We kick off the first RAW of 2016 with a very awkward confrontation between Stephanie McMahon and Roman Reigns. The points are:
- Stephanie will overwork Reigns by making him appear every week on every show (doesn’t he already do that?)
- There is no such thing as hope and tells the fans they are stupid
- “You can’t keep a billionaire in jail these days.”
It was pretty weird. Steph sounded to have difficulty speaking, sore throat or recovering from laryngitis. She teased how Vince always wins and always gets what he wants. Uh, check the history books, the bad guy doesn’t always win.
We get some highlights between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose beating the tar out of each other, exclamation point with Owens planting Ambrose through the announce table with a powerbomb. Ambrose comes out to join commentary as Neville takes on Mr. KO. We get an incredibly inhuman match where Neville pulls out some crazy stunts, including a 4-freakin’-50 off the ring apron, crushing KO on the floor. Damn fast paced and exciting match, ending with Owens countering a top rope attempt into a Tree of Woe Cannonball followed by the Pop-Up Powerbomb, “BALLGAME!” shouts JBL, as Owens redeems himself from losing last week.
Post match, Ambrose loses his mind, and plants Owens through the announce table with a running diving elbow off the crowd barrier.
Yes, I just typed that.
We get a tease for the return of Brock Lesnar. Vince McMahon is in the house, taunting us commoners with his wealth and ability to bypass the law with high paid attorneys. However, tonight, he channels his inner Judge Dredd, as “I am the law.”
We return from commercial as Titus O’Neal and Stardust are going one-on-one. Guess Starry no longer appreciated Titus constantly invading his secret lair. I didn’t pay much attention, but a friend of mine has pointed out how the announce team are constantly pointing out how wrestlers are “having a good time” when they smile or make some sort of positive gesture. Now that I notice it, it does indeed bother me.
Next up, Becky Lynch evens the win/loss column against Charlotte, this time pulling a page from Nature Boy Ric Flair, reversing a roll-up and pulling the tights to get the win. Becky busted out a beautiful Exploder Suplex. Match itself was very good. Charlotte has gone full-fledged heel, beating up Becky in “sore loser” mode. Even though the live crowd will always cheer daddy. It does bug me WWE always has to make the Divas champ inevitably turn heel.
Backstage, Vince McMahon and challenger Sheamus come to some sort of understanding regarding tonight’s Championship bout.
We get more build towards the Royal Rumble. Last week Big Show announced he was first, and online, Curtis Axel stated he is in the match he never lost. Ryback follows suit this week declaring he will be in the Rumble as well. We get a short match between Show and Ryback, as The Wyatt Family interrupts and make mincemeat out of both Ryback and Show. The live crowd seemed to be behind Big Show during the fray. The Wyatts, led by Bray, announce their entry into the big match.
Up next, we have a tag match between The Usos and League of Nations members Alberto del Rio and Ryback. I feel since Sheamus lost the WWE Championship, the stable does not have much to go on other than Del Rio as United States Champion. Rusev is human, he loses, quite a lot. Usos busted out some big impact moves tonight, ate a bunch of power attacks and sold them like champs. Del Rio works the ring really well, however his facial expressions seem so blank. I love the guy, I wish he had some of the fire back. He took a superkick/super splash combo. At least he was given the pinfall victory by hanging an Uso between the ropes and come flying off the top with the double-stomp. Rusev bores me, but Del Rio will always be a million bucks in my book.
This one goes into the Strange But Real column – Dolph Ziggler jobs to Heath Slater. Yeah. So, Ziggler has jobbed to everyone on the main roster. This week, we have the formal unification of another stable, The Social Outcasts, featuring Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas. Slater and Dallas seem to be somewhat sane, stating how they are tired of being held down and disrespected. Rose and Axel are more on the unhinged side. Not sure what to make of them, possible modern-era Job Squad, except Ziggler should submit his resume to join that stable. When was the last time Ziggles won a match? Poor guy.
Announced for the first SmackDown on USA in 2016, Kevin Owens will challenged for the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose, and Becky Lynch will have her shot against Charlotte for the Divas Championship.
The New Day runs rampant backstage, banging a giant gong behind unsuspecting interns. They come to the ring to reveal a big surprise, and we get a giant rainbow unicorn titantron count down clock… Which changes to something very familiar at number five… and we get the return of Y2J, Chris Jericho! Well, guess Fozzy is taking a break, or something. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but Jericho’s vest fit a bit too tight if you ask me, like it was trying valiantly but failing to hold back something. So, he came back, spewed all of his cliché phrases, and left.
So, Return, Retire, Repeat? He declares his entry into the Royal Rumble. He is going to win. Sure.
The New Day defeats The Dudley Boyz and Kalisto in a solid match. I have to say, these matches tonight have been very entertaining. Overall a great show. Kalisto pulled out some nice spots, good to see him know what he’s doing unlike his injured partner Sin Cara. I have hopes for the Dudleys, maybe 2016 will be a better year.
Up next is our main event. As expected, Vince pulled the typical Vince referee antics, but it looked so damn good. Vince is evil as ever. Many near falls in favor of Sheamus, many slow counts when Reigns had the upper hand. The crazy hit the fan in the last few minutes as Reigns opted to clock Vince with a superman punch, and speared Sheamus. Unfortunately, no ref, no pinfall. After more back and forth, a tease after two consecutive Brough Kicks and the reappearance of “the crooked ref” Scott Armstrong had us all thinking Sheamus was set to regain the championship, however Reigns powered back, took out Armstrong, and took out Sheamus, allowing a real ref to make the three count.
Some things to note: Vince, is ripped. Holy crap it is scary. Steph took an over the top bump and we nearly got a full showing of her enhanced talent.
The big kicker is the announcement to conclude the show. Roman Reigns will defend the WWE Championship… Not at the Royal Rumble, but IN the Royal Rumble.
Well, that makes it really interesting. Either Reigns is going to be an obvious winner, or we will have a major swerve on the way.