By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena
[Q1] The annual Dr. Martin Luther King video opened the show… The opening montage played and then pyro was shot off on the stage… Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. Cole hyped that they were a week away from the 29th Royal Rumble…
Roman Reigns’ entrance music played and he made his way through the crowd. The reaction to Reigns’ music was mixed. Reigns said Sunday will be the fight of his life. He said tonight he only cares about Brock Lesnar. Reigns said he’s ready to finish what Lesnar started last week “right now.” Reigns looked at the stage and waited for Lesnar’s music to hit.
Chris Jericho made his entrance instead. Jericho wore a jacket with no shirt and welcomes viewers to Raw is Jericho when he entered the ring. Jericho said he knew Reigns was waiting for Lesnar, but he has someone even better. Jericho introduced himself as the Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rollah. “That’s great, Chris,” Reigns said. He added that he was happy Jericho is back, but he wants Lesnar.
Jericho said he wants to turn his Highlight Reel segment into the biggest of all-time by having the top three contenders in the Royal Rumble match in the same ring. Jericho pitched the idea of having Reigns, Lesnar, and himself in the ring together. Reigns was down with the idea.
The League of Nations music hit and Sheamus, Rusev, Alberto Del Rio, and King Barrett entered to very little reaction. Sheamus asked when the Rumble match because Reigns vs. Lesnar. The fans taunted him with the usual “you look stupid” chants. Sheamus shut them down by telling them that the grownups are talking. Nice. Sheamus said the League of Nations members are all in the Rumble match and they are taking the WWE World Heavyweight Championship back.
Sheamus welcomed Jericho back and mocked his dinner jacket and asked if he ate his shirt. Sheamus asked how Jericho could have a Highlight Reel with the favorites and not invite them. Sheamus said that was just plain stupid. Jericho said Sheamus using the word stupid is like the pot calling the kettle black “or milky white in your case.” Jericho said he could have Sheamus’s mohawk on the show so it can tell everyone why it makes Sheamus look so stupid.
Del Rio took the mic and said League of Nations rises to the occasion. Del Rio recalled winning the biggest Royal Rumble (40-man) in history. Jericho said Alberto Del Rio is Spanish for jackass. Jericho said he doesn’t feel like having ADR on his show. Rusev took his turn and said every day is a Rumble in Bulgaria. Rusev said one of the League of Nations members will win the Rumble match.
[Q2] Jericho asked Reigns who won the Rumble match last year. Reigns said he did. Jericho asked who he eliminated to win the match. Reigns said he eliminated Rusev to win. Jericho said that with all due respect to Lana, Rusev always comes up just a little short. Rusev called him a stupid little Canadian. Rusev started walking toward the ring. Reigns told him to just shut up, then said he’d love to shut him up on the spot. Jericho named himself the special referee for the match… [C]
Powell’s POV: Jericho was better here than he was the last couple weeks. His opening bit with the Ayatollah line was really flat and I still wonder if some of his corniness is being done intentionally to set up a heel turn. Sheamus really bombed as the live crowd didn’t care about him once they got the “you look stupid” chant out of the way. I don’t think anyone is taking League of Nations seriously, but I do like that they at least took the time to spotlight the four of them and Jericho as additional Rumble entrants.
1. Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (w/Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, King Barrett) in a non-title match with Chris Jericho as special referee. They showed footage from the break of Jericho getting his referee shirt from referee Mike Chioda. They cut to break at 3:45 after some forgettable action. [C]
[Q3] The crowd counted along as Reigns threw ten clotheslines in the corner. Reigns hoisted up Rusev, who elbowed his way out and then knocked Reigns down with a kick, which led to a two count. Rusev bickered with Jericho about his count. The fans chanted Y2J. Reigns came back by catching Rusev on the ropes and powerbombing him for a two count.
Reigns backed into his corner and set up for his finisher. Del Rio distracted Jericho, and then Sheamus pulled Reigns to the floor and ran him into the barricade. Jericho ended up ejecting Sheamus from ringside. Barrett protested on the ring apron that Jericho didn’t see anything. Jericho pointed at him and ejected him as well. The crowd loved it. Jericho even did a cartwheel while enthusiastically ejecting Barrett. Del Rio stood on the second rope and protested, then Jericho ejected him too. Jericho did another cartwheel. Reigns threw a Superman Punch at Rusev, then followed up with a spear for the win…
Roman Reigns defeated Rusev in a non-title match in 13:50.
