By all accounts, tonight’s episode of RAW should be a good one with the return of Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman to the show, along with the fallout of last week’s revelation that Roman Reigns will have to defend his WWE championship in the upcoming Royal Rumble match. As we’re officially beginning “The Road To WrestleMania“, storyline advancement should be moving right along…
I know that it’s become predictable to start RAW with an in-ring segment, but I enjoyed this one. They are booking Roman Reigns perfectly as the “one versus all” motto is being used against him. But this is how you HAVE to book Reigns in order to garner any type of sympathy for the guy. If you want fans to cheer for him, then you have to book him in a way where he doesn’t seem like he’ll automatically win EVERY match.
They built up Bray Wyatt by having him show up under the spotlight, they put over the fact that being friends with Roman has its drawbacks (i.e. Dean Ambrose being attacked by Sheamus before their match), and they stressed the fact that anybody could become world champion as long as they all worked together to toss out Reigns during the match (Vince even specifically pointed out Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens, & the New Day). This is exactly why the Rumble is so much fun…you just don’t know what to expect (unless, of course, you count the past two years where the ending was sadly predictable, hence the negative reactions each year).
I’m normally bored by any Sheamus match, and this one wasn’t a whole lot different. I mean, the guys tries and all…but there’s just something about him that bores the hell out of me 90% of the time. I liked the fire that built-up with Dean Ambrose near the end of the match (Sheamus does put in 100% effort every time) and I really liked the double count-out “battle to the death” finish, but I LOVED the post-match attack by Kevin Owens. It’s been too long since somebody went nuts during a feud and continued to attack his nemesis. Owens is the perfect heel to do this and he’s truly earning his way up the card.
It was intriguing to see the backstage segment between the McMahons and Paul Heyman. I mean, you would think it’s obvious that Brock Lesnar would be entered into the Royal Rumble match and be a potential winner, but Heyman wants Lesnar to simply be named the #1 contender so that he can challenge the winner of the Rumble at WrestleMania. I wonder where they’re going with this because the last time I checked, Lesnar was a babyface. Is this not the case? You just never know with WWE Creative, but I’m interested to see where this leads to.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m finally beginning to be won over by Stardust. At this point, it’s no longer a character…it’s a gimmick that Cody Rhodes has been LIVING. He has put everything into getting it over and I think he has done a really good job of doing so. Listen…I’m not saying he’s main event talent by any stretch, but I’m impressed by the hard work that Rhodes puts into his role and I respect him for that.
Having said that, kudos to Stardust for making Titus O’Neil look decent two weeks in a row. I don’t understand why Titus is getting pushed (outside of the fact that he’s a really great role model…he’s not that great inside of the ring). The post-match beatdown by Stardust shows a vicious side that he should’ve been displaying all along…especially when he aligned himself with the Ascension (is that done now?).
I pretty much tuned out of the entire Chris Jericho / Usos / New Day segment. I’m sorry…I used to be a MASSIVE Jericho fan 15+ years ago, but I don’t want to see him be the focus of any segments in 2016. I don’t want to see the “Jeritron 6500” and I don’t want to hear his lame-ass catchphrases anymore (that haven’t changed in 15+ years). I don’t mind seeing him make surprise appearances and wrestle because he can still go in the ring, but all you have to do is see the throngs of people who were sitting on their hands during his appearance to realize his place in the 2016 WWE.
The tag match was alright, I suppose…but it was nothing I hadn’t already seen before between these two teams. This is why new blood is needed on the main roster. If it were up to me, I’d call up Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady…they’re definitely ready for the opportunity. Hell…you could even fast-track Jason Jordan & Chad Gable if you really wanted to. I just don’t think the Usos are the answer because the New Day are still so damn OVER right now. I mean, tag title matches against the Usos cover the Royal Rumble and possibly Fastlane. But then what? What’s your WrestleMania tag team title match?
Michael Cole mentioned John Cena‘s shoulder surgery last week and said that he’d be out “a number of months”, but was out of the hospital and rehabbing the very next day. Cole didn’t specifically say that Cena would miss WrestleMania, so I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that he makes a miraculous recovery (as he has done in the past) and returns to help the company sell out ATT Stadium.
JBL was standing inside of the ring to announce what WWE had noted on their website and social media feeds earlier today…that Sting was going to be the first entrant inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. I think it’s absolutely deserved, as I was a fan of Sting when I was younger. I went from graduating high school and going into my first year of university with a poster of Sting on my dorm room wall. This is a pic circa 1990. I don’t even know what to say about the Social Outcasts “stepping up” to take on the Wyatt Family. If it weren’t for Ryback making the save, all four men would have ended up demolished. I don’t think they’ve got main event potential, but WWE needs to give them an opportunity to grow and shine and catch on for more than a damn week before feeding them to a more dominant team. It’s silly.
Coming up next…
Well, at least Kalisto tried to give a promo. I’m sure he’ll improve eventually. But yeah…keep “giving it your all” and hope for the best.
After taking responsibility for injuring John Cena and causing him to miss the Royal Rumble AND WrestleMania, Alberto Del Rio proceeded to decimate Kalisto in their United States championship match. This was basically a retread of their Smackdown match (only without John Cena at ringside) with a little bit more Kalisto offense thrown in to make it feel like he could actually win. I’ll give credit where it’s due…Del Rio has been fantastic inside of the ring since his return. He’s in phenomenal shape and has been putting on some really great matches. He did his best to make Kalisto look strong while decimating him at the same time. I knew that WWE Management was high on Kalisto, but I didn’t think they were willing to pull the trigger on a singles title run at this point. This was a nice surprise title switch and it’ll be interesting to see where they go with him leading into WrestleMania.
I couldn’t be happier to see Becky Lynch attack Charlotte in “retribution” for what happened on RAW and Smackdown last week. Primarily, I was happy to see that I didn’t have to watch Brie Bella wrestle. I love that the storyline continues between these two. Good stuff here…especially Becky’s post-run-in promo backstage.
The “One Versus All” match between Roman Reigns and the majority of heels on the WWE roster was basically a Reigns vs Kevin Owens match. I loved that they saved Owens by having the heels jump Reigns before Owens could be beaten…it keeps him strong. I think Owens put on one hell of a performance.
The performance by Brock Lesnar, however (along with the crowd’s reaction), only goes to show just how much of a superstar he is compared to the rest of the roster. He absolutely decimated everybody (including Reigns) and in three minutes was the star of the entire night. It’s nice to see, but the difference in crowd reactions just goes to prove how much more work WWE needs to do in order to build some new stars. As it stands, it’s going to be difficult to deny the fact that Lesnar’s star power shouldn’t place him (again) in the main event of WrestleMania. Because of that, it makes this year’s Royal Rumble outcome even more intriguing.
But what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or via social media and let me know!