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RAW Recap & Review – “Unique Flowers”

January 4, 2016
(aired live)

City: San Antonio, TX
Venue: AT&T Center

Commentary: Michael Cole, JBL, Byron Saxton
Ring Announcer: Lilian Garcia

 

Video
The show starts with a recap of RAW from last week where Vince got arrested and then makes a title match for tonight.

Ring Area
Stephanie’s music hits and she makes her way to the ring. Before she’s even halfway down the ramp, Reigns’ music hits and he also heads towards the ring. Reigns gets on the mic first and calls out Vince. Apparently Vince hasn’t arrived yet. Stephanie tells Reigns he should get used to disappointment.

Reigns says the WWE title is his family. Stephanie mocks the crowd and tells Reigns that hope is not a strategy. She asserts her authority over Reigns, calling him “the help.” She says that after Reigns loses the title she will use him up until he can’t go anymore and that the fans will forget about him. Reigns threatens violence and serious bodily injury against Vince.

** Stephanie’s rant against Reigns was actually really good and very truthful. It seemed like it really struck a nerve, and it should have. It wasn’t the typical arrogant, mocking Stephanie. It was a seemingly heartfelt tirade that had a lot of reality in it. When you look at top wrestlers over the years, how many are “used up” by the end of their run? How many have complained (or at least commented) about the brutal WWE schedule? I’m not saying it’s as dark as Stephanie painted it, but it resonates because it’s based in truth. Reigns’ reaction to this was good. There’s not really much he can say to it. **

 

Match 1
Kevin Owens vs Neville
(Dean Ambrose on guest commentary; referee: Jason Ayers)

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Neville is angry after last week. He goes on the attack immediately, kicking Owens. Owens rolls out of the ring and Neville flies out after him. Neville hits a number of diving attacks including a shooting star from the top rope to the floor.

Back in the ring, Owens goes after Neville’s injured ribs. He hits a huge hanging DDT from the corner. Neville is hurt. He rolls out of the ring to avoid a cover from Owens. Owens follows and throws Neville into the barricade.

-commercial-

Neville is down on the floor and getting counted out back from the break. He makes it into the ring at 9. Owens takes him back out to the floor and runs him into the barricade again. Neville manages to run Owens into the ring post to buy some time. Neville hits a 450 splash from the apron to a downed Owens on the floor! Back in the ring Neville gets a 2 count.

Neville goes for a top rope move but gets caught in the tree of woe. Owens hits a cannonball on Neville, then follows up with a pop-up powerbomb for the win.

Result: Owens wins via pinfall after a pop-up powerbomb
Time: 5:42 (1 break)

Match Thoughts
Seeing Neville fight angry is a good thing. He took the attack to Neville and looked dangerous. He was taking unnecessary risks and performing some moves that he probably shouldn’t have with his injured ribs, but it made sense because of his state of mind.

I think this feud, even if it’s secondary to the Owens versus Ambrose feud, will really help Neville in the end. This match was good for it’s story aspects and the intensity that the guys brought to the ring. There was nothing terribly surprising with how it ended up, but it was still a solid effort that made both guys look good.

 

Ring Area
After the match Owens goes to attack Neville like last week. Like last week, Ambrose goes to stop him. Owens sets up the announce table for a powerbomb, but Ambrose uses it instead to drop a diving elbow onto Owens from the barricade to the table.

** I like how they are building this feud. They are basing it pretty much solely on the fact that these guys just want to beat each other up. It seems that the best is yet to come in this feud. I also like how their interactions are spilling over and helping out other guys that get caught in the crossfire like Neville and Ziggler before him. No one is really coming away from this looking bad. **

Backstage
A limo arrives and Vince McMahon steps out. Jojo asks him about his arrest. Vince says that the charges were dropped (because he’s rich), and the he is the law.

 

Match 2
Stardust vs Titus O’Neil
(referee: Dan Engler)

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Stardust goes on the attack first with punches. He cartwheels and Titus takes delivers some chops. Stardust regains control with strikes and a disaster kick. Stardust dominates Titus, keeping hi mostly in the corner and grounded. Stardust misses a chop block, allowing Titus to land a clothesline. Titus also lands a big boot and starts to gain momentum. He quickly takes over the match and hits Clash of the Titus for the win.

Result: O’Neil wins via pinfall with Clash of the Titus
Time: 4:15

Match Thoughts
A pretty good match. Stardust (surprisingly) dominated nearly the entire time with a good game plan that kept O’Neil off balance. The ending was a but sudden, but it’s the undercard on RAW, so what do you expect? I’m not sure where they’re going with either of these guys, but I’d like to see a push for Stardust and I’d like to see Darren Young out there with Titus, even if they are wanting to wrestle singles matches. The point has been made that factions seem to be trending in WWE, so I think a good faction for the Prime Time Players would help them both.

