There are only two episodes of Raw left in 2016 and the last episode because Christmas, which is this Sunday. Here’s my WWE Roadblock End of the Line review in case you missed it.
Before I begin this week, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you may celebrate at this time of year. I’m going to take a writing break from like Wednesday to Sunday, but I’ll still work on some things.
Live from Columbus, Ohio this is the Raw Deal for episode #1230. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
The Raw intro video aired. It was followed by an impressive pyro display. Some weeks they don’t have pyro and other weeks they do.
The Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho were in. Owens welcomed us to the Chris and Kevin Show while noting that he put Chris’ name first. Owens said there is nothing he won’t do to keep the Universal Title…even taking a Codebreaker from his best friend.
There were stills from Roadblock that showed Jericho hitting Owens with a Codebreaker leading to the disqualification win for Owens. It didn’t show the part where Owens and Jericho were put through tables.
Owens said he admitted he had no idea what Jericho was going to do. Owens told Jericho his plan worked perfectly. Owens said that all that matters is that the Universal Title is right where it belongs with him.
Jericho talked about how he had to make everybody believe that he had animosity towards Owens. He told Owens now that they’re stronger than ever he’s going to give him the Hug of Jericho…bring it in maaaaaaan. They hugged. Jericho said now that Kevin and Chris are back together they are going to bring back payback and retribution like how Santa Claus hands out coal. Owens said you mean like Michael Cole? Not exactly. Jericho ripped on Santa Claus, he called him a stupid idiot and told him you know what happens when you steal Jericho’s gimmick Father Christmas…you know what happens…“Santa Claus – you just made the list!” The crowd cheered.
Here comes Raw General Manager Mick Foley. There were Christmas trees all around the stage. He walked down to the ring telling Jericho you can’t talk like that about Santa Claus. Foley showed stills on what happened after the match, which was what I mentioned earlier when Jericho and Owens were each put through tables.
Foley walked into the wrong. Jericho mocked the leather jacket Foley was wearing. Foley took off his coat to reveal a Christmas themed short and he’s wearing a fanny pack. Foley said the reason Rollins and Reigns aren’t there is because they were in a tag match later. Foley messed up saying Pittsburgh even though it’s Columbus. Jericho followed up saying Pittsburgh is better than Columbus to piss off the crowd. Way to cover for Mick's mistake.
Foley said that every single time Owens has to defend the Universal Title, Jericho finds a way to interfere. Foley called for a shark cage to be lowered into the ring. Foley announced that Owens will defend the Universal Title against Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble and Jericho will be in a shark cage above the ring during the match. Jericho bitched about it saying Foley can’t make him do it. Foley said that if Jericho doesn’t stand in the shark cage then he’ll never get to stand in a shark cage. Jericho mocked the cage saying it’s made in Ohio and it’s crappy. Foley actually put him in the cage and locked the door while Jericho was in it. Foley said he had the key in his fanny pack. Foley took out things from his fanny pack including a Dude Love wallet and a New Day shirt. He couldn’t find the key. He even had some teeth in a container. Foley admitted that he forgot the key while Jericho is locked in the cage. Foley said that Jericho is safe until he gives the signal at the Royal Rumble, which he did twice and Jericho went up in the cage. Jericho yelled at Foley to open the door. Foley said they’ll work on getting Jericho a key, but until then…have a nice day.
Analysis: It was the typical 15 minute promo that opens Raw nearly every week. Some funny lines from Jericho and Owens as they celebrated Owens keeping the Universal Title, but it was obvious that one of the faces was going to come out. Foley setting up the predictable tag match made a lot of sense. The shark cage stipulation is definitely unique and something we don’t see that often although they did it at the last NXT Takeover with Paul Ellering in a cage above the ring. I think it makes sense in this case because Jericho has interfered a lot, so keeping him out of the match works. Owens vs. Reigns at the Rumble likely means Reigns isn’t in the Rumble match itself, which is a surprise. It’s possible that Reigns ends up winning the Universal Title that night although I hope Owens finds a way to retain.
