RAW Ramblings – January 25th 2016
American Airlines Arena: Miami, FL.
There were a couple of decent segments on RAW but overall the show was mostly the same old drivel. They were hyping up big that the Road to WrestleMania had begun, however other than the Rock showing up and proving that he still has more charisma in his little toe than everyone else combined, nothing really felt that different at all.
Let’s get the interesting stuff out of the way first, because lord knows we’ve got the McMahon/Roman Reigns odyssey to get in to. AJ Styles made his WWE singles debut in a match against Chris Jericho and he did in fact win clean with a roll-up in 13:45. AJ & Jericho worked well together and had a perfectly decent TV match but if you were expecting a **** Styles match you might have been a little disappointed. Granted it has only been two shows, but WWE have, so far at least, done a very good job of making Styles feel like an actual star. His music and entrance come off as big-time and he hasn’t had to cut any 20 minute promos as of yet. They could have had him win some squashes to built to his first PPV program, however giving him a clean win over Jericho should instantly put the notion in the casual fans mind that this guy is a big deal and the announcers gushing over Styles should hammer that point home even further. Of course, being WWE, they had to get the, “Welcome to the big leagues, kid” line in at least four or five times. They had AJ appear in the back with Renee for a promo and it took him exactly two seconds to use the phrase, “WWE Universe.” Jericho quickly interrupted him and said Styles had won titles all round the world but he now had a chance to make an impression on RAW and this is where we got our first, “Welcome to the big leagues” line. The only negative was that AJ looked much smaller than Jericho, who presumably was wearing lifts in his boots, but that falls on the director of the segment, who could have tried a little harder to block out the scene so that AJ at least looked the same size as Jericho. AJ again teased the Styles Clash, and Michael Cole called the move, however AJ never actually hit it. You would think if WWE had banned the move then Styles wouldn’t even tease it, and Cole certainly wouldn’t mention it by name, so perhaps they are saving it for a big match which makes sense I guess. Afterwards AJ offered Jericho a handshake which he accepted, although Jericho pulled Styles in for a stare-down, so they left things open if they want to go back to Styles/Jericho as a major program at some point. There was another typical WWE move when it comes to AJ, during the opening segment with Vince & Stephanie. The fans chanted Styles‘ name and Vince looked at Steph and casually asked, “Who?”, which is probably exactly how the conversation with HHH went when Uncle Paul told Vince he was signing him.
The Rock was the big surprise return they advertised on Twitter a couple of hours before the show; I don’t mean to shock anyone, but Hollywood actor and #1 box office draw, Dwayne Johnson had charisma oozing out of his pours and was just in another universe compared to the rest of the chumps on the roster. There were of course some cringe-worthy comedy lines written by Rocky’s team of writers, but even if like myself you aren’t always a fan of Rock’s comedy, there was simply no denying that the man was still unbelievably great. They were doing the “who’s in the limo” teases throughout the first two hours and they swerved us on the pay-off, as Miz emerged from the limo and started to cut a promo. Suddenly, a black pick-up truck screeched into the back of the arena and the Rock appeared to a huge reaction. Thus began one of those long WWE-style single shot backstage scenes, kind of like when Vince was ribbed by DX or when Vince was walking to his death before his limo blew up. Rock was so incredibly happy to be at RAW and at times he almost went overboard with his enthusiastic delivery, so much so that it felt like he had just hit an eight ball of cocaine and washed it down with a bottle of Jack Daniels. The man was completely out of his mind and in full DGAF mode. He blew Miz off and told him to park his truck then he bumped into Rick Ross and his crew, who just apparently hangout backstage at RAW now. After exchanging pleasantries with Ross, Rocky continued walking and came across the Big Show, who was watching something on a laptop. Rock went into this big comedy spiel about how Big Show really won the 2000 Royal Rumble instead of him and that if the director of the Mummy Returns had found out then all of the success Rocky has had over the years could have been the Big Show’s instead. Show cried and snapped his laptop in half. Rock then spotted Lana and he recounted the time they apparently had sex in a hotel room and Lana played along like all of this was true. Seriously. Rusev showed up and Lana’s face dropped, but Rock still continued with his shtick. “We were just talking about you…Kinda” and “She’s flexible as all hell” were Rock’s big lines for this encounter. Rock also told everyone he met, “you alright”, which I guess is one of his new catchphrases. Rock continued his way towards the arena and started talking directly into the camera about how he was up at 3:45am and had spent 14 hours filming “Ballers.” He spotted Pat Patterson sitting in a chair and tried to give him a high-five, but poor old Pat wasn’t ready and blew the spot. Rock told everyone he was at the “famous” Gorilla Position and hyped up the crowd some more and he finally came out at the top of the third hour to a monster reaction.
