January 11, 2016
From the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
We see clips from last week after Roman Reigns successfully defended the WWE Title against Sheamus, with Vince McMahon as the special guest referee, and after the match Vince told Reigns he will be defending his WWE World Title in the Royal Rumble match.
The show opens with a majority of the roster standing on the stage. Vince McMahon’s music hits as he comes out with his daughter Stephanie. They strut right through the middle of the wrestlers to the ring as they are grinning from ear-to-ear. Vince seems out of breath as he says we are looking at the next WWE World Champion. Stephanie talks about one of these wrestlers making history by tossing Reigns over the top rope in the Royal Rumble match. I guess that makes more history than becoming the World Champion. Vince then said someone like “Dolph Zeegler,” who has reached for that brass ring the past ten years could win while Stephanie thinks someone like Kevin Owens could win, cementing his first year in the WWE as the greatest in history. Vince then thinks it could be a “New Day” as they dance on stage and, along with Stephanie, says “that’s not boo-tay!” The Wyatt Family interrupts as Bray says “Anyone but you, Roman” as Vince cuts him off and says absolutely while the lights are still out. Vince then believes that someone else like Brock Lesnar could win and after that, Roman Reigns interrupts. He is in the ring as Stephanie makes fun of the crowd for not being able to chant for Reigns. She then asks if he is here to beat up her father again as that draws some applause from the crowd. Vince then calls him “pal” and asks why he is out here as Reigns wants to know what happens if he wins the Rumble match. Stephanie laughs as Vince said while the odds are “astronomical,” it could happen. So, Vince and Stephanie tell Roman he is in the first-ever “one vs. all” match as he will compete against everyone. Stephanie said it might even be against his “brother” Dean Ambrose but Vince said no as Ambrose is in the first match. Sheamus then attacks Ambrose from behind as they will be fighting next. I thought this was a bad segment. First off, Reigns does not come across at all like a star. He went down to the ring and asked a question. That was really all he did. And just having everyone in general look pathetic compared to the McMahons does not make for compelling television. Its been too much of this for far too long.
Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus
This match is joined-in-progress. Sheamus is beating on Ambrose while a “you look stupid” chant breaks out. Ambrose turns the tables and fires away in the corner. Sheamus then tosses Ambrose to the floor and goes for his apron forearms. He takes Ambrose down with a clothesline then after that works a chinlock. Ambrose fights back and hits a few forearm smashes. He ducks a Brogue Kick that sends Sheamus to the floor and flies out with a tope while Cole tells us the “Ambrose Asylum is open for business” as we head to break. The match returns with Sheamus hitting the Irish Curse before applying a Cloverleaf. Ambrose rebounds off of the ropes after an Irish whip and hits a neckbreaker for a nearfall. He hedas up top but Sheamus cuts him off. Sheamus picks Ambrose up and hits the White Noise for two. Ambrose sidesteps a charge in the corner then hits a DDT for two. He heads back up top and hits a flying elbow smash for two. Ambrose hits a rebound clothesline that sends Sheamus to the floor but gets hit with an uppercut while attempting a tope. Sheamus whips Ambrose into the barricade a few times before sending him into the steps. Sheamus tries to ram Ambrose into the post but Amborse slips out and shoves Sheamus. Ambrose whacks Sheamus’ head off of the post, busting open Sheamus, then again as blood starts pouring down his forehead as both men have now been counted out (14:10) **3/4. Ambrose continues to destroy Sheamus then clears off the announcers table but Kevin Owens runs out to attack Ambrose from behind. He beats on Ambrose then repeatedly yells at Ambrose while officials pull him away. Owens runs back and stomps Ambrose a few times before leaving while Sheamus is lying on the ground with his forehead covered in blood.
Thoughts: The match was solid but Dean’s selling can be spotty at times. The post-match angle was effective but seemed ridiculous to make Ambrose appear a lot more hurt than Sheamus, who even despite the blood took a far bigger beating after the match than Ambrose did. Anyway, the Owens/Ambrose feud is by far an away the most interesting program in the WWE.