 

Backstage
Charlotte asks Becky Lynch if she asked for their match tonight. Becky says no, but she’s excited about the match. Charlotte isn’t. They decide to do it “in the spirit of competition.” Ric Flair creeps up on Becky and “woos” her. In the spirit of competition, of course.

 

Match 3
Charlotte (Diva’s Champ) w/ Ric Flair vs Becky Lynch
(referee: Chad Patton)

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The two women have a feeling-out period that sees Lynch getting a little bit better of Charlotte. The sequence ends with a standoff. The follow up with a sequence of near falls, and Charlotte grudgingly claps for Becky. Charlotte pulls Becky in and chops her, following up with punches. Charlotte starts to take control.

-commercial-

Back from the break, Charlotte is in control with a cravat. She figure four’s Becky’s head and drives her into the mat. Back on her feet, Becky jumps from the second rope but gets caught. Becky transitions into a sleeper hold, but Charlotte drops her with a jawbreaker.

Becky gains momentum, but Charlotte stops her with a big boot. Becky persists and hits a kick and an exploder suplex out of the corner. She hits a running leg drop and goes for another, but Ric Flair grabs her foot. She turns to face him and Charlotte goes for the pin. Becky kicks out and gets Charlotte in an Oklahoma roll for the win.

Result: Becky Lynch pins Charlotte with an Oklahoma roll
Time: 7:41 (1 break)

Match Thoughts
This was a good match and a good progression to this story. Becky started of on an equal level with Charlotte, but as the match progressed she looked more like she was fighting from behind (which makes sense since Charlotte is a Flair and the champ). The way Becky wrestled really made you pull for her, and the story just added to that. There were touches of Charlotte’s Flair-like tendencies, but it didn’t feel forced here. Overall a good match and a nice way to push this story forward.

Ring Area
After the match Charlotte attacks Becky from behind and punches her. It seems the fake friendliness is over. She gloats and wipes her feet towards her downed former friend.

** Nothing here was unexpected, but it was done well. I’d like to see Paige interject herself into this, or maybe have Team BAD take advantage of their numbers. Divide and conquer. **

Backstage
Vince wants to go over some fight instructions with Sheamus. He senses history tonight. He insists that Sheamus obey his commands, and wishes him the luck of the Irish. They share a knocking look, because, you know, they’re both Irish. Sort of.

Match 4
Ryback vs Big Show
(referee: Rod Zapata)

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Big Show starts with a chop, but Ryback knocks Show down and calls for a finish. Show chokeslams Ryback, but instead of going for a cover he pushes him over the top rope and out of the ring. Cole reminds us that if this had been the Rumble, Ryback would be eliminated.

The lights suddenly go out and the Wyatt Family surrounds Ryback. They attack.

Result: The match ends in a no contest
Time: 0:50

Match Thoughts
This wasn’t a match, it was a promo for the Royal Rumble. Nothing happened, we were just reminded of the rules of the Rumble match by Michael Cole.

Ring Area
The Wyatt Family attacks Ryback after the match and Big Show stands there watching. After they’re done with Ryback, the Wyatts surrounds Big Show in the ring. They attack and it ends up in a standoff between Strowman and Show. The rest of the Wyatts gang up on Show from behind. They beat him up. Bray Wyatt yells about being in the Rumble and being pestilence.

** The commentators said we were waiting for Show versus Strowman. I wasn’t. That’s probably the lastmatch-upI would look for out of the guys out there atthe time. I do imagine that Wyatt Family will have a good showing in the Rumble this year. I could very much get behind a Bray Wyatt victory. **

Match 5
Rusev & Alberto Del Rio (US Champ) vs The Usos
(referee: John Cone)

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Del Rio and Jimmy start. Del Rio seems to get off to a better start, but Jimmy comes back and tags Jey. Jey is double-teamed and momentum swings back towards Rusev and Del Rio. Momentum changes again as Jey fights back and uses his brother to double-team Rusev. The momentum continues to swing back and forth until Rusev catches Jey on the top turnbuckle and throws him down to the mat.

-commercial-

Rusev still seems to be in control as he dropkicks Jey. Del Rio tags in. He hits a DDT for a 2 count. Jey is in trouble until he powers Rusev up into a Samoan drop. Del Rio and Jimmy tag in, and Jimmy has the speed advantage. He hits a running hip attack in the corner for a 2 count. Jimmy talks with the ref, and Del Rio attacks Jimmy’s arm. He trips Jimmy on the top rope and kicks him in the back. Del Rio sets up for the corner stomp but misses. Jey tags and hits a diving splash. Rusev breaks up the count.