The broadcast team hyped The Highlight Reel with Jericho, Reigns, Lesnar, and Paul Heyman for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m not sure what they would have done for an opening match had new matchmaker Chris Jericho not booked the match and himself as special referee. Maybe they will cover that by having Stephanie call him out on it. Either way, this came off really well after the commercial break. The live crowd was hot for Jericho ejecting the League of Nations members, and Reigns seemed to be unanimously cheered at the end of the match. I really hope Jericho means a lot coming out of the Rumble match. I don’t know where they are going with Jericho, but he would be a great heel opponent for Reigns to feud with and learn from. Keep in mind that Jericho had issues with Reigns and Dean Ambrose after working as their mystery partner against The Wyatt Family. Meanwhile, The Highlight Reel segment is a really nice hook with Reigns and Lesnar appearing in the ring together.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon barked at Jericho for booking the match. She told him it’s not 1999. Jericho said Stephanie should wish it was 1999 because she was so much fun. He started with his usual “dirty, bottom feeding” routine, but she cut him off and said that it was real original just like all of his material. Stephanie said she has to negotiate with Paul Heyman and pay Brock Lesnar “even more money.” She conceded that the Highlight Reel segment he booked is best for business. Jericho said it’s like he knows what he’s doing. Stephanie said yes, but if he ever messes with his show then she’ll make sure he’s never, ever the same again…
Powell’s POV: It’s good to see they are on their game in that Stephanie was there to confront Jericho about booking a match without her approval. Stephanie mocking his lack of originality definitely gives me hope that everything Jericho has been saying and doing lately has been by design and that he’s not simply on a mindless greatest hits tour. I’m excited to see where it goes.
[Q4] 2. Natalya (w/Paige) vs. Brie Bella (w/Alicia Fox). Cole hyped the premiere of Total Divas for Tuesday night and set up a clip from the show. Natalya applied a Sharpshooter and got the quick win…
Natalya beat Brie Bella in 1:20.
Cole hyped The Dudley Boyz vs. The Wyatt Family in a six-man tag match… A shot aired of the Royal Rumble hopper as Saxton hyped learning which wrestler will be the first entrant in the match… [C]
Powell’s POV: Yes, it was definitely odd to see Paige and Natalya together given the recent storyline that implied that Paige attacked Natalya backstage on Smackdown. I don’t know if they will ignore that or reveal that it was someone else.
Ring entrances for the six-man tag match took place… [C]
[Q5] 3. The Dudley Boyz and Ryback vs. Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Bray Wyatt (w/Braun Strowman) in a six-man tag match. The broadcast team acknowledged the death of “Iron” Mike Sharpe. JBL noted that he was a second generation wrestler who was trained by Dewey Robertson. The heels isolated D-Von Dudley, who eventually made a tag to Ryback.
Ryback, who didn’t get as big of a reaction during his entrance, worked the crowd and got a brief “Feed Me More” chant. Ryback hoisted up Rowan for his finisher, but Wyatt broke it up. Ryback tossed Wyatt to the floor and went after him, but he was distracted by Strowman, allowing Wyatt to take him down from behind. The Dudleys hit a double team move on Harper. Rowan ran interference, then Harper hit a discus clothesline on Bubba Ray Dudley and pinned him…
Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Bray Wyatt beat Ryback and The Dudley Boyz in roughly 5:45.
Cole hyped the Highlight Reel segment for later in the show… An ad aired for WWE Network’s WWE 24 that features clips from Sting and others at WrestleMania 31, which was referred to as “WrestleMania Silicon Valley” by the narrator. The show premieres on Sunday after the Rumble… [C]
Powell’s POV: It was nice to hear the broadcast team acknowledge the death of Mike Sharpe. I was hoping for a video package, but at least they addressed his passing. The Wyatt Family going over in this match makes sense given that they are trying to play up the idea that they will be dangerous in the Rumble match.