We come back and are shown a replay of Owens attacking Ambrose. After that we get a backstage update from Renee Young, who is hoping to get a “medical update” on Ambrose, who comes running out as the trainers yell at him to get out. Ambrose yells at Renee to feel his pulse, then yells how he is alive and that is bad news for Kevin Owens as he runs off with the trainers following after him. Ambrose did fine here.
Vince and Stephanie walk into Paul Heyman backstage. Heyman tells them that their Royal Rumble concept is their greatest yet. He then points out the reaction his client, Brock Lesnar, received when Vince mentioned his name. Stephanie then asks about Lesnar entering the Rumble match as Heyman has another idea: Lesnar facing the winner of the Royal Rumble at WrestleMania. Vince accuses Heyman of “trying to change his plans” and while he does not like the idea, Stephanie decides to intervene and suggests they take the meeting behind closed doors. So, either Lesnar will or will not be in the Rumble match.
Stardust vs. Titus O’Neill
Drew Brees is shown in the crowd with his family. Match starts with Stardust beating on Titus, who quickly turns the tables and chops Stardust in the corner. Titus eats boot on a charge but is able to catch a crossbody attempt and hit a backbreaker before tossing Stardust. He misses an attack and that allows Stardust to take control. Stardust becomes infuriated by a mild “Cody” chant before applying a chinlock. Titus breaks free and hits a pair of clotheslines. He does the Gator bark before hitting Stardust with a charge. Stardust comes back with a Side Effect then freaks out over the “Cody” chants. He heads up top but Titus dodges the attack then hits Stardust with the Clash of the Titus for the win (3:23) 1/2*. After the match, Titus celebrates with the “WWE Universe” at ringside until Stardust attacks him. Stardust then walks up the ramp smiling as Titus is left laying.
Thoughts: No one seemed to care about this feud. The Stardust character is just awful at this point but the feud seems to be designed to end this so I do not have that much of a problem.
Tonight, the “Highlight Reel” returns with guests the New Day
A plug for this week’s NXT show airs centered around champion Finn Balor.
Highlight Reel with host Chris Jericho. He is wearing his light-up jacket, no shirt, and a tie. We get a clip of Jericho’s return last week, where he started a “rooty-tooty booty” chant aimed towards the New Day before declaring himself in the Royal Rumble match. The crowd reacted well to Jericho’s entrance. This starts off slow while he lists off a bunch of social media platforms in which people talked about his return. This seemed to already lose the crowd’s interest. The New Day finally interrupts Jericho’s speech about nostalgia being popular again. Xavier said they came out to save Jericho’s show from himself while Big E tries way too hard to get laughs and this ends with Jericho starting a “rooty-tooty booty” chant. The New Day get pissed then talk about being the champs and “real” Slammy Award-Winning Team of the Year before shaming Jericho. The Usos then interrupt and try to start an “Uso” chant but the New Day cut them off and laugh how it is 3 vs. 2. However, Jericho cuts the New Day off to remind them there is six guys here and he will be in the Usos corner as they face off against Kofi & Big E. Again, another segment that lasted far longer than it needed to be. The New Day used to come out to do fresh material each week but now they are just going out to kill time with the same catchphrases and bad comedy with these ten minute weekly segments. Jericho kept on trying to get over his new catchphrase aimed to piss of the New Day and it worked a bit here. The Usos added nothing to the segment to be honest.
