By Luke Winkie
January 13, 2015

Here’s a positive Raw trend!

Raw was on autopilot this week. This was partly because going head-to-head against Oregon/Ohio State is suicide, but mostly because there’s a whole ‘nother show before the Royal Rumble on the 25th, and it’s really hard to keep momentum going over the course of a month once the DANIEL BRYAN IS BACK peg goes over. There’s a storyline going about how Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback were fired by The Authority, which admittedly gave us some good Cena character moments, but if you’re actually invested in a “their evil bosses fired them!” angle you’re probably nine years old.

Cena opens the show and says something about how he’s going to win the WWE Championship and then.. leave the company? Which doesn’t really solve anything? I mean, I guess it’s solidarity with your canned friends but, I don’t know man. The Authority show up and call him out on his pettiness, and put him in a match with goldenboy Seth Rollins. If Cena wins, the other three get their jobs back. That’s all fine, but then Stephanie drops the “and this match is happening… RIGHT NOW!” bomb. I love that WWE has been doing this lately. These sorts of hot openings followed by, like, Usos vs. Matadores or whatever totally kills momentum. The show should always open with the biggest stars in the company, talking, then wrestling, and then teasing the end of the show where they’ll be doing more talking and wrestling. Keep this coming.

Hey! That match was pretty good, too

It’s a shame we’ve seen Rollins and Cena so much, because Rollins and Cena is freaking awesome. They’re arguably the most dependable matchup on the card right now, and you get the feeling that they’ll be doing this until, well, until Rollins turns face in 2018 or whatever. This is a lumberjack match, and yeah, lumberjack matches are dumb, but if you need a reason for Cena to get pinned, I guess Big Show interference is good enough.

This seems like a bad sign

This tag match between The New Day and The Uppercats was sloppy, awkward, and pretty uncharacteristic for everyone involved. But they’ll be fine. They’ll wrestle each other more and will have an entertaining clash on the Rumble pre-show or something.

What I will say is that this segment involved Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Adam Rose on commentary.

That is a murderer’s row of failed potential. It’s like watching late-period SciFi ECW. WWE really needs to get their mid-card sorted out, don’t they?

They really want Roman Reigns to be The Rock and it’s killing him

From the beginning, Roman always seemed like a guy destined to be the silent, brooding, stalking-Hulk-Hogan-from-the-rafters type. I thought he had a chance to be the next Undertaker. His primary contribution to The Shield, his star-making origin, was his skulkiness on the ropes and his penchant for punctuating promos with three cool-sounding words and a “Believe That.”

Now, they’re having him patronize Big Show with fairy tales. He literally told Big Show Jack and the Beanstalk last night. It wasn’t a very good idea.

I love Roman Reigns. He’s plenty of upside. But there’s been nothing in his wrestling career that makes him seem capable of this. You are your skillset. And as much as WWE might hate it, Roman will never be charming. Roman will never be able to be cool with his mouth open. Sometimes you need to admit defeat and stop forcing your employees into places they so clearly don’t want to go.

I understand it, to a certain extent. Roman Reigns isn’t going to get better at talking without, you know, talking, but making him recite fables is like taking off the training wheels and then setting the bike on fire.

But then Roman had a perfectly acceptable match against Luke Harper

Pick your battles, internet haters. It’s not all bad.

Dean Ambrose, on the other hand…

Throughout the night we got quick vignettes of Dean Ambrose in some sort of psychiatric counseling as sentenced by Stephanie McMahon. There’s a legitimately funny segment where he’s doing word-association, which is like the trademark pseudo-doctoral technique used in every medical scene ever filmed. The doctor pulls out headshots of other WWE wrestlers and Dean, in his immortal ability to make stupid concepts funny, actually pulls out some funny responses.

It really remind me of how much I love this guy. He’s the purest actor in the entire company. Someday Dean will have the belt, and there will be justice in this world.

Daniel Bryan is going to wrestle?! I have to record Smackdown.

Yep, we’re going to get a dosage of Daniel Bryan solo action this Thursday on Smackdown. If you somehow don’t know, Smackdown is the WWE show that gets routinely main-evented by Ryback. Pretty cool! I suspect this might be a ploy to convince the skeptics that, yes, Daniel Bryan is healthy and perfectly capable of working with old-man Kane piledrivers, but it’s certainly exciting none the less. It’s nice to be excited about wrestling again, isn’t it?

Nothing matches are okay sometimes

Paige wrestles Brie Bella because of Total Divas. Tyson is inexplicably at ringside and distracts Paige who gets rolled up, because of Total Divas. Paige cold-cocks Tyson and that makes Natalya smirk a little because of Total Divas.

Okay I admit it, sometimes these stupid meaningless matches can be kinda funny.

Too many empty promos make my head hurt

We’re in that aforementioned halfway point in front of the go-home show and the initial build, which means there’s a lot of empty words getting tossed around by ostensibly important figures to try and pad out the length. We have Paul Heyman, who gives it his all rehashing the whole Brock-Lesnar-Killed-Undertaker-Brock-Lesnar-Kills-Everybody angle we’ve become very accustomed to. It falls short because, honestly? It’s almost been a year. Who cares anymore?

Rusev trots out to enter the Royal Rumble and says some other mean stuff about America just in case you didn’t know what his character’s allegiance was. That draws Dean Ambrose out for some reason, in order to give us a faint hint of an angle going into the Rumble? I don’t know. Ambrose has never seemed like the patriotic type.

Basically what I’m saying is, there’s wrestling for the sake of wrestling, and there’s talking for the sake of talking. This show was heavy on the latter.

There was a contract signing that devolved into chaos and violence where everyone hit their finishers

I skipped Alicia Fox vs. Naomi with her hand tied behind her back and I’m also skipping this. See you next week y’all! I promise things will matter more!

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