I’ve decided to try and actively watch things more instead of having my phone out or playing Pokemon Shuffle. I figured a good way to do that is to have my laptop open and write about what I’m watching. We’ll see how it goes. I think this would make a good addition to the MBWS site since the podcast is in a holding pattern. I’m working on re-launching that but it might take some time. Benson is a busy guy these days and I still have doubts about having a show where it’s just two dudes talking about wrestling since there are a ton of those shows. Talking to the wrestlers at MWE was something that separated us and without it the show just felt lacking. Our awesome listeners have responded otherwise so if you guys want it, I’ll do my best to give you something worthwhile. Until then, let’s watch RAW!
We start with a recap of Roman and Steph from last week. I know why they have to do these constant recaps but it still kind of drives me crazy. Man, it is still nuts to see how ripped Vince still is. I don’t know a lot about bodybuilding, but that can’t be natural, can it? But then again, the guy has been hitting the weights his entire life and that probably can do a lot for you. I have no idea.
So whoever wins the Royal Rumble will be the champion. The only other time the title has been at stake in the Rumble it was vacant so this is a first. It looks like a huge chunk of the Rumble entrants are on stage as Vince and Steph come out to hype up the Rumble. I am so disappointed that Sandow is just back to his old gimmick. They really blew that whole opportunity. The Wyatts interrupt. He continues with the “Anyone but you, Roman” rhetoric. I can dig it. Vince teases Brock but then Roman interrupts to what sounds like a decent pop. Vince announces a One Vs. All match pitting Roman against an untold amount of opponents. Stardust is rocking Bowie face paint and it’s awesome. Sheamus attacks Ambrose to start the first match of the evening.
Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose
Sheamus is just kind of there for me. I don’t particularly dislike him or like him. I like the mohawk and beard, unlike most people. I think it makes gives him some much needed personality and solidifies his image. Like it or not, he’s the top heel right now and he’s doing the best he can. Hopefully Owens can rise to that top heel spot soon because he’s a million times better than Sheamus. Good brawling between Sheamus and Ambrose. Those announce tables seem to be getting more and more solid as it showed no give whatsoever when Sheamus slammed Ambrose on to it. Ambrose’s forearms are looking a lot better lately. Sometimes it looks like they don’t even connect. Some good near falls making this a pretty exciting match. Ambrose counters White Noise with his rebound clothesline, knocking Sheamus out of the ring. This leads to more brawling which is what these guys are good at. They end up getting counted out and Sheamus is busted open. That’s not something you see every day on RAW. Ambrose teases slamming Sheamus onto the announce table but is attacked by Owens. These guys have been doing a great job building this feud. Owens manages to get past all the refs to put the boots to Ambrose. He finally heads to the back and does it in the usual great Owens way.
We get a tease for tonight’s Highlight Reel with Jericho and The New Day. This should be great. We also get a shot of Bourbon Street as we are in New Orleans tonight. Crazy it’s been almost 2 years since I was there for WrestleMania 30. Rene interviews Ambrose and Ambrose assures us he’s still alive and ready to take on Owens. Ambrose is always great on the mic. Steph and Vince run into Paul Heyman backstage. Heyman always does a great job selling whatever needs to be sold, hyping up tonight’s One Vs. All Match and of course his client, Brock Lesnar. Heyman tries to sell Lesnar as the challenger to the title at WrestleMania. Vince doesn’t like it.
Stardust vs. Titus O’Neil
Stardust’s Bowie homage is great. Drew Brees is in the house with his Cena fan sons. Poor kids. Stardust is one of my favorite wrestlers. O’ Neil has a lot of upside and charisma. I think these guys work well together. They go back and forth with Stardust showing a necessary aggressive side against Titus.The whole back of Titus’ head is covered in silver paint after a Stardust sleeper hold. Pretty funny. Stardust gets a nearfall after a well executed counter but then walks into the Clash of the Titus after a miss off the top rope for the loss. He then attacks Titus after the bell from behind so it looks like this feud will continue. I think in the right circumstances Cody could finally rise to the top of the roster but it doesn’t seem like that is happening any time soon.
