Hello, folks! Before I get to the wrestling, I’ll follow RAW’s example and address what today means. This MLK Day, we remember one of the bravest souls to ever grave our nation. May his dream never die.
Now, onto the show!
RAW has been on a bit of an upswing lately, but this week, I got flashbacks to the lowest of the low times in creativity. It honestly blows my mind that a roster so flooded with talent can be so underutilized.
One versus All…again
Roman Reigns opened the show with the mic, declaring that on Sunday, his focus was all on one thing: Brock Lesnar. Furious, he demanded that Brock Lesnar come out to finish what he started immediately.
But it wasn’t the Beast who answered his call, it was Chris Jericho, who invited Reigns to join Lesnar on the Highlight Reel later that night. Reigns agreed instantly, and just like that, the League of Nations emerged, and Sheamus had just one question:
When did the Royal Rumble become Reigns versus Lesnar?
I was wondering the same thing…
Sheamus demanded to know why Jericho was hosting an interview with the favorites to win the Royal Rumble, and not inviting them. Jericho snarked back, and Del Rio angrily replied, talking about how his faction always rises to the occasion. Jericho snarked again. So Rusev tried discussing an apparently rotten childhood in Bulgaria, and Jericho made fun of his accent, reminding everyone that Rusev was the one Reigns eliminated to win the Royal Rumble last year.
Reigns then challenged Rusev to settle the score just then, and Jericho sweetened the deal: he would be the guest referee. Apparently, he must be on the Authority’s good side, because how else would he have that kind of authority?!
Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
Rusev looked strong in the match’s early seconds, sending a strong Reigns out of the ring and using the League of Nations to distract Reigns enough to instigate a painful-looking submission fest in the ring itself. Reigns fought out of it with some punches, hitting Rusev with a Samoan Drop, but another distraction allowed Rusev to hit Reigns with a spinning heel kick.
Rusev’s dominance continued, but he got cocky, allowing Reigns to almost power back. Rusev locked Reigns in a submission hold, but Reigns turned it into a DDT and then hit a flying clothesline and boot to the face to really stage a comeback. Reigns then threw the Bulgarian Brute into the turnbuckle, hitting him with a whopping ten punches. Rusev, however, nearly stole a pinfall, but some slow counting by Jericho kept Reigns in the fight.
Rusev then hoisted Reigns onto his shoulders, climbing the ropes, but Reigns hopped down, turning the move into a massive powerbomb, nearly getting the pinfall. But while Del Rio caught Jericho’s attention, Sheamus pulled Reigns out of the ring and threw him into the barrier. In retaliation, Jericho sent Sheamus to the back. At that moment, Barret caught Jericho’s attention, yelling angrily, and got kicked out as well. Then, of course, Del Rio climbed onto the ropes and began yelling, getting himself expelled as well.
Rusev, while stalking Jericho, was then taken out by a Superman Punch.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon confronted Jericho, claiming he didn’t have the authority to do any of what he just did.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
A Total Divas storyline. Paige helping a babyface. Yeah, I hate this too.
Natalya carried some early momentum, hitting Brie with a mean dropkick, but Brie got some momentum of her own with her husband’s kicks. But it wouldn’t be enough to get Natalya down, as she instantly locked in the Sharpshooter for the pinfall.
That’s it. That’s all that happened. I’m having flashbacks tot he state of the Divas Division last year at this time…and it’s horrifying.
I’m not a Brie fan, but Natalya and Paige have a massive wealth of talent in the ring, and seeing them used this way is, frankly, a harsh reminder that the Divas Revolution was all for naught with this Creative team.
The Wyatt Family vs. The Dudley Boyz & Ryback
I honestly can’t believe this feud is still a thing. In real life.
The Dudleys took early control, with Bubba Ray laying a beatdown on Luke Harper, who managed to fight back with a strong kick. He tagged in Erik Rowan as Bubba Ray tagged in DeVon, whom Rowan laid a brutal beating to before tagging in Bray, who nearly got the pinfall before tagging in Harper, who tossed DeVon into the ropes in a stunning move. Rowan, tagging in, kept the momentum going.
But DeVon seemed to stage a hint of a comeback, hitting Bray with a clothesline and tagging Ryback in, who laid a beating down on Luke Harper and took Bray out at ringside. Bubba then got some payback, tagging in and hitting Harper with a powerbomb. Rowan tagged in, then got Harper in. Outside the ring, Strowman helped Wyatt fight Ryback.
In the ring, Luke Harper got the pinfall.
Hell yeah. In the words of Bray Wyatt, the apocalypse is here. As for me? I am ALL FOR IT!
Big Show vs. Heath Slater
After retreating from the ring early on in the match, Big Show dragged him back into the ring and got the pinfall, then beat down all of the Social Outcasts.
That’s all that happened.
Royal Rumble Lotto
Vince and Steph entered, both bragging about Vince to nobody’s surprise.
Speaking of no surprises, Roman Reigns will be the first entrant into the Royal Rumble.
