January 18, 2016
City: Columbus, OH
Venue: Nationwide Arena
Commentary: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, JBL
Ring Announcer: Lilian Garcia
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tribute.
“The Night 2014 Remix” by CFO$/KromestatiK
Roman Reigns’ music plays and he makes his way through the crowd. In the ring, Reigns says he’s in for the fight of his life on Sunday. But tonight he only cares about Lesnar. He waits for Lesnar, but Jericho’s music plays instead.
Jericho welcomes us to RAW is Jericho. Reigns is happy to see him, but he’d rather see Lesnar. Jericho wants Reigns on The Highlight Reel with Lesnar later on. Reigns loves it.
The League of Nations comes out and wonders why the Rumble has become Reigns versus Lesnar. Sheamus says the title is coming come and tries to make jokes. Jericho makes jokes at Sheamus’ expense. Barrett laughs. Del Rio gets on the mic and reminds everyone that he won the 40 man Rumble.
Rusev talks about throwing kids off of buses. Barrett doesn’t get to talk. Jericho reminds everyone that Reigns eliminated Rusev last year. Rusev responds and Reigns tells him to shut up. Jericho asks the crowd if they want to see a match.
** Not a terrible opening segment, though not very serious. I would have liked to have maybe seen the Social Outcasts come out to respond to the League. Also, why doesn’t Barrett get to talk? He’s arguably the best talker of the group but he seems like a junior member. **
Roman Reigns (World Heavyweight Champ) vs Rusev w/ Sheamus, King Barrett, Alberto Del Rio (US Champ)
(referee: Chris Jericho)
They tie up. Reigns takes Rusev over with a headlock, Rusev scissors Reigns’ head, Reigns escapes. Both men land some strikes until Rusev throws Reigns to the floor. The League distracts Reigns and Rusev attacks from behind. Rusev takes control of the match in the ring.
Rusev misses a jumping headbutt which allows Roman to start a comeback. He hits a neckbreaker but the League distracts again. Rusev hits a heel kick for 2.
Rusev is still in control despite some strikes from Reigns. Reigns hits a series of clotheslines and a big boot. Reigns goes for a Samoan drop but takes a kick to the head for a 2 count. Rusev carries Reigns up the ropes, but Reigns escapes and hits a sit-out powerbomb.
Sheamus throws Reigns into the barricade as the League distracts Jericho. Jericho confronts Sheamus and throws him out. Barrett gets on the apron and Jericho throws him out. Jericho does a cartwheel. Del Rio climbs the ropes and yells. Jericho throws him out with a 360 degree spinning point. With everyone watching Jericho dance, Reigns hits a Superman punch and a spear for the win.
Result: Reigns wins via pinfall after a spear
Time: 10:23 (1 break)
An okay match. It was nothing special until Jericho started going nuts on the League. That easily got the best reaction out of the entirety of the first three segments of this RAW. Which, I guess, could kind of be a bad thing since the guest referee got a better reaction than the champ.
Stephanie informs Jericho that he had no authority to do anything he’s done so far. Jericho calls Stephanie names. Stephanie says he’s very original. She also says Jericho put her in an awkward position with Heyman. She tells him to stop messing with her show.
** There’s an interesting dynamic between those two because of their history. You can kind of see that they enjoy working together even though their characters aren’t supposed to like each other. **
Brie Bella w/ Alicia Fox vs Natalya w/ Paige
(referee: Dan Engler)
Natalya starts strong but Brie trips her into the ropes. Brie hits a running knee and gets a 2 count. Brie kicks Natalya but misses one and winds up in a Sharpshooter.
Result: Natalya wins via submission with a Sharpshooter
This was really just a promo for the premiere of Total Divas. It was super short and barely a match. It’s good to see Natalya though.
The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper & Erik Rowan w/ Braun Strowman) vs The Dudley Boyz & Ryback
(referee: Jason Ayers)
Harper and Bubba exchange chops in a corner. Bubba builds momentum but gets hit with a big boot. Rowan tags in and misses a big splash. D-Von tags in and hits some shoulder blocks and a neckbreaker. Rowan hits a spin kick for a 2 count. The Wyatts start to isolate D-Von with quick tags.
D-Von gains some space with a hard clothesline on Bray. Bray misses a running senton and D-Von tags Ryback. Harper tags in and gets dominated. Bray distracts Ryback, but Bubba tags in and boots Harper. He hits a side slam for a 2 count on Harper. The match starts to break down.
The Dudleys call for 3D but Rowan breaks it up and sends D-Von to the floor. Harper hits a boot and a hard discus clothesline on Bubba and gets the win.
Result: Harper pins Bubba after a discus clothesline
Time: 6:38 (1 break)
Pretty good match. The Wyatt Family once again showed how well they work together and dominated. The ending to this match was good. I think the Wyatts will have a very good showing at the Rumble.
Big Show makes his way to the ring. The Social Outcasts come out and Slater says one of them will win the Rumble. Baby. Adam Rose talks about a magic carpet. Curtis Axel reminds everyone he was never eliminated from the 2015 Rumble. Bo Dallas doesn’t get to talk.