Big E & Kofi w/ Xavier Woods vs. The Usos w/ Chris Jericho
The match starts after the break. The Usos take care of Kofi at the beginning. Kofi breaks free and tags Big E, who takes Jey down with a shoulderblock. Cole then talks about the Royal Rumble match and whether or not the Usos would try to eliminate each other. Back to the match as Jey runs into an elbow smash from Big E as the New Day takes control. Kofi misses a splash as Jimmy tags in and runs wild on Kofi until he climbs up top and gets shoved to the floor. Xavier plays the trombone and slows down the tone as he walks into Jericho. That was clever. He runs up the ramp as we head to break. The action returns with Kofi beating on Jimmy in the corner as we see a clip of Big E ramming Jimmy into the barricade during the break. Big E tags then splashes Jimmy on the apron while Xavier plays the New Day chant on the trombone. Big E puts on an abdominal stretch. Jimmy escapes from Kofi and tries for the tag but Big E pulled Jey off of the apron. Back inside, Kofi gets a nearfall. He then hits the Boom Drop then claps along to their song. Jimmy ducks a spin kick and hits one of his own before finally making the tag. Jey runs wild, or “having fun” as Cole calls it as he cleans house. He takes out the New Day with a running dive over the top rope then back inside hits Big E with a crossbody for two. Big E catches Jey with a belly-to-belly for a nearfall then lowers his straps in preparation for the Big Ending. Jey escapes and hits a super kick. Kofi tags in and springboards in before getting super-kicked himself. Jey climbs up top but Xavier cuts him off. Jericho then knocks Xavier down and breaks his trombone as Xavier is screaming “why.” This all distracted Kofi and that allowed Jey to roll him up for a win as the Usos are the #1 Contenders (15:22) **1/2.
Thoughts: The match dragged at points and the crowd was not into it at all. The Usos are the #1 contenders by default here with Sin Cara out of action and no other team in the company ready to fill the role.
We are shown pictures from John Cena’s shoulder surgery as Cole notes that he will not be at the Royal Rumble. After that, Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio for the U.S. Title is announced.
Stephanie and Paul Heyman are speaking backstage. Heyman tells her they should tell Vince the error of his ways. Stephanie tells Heyman he is like a “broken record” and that the WWE World Title being on the line in the Royal Rumble match “for the first-time ever” is Lesnar’s biggest opportunity. Heyman then told Stephanie that Lesnar says “no” while Stephanie wants Heyman to tell Lesnar that her father, who owns his contract, said that he will be in the match. Heyman then told Stephanie that he will “do this for her” while Stephanie warns him never to get that close to her again. Once again, a McMahon makes someone else look pathetic but the bigger news is that Lesnar appears to be a lock for the Rumble match.
JBL is in the ring to introduce Sting as part of this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class. We get a video package of his career, with clips from stars past and present even celebrities such as Kevin Hart. It only lasted for about two minutes and was not all that impressive to be honest. After that, we are shown clips from various websites reporting the news. Even Lebron James referenced Sting being inducted on his social media account.
The Wyatt Family comes out. Cole mentions how they will be facing the Dudleys in the first-ever tables match on Smackdown then they go to break. Another tables match between these teams?
We return from commercial with the Wyatt Family in the ring. The Social Outcasts come out as Heath Slater tells us to “grab a bottle of Penicillin as the WWE is going viral.” The rest of the group talks and its truly awful to be honest with the point being they are here for a fight as we apparently have a match. The crowd was dead silent for this.
Wyatt Family vs. Social Outcasts
Strowman tosses the Outcasts around one-by-one. Bray tags in but Ryback’s music hits and he runs out only to get attacked. The Social Outcasts run out to help as the Wyatt’s are cleared from the ring. The match, I assume, is ruled a no-contest (1:26).
Thoughts: The Outcasts appeared as heels last week and seemingly became faces here in helping Ryback and standing up to the Wyatts. The crowd did not care. I assume the Wyatts will now have a mini-program with the Social Outcasts now.
We are shown clips from Smackdown in which Kalisto beat Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match. After that, Renee is with Kalisto backstage. Kalisto says the U.S. Title symbolizes opportunity and lists of former champions like John Cena and Eddie Guerrero and how Del Rio is not a true champion. Kalisto then says he will give it his all tonight. A basic, babyface promo here.
