while the appearance of such a legend will always be a hit in my book, it carries much, much more weight with that final line- all but confirming that a showdown with Roman Reigns is coming. It's fantastic to see The Rock involved with something of substance in wrestling again!

Overall Score: 8/10

We'll be back to review Smackdown's New Years Revolution on the weekend as well. It'll likely be a one-off reviewing the weekly show given the special themes and big matches- chief among them on Smackdown is a triple threat between Randy Orton, AJ Styles & LA Knight to determine who wrestles Reigns at the Rumble for the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship.

Also, before and after that Smackdown review, there's more "end of year" articles to drop. 10 of the Best WWE Matches of 2023 is just about done, and coming after that, a look at the Aussie matches of the year!

Until next time, take care.


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Who's Behind The Blog
Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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