We’re now less than two weeks away from the Royal Rumble and there’s still a lot of hype to do. This week boasted Brock Lesnar’s return, which is understandable given that WWE was up against stiff competition in terms of ratings. We’ve got Chris Jericho back, and Vince is still around on TV, but Raw still very much feels like business as usual for the WWE who are just trying to fill three hours. Still, there was some stuff I liked on this show.
The McMahons open with the whole roster: Botch
Seeing the whole roster on the stage initially piqued my interest because I thought, hey, maybe we’ve get some decent hype towards the Rumble out of this or something. Instead, it was just another McMahon/Reigns angle, ultimately just to set up a “One vs. All” main event. I immediately had flashbacks to the time John Cena and Randy Orton defeated half the roster in a handicap match. I wish they would build up some of these guys as actual threats to win the Rumble, instead it’s just a sea of 50/50 midcarders with no hope of winning and so no one buys any threat from them. Would it be that hard for them to pick like, five individual guys, and give them some decent promo time and some strong booking before the PPV to make us wonder “what if?”
Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus: Hit
It was a bit lengthy, but a solid brawl overall. They were super rough with each other and Sheamus was busted open hard. I liked the Owens run-in too. The Owens and Ambrose storyline is pretty simple, but it’s good. And I also really liked Ambrose’s fired up promo afterwards.
Stardust vs. Titus O’Neil: Botch
Stardust’s tribute to David Bowie was very nice. The match was average and I just don’t care about this program at all. I feel like they could have gone a more interesting route by making Titus and Stardust unlikely partners, but it seems like this is just going to be an opening match feud that no one really cares about.
The Highlight Reel: Botch
The Usos vs. The New Day: Hit
The match was pretty good although the crowd wasn’t fully into it. It might’ve dragged a bit long in places, but I still enjoyed it. Jericho breaking Xavier’s trombone was pretty funny, I liked Xavier’s super over the top reaction, but I totally get if some people thought of it as being a bit much.
Paul Heyman and Stephanie bicker: Botch
I didn’t really care much for this segment, as it was another “Stephanie emasculates someone for no reason” segment. I feel like way too much TV time is dedicated to getting Stephanie McMahon over each week.
The Social Outcasts vs. The Wyatt Family: Botch
The Social Outcasts are meant to be babyfaces? Why did they cheat to beat Dolph Ziggler last week then? I was kind of okay with Ryback running out and killing the match early because I didn’t have a lot of interest in seeing this, and also, having the Outcasts severely squashed by The Wyatt Family in their second week would have just been silly. But at the same time, I didn’t care a hell of a lot, and the mere casual tease of another Ryback/Wyatt feud is offputting.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto: Hit
I wasn’t a big fan of Kalisto’s prematch promo. The very fact that he name dropped Eddie Guerrero out of nowhere is such a cheap way of trying to get people behind him. But hey, if it worked for Rey Mysterio… I liked Alberto Del Rio’s promo, he’s seemed a bit more fired up recently ever since the Mexamerica angle was scrapped. The match itself was great and I was legit caught offguard by the upset. Kalisto winning is necessary I think. They need to build people up right now, and Kalisto as just another face in the tag division or on Superstars is a waste. This also frees up Alberto to move onto other bigger things, and the company is in serious need of a top heel. I just wonder why they gave this title change away on Raw and didn’t want to wait for the Rumble. Makes me think that Kalisto’s reign might not be all that long? We’ll see though. Really good match.
Heel Charlotte and fired up babyface Becky is a great combination. So much better than babyface Charlotte and pun making goofy sidekick Becky. I liked Charlotte’s “Flair and square” promo, and I loved Becky’s heated promo later on. It’s the best mic work these women have done since being called up to the main roster. Becky running out to beat down Charlotte and yelling “I’ll take your arm with me” was great and the crowd was totally into it. They’ve got a good thing going at the moment, and Ric Flair is great in this too.
One vs. All: Botch
The rules of it were never really clarified and it ultimately just ended up being Owens vs. Reigns for the entire thing, which was okay, but there were a lot of rest holds. This is bad because I mean, the crowd were expecting a snappier match with other wrestlers getting involved. And by this point in the show they were getting impatient and just wanted to see Lesnar. It all just seemed a bit redundant. Lesnar’s run in was great though, and a good way to end the show. Lesnar throwing guys around is ratings. They really heavily teased Lesnar vs. Reigns at the end of this show, and my guess is that we get that at Wrestlemania probably. Still undecided on if I think that’s a good thing or not. Still, a very hit and miss kind of show. Some stuff was good, some was bad. Your typical Raw.
All photos via WWE.com