The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 01/12/15

Live from New Orleans, Louisiana (I miss Bourbon St.) this is the Raw Deal for episode #1128. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

There was a video package from last week’s Raw when The Authority fired Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan. I hope they enjoyed their weekend off live events and this week’s Raw. Remember last week when a new video opened Raw? It didn’t air this week.

John Cena made his entrance for a promo. The announce team is Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Booker T. It was announced last week that this is the new announce team on Raw.

Cena said it was good to be back in the city that hosted WrestleMania and talked about how Bourbon St. is about having fun. Cena said that his choice to bring the Authority back was the right thing to do, so he’s living with it. He spoke about how Triple H is only going to be remembered as a power hungry sociopath that tries to make people’s lives miserable. Cena mentioned the three guys that got fired and when he asked the fans if they want to see those guys back, the fans chanted “yes” to that. He encouraged fans to put #AuthoritySucks on social media. Cena said he had a Plan B as he mentioned the WWE Title match at Royal Rumble against Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins. Cena said he’s going to win the WWE Title and then he’s going to take the WWE Title and go home. Then he’s going to wait until The Authority gives those three guys their jobs back or else he’s going to stay home. The Authority’s music started up.

Analysis: Who thought this promo was a good idea? The WWE Champion was at home for over three months. How is Cena threatening to stay home with the WWE Title any different than the absentee champion Brock Lesnar? He was trying to say that he would even stay home at WrestleMania when the interruption happened. If WWE wants the guy to get cheered, he shouldn’t be threatening to stay home. He should stand up to them and say he will fight. The creative team is really out of touch of late.

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon went into the ring to talk to Cena. She mocked Cena for his hashtag while wondering if those three fired guys would be happy watching Cena win the WWE Title and then going home. Hunter mocked Cena for taking his ball and going home. Hunter blamed Cena for convincing those three guys to fight with him while reminding Cena that “The Authority always wins.” Stephanie called Cena selfish.

Hunter said he was giving Cena the opportunity to be the hero again. They said they didn’t want to fire those guys, but they kept their promise from before Survivor Series. He asked the fans if they want to see Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan back in WWE. The fans cheered although not as loud as it should be. Hunter said that Cena had to win a match tonight to get their job back.

Hunter put Cena in a match against Seth Rollins in a Lumberjack Match. He brought out the lumberjacks because the match is coming up right now. The lumberjacks are heels like Kane, Big Show, Cesaro, Bad News Barrett, Tyson Kidd, Fandango and others.

Analysis: The show opening promo is never going away apparently. Hunter and Steph’s speech was fine. They did a good job of being heels that were also honest from their perspective. The reason Cena/Rollins was put on so early was because the College Football Championship game didn’t start yet, so it was smart of WWE to put on a big match early. I’m still shaking my head at Cena’s promo about staying home with the WWE Title as if that hasn’t been done for over three months.

(Commercial)

A shot of the lumberjacks at ringside showed some of the others out there include Titus O’Neil and Justin Gabriel along with those I mentioned. Rollins made his entrance with J&J Security.

Lumberjack Match: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins

Cena attacked Barrett early, so Rollins took advantage. Rollins dumped Cena outside the ring and the lumberjacks started punching him. Cena gave Rollins a clothesline over the top to the floor. The lumberjacks didn’t touch Rollins, so it was a way to show how lumberjacks acted differently.

(Commercial)

During the break, Barrett tripped up Cena so Rollins was in control. Booker kept complaining about the lumberjacks so he’s the babyface announcer, which is no surprise. Cena hit his spinning suplex and hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena hit Rollins with the Attitude Adjustment. J&J distracted Cena, so Rollins he rolled outside the ring with the lumberjacks pulling him. Cena jumped off the top rope onto the heels that were outside the ring. Fandango looked like he hurt his knee because he was limping after it. Somebody must have landed on him.

