RAW has been on a bit of a creative upswing. Yes, their biggest championship is int he worst storyline out of the rest, but the show is featuring more consistent wrestling and more diversity. Tonight’s RAW even featured a title change.
Things are looking up, if not perfect.
Anyone but Roman
RAW opened with a good majority of the WWE’s roster out for Mr. McMahon to enter through, the good majority who would be competing in the Royal Rumble. The owners discussed all of the different possibilities for the company’s next WWE World Heavyweight Champion . . . Ziggler, New Day, even a Wyatt.
A grimly determined Roman Reigns then entered, title in hand, only to hear that in the main event, he would be in a “one versus all match.” And Dean Ambrose, his brother in arms, would have the first match of the night against Sheamus, who celebrated the news with a kick to Dean’s back.
Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus
Although Ambrose was stunned from being blindsided at the beginning of the match, Ambrose began to fight back. However, Sheamus took the fight outside of the ring, slamming Ambrose onto the announce table.
But Ambrose came back with a vengeance in the form of some brutal forearms. Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick, but Ambrose dodged it, took him out of the ring, and threw him into the barricade with a harrowing suicide dive.
His momentum wouldn’t last through the commercial break, however, with Sheamus nearly getting the self-proclaimed Lunatic Fringe to tap out, but clearly not getting it. Ambrose fought back with a Neckbreaker, earning a two-count, and went up to the ropes for the Flying Elbow, but Sheamus picked him off , nearly getting the White Noise in. A Tornado DDT almost got Ambrose the pinfall again, but Sheamus kicked out. Ambrose then hit him with the Flying Elbow, but Sheamus still stayed in the game. Ambrose hit Sheamus with a nasty clothesline, sending the Celtic Warrior out of the ring.
However, outside the ring, the brawl continued, with Sheamus sending Ambrose into the steel steps and Ambrose returning the favor by sending Sheamus into steel posts. They got counted out, and Ambrose looked ready to send Sheamus into the announce table, but Kevin Owens arrived, unloading on Dean. His assault could only be stopped by five security guards.
Backstage, an infuriated Dean Ambrose bypassed medics, wanting another piece of Kevin Owens. Elsewhere, Paul Heyman met With Steph and Vince, questioning whether his client Brock Lesnar was even interested in the Royal Rumble.
Stardust vs. Titus O’Neil
First off, Stardust’s David Bowie-inspired makeup was on point.
O’Neil dominated early on, his brute strength overpowering Stardust with ease. Stardust looked to hit a move off the ropes, but O’Nail simply caught him and slammed him down. Stardust didn’t fall just then, hitting his nemesis with some harsh kicks and then a dropkick followed by a chin-lock. But the attempted sleeper lock wasn’t enough to bring the Big Dog down, as O’Neil slammed him from over his back onto the mat.
Stardust then scored a near-fall, but it was O’Neil who would get the victory. An infuriated Stardust then assaulted his victorious opponent outside of the ring, leaving him writhing in pain ringside as he made his exit.
I was going to comment on how this feud has zero depth despite containing two talented Superstars, but now it seems like things are finally getting a little interesting. Are we seeing two potential Rumble rivals? Or a lone singles match?
The Usos with Chris Jericho vs. The New Day
Chris Jericho entered, charismatic as always, re-declaring his intentions to save the WWE from, err, its ratings, I suppose. The New Day entered, intent on Jericho showing them some respect, but were cut off by the Usos, Slammys in hand. Chris Jericho set up the match himself: the Usos with him in their corner versus Big E and Kofi Kingston with Woods in theirs.
The two teams traded momentum throughout, with Chris Jericho watching on intently. But near the match’s middle, Xavier Woods brought out the trombone, playing in Jericho’s face after Kingston threw an Uso out of the ring. Jericho charged, annoyed, but Woods retreated.
Kofi continued to inflict punishment on Jimmy Uso, and the partying continued as well. Big E tagged in, ready to end things, but Jimmy caught the big man with a right hook. Kofi tagged in, and Jimmy looked to tag out, but Big E pulled Jey out of reach. Jey Uso took both members out with a thrilling splash, and seemed to have the victory, but big E kicked out and nearly got a pinfall with a belly-to-belly.
And then, Chris Jericho broke Xavier’s trombone in half, and my reaction was pretty similar to Xavier’s. The Usos took advantage of this distraction to score a roll-up win.
