This week's episode of Raw, from Toronto's Air Canada Centre, never quite built upon the buzz of an enthralling Survivor Series pay-per-view card just 24 hours earlier in the same building. But it featured just enough bells and whistles -- including a thrilling conclusion to the main event -- to cover the sins of predictability and inconsistency that has plagued the show in recent months.
Sometimes it's the final taste that is left in the mouth of viewers that best decides whether a grueling three-plus hour broadcast was a success. And the main event of Owens and Seth Rollins in a no-disqualification match more than delivered, thanks in part to Jericho's eleventh hour involvement.
One night after Goldberg shocked the WWE Universe by defeating Brock Lesnar in 86 seconds, the 49-year-old opened Raw with a special announcement that he would continue his comeback by entering the Royal Rumble on Jan. 29 in San Antonio.
"At the Royal Rumble match, everyone is next," said Goldberg, who earlier implied that he has one more title run left in him.
But make no mistake -- despite Goldberg's breaking news, this was an episode largely dominated by Jericho, who continues to turn just about every gimmick or storyline he touches into gold during his career renaissance at age 46.
Jericho, who spent the majority of his youth in Canada, received the largest pop from the crowd. He began the night with a comedic bang. During a backstage interview with Charly Caruso, he made a deadpan reference to her as "Charles," which was a sly nod to multiple Raw interviews in recent months with Tom Phillips, where Jericho and Owens routinely called him by the wrong name.
He also showcased his acting chops while hosting a "Highlight Reel" segment early in the show. After calling out Owens for costing Team Raw in their Survivor Series loss to SmackDown Live on Sunday, both superstars appeared on the verge of turning on each other for good.
Owens looked ready to get physical as he grabbed Jericho and spun him around before exclaiming, "I'll tell you whose fault it is ..." But before he could finish his sentence by naming Jericho, the two superstars looked at each other and simultaneously screamed "Roman Reigns!" before coming together for an epic "bro hug."
- WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) November 22, 2016
This was about as delightfully cheesy a moment as Jericho and Owens have had in their on-screen friendship, and they walked the tightrope perfectly by creating legitimate suspense that their union was finished without delving too far into the ridiculous (despite veering close).
But Jericho, who was banned from ringside along with Reigns by Raw general manager Mick Foley for the main event, enjoyed his finest moment in the closing minutes of the broadcast. With Owens and Rollins brawling outside the ring, Jericho emerged from the crowd dressed in a Shinsuke Nakamura T-shirt and Sin Cara mask to attack Rollins.
The choice of mask was an ironic one considering Jericho was rumored to have engaged in a real-life backstage altercation with Sin Cara during the WWE's European tour earlier this month. And his involvement in the title match directly affected the outcome.
Rollins initially fought Jericho off and unmasked him before connecting on a Pedigree onto the arena floor. But Owens took advantage of the distraction by stepping in to land a super kick and instantly followed up with a powerbomb of Rollins onto the ring apron. Owens then rolled Rollins into the ring and getting the pinfall.
The exciting finish put a proper bow on what was an entertaining main event, which also featured the use of chairs and tables, along with Owens and Rollins brawling throughout the crowd (which helped make up for a gratuitous amount of commercials early on). But the ending produced a feeling of déjà vu, just the same.
Jericho's interference in the title match at the expense of Rollins was essentially the same finish that was used at both Night of Champions in September and Hell in a Cell last month. In fact, it's the same outcome we have seen on Raw in various forms ever since Owens won the title on Aug. 29.
On one hand, that's how you properly book a heel, creating enough heat to lay the groundwork for the babyface to complete his chase and finally overcome the villain. On the other hand, it feels like the same story each week, just with different dialogue.
Luckily for Raw, the combination of Jericho and Owens are able to deliver said dialogue at such an incredibly high level, often proving to be the highlight of the episode. This week was no different.
Hits and misses
Goldberg entered the arena to an explosion of cheers on Monday, with the crowd chanting his name throughout his strong opening promo. It's hard to find any fault with his appearance, especially with how much excitement his Royal Rumble announcement adds to the match as the WWE attempts to sell out the Alamodome. But considering how much of a shock Goldberg's squash match victory was the night before in his first match since 2004, it was disappointing not to hear from Lesnar or Paul Heyman in any form. The reality of Lesnar's part-time contract certainly limits the amount of dates he can appear, and it's clear that WWE has plans to slow-play the feud through January (if not all the way to WrestleMania 33 in April). That said, Goldberg's victory was truly a "moment," posing plenty of storyline questions that need answering about Lesnar's reaction.
Is it just me, or is the New Day starting to tease a turn back to their old heel ways following another outright title defense in which they cheated to win -- this time against the team of Cesaro and Sheamus? Keep a close eye on this development as they close in on Demolition's record for longest reign by a tag team champion.
Credit Raw for continuing the push of Braun Strowman's monstrous physicality, which included an outright brutal victory over Sami Zayn. The added wrinkle of Mick Foley being forced to stop the bout as a lifeless Zayn was unable to protect himself was an effective one, causing a hush from the crowd as Strowman delivered the savage and realistic looking attack. Depending upon how well Strowman can do in a major title push, the WWE may end up getting but one chance to present him as unbeatable. So far, the big man has responded well.
Is anyone else as confused by the booking in the Raw women's division as I am? Let's recap: Charlotte defeats Sasha Banks in an instant classic for the Raw women's championship at Hell in a Cell on Oct. 30, only to seemingly abandon their rivalry the next day to set up for Survivor Series. Charlotte then blindsides her Raw teammate Bayley at Sunday's PPV to plant the seeds for their feud. One night later, however, Charlotte accepts a title defense against Banks for next week, only to then tap out to Banks' submission move minutes later during an impromptu tag-team match. Where are we right now?
Move of the night
Rollins continues to push the envelope on Raw when it comes to high spots, including the time he jumped off the top of the cage on Sept. 19 onto both Owens and Jericho. And he came through with another one on Monday while brawling in the crowd with Owens. After escaping a powerbomb attempt by grabbing onto a railing and climbing up to the next level of seats above his head, Rollins soared on top of Owens in spectacular fashion.
- WWE (@WWE) November 22, 2016
Line of the night
It wasn't quite a full return to the "Attitude Era," but Enzo Amore's backstage segment in which he walked around nude after getting locked out of the dressing room was high comedy and pushed the boundaries of WWE's current PG product. There were a number of memorable lines, from the Shining Stars rehashing their timeshare gimmick by telling him they have "a special resort for people just like you," to Titus O'Neil adding his two cents by saying, "Man, put some clothes on. You'll probably end up in human resources." But Amore take top honors for his response to Primo and Epico, when he countered with, "No thank you, but you put a picture of this in your brochure [and] you will probably sell more. I'll tell you that much."