Cena got a two count after all that and then Rollins came back with a kick to the face for two of his own. Rollins gave Cena the Powerbomb into the turnbuckle for a two count. Cena hit a sloppy Powerbomb for two that looked weird because he didn’t get him up all the way, but the landing was fine. Cena went for AA again, Rollins countered and hit a flipping neckbreaker for two. The crowd was really into this match. Cena hit the AA. Like a dummy, he covered with his feet facing towards the apron. J&J yanked him out of the ring. Cesaro did a swing to Cena that sent him into the barricade. When they put Cena back in the ring, Cena applied the STF and Kane dragged Rollins towards him. Cena got back to his feet, Big Show yanked Cena outside the ring and gave him the KO Punch. Show put Cena back in the ring. Rollins crawled over, covered Cena and got the pinfall win after 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Seth Rollins

Analysis: *** They’ve had a lot of matches together on television as well as live events, so the chemistry is really good between them. There were certain moves where I could tell what kind of counter was coming because we’ve seen it in the past. It’s still good wrestling and I’m not complaining about a good 15 minute match like that. The story was that Cena couldn’t overcome all the cheating, so even though Cena got pinned it was a totally unfair situation. It was good from a storyline perspective and a solid match too.

Post match, Kane and Show put Rollins on their shoulders as J&J applauded the win. Cena looked frustrated in the ring. Maybe he should go watch some of his bad acting on Total Divas to feel better.

Still to come: Contract signing for Royal Rumble WWE Title match with Lesnar, Cena & Rollins. Also Daniel Bryan is there.

(Commercial)

Stephanie was in her office with The Usos and Dean Ambrose. She told them that they should blame John Cena for things. Then as The Usos were about to leave, she told Jimmy that his wife Naomi had to have a match with her hand tied behind her back. Stephanie said that Ambrose was a threat to himself and others, so a doctor named Dr. Corbin was there to evaluate him. If Dean didn’t pass his evaluation then he is out of the Royal Rumble match.

Analysis: More babyfaces getting punished for their action, which is the ongoing theme every week.

The Miz and Damien Mizdow held their Slammy Awards while talking about the Golden Globes from Sunday. Miz congratulated George Clooney on his Lifetime Achievement Award and said some day he’ll win the gold statue he really covets, a Slammy.

Analysis: This was fine. I didn’t watch the awards.

Dean Ambrose talked with Dr. Corbin. The doc told Dean to sit back and relax. There was a loud clock, which Dean stared at. Went to break there.

Analysis: I was informed that the doctor was played by an indy wrestler named Mike Dell.

(Commercial)

Smackdown moves to Thursdays this week. Good. Way better than Fridays. In Canada we get it on Wednesdays since the channel that shows it (Sportsnet 360) has a deal to show NHL games on Thursdays. Fine by me. I’ll get Smackdown & NXT on Wednesdays.

Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston (w/Big E) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (w/Adam Rose & Natalya)

Cole talked about why Cesaro & Kidd attacked The New Day last week. Instead of having Cole explain it, why can’t we hear from the actual wrestlers? Would be nice. The heels isolated Kingston in their corner. After Cesaro kicked Woods, Kingston got a rollup. Cesaro gave Kingston a Swing and then Kidd hit a dropkick for a two count. Great move. Kingston hit a nice kick on Kidd to create separation and he brought in Woods. Forearm shot by Woods followed by a leaping clothesline. Cesaro got sent out of the ring by Kingston. Rose was on the apron, Big E hit a clothesline on him so Kidd and Woods did a rollup exchange. Woods tagged Kingston, who jumped off the top with a double foot stomp on Kidd (he was held by Woods) and that was enough for the win after four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston

Analysis: ** It was a good match for the time given. These are two tag teams on the rise. It’s important to have teams feud in situations not involving a title to just show that the division is deeper. If they got 12-15 minutes it would be great. Kidd and Cesaro are my favorite team although I really like The Usos too. I’d be happy with Kidd/Cesaro vs. Usos matches for about three months. Please and thank you.

It was mentioned that Randy Savage is expected to be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Expected to be inducted? What the hell is that? It’s your show. Just say it or don’t. They did a video of superstars doing “Oooooh Yeaaaaah.” It was mostly babyfaces doing it with Big Show mixed in, which is weird since he’s portrayed as a mean giant. Daniel Bryan couldn’t do it. Roman Reigns did a really good job of it. Booker T also did a good imitation at the announce table.