Tamina Snuka vs. Becky Lynch
Becky was ferocious from the start, attacking Tamina with the ferocity that made her such a hit at NXT. Tamina fought back with a hard kick and attempted to subdue the Lasskicker with a chokehold, but Becky broke free of it. Tamina hit her with a powerbomb, but even that couldn’t bring Lynch down.
Fighting back with some forearms and a dropkick, Lynch got her momentum back. With a series of fast-paced leg-drops and a move off the ropes with a Dis-Arm-Her, Becky Lynch picked up the win.
After the match, Becky declares in-ring that nothing would mean more than winning the Divas title at the Royal Rumble, and told Charlotte that she needed an answer. Charlotte told her she hadn’t earned a title match, that she was in the back of the line. Becky Lynch then appealed to Ric himself, saying Charlotte lacked his bravery in not accepting her challenge.An infuriated Flair accepted her challenge on his daughter’s behalf.
I have nothing new to say about this. Becky is absolutely on fire right now, and it’s about time that Creative give her the push she deserves.
Dean Ambrose & Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio & Sheamus
With Kevin Owens on commentary, Kalisto’s quick wrestling kept Sheamus on his toes. When Del Rio interfered, Ambrose came to the Luchador’s assistance, sending him over the ropes in a back body drop onto the two heels.
Kalisto and Sheamus both laid down beatings on each other during commercials, but both Ambrose and Del Rio tagged in hot. Ambrose took control, hitting Del Rio with a slew of quick moves including a swinging neckbreaker and suicide dive outside of the ring.
Del Rio, after throwing Ambrose into the barricade, brought the action back into the ring as Sheamus tagged in. Sheamus wore down Ambrose and tagged Del Rio back in to continue the beatdown. Del Rio set up a move from the top rope, but Ambrose tossed him back into the ring, hitting Del Rio off the top rope and getting a tagged Sheamus with a clothesline.
Kalisto finally tagged in, going absolutely nuts on Sheamus and kicking Del Rio away from the ropes. A Solida Del Sol almost got the pinfall, but Del Rio interfered. Ambrose took him out of the ring, but Kevin Owens gave Del Rio a distraction to knock out Ambrose. Sheamus hit Kalisto with the Brogue Kick for the pinfall.
Big E vs. Jey Uso
Backstage, the New Day held an emotional funeral for Francesca the trombone and vowed to avenge her.
Big E seemed to have some help from above, indeed, as he flung Jey around early on, backing him into the corner and kicking him in the side. But Jey, showing off some slick dance moves as he did so, powered back with a splash and dropkick.
Out of the ring, however, Big E hit Jey with a brutal back body drop. Big E maintained his momentum throughout the break, but a failed splash on the ring’s apron gave Jey a chance to start fighting back, sending the man into the barricade. Going to the top rope, he hit Big E with a splash and Samoan Drop, getting a near-pinfall.
But it was Big E in the end who would emerge victorious with the help of his boys.
Rest in pieces, Francesca, we’ll miss you.
Neville, Mark Henry, R-Truth & Titus O’Neil vs. The Ascension, Tyler Breeze, & Stardust
I couldn’t bring myself to properly recap this. The wrestling itself was good, but without any story whatsoever and so much going on, I gave up. Whatever, it’s not like I actually get paid to write these recaps, right?
The good: Neville picked up the win.
The bad: it was on Tyler Breeze.
The ugly: the booking of this.
Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel
Paul Heyman interrupted Jericho’s introduction, wonderfully confident as ever. The two exchanged jabs, and Heyman somehow managed to make the Royal Rumble sound like the best thing in the history of wrestling.
Lesnar’s very presence eclipsed anything Jericho said in response to Heyman, and he looked absolutely terrifying as he strolled into the ring. Reigns entered soon after, looking like a man on a mission. Lesnar stalked the ring like a great white shark, walking circles around the two with all of the ease he easily has.
Reigns hit Lesnar with a Spear, taking him down, but the League of Nations interfered. Not that Lesnar cared, taking them out with ease and delivering an F-5 to Sheamus. Reigns then hit Lesnar with another Spear, and the Wyatt family appeared. Luke Harper took Reigns out with a clothesline, and Wyatt introduced Reigns to Sister Abigail. Luke Harper hit Lesnar with a mean kick, as did Rowan.
Bray then hit the Sister Abigail on Lesnar, and the Wyatts stood tall at the segment’s end.
Okay, okay, as smug as I can be about how RAW is booked, I’ll be the first to admit how very surprised and pleased I was with the Wyatts being the ones to stand strong at the end of tonight.
It blows my mind, really, how the same people that book storylines as enrapturing as the feuds between Becky and Charlotte and Kevin Owens and Ambrose, who book surprising segments like the one which closed tonight, are the same people who book Natalya in a match that lasts a minute and a half, and that ridiculous tag match.
There is so much good going on right now, but if the WWE doesn’t up its consistency the bad will overshadow it all.