Big Show vs Heath Slater w/ Adam Rose, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas
(referee: Chad Patton)
Slater avoids Show. He runs out of the ring and makes fun of Show. Show pulls him in by the head and punches him.
Result: Big Show wins via pinfall after a punch
It was kind of funny, but not much of a match. Pure comedy. Big Show really feels like an afterthought going into the Rumble.
Big Show punches Rose and Axel as well. Dallas avoids a punch and starts a victory lap. He gets punched halfway through. The Social Outcasts are all knocked out.
Stephanie commends the League (minus Rusev) for controlling their tempers. She manipulates them into going after after Jericho.
** Once again the heels are very easily swayed. I guess it’s just part of their characters. **
Vince and Stephanie use a tumbler to determine the number one entrant in the Rumble. It’s Roman Reigns. They draw again and it’s Reigns again. They draw a third time. Roman Reigns.
** Cole actually tries to respond to Saxton by saying “so you’re saying Mr. McMahon is stacking the deck.” Yeah, they just showed us two slips of paper with Reigns’ name on them. I’d say that’s pretty much he definition of stacking the deck. All of the commentators ignored that for some idiotic reason. That kind of stuff bugs me because it completely misses the point of the segment because they feel the need to blindly stick to their characters. They can still be in-character while reacting to what they and everyone else saw. Stuff like that completely takes believability out of them. **
Tamina w/ Naomi vs Becky Lynch
(Charlotte, Ric Flair at ringside; referee: John Cone)
Becky takes control with strikes, but Tamina powers her into the corner and kicks her. Tamina applies a rear chinlock. Becky fights out but gets taken down by her hair. Tamina uses her power to maintain control. She applies another rear chinlock.
Becky escapes. Becky starts to build momentum with strikes. She hits a dropkick and more strikes in the corner. Becky lands a pair of running leg drops. Becky climbs the ropes and rolls into Disarm-Her.
Result: Becky Lynch wins via submission with Disarm-Her
An okay match. Tamina kept things grounded and pretty slow, but that allowed Becky to mount a pretty okay come-from-behind win. Not terribly exciting but it was alright. Becky getting into Disarm-Her at the end was interesting.
Becky gets on the mic and demands an answer for her challenge to Charlotte. Charlotte says she already had a title match and lost. Becky goads Charlotte and Flair by calling Ric Flair a coward. Ric Flair makes a title match on Charlotte’s behalf.
** Easily manipulated heels, once again. But it makes sense. I liked what Becky said and how she said it. She does a really good job of playing the sympathetic underdog. **
Dean Ambrose (IC Champ) & Kalisto vs Alberto Del Rio (US Champ) & Sheamus w/ King Barrett
(Kevin Owens on guest commentary; referee: Mike Chioda)
Sheamus goes right after Ambrose. They brawl until Ambrose tags in Kalisto. Ambrose and Kalisto hit a double team on Sheamus. Sheamus and Del Rio end up outside the ring and Ambrose back body drops Kalisto over the ropes and out onto Sheamus and Del Rio on the floor.
Del Rio has Kalisto in trouble on the top turnbuckle. Kalisto leaps at Del Rio but he takes a drop kick. 2 count for Del Rio. Sheamus and Del Rio isolate Kalisto in their corner. Kalisto hits a kick and a chin breaker on Sheamus and tags in Ambrose.
Del Rio also tags in but is overwhelmed by Ambrose. Ambrose clotheslines Del Rio to the floor and dives out after him. Ambrose gets double-teamed and sent into the barricade by Del Rio. Back in the ring Del Rio gets a 2 count.
Sheamus tags in and keeps an advantage over Ambrose. Ambrose fights out of a rear chinlock but takes a knee to the gut. Del Rio takes in and taunts Kalisto while he continues to punish Ambrose. Del Rio hits a back-stabber for a 2 count.
Del Rio sets Ambrose up in the tree of woe and climbs the ropes. Ambrose pulls Del Rio off the top and hits a diving dropkick. Sheamus tags in but Ambrose clotheslines him and tags Kalisto. Kalisto dominates Sheamus with his speed and kicks. He hits and awkward DDT followed by Salida Del Sol. Del Rio breaks up the pin attempt.
Distracted by Owens on the outside, Ambrose takes an enzuigiri from Del Rio. Inside the ring, Kalisto goes for a second Salida Del Sol on Sheamus, but he gets thrown off and hit by a Brogue Kick.
Result: Sheamus pins Kalisto after a Brogue Kick
Time: 10:03 (1 break)
Pretty good match. I kind of expected (or maybe wanted) King Barrett to play some kind of role in this match, but he didn’t. Owens was a bigger factor. Still it was a nice match and it was fun to see Ambrose and Kalisto pulling off some double team moves together.
Earlier today New Day held a funeral for Francesca the Trombone.
Royal Rumble by the numbers.