Analysis: I guess that was a way to put over Reigns strong. Don’t put heels in videos like Big Show in stuff like this. It’s just awkward.

(Commercial)

They showed a clip of the Indianapolis Colts locker room with Sergio Brown doing a Ric Flair promo leading to “Woo” chants from the others in the room. They credited TMZ for the video even though it was on the Indianapolis Colts Facebook and Twitter accounts first. WWE just loves TMZ.

Next week it’s Raw Reunion with Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Scott Hall. There might be more. They said four Hall of Famers even though for Hall they only called him Razor Ramon when he was inducted in 2014.

Analysis: It seems like they do those kinds of shows every few months. Kevin Nash was going to be a part of it, but after having a fight with his son that is being investigated, he won’t be there.

Big Show came out for another “hey fans I’m a heel so I’m going to be mean to you” promo. He talked about how in his first day on the job he won the World Title. That was in WCW and was his first match, so that is true. Terrible match too. He talked about how people try to stab others in the back for job security. He finally got to the point by mentioning Roman Reigns. Then he mentioned how he’s going to knock out Reigns and for some reason brought up the awful New York Knicks. Why would New Orleans fans care? I love that the Knicks suck, by the way. Go Raptors. Roman’s music started and he entered by from the crowd.

Roman marched down to the ring with a purpose. Booker called Roman a “Samolian” and laughed. Well that’s almost Samoan. Show left the ring and went up the ramp. Roman wondered why Show left. Roman remembered when Show won the WCW Title from Hogan, but he was only 12 years old. Then Roman did a promo about Jack and the Beanstalk while comparing it to his feud with Big Show. He spoke about knocking out the giant and that the giant walked away like a loser. Roman ended it like this: “That whole part about being a loser, I’m talking to you pal. Believe that.”

Analysis: It was a bad promo. We don’t need him telling us that Show is the loser. We can figure it out. In Roman’s defense, the material was awful. I’m not sure if the best talker ever could make that one work much less a below average talker like Reigns. His “suffering succotash” promo on Smackdown was also brutal. It was mentioned by Dave Meltzer last week that Vince McMahon writes the Roman promos. That needs to stop. They are brutal. He should talk less, simply discuss beating people up and let his actions speak louder than his words. Why complicate things? It’s going to hurt him more than help.

Luke Harper walked out for a match with Reigns while Show walked to the ring with him.

Roman Reigns vs. Luke Harper (w/Big Show)

Reigns hit a Samoan Drop early, Harper went to the floor and that was the cue for the break less than a minute into it.

(Commercial)

Reigns countered a suplex into a Jackhammer like suplex for a two count. Harper came back with a dropkick. Outside the ring, Harper tossed Reigns into the stairs. Harper hit a rolling senton into the ring, which is so impressive for a big man. Harper grabbed a headlock, which was the cue for the Reigns comeback with three clotheslines and a neckbreaker for two. Harper did an eye rake followed by a boot to the face for two. Side slam by Reigns. Show tossed a leather chair to distract Reigns leading to a Bossman slam by Harper. Reigns rolled up Harper and then hit a Superman Punch. Reigns hit his running dropkick with Harper on the apron. Show distracted Reigns, so Harper hit a superkick for two. Harper went for his clothesline, but Reigns came back with an impressive Spear for the win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns

Analysis: **1/2 It’s no surprise that Reigns got the win because he’s not going to lose between now and WrestleMania. If he does, it would be really cheap. It’s all about making Reigns strong. Harper’s a good big man worker that can have great matches with anybody.

Post match, Show attacked Reigns with a body slam. Show hit the KO Punch that knocked out Reigns.

Analysis: It’s the typical storyline WWE does before the Rumble where they have a veteran heel target a top babyface. Last year it was Del Rio with Batista. This year it’s Show with Reigns.

There was a recap of John Cena from earlier. They hyped other stuff to come.

