January 21, 2015 by Joey Keogh
It’s the go-home show before the PPV, y’all, and it’s also the Raw Reunion so we can expect lots of lengthy speeches from decrepit old fogies who aren’t medically cleared to compete and therefore have to earn their money on the mic tonight. I kid, of course, but this is seriously weird booking. And oh lord it’s in Texas, too, so that should be interesting. We kick things off with Brock Lesnar, who always looks terribly sun-burnt for some reason, and his manager Paul Heyman whom he cuts off tonight mid-speech (boo) so that he can call Seth Rollins “boy” and say “baby” a lot. It’s all very Deliverance. Like, even more so than Bray Wyatt‘s old promos.
Triple H comes out instead of his golden boy (who we soon discover is hiding in the safety of the Titantron) to remind Lesnar that actually he started it by Suplexing everyone last week, and suggest that “maybe we should all calm down” and discuss this like adults – hang on, are we not watching a wrasslin’ show? What’s this about not fighting? Does Lesnar even understand the concept of not fighting his problems? Lesnar sizes up to him and Heyman yells that he’s their meal ticket and pays their bills and to basically behave ya big Neanderthal. Steph shows up, with her amazing entrance music in tow, along with Big Show and Kane as Rollins pops up onscreen to make it super weird by calling Lesnar a caveman in a totally suggestive way. He says he’s gonna take his title but Heyman reckons he has the real spoiler for Sunday, and it’s that Lesnar is going to win. He also tells him to leave the adults to talk. And calls him a puppy.
Texas fucking hate Rollins but they love John Cena. Hey, did someone say John Cena? Well he’s here anyway, and he’s brought his hideous new, MS-Paint designed merch with him. He cuts a promo on the ramp, much to the delight of the fans who paid $200 to crane their necks all night, revealing he’s never felt like this before (at least not since the last PPV when he gave the exact same speech) and makes a pun out of “ash-holes” that’s only cool if you’re five, which most of his fans are so yay! In a brilliant move, Steph interrupts his exit, demanding his music be switched off, to call his jokes corny and suggest this is a turning point for him because it’s the first time he isn’t going to win. Rollins speaks up (has he been waiting there the whole time!?) to tell him that everyone knows Cena is a failure apart from Cena.
Cena makes fun of him flubbing his lines, because he gets to be a dick for some unknown reason even though he’s still the biggest face in the company, as Heyman reclines on the ropes, totally unimpressed. The Authority offer Cena a deal; if he wins tonight, they’ll reinstate his fired “buddies”. If not, he has to give up his Rumble match. The App is apparently going to help us decide this most important matter. So, let’s leave it up to you guys – do you want to see wrestling at this wrestling event or, you know, not? Your choice.
Daniel Bryan -v- Bray Wyatt
It’s Bryan’s first match in almost a year and to mark the occasion he’s come dressed as hippie Jesus (though not as much as Rollins on the poster for the PPV). He’s a little bit rusty, which is understandable of course, so Wyatt takes the lead, gaining an edge early on with a chop to Bryan’s gut, followed by a boot that sends him flying out, and gives Wyatt the space to tackle him on the outside with a Splash. Kane show up but does nothing much besides recline in a chair and stare as they duke it out. Wyatt chucks Bryan headfirst into the barricade before backing him into the apron. Focusing on his recovering neck for much of the match, he works on it at the ropes, with his foot, and then later kneels on it, before locking him in with a sleeper hold, which he follows up with a massive clothesline. Bryan mounts some offence with a crazy kick into the corner, followed by a gnarly Frankensteiner as Cole outdoes his own stupidity by yelling the word “collision” over and over. Kane interferes right at the crucial moment, allowing Wyatt to set Bryan up for the Sister Abigail to win.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Backstage, HBK, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are making fun of Trips for wearing a suit and being a sell-out – even referring to him as “Vince jnr”, which is kind of mean to Shane, in fairness. They try to goad him into joining in the fun later but he’s having none of it, until X-Pac shows up, looking even more youthful than usual. Only, of course, the real X-Pac isn’t impressed at Sandow’s rather good impersonation and nor is Miz, who tells them in no uncertain terms “He’s my stunt double” before going for a high-five that every single one of them denies. The old dudes are confused by what type of show this even is and Trips tells them how ashamed he is while trying not to laugh into his hand. An Experts Panel follows starring, in this order, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and HBK, who is wearing a different hideous shirt to the one he had on five seconds ago. We know what to expect with this shit at this stage, it’s all very by-the-numbers and safe, with little interaction between the three men (though HBK and Hogan seem to genuinely hate each other). It’s essentially a circle jerk, but we get some interesting insights towards the end as each dude picks a winner for the Rumble; for HBK, it’s Wyatt, for Hulk, Jack, er I mean Bryan and for Flair, my man Ambrose. Just when it was getting exciting, however, Show turns up to throw his weight around, quite literally by continuing on his dull-as-fuck heel turn. He calls them all washed up old has-beens and Flair hits him, leading the Nature Boy to suffer a blow for his trouble. The fans are not impressed, as Show tells them they can only blame themselves. Roman Reigns shows up right on time to check the oldies are okay before squaring up to Show (they don’t discuss fairy-tales this time, sadly) and knocking him clean out of the ring. Backstage, Renee is with Cena as he awaits the results of the poll. Shockingly, 85% of respondents voted for a wrestling match on this wrestling show. But Cena won’t find out who he’s facing up against until later. The suspense is killing me.
