RAW Thoughts

So does the “Vince McMahon Show” continue this week? If the ratings continue to stay up, then the answer is “yes”. But here we are in the first show of 2016 and you gotta ask yourself…just what will WWE do to kick off the year and begin the official “Road to WrestleMania”? Let’s find out!

Keep pushing CenaAustin & ReignsAs much as I dislike “The McMahon Show” and having both Vince and Stephanie on television so much, we had an actual “Roman! Roman!” chant during the opening segment. This is basically Stephanie playing the Vince role with Roman Reigns taking the Steve Austin role. What I love is that Reigns has taken on a much more bad-ass character since becoming champion…which is what he should have been portraying all along. When you threaten to put Vince McMahon into the hospital if he screws with your title reign, you’re no longer shaking hands and kissing babies. I enjoyed the segment and it did what it needed to do: put Reigns into a positive light with the WWE Universe.

I loved the match between Neville and Kevin Owens. It was one of those matches that put both men over and told a story. Owens was nasty and continued to prove why he needs to be considered a future world champ. I also enjoyed Dean Ambrose on commentary, as he put over both competitors while still helping the pace of the other commentators. The post-match battle was a great way to continue their feud and build even more anticipation for their Royal Rumble title match. Great stuff all around.

Stardust & Titus O'NeilI liked the fact that they had a RAW match between Stardust and Titus O’Neil. While not a main storyline by any means, it was something that they built in vignettes over the past month. Was there a ton of interest in it? No, but it gave them a match that actually MEANT something because of the storyline behind it. Instead of just throwing these two together for no reason (which WWE normally does), they threw them together after giving them a few backstage segments that helped build the match…even if it wasn’t very much and nobody really cared. SOMETHING is better than NOTHING, people.

Becky Lynch vs CharlotteThe storyline between Charlotte and Becky Lynch has been a great example of what WWE Creative can do when they actually TRY to write something that lasts longer than a week or two. There is a slow-burning feud there that is slowly affecting their friendship and both women have been doing a great job of selling it. Lynch is a future superstar, which is why I think WWE decided to speed the break-up along.

CharlotteThe match itself was really good. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to fans of NXT because they tore down the house previously (it actually helped build Becky to a legit contender). I thought the back-and-forth was fantastic, as well as the story of heat building throughout the match to where, eventually, Charlotte snapped and began to fiercely attack Becky during the match. The finish was perfectly executed, as was the post-match beatdown. Now we’re ready for their title match at the Royal Rumble.

Wyatt Family 3Not sure what The Wyatts’ direction will be over the next few weeks, but if they are booked to be the new version of The Shield (i.e. attacking random wrestlers week to week) in order to get over the point that they’re all-in for the Royal Rumble, then I’m all for it. I love Bray Wyatt and I think he should be in the main event title picture. His poor booking over the past year or two has hurt him, but there is absolutely time to re-build him into the monster that he needs to be. Can he win the Rumble? I think it’s quite possible…but I doubt it. But when you think about it, who else could possibly win at this point?

The Usos 1League of Nations 1Again, I appreciate the fact that the League of Nations match (Rusev teaming with Alberto Del Rio) against the Usos was based on a storyline and not just thrown together out of nowhere. For anybody complaining about storylines lately (as in the past month or so) hasn’t been paying attention. Now I’m not saying that the storylines are incredible or anything…but at least there is continuity. I can’t complain about that.

And I’m pleasantly surprised at Rusev & Del Rio cleanly pinning the Usos in their match. Does this mean they begin to build towards the tag team titles? Does this mean a face turn for the New Day? Or is this simply them wrapping up a storyline? I don’t know, but I’m excited to see where things go with this faction.

Social OutcastsI don’t know what’s going on with Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas…but if it gives all four a chance to shine and move up the WWE ladder, I’m all for it. Their official name for the group is the Social Outcasts…and I love it. I can’t wait to see what they do with them. Obviously, the potential is there for WWE to have them be the new 3MB…but I’ll leave my hopes up for now.

New Day 1I gotta hand it to the New Day. They have been garnering a LOT more cheers than boos lately. They’ve decided to be as annoying and childish as possible in an effort to turn that around. The whole “unicorns & rainbows” gimmick is annoying as hell and not remotely “cool”…so I guess mission accomplished. Still…they’ve been selling a ton of merch because they were “secretly popular” even though they were playing heels. I just don’t see the unicorn horns as big sellers…but maybe I’m wrong.

Chris JerichoChris Jericho‘s big announcement that he’s entered into the Royal Rumble is nice and all, but we all know that he’s not going to win…so I can’t get overly excited. He would have been much better as a surprise entrant, as that’s what the Rumble is really best known for. I mean, I realize that announcing a “big name” for the Rumble is meant to boost interest in the event, but it’s a “Big 4” PPV for the company where the winner gets a title shot at WrestleMania. Do we really need to announce that Jericho’s entering? Wouldn’t announcing 25 participants and 5 “surprise entrants” build interest? I just think it’s a waste.

POST RAW EDIT: Obviously, with the big Royal Rumble stipulation given at the end of RAW…this type of announcement from a star like Jericho makes sense. However, it would’ve made more sense NEXT week…but I digress.

In another example of “continuing storylines”, New Day took on Kalisto & the Dudley Boyz. Again, it was an entertaining match that wasn’t just thrown together for no reason at all. You can’t hate on that. I liked the ending of the match, too. Solid booking all around.

Roman vs Sheamus with VinceThere was a lot that could have gone wrong with this segment. Even though it seemed to take forever, I appreciated the fact that WWE built-up the match with a video package and long-ass introductions with the announcers all discussing the match implications. It gave the match the same kind of “big match feel” that we had when Reigns actually won the title on RAW a few weeks ago. Again…match build with storyline (which seems to be the theme for the night).

The first 15-20 minutes of the match was really good. Both men fought hard and hit a lot of high-impact moves, resulting in an entertaining battle. Things went downhill (slightly) when Vince pretended that he couldn’t count Sheamus’ pin on Reigns due to “injury” and had to call out “crooked referee” Scott Armstrong for the count. Vince was absolutely capable of counting three so it just didn’t make any sense.

Then a THIRD referee came out to count the pin on Sheamus after Reigns knocked out Armstrong. I mean…shouldn’t he have been DQ’d at this point? And then Vince was able to punch out the third ref and then talk on the mic once everything was over, so the whole thing seemed a bit over-booked, imo.

Having said that, I love the idea of Reigns having to defend the WWE title in the Royal Rumble match itself. I’m not sure how the live crowd will react if he wins and it’ll be REALLY exciting to see who ends up coming out on top in the end if it’s NOT Reigns.

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But what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or via social media and let me know!

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