Jimmy Uso talked to his wife Naomi backstage although we couldn’t hear them. Did he tell her to avoid the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH that is a threat to win in every divas match? Maybe.

(Commercial)

The Miz and Damien Mizdow talked about the movie Boyhood that won a Golden Globe award. Never seen it. Mizdow said that for the past six months he installed cameras throughout the house of The Miz for his movie called Manhood. Miz looked stunned.

Analysis: An attempt at comedy that didn’t really work too well.

Naomi vs. Alicia Fox

Naomi has her left hand tied behind her back. Fox hit a backbreaker for two. JBL found a way to complain about the Cowboys loss during this match. Fox applied an armbar. The crowd is dead for this. Naomi hit a back elbow, a boot to the face and clotheslines. Naomi hit a kick to head that sent Alicia to the floor. When they went back into the ring, Fox hit a kick to the face. Scissors Kick by Fox gave her the pinfall win. The Usos were shown watching backstage. The match went four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Alicia Fox

Analysis: * It was a pretty easy win for the heel against the face that had the disadvantage. It’s nice to see a storyline for women not in the title picture. Perhaps this is going to build up Naomi as the next Divas Champion. I’m not sure where it’s going at this point.

Backstage, Dean was in the office with Dr. Corbin, who asked him to come up with the first word that comes to mind and Dean yelled out “Thursday” in reference to the Smackdown commercial. He showed images of Triple H (“Irrital Bowel Syndrome”), Seth Rollins (“Scumbag”), Roman Reigns (“Brother”), Kane (“Toothpaste”) that’s tremendous, Hacksaw Jim Duggan (“HOOOOO!”) and Stephanie McMahon (“HOOOOO!”). That was a clever ending as they went to break.

Analysis: The “toothpaste” remark for Kane was brilliant because it was a reference to Dr. Isaac Yankem from nearly 20 years ago. If you got it, great. If not, look up some Yankem videos. Calling Stephanie a ho reminds me of Jericho doing it about 15 years ago all the time. WWE has their male wrestlers call heel women ho’s. Not the nicest thing in the world, but it’s done for comedy.

(Commercial)

The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman entered for a promo. Lesnar was wearing the title around his waist.

Heyman did the talking like usual as he said that 282 days ago the rancid city of New Orleans and millions of people were witness to this. It was a video of Brock Lesnar beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 to end the undefeated streak. I was there. It was shocking. The most memorable moment of WWE 2014 in my opinion.

Heyman said it was the end of a legacy and the rise of a beast when Lesnar conquered The Undertaker. Heyman mentioned that Lesnar is the only man to win the NCAA Heavyweight Title, the UFC Heavyweight Title and the WWE World Heavyweight Title while pointing out that nobody has held two of those. This is true. Heyman kept on mentioning that Lesnar beat Undertaker at WM30 because that’s what Lesnar does. Heyman continued to rant about Undertaker and Cena losing to Lesnar. He added that Seth Rollins claims to be the future of WWE so Heyman wonders if that’s fantasy or reality. There’s a contract signing later, so his client will explain the difference between fantasy and reality.

Analysis: It was a promo to help promote the promo that is going to main event this show. I’m a huge fan of Heyman talking and Lesnar being on the show is great, but it was not an interesting segment. Couldn’t they have Lesnar beat up some jobbers or something? That’s always fun.

There was another reminder of the contract signing.

(Commercial)

There were more people doing Macho Man impressions including The Usos, The Miz & Mizdow, the Bella Twins, Santino did a bad job of it and Dean Ambrose was there. Even John Cena did it. Kane didn’t do it. The Miz was the best of that bunch.

Analysis: It’s still weird seeing heels doing these kinds of things, but it’s not that big of a deal.

The Miz (w/Damien Mizdow) vs. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso)

The Usos didn’t do their chant at the top of the ramp. Is it because it’s a singles match? No idea. Miz hit a corner clothesline. Jey slammed Miz, so Mizdow slammed himself into the ring by falling over the top rope. He’s the man. Samoan Drop by Jey and then the running butt splash. The announcers forgot to say “shades of his daddy Rikishi” there. Miz tried a figure four, but Jey got an inside cradle. Mizdow grabbed Miz as he tried to get out of the ring. Jimmy grabbed Mizdow. The ref was distracted by that so Miz did an eye poke and then hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: The Miz

The announcers didn’t mention the eye poke or show a replay of it.