There was a shot of Jericho backstage getting oxygen, so apparently they found a key. He was overselling that he had a tough time breathing from being up in the air. Owens told them they had a tag match later as Jericho tried to catch his breath. Give that man an Emmy.
Later on Raw: Reigns & Rollins vs. Owens & Jericho.
Enzo & Cass made their entrance telling Rusev there’s only one word to describe him, but Rusev’s music hit before they could say it.
Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore)
This is a rematch from the awful countout match at Roadblock.
Cass nailed Rusev with some punches. Cass kept on punching Rusev in the corner. The ref tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t stop, so the ref called for the bell. The match went about one minute.
Winner by disqualification: Rusev
After the bell rang, Cass kept on punching Rusev. Eventually, the ref stopped Cass enough to let Rusev get away.
Analysis: No rating because it was barely a match. I guess it’s putting over the mean streak of Big Cass because the Royal Rumble is coming and WWE has to put him over as a big threat to win since he’s tall. This feud is so boring. It's trying to win a Johnny Award for worst feud of the year. There's still another week!
Up next is fallout to Charlotte vs. Banks.
PLUG TIME: My 8th annual WWE Johnny Awards column will be posted next Wed Dec 28. It’s my favorite column of the year. The archive of past awards are here. Like an annoying guy on Smackdown might say, get hyped bro. Sorry. I had to.
The former Women’s Champion Sasha Banks made her entrance. She had a brace on her left knee and used a crutch to help her get down to the ring. The announce team gave her a standing ovation. There were images shown from the Iron Man Match at Roadblock with Charlotte regaining the Raw Women’s Title again.
Analysis: Good to see somebody actually selling an injury from a night earlier. It doesn’t happen enough.
Banks said she literally gave her blood, sweat and tears in the Iron Man match. She said nearly breaking her leg broke her heart. She talked about how she’s made history with Charlotte over the last few months. She was sad as she said that she walked out with her Women’s Championship, but she admitted that the better woman won. Banks talked about how she doesn’t feel like The Boss anymore. Banks asked Charlotte to come out there to look her straight in her eyes and congratulate her.
Nia Jax made her entrance. I guess she’s out of hibernation after not being on television since Survivor Series. She’s not like most girls...just listen to the song.
Jax had the microphone to say she doesn’t know where Charlotte is and doesn’t care. Jax said that Banks will never be a boss to her. Jax told her that she’s weak, wounded and just a little girl. Jax kicked away the crutch. Jax tossed her across the ring so that Banks’ leg hit the rope. Jax teased an attack with a crutch, but she just left the ring instead.
Analysis: It was fine. Easy way to start a new rivalry and get heel heat for Jax by having her attack Banks when she’s selling a knee injury like that. It’s good to see Jax finally has a storyline after five months of the brand split where she did nothing.
Cedric Alexander was shown walking backstage with girlfriend Alicia Fox.
Sheamus and Cesaro were in the office with General Manager Mick Foley. It led to say Foley felt like a proud papa because he put them together. He admitted he sounded like a lunatic, but now Sheamus and Cesaro have reached their potential. Foley had an early Christmas present for them. They were the same logo expect with a red background. A referee showed up to get Foley due to an emergency.
Analysis: New titles look better than the old ones. The bronze titles have always looked weird to me, but at least they look better with a red background. The Smackdown tag team titles have a blue background, so it makes sense.
Braun Strowman was shown backstage looking angry. He shoved a couple of dudes against the wall. Strowman was yelling. Foley showed up. Strowman told Foley he wants to fight Sami Zayn again. Foley told him that Zayn already left. Strowman said he sees how it is and teased something more happening.
Analysis: Brauny the Strowman is angry.
The great Austin Aries from 205 Live showed up to join the commentary team for the next match.
There was a clip from two weeks earlier when Noam Dar beat Cedric Alexander and dedicated his win to Alicia Fox.
