In a sense, the December 28 edition of RAW was WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns’ first chance to truly showcase himself as a solid champion. It also included the return of John Cena and the boss man himself: Vince McMahon.
However, despite a card that looked pretty solid on paper, an awkward opening segment and inconsistent booking made this RAW a bit lackluster.
Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?
Vince McMahon kicked off the show, instantly calling out World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns. He recounted everything Reigns has done towards his family.
“I own this ring,” he reminded a smug, smiling Reigns. “And I own you.”
Reigns called Vince a rich snob (to which Vince replied he’s a rich billionaire) and said that he and his supporters owned the championship. At this point, the crowd began chanting for Daniel Bryan AND CM Punk. Ouch, Brooklyn, ouch.
Vince then fell to the ground, his neck “hurting,” ad Stephanie emerged with the cops, demanding that they arrest Roman. When they refused, she got int heir faces until they threatened to arrest HER. That pisses off Vince, who gets up in the officer’s business, getting himself arrested and led out of the arena while a joyful Roman Reigns watched on.
I honestly don’t see how this segment did anything to further the storyline of RAW, but it did show a big step back, in my opinion, for Reigns. He shouldn’t be smiling or “funny.” He’s a force of nature: let him be that.
Kevin Owens vs. Neville
The match itself didn’t even last thirty seconds. After failing to complete the Red Arrow, Neville rolled Kevin Owens up for the win. Owens, enraged, then proceeded to attack the Slammy Award-winning high flier from behind, taking his beatdown outside of the ring.
He was forced away, and Neville was in the midst of being helped out before Owens returned to continue his beating. However, Neville had a savior in Intercontinental Champ Dean Ambrose, who emerged to lay down a beating of his own on the prizefighter. Ambrose hit Owens with a mean clothesline, and Owens retreated through the crowd.
In a three-hour show, I honestly cannot fathom the logic in booking two clearly talented performers in such a short match. Yes, it’s always nice to see Kevin Owens go off the rails a bit, but couldn’t he still do it after a match lasting at LEAST more than a minute?
That being said, Ambrose’s interruption made a lot of sense and helped further their rivalry, so kudos for that.
Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
Becky cut a promo backstage, talking about how she’s always had to do things on her own, even when she first came to New York.
Sasha entered for their match first (wearing her NXT Takeover gear), cutting a promo about how Boston was so much better than New York, getting herself some easy heat. And frankly, cheap heat is the only way to get Sasha Banks booed in the arena where she put on 2015’s best match.
The match was fast-paced from the start, with Lynch going on the offensive, targeting Banks’ legs for a rollup, but Banks kicked out, gaining her own momentum. But Becky locked in a submission maneuver, allowing Tamina to pull Sasha to the ropes tog et out of it. Lynch took down Naomi and all of Team BAD from a harrowing leap from the top rope out of the ring.
Lynch maintained her lead through a commercial break before Banks got some back for herself with a vicious knee to the spine. Sasha capitalized on this, cruelly kicking Lynch and working her arms and back. She couldn’t get a pinfall, however, and after mocking Lynch’s entrance a bit. Becky powered back with a few quick clotheslines, but Sasha sent Lynch painfully into the ropes. However, some quick thinking by Becky saw Sasha taking out her own team members.
Sasha got back in the ring in time to lock in the Backstabber, but Becky hit a suplex of her own, which Banks kicked out of. More interference from Team BAD allowed Banks to lock in the Banks Statement, which Becky reversed into the Dis-Arm-Her, but it was Banks who rolled Lynch up for the win.
This crowd did not deserve this match. It was given a good amount of time, and the two women put on a physical show. Despite this, however, the crowd only chanted “BORING” during an exchange of submission holds, because why? I don’t know. I honestly don’t.
Kofi Kingston vs. Kalisto
Celebrating their return to the building where their precious trombone made its debut, the New Day entered to sing a song. Yes, you heard me. A song.
Because they weren’t voted Tag Team of the Year, their punishment for Brooklyn was not singing a song.
Kalisto entered, Slammy in hand and Sin Cara by his side.
Kalisto was dynamite throughout the match, tossing Kofi around like a rag doll. His quick, physical style was apparent throughout. Kofi fought back a bit, but Kalisto corkscrewed into him, getting the cover, but New Day distracted the official. Sin Cara took out the New Day, and with them out of the way, Kalisto was able to pick up the win.
Xavier Woods, furious, then challenged Sin Cara to face . . . Big E.
Big. E vs. Sin Cara
Big E was a force of nature, to put it simply, slamming Sin Cara out of the ring and onto the ground in what looked like a very painful landing onto his shoulder instead of his back or side.
The match continued nevertheless, with Big E remaining firmly in control until Sin Cara used Big E’s brute strength against him to get some momentum of his own, though he was clearly favoring his left arm. In a particularly impressive move, Sin Cara suplexed big E off the ropes with a single arm, but that wouldn’t be enough, as Big E took the win.
MizTV Year in Review Spectacular
Just as the Miz was about to share his New year’s resolution from 2015, Ryback entered, wasting no time in making fun of the A-Lister. Goldust did too, but all I saw was-
ZACK RYDER IN STAR WARS GEAR!
