The go home show for the Royal Rumble. It felt like they tried, especially when it came to trying to legitimize some heels to win. But ultimately it was too little, too late. They’ve had since last month to try and build up some contenders, but they waited til the very last week.
Another fairly mediocre Raw with a few gems here and there, but it was still very much the Roman Reigns Show. Don’t expect any different this Sunday either.
Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns open the show: Hit
Hey, a Raw that opens without The Authority! It was just refreshing to not get the usual Reigns/McMahon back and forth. Jericho was more bareable here without the “rooty tooty” chants. I’m thinking he needs to turn heel though. Babyface Jericho isn’t really working right now. I liked the hype for the main event, and as much as I groan and roll my eyes when The League of Nations comes out, I was glad to see that they all got some mic time. Especially Rusev who was great and should be given more attention. I’d like to hear more from Barrett though, he’s probably the best talker of the whole group if you ask me.
Roman Reigns vs. Rusev: Hit
A decent match, the crowd was into it and they were getting behind Jericho’s over the top referee antics (i.e. his awful cartwheel attempts). Reigns and Rusev are pretty good together, I liked the match.
Brie Bella vs. Natalya: Botch
The inconsistency in the women’s division is horrible. There are never any actual turns (except for Charlotte), WWE just presents us with a character and we have to figure out if they’re a face or a heel or not. Isn’t Brie typically a heel? Yet she was out there all smiles trying to pump up the crowd. And wasn’t Paige a heel very recently? Yet she was out there in Natalya’s corner – yet weren’t they going with a story that Paige took out Natalya backstage just like a month ago? Absolutely no consistency in these storylines, I feel like the writers don’t even pay attention to their own writing. Ultimately this just felt more like a Total Divas promo. I do hope they do something with Natalya now that she’s back.
The Wyatt Family vs. The Dudley Boyz & Ryback: Botch
It was short and painless and The Wyatts came out of it looking decent. I just didn’t care though. I’ve seen enough Dudley/Wyatt matches to last a lifetime now, and I have no interest in another Ryback/Wyatt feud.
Big Show vs. Heath Slater: Botch
I’ve come to the conclusion that putting a bunch of jobbers together in a stable and giving them some mic time still won’t change the fact that they’re a bunch of jobbers. Match didn’t do anything for me, and what the hell is Big Show? Face? Heel? Does it even matter any more?
Roman Reigns is number one!: Botch
A predictable move. This way Reigns gets to overcome as many odds as possible! I don’t think the angle with Vince and Stephanie and the tumbler were really necessary, and it dragged longer than it needed to. You could have just had Reigns come out at number one at the Rumble and people would have just jumped to the conclusion that it was a screwjob anyway. I will say that I was happy at the limited Authority/McMahon time on this show though, and aside from this and one or two brief backstage segments, there was very little Stephanie involvement in this show. But otherwise I still feel that this was a redundant angle.
Becky Lynch: Hit
A short and fine match with Tamina and a good promo. I’m really liking Becky Lynch at the moment, she’s great in the ring and she’s been doing some great mic work too. She’s actually got a character that I think is going to help her get over big time in the long run. I’m not sure what the odds are of her actually winning the title on Sunday. I’m also liking heel Charlotte’s work. This is probably the best ongoing storyline WWE has going right now IMO.
Ambrose & Kalisto vs. Del Rio & Sheamus: Botch
The crowd was into it for parts, but ehh, it was too much of a time filler for me. I really don’t get what they’re doing with Kalisto. Why put the belt on him only to take it off of him a day later? I have a hunch that he might actually win it back on Sunday, but this still feels like 50/50 booking to me. It’s okay that Ambrose was mostly protected here, but I feel like this is one of those matches that they could have ended with a DQ or something, since I don’t think Kalisto should be doing jobs right now either.
Big E vs. Jey Uso: Botch
I’m starting to get a bit down on The New Day. I still think they’re great, but they need a mix of the comedy stuff with some seriousness. Remember when The New Day beat the hell out of Dolph Ziggler, John Cena and The Dudley Boyz to finish a show? I kind of want to see more of that New Day. The funeral for a trombone didn’t really do a lot for me, but that’s not to say others wouldn’t find it funny. Given that Jey lost this match makes me think that The Usos may actually win on Sunday.
Eight Man Tag: Botch
The crowd was dead by this point. So why not send eight guys no one cares about out there to have a match? It depresses me knowing that Breeze and Neville could actually be great, relevant wrestlers, but they’re not treated like anything special. They were both such a big deal in NXT. And Breeze has just been completely shafted since being “promoted” to the main roster. The guy should be going for a title, not losing meaningless eight man tags and not even having his entrance shown.
The Highlight Reel: Botch
I liked a lot of this. I liked the mic work between Jericho and Heyman, I liked that it was relatively serious Jericho too and not just Chris Jericho’s Greatest Hits. And I liked how it all ended with a lot of action and they didn’t have Reigns deliver some goofy comedy promo either. I like that they tried to make some new guys look like threats. I did not like that it ended with Brock Lesnar laid out and made to look so underwhelming. People wanted to see Lesnar destroy guys and I just felt like he should really have been made to look like the dominant force that he is going into the Royal Rumble, instead they more or less humanized him and made him seem that bit more mortal, which to me, hurts the threat of Lesnar going into the Rumble match. Hey, it’s great that The Wyatt Family now look like a bit more of a serious force going into the Rumble and if this were to lead to Bray Wyatt winning the world title, then sure, this is fine. But the thing is, it won’t. They’ve spent way too long doing nothing with The Wyatt Family, and now they have them destroy Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar? It feels like a cheap way to try and get sudden heat on them. And if the Wyatt Family eliminate Lesnar the Rumble, I just feel like it would be hurting Lesnar a bit too much to get the heels over. Lesnar should be the most protected guy on the roster and should only be beaten at the right time by the right person. Maybe this will lead to Lesnar vs. Wyatt at Wrestlemania, I’m not sure. I just think Lesnar is one of those guys that should not end Raw flat on his face unless there’s a really, really good reason for it.
All photos via WWE.com