Tuesday, January 5, 2016

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - January 4th, 2016

First Raw of the year!

Stephanie McMahon enters the arena only to be interrupted by Roman Reigns' music mid entrance as the WWE Champion strolls down through the crowd. He comes face to face with Steph at the barricade and the two proceed to the ring. Roman calls out Vince, but Steph says he may as well get used to disappointment starting with the fact that Vince isn't at the arena yet. Reigns ends the segment with arguably his strongest and most well delivered line yet as he says that if there's any shenanigans, Steph will be picking up Vince from the hospital and not the jail house.

1) Kevin Owens vs. Neville
Rematch from last week and it rules. Dean Ambrose is on commentary to continue hyping his feud with Big Kev which is the best thing going in the E right now. Neville comes out firing on all cylinders. He looks amazing and even hits some new stuff we haven't seen before. A running flip into Owens into the barricade and a 450 splash off the apron to the floor, to be exact. Great hot flurries from Neville throughout the match and equally good control segment from Big Kev. In the end, a new version of the running cannonball into the corner followed by a pop up powerbomb gets KO the win. I love how every match Owens and Neville have is different than the other.

Match rating - ***

After the match, Owens starts kicking Neville again and Ambrose dives out onto him to break up the assault. The brawl escalates and Ambrose ends up elbow dropping Owens through the announce table as payback for last week. Nice visual with Ambrose grabbing Owens head and saying "if you want it, you know where to find it!" They face off for the IC title on Smackdown this week!

2) Titus O'Neil vs. Stardust

This was random and weird, but after all, I'd say it was in a good way. Titus got a nice little squash match which was a change of pace. It was fun to see him do his stuff and get a decent reaction considering I'm a fan although it was kind of dull because there's no reason to care about this match, whatsoever.

Match rating - **

3) Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch
Rematch from a few months ago where Charlotte questionably defeated Becky with help from her father in the form of a distraction. This was another solid encounter, better than the last one from what I remember, but still not a candle to their interactions in NXT. They built up some good drama as time went on and played off the finish of the last match which I really liked. Becky takes a page out of Charlotte's book with a roll up using the tights to win.

Match rating - **3/4

Charlotte snaps after the match and attacks Becky viciously. Flair cheers her on. I think this solidifies her heel turn? The crowd reacted pretty well to it, so hey, here we are.

4) Ryback vs. The Big Show
This is still branching off last week's MizTV where both men announced that they were entering the Royal Rumble. A brawl broke out and it led to a match between Show & Ryback where Show walked out. That leads us here and it doesn't last long before The Wyatt Family makes an appearance to attack Ryback. They destroy Ryback and Show. Woo hoo.

5) The Usos vs. Alberto Del Rio & Rusev
THIS. WAS. SO. GOOD. The Usos did their thing that they do. Worked good from underneath as the babyfaces in peril. They even did some super cool pre-match shoving which brought some heat to the match. Rusev was his usual uniquely great self with a number of moments that made me laugh & mark out at the same time including running up to the second rope and suplexing one of the Usos to the mat. Del Rio did his stiff, dick head schtick to perfection. It was an all around recipe for a great tag match. They built to the Uso hot tag and the finishing run was loads of fun. Del Rio wins with a beautiful double stomp with one of the Uso's hanging from the second rope.

Match rating - ***1/2

6) Dolph Ziggler vs. Heath Slater (w/ Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, & Bo Dallas)
What even. Ziggler cuts a pre-taped promo about 2016 being his year. It feels like we see that every year from WWE to give fans of the Zig man false hope about him being a main eventer. To top off false hope, Heath Slater gets a surprise victory here and follows it up with the best promo of 2016 so far. Slater, Axel, Rose, & Bo are now known as the social outcasts and it's so atrocious & corny that I love it.

Match rating - **1/4

7) The New Day vs. The Dudley Boys & Kalisto
New Day were cutting a promo when Chris Jericho interrupted them which made for a memorable moment. Y2J announces that he's entering the rumble and jaws with New Day for a bit. We go to commercial and come back to this six man tag. It turns out to be much better than I was anticipating. It kept a good pace the entire time and featured a number of awesome moments including Big E's splash on Kalisto on the ring apron and the triple team manuevers that Bubba, Devon, & Kalisto delivered. They may have went a tad long as the finish didn't come off as big as some of the other parts of the match, but this was still good stuff. New Day is victorious after pinning Devon.

Match rating - ***

8) Roman Reigns (c) vs. Sheamus - Special Ref: Mr. McMahon - WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Going into this with McMahon as the special referee, you knew there were going to be shenanigans so I didn't get a sour taste when they happened. Reigns & Sheamus do their thing for about 10 minutes before the time for the big moves starts and the bias becomes more & more clear. Vince fast counted for Sheamus and slow counts for Reigns. Reigns gets frustrated and punches Vince. He throws Sheamus over the announce table and out comes Stephanie to stop Reigns from continuing to assault her father. He pushes him into her and makes her tumble over the top rope into the ring. Reigns now sets up Vince for a spear when BROGUE KICK OUT OF NOWHERE! Stiff one too! Sheamus hits the ropes and nails a second brogue kick while going for the cover. Vince can't count because of his injury apparently so down runs another ref AND IT'S SCOTT ARMSTRONG! WHAT! HOLY CALLBACK! Armstrong is the same ref that screwed Daniel Bryan out of the title so many times and got fired for it so to see him back here over a year later was an epic moment. I'm glad the commentators made a big deal about it. He counts but Reigns kicks out at two. Reigns recovers and punches Sheamus AND Armstrong before nailing Sheamus with a spear. A third ref comes down to make the count. Reigns retains the title. Fun match with an awesome unexpected callback and a bunch of drama. Some of it clicked, some didn't, but the finish was fire as the crowd exploded for it. Solid start to the year, I'd say.

Match rating - ***1/4

Post match, Vince punches the third ref that made the three count before grabbing the mic to make a shocking announcement. Reigns will defend the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble IN the Royal Rumble match! That's a first and certainly adds a special piece of intrigue to things, I just hope it's not WWE's way of giving Reigns his proper Rumble moment as a way of also getting back at the fans who shat on it last year. I definitely can't wait to see what on earth goes down because this definitely shakes up the Road to WrestleMania. One versus all just took on a whole new meaning.

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