Cedric Alexander (w/Alicia Fox) vs. Noam Dar
Alexander with a headscissors followed by a dropkick that sent Dar out of the ring. Commercial less than one minute into the match.
Dar took control during the break. Dar missed a double foot stomp off the top and Alexander came back with a cartwheel into the jumping side kick. Alexander with a springboard clothesline. Lumbar Check by Alexander wins it after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cedric Alexander
Analysis: * Hard match to rate because it was only five minutes with just two minutes of action on the show. Do we really need commercials during five minute matches? Brutal. Time the commercial spots better.
After the show was over, Dar congratulated Alexander on the win. Dar said maybe they were even now, but Alexander still has what he wants – he told Fox that she was the real prize. Dar ended it by saying “all I want for Christmas is you.”
Analysis: I guess that’s why they cut the actual match short so they could fit in the Dar promo. It’s nice to see the cruiserweights in storylines, but I’m not sure if this is going to be a good angle. Better than nothing, I guess.
The New Day trio were shown walking backstage. It looked weird seeing them without the titles.
The New Day made their entrance. Xavier Woods said that after 483 days the historic tag team title reign has hit a Roadblock. Kofi Kingston noted that Ric Flair couldn’t become a 16-time World Champion without losing 15 times. Big E: “And that will be Charlotte in a month.” Now THAT was funny! Good job by him. It drew some laughs. Woods said that they will definitely once again become your WWE World Tag Team Champions.
The new Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro & Sheamus made their entrance with their new titles. They were in their gear, so it was obvious an “impromptu” tag match would be made at some point. They bickered on the stage. Sheamus said he’s full of positivity because it really is a new day since it’s day one of the reign of the new WWE Tag Team Champion Sheamus…and Cesaro said his name. It led to boo/yay reactions from the crowd as they said their names.
Kingston noted that after one day of being champions they gave them new titles after New Day had to walk around with those copper title things. Kingston said they were happy it was you that beat them. Sheamus said thanks, Woods led the crowd in “shame” chants and said they congratulated Cesaro. Cesaro said he needed to be strong to team with somebody like Sheamus and his massive ego. Sheamus said he didn’t care what Cesaro or anybody thinks. Fans chanted “shame” at Sheamus again. Sheamus said it was because of him that they became the tag team champions. Sheamus even said “drink it in.” Sorry that line belongs to somebody else. It led to Sheamus telling New Day that he can hold the titles for 20 years easily.
Woods talked about how for 483 days there was music in the air and like 200 New Day shirts released. New Day referenced the breakfast cereal, the unicorn horns, the magical dreams and even the Old Day with Big E saying let’s forget about the Old Day. Yes please. Woods said they had the power of positivity. Big E said New Day Rocks, but here’s another interruption.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up. Anderson said he saw a bunch of…nerds according to Gallows. Gallows uses a lot of baby oil to make himself shiny. I know it’s weird to mention that, but it’s hard to ignore. Gallows said if it wasn’t for them handing all the complimentary beatdowns on “Nerd Day” then Sheamus & Cesaro never would have won the titles.
Here come Primo & Epico so that one of them can take the loss in the obvious eight man tag match. They tried to sell them trips to Puerto Rico. Cesaro ripped up the brochure leading to a brawl. The face teams tossed the heel teams out of the ring as the show went to break.
Analysis: It feels like this sort of angle has been done before to set up a multi-team tag match. I wonder if the creative team even cares about putting together an entertaining show because they follow the same routine week after week to set up matches. Best part of that whole thing was Big E’s joke about Charlotte’s title wins.
The match was underway after the break. Cole had to say that Foley made it official. Of course he did because apparently he doesn’t actually book matches before the show. That’s what the audience is supposed to think.
