With the Royal Rumble this Sunday, Raw tonight should be filled with hype-building moments, storyline advancing, and enough action to keep you satiated until the Rumble. That may or may not be the case, but like a fitness coach, I’m here to power you through every last minute. The cold has set in and snowstorms are on the horizon, batten down the hatches and grab yourself a warm beverage, it’s Monday Night Raw time.
Roman Reigns opens the show and runs down the premise of the Royal Rumble just in case you weren’t aware. He’s also a tad bit mad that Lesnar F-5’d him and calls him out. He doesn’t get The Beast, he instead gets your dad who is wearing a blazer with no shirt underneath, and jeans. Cool dad Jericho says Reigns didn’t get Lesnar, he got something better, Y2J. Jericho says that he wants the top three contender’s of the winner of the Royal Rumble match on his Highlight Reel tonight. I have no goddamn clue what that means. The League of Nations come out and Sheamus claims that he’ll win the Rumble and bring the title back to where it belongs, he tries to banter Jericho but it doesn’t go too well. Jericho drops a line about Sheamus’ mohawk that gets minus a reaction. Jericho says ‘Alberto Del Rio’ is Spanish for jackass. Guys, we’re fifteen minutes into the show and I wanna give up. I want out. Rusev calls Jericho a stupid little Canadian which is probably the best line out of this entire segment. Reigns and Rusev banter each other and it looks like we got a match. Jericho makes the match and appoints himself the special guest referee. Who gave Jericho a microphone, let alone any of this power?
League of Nations is ringside so this match is full of distractions leading to a big move from Rusev. Cool Ref Dad Jericho awkwardly stands in the corner for half the match, and just kinda lets the League do whatever. Good work. The actual action in this match is solid enough, Reigns countering a lot of Rusev’s big moves with one of own, hitting the leaping clothesline as Rusev goes for a superkick. Rusev hits a high kick and goes for a cover but Jericho slow counts him. More distraction spots from the League and Jericho finally throws them out. Jericho screams at everyone to get out and does a fucking cartwheel for some reason. You’ll never be the god Charles Robinson, Jericho, please stop. After 3 minutes of Jericho antics, Reigns hits a superman punch and spear to Rusev to win the match. A decent match if you take away all of the nonsense.
Steph confronts Jericho backstage about making a match and reffing it, something he didn’t have the authority to do. Where were you 20 minutes ago Steph? Jericho drops more recycled jokes and Steph calls it ‘very original, just like all his material’. DAMN. Decimated.
Natalya is back! Accompanied by.. Paige for some reason. Brie hits the D-Bry kicks and Nattie collapses, playing possum and grabs Brie in a sharpshooter, who taps right out before Nattie even locks it in. That was abrupt. Good to see Nattie though.
Why is this still happening? This infinite Wyatts/Dudleys feud that just won’t die. I tried to muster an ounce of interest in this match but I couldn’t do it, and neither could the crowd apparently. Weak, desperate ‘We Want Tables’ chants break out but quickly fade away. This match is moving at about one mile an hour. Ryback gets in after long minutes of Wyatt domination and clears the ring. Bubba and D-Von get in and awkwardly call for the 3D trying to get some hype in the crowd going to no avail. Rowan stops them and Harper hits Bubba with the discus lariat for the win. Bray shouts gibberish about the Royal Rumble being the apocalypse. What a mess.
Each member of the Social Outcasts say they’re gonna be the winner of the Rumble, Axel still claiming he was never eliminated. Heath says he’ll start with Big Show. Heath runs around the ring and ducks Show but gets KO’d and pinned for the three. The others also receive a KO punch each, and Big Show poses for a selfie with a fan at ringside. Incredible.
Vince and Steph are out here to reveal the #1 entrant in the Rumble. Vince and Steph tease a bunch of names even saying the winner could be someone who has never been in a Rumble (hint hint) but finally spin the tumbler. Vince tries to open the ball but cannot do it, so hands it to Steph who reveals it to be.. Roman Reigns! They pick another just to make sure it’s fair and Vince cannot open any of the balls. It’s so awkward, trying to make a point that they’re obviously rigged it just makes it look like Vince is a frail old man. It’s all very odd. Anyway, the point is Reigns is the #1 entrant which I mean, who didn’t see that coming?