Analysis: * It was fine for the time given. It feels like we’ve seen that result before since Miz has wrestled both brothers a few times and has been victorious. It’s just a way to build to Miz & Mizdow challenging The Usos for the tag titles likely at the Royal Rumble.

The UK and Ireland get WWE Network next Monday. Finally. Good for them.

Daniel Bryan is up next at the top of hour three.

(Commercial)

There was a huge ovation for Daniel Bryan, who marched down to the ring leading the crowd in “YES” chants. They aired clips of Bryan winning the WWE Title at WM30 in New Orleans last year. I loved being there. Not sure if I’m going this year.

Daniel Bryan Promo Time

Bryan acted like he couldn’t remember, but then recalled that last time he was in New Orleans he became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania 30. “Not bad for a lumberjack looking B+ player huh?” He added that he’s in that he’s the Rumble match, but that he’s also declaring his intentions on winning the Royal Rumble match. He said he’s going to do the whole thing all over again and main event this year’s WrestleMania again. Here’s Stephanie McMahon with the interruption.

Analysis: My gripe with this is that a wrestler should do the interruption because somebody should come out to tell Bryan that they are going to win. Instead, more of The Authority.

Stephanie went into the ring with some fans chanting “HOOOOO” in reference to Ambrose’s promo from earlier. She brought Bryan her fitness DVD to help him with his training. He shook his head no. She did a recap of everything from last year and said reality came crashing down, which led to the video of Kane attacking Bryan on Raw with three Tombstone piledrivers. She added that an A+ player not only wins at WrestleMania, but also stays on top. Stephanie said that for some reason the fans believe in him because he represents them as an “Average Joe” like them. She said that Bryan’s wife Brie and his “unborn foxtroll children” believe in him. The same Brie that’s a heel? Yeah her. She wondered if Bryan was ready to do this again. Bryan said “yes” repeatedly and so did the fans. He suggested to Steph that she should raise her arms with the people because it’s a better workout than the DVD there. Funny line. Bryan did a “HOOOO!” too. Bryan said that no matter what she says and what The Authority: “I will not stop fighting. They (the fans) will not stop fighting. We will not stop fighting. We will keep on going through the Royal Rumble match and through WrestleMania until all of us finally prove you wrong one more time.”

Stephanie mentioned that this week on Smackdown, Bryan is going to take on Kane. That led to corporate Kane walking to the ring. Bryan attacked him, but Kane tossed Bryan into the stairs at ringside. Kane wanted to give Bryan a Tombstone on the stairs, but Bryan fought out of it. Bryan shoved Kane into the ringpost. He jumped onto Kane and pounded him with a barrage of punches. Referees showed up to try to break it up. Bryan nailed Kane with a running knee to the face. Bryan hit a dive through the top/middle rope. Maybe stop doing that move. Not great for the neck. I’m no Dr. Nick Riviera, though. Bryan celebrated in the ring while Kane walked to the back.

Analysis: Bryan’s promo was great. He showed the kind of babyface fire that we want to see by saying that he was going to fight against The Authority and there was no way for The Authority to stop him. Compare that to Cena earlier talking about going home with the WWE Title, which was so weak. Is Kane still a threat? He loses all the time. Bryan will beat Kane in the match. No other finish makes sense. They need to have Bryan look impressive and show that he’s back in great shape.

Seth Rollins was backstage with J&J talking about Seth’s win. Brock Lesnar showed up. He laughed about how Rollins weaseled his way into the match at the Royal Rumble. Rollins said that he’s the future of WWE while Lesnar said that the future starts when he says it starts. Heyman told Rollins that he’s not just facing Cena, but he’s also facing Lesnar. Heyman said that maybe Rollins and Lesnar can work together to get rid of Cena and then may the best man win. The two men just stared at each other the whole time until Lesnar left.