Kofi Kingston, Big E, Cesaro & Sheamus (w/Xavier Woods) vs. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Primo & Epico
Epico nailed a great move as he hooked the arms of Kingston leading to him driving Kingston’s body onto Epico’s knees. The heels worked over Kingston in the corner with Anderson nailing a jumping kick. Gallows with a roundhouse kick to Kingston for a two count. Anderson grabbed a headlock on Kingston followed by a leaping heel kick. Kingston nearly tagged in a partner, but Gallows caught him and nailed a Chokeslam as the show went to break.
Back from break, the heels worked on Kingston with Anderson putting Kingston on the top rope. Kingston countered him with a Tornado DDT. Gallows tagged in and knocked Big E off the apron. The Shining Stars dove on Cesaro and Sheamus to knock them down. Gallows and Anderson worked together with Anderson hitting the Boot of Doom for a two count. Big E got the hot tag with three belly to belly suplexes to Anderson. Big E wanted the splash, but Sheamus tagged himself in. Sheamus with the ten forearm shots to the chest of Epico followed by a rolling senton. Cesaro tagged in for a double White Noise move on Epico for a two count. Primo with the save, so Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick. Gallows kicked Sheamus down, Big E clothesline on Gallows, Anderson with a running knee on Big E and Cesaro hit an uppercut on Anderson. Cesaro did the Cesaro Swing on Epico. Cesaro applied the Sharpshooter and Epico quickly tapped out for the loss at the 11 minute mark.
Winners by submission: Kofi Kingston, Big E, Cesaro & Sheamus
Post match, Sheamus celebrated with both titles until Cesaro grabbed one of them and celebrated as well.
Analysis: **1/2 It was an okay match that felt like something we have seen before. Kingston was worked on for the majority of the match, the hot tag took place and that ended it. When the Shining Stars are in a match they are usually there to get beat and that’s what happened here. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen many times this year.
A replay aired from earlier in the night with Foley telling Jericho he’ll be in a shark cage at Royal Rumble.
Later on Raw: Rollins and Reigns vs. Owens and Jericho.
Enzo and Cass were in the locker room. Cass said that Rusev deserved that beating and said they’ll have some fun in Columbus. Enzo said he felt like he was costing Cass these matches. There was a letter delivered to Enzo. It said that Enzo had to attend mandatory sensitive training for exposing himself on Raw on November 28. Enzo: “I gotta go back to class?” Apparently he does.
Analysis: I guess that’s some storyline progression.
Neville made his entrance. He’s rocking the heel beard after he turned heel at Roadblock one night earlier. Neville bragged about how he destroyed Rich Swann and TJ Perkins. He mentioned that the fans cheered him. Neville said that it’s been a long time since the people have cheered for him because usually they cheer for him if they think he’s vulnerable, if they think he’s small and feel sorry for him. Neville said he didn’t want our pity and sympathy. Neville said that this is a warning that if your favorite is on 205 Live because he is going to obliterate the division.
Analysis: That’s probably the longest promo Neville has delivered on the main roster. He did a good job.
Here comes Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann. He wondered what happened to Neville. It led to Neville telling him to shut up. Neville told Swann that he took him under his wing in Japan and taught him everything he knows. Neville wondered where was the respect for the real king of the cruiserweights. Swann said that as long as he’s the Cruiserweight Champion he’s the best in the division and Neville can’t handle it since that is Swann’s catchphrase.
Brian Kendrick walked out ripping Swann for disrespecting Neville. He wondered how they could start a cruiserweight division without Neville. Kendrick said that Neville is a pioneer like him and if it wasn’t for them, none of this would be possible. Neville said that Kendrick has earned his opportunities unlike Swann. Neville told Swann he needs to be taught his place.
Swann threw a punch at Neville. Kendrick took down Swann with punches. Neville stomped away on Swann. Here comes TJ Perkins for the save. When Perkins entered the ring, Neville hit him with a roundhouse kick. Neville stomped away on both guys. Kendrick was happy with what happened. Neville left. Kendrick hit Sliced Bread #2 on Perkins to end the segment.