Team BAD are sadly without Sasha Banks, but have a new theme which is all kinds of weird. Tamina works over Becky, using her power advantage to control the match. Becky comebacks with some fierce strikes and running leg drops. Becky rolls through into a Disarmher in an awesome spot to force her to tap. Becky cuts a great promo, saying that it’d be her dream to win the divas title but first, Charlotte has to accept her challenge. Charlotte says she’s not gonna give away a free title shot because people are chanting for her. Becky says Charlotte has been using her father to help her win, and calls them both cowards. Ric snaps out of his drunken haze when he realizes that he’s being shaded, and makes the match for Charlotte. It’s official, Charlotte defends against Becky at the Rumble, much to her dismay.
We must live in some dystopian future and there was a complete wipe of what happened last week, cause I could have sworn Kalisto won the US title last week and we were all celebrating a bright future. That’d be a better explanation, to be honest, but no, Del Rio won it back not even 24 hours later on Smackdown. Owens is on commentary which is more or less the best part of this whole match. It’s a solid enough tag match, not much different than we’ve already seen between these guys. Ambrose’s stale offense continues to stay the same. Kalisto and Sheamus’ had a good back and forth, Kalisto ducking a Brogue and catching Sheamus with the Salida del Sol but Del Rio kicks Kalisto in the head to break the pin combo. Sheamus catches Kalisto with a Brogue to win the match. A fun match with a foreboding ending. I can’t imagine a bright future if Kalisto doesn’t win the rubber match on Sunday.
Earlier today, New Day are shown at the funeral for Francesca the trombone. Big E leads the eulogy and Xavier is in tears, not being able to say goodbye has hurt him so deeply. Big E says Francesca is in Xavier’s heart, because of the POWER of positivity. Xavier says she’d want her champion to avenge her, she’d want Big E to avenge her against Jey Uso. This is the best segment of the show by far.
This match was Big E nearly killing himself to bump for Jey. Solid enough but way too long for what it was. Kofi and Xavier provided distractions for Big E to destroy Jey, and E nearly died flying outta the ring when Jey avoided the suicide spear. Big E picked up the win with the Big Ending. Backstage, Mark Henry, Titus O’Neil and R-Truth are talking about keeping the dream alive and Neville suddenly appears. R-Truth says that Neville be dreaming too. Something is next and I’m not sure what but this segment was the weirdest shit I’ve seen all night.
I’m still not sure what this match is. I have no idea what’s happening here. You could hear a pin drop in this arena. Watching Neville against Breeze in a dead silent, meaningless multi-man match is depressing, just absolutely depressing. Titus attempts to toss Breeze into the arms of Henry and Breeze soars over Mark as he grasps at air and Breeze lands hard. What a horrifying botch. Henry picks him up and World’s Strongest Slams him, and Neville finishes him with a Red Arrow. I got nothin’ for this. Absolutely nothing.
To close out this absolutely stellar show, Jericho is back, now wearing just a vest. Thankfully, Paul Heyman interrupts Jericho’s opening bit and Jericho in an almost depressing tone tells Heyman to please shut the hell up. Heyman says Brock Lesnar is here tonight. Jericho says that just last week, Heyman was trying to advocate for Lesnar not to be in the rumble, and asks Heyman if he doesn’t like Brock’s chances. Heyman kills it on the mic as usual, talking about Lesnar’s drawing power, saying that you subscribe to see Lesnar destroy people, and it’ll be the same when Lesnar turns the Royal Rumble into suplex city. Heyman is the best at hyping up an event, I don’t think anyone comes close in that regard. Jericho asks what if it comes down to just him and Lesnar, and he throws Lesnar over the ropes? The Beastgod Lesnar doesn’t take kindly to these theories, and makes his entrance, stalking Jericho before getting in the ring. Reigns also comes out to an absolute zero reaction. Lesnar gets in to a spear from Reigns but the League of Nations puts a stop to him. The Wyatts come out and decimate everyone, ending with Bray hitting Sister Abigail on Brock to end the show.
That was certainly a different ending but at what cost? Lesnar is not a guy who should be in that beatdown spot when you’re trying to build him as the end-all unstoppable force at the Rumble. You just killed a lot of the hype behind him if you just kinda say “well, Brock is a chump when it comes to the numbers!”. The massive push for Bray is cool but it’s something we’ve seen that leads to a big pile of nothing for him at the end of it all. Strange booking to end a very strange Raw.
This show was a mess. A boring, uninteresting mess full of awkward spots and a crowd that was nearly dead silent for the entire show. This is not what you should be delivering before one of your biggest shows. This was awful with nothing that you’d really remember, nothing you should go out of your way to see except maybe the ending. In any case, the Royal Rumble is this Sunday and you know we have all the coverage with predictions, reviews, reaction podcasts, everything you need. Keep it locked into Wrestling With Words, and as always, thanks for reading.