So. I love Chris Jericho. The man has more charisma in his eyebrow than I have in my whole body. But are we supposed to take him seriously in any sense if he continues to be scripted in such a juvenile fashion? Come on, give the man something better than “rooty tooty booty.”
This may be the PG era, but we aren’t all children.
The Wyatt Family vs. The Social Outcasts
Adam Rose and Bo Dallas both made it a few seconds against Strowman before Axel tagged in, lasting a few MORE seconds. Bray Wyatt then tagged in, ready to finish the job before an enraged Ryback came to their aid.
An all-out brawl broke out, with Ryback and the Outcasts sending the Wyatts out of the ring. The five stood tall to end the segment.
Well, at least they weren’t completely buried. Coulda been worse….
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (United States Championship match)
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed an impassioned Kalisto, who spoke about not throwing away his shot (Hamilton, anybody?).
Del Rio entered first, bragging about how he’s the one who put John Cena on the shelf, keeping him out of The Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. He then threatened to do the same thing to Kalisto, comparing the Luchador to a mosquito.
True to his word, in a way, Del Rio dominated early on in the match, tossing Kalisto around like a mouse and hitting a hard move off the top rope.
But with a well-timed Corkscrew, Kalisto looked to be making a comeback. But Del Rio turned a Huricana into a painful powerbomb. Del Rio rolled Kalisto out of the ring, kicking him against the barricade before returning him to the ring for a near-fall. But even after more brutal clotheslines, Kalisto couldn’t stay down, hitting the Hurricana.
Kalisto looked to hit a suicide dive on the champion, but Del Rio threw him into the barricade, not defeated just yet. Kalisto rallied during the commercial break, nearly hitting a splash from the top rope before Del Rio rolled to the side just in time. Del Rio hit a series of punches and a suplex on Kalisto, but Kalisto prevented a move from the top rope and nearly hitting the move Bayley made famous and getting a pinfall, and then another.
Del Rio powered back, however, launching Kalisto across the ring and turning the Solida Del Sol into a painful bump on the ropes. And Kalisto, again, fought back and scoring another near-fall before getting a rollup for the victory!
I screamed. I was so absolutely delighted, and Kalisto’s joy was palpable. He has a bright future ahead of him, and will provide a wealth of thrilling matches in his first reign.
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella
Backstage, Jojo interviewed Divas Champion Charlotte, who claimed Becky was the real villain and she was the victim. But as she entered for her match against Brie, an enraged Becky ambushed her, laying the champion out before being forced away by security.
“I’m taking your championship!” Becky declared, “And I’m taking your arm with me!”
A furious Ric Flair declared there would be no match, and pinned it all on Lynch before leaving the ring with his battered daughter. Backstage, Becky passionately proclaimed that SHE was the rightful champion, and she would not stop fighting for what she deserves.
This is very good booking like we should have had since the beginning of the failed Divas Revolution. Becky is shining like she should have been this whole time, and I’m loving it. She’s gotten the ferocity that made her such a star at NXT back, and has delivered consistently both in the ring and out. I’m glad to see her getting the attention she deserves.
Roman Reigns vs. All (yeah, seriously.)
Vince and Steph entered shortly after Roman to watch the show, introducing a slew of heels. Basically, every heel on the roster.
The rules: Reigns would face every heel they had brought out until he couldn’t move. Sounds delightful.
Kevin Owens faced off against Reigns first, and the two struggled for a short while before Reigns began to get the upper hand. Owens was sent out of the ring, where the New Day gave him a nice pep talk. It worked, apparently, as he beat Reigns into a corner and took him down for a near-fall with a clothesline. Reigns looked to power back, but a distraction by Sheamus gave Owens the advantage yet again.
Reigns fought back, plowing through interference by Stardust and Breeze, but then the familiar music hit, and Brock Lesnar appeared, absolutely cleaning house and decimating Roman Reigns with an F5.
Oh, how I’ve missed the Beast.
Overall, tonight’s RAW was fairly mediocre. Ambrose and Owens kept trucking on, making their feud one of the most electrifying in the company today. Becky Lynch continued to impress and amaze, even without a full match to do so. And, of course, Brock freaking Lesnar.
What did you think of RAW? Let me know in the comments below!