Analysis: A solid segment although the crowd didn’t care about it much. There wasn’t much of a reaction to what they did. I’m glad Neville finally has a storyline, though. He’ll do well as a heel that can put on some great matches with the others. This angle set up an obvious tag match for 205 Live on Tuesday.
There was a Sensitivity Training vignette with Darren Young, Bob Backlund, Jinder Mahal, Bo Dallas and a woman named Colleen McCarthy as the sensitivity trainer. Enzo Amore showed up for the meeting. He started in with his promo routine and she told him to calm down. Enzo said he’s there because he showed his co-workers his “Italian sausage.” He said it was his partner’s fault and she asked how long she’s had problems with his partner. I guess she doesn’t watch Raw. Maybe she should so she can help the ratings. She told Enzo to take a seat and he picked up a chair. Nobody laughed. Jinder said his name, she asked how to spell it and Enzo said “SAWFT!” She said they’ll continue later.
Analysis: Bad comedy here. Please try to make us laugh. They should have brought in Dr. Shelby for this.
There was a shot of the sensitivity training continuing backstage.
Titus O’Neil vs. Sin Cara started. Cara hit a cross body block and Braun Strowman’s music hit.
Analysis: Match of the year! Maybe not.
Strowman went into the ring. He ran over Cara with a clothesline and a clothesline for O’Neil as well. Strowman kicked O’Neil out of the ring. Strowman hit O’Neil with a running powerslam on the floor. Cara dove onto Strowman, who caught him and slammed him down. Strowman hit a clothesline on Cara. Refs came down to ringside. Strowman picked up Cara on his shoulders and went up the ramp. Foley showed up to tell Strowman to calm down. Strowman said he told him “or else.” Strowman threw Cara off the stage onto a bunch of presents that were on a table. It drew a reaction even though it was a soft landing. Strowman shoved over some Christmas trees and left.
Sin Cara was out on the floor as referees checked on him. Replays aired of what Strowman did as referees said they needed help for Sin Cara.
Analysis: I guess you could say Strowman isn’t in the Christmas spirit.
Charlotte is up next.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens were in the locker room. Jericho said he’s not okay while Owens told him to calm down. Jericho complained about hanging from the ceiling like a “sexy piñata” and said he had arachnophobia. Owens said arachnophobia is a fear of spiders – Jericho has acrophobia. Jericho said he hates spiders too, so he has both. Owens tried to calm him down to remind him that they are the Universal Champion and told Jericho he’s the Greatest Of All Time. Jericho fired up saying they had a match to win and Rollins and Reigns are going to get…it. Owens told Jericho he won’t be in the cage long because he’ll beat Roman Reigns real quick.
Analysis: Good stuff from them with Jericho calling himself a sexy piñata while also talking about his fears. They are fun to watch and the highlight of the show for me most weeks.
The new Raw Women’s Champion (again…for the fourth time) Charlotte Flair made her entrance.
Charlotte bragged about being the four time Women’s Champion. She said she doesn’t think Banks is going to make it out there. She claimed to beat the boss out of Sasha Banks. Charlotte called herself the greatest superstar that WWE has ever seen. Charlotte talked about how she could dominate in any era and referenced how she’s better than Trish Stratus and Fabulous Moolah. She called herself the queen of pay-per-view because she’s a guaranteed winner. She got some local heat by saying Clemson will beat Ohio State in the college football playoff. Bayley showed up with the interruption.
Analysis: I may bet on Clemson. Still thinking about it. I’m leaning on Alabama to win it all. Oh wait there’s a wrestling show still going on.
Bayley made her entrance to a good ovation. Charlotte wondered why Bayley interrupted her. Bayley said she’s not there to interrupt her – she’s there to congratulate her. Bayley thinks that Sasha vs. Charlotte is going to go down as the greatest women’s rivalry in WWE history. Charlotte cut her off from speaking again. Charlotte wondered why Bayley puts on ring gear because she doesn’t belong in the ring – she should be with the people in the crowd paying to watch Charlotte. Bayley said that it’s time for the Charlotte and Bayley rivalry to begin. Bayley said their scoreboard reads Bayley 2 and Charlotte 0. (Bayley was in a triple threat match with Charlotte and Sasha at Clash of Champions where Charlotte pinned her, but I guess Bayley only counts singles matches.) Bayley said she remembers what Charlotte did to her at Survivor Series.
