This week’s Monday Night Raw aired live from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s worth noting that this was the 23rd anniversary of Raw.
Monday Night Raw
World Wrestling Entertainment
Smoothie King Center
New Orleans, Louisiana
January 11, 2016
Like most episodes lately the show began with an in ring segment featuring the chairman of the board Vince McMahon and his daughter Stephanie. This time the bulk of the WWE superstar roster stood on the stage. It was reminiscent of a memorial service. It served instead to showcase the men who will be entering the Royal Rumble in just under two weeks.
Notably absent was the WWE World Heavyweight champion Roman Reigns. Confident he won’t retain anyway this gave the McMahons the chance to ask which of these men that you see before you will win the Rumble along with the world championship. Vince specifically reference Dolph Ziggler (whom he calls Zeegler, although if the boss says Zeegler the guys in the truck may as well change his lower third right now) the New Day and the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar.
They are interrupted by Reigns wanting to know what happens in the unlikely chance that he does win. The owners don’t really answer, but set up the main event. The champ will be in the ill-defined first ever One vs All Match. “All” in this case doesn’t include Roman’s drinking buddy Dean Ambrose who is put in the opening match against Sheamus.
Dean Ambrose vs Sheamus
The Celtic Warrior spent much of the contest beating Ambrose mercilessly, typical of these “punishment matches”. Ambrose eventually turns the tables and takes the action outside of the ring. At one point Dean rams his opponent’s head into the ring post thrice. On the third time Sheamus gets busted out the hard way. Blading, juicing, gigging however you want to put it has been banned in the WWE for quite a few years now but for some reason it seems that you see wrestlers get color now about as much as ever. Right as we see blood trickling from that pale forehead the referee reached the count of ten. The match ends in a double count out. Ambrose continues to pound on Sheamus until Kevin Owens runs out to jump Dean so hard that we see the trainers working on him in next segment.
Titus O’Neill vs Stardust
These two seems to be stuck in a loop against one another. I had to hold myself back from just copying this match from last week’s article and pasting it here. But O’Neill wins with the clash of the Titus again. Stardust is able to get a bit of his heat back by attacking Titus as he is dancing with the fans after the match. I wanted to take a minute to point out Stardust’s facepaint tonight it was painted like that of Ziggy Stardust and honor of David Bowie’s passing on Sunday.
After the commercial break we see the McMahons Run into the advocate Paul Heyman backstage. Heyman is upset that Brock Lesnar is being lumped into the 30 man Royal Rumble. He wants instead for his client to be waiting in the main event ot Wrestlemania for the winner of the Rumble .
The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho
Jericho appears to have learned what Instagram is, he shows off posts about his return last week. He is interrupted by the New Day who are then cut off by the Usos. Jimmy and Jay challenge the tag champions to a match. For a moment it is teased Jericho and the Usos vs the three members of New Day. Y2J instead treats us to his weekly Jerichoism, “My Little Pony Jabronis”.
The Usos vs The New Day
This match is the same one that we’ve seen plenty of times: Big E is powerful, Kofi is flippy, Woods is loud and the Usos favor enziguris and Samoan drops. And as of now it all still works. It’s not clear what purpose Jericho serves in this whole thing except maybe to try and even the odds. He does manage to heel off on the trombone, breaking it over his knee. This distracts Kofi long enough for Jey Uso to score a rollup victory.
There is a short segment showing John Cena’s surgery on his torn should. He is expected to be out up to six months, which in Cena recovery time should be just under three.
Stephanie McMahon and Paul Heyman are shown backstage again. Paul reiterates that Brock Lesnar refuses to fight in the Royal Rumble. Stephanie not backing down tell him to get his client ready for the Rumble.
Next we see JBL in the ring. He announces that Sting is the first inductee in the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame. The short video package chronicling his career. It is separated into two basic parts the blonde flattop wearing Sting and vigilante against the NWO the crow Sting.
The Wyatt Family vs The Social Outcasts
The Wyatt family is out to cut a promo and all of a sudden the Social Outcasts make an appearance complete with new music and matching t-shirts. They boldly challenge the Wyatts to a match. The family and more specifically Strowman is a dominating the Outcasts until Ryback comes out for the save. The Wyatts retreat and Ryback stands tall in the ring with the new faction.
Kalisto gets a backstage promo. He tells of how he wants to when the championship for the Latino people and give others a chance unlike Alberto Del Rio.
United States Championship
Kalisto vs Alberto Del Rio(c)
Del Rio starts out the match much more vicious than in the one he had Smackdown against the young luchador. It seems that after losing that contest del Rio now knows what Kalisto is capable of. Kalisto keeps building up only to be cut off by Alberto. Throughout the whole match the champion continues to dominate and the Challenger could not build enough momentum go for the win. Kalisto eventually has enough to go for the salida del Sol but del Rio reverses it to slam him onto the top rope setting up for the corner stomp. The move is avoided and followed up quickly by kneeling hurricanrana. After a short exchange del Rio goes for the suplex and Kalisto reverses into a pinning combination to win the US states championship. Alberto having the rematch clause in addition to the quick rollup manner of victory, lets us know that this feud is not yet over.
Brie Bella vs Charlotte
This match never gets underway as Becky comes out to attack Charlotte while she is posing in her intro. As the officials are ejecting Becky from ringside she says that she’s going to take Charlotte’s title as well as her arm. Ric Flair announces that there will be no match tonight as the champion is now injured.
Roman Reigns in the One vs All (the heels) Match: Romans first match up is Kevin Owens as all the bad guys watch from one corner of the ring. The meeting is fairly even all the way up until Reigns gains the clear upper hand. He goes for the Superman punch and all of the others the ring to what can only be described as a gang beating. The New Day celebrate in the ring over Romans lifeless body at that point Lesnar makes his appearance. They welcome him only to get decimated. This leaves the Beast and the Champ in the ring by themselves. Brock studies Roman reigns for a moment before picking him up for the F5. Lesnar exits the arena with that all too familiar smirk. It appears that Brock will indeed enter the Royal Rumble.
1. Have we already seen the last of the League of Nations? We did not see the group together at all on this issue of Raw. Barrett had been battling injury for a couple of months and now it is being reported that Rusev is going on the shelf as well. In addition after tonight they hold no gold. Could this really be over before it really started?
2. Will we see Stardust vs Titus again next week? A better question might be will these two men,who have often times in the past shown their own separate brands of creativity find a way to turn this nothing feud into meaningful entertainment?
3. Is Ryback a Social Outcast now? If he is a part of the group it would be hard to see him taking a backseat to Heath Slater. Either way though. Are they serious about going up against the Wyatt family? When you’re the newbie they say find the biggest guy in the room and crack his skull, but they may have bitten off a little too much.
4. Who comes out on top of this Kalisto/Del Rio feud? As I mentioned earlier its unlikely over between these two. Can Kalisto overcome Alberto’s rematch clause and have a significant run with the title? Also since Kalisto beat Del Rio and Del Rio beat John Cena does that make Kalisto the top guy now? No need to answer that last one.
5. Is there any chance of someone not named Brock or Roman winning the Royal Rumble? Typically there are at least a few stories leading up to the pay-per-view they make it seem like someone, anyone else could win it. This year around it seems like we have either door number one or door number two. Sometimes though anticipation of the inevitable leads to the biggest surprises.