This week’s Monday Night Raw aired live from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
This edition of Raw was the go home show for the 2016 Royal Rumble which will see Roman Reigns put the WWE world heavyweight title on the line against 29 other WWE superstars. The big question going into the Rumble is does anyone not named Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar stand a chance of winning the match? And the big question going into Raw was who will step up to show themself a contender for the title?
The show kicked off in a familiar way with the champ’s music blaring. Roman comes to the ring and immediately calls out Brock Lesnar. Instead of the beast we get Chris Jericho entering the the arena sporting the questionable choice of a suit jacket and no shirt. Lesnar is supposed to be a guest on Jericho’s Highlight Reel later in the show, instead he wants the segment to feature who he calls the top three contenders to win the Rumble Roman, Brock and himself.
Just then the League of Nations interrupts goings-on. Sheamus, the ringleader, wants to know the same thing that I want to know: why is all the focus on Lesnar and Reigns what about the other 28 competitors in the match? He points out the fact that he is a former Royal Rumble winner and that Alberto Del Rio won the largest Rumble ever with 40 men competing. We are also reminded that Rusev you nearly won the Rumble last year being the last man that Reigns eliminated. This leads to Jericho suggesting our first match of the evening…
Rusev vs. Roman Reigns (special guest referee Chris Jericho)
When we come back from commercial break Jericho has managed to find a referee shirt. The the other members of the League of Nations surrounds the ring for the fight which is the type of slugfest you might expect from these two competitors. At one point Seamus interferes behind Jericho’s back but it is obvious enough get him ejected from ringside. Soon after del Rio and Barrett follow suit. Reigns wins with the spear.
We see Stephanie backstage confronting Jericho about playing GM with tonight’s show. This may mark the first time that anyone has ever gotten in trouble for booking a match on the fly on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
Brie Bella vs. Natalya
This served as the semi-annual “Total Divas is coming back to air match”. Natalya wins in quick fashion with the Sharpshooter. On a positive note it is good to see Nattie back after it was revealed that she had been sidelined for a couple of months with injury.
Ryback & The Dudleys vs. The Wyatt Family
This was a fairly fun match with the momentum swinging back and forth quite a few times and lots of false finishes. Harper was able to score the pin with the discus lariat. The Wyatts seem to be on something of a hot streak lately. They are finally being put up against worthy opponents but opponents that they can beat. Bray especially is looking more believable the last month.
Heath Slater vs. The Big Show
Writing the recap of the this match will take longer than the match itself. Show beat Slater in less than a minute with the knockout punch. He then proceeds to punch out the rest of the Social Outcasts. This match was very troubling. It is hard to think of a good reason to have a vet whose best days are far behind him easily dismantle a new, would be interesting, faction of four men still in their prime. I still hold out hope for the #socialoutcasts.
Stephanie is shown backstage for the riling up the League of Nations to make their presence felt before the Rumble.
After our next break we see Vince and Stephanie McMahon stage drawing for the number one entrance into the Royal Rumble. They spin that familiar old school lottery tumbler and it is no surprise is that the name they pull is that of Roman Reigns. To keep it fair they decide to draw again and once more it’s Roman Reigns . Well third time’s the charm and wouldn’t you know it. Roman Reigns. The McMahons on a mission to make it impossible for Roman to retain is title.
Becky Lynch vs. Tamina
Here it was surprising to see Tamina actually get to wrestle a solid match. Becky, though, is able to overcome her and win with the Disarmer. Afterwards Becky cuts an impassioned promo challenging the champion Charlotte to a divas title match at the Rumble. Charlotte, the heel that she is, declines. Lynch then calls the champ a coward just like her father Ric Flair. This riles up the Nature Boy and he agrees to the match much to the apparent shock of his daughter.
Dean Ambrose and Kalisto vs. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio
This match mostly felt like filler but the four men were able to get in there standard set of moves Seamus was able to hit the Brogue Kick on Kalisto for the victory. I predict Kalisto will get the Kofi spot in this year’s Rumble.
We see a segment from earlier in the evening. The New Day is at a memorial service for Francesca, Xavier Woods’ trombone that was destroyed by Chris Jericho last week. This acts as a precursor to our next match…
Big E vs. Jey Uso
Big E is an animal. Plain and simple. He’s out to end anyone who gets into the ring with him and I’d gladly be powerbombed through a stack of tables before receiving his apron splash. He defeats Jey with the Big Ending.
The Highlight Reel: Jericho’s show starts off tame enough. He and Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman spend a few minute trading barbs. Y2J asks what might happen if he and Brock are the last two men left in the Rumble. This brings out the Beast, but before he can even make it to the ring the Reigns is on the way. Roman hits Brock with the Spear and down come the League. They beat down the champ while Lesnar gains his composure. He starts dealing suplexes left and right and the arena goes dark. The Wyatt family is here to wreck shop. They attack and both the top two contenders are left laying victims of Sister Abigail. And the night ends with Bray Wyatt screaming, “The Rumble is mine. Mine! MINE!!!”
1. Did this Raw do enough to sell you on the Rumble? Going into the night it was the story on Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns and which would walk out of Sundays pay per view the champion. By the Sheamus and the League of Nations showed their strength and the Wyatts showed their domination. Jericho even made his claim to “still have it “.
2. How about this undercard? By the end of the Show we have Becky vs Charlotte for the Divas title, Kevin Owens vs Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental, a team title match between The New Day and the Usos and Alberto Del Rio putting the US title on the line once again against Kalisto. For how lopsided the build has been to the Rumble match itself these champion feuds have been serious business. That brings up another question though…
3. How many of those competing in the undercard will actually appear in the Rumble match? In the past we have seen many wrestlers pull double duty but many others sit it out. Could someone fall short of winning gold early only to come back and have a strong showing in the big dance?
4. Are the Social Outcasts just supposed to be a joke? The very conceit of the gimmick is that these four very popular on the Internet. So I why the need trot them out every week just to lose
5. Where’s Lana? Rusev had maintained roughly the same amount of TV time, but noticing absent is his valet. Does she just not fit into the League of Nations scheme or are the rumors true that the WWE is down on her after revealing her engagement to Rusev by way of social media?