Analysis: It took Bayley one month to bring up Charlotte attacking her at Survivor Series. Better late than never, I guess. Way to capitalize on an angle one month later, WWE. This is the same woman that was “feuding” with Alicia Fox over a stuffed bear.
Charlotte said those victories don’t count. Charlotte said that at Roadblock she held up four fingers for her fourth title win and the Four Horsewomen. Charlotte claimed that she’s always been number one while Bayley has been number four. The real reason Bayley didn’t join Charlotte, Becky and Sasha is because Bayley has never been good enough. Bayley said if she’s not good enough how about she proves it right now? Fans chanted “yes” for that. Charlotte was hesitant to say yes. Charlotte noted that Bayley is dressed like a fifth grader, so let’s go to school. Charlotte called for a ref.
Analysis: Hey WWE Creative, don’t you think that maybe you follow this formula too often where “impromptu” matches take place? They aren’t as impromptu as you think when they happen on both Raw and Smackdown multiple times every week. Bayley has been booked terribly for four months. I hope her talent can allow her to reach her full potential.
For the second time in the night, Cole told us that Foley made the match official.
Analysis: That’s the second time they had Cole say that line.
Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley
This is non-title, which means the champion is going to lose in case you haven’t seen this show before.
Bayley knocked her down with a shoulder tackle. Charlotte with a leg scissors routine sending Bayley face first into the mat. The crowd was dead quiet as Bayley applied an armbar. Headlock by Charlotte. Bayley took her down with a hip toss followed by a cross body block. Bayley did a kip up like Charlotte did earlier. Bayley did the Flair walk, which drew a “Woo” reaction. Bayley went for multiple pinfall attempts for two counts. Charlotte left the ring for a breather as well as a commercial break.
Charlotte applied a leg scissors again because the heel usually controls the match after the break. After a leg scissors, Charlotte hit a chop to the chest leading to a two count. Another chinlock by Charlotte. She said something in her ear to build to the comeback. Charlotte sent Bayley into a turnbuckle and then Bayley sent her into a turnbuckle. They did a double clothesline spot sending both women down to the mat. There was a forearm exchange between them. Bayley charged in with a takedown followed by punches. Back elbow by Bayley to the back followed by a clothesline. Neckbreaker against the ropes by Bayley. Shoulder tackle by Bayley in the corner, then a running back elbow and Charlotte pulled her off the middle rope by sending her arm first into the top rope. Charlotte set up for a moonsault and connected with it for a two count. I’m shocked she actually hit it because the opponent usually moves. Bayley hooked the arms for a rollup for two. Hard chops to the chest by Charlotte. Bayley caught her, did a backslide pin and that was enough for the win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bayley
Post match, Bayley celebrated the win in a big way. Charlotte was stunned by it. Saxton mentioned Bayley is 3-0 against Charlotte. There were replays of the finish with Graves noting that Charlotte’s right shoulder was up because the referee couldn’t see it. He was right.
Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match with a lot of stalling and rest holds by both women. The last five minutes were good, but it was mostly a 10 minute match that was given more time than was needed. No surprise that Bayley got the win since Charlotte has lost nearly every non-title match she’s had on Raw this year. That’s another booking decision that WWE does all the time. It’s likely going to lead to a Charlotte vs. Bayley match at the Royal Rumble. I think Bayley ends up winning the title at WrestleMania if they can wait that long.
There was a shot of the Sensitivity Training again. Bo said that instead of “begin” he wants to say “Bogin.” She told him no. Darren Young did an imitation of Bob Backlund. Crazy Backlund started doing exercises. Enzo said he’ll act like Jinder and told Jinder to act like Enzo. Enzo did some of his random crazy talking. Mahal said that Enzo had little man syndrome that makes up for it by talking a lot. Enzo wondered if it would be insensitive to smack Mahal in the mouth. The trainer said yes, so Enzo said he’s more sensitive now.