The Royal Rumble ball hopper was shown as Cole hyped that viewers would find out who is the number one entrant…
Big Show made his entrance, which is funny because a number of viewers are still under the impression that Show is the first entrant given the way he announced his entry in the Rumble match. The Social Outcasts were out next to zero response. Heath Slater was announced as the opponent. He spoke as they headed to the ring and claimed that one of the Outcasts would win. Adam Rose took the mic and said his feet will never hit the ground. Curtis Axel took the mic and said he was never eliminated from the 2015 Rumble match. Bo Dallas never got to speak…
[Q6] 4. Big Show vs. Heath Slater (w/Adam Rose, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas). Show knocked out Slater with a punch and pinned him. Afterward, he laid out Axel and Rose. Bo avoided a clothesline and took a victory lap, but Show knocked him out at ringside…
Big Show beat Heath Slater in 0:55.
Powell’s POV: So is Big Show a babyface again? He played to the crowd afterward and even stopped to pose for a selfie. Are the Social Outcasts heels or babyfaces?
The broadcast team pimped WWE Network and the Royal Rumble. Flashcard time with JBL and smiling Byron ensued…
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon gave Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and King Barrett a tough time about Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho getting the better of them, then built them up. Sheamus said they aren’t scared of anybody. Stephanie told them to prove it… [C]
The Royal Rumble ball hopper was on the stage. Speaking of ball hoppers…er, Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon walked onto the stage together. Stephanie played up the possibility of a few wrestlers winning the Rumble and questioned whether it could be someone the WWE Universe has never seen before (AJ Styles fans are frothing at the mouth right now). Vince said the odds of Reigns winning are the same as one of the fans winning Powerball.
Stephanie spun the hopper and then Vince drew the name and handed it to Stephanie. Roman Reigns was announced as the first entrant. Vince put Roman’s name back inside and had Stephanie spin it again. Vince had trouble opening the container. Stephanie said at least there’s no phone like there was for McMahon’s Millions. Funny.
Once again, Vince drew Roman’s name again. Vince accused Stephanie of putting it back inside so they did it again. Vince dropped one of the containers. He opened the container and once it again it was Roman Reigns. Vince said that Reigns won’t be number one coming out of the Rumble “and you can believe that,” he concluded…
At ringside, Byron questioned whether it was really a coincidence. JBL defended it…
 Charlotte and Ric Flair made their entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: I was really hoping that Vince and Stephanie would show that it wasn’t rigged by drawing another name. Of course, then Reigns would be the second entrant, which is the same as being the first entrant in the Rumble. That said, at least they stacked the deck. It would have been ridiculous for their characters to be hellbent on getting the title off him, yet to let him have a random number in the match. Let’s just hope that Reigns doesn’t act like an oblivious goof by being pissed about this. Everyone knew this was coming, so surely his character should have known it too.
5. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina (w/Naomi). Charlotte and Ric Flair sat next to the broadcast team. Tamina caught Lynch with an early superkick and put the boots to her. Lynch sold for the first few minutes and then made her comeback. Becky sat on the top rope and rolled into her Disarmer finisher for the submission win…
Becky Lynch beat Tamina in 4:15.
After the match, Lynch took the mic and said nothing would mean more to her than winning the Divas Championship on Sunday. She asked Charlotte for an answer to her challenge for a title match at the Royal Rumble. Charlotte stood up at ringside with a mic and mocked the idea of giving her a title match because people were cheering. Charlotte said Lynch lost a title match and needs to get the back of the line.
Becky blamed it on the kiss stealing, title match stealin’ Flair. Charlotte said her father is a two-time Hall of Famer. Lynch asked what all the legends Flair faced would think and said the apple must have fallen far from the tree. She questioned whether Flair has become a coward. Flair said Charlotte bet her twice and she is going down the third time too. Flair agreed to the match and Charlotte was not happy about it…
Cole hyped Dean Ambrose vs. Kalisto vs. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio for after the break…
Powell’s POV: Jim Ross may have been right when he wrote in a recent blog that Flair wouldn’t be a longtime fixture in his daughter’s corner. I may be reading too much into that angle, but it struck me as a possible first step toward Charlotte flying solo.