Rock did his usual stuff, but the crowd got distracted by three fans, who were dressed as Hulk Hogan, Undertaker & Randy Savage, being moved to the opposite side of the hard camera, so they didn’t disturb the show anymore. Rock noted that he would get in trouble, but “this is where we go off-script” and he proceeded to interview the three fans about who they came as. The guy dressed as Hogan looked utterly smashed, and Rock said “the weed in Miami is good tonight.” After schmoozing with the cos-players, Rock went back to his shtick and was interrupted by the New Day, who were also pretty great in this segment. New Day said Rock called himself the “People’s Champion” but, unlike them, he had no gold around his waist then Xavier said Rock moved to Hollywood to get the hell out of Miami. Eventually, Rock challenged them to get in the ring but New Day refused and tried to walk out. Rock called out his family to help and the Usos showed up to put a whoopin’ on New Day. Rock gave Big E the Rock Bottom then after Xavier ate a double Superkick from the Usos, Rock gave him the People’s Elbow and everyone went crazy. Rock closed by saying he would see everyone at WrestleMania.- This entire segment easily over 20 minutes long, but it was so great. You know how Stephanie is always telling the fans to stop having fun? Well, this was the most fun I have seen the fans, and the performers themselves, have in quite some time at a RAW show. I suppose if your one of those “part-timer” whiners then you might have hated this, but I cannot see how anyone that has watched RAW consistently over the last two years could say this was a bad segment. It felt fresh, spontaneous, entertaining, exciting, fun; all things WWE TV has been sorely lacking for a long time.
I suppose we’d better look at the rest of the stuff on the show, none of which was fresh, spontaneous or fun. Vince & Stephanie opened the show and gave HHH the big conquering hero introduction. HHH blathered on about how he didn’t need to be champion but he wanted to be and said he would be champ until he says so. The point of the 18 minute bore-fest was that they were going to announce a #1 contenders Fast Lane main event to see who faces HHH at Mania. Main event was Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns over Sheamus & Rusev in a dreary 15:50 when Reigns pinned Sheamus with a spear. Afterwards, Reigns & Ambrose gave Rusev a Powerbomb through the announce table. Stephanie came out and booked Brock Lesnar vs. Ambrose vs. Reigns at Fast Lane to determine the #1 contender for Huntor at Mania. – So, let’s get this straight. The Authority and Vince don’t want Roman Reigns as champion, so they hire the League of Nations as their personal goon squad to screw with him. Vince, HHH & Steph conspired to make HHH #30 in the Rumble and screw Reigns out of the title. Reigns & Ambrose put Sheamus, one of the Authority’s minions, through a table and they are both rewarded with a #1 contenders match. This makes even less than zero sense. Opening segment was long and hideously boring, main event match was tedious and unexciting, and the booking was beyond nonsensical.
Other Occurrences: Kevin Owens beat Dolph Ziggler in 8:50, half of which we missed during a commerical break. The Social Outcasts came out for a promo and Heath Slater went after Flo Rida, who was in the crowd. Hey, continuity! It ended up with a rap battle between “Bo Rida” & Flo Rida, which, remarkably, Bo actually came out on the winning side of. Flo Rida barely remembered his lines and brought out the Dudleys for a match, which they won with a 3D on Axel in 4:35. Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch fought to a no-contest when Charlotte attacked them both 3 minutes into their match. Nothing was established, no character development, no explanation of what the dynamic is between each of the women. Charlotte just ran in and beat them up. – I’m begging someone on the Creative team to watch NXT. In the locker room, Goldust asked R-Truth to be his tag team partner but Truth though Goldie was coming onto him and told him he was a married man. Comedy! Bray Wyatt pinned Kane in 7:10 with Sister Abigail after a distraction from Harper. It sucked big time. They showed still shots of the Wyatts attacking Lesnar at the Rumble, but that was the extent of the build to Lesnar/Wyatt. Natalya & Paige beat Brie Bella & Alicia Fox. – Yawn. Kalisto pinned Miz at 9:55 in a non-title match. – Double yawn. The only thing they advertised for SmackDown was Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns on Jericho’s Highlight Reel. – ZzZzZzZzZ.