1/25 RAW: Good follow up to Royal Rumble

WWE RAW Review
January 26, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

Coming off what turned out to be a very good Royal Rumble event, WWE had to hit a homerun on RAW to carry the momentum over. Triple H winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, AJ Styles making his big debut, and the announcement that a major star was returning on RAW certainly had people buzzing for the show. The show itself finally featured a good crowd that was into what was going on for most of the show. It had some surprises and good action, but it also featured a storyline that definitely created some questions about logic. Well, let’s get to the review and see what I’m talking about.

The Authority really knows how to “screw” people

For the 72nd week in a row, which amounts to 505 days or 1 year, 4 months, and 18 days, Monday Night RAW opened up with a promo. Of course, this time it was perfectly warranted because the announcement in the promo set the pace of the show and it got the introduction of Triple H as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion out of the way, I’m just pointing out it’s been a long time since a match opened up a wrestling show.

This was actually a very good segment, but like all of these opening promos, it just went a little too long. Vince McMahon was really good starting it off by talking about how Roman Reigns is now a broken man just like the people in the crowd. McMahon was great with this, but naturally it started to drag a bit after a few moments and wound up repeating himself a few times. Not to be outdone, Stephanie McMahon then chimed in and went on some more about how the crowd eats out of their hands and how everyone lives in a pipe dream where the hero overcomes the odds. Eventually, she introduced her husband, the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Triple H was great with his promo and really put over his problems with Roman Reigns very well. Triple H can still cut a money promo when he really needs to. I loved that line about how WWE is his church and religion, and Reigns will not disrespect his religion. The problem is Triple H is so good and Reigns is so barely over, this could cause a rehashing of what happened to Reigns last year around this time. They’re making another hard sell for Reigns to be the top guy, but much like Adam Martin mentioned in his Smackdown review, bad booking has once again caused a general malaise to surround Reigns. That was very evident on Sunday when the crowd absolutely booed him in the Royal Rumble. Triple H has also built up a lot of goodwill with the fans due to him being the face of NXT. It’s quite the turnaround from years back. Anyway, Triple H’s promo was all about Reigns, so you know that’s the eventual endgame. Stephanie then said they’d be evaluating all the superstars on tonight’s show and would make an announcement on who would be in the main event of Fastlane with the winner of that match facing Triple H at WrestleMania.

The main event of the evening was Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose beating Sheamus and Rusev in what is a very, very tired match-up. The crowd was pretty dead for Reigns, but that’s probably because they were still feeling the effects of The Rock (more on him in a few). Reigns and Ambrose pretty easily beat them in a nothing match when Reigns pinned Sheamus with a spear. Michael Cole exclaimed, “You’ve got to be impressed with Roman Reigns!” Honestly, WWE should really consider replacing Michael Cole as the voice of the company in the next year or so. His credibility is dead and he lays it on way too thick. It really hurts the way Reigns is viewed. No one likes to It’d be something if the match was awesome and the crowd was going nuts, but the crowd was dead and it wasn’t even close to the best match on the show. After the match, Reigns and Ambrose killed Rusev with a double powerbomb through the commentary table.

Stephanie McMahon then came out and announced the main event of Fastlane would be a triple threat match with Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Brock Lesnar. Naturally, Ambrose is there to take the loss. This is where I had a problem. The Authority went out of their way to rig the Royal Rumble so Triple H would come in at number thirty and have the best chance to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to screw Reigns. The very next night, they give him an opportunity to still get into the main event of WrestleMania by putting him in this match. It just doesn’t make any sense for them to make that move. This is where a face authority figure would really come in handy. It’s too bad they don’t have Linda McMahon there to supersede the really bad decisions The Authority makes. It would also protect The Authority from looking stupid and the storyline in turn suffering. I don’t mind it being predictable. Predictability in wrestling isn’t a bad thing. It just needs to make sense on the way there. This doesn’t make sense. I’m sure they could come up with something, but no matter what, it won’t make any sense. They’re just really bad at screwing people I guess.

The Rock completely steals the show

Probably the best thing to come out of last night’s RAW was the return of The Rock to WWE television. It’s amazing just how different the show feels with him on it. His charisma is second to none. From the way he made it sound, this might be his only appearance on RAW before WrestleMania. It wasn’t clear what he’d be doing at WrestleMania, but it didn’t seem like he was wrestling. He’ll probably be the surprise guy in the corner of Roman Reigns to try to get him some extra heat.