[Q8] [C] The broadcast team hyped Miz TV with Kevin Owens, and Roman Reigns vs. League of Nations for Smackdown… Owens joined the broadcast team on commentary. Ring entrances for the tag match took place…
6. Dean Ambrose and Kalisto vs. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio (w/King Barrett). Owens was on commentary. The broadcast team recapped Del Rio regaining the U.S. Title on Smackdown, and Cole hyped their rematch for the Royal Rumble. They cut to break early in the match. [C]
[Q9] The heels took turns working over Ambrose at the top of the hour. Owens said the great thing about the Last Man Standing match is that the fan support for Ambrose won’t mean anything because he will stop at nothing to take his title back. Ambrose eventually came back with a missile dropkick on Del Rio and then clotheslined Sheamus before finally making the hot tag to Kalisto.
Kalisto got the better of Sheamus with a series of kicks, including his rolling kick to the head of a kneeling Sheamus. Kalisto took out Del Rio on the apron and hit his finisher on Sheamus. However, Del Rio recovered and broke it up. Ambrose, who got a haircut, threw Del Rio to the floor. In the ring, Sheamus blasted Kalisto with a Brogue Kick and pinned him…
Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio beat Dean Ambrose and Kalisto in 13:25.
Powell’s POV: A time filler that put some heat on the heels heading into the pay-per-view. I wish they would have had Ambrose take the pin to make him look vulnerable heading into his title defense rather than making Kalisto look weak heading into his role as the challenger for the U.S. Title.
The broadcast team pimped WWE Network and the Royal Rumble, then set up a recap of the opening segment. Cole hyped the Highlight Reel segment for later in the show… [C] Cole narrated highlights of the weekend shows in India…
[Q10] A New Day segment recorded “earlier today” aired. They held a memorial service for Xavier Woods’ trombone “Francesca”. There were photos set up with Woods playing the trombone. Funny. Woods said “she” would want her champion to beat Jey Uso. That champion is Big E…
Powell’s POV: Was I the only person hoping Triple H would appear dressed as Kane and have his way with the trombone? Okay, yes, I probably was. I have issues. #FrancescaVick
A Royal Rumble numbers video aired. Kane has eliminated a record 42 men from Rumble matches. 46 Hall of Famers have entered the Rumble, only eight can say they have won it. The narrator said Reigns has the record of 12 eliminations from one Rumble. There are 15 former champions on the roster. Reigns could face six former Rumble winners, according to the narrator, who said Reigns has a slim chance of walking out as champion. The biggest number of all is one – the number Reigns will enter at…
The Uso Brothers made their entrance for the singles match… [C] New Day made their entrance… New Day vs. The Uso Brothers for the WWE Tag Team Championship was announced for the Royal Rumble match…
7. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods). Kingston and Woods were still wearing dress clothes from the memorial service. They cut to break early in the match. [C]
[Q11] Big E took a wicked bump when he ran toward Uso, who moved out of the way, causing E to take a bump from the ring and down to the floor. Jey went up top and was distracted by Woods, which led to Big E performing The Big Ending for the win…
Big E beat Jey Uso in roughly 10:00.
Powell’s POV: I’ve seen long shot candidates for presidential races announce that they are withdrawing from the race with more fanfare than WWE gave the tag title match announcement. Fortunately, they had this match to get viewers interested in the tag title match by having one of the challengers pin one of the champions. Um, wait a minute…
Backstage, Titus O’Neil spoke with R-Truth and Mark Henry about winning the Rumble match, but first they had to give someone a “dirt nap.” They put their hands together to chant dirt nap, but Neville showed up and joined them. R-Truth said Neville has a dream too. Titus led them in a “keep the dream alive chant”… [C]
Powell’s POV: This was funny because Neville is white and the other guys are black? Anyway, I guess this means Mark Henry is back in the Rumble match after being advertised and then pulled from the list of entrants.
8. Titus O’Neil, Mark Henry, R-Truth, and Neville vs. Stardust, Tyler Breeze, and The Ascension. Cole said Henry hinted that the Rumble match could be his last Rumble match. Cole said he’s done everything other than win the Rumble match.
[Q12] Late in the match, Titus threw Breeze over his head for Henry to catch him, but he went right over Henry’s head. Ouch. Neville performed the Red Arrow on Breeze and pinned him…
Titus O’Neil, Mark Henry, R-Truth, and Neville beat Stardust, Tyler Breeze, and The Ascension in 6:20.