Jey Uso w/ Jimmy Uso vs Big E w/ Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston
(referee: Darrick Moore)
Big E starts strong but Jey uses strikes and speed. Jey dances and hits a jumping lariat for a 2 count. Jey hits an enzuigiri and Big E rolls to the floor. Jey runs after him, but Big E hits a back body drop on the floor.
Big E has Jey in an ab stretch in the ring. Jey winds up on the ropes and Kofi lands a kick from the outside. Big E goes for a splash on the apron but misses and rolls to the floor. Jey kicks Big E into the barricade.
Jey hits a diving cross body in the ring and follows with strikes and a Samoan drop. Jey misses a hip attack but lands a heel kick for a 2 count. Big E misses a spear and falls to the floor. Jey dives out after him.
New Day helps Big E into the ring and Jimmy Uso takes out Kofi. Jey hits a superkick on Big E, but Woods distracts him. Big E lands a clothesline from behind and hits a Big Ending on Jey for the win.
Result: Big E wins via pinfall after a Big Ending
Time: 6:11 (1 break)
Good match. I liked some of the aggression shown by Jey (like the kick into the barricade) and some of the moves that were missed (like the big splash on the apron). They mixed it up a little which is a good way to keep things interesting in a match that could easily just be a throw-away.
Titus O’Neil talks with R-Truth and Mark Henry talk about killing people (“dirt nap”). Neville shows up and feels like the odd man out.
Stardust & The Ascension & Tyler Breeze vs Titus O’Neil & R-Truth & Mark Henry & Neville
(referee: Jason Ayers)
O’Neil and Konnor start. They trade blows until Viktor tags in. O’Neil catches Viktor and tosses him aside. He tags Neville. Neville gets pushed into the opposing corner and Stardust tags in. Stardust dances and poses while Mark Henry tags in. Mark Henry squashes Stardust then tags R-Truth. R-Truth dances but takes kicks from Stardust and Breeze.
Konnor tags back in and slams Truth. He drops an elbow and gets a 2 count. Breeze and Neville tag in. Neville dominates with speed and lands a standing shooting star press. The match breaks down and everyone gets involved. Titus grabs Breeze and tosses him overhead, to Henry, but Henry misses the catch. He picks Breeze up and hits a world’s strongest slam, setting Breeze up in the corner for Red Arrow from Neville.
Result: Neville pins Breeze with Red Arrow
An okay match. Everyone did something. It was really a pretty standard multi-man match. The miss at the end between Titus and Mark didn’t help. If they had made that work it would have been pretty awesome.
Jericho introduces everyone to the “Highlight Reel,” but Paul Heyman interrupts him. Jericho interrupts him right back and wonders where Lesnar is. Heyman says Lesnar is present, but he’s not focused on Jericho.
Jericho asks Heyman if he tried to keep Lesnar out of the Rumble because he doesn’t like his chances of winning. Lesnar points out that he didn’t get pinned or give up at Wrestlemania and should have been given a bye in the Rumble. He says Lesnar will win. The Royal Rumble will be suplex city.
Jericho asks Heyman what would happen if he beat Lesnar to win the Rumble. That’s when Lesnar comes out. Before he enters the ring Reigns makes his way through the crowd. Both men enter the ring and Reigns spears Lesnar. The League of Nations hits the ring and attacks. Lesnar attacks everyone. Reigns spears Lesnar again.
The Wyatt Family surrounds the ring. Harper kicks and clotheslines Reigns. Bray hits Sister Abigail on Reigns. The Wyatts then take down Lesnar. Bray hits Sister Abigail on Lesnar to end the show.
** Really good segment to end the show. It seemed as though Jericho’s entire purpose of this edition of the highlight reel was to put his name in the running of realistic contenders. I’m fine with that. I don’t think he’ll win, but it’s pretty smart to have two of the best talkers in the building (Jericho and Heyman) do the heavy lifting on the mic for Reigns, Lesnar, and everyone else in the Rumble. **
This was an okay show, but it didn’t feel a lot like a great final stop before the Royal Rumble. There seemed to be a lot of treading water and segments that didn’t really mean much to the storylines.
The one obvious exception to that is the last segment of the show. I was actually hoping to see the Wyatt Family dominate a portion of the Rumble match and Bray was going to be my pick to win. I thought it would be great since they have been fairly quiet lately and I have noticed they’ve picked their spots pretty carefully when it comes to getting involved in main event stuff. I’m not sure if this segment bolstered or hindered their chances, but it was pretty cool to see them lay out both Reigns and Lesnar.
I thought it was pretty funny that Jericho just disappeared once the action got heated. Smart.
I haven’t liked how the build up to the Rumble match has essentially felt like a one on one match with everyone else just vying for screen time with no realistic chance of winning, but this segment helped to change that feeling a little. Not completely, but a little.
Match of the Night
The Wyatt Family vs The Dudley Boyz & Ryback
No match on this show was particularly memorable, but the domination the Wyatts once again showed was fun to watch.