Analysis: That was a good little backstage segment right there. It was effective. Heels don’t always have to work together and there are going to be trust issues, but Heyman’s suggestion paints an interesting picture.

Another reminder of the contract signing later.

(Commercial)

Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella) vs. Paige (w/Natalya & Tyson Kidd)

This was where Paige won the Divas Title last year the night after WrestleMania. Brie hit a running knee to the face and then a dropkick off the middle rope for two. Chinlock time as Nikki bent over at ringside while the camera got a shot of that. Good camera work. Paige came back with a boot to the stomach, headbutts and then a standing side kick for two. Kidd stood on the apron for some reason. That distracted Paige, so Brie did the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH and of course that ended the match after about two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Brie Bella

Post match, Paige went up to Kidd and slapped him in the face. It wasn’t a great slap. Natalya did a little smirk after it, but then she walked away.

Analysis: 1/2* Same old story for a divas match. Too short and ending with the ROLLUP OF DEATH. They should use these matches to have the faces actually win to build them as contenders, but instead it was Brie that won. I assume it will be Nikki vs. Paige v. Natalya for the Divas Title at the Royal Rumble, but it’s not a sure thing.

Backstage, Cena was shown looking all serious and sad. Send his girlfriend Nikki. She’ll cheer him up.

Bray Wyatt did a promo backstage talking about the Royal Rumble. He spoke about how they’re going to laugh and cry, but they’ll be shocked about what they see. He said that the animal that is caged in this prison will be set free, which refers to himself. “Run!”

Analysis: That’s it for Wyatt? Only 30 seconds? He needs to be in a more featured role.

(Commercial)

The announcers set up the Hall of Fame announcement.

Hall of Fame Announcement for Randy Savage

The video for Randy Savage in the WWE Hall of Fame aired. It was a great video that showed some of his promos, his appearances on talk shows, some Slim Jim commercials and of course his in-ring accomplishment.

He really was my favorite wrestler as a kid and I don’t know if I’d still be a fan without his influence all those years ago. He was the kind of all around performer that I loved. Great matches, incredible promo, an awesome look and amazing charisma. I can remember jumping in the living room with my older cousins (I’m the youngest) when he won the WWE Title at WM4. I was 7 years old. He was my guy. Watching these clips bring back fond memories. Wish he was able to be there to hear the ovation he will receive on March 28, but it will be wonderful to see a celebration of his life that he so richly deserves. I’ll be doing a top 10 epic Macho Man moments feature for WhatCulture.com that will likely be posted by Thursday.

Some of us are hard on WWE a lot and they certainly deserve it at times, but I really like that they got things right the last three years by putting Bruno Sammartino, Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage in the Hall of Fame.

At the end of the promo it was announced that Hulk Hogan will do the induction speech. That’s probably because his brother Lanny Poffo (The Genius) and perhaps his mother with speak for Randy, who passed away in 2011.

Analysis: Hogan had a rocky relationship with him for years, but Hogan claims they were on good terms before Savage died. It’s a good business move to have Hogan do it because they are linked together so closely.

The Ascension showed up for another match against some jobbers. Viktor and Konnor did a pre-show promo saying they’re better than Demolition, the Powers of Pain and Demolition. “Welcome to the Wasteland.” That’s it? Very basic. It’s not like the Powers of Pain were that good anyway. The other two teams were great.

The Ascension vs. Two Local Wrestlers

The names for the wrestlers they were against were not mentioned. JBL was ripping on the guys they were against. Konnor and Viktor did a double team power slam. They hit the Fall of Man for the win. The match went about one minute.

Winners by pinfall: The Ascension

Post match, JBL kept on ripping them for bragging about being better than other teams. He wanted them to face better opponents. Why is a heel announcer burying heel wrestlers? Weird way to present them.

Analysis: They will need real competition soon.

Back in the doctor office, Ambrose was in the doctor seat while the doctor was lying on the couch while crying about how his dad never hugged him. Ambrose told him he won’t go blind. He also told the doctor to sign papers to get the help he needs. Ambrose called him a spineless piece of cow dung and ended by saying it was weird that he sits down to pee. Funny line to end it.