The broadcast team hyped the Highlight Reel segment with Lesnar and Reigns… An ad aired for JBL’s interview with Road Dogg that airs on WWE Network after Raw… [C]
Powell’s POV: How about paying Breeze main roster money, yet sending him back to NXT where they won’t treat him like a nobody? What a waste.
Cole hyped that Miz TV on Smackdown will feature Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens, plus Roman Reigns vs. League of Nations was once again advertised for Smackdown… They previously announced that New Day will appear on Jonathan Coachman’s ESPN segment…
Chris Jericho stood in the ring and set up the Highlight Reel segment. There was no JeriTron. As Jericho was talking about the Royal Rumble, he was interrupted by Paul Heyman’s introduction. Jericho gave him the “will you please shut the hell up” treatment. Jericho said we know who his client is. Jericho questioned Lesnar’s whereabouts.
Heyman said you don’t need to be a weatherman to know that there will be an F5 touching down in Columbus. Heyman said Jericho doesn’t have anything to worry about because his client is focussed on Reigns. Jericho recalled Heyman trying to get Lesnar into the WrestleMania main event. “But you didn’t get it done, did you, Paul?” Jericho asked.
Jericho said Heyman failed his client. Heyman said he’s been in a lot of depositions and that’s not a question. Jericho said Lesnar has a lot of enemies and 29 will be in the Rumble match. Jericho said his question is whether Heyman tried to get his client out of the Rumble because he doesn’t like his chances of winning. Heyman laughed.
[Overrun] Heyman said you have 28 competitors, Reigns, and one conquerer. Heyman said he likes the box office appeal. He said Jericho would subscribe to WWE Network to see Lesnar face Del Rio or Sheamus or Ambrose or Jericho or Reigns. Heyman said Lesnar will fight any man who stands before him on Sunday and eliminate them to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Heyman hyped that Lesnar will turn the Rumble into Suplex City. Jericho got serious and asked Heyman what if it comes down to him and Lesnar, and he throws Lesnar over the top rope and wins the match and the title.
Brock Lesnar’s music played and he made his entrance. Heyman exited the ring and Jericho glared at Lesnar as Brock made his usual lap around the ring while glaring back at Jericho. Roman Reigns’ music played and he made his entrance through the crowd again while carrying the WWE World Heavyweight Championship with him.
Lesnar and Reigns entered the ring. Reigns speared Lesnar as Jericho stood in the corner. The crowd groaned and booed as League of Nations ran out and attacked Reigns. Lesnar suplexed Rusev out of the ring. Sheamus and Del Rio attacked him. Lesnar performed a German suplex on Del Rio, then gave Sheamus and F5. Reigns speared Lesnar to more boos than cheers.
The Wyatt Family video flashed and then all four of them were standing on the ring apron with Reigns surrounded in the middle of the ring. The Wyatt Family put Reigns down, then Wyatt performed a Sister Abigail on him. Lesnar slowly got to his feet and Harper was there to put him right back down with a big boot. Rowan caught Lesnar with a spinning kick. Strowman clotheslined Lesnar. Wyatt performed Sister Abigail on Lesnar. “The Royal Rumble is mine,” Wyatt yelled before striking his pose over Lesnar to close the show…
Powell’s POV: The message was that it’s not just the Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar show. And while I applaud the effort, it would have been nice if they had established this before tonight. I don’t know if anyone was convinced that the Wyatt Family or League of Nations members have a real chance to win at the Rumble, but at least Lesnar and Reigns have issues with other men heading into the match. The key thing tonight was that we never saw Triple H. Vince McMahon said that he would exact his revenge when Reigns least expected it. My guess remains that he will do just that as a late entrant in the Royal Rumble match.
Overall, Raw delivered good final hype for the Rumble match, but it failed to make good use of the time allotted to promoting the other matches on Sunday’s show. I will have a lot more to say about Raw and the Rumble tonight in members’ audio and in Tuesday’s WWE Raw Hit List. Thanks for watching along with me.
Did Jericho just book a match and make himself the Refree really just like that wow
It’s a shame that Sheamus isn’t connecting with the live crowd. Personally, I think he’s been great since his MITB cash-in and this is coming from a guy who’s never cared for him at all.
Sorry if others have mentioned this by now but wanted to let you know,it was shown on Smackdown that it was Team B.A.D. that attacked Natalya not Paige.