After the break, Del Rio is in the ring. He asks the crowd if they want to see John Cena before reminding them that he is reason Cena will not be here tonight. Del Rio then puts over how Cena will not be in the Royal Rumble match and will not even be going to WrestleMania……………because he broke him. Del Rio then compares Kalisto to an “annoying mosquito” and that he knows how to get rid of him. Del Rio showed some anger here and delivered a fine promo.
U.S. Title Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto
Del Rio immediately attacks Kalisto. He hits a snap suplex then hits a corner clothesline. Del Rio drops Kalisto with a DDT as Kalisto rolls out to the floor. Del Rio rolls Kalisto back into the ring and heads up top and hits a forearm smash. Del Rio then tries a superplex but Kalisto fights back and knocks him off. Kalisto then comes off with a seated senton. He comes back with a springboard corkscrew press but Del Rio blocks a hurricarana and hits a powerbomb for a nearfall. Del Rio works a chinlock but Kalisto fights out. Del Rio eats boot on a charge as Kalisto comes off of the top with a crossbody for two. Del Rio comes back to catch Kalisto with a clothesline. Kalisto boots Del Rio in the face after he ducked his head then hits a flying headscissors. Kalisto flies out with a tope but Del Rio sidesteps that and launches Kalisto into the barricade right before the commercial break. The action returns with Kalisto on the top rope as he misses a flying body press. We are shown a replay of Kalisto getting launched into the barricade right before the break but not what led to Kalisto getting on the top rope. Del Rio stops short Kalisto’s comeback attempt. Kalisto cuts off Del Rio as he climbed up top and takes him down with a hurricarana as both men are down. Kalisto hits another springboard corkscrew attack before a DDT that almost won him the match. Kalisto gets another nearfall then heads up top. Del Rio cuts him off and takes him off with an inverted suplex. Kalisto fights back and tries the Salida Del Sol but Del Rio blocks that and drops Kalisto on the ropes. Kalisto is placed in the tree-of-woe as Del Rio sets up for his stomp but Kalisto ducks out of the way and snaps off a rana for two as the crowd wakes up. Kalisto runs into a kick then turns a waistlock lift into victory roll and gets the win and the U.S. Title (15:14) ***1/4. Kalisto celebrates on the ramp while Del Rio is in disbelief.
Thoughts: Good match. Kalisto got a nice reaction for the win and it was a feel-good moment. However, the crowd was not that much into the match itself.
Backstage, Jojo is with Charlotte and Ric Flair. She wants to know why Charlotte attacked Becky Lynch after their match last week. Charlotte told her that she is the strongest and most dominant in the Divas Division and deep down, Becky will never be as good as her as Charlotte pretending that she was the victim.
Brie Bella w/ Alicia Fox vs. Charlotte w/ Ric Flair
Cole made sure to plug “Total Divas” will be debuting its new season this week and Flair’s appearance on the Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast after RAW, shown exclusively on the WWE Network. Becky runs out and attacks Charlotte before the match as referee Charles Robinson fails to stop her. Becky finally gets pulled away as she yells about taking away her belt. Flair then yells that the reason Charlotte is not wrestling is all due to Becky. Flair then holds the ropes open for Charlotte as she leaves then calls the ref “fat boy” before walking off with his daughter. The match never took place.
Thoughts: Nice segment that saw Becky get some revenge on Charlotte after last week’s attack. Flair acting like a dick afterwards also got some heat on Charlotte, who needs a lot of help in that department.
Backstage, Heyman is with Brock Lesnar, who looks unhappy. We cannot hear what they are saying.
After the break we get a replay of Becky attacking Charlotte. Jojo catches up with Becky backstage. Becky talks about Charlotte breaking her promise of never breaking their friendship then talks about how no she is alone and that might be for the best. Becky then says on Smackdown she made Charlotte tap out and can certainly do it again before leaving. Solid promo from Becky, who is transforming from a gullible goofball into someone who is on her own and a fighter.
