WWE’s first pay-per-view event of the year is traditionally one of its most exciting. How did they use the last three hours of live TV before heading into the Royal Rumble? We’ll find out, next!
Beginning Segment, Roman Reigns vs. Rusev
Are WWE writers so lazy that we have to seriously have the same opening almost every single week? WWE continues to try to push Reigns as a charismatic dude. It’s not working — he works best as a badass, and there’s only room on the roster for one John Cena. Chris Jericho made the opening segment and match more entertaining, and honestly, he saved it from being a snoozefest.
It’s really becoming hard to back Reigns when WWE keeps exposing his weak spots.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
Natalya’s affiliation with Paige was explained away with a “Total Divas” clip. That should pretty much tell you everything you need to know about this match. Lazy storytelling, shallow wrestling, wasted talent.
The Dudley Boyz and Ryback vs. The Wyatt Family
The Dudleys (Dudleyz?) and Ryback have history with The Wyatts, which means this pairing makes sense on some level, but I can’t help feeling bad for Bubba and D-Von. The Attitude Era icons came back to capture the tag team titles for one last run, but The New Day’s undeniable popularity has denied The Dudleyz the gold. Now they’re relegated to the losing end of a feud with The Wyatt Family, and lose they did when Harper and Rowan reversed a Dudley Death Drop into a Wyatt victory.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
The Big Show vs. Heath Slater
Heath Slater and his band of likable schmucks probably thought being grouped together was a good thing; at the very least, some interesting tag team matches had to be in their immediate futures. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Slater became the latest superstar to job to The Big Show, which is a way to remind fans how dangerous Big Show is going into the Rumble. For the last two years, WWE has cleared the Royal Rumble ring of every fan favorite with a late Big Show entry before an unpopular finish, and his booking on RAW has us seeing it coming again from a mile away.
Winner: Big Show
Tamina Snuka vs. Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch is picking up steam (get it?) on WWE’s main roster, and her match with Tamina made both wrestlers look deserving of more ring time. After the match, Lynch’s excellent program with Divas Champion, Charlotte, continued when the Lass Kicker requested a title match at Royal Rumble. Charlotte wasn’t receptive to the idea, but after Lynch insulted The Nature Boy’s parenting ability, the 16-time world champion was more than happy to volunteer his daughter for the match.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Dean Ambrose and Kalisto vs. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio
The bad guys (unless you like Sheamus and Del Rio) controlled things early by isolating Kalisto. The match picked up considerably when the luchador finally got a hot tag, but after Kevin Owens interfered and took Ambrose out of the equation, Sheamus and Del Rio picked Kalisto apart to get the W.
Winners: Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio
Big E vs. Jey Uso
Surprisingly, this was a fairly decent match. Big E has the potential to be a solid singles worker, and it wasn’t too long ago he was Intercontinental Champion. Especially the way he takes some of those bigger bumps and falls, he does it with grace for a big man.
Jey Uso had some good spots of offense, and this was a fairly decent back-and-forth match. Too bad we don’t see more of them.
Winner: Big E
R-Truth, Mark Henry, Titus O’Neil and Neville vs. Stardust, The Ascension and Tyler Breeze
This was WWE’s way of saying “we need to get more people on television, so let’s throw a match together.” I have to give these guys credit, because they had to have known that much as well. The crowd was absolutely dead for this match, because it meant nothing.
It’s also ironic that Neville, who won a Slammy for WWE’s Breakout Star of 2015, is included in this batch of guys.
This is how you close RAW before a increasingly-predictable Royal Rumble — mix it up.
They made Reigns look strong by taking it to Lesnar, but also made Lesnar look like the true Beast Incarnate after he demolished the League of Nations. Reigns hit him with a second spear, when the Wyatt Family appeared and took out all of them.
The end of the show finally saw Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family standing tall. Over Roman Reigns. Over Brock Lesnar.
If WWE were smart, it would push the entire Wyatt Family to the moon. I’ve been a fan since they made their debut, and I will give RAW a passing grade just from the ending alone.
Gene Reacts: I have faith in Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens, so I’m excited for the Rumble’s other matches. As for the titular match? I don’t have faith in WWE’s booking. I’ll be watching with cautious optimism, but as far as predictions go, I expect Roman Reigns to overcome the odds. The odds never go over.
Travis Reacts: WWE gave a pretty humdrum go home RAW before one of their Big 4 PPVs. They saved the ending by pulling a swerve of sorts by making Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar look vulnerable, while making the Wyatt Family look as dangerous as ever. My money is on a swerve at the Royal Rumble, and I think that Triple H is going to screw Reigns out of the match and walk out with the World Heavyweight Championship. That, or Daniel Bryan is going to return.