Highlight Reel with The New Day
Jericho is wearing some goofy scarf thing and no shirt under his glow jacket and vest. I guess it fits his rockstar persona. I loved Jericho’s segment with New Day last week so hopefully we’ll get more of that tonight. Jericho is going to be in the Rumble so that should be cool. Jericho comparing his return to Star Wars and Guns N’ Roses. As he is telling the crowd how he’s walking out of the Rumble champion, The New Day interrupts. Those Unicorn horns are silly but part of me wants one. These guys are so good on the mic and pairing them with Jericho just makes sense. Rooty Tooty Booty indeed. They are still hurt they didn’t win Tag Team of The Year Slammy. I don’t blame them. The Uso’s come out with their Slammys to taunt The New Day. Jericho proposes match between Kofi and Big E vs. The Usos and he’ll be in their corner.
The Usos vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston
The Usos are all right but I am a huge New Day fan both in and out of the ring. Usos are great in the ring but I feel like The New Day are more versatile. I can’t tell the Usos apart but one of them had a funny dance spot to antagonize Big E after smashing him in the corner. The crowd dug it. Kofi launches Jimmy off the top rope to the outside and here comes Xavier with the trombone. Jericho chases him off. Jimmy goes for the hot tag to Jay but Big E pulls Jay off the apron. Great teamwork from New Day, as always. More dancing from Jay as The Usos regain momentum and a dive to the outside followed by a good looking crossbody from the top turnbuckle. Big E regains control though and the straps are down. Jay counters the Big Ending with a Superkick but Big E manages to tag to Kofi who gets a Superkick as well. Xavier distracts the ref but Jericho is right there and smashes the trombone. This makes the second trombone casualty. Xavier is inconsolable over the loss and the Usos take advantage and win with a rollup on Kofi.
Michael Cole discusses Cena’s shoulder surgery and we see some pictures of the surgery. This is the worst possible time for Cena to be out but it is also exciting to see who is going to step up especially with the potential Bullet Club and Nakamura signings.
Steph has a heated discussion with Heyman. Heyman says Lesnar says no to competing in the Royal Rumble. Steph informs Heyman that Brock will compete or he will be fired. JBL is in the ring to announce Sting’s induction into the Hall of Fame. This is definitely deserved I am just a little sad that it likely means we won’t be seeing him in the ring again and that his recent neck injury is indeed career ending. I was hoping for one more Wrestlemania match but as any wrestling fan knows too well, you can’t always get what you want. Great video package highlighting his legendary career. For me Sting was WCW, the only reason I ever watched when I was a kid and the main reason I flipped back and forth during the Monday Night Wars.
The Wyatts vs. The Social Outcasts
While the Wyatts come down they hype a tables match between the Dudleys and The Wyatts on Smackdown on Thursday. It looks like they really are serious about elevating Smackdown. Last week’s show was great especially with the introduction of Mauro Ranallo on commentary. As Bray grabs the mic they are interrupted by the introduction of The Social Outcasts, my new favorite stable. They now have matching shirts with their names on them so that’s a good sign that this might be around for awhile. Strohman starts off getting the best of both Rose and Dallas, Axel comes in and has a little bit more luck but is then brought down by a fierce shoulder tackle. Bray tags in and before he gets to do anything Ryback comes out. He takes out the Wyatts with the assistance of The Social Outcasts. I guess this was all just to build the Ryback/Wyatts feud.
Next is a clip from Smackdown where Kalisto got a win over U.S. Champ Alberto Del Rio which earns him a title shot against ADR tonight. Sin Cara getting injured might be the best thing that’s ever happened for Kalisto as he can finally show his singles prowess that any follower of the Indies knows he has. He gives a good interview with Rene to show he is ready and game for tonight’s match.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto (U.S. Title Match)
Alberto taunts the crowd saying John Cena is not there tonight because of him. Heel ADR is great. I don’t understand the detractors. He has looked great since his return aside from that silly MexAmerica thing which quickly got dropped. Sad for Zeb though as I am a huge Zeb fan. Hopefully they’ll find something else for him to do. Kalisto does a pretty good job getting the crowd hyped up. Hopefully this will be a big match for him. They’re definitely giving it the Big Match treatment, which is good. Del Rio starts right in with some crisp, fierce offense. He tosses Kalisto to the outside and does a great job taunting the crowd. Kalisto finally manages to fight back and hits a senton on ADR followed by a great corkscrew attack off the ropes. ADR quickly gets control back with a punishing sit-out powerbomb. ADR shuts down another Kalisto comeback with a vicious clothesline. This has been the story throughout the match so far. Really well done. Kalisto gets an opening and goes for a dive to the outside but ADR sniffs it out and smashes him into the barricade. Brutal. Kalisto is still fighting back though and showing a lot of fire. ADR keeps shutting him down though. Kalisto hits a hurricanrana from top rope and finally mounts an offense. He hits another great looking corkscrew off the ropes and then a DDT for a nearfall. ADR is right back on offense though, going for his big kick but Kalisto counters for another near fall. ADR counters a Salina Del Sol attempt by tossing Kalisto into the ropes. He then puts Kalisto in the tree of woe and goes for his big stomp finish, which Kalisto ducks out of and hits him with a head scissors for another near fall and the crowd is really into this match now. Another Salina Del Sol counter but Kalisto manages to counter a Del Rio suplex into a pinfall. New U.S. Champion! I wasn’t expecting that and the crowd is digging it. This is huge for Kalisto. Great match.
