Stephanie McMahon kicks off the final 2016 episode of Monday Night RAW by taking a shot at CM Punk in front of the live Chicago crowd. Seth Rollins kicks his promo off taking the babyface playbook by using more sixth-grade level toilet humor to reference the relationship between Stephanie and Triple H. Roman Reigns then comes out to a chorus of boos and chants of “please don’t talk.”
CM Punk chants dominated the segment because neither Rollins nor Reigns could salvage the segment, until Reigns started going back all Shield nostalgia and the crowd actually got into it. Stephanie’s hormones started kicking in and thought she was part of the Shield. She then teases Dean Ambrose is nearby, but it is all a tease. Both Rollins and Reigns want Braun Strowman, but Steph awards the match to Rollins, and Reigns will defend the United States Championship later tonight.
Thankfully, Stephanie brings out The New Day for their rematch against Cesaro and Sheamus. I am very glad The New Day are still relevant, and the title loss did not damage their career. They now come down to “World Famous, Longest Reigning Tag Team Champions…”
Backstage, Braun Strowman is terrifying interns, and then runs into Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens, who childishly try to rile up the big boy. I think it worked, funny part when Strowman gets too close and Jericho’s face ends up in his beard. Silly segment.
Backstage, Goldust and R-Truth are talking about something, until Bayley shows up and gives Goldust a present, a Bayley-bear dressed as Dusty. Very touching moment, with Bayley crediting her success to Dusty Rhodes. Segment ruined by the bully routine of Anderson and Gallows, who hurt the bear. Poke the bear. Whatever. Bet it leads to a match later.
Nia Jax comes to the ring as “Scarlett” is being interviewed about her debut match on RAW. She credits Sasha Banks. Scarlett, may she rest in peace.
Promo for 205Live, I feel bad, I haven’t watched lately. I need to catch up.
Backstage: Charlotte and Stephanie McMahon make some sort of deal. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho then complain to Stephanie McMahon about the upcoming title match at The Royal Rumble. Jericho is losing his mind over shark cages, being up 200 feet in the air, spiders, and a bunch of other things. At one point, Owens comments that Jericho doesn’t even make sense anymore and the segment needs to move on. Stephanie then books Roman Reigns defending the United States Championship against Kevin Owens. Chris Jericho is sad.
Something is off tonight. I know the last RAW of the year is supposed to be a fun one, but all the promos feel off-kilter or they are going off-script and it’s just not working. Bayley tries to cut a fun promo, but it just sounds off and a bit awkward. Her match with Charlotte is pretty good, but the distraction comes from Dana Brooke, who is the guest ref, wearing a shirt eight sizes too small. Bayley has the match won numerous times, but thanks to interference the win slips away, and Charlotte gains victory via cheap roll up and a fast count. Bleh.
Neville defeats TJ Perkins in a great cruiserweight match. I like Neville in the heel role, the live Chicago crowd seemed to like it too. I do worry the majority of WWE fans have turned on the cruiserweight division, by embracing outsiders and turning on the roster. I also wonder if Neville is being added to the roster permanently, or if he is an “outsider” just being used as storyline fodder, and if so, is there a lack of faith within WWE Creative to support the current cruiserweight roster?
Austin Aries was on commentary, and got a big pop from the audience.
Braun Strowman has been granted a Last-Man Standing match against Sami Zayn.
Short segment with Big Cass wheeling Enzo to the ring in a wheelchair. Rusev and Jinder Mahal come out and a brawl breaks. Who would have thought Mahal gets a sizable push to be in a feud. I didn’t. Never. Would have expected WWE to bring back someone they released before Mahal.
In yet another waste, Bob Backlund brings Bo Dallas and Darren Young to the ring, I refuse to even get into why they are together. Their match against Primo and Epico ends abruptly when Braun Strowman obliterates them all. Crowd chants “Thank You Strowman!” This is a waste because all this served to do was further belittle four talents for the sole purpose of being destroyed.
Braun Strowman vs. Seth Rollins goes to a DQ as Sami Zayn interferes. This was pretty entertaining until the abrupt end. Post match, Jericho beats up on Seth Rollins.
Backstage: A woman who could fit into an hourglass and has a top stretched to limits interviews Kevin Owens, and thankfully helps me feel not as bad for not remembering her name, because Owens doesn’t either. Jericho arrives and they leave together.
Another promo for Emmalina. Is this Eva Marie version 2?
Gallows and Anderson defeat The Golden Truth. All this has to stop. Time to go back to Japan guys. The Club’s run in WWE has been abysmal and the recent gimmick of being fake doctors was the most entertaining bit from them. Their “tough guy” promos fall flat and I feel as though they are out of their element. They could have been great. Damn it.
Throughout the night, video promos shown for The Return of John Cena on SmackDown live.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann completely demolishes Davari. Post match, the lady with the hourglass figure and top which is way too tight asks Swann about Neville, challenging him to a match on 205Live. Swann agrees, and gets hit from behind for it. He is then taken to the ring, and is crushed with a Red Arrow. Oh, how I missed that. I am enjoying this feud. I hope Neville stays with the cruiserweights, he could really be at home there.
Backstage, because her breasts aren’t sticking out enough, that same woman pointlessly interviews Davari about his loss, who then runs down Jack Gallagher. Guess what, he is there, and does not appreciate his character being impugned. Hijinx ensue, and we will have an old fashioned duel on 205Live.
Main event: United States Championship Match
Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns
This match was pretty decent, the added bonus of Chris Jericho at ringside helped. So much booing for Reigns, and let’s not forget the CM Punk chants every-so-often. Despite the hate, I give credit to Reigns for dishing out punishment to Owens and on occasion selling big moves. Rollins wound up rushing down to ringside to Pedigree Y2J, while Owens eats a spear. Winner and still US Champ, Roman Reigns.
Once again, the show closes with Reigns and Rollins on top. We know WWE needs them in the ring together so the crowd can at least cheer, but it’s a cheap way of getting some fan pops for Reigns. He could be better. He pins Owens and his facial expression says “of course I win” instead of “boy, that was a tough match…” He needs to sell it more, he just acts like he defeated one half of The Ascension. Maybe if he didn’t believe the forced mantra of “looking strong” then he might come off as a better performer.
In any case, no surprises, and the show did not have the fun feel it normally has. Not a bad show, but not great either. Some matches were solid, but interference was the common theme of the more high profile matches.
Well folks, see you next year and hopefully 2017 will be a hell of a lot better than 2016.
2016, the dumpster fire which burned for too long.