Jimmy dives at Rusev but takes a kick. Jey dives at Rusev and hits the mark. As he gets on the apron he takes a kick from Del Rio and is run into the post. Jey is hung up on the ropes and takes a diving stomp from Del Rio.

Result: Del Rio pins Jey Uso after a diving stomp
Time: 9:36 (1 break)

Match Thoughts
This was a surprisingly good match. There was a good false finish and the ending was well done. Both teams looked good.

Match 6
Dolph Ziggler vs Heath Slater w/ Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel
(referee: Darrick Moore)

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Ziggler and Slater feel each other out ad Slater ducks out of the way of a superkick. Ziggler wrestles Slater down to the mat for a pin attempt. Slater looks like he’s trying to tease tossing Ziggler out of the ring, but Ziggler counters with a small package. Ziggler controls the match.

Slater hits Zigler with a punch out of the corner and starts a comeback. Slater hits a running knee for a 2 count on Ziggler. Slater is in control until Ziggler hits a huge jumping DDT. Ziggler calls for a superkick but gets distracted by Rose and Dallas, allowing Slater to get Ziggler in a schoolboy.

Result: Slater wins via pinfall with a schoolboy
Time: 4:38

Match Thoughts
This was a fun match. Ziggler outclassed Slater, but Slater’s persistence (and friends) kept the match interesting. I doubt this will turn into a feud, but I’d like to see a return match and definitely want to see more of Slater beyond the buildup for the Rumble.

Ring Area
After the match Slater gets on the mic and talks about finding some friends. Adam Rose says they are four unique flowers ready to ride into the stratosphere. Curtis Axel quotes amazing grace. Bo Dallas is inspirational. They are standing there. Together. Trending worldwide. Social outcasts.

** I like this. A lot. With factions becoming important in WWE, this makes total sense and is much appreciated. It allows for more people to get TV time and gives them at the very least a chance to get themselves over with the audience.

I can see that this group will probably be used for comic relief (like 3MB), but I’d really love it if WWE surprised us and took them seriously. At least a little bit. Give them some wins here and there. And don’t make this just a way to build up the Royal Rumble. Have it continue on past it. 2016 should be the year of the faction. Oh, and I imagine these guys are going to call themselves the Social Outcasts, but I think Adam Rose had a better phrase: “Unique Flowers” **

Backstage
Vince explains the match instructions to Roman Reigns with a smirk. Vince smirks, not Reigns.

Ring Area
New Day says that 2016 will be magical. It starts tonight when they break Kalisto and the Dudley Boyz faster than Mike Tyson broke his booty on a hoverboard. They reenact Tyson falling down, Woods playing the part of Tyson. Big E quotes Friday. New Day has a present in the form of a countdown. Y2J is the one with countdowns though. Y2J is here!

Jericho says New Day’s unicorn horns are stupid. He brings up WWE’s ratings slump and says that WWE needs a Y2J ratings boost. He’s not wrong. Jericho then starts a “rootie tootie booty” chant. He goes on to say that he has entered the Royal Rumble. Kofi yells for him to retire.

** The countdown bit was a little awkward, but that doesn’t matter. Jericho is back! At least for the Rumble. I think he’ll certainly help the sagging WWE ratings, but I’m conflicted as to whether or not I want to see him win and get a Wrestlemania title shot.

I’d really rather they use the opportunity to build up someone who needs it like Bray Wyatt or Dean Ambrose or Kevin Owens or a bunch of other guys like that. It would make more sense for the long term benefit of the company too. Now that I think about it, I really doubt Jericho will win. He’s really good about putting over the guys who need it. **

Match 7
New Day (WWE Tag Champs) vs Kalisto & The Dudley Boyz
(referee: Jason Ayers)

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Woods starts and wants Bubba (because Bubba put him through a table on Smackdown). Bubba chops Woods who tags out. Kofi comes in and doesn’t fare much better than Woods. Some well-timed tags see the Dudleyz and Kalisto controlling the match. New Day ends up on the outside and Bubba throws Kalisto over the ropes and onto the crowd on the floor.

-commercial-

Big E is in control of Bubba as we come back from the break. Woods tags in and gets the bit of revenge he was looking for at the beginning of the match. New Day has swung the momentum of the match completely in their favor. That is, until Kofi misses an attack in the corner and Kalisto hits an assisted stage dive. He starts to fly around the ring, but Woods attacks from the outside and Big E splashes Kalisto on the apron. New Day follows up with a Unicorn Stampede.

Kalisto is isolated and in serious trouble. He manages to avoid a spear from Big E which sends E out to the floor. D-Von gets the hot tag from Kalisto. He dominates Woods and tags in Bubba. Bubba continues the domination and hits a Bubba Bomb on Woods.