We get a clip of the Heyman/Stephanie confrontation that took place earlier in the show.
Roman Reigns comes out to the ring for his “one vs. all” match.
Next week on Smackdown we will have Neville & Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus & Kevin Owens plus a rematch for the U.S. Title as Kalisto defends against Alberto Del Rio.
Vince and Stephanie strut out to the ring to confront Roman. Behind them come out the New Day, Wyatt Family, Del Rio, Sheamus, Owens and others. They all head out to the ring as Stephanie tells Reigns that he will face “each and everyone of these men until he can no longer move.” Vince then has Owens start off.
One vs. All Match: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
The announcers put over how this is a chance to impress Mr. McMahon. Reigns takes the advantage to start the match. He applies a chinlock for a long time and tries to break that up with a Samoan Drop but Owens escapes then knocks Reigns to the floor. Owens hits him with a senton right before the break. The match returns with Reigns trying to fight back but he ends up getting sent through the ropes. Owens sends him into the barricade with a fallaway slam before rolling him back inside where he gets a nearfall. We are shown Owens hitting Reigns with a frog splash from the apron during the break before Owens has Reigns in another chinlock. Owens sends Reigns back down with a super kick as the McMahon’s applaud as the crowd is just not into the match. Owens applies another chinlock but Reigns beaks out and backs Owens into the corner. Owens sidesteps a charge as Reigns’ shoulder hits the post. Owens hits a cannonball as the McMahons celebrate but that only gets two. Owens then gives a heads up to the McMahons but misses a senton as both men are down. Reigns boots Owens then they slug it out as Reigns wins that battle. Reigns comes back with a few clotheslines before running into an elbow smash. Reigns puts Owens in the corner and hits ten corner clotheslines. Reigns then boots Owens down as he smiles at the McMahons and sets up for the Superman Punch. The Ascension run up on the apron and eat a Superman Punch. Reigns then disposes of Stardust and Tyler Breeze then Vince orders the rest of the guys to run in as they beatdown Reigns. The New Day hold up Reigns so Del Rio can hit a super kick and Sheamus a Brogue Kick. Brock Lesnar’s music hits as the place goes nuts. He walks out to the ring as the New Day try to buddy up to him. Lesnar takes them out and does the same to Sheamus, Owens, and Del Rio. Everyone else is out on the floor except for Reigns. Lesnar drags Reigns to the middle of the ring and smirks before hitting a F-5 as Cole tells us how Lesnar is coming to the Royal Rumble. Again, I assume the match is ruled a no-contest (17:00) **1/4.
Thoughts: This segment just didnt work. First off, they never bothered to explain the actual stipulations of the match and it turned out to be a singles match which a bunch of heels standing ringside. And the match itself dragged and was wrestled at a very slow pace. The crowd being silent didnt help things either. Lesnar got the loudest reaction of the night and it wasnt close but he did get some boos after hitting Reigns with the F-5. It seemingly set up for a Lesnar/Reigns confrontation at Mania but if that is the plan, you could come up with a lot better ideas than what we saw tonight.
Final Thoughts: This was not a good show tonight. The McMahon involvement is killing the rest of the roster except for Lesnar, who is the only one on the show that received a star reaction expected for a main event guy. Reigns is just not cutting it as the top guy. The crowds do not treat him like a star for the most part. And his reactions tonight where what you want out of your midcarders. Roster depth is a major problem and they are trying to do stuff with the lower card guys but no one seems to care in the slightest about the Social Outcasts or the Titus/Stardust feud. Even guys like the Wyatt Family and Ziggler are just spinning their wheels. This company really needs to establish some hot acts heading into WrestleMania because right now, the promotion is ice cold heading into the Rumble and that is not a good sign at all. Besides Reigns and Lesnar, I do not see anyone else winning the match.