Bad News Barrett -v- Dean Ambrose
This is weird booking, but both of these guys are at a loose end right now (is Ambrose still feuding with Rollins or..?) and they’re both great, too, so who cares. This match needs a bigger slot than it gets, but they still manage to show off a decent amount, with Ambrose taking charge pretty much immediately. A gnarly flying elbow from the second rope leads to him eating a superkick after Barrett ducks his attempt at a chop. Cole reminds us Batista won the Rumble last year, because he really hates us all and he can’t think of anything else to say. Ambrose wins with the Dirty Deeds, but who cares, both of them still come out of it looking strong. A lot of classic Royal Rumble facts follow this match, if you’re that way inclined, with some interesting figures including how Trips has wrestled over three hours in Rumble matches. Ryback, on the other hand, has only wrestled twenty four seconds.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Tag Team Match: Big E & Kofi Kingston -v- Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
This whole New Day thing really isn’t working, especially when E goes full preacher and only about five people in the crowd repeat the chant back to them. It’s unfortunate, because all three of them are great in their own right. The entrance goes on way too long, regardless, and Kidd and Cesaro are more fun even when they’re saying nothing at all (like the great Ronan Keating). Adam Rose is dancing with Nattie, much to her husband’s chagrin, and all of his damn Rosebuds are congregating too because, I guess, they’ve nowhere else to put him (he’s involved in their match on Sunday, too, because he’s sleeping with someone clearly). There’s a crazy uppercut by Cesaro when he first tags in, and his double team move with Kidd (a straight jacket powerbomb into a blockbuster) looks bloody brilliant. He swings Kofi, before Kidd swoops in to kick him in another cool, double team move, as he stops but Kingston manages to win it for his team after Cesaro accidentally knocks Kidd off the apron and gets distracted. Following the match, The New Day celebrate with the Rosebuds because that’s the level they’re at now. Dancing jobbers.
Winners: Big E & Kofi Kingston
The NWO are here and the crowd, understandably, go absolutely nuts for them. Scott Hall wants to know how many are there for the Reunion and the answer comes as a sheepish “er, like, five of us who are really old”. The Ascension show up as he’s mid-speech to continue their anti-classic tag teams tirade and Konnor/Viktor says things that nobody cares about because the crowd are too busy chanting that they suck. “We were born and bred to rip and shred” he explains further, because rhyming is COOL. Their basic message seems to be that no other tag team is any good, especially not one from WCW. Suddenly, JBL hops up out his chair because he is sick of this shit and he has had enough and he is going to remove his shirt to reveal an APA shirt before calling on his old buddy Ron Simmons to join him in the ring! But it ain’t a party without the New Age Outlaws, at least not according to Road Dogg, who is so excited to be in Dallas he gives the Cowboys a cheap pop (he and Gunn also wear their merch). He refers to racehorses and thoroughbreds, gesturing here and there, before posing the question “Who invited the jackasses?” They then lay into The Ascension, because nobody else is cleared to wrestle. JBL manages to land a clothesline from hell though, grinning massively as he does so, and Konnor/Viktor sells it like a champ. Backstage, The Authority are playing with an iPhone 6 because they’re totally rich and can do that. They’re also way too happy to announce Cena’s opponent, so much so that they’ve hired a drummer for the occasion, but he keeps stopping after each man is announced and they fire him on the spot for it. Cena may be up against Rollins, Show and Kane tonight, but that poor guy will never work in this town again according to Trips.
