1/12/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Roman Reigns Faces “All”
A week after Roman Reigns left Vince McMahon tucking his tail and running, the Chairman was back in good spirits at the start of Raw. He and Stephanie McMahon swaggered to the ring with most of the WWE roster on the entrance ramp. They gloated over the fact that Reigns would have to defend his WWE Title against 29 other wrestlers in the Royal Rumble. Eventually, Reigns joined them in the ring and questioned what would happen if he won. They answered his hypothetical with a concrete suggestion- he would have a “one vs. all match” in the main event of Raw.
If that stipulation sounds confusing on paper, it was even more confusing on Raw. Reigns essentially just wrestled Kevin Owens while most of the heels on the WWE roster stood on the floor in one corner. Owens wore Reigns down by alternating high impact moves with wearing Reigns down via chinlock. Eventually, several of the other wrestlers started to involve themselves. Reigns powerbobmed and speared Tyler Breeze and knocked the Cosmic Wasteland off of the apron. Vince responded and sent New Day, Del Rio, Sheamus, and Owens after Reigns and they took turns battering him.
The beating continued until Brock Lesnar’s music hit. Lesnar had not appeared all night, but Paul Heyman had argued with Vince and Stephanie about whether Lesnar would participate in the Royal Rumble or go straight to the main event of Wrestlemania to face the winner. Lesnar cleaned house and eliminated ever one of the aforementioned heels. He did not stop with the heels, though, and lifted Reigns for an F5 to end the show and assert his dominance.
What did the main event mean for Reigns and the main event picture? Not much. Michael Cole declared that the attack must mean that Lesnar will participate in the Rumble, though that was not clear to me from his actions. In any case, the likelihood is that Lesnar will participate in the Rumble and his Wrestlemania rivalry will grow out of that outcome. For now, Raw felt like it revolved around the idea that Lesnar was in the building. It would have been better if Lesnar was in the building AND something meaningful happened.
Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio to Become US Champion
Before his title shot, Kalisto gave a backstage interview in which he said that Del Rio is a poor champion compared to Eddie Guerrero because Guerrero defended it rather than running from fights. Del Rio looked good early in the match with very aggressive offense. He caught an attempted huricanrana and hit a sit-down powerbomb. He went on to block a suicide dive by hurling Kalisto into the barricade.
Kalisto finally put a rally together when he countered a backbreaker into a DDT for a two count. He ducked Del Rio’s stomp and answered with a hurricanrana for another near fall. Del Rio lifted him for a German Suplex, but Kalisto rolled it into a modified victory roll to get the pin and the very surprising championship victory.
After their disaster of a match in the Survivor Series tournament, it was great to see Kalisto and Del Rio put together such a fun match. WWE has lamented its lack of Latin American stars, so it’s a smart move to see if Kalisto can establish himself given this opportunity. His SDS in the TLC Ladder Match was a breakthrough for Kalisto, but he has connected with fans for a long time. Although his size is an issue, he has the speed and athleticism to make him a believable competitor nonetheless.
Dean Ambrose and Sheamus Wrestled to a Double Count-Out
With most of the roster on the entrance ramp at the start of the show, Sheamus jumped Ambrose from behind to announce their upcoming match. They went back and forth in a hard-hitting match that was fun to watch. Ambrose continued his recent run of tuning up his offensive assault and showing more intensity. They brawled outside the ring and both got counted out when Ambrose busted Sheamus open on the ring steps. He set up the announce table for use as a weapon and Kevin Owens ran in to interrupt him. Owens laid Ambrose out once again and stood over him gloating.
In the following segment, Rene Young interviewed Ambrose while he prematurely left the trainer’s room. He said that the only physical condition that matters is his pulse, and as long as he has that, Owens is in trouble. I am loving the way the Owens-Ambrose feud is developing. Owens is getting real heat with his frequent attacks, and Ambrose is maintaining his babyface fire without losing his edge.
The Usos def. New Day
New Day started out as guests on Chris Jericho’s highlight reel. They shamed him for the way he treated them a week before and the Usos quickly interrupted. Jericho suggested a tag match with Xavier Woods in his team’s corner and himself in the Usos’ corner. New Day dominated the match and Big E nailed a beautiful splash on the apron. At the same time, Woods played the trombone around the outside of the ring until he got near Jericho, who scared him into retreating.
Jey Uso finally got the tag from his brother and launched a comeback. He hit a plancha to the floor on both members of New Day. Back in the ring, a distraction from Woods allowed Kofi Kingston to prevent a Superfly Splash. Jericho stole Woods’s trombone and smashed it over his knee, which sent Woods into a tantrum. The distraction led to a roll-up pin on Kingston and an upset win for the Usos. Most of the match was fairly vanilla, but the trombone shenanigans made it all worthwhile.
Sting to the WWE HOF
WWE announced that Sting will be the first inductee in this year’s WWE HOF class. It was clear from the moment he debuted in WWE that he would have a short run in the ring and would eventually go into the HOF. It was a business proposition that made sense for both sides. Sting is undoubtedly a worthy Hall of Famer and can be the headliner of the class.