Sorry, guys. That was too good not to highlight . . .
R-Truth entered next, asking for votes for Superstar of the Year before being reminded the Slammys were last week . . . and he WON one. Heath Slater and Big Show entered after THAT, and Big Show promptly tossed Slater out of the ring, chokeslammed R-Truth, and went up against Ryback, tossing him out as well.
Big Show acknowledged the “Please retire!” chants being thrown at him and responded by officially entering himself as the first entrant into the Royal Rumble.
Big Show vs. Ryback
In an impromptu match, Ryback and Big Show exchanged slow, pretty boring moves. Putting two performers who don’t wrestle in an exciting fashion together doesn’t really make much sense to me, but I digress.
Ryback took control with a dropkick, but before Ryback could get another clothesline in, Big Show rolled out of the ring and just walked away, because Creative hates ratings, apparently. Ryback won via countout.
Friendly reminder that THIS was longer than Owens vs. Neville. Oh yeah, life is THAT fair. Also, how the hell did this not get “BORING” chants but Banks and Lynch’s match did?
Dean Ambrose & The Usos vs. The League of Nations
Upon entering, Sheamus immediately shamed the Brooklyn crowd for cheering Mr. McMahon’s arrest, and declared their match would be in his honor. How sweet.
Sheamus and Jimmy started off the match, with Sheamus taking early control using a chokehold. Jimmy, however, fought back with a strong kick, and, upon tagging his brother in, double teamed on the Celtic Warrior and Rusev before tagging in Ambrose, who treated Rusev to a kick of his own.
The League of Nations took some time to regroup before Ambrose lost patience, bringing Sheamus back into the ring and throwing him into the corner, tagging in Jey, who continued their momentum. Rusev tagged in with some momentum of his own, but Jey, tagging Jimmy in, lay down a beating of his own. Rusev threw the Samoan into the ropes, “hurting” his leg before focusing on that specific injury.
Ambrose tagged in hot, however, taking back control of the match with a vengeance, sending Rusev over the top rope before throwing himself through the ropes and bringing the bulgarian back into the ring. Hitting Rusev with a flying elbow wouldn’t prove enough to take him out for a pinfall, and a distraction by Barrett allowed Rusev to catch Ambrose unawares with a kick to the jaw.
Jey nearly got the cover over Rusev, but Rusev interfered to prevent it. Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Jey Uso for the win.
Kevin Owens emerged after the match to ambush an injured Ambrose, sending Ambrose through the announce table with a Pop-up Powerbomb.
Vince McMahon posted bail, refusing to offer any comments to Renee Young.
John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio (United States Championship match)
I never thought I’d miss John Cena . . . but I actually did. He discussed his US Open Challenges, even calling out a few of his naysayers in the crowd. Say what you will about the guy, but he knows how to engage a crowd.
Del Rio emerged, saying Brooklyn didn’t deserve a championship match. And well, he did have a bit of a point. Cena didn’t take too kindly to that, calling Del Rio a “punk bitch.” Del Rio merely called him “Juan Cena.”
The two continued exchanging words, and Del Rio finally agreed to put his title on the line after significant prodding from Cena.
Del Rio took an early lead, hitting Cena with a few decisive kicks and punches, stunning him quite effectively. Mocking Cena from the top rope, Del Rio hit Cena once again, but couldn’t get the pinfall. However, Del Rio ended up throwing himself through the ropes when Cena rolled out of the way of a kick.
Cena found some momentum after this, hitting Del Rio with a dropkick after the Mexican tried hitting a move from the ropes and a Five-Knuckle Shuffle. Del Rio kept fighting, and Cena locked in the STF, but the other man hit a Backbreaker to stay in. Cena hit a Tornado DDT, but event hat didn’t get him the win. Cena went for the AA, but Del Rio reversed it. Cena had a reversal of his own up his sleeve, however, slamming Del Rio onto the ground to give him time to regroup.
But then, Cena inadvertently took out the official, and though Del Rio tapped out, nobody saw it. The League of Nations took advantage, laying out Cena and placing Del Rio over him for the cover, but Cena kicked out, hitting Sheamus with the AA. Del Rio got Cena with the Backstabber and a kick to the face, but once again, Cena kicked out.
He hit the AA on Del Rio for the win, but the League of Nations interfered, ending the match in a DQ and laying a beatdown on Cena. However, the Usos emerged, pissed off about their earlier beating, and joined Cena in the fight, but the League of Nations once again laid them out. Yikes.
Sheamus grabbed a steel chair, but Roman Reigns emerged, taking down Rusev with a Spear. The two entered the ring, but Reigns hit Sheamus with a Superman Punch and chair shot.
But then, Vince McMahon re-emerged, having posted bail, and announced Roman Reigns would be defending his championship against Sheamus next week with McMahon himself as the guest referee.
Happy New Year.
Overall, this RAW could have been worse. It was nice seeing Lynch and Banks getting enough time to put on a fun match and Cena was on his game tonight. However, the crowd was obnoxious as anything and the booking was simply too uneven to call this a great show.
But you know what, it could have been worse. Silver linings, I suppose.