Divas Tag Team Match: Paige & Natalya -v- Summer Rae & Alicia Fox
The Bellas’ music plays because they’re on commentary and Nikki is wearing a dress designed explicitly for sex. There’s a cool double team kind-of backdrop to Summer before Paige clotheslines Foxy over and over, and then locks her in the PTO to win. The match on Sunday is a tag, too, but apparently it’s not for the belt because women.
Winners: Paige & Natalya
Rusev -v- R-Truth
It’s R’s birthday today, so he gets to cut a little promo to start, about apple pie, while calling his opponent “cupcake”. But this is yet another dull-as-fuck squash match and Rusev wins it without even lifting his massive arms too much. Snore.
Backstage, Rollins is walking around with his security team in tow telling them all about how he’s going to win on Sunday and how he manages to get his hair so soft when he runs into Lesnar – what are the chances!? – and is advised, in no uncertain terms, that the only reason he’s being spared tonight is so he can take care of Cena. Either way, Lesnar gon’ kill him on Sunday. Rollins is hyperventilating as he walks away, staring hard as he goes.
Uso -v- The Miz
Even Cole didn’t note which Uso is involved in this match – probably because it lasted about ten seconds. There’s a cute promo before it starts, with Mizdow seemingly a bit unsure of his boss’s intentions. The crowd chant for him throughout, and he replicates Miz’s moves to hilarious effect as usual. Cole calls Booker “Booger” as Miz hits a cool enough neckbreaker. However, Uso wins. Somehow. Could this be foreshadowing for Sunday? I shudder to think. Also, speaking of the Rumble and tag team matches that are a bit random, The Ascension are facing up to the Outlaws and that’s super cool because at least it’s new and doesn’t involve any dancing.
Main Event: 3-on-1 Handicap Match: John Cena -v- Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane
The Authority sit ringside throughout, Steph clapping respectfully as Rollins enters. He does a fake surprise O-face as Cena’s music drops and it’s totally adorable. Rollins is about to take the first shot but then thinks better of it and tags Show in instead. This is a handicap tag, so it’s lots of polite tagging in and then taking turns whacking Cena, which kind of defeats the purpose of the match. Steph does the U Can’t C Me to Trips, who is trying really hard to keep a straight face. Rollins tumbles purely for show – he loves a tumble – before aiming from the top and flipping over Cena to drop him. Cena manages some offence with a couple of shoulder tackles and the 5-Knuckle Shuffle, but falters as he tries to hit the AA, as Rollins’ trusty security team intervene to save his ass yet again. Rollins superkicks him but it isn’t enough to knock Cena out and he manages the AA, leading Kane to interrupt and stop him from winning, dragging him out where he collapses, almost counted out by the ref in the process but making it back in just in time. Kane chokeslams him, but then suddenly Sting shows up to distract everyone with his TNA gloves and to regale them of stories of what it’s like to be a member of The Black Parade. He points and Cena rolls Rollins up to win. Cena then runs off to celebrate with some kids as Trips stands on the announce table and yells that Sting doesn’t belong here. Lesnar appears next, tackles Rollins, then the other two, and finally Rollins flees.
Winner: John Cena
Not a bad Raw overall, this week was very storyline driven, which personally I don’t mind for a go-home show as when there are too many matches it can make the PPV feel a bit lacklustre in comparison – often the best fights are the ones kept until the tension has mounted a bit further. The Reunion angle seemed a bit weird at first, but turned out to a lot of fun, particularly with Sandow aping X-Pac and the return of the New Age Outlaws. JBL kicked some butt too, which is nice considering it’d been hinted at for weeks. There are four tag team matches lined up for Sunday, and that’s incredibly brave considering the state of the tag team division right now. Considering Tyson Kidd and Cesaro have already been making waves together, it seems unfair to stick them with Adam Rose in a 6-man but I suppose they have to find a spot for The New Day somewhere.
The Ascension are, presumably, going to defeat the New Age Outlaws and that’ll put them over hugely, while the Rumble itself should be reliably good fun, as alwasy. The WHC match is being sold really well, so here’s hoping Cena doesn’t win yet again. The Divas are being totally undervalued, but that’s kind of the story of their lives. All things considered, this was a pretty solid go-home show for the PPV, even if the addition of legends didn’t quite sit right with me at first.
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