Analysis: Way to hype up the Enzo vs. Jinder match the world has been clamoring for.
Up next is Reigns and Rollins vs. Owens and Jericho.
The Emmalina video aired telling us she’s premiering soon even though it was supposed to be two weeks ago. Keep in mind that these videos have been airing for three full months. It's the new Darren Young/Bob Backlund training promos, which led to a whole lot of nothing.
Sensitivity Training continued. Bo said he’s going to stop forcing his “boliefs” onto others. He left. Young said he’s going to stop being selfish and be more supportive for his coach. Backlund said he’ll be supportive to Young. They left. Jinder said he’ll think more before he acts out. He left. Enzo was up last. He said he’s going to be a more sensitive G, more sensitive to his tag team partner and more sensitive as a lover. He had a funny line saying he didn’t need the certificate because he’s already certified (a certified G, of course). He wanted to slide into her DMs. Rusev showed up. Mahal went back in the ring as well. The lady ran away as the heels beat up Enzo. The heels pounded on Enzo with punches. Rusev had Enzo in a full nelson. Lana showed up and slapped him in the face. Rusev picked him up and slammed him through a table. Poor Enzo was down again.
Analysis: Poor Enzo gets beat up again. I guess Big Cass left the building after their segment earlier because he was tired after his one minute match. The funniest part of that was Enzo saying he didn’t need the certificate because he was already certified. It’s possible they may have Jinder Mahal team with Rusev as the Evil Foreigners for a match against Enzo and Cass. Mahal will take the pin there.
Seth Rollins made his entrance. Next week’s Raw is in Chicago as they shilled for tickets being available. Normally Chicago is sold out all the time for a Raw, so that’s a bad sign. Smackdown also gets Chicago the next night.
Roman Reigns made his entrance carrying the US Title. It’s time to get that title off of him at some point soon. He will face Kevin Owens for the Universal Title at the Royal Rumble in six weeks.
It was announced that at 205 Live on Tuesday night it will be Neville and Kendrick vs. Swann and Perkins.
The great Universal Champion Kevin Owens made his entrance. His best friend Chris Jericho was up next.
Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho
The heels worked on Rollins in their corner. Fans chanted “stupid idiot” leading to Jericho telling them to shut up. Rollins hit the Slingblade for a two count. Reigns and Owens tagged in. The heels regrouped and went to the floor. They tried to leave. Rollins jumped on both of them to prevent them from leaving. Back in the ring, Reigns tagged in with an uppercut to Jericho. Rollins with a corner splash leading to a big boot by Reigns to Jericho as the show went to break.
Back from break, Reigns hit Owens with a clothesline followed by an uppercut. Reigns sent Owens back first into the barricade followed by the Drive By dropkick on the apron. Reigns did his corner clotheslines, Jericho provided a distraction and Owens nailed a superkick for the two count. The heels worked over Owens for a bit. Owens kicked him in the chest. Funny moment as Owens stopped in front of a camera and waved. When Jericho slapped Reigns in the head, Owens warned him that he’s going to get a bunch of conditioner in his hand. Reigns tried to fight out of the corner, but Jericho hit a dropkick to knock him down. There was a random shot of a kid looking bored in the crowd. The random crowd shots are weird. Chinlock City time for Owens. Reigns powered out of it with a Samoan Drop.
