RAW Ramblings – December 14th 2015.
Wells Fargo Centre: Philadelphia, PA.
Well, they finally pulled the trigger. After nearly 12 months of fighting fan backlash and not having a clue how the guy should actually be booked, Roman Reigns was crowned the WWE World Champion and cemented as the #1 babyface when he beat Sheamus for the title on a very noteworthy and strong episode of RAW. In comparison to other historic coronations, Hogan beating Sheik in 1983, Austin downing Michaels at WrestleMania 14, even Cena winning the title from JBL in 2005, CM Punk at Money in the Bank 2011 and WrestleMania XXX with Daniel Bryan, Reigns‘ big moment didn’t feel nearly as monumental as any of them. It wasn’t for a lack of trying however, as they did the absolute best job they could have done all things considered and somehow managed to get the fans who ruined the 2015 Royal Rumble in the same building to accept Roman Reigns as the top star. The annihilation of HHH at TLC and the Steve Austin booking on this show seem to have done the trick as the fans in Boston and Philadelphia, two notoriously hard North-East cities, finally accepted Roman Reigns as the guy.
The whole show was built around the fallout from Reigns destroying HHH the night before and the opening segment consisted of Stephanie calling out Reigns, emasculating him like she does to everybody and slapping him 8 times. Steph slapped the poor guy so hard that his face welted up and his eyes started to water, plus she actually called Reigns a “failure” and a “disgrace,” so they were pretty much telling you right away that he was winning the title. Steph said she wouldn’t fire Reigns because HHH told her not to but she knew someone who would and that was Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Stephanie castrating men really is getting old and unlike her 70 year-old father, she can never get her comeuppance because the men can’t touch her and there are no women even close to being a big enough star to actually come out on top of a program with her. Vince showed up in his limo and came out at 8:50pm during a Bo Dallas/R-Truth match and kicked the two super geeks out of the ring. Vince said Reigns was going to be in the presence of “God Almighty” then took a seat at ringside while they went to break, to make Reigns “sweat”.
They came back at the top of the second hour and Vince called out Reigns, who he demanded get down on his knees to apologise for what he did to HHH. Reigns refused and called Vince old, so Vince took of his jacket like he was ready to fight. Sheamus interrupted and for some reason said he would put the title on the line against Reigns; the best they could come up with was that Sheamus wanted to defend the title on behalf of the McMahon family Irish coat of arms. Vince said no at first, but Reigns insulted his testicles, which seems to be his new gimmick, and Vince agreed but added the stipulation that Roman would be fired if he lost then Vince kicked him in the balls, so that was another huge sign that he was winning the belt. Vince was shown talking to Sheamus, Del Rio & Rusev in the back before the WWE World title match. Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns for the title started at 10:52 and went 17 minutes. In either a total oversight or a way to tell viewers to stick around to see a title change, they announced before the match that Reigns would be on ESPN with Coachman on Tuesday. It was just an average TV match that the fans didn’t care about until Reigns, who got busted open hardway which added to everything, hit the spear and Vince pulled the referee out. Rusev & Alberto Del Rio tried to interfere but Reigns fought them off then he gave 70 year-old Vince McMahon a Superman punch and Vince crumpled on the apron. Sheamus hit the Brogue kick for a great near-fall and the pace went nuts because they realised that they were about to witness a title change. Reigns avoided a second Brouge kick and hit the spear to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion; the fans went crazy and Cole hyped that the Roman Empire had overcome the McMahon Empire. – Apart from the opening segment, which was completely unnecessary, everything was pretty much perfect with the way they booked this. Sure it was obvious from the very start of the show that Reigns was winning the title, but that’s why it worked, because it all made sense. It will be interesting how Reigns is booked from here; at first they tried to make him into John Cena then when that didn’t work their genius idea was to book him like Daniel Bryan. Now the plan seems to be to make Reigns in to Steve Austin, the badass who doesn’t take any crap from his bosses, and for two shows at least it seems to have worked.
There were a couple of other good segments on the show: New IC champ Dean Ambrose wrestled Dolph Ziggler to a no-contest at 12:25 when Kevin Owens hit the ring and attacked both men. Owens gave both men Pop-up Powerbombs and posed with the IC title. Later, he cut a promo in the back and said he wouldn’t stop until Ambrose was in an “institution.” – Match wasn’t much but the angle afterwards made Owens look strong and made the IC title seem somewhat important. The Wyatt Family beat the Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer & Rhyno in an extreme rules match. It went 15:45 and was all kinds of wild fun; they hit each other with a millions weapons, brawled through the crowd, went through tables etc. It was better than their match at TLC the night before. Finish saw Rowan hit a splash off the top through a table on Rhyno. The Philly crowd was into the big time and chanted “ECW” a lot. Dudleys, Dreamer & Rhyno cut a backstage promo before the match and they all talked about the great times they had in Philly while clips of them from ECW were spliced in. The funny thing is that literally none of the ECW clips they used were from shows in Philadelphia. It kind of felt like the end of the Team ECW stuff and it was a fitting way for Dreamer & Rhyno to go out in Philadelphia. – They were the only other segments that were any good, but if you add them to the Roman Reigns story it ended up being a pretty good show. Of course, for all the good, there was the usual WWE garbage littered throughout the rest of the show.
Leftover Junk: Alberto Del Rio & Rusev beat Rusev & Jack Swagger in 6:30 when Rusev pinned Swagger with a superkick; it accomplished nothing. That awful Rosebush segment aired for the third week and it was once again utterly detestable. Rose made fun of Becky Lynch & Charlotte for being geeks then said Tommy Dreamer was fat and bald. Neville downed Tyler Breeze in 4:55 with the Red Arrow. Miz was at ringside yelling directions at Neville; everyone involved here came off like such geeks. Later, in the back, Miz told Neville he was hanging around him so he could pick up his accent to try out for the new James Bond movie. New Day called out the Usos & the Lucha Dragons and they all put each other over like the Hardyz & Edge & Christian did after their ladder match at No Mercy 99. They were all selling from the night before and everyone shook hands then when the Usos & Dragons had left the ring, New Day said they were completely sincere but it was still all about them because they won the ladder match. Like complete sore losers, the Usos & Dragons got back in the ring and beat up New Day 4-on-3 and the fans booed these supposed babyfaces for acting like jerks. Becky Lynch & Charlotte beat Brie Bella & Alicia Fox when Ric Flair grabbed Alicia’s foot from the outside and Becky put her in her arm-bar. The deal was that Becky didn’t know that Ric helped her to win.
Clearly the plan is for Roman Reigns vs. HHH at either the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania. I would guess they would go for the Rumble, as HHH challenging for the WWE title at Mania would be beyond ludicrous since he would actually have to compete in, and win, the Rumble match. There is the problem of Sheamus needing his rematch, but I would not run with that for another month until the Rumble and potentially kill all the momentum Reigns has got. The original plan for WrestleMania before all the plans got scrapped was John Cena vs. Reigns in a passing of the torch match and I suppose they could still go with that. If not, they could turn Dean Ambrose heel, although that seems highly unlikely now he is the IC champion. A rematch with Brock Lesnar is also another option and if it isn’t Lesnar/Reigns then who do they have for Brock at Mania? Certainly not Undertaker, Cena or HHH, so there aren’t as many options for Lesnar if he isn’t in the title match.