Monday Night RAW in a nutshell. We have the Royal Rumble, but WWE wants us to understand that Brock Lesnar is IN the Rumble match, and ultimately there may be some sort of clash between Reigns and Lesnar. We don’t see Lesnar until the end of the show. Of course we don’t.
Vince wants to screw Roman Reigns.
Throughout the night the commentary team try their hardest to sell the Rumble as a possibility for anyone to win the championship. In past years, it would sound legit, this year, it’s insanely stupid. We are being bombarded with Reigns being screwed over by Vince, plus Brock Lesnar is in the Rumble. Sure, I can believe that Titus O’Neil and Wade Barrett have a chance of winning the title.
As they do every year, an incredible, touching tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King.
Show kicks off with Reigns calling out Lesnar. Of course he does. Jericho interrupts, politely. Jericho says tonight should be big for the Highlight Reel. So he wants the three favorites to win, himself, Reigns and Lesnar all on the show together. Alright, way to completely discredit the other 27 entrants. Suddenly, the League of Nations arrive, to interrupt, and remind everyone they are still relevant and actually still a stable.
My wife is more than happy to poke fun at me. “Hey! Wade Barrett is on TV!”
Each member cuts a promo, the only one who actually cut a good one was Alberto del Rio. Not just because he is the United States Champion, but because he actually cut a solid promo. Sheamus is floundering since he lost the title, and unless a freakin’ miracle is being scripted by WWE Creative, Sheamus will not have a shot at the title until after WrestleMania.
Our opening match winds up as Rusev vs. Reigns with Jericho as guest ref. It is a surprisingly solid match. Not bad, not great. Funny spot with Jericho booting the League of Nations from ringside. Reigns wins via Spear.
Natalya with Paige defeating Brie Bella with Alicia Fox in a thankfully short match. They tried boosting the premise for the match based on a recent episode of Total Divas. I can promise, no one cared.
Short promo with the lottery cage featuring what we believe to be the drawing for Royal Rumble spots.
Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan defeat The Dudley Boys and Ryback. Keep putting The Dudleys and Wyatts together. They deliver each and every time. Love their matches. This time, Harper gets the upper hand with a superkick and discuss lariat to gain the pinfall.
So, in an unfortunate twist, we are told the drawing is NOT for numbers, but to pick out a name to announce who will enter #1. That is a bummer. It was always fun to keep in random. I’m going to take a guess, it will be rigged for Roman Reigns.
The Big Show squashed Heath Slater, then made short work of the rest of the Social Outcasts. I get they are trying to be pushed as some quirky stable, but if they just keep eating losses, it will go nowhere. Big Show photobombs a fan’s selfie as he heads to the back. Funny moment.
Out comes Vince and Stephanie with the drawing box. So I guess we know where this is heading. Of course. It’s Roman Reigns. Wow. They do this a few times, drilling the point home that they are looking to screw over Roman Reigns. Well, this was a waste. Something tells me we are in for a rather predictable Royal Rumble.
Charlotte is at ringside with Ric Flair as Tamina Snuka takes on Becky Lynch. Tamina then loses to Becky. What was more entertaining, was the post-match mic work from Becky, as she cut a fantastic promo on Charlotte and Ric. I am beginning to notice Charlotte is struggling in the promo department since becoming a heel. As a face, it was fairly easy… “I want to be the best” and “I want to overcome all obstacles…” However now, she needs to be tougher and the problem is having Ric Flair there, because, while his face continues to melt, can still cut a better promo.
Am I crazy, or did both Tamina and Natalya get to wrestle tonight? Wow.
Up next, Dean Ambrose teams with Kalisto to take on Alberto del Rio and Sheamus. At the Royal Rumble, Ambrose defends the Intercontinental Championship against Kevin Owens, and Alberto del Rio will defend the United States Championship against Kalisto. Recap of how last week, Wade Barrett, on TV, lent an assist to Del Rio to reclaim the title. At ringside, Kevin Owens thwarts Michael Cole and Byron Saxton’s attempts at irrational and nonsense commentary. Thank you. It is so entertaining to hear Owens just shut down Cole and Saxton over and over again. Nice fast-paced match between both teams, Sheamus countering out of the Salina del Sol into a bigtime Brough kick for the win.
As much as I enjoyed the match, Kevin Owens on commentary was priceless.
We get an entertaining backstage segment with The New Day lamenting the loss of their beloved trombone, Francesca, and each member briefly eulogizes the musical instrument. Up next, Big E. Langston faces off against Jey Uso.
We get a “by the numbers” video package. Meh. Nothing new or noteworthy. Except Roman Reigns is #1. Hmm, I recall 2004, someone who had the odds stacked against him drew #1, and won the whole thing.
We are told The Usos will challenge The New Day for the WWE Tag Team Championships. Lots of title bouts taking place on Sunday, hopefully this does not rush the Royal Rumble match itself. Nice singles match, Big E. getting the win.
Backstage, Titus O’Neil is apparently leading Mark Henry, R-Truth, and Neville into some sort of match. In case you didn’t watch, Henry had an interview on WWE.com, letting slip this may be his last Rumble. Obviously, all promos are to be dramatic about having the opportunity to win the WWE Championship, but Henry made it sound like 2016 will be his last year in the ring. Guy has to retire sometime.
Team Titus defeat The Ascension, Stardust, and Tyler Breeze. So, it looks like Breeze is done with his push, the Ascension are still terrible, and Stardust is the only one worth a dime on his team. Truth maintains his status as a goof, Breeze does his spots and tags out faster than a coin toss. A good spot gets botched, as Breeze gets the desperate tag, is manhandled by Titus. They tried a good spot, with Titus tossing Breeze over his head into Henry’s waiting arms for a World’s Strongest Slam, except Titus threw Breeze over his head, and over Henry’s head. Henry still hit the slam, followed by Neville hitting the Red Arrow for the win. Yes a screw up, but Titus lobbing Breeze backwards over both their heads? Still damn impressive.
Chris Jericho begins the final segment of the evening hyping the Rumble. He is interrupted by Paul Heyman, who is interrupted by Chris Jericho. We get a reminder from the Rabbi of Wrestling how Lesnar planted Jericho with an F5 last time they met. Noticeably, there are no chairs, no stools, no Jeritron 5000. My guess this will end in a brawl. Heyman and Jericho have some nice banter about Brock’s chances of winning. Jericho is really putting himself over as the guy who will throw Lesnar over the top rope. This prompts Lesnar to hit ringside, except doesn’t do anything as Roman Reigns shows up, joining Jericho in the ring. Lesnar finally does hit the ring, and immediately eats a spear from Reigns. The League of Nations rush the ring to attack Reigns, and then Brock goes after them, clearly not caring they saved him. Alberto del Rio is folded accordion-style via German Suplex. The Wyatt Family arrives and Reigns is down. They turn their attention to and demolish Brock Lesnar. This is a major stock push for Bray Wyatt here.
I did not expect The Wyatt Family to close RAW as the dominators. This was a pleasant and welcome surprise as Brock Lesnar wound up looking like the weakest link, as he was manhandled by both Reigns and the Wyatt Family.
I still feel this whole set up is a bit fake, but at least we are left with some intrigue following tonight.