12/14 RAW: Big time surprise from WWE

WWE RAW Review
December 15, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

What a difference a week can make. Last Monday following another very dull episode of RAW featuring a main event segment with Roman Reigns and Sheamus that saw half the arena actually get up and head for the cars, I was thinking the Roman Reigns experiment was completely on life support. They had booked him into yet another corner for the PPV where he couldn’t win the title, so he risked the chance of being seen as a perpetual loser, and they once again overexposed him on the microphone, which was cringe-worthy, and I’m being nice. Ratings were also at nearly all time lows, so there wasn’t much positive coming out of that show whatsoever.

Fast forward to this week following a great angle at the conclusion of WWE TLC and an even better episode of RAW filled with many surprises, and the feeling is quite different. It seems like WWE has had some sort of a revelation in how to book Roman Reigns – not like John Cena! Instead of booking Reigns to lose and just say, “Oh, fiddlesticks,” they had him actually do something about it. Instead of just taking it for the umpteenth time and having him come out smiling the next night, they had Reigns snap and show some real intensity. That was just what the doctor ordered. Instead of lame lines about tater tots and laughing everything off, they booked Reigns to treat this like a serious situation get angry over being screwed. Lo and behold it worked. The question was how would they follow up on this from the PPV. Let’s talk about Monday Night RAW.

WWE finally gets it right with Roman Reigns

Probably the most amazing thing about last night was the fact that the episode emanated from the arena where Reigns’ WrestleMania 31 victory was initially rejected by the fans. At the Royal Rumble, the fans booed Reigns mercilessly because they saw him as another handpicked guy not deserving of the push he was getting. To that point, he had been booked terribly (and had been up to a week ago). That was the beginning of the end of his WrestleMania coronation because it didn’t get any better from there. Still, WWE stuck with him, but up until last week, they still hadn’t gotten it. They were booking him exactly like John Cena with his promos and “whatever” attitude. Following yet another championship defeat at the hands of Sheamus and the League of Nations at WWE TLC, he snapped and attacked Triple H of The Authority and laid him out.

RAW kicked off with Stephanie McMahon teasing that she was going to fire Reigns. Of the entire show storyline arc for Reigns, this was the only segment I didn’t get. I didn’t mind Stephanie teasing the firing – I actually thought that was well done. I just don’t understand why she had to slap him so many times while he just stood there and took it. What is the value in having Stephanie emasculate the roster constantly? This isn’t Lucha Underground where they have matches with men taking on women. There can be no payback on her. She never, ever eats crow. What is the value in that? This whole segment would have been just fine without the gaggle of slaps. We could have avoided that and just had her say she’s not going to fire him, but the returning Vince McMahon might.

Vince McMahon came back to RAW for the first time in over a year and saved us from an R-Truth vs. Bo Dallas match, which instantly made him a face in my opinion. McMahon then called Reigns out. Reigns came out, and McMahon demanded that he apologize on his hands and knees for what he had done. Reigns did a really nice job here shaking his head and goading McMahon into wanting to have a fight with him. McMahon was fantastic here with his expressions and articulation. There’s something about that guy. The business and the world today may be a little past him, but he still carries a hell of a presence.

Finally, Sheamus came out and offered to put his title on the line just to get a shot at silencing Reigns. A lot of people didn’t like that, but I think he did that because McMahon was going to not allow it anyway. From a storyline perspective that’s all I could figure out because the announcers never bothered explaining it. Reigns then goaded McMahon into giving him the title opportunity and even called him an old man whose time has passed him by. That was a good line and an acknowledgment of many of the complaints about the product. McMahon agrees, but he adds the stipulation that Reigns has to win otherwise he’s fired. This was an all around great segment.

Now the main event comes. Like many of you, I never thought they were going to actually pull the trigger and have Reigns become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. I’m so used to WWE booking matches only to have a cheap DQ or crap finish, so when they actually have a match with a clean win it surprises me. I figured they wanted to save Reigns’ big win for a big show, but now was the time to pull the trigger. They struck while the iron was hot, something they rarely do on talents. They even had old Vince McMahon taking a Superman Punch in this one to get Reigns over. This was a very well done finish to a very good show.

Now the question is how do they follow up on this and where does Reigns go from here? Who will his next opponent be? Do they just continue things with Sheamus or does he get a better opponent like Brock Lesnar? Also when will Triple H return to exact his revenge? There are a lot of questions that need answers now so there’s finally a reason to watch again.

Quick Thoughts

The Dean Ambrose/Dolph Ziggler match was pretty good, but the interference by Kevin Owens was way better. Owens completely destroyed both guys with Pop-up Powerbombs, including giving Ziggler a powerbomb onto Ambrose. Owens then cut a great promo afterwards about getting the Intercontinental Championship back. I guess we’ll be seeing a triple threat with these three for the title.

Alberto Del Rio and Rusev won an ok match over Ryback and Jack Swagger. Once again no Zeb Colter, so I guess he’s finished for the time being.

Neville beat Tyler Breeze in the only portion of RAW I truly didn’t like. First of all, these two can have a great match, but they’re both stuck firmly in midcard hell, especially Breeze. His career already seems to be dead on the main roster. That was fast. The Miz continued to refer to Neville’s less than attractive features, which is never a good thing in WWE. What a waste of two good talents.

The Wyatt Family picked up the victory in a fun Extreme Rules tag match against The Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer, and Rhyno. This was every crap hardcore match you’ve ever seen from the late 1990s to early 2000s, but it was fun. I have to admit I miss these train wreck types of matches. Done sparingly, they can be good. You can’t do these kinds of matches every week or even every month. Nice to see The Wyatt Family follow up the win at the PPV with another win on RAW over the hometown boys.

I was quite confused by The New Day’s segment. I just didn’t get what the thought process was behind this. The New Day came out, called out their opponents from WWE TLC the night before, and gave both teams major props and respect. It ended with a handshake. When those teams left, The New Day celebrated their win, so the two teams – both faces, mind you – came back to beat the crap out of them. To no one’s surprise, both teams were loudly booed. In what universe wouldn’t they be booed? How did that get approved?

The Divas tag team match was quick and painless with the slow burn on Charlotte’s full heel turn continuing with her father helping them cheat to win.

Overall Impression

This was a great episode of RAW for almost the entire three hours. I’ll be kicking myself for a while because I had an opportunity to get tickets to this, but I decided against it thinking it wouldn’t be any good. Oh well. The follow-up to this show will be interesting. They can’t hotshot a month worth of angles into every show, so we’ll see how it goes in the coming weeks. Next week is the Slammy Awards show, a show that died a death and a half last year, so they hopefully have a good angle planned for that one. We’ll see. For now, my hat is off to WWE on a great two days.

Bump of the Night: Braun Strowman powerslamming Tommy Dreamer through the barricade!
Match of the Night: Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus ** 1/2

Final Rating: *** 3/4

Well those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting or using one of the other two options to get in contact with me.

E-Mail – MikeyT817@gmail.com
Twitter – @MikeTedescoWV

Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Please check out my live recap of RAW every Monday at 8 PM EST.

Thanks for reading!

Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Monday Night RAW for Wrestleview.com.