Anyway, he was awesome on this show. They had The Miz initially come out of a stretch limo that was teased as being the major star coming. The Rock then showed up in a pickup truck I guess to trick people into thinking it might be Steve Austin. The Rock the bumped into Rick Ross, had a really great interaction with Big Show (and recalled their 2000 Royal Rumble match), and really humiliated Lana and Rusev, which has to have some real life truth to it. They haven’t been the same since that engagement announcement flub on Twitter.

The Rock then appeared before the crowd and just went as long as he wanted. Rock called attention to some impersonators at ringside that security moved (including a guy dressed as Hulk Hogan, which is funny for obvious reasons) before talking about WrestleMania. The New Day interrupted him, and they had a really fun interaction with Rock. I will admit it started to drag after a bit, but it was still entertaining. Eventually The Usos came out and Rock got in his Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow. It was just a fun over twenty minute segment with a guy who is probably once in a generation or maybe even lifetime. It’s kind of sobering to know that a guy like him will never come around again nor will anyone be given the creative freedom to do it.

AJ Styles’ “first” WWE singles match not phenomenal, but very good

After debuting last night in the Royal Rumble and getting a phenomenal (no pun intended – ok, maybe a bit) response, it was really exciting to see he was booked against Chris Jericho in his first WWE singles match. Well, first as an international star and not some match fourteen years ago against The Hurricane when he was a nobody. This match-up obviously had great potential. It didn’t quite live up to the idea of what it could be, but I don’t think it’ll be the last time we see them in the ring. There were some clunky moments in the match probably due to the fact that they’re unfamiliar with each other and Styles has to adjust to a new ring on the fly in front of a worldwide audience. Still, they pulled out a very good match, especially the closing moments. Like in the Royal Rumble, they teased the Styles Clash only for him not to hit it. Maybe they’re saving it for Fastlane or could it be banned? Still, I suggest you go out of your way to see it. Hopefully AJ Styles becomes a force to be reckoned with on the roster. He won’t be around forever.

Quick Thoughts

I enjoyed the Kevin Owens/Dolph Ziggler match. Owens looked good here and picked up the win, as he should. It’s sad to see just how far Ziggler has fallen. I remember when everyone thought he was going to get his big break when he got the win at Survivor Series 2014. Hate to say I told you so, but…

Was it just me or was Bo Dallas a way better rapper than Flo Rida was last night? That’s pretty sad. The Dudley Boyz got a rare win over The Social Outcasts soon after with Flo Rida in their corner in a segment that happened and was forgotten about with all the other stuff going on last night. The Dudley Boyz are on life support right now.

I’m interested in the possibility of seeing a three-way match between Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks. That could be good if they give it some time on a PPV.

What can I say about Bray Wyatt vs. Kane other that it went too long and was awful? It should be known in the back when they’re pacing out the show that some matches shouldn’t go to a commercial break. The crowd turned on them and paid attention to the Macho Man impersonator at ringside. No follow-up on the Brock Lesnar angle with Wyatt. I’m sure Wyatt will screw him at the Fastlane match.

Paige and Natalya won a pointless match against Brie Bella and Alicia Fox to advertise “Total Divas.” Next!

Kalisto vs. The Miz would probably fit into that category of a match that shouldn’t have went to a commercial break as well. With The Rock throwing off the timing of the show, I’d have cut this match and given the main event some more time. The point is to get Roman Reigns over, right? So give him some more time to do so! I did like the finish of this match, though.

Overall impression

This was a really great way to kick of the Road to WrestleMania. This show was definitely an improvement on the previous offerings we’ve seen. They needed to capitalize on the momentum of the Royal Rumble, and they definitely did that. The question is can they keep it going. Also, because Roman Reigns was in the main event after The Rock was already out, the crowd was dead for him. How will he do in front of a crowd that isn’t tired out? Will he be over? Can they ever get him over and keep him there? We’ll find out in the weeks to come. Next week is just as important as this week in my opinion.

Bump of the Night: Rusev powerbombed through the table!
Match of the Night: AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho ** 1/4

Final Rating: *** 1/2

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.