Rollins got the hot tag against Jericho. Rollins with a Blockbuster on both Jericho and Owens. Running forearm by Rollins and he hit a neckbreaker on Owens while hitting a DDT on Jericho at the same time for a two count. Good spot. Jericho back elbow and the Lionsault missed. Rollins went for a Pedigree, Jericho fought out of it and Rollins hit a jumping enziguri. Rollins clothesline sent Jericho over the top to the floor. Rollins hit a suicide dive on both Jericho and Owens on the floor. Reigns popped up with a Superman Punch on Owens on the floor. Rollins with a flying knee attack on Jericho. Rollins went for a Frog Splash off the top, but Jericho got the knees up. Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho on Rollins, who got to the ropes quickly. Reigns with a Superman Punch on Jericho to counter a springboard attack. Rollins went to tag in Reigns, but Braun Strowman showed up. He pulled Reigns off the apron and slammed him onto the mat on the floor. The ref called for the bell for the disqualification ending at 17 minutes.
Winners by disqualification: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
Analysis: *** A good main event match with a surprising disqualification ending. At least I’ll give WWE some credit by surprising me with Strowman showing up. I figured it was going to be a clean win for Rollins and Reigns since they are booked so strongly. They likely booked the disqualification ending because this is a match WWE will book on another episode of Raw with the faces getting the clean win. The crowd seemed into the match, so that’s a good thing at least.
Strowman stood over a fallen Reigns. Owens and Jericho stomped away on Rollins. When Strowman went into the ring, Owens and Jericho left. Strowman punched Rollins in the chest. Running Powerslam by Strowman on Rollins. Strowman yelled out: “I told you…or else!” Owens and Jericho sent Reigns back into the ring. Strowman yelled at Reigns. Strowman hit a Running Powerslam on Reigns. Owens and Jericho backed up the ramp. Strowman’s music played as replays aired of what happened.
Strowman made angry faces while Owens and Jericho congratulated him on a good job. Cole ended it by saying “It’s Braun Strowman time…somebody better call 911.” More angry faces from Strowman ended it.
Analysis: With the Royal Rumble coming up, this is WWE’s way of building up Strowman at a time when they definitely need talent to step up. I think Strowman is good at doing what he’s doing, but are we really supposed to buy a Running Powerslam as a deadly move? It’s something that has been in wrestling for decades and the British Bulldog used it as a finisher. It’s not like it is a strong finisher, though. At least it's a safe move.
For the first time, I think that Strowman might win the Royal Rumble. It's not my official pick right now, but I think it's possible. Reigns is probably going to beat Owens for the Universal Title as well. It would set up Strowman vs. Reigns at WrestleMania. That’s not a match that I want to see, but it’s a match that likely has Vince McMahon salivating because he loves putting faces against giants even though Reigns gets booed a lot. He’s still booked like a face. The Jericho/Owens split can happen at that point leading to Jericho turning face and a WrestleMania match between them taking place without the title involved. Rollins can get screwed out of a Rumble win by a returning Triple H, so there’s three matches right there. Add in Goldberg vs. Lesnar as well.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Chris Jericho
2. Kevin Owens
3. (tie) Seth Rollins
3. (tie) Roman Reigns
4.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2016 Average: 5.79
2016 Average since brand split starting July 25: 5.93 (Smackdown is 6.27)
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 7, 7, 6, 4.5
2016 Low: 4 (Feb. 29/Mar. 21/Aug. 15)
I give it a 4.5 out of 10.
After five weeks in a row of above average shows, I thought they took a step back this week. It was a boring show filled with promos designed to fill time. The formula that WWE uses to book matches is so tiresome by this point. I wonder how much time they spend booking the show because a lot of it is so lazy.
Braun Strowman as the angry big guy that destroys everything is something we’ve seen before with other big men in WWE history like Big Show, Kane, Undertaker, Great Khali, Mark Henry and so on. We know Vince McMahon loves pushing the big guy monsters. Strowman has been booked strongly for the past year and now they are elevating him to another level. Is it new or exciting? No, but at least he’s different from the guys we have seen in this role.
I thought the in-ring action was a step down this week. Every match just felt like people going through the motions just like the creative team. I know I am hard on them. It’s because I want the show to be better and the lack of creativity makes this a tough show to write about every week.
That's all for now. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors. Go Toronto Maple Leafs.
John Canton – [email protected]