We see highlights from last week’s match between Charlotte and Becky. I’m super happy this has turned into a real feud with a real story, something the Divas division desperately needs. JoJo interviews Charlotte and Ric Flair. Charlotte gives a good heel promo telling us she’s the best, that Becky is the real villain and she is the victim.
Brie Bella vs. Charlotte
I can never get tired of seeing Ric Flair strutting down that aisle. Never. Becky attacks Charlotte from out of nowhere as Charlotte does her splits entrance. This is great, building the feud. Becky has to be dragged out by the refs. Ric then says Charlotte is in no condition to wrestle tonight and it’s all Becky Lynch’s fault. Ric yells “What are you going to do about it fatboy?” to a guy at ringside. Still the best. No match occurred. JoJo interviews Becky backstage. Becky does a great job selling this rivalry, she feels betrayed. This is what Becky needs to get to that next level on the main roster.
Roman Reigns vs. Everybody
Vince and Stephanie come out to introduce the competitors which are basically all the heels on the roster. I don’t see Rusev though and Barrett is reportedly injured again. Kevin Owens starts off the match and the rest of the opponents are on the outside. Steph says Roman will battle all of these superstars until he can no longer move. Owens dominates early but Roman regains control and tosses Owens to the outside. Owens regains control after re-entering the ring and does a great job riling up the crowd. Stardust is sadly back to his normal face paint since most of his Bowie paint ended up on Titus’ head. Owens gets Roman in a chinlock and the crowd is firmly behind Reigns. Sheamus distracts Reigns and Owens hits him with a kick to knock him to the outside where he hits him with a senton. That always looks painful. Thankfully they showed what happened during the commercial as it turns out Owens hit a very impressive frog splash from the apron onto Reigns on the floor. Owens is one of the most agile guys on the roster, period. His weight is definitely not an issue and I think works in his favor. Beautiful Superkick from Owens results in another near fall. Reigns goes shoulder first into the steel post and Owens hits him with his cannon ball splash for yet another near fall. The crowd is chanting “Suplex City” as they clearly want Brock but I’m enjoying seeing Owens do his thing.
Roman starts building steam but Owens is holding his own. He goes for a Superman punch on Owens but the Ascension hop on the apron so he hits them with it. He then takes out Stardust and Tyler Breeze as well. Now all the heels are in the ring ganging up on Owens. The crowd is screaming for Brock. Del Rio hits him with his kick. Brogue Kick from Sheamus.
Brock’s music hits and the crowd goes nuts. New Day is in the ring to greet him and Brock takes them out. Suplex on Owens. He then takes out ADR. Sheamus gets the upper hand on him at first but then gets knocked to the ground. Suplexes on ADR and Sheamus. Brock stands tall in the ring over Roman, who he drags into the middle of the ring and then nails with the F5. His music hits as he exits the ring. He and Roman have a bit of a stare down to end the show.
Overall this was another solid RAW compared to some of the episodes we had to slog through in December. Some good matches with ADR vs. Kalisto definitely being the highlight but strong showings from Ambrose/Sheamus and New Day/Usos. I liked the fact that they gave the matches more time than it seems like they usually do. Hopefully this is a new trend. The closing segment did a good job building up the Royal Rumble match. Brock being in the Rumble makes it interesting and not as a sure thing as for Roman as some would think. Add to that the possibilities of AJ and NXT callups and hopefully we will have a much more exciting Rumble match this year.