Kalisto dives at Big E on the floor but gets caught and tossed into the barricade. D-Von looks for What’s up on Kofi but Woods breaks it up. Bubba chases Woods allowing Kofi and Big E to double team D-Von with the Midnight Hour for the win.

Result: Big E pins D-Von after Midnight Hour (Big Ending & diving DDT combination)
Time: 13:01(1 break)

Match Thoughts
Good match. There was a little history here that played a minor role in how Woods approached the match, but mostly it was just a good solid match. Momentum shifted a few times and both teams looked good. New Day looked like the better three man unit, as they should.

Match 8
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match
Sheamus vs Roman Reigns (WWE World Heavyweight Champ)
(referee: Vince McMahon)

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Before the match starts Reigns doesn’t let the belt go. Sheamus uses that as a distraction to attack before the bell. He gets Reigns down a couple times and Vince is counting very fast. Reigns fights back but the momentum is on Sheamus’ side.

Reigns then starts to build momentum with a series of strikes. He clotheslines Sheamus, sending both men over the ropes and to the floor. Sheamus sends Reigns into the ring steps. Sheamus points to something and Vince plays like he is distracted, allowing Sheamus to throw the steps at Reigns.

-commercial-

Sheamus is in control in the ring with a side headlock. He continues the attack with a knee to the gut and forearms to the back. Sheamus hits a steamroller for a quick 2 count. Sheamus goes for a sleeper but Reigns hits a side suplex. Both men are down and Vince is telling Sheamus to get up.

Reigns takes control with strikes and lariats. Reigns hits a hangman on the ropes, a drive-by, and a Samoan drop. He covers Sheamus, but Vince counts extremely slowly. Sheamus looks for White Noise, but Reigns counters with a powerbomb. Vince counts to 2, but acts like there is something in his eye before 3.

Sheamus gets a schoolboy for 2. Superman punch by Reigns, but Vince just stops counting. Reigns is upset. Reigns Superman punches Vince and spears Sheamus. He covers Sheamus, then calls for another referee. Another drive-by by Reigns on Sheamus, and another Superman punch. Reigns sends Sheamus over the announce table.

Vince is back up, so Reigns threatens him with violence. Just then, Stephanie’s music fills the arena. She goes down to the ring and falls onto the mat when Reigns throws Vince into her. Reigns calls for a spear on Vince, but he takes a pair of Brogue kicks. Vince doesn’t count, but Scott Armstrong hits the ring and makes the count. Reigns kicks out at 2, and Armstrong is upset.

Superman punch for Sheamus, Superman punch for Armstrong, spear for Sheamus, and a cover. John one enters the ring and count the three for Reigns.

Result: Reigns pins Sheamus after a spear to retain the title
Time: 14:05 (1 break)

Match Thoughts
One thing I don’t like about stuff like this is that people (and the commentators) make a big deal about stuff that would never happen in a regular match. Like, when has Reigns’ powerbomb finished Sheamus recently? But they make it seem like it was a sure thing that he would’ve won if Vince had counted properly.

As far as the match itself, it was okay for what it was. I think we all knew what kind of match to expect with a setup like this. Reigns would beat up Sheamus but Vince wouldn’t count. That’s what happened. It’s fine I guess, but it’s another gimmicky thing that seems like cover-up for a feud that people aren’t that into.

Ring Area
After the match, Vince punches out John Cone. Vince then gets on the mic and informs Reigns that he will have to defend his title in the 30 man Royal Rumble Match.

Show Impressions
There was some stuff I really liked on this show. A big return, a new faction, and some decent matches. The World Title feud is still more of the same for me. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Realistically, why would Vince go through all of this trouble to put Reigns in these situations? As people have said, he’s the boss and can do whatever he wants. My first thought would be that he can’t just strip Reigns of the title because it would hurt the lineage, but stacking the odds and fixing matches is pretty much the same thing. At least as far as hurting the title if he were to lose it in that way. The Rumble announcement actually makes a lot of sense though, so maybe they were just stalling for time.

Also, I don’t really like babyfaces who threaten old men with serious bodily harm and hospitalization, and who have no compunctions about possibly hurting non-wrestlers like Stephanie. It’s not an unforgivable quality, and I’m not against that stuff in wrestling, but I’m not a fan of the guys who are supposed to be cheered doing it.

Regardless of that, I think the positives of this show outweighed the negatives. It makes me excited for watching the next few weeks as we build toward the Rumble!

Match of the Night
Rusev & Alberto Del Rio vs The Usos
I think it was the false finish and the actual finish that put this one over for me. Good stuff.

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