Analysis: It was just a comedy segment to put over Ambrose’s unique personality. The line about being weird because he sits down to pee was a funny way to end things. The signing part was done because it confirmed that Ambrose passed the evaluation.

(Commercial)

Next week it’s Raw Reunion. There will be other legends too, but they didn’t say more names other than Hogan, Flair, Michaels and Hall.

Rusev and Lana were in the ring for a promo. She said Ryback was going to face Rusev, but he got canned. She thanked The Authority for firing Ryback and thanked Cena for failing to get Ryback’s job back. Fans chanted “USA” at her. She talked about Ryback getting a job at the deli or some other place from his stupid story. Rusev called Ryback a spineless man that deserved to be fired and the spineless Americans don’t deserve him as your champion. Rusev said that Ryback is lucky because he got fired and the super American John Cena couldn’t win his job back. Rusev said he was going to throw Ryback over the top rope in the Royal Rumble, but now he can’t.

Dean Ambrose’s music hit and he slowly walked down to the ring to confront Rusev. Ambrose hit a dropkick. Rusev went to the floor. That ended the segment.

Analysis: It was a very basic promo from them. It was just a way to announce that Rusev was in the Rumble match, which was expected. Ambrose got the doctor to sign the paper, so he’s in the Rumble too.

(Commercial)

Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Dean Ambrose

The match was made during the break. Rusev hit a diving shoulder tackle at the knee of Ambrose, which was hurt from last week’s Ambulance Match. Rusev continued to attack the knee. Ambrose avoided an attack and got a rollup after dodging a kick. Ambrose fought out of a body slam by bouncing off the ropes with a clothesline. Ambrose with a flying elbow off the top for two and then he started was hobbling on his knee again. Rusev stomped away on the left knee. Rusev continued to stomp away. He hung Ambrose upside down and hit his knee with forearm shots. Ref Chad Patton rang the bell saying Ambrose was too hurt to wrestle. Ambrose was upset about it. The match went about five minutes.

Winner by ref stoppage: Rusev

Post match, hit a superkick to knock down Ambrose again.

Analysis: *1/2 What a crappy finish. They were building up to a good match there, but Ambrose never made the comeback as expected. They stopped a match because the guy was working on an injured body part. That’s brutal. Maybe WWE doesn’t want Ambrose losing clean, but this is worse because it makes him look too weak.

Seth Rollins and J&J were shown walking backstage.

(Commercial)

This week on Smackdown it’s Daniel Bryan vs. Kane.

Royal Rumble WWE Title Contract Match Signing

Why does WWE love contract signings so much? They are done way too often. Triple H and Stephanie were in the ring with a table along with a contract. I’m so sick of them already. They’re not bad heels, but they are on the show too much. I know I’m not saying anything new with that.

Seth Rollins was introduced first. He had J&J with him. Hunter introduced Cena as Mr. Hustle, Loyalty & Broken Promises. Catchy. The WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were out last. The crowd was pretty quiet for all of them. Maybe they’re sick of all the promos like I am. There’s a “Vacant > Lesnar” sign in the crowd. Pretty funny.

Heyman said that as much as he would love to take credit for bringing back for The Authority, the architect was Rollins. Heyman said the plan to bring back The Authority was endorsed by Heyman because it was bad for John Cena because what’s bad for Cena is good for Brock Lesnar. Rollins thanked him, but Heyman said he wasn’t done yet. Heyman told Rollins that Lesnar has conquered everything put in front of him as Lesnar stared at Rollins.

Rollins spoke up, but Heyman cut him off saying that a triple threat could be a double cross because Lesnar could lose without getting pinned or submitted. Rollins wondered if Lesnar could handle a triple threat match and Heyman went to speak, but Rollins told him he wasn’t finished. Rollins went over his accomplishments. Rollins said that whether it’s plan A (pointed to the contract) or plan B (the briefcase), he’s walking out as WWE Champion. Rollins signed the contract.

