11/23/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Roman Reigns def. Rusev by DQ
The Authority opened Raw by bringing Sheamus to the ring and congratulating him for his successful Money in the Bank cash-in. Sheamus gloated that the new Roman Empire lasted “only five minutes and fifteen seconds.” Reigns confronted the new Authority grouping and was ready to attack Sheamus and HHH. Instead, Rusev appeared from behind and superkicked Reigns, setting him up for a Brogue Kick from Sheamus.
That confrontation set up a match between Reigns and Rusev in the main event slot. The two big men attacked each other with power moves and tried to wear one another down. Rusev got the advantage when Sheamus clocked Reigns while the referee’s back was turned. Rusev continued to work on the neck and back to set Reigns up for the Accolade. Just as Reigns started to mount a comeback, Sheamus tripped him coming off the ropes. The referee ejected him, leaving only Reigns and Rusev in the ring.
Rusev continued his assault with a spinning heel kick for a two count. He went to the top rope and delivered a flying headbutt for another near fall. Reigns sprung up from the beating with a Superman Punch for a two count on his own. He prepared a spear and Rusev rolled out to the floor. Reigns tried to follow him to the floor and Rusev met him with a superkick. The brawl continued outside and Reigns hit a second Superman Punch to knock Rusev off of the apron. He followed it with a drive-by kick. As Reigns stood over Rusev, King Barrett appeared and hit a Bullhammer on Reigns.
Charlotte and Paige Wrestled to a Double Count-Out, Charlotte Remains Divas Champion
After the first Divas match, Paige interrupted the announcers with an angry argument that Charlotte cheated to beat her. She showed footage of Charlotte’s arm under the bottom rope during the Figure Eight. It was reminiscent of Bobby Heenan saying that Andre the Giant had Hulk Hogan pinned early in the match at Wrestlemania III. It seemed odd that Paige lost cleanly at Survivor Series. The rivalry with Charlotte was on the right track, so finding a way to reinvigorate that feud is a good move.
Paige did not have to wait long to get her rematch. They faced off later in the night and Charlotte picked up where she left off. She put Charlotte in an armbar and got Paige on the run. Charlotte stayed in control until Paige yanked her off the top rope, smashing Charlotte’s head into the turnbuckle. She put Charlotte in a crossface and held her there until Charlotte reached the ropes. She continued to wear Charlotte down with aggressive, heelish offense that reinforced how dangers she is. Charlotte kicked out after a superkick, but Paige kept coming. She transitioned from a calf killer to a chinlock.
It looked like Charlotte was on the track to a comeback, but when she went for a comeback, Paige did the same and they both went down. Charlotte gathered enough energy to spear Paige off of the apron and to the floor, albeit very sloppily. Paige held Charlotte outside so she couldn’t beat the count and the match ended in a double count-out. Paige hurled Charlotte into the ring steps and put her in the PTO atop the announce table.
While I will always maintain that submission moves on the table are pointless, I enjoyed this match and the finish. Paige looked extremely impressive and managed to maintain her heelish character in doing so. The finish not only kept their rivalry alive- it took it to another level. We have already moved beyond the idea that women in wrestling need to be treated with kid gloves; the next step will be to allow them to work a gimmick match at TLC. Reigns retrieved a chair and took out his frustration on all three new Authority members.
I love the idea of Sheamus, Rusev, and Barrett all aligning themselves with The Authority. While Sheamus is probably the least interesting of the three as the Champion, it’s fun to see some different faces in key roles. WWE seems to have chosen quantity over quality to replace Seth Rollins, but it’s a good way to create some intrigue at the top of the card. Also, the question of whether keeping Reigns in pursuit would help his popularity seemed to be answered in the affirmative, at least in this early stage.
New Day Faces a Quartet of Challengers
New Day came to the ring with stick horses (stick unicorns?) and a new unicorn-style hairdo for Kofi Kingston. They slandered country music to the dismay of the Nashville crowd, with Kingston going so far as to say, “this isn’t my character saying it, it’s me, country music sucks!” They issued an open challenge for the Tag Team Titles, which the Lucha Dragons answered, even speaking through their masks to accept the challenge. The Usos joined the teams in the ring and tried to turn the challenge into a triple threat. New Day complained that the challengers ruined their jamboree and cancelled the open challenge.
The obvious conclusion to draw is that the three teams are slated for a tag team TLC match at the aptly named PPV. The Dudleys might be the obvious choice for that kind of match, but jumping off of ladders is a young man’s game. I would enjoy seeing these three teams in the gimmick match. I have especially enjoyed the Lucha Dragons last week and I like that they were able to speak this week. They will have to be able to express themselves if they want to take another step forward.
Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler def. Kevin Owens and Tyler Breeze
Owens wanted no part of the budding rivalry with Ambrose, tagging himself out as soon as Ambrose got into the match. Instead, he took it to Ziggler and yelled, “cutoff t-shirts are my thing, damnit!” When Ziggler reached Ambrose for a hot tag, Owens tagged out again and Ambrose abused Breeze. When Breeze tried the Unprettier, Ambrose countered with Dirty Deeds to pick up the win. I think that most fans are very excited about the possibility of an Owens-Ambrose rivalry, so teasing it without giving it away is a clever way to whet the appetite.
Wyatt Family def. Dudley Boys
The Wyatts needed to get some heat back after their loss to the Brothers of Destruction and the Dudleys were the sacrificial lambs. The Dudleys managed a double-team neckbreaker early and set up for the 3D on Luke Harper, but Bray Wyatt pulled him out of the ring. A Bubba Dudley side slam went nowhere because Erick Rowan jumped on the apron and distracted him. Harper recovered with a discus clothesline to get the pin. The Wyatts all got in the ring and destroyed the Dudleys. This match was just the start of rebuilding the Wyatts, particularly if there are long term plans to reengage Wyatt with the Undertaker. Using the numbers in support is a good way to help work toward that end.
Sasha Banks def. Becky Lynch
After some early dominance by Sasha, Becky managed to lock her in the Disarmer. Team BAD played in her favor as Tamina distracted the referee and Naomi pulled Sasha under the bottom rope. The distraction continued and allowed Sasha to roll Becky up for a three count. Perhaps this is the start of a gradual build for Sasha toward the top of the Divas division.
Neville def. Mark Henry
With Miz watching the man he eliminated at Survivor Series, Henry threw Neville around like a ragdoll early in the match. He lifted Neville for the World’s Strongest Slam, but Neville squirmed free. He hit a big kick to stun Henry and a Red Arrow to get a three count by a very thin margin. Henry cornered Neville after the match. Instead of an attack, he offered a handshake. I still think Neville has very high-end potential. The recipe for success will be to give him more substantial matches where he can showcase his tremendous wrestling ability.