Lesnar grabbed the microphone. He called Rollins “Mr. Curb Stomp.” He said he conquered The Undertaker, he conquered him (pointing at Triple H) and he conquered him (pointed at Cena).

Cena said that Lesnar doesn’t have to get pinned, but he’s going to get pinned. He told Rollins they were going to kick his ass and then Cena’s going to kick Lesnar’s ass. Cena signed the contract. Lesnar signed the contract, so all three guys were in. If they didn’t sign, they’d still be in because these signings are pointless.

Rollins told Cena that his plans haven’t really worked out like Cena not keeping The Authority away and also not bringing back his friends earlier tonight. He told Cena that in two weeks it will be strike three.

The brawl started after Rollins tried a briefcase attack. Cena stopped that. Lesnar with a German Suplex on Cena. Lesnar with a German Suplex, who sold it by flipping over and landing on his stomach. Cena gave Lesnar the Attitude Adjustment through the table. Triple H distracted Cena, so Rollins kicked him in the gut and gave him a Curb Stomp. Lesnar was struggling to get back to his feet, so Rollins gave Lesnar a Curb Stomp too. JBL said that was an incredible statement by Rollins.

Rollins was the only man standing in the ring while The Authority applauded him at ringside. A 30 second commercial about Randy Savage aired for WWE Network.

Back to the live shot of the arena, Rollins posed at the top of the ramp with The Authority at his side.

Analysis: It was a typical contract signing that ended up in a brawl to set up. If you’ve seen one contract signing in this era then you’ve seen them all. There’s never anything that new or different about them.

What I liked was that they used the opportunity to make Rollins look strong and like he belonged in the match. That’s key. Remember that it was originally going to be Lesnar vs. Cena, so it was important to make sure that Rollins “win” that segment so to speak. That doesn’t mean he’s going to win at the Royal Rumble. It just means that they made an effective use of their time in that segment by booking it the right way.

I’m probably picking Lesnar to win at the Rumble just because that’s been the plan as far as we know, but I’d really like it to be Rollins.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. The Randy Savage Hall of Fame announcement. Yes it counts.

2. Seth Rollins

3. Daniel Bryan

 

The Scoreboard

4.5 out of 10

Last week: 4.5

Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 7.5, 6, 5.5, 4.5

2015 Average: 4.5

 

Final Thoughts

It gets a 4.5 out of 10. Same score as last week. Both are disappointing. I’m probably being too nice again.

It was a promo heavy show. Out of all the promos, Bryan’s promo was pretty good because it actually sounded like a babyface that people liked and he showed a lot of fire. Cena’s opening promo was pretty bad. Roman Reigns did a poor job. Ambrose’s stuff was okay for cheap jokes. Rollins and Heyman were fine, but nothing that we don’t hear all the time. The Authority’s promos bored me.

I thought the Rollins/Cena match was above average like all their matches are, but it was more of an angle than a match once it was over.

With all due respect to Randy Savage, when the best part of the show is a video package about a guy that hasn’t been on WWE TV in 20 years then you know things aren’t going well.

That Roman Reigns promo was awful. I’m not a huge Reigns hater, but holy crap that was bad.

Too many promos. Not even good in-ring action. There also aren’t enough promos with people talking about how much they want to win the Royal Rumble. A few guys get to talk. The rest say nothing. The name sells the match, but it would be even better if the talent were allowed to talk too.

There’s a lot of good on camera talent in WWE, but the writing is poor. Same problems as usual. Ultimately it won’t matter that much because people still love the Rumble match and will be excited for it like they are every year. It’s just a shame that the TV shows aren’t better.

—–

That’s all for this week.

We did a TJRWrestling staff column with our predictions for 2015. It’s a big one, but I hope you give it a look if you haven’t done so already.

Check out my feature column archive that’s exclusive to WhatCulture. I’m posting recaps of every Royal Rumble PPV, which are a lot of fun to do. Also I had a piece up about why Seth Rollins should leave the Royal Rumble PPV as the WWE Champion. It’s an interesting take, so check that out.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling.com on Facebook

 

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