Raw recap for eeeeeeeverything else, you know how it is, all the wonder that is ‘this is what happened’ but we don’t care about that. There’s a sea of wrestlers, as Vince tries to remind us there really are people left on the roster, no, really. We spot Stardust with David Bowie inspired face paint. JBL, Cole and Saxton on commentary, which feels like a let down after Mauro the other day. Steph and Vince wave their hands at the assembled superstars and Vince tries to name his wrestlers, and fails. There’s a terribly awkward moment where Vince says ‘booty’ and it makes me want to throw up, and then the Wyatts save us with an ‘anyone but you’ spot. Eventually, Roman shows up and actually heads down the ring at a fair lick, for once, instead of his usual amble.
They’ve given Roman a mic, which means he won’t just be looking smug and gorgeous today, he’ll be speaking. He says he isn’t there to beat up Vince, he just wants to know what will happen if he actually wins. Steph laughs at him, but she and Vince agree that, while delusional, Roman could actually win, he supposes. So tonight we have Roman in a 1 vs all match, against a third of the Royal Rumble entrants. This is legitimately a Roman Rumble now. Vince says even Dean might be against Roman, but Steph says she doesn’t think so, because Dean is in their first match, against Sheamus. Sheamus hits Dean with a cheap shot, and I guess Raw is officially starting.
Back from the commercials, the match started without us for some reason, and Dean’s hair isn’t even properly wet, I mean, he clearly wasn’t ready for this match. Sheamus is beating the living hell out of him, and Dean looks utterly wrecked. Sheamus has done something nice to his beard, good to see him putting some effort in. Mostly Sheamus is going for sleeper holds and big punches, but Dean gets a side suplex to buy himself some time and break it up a little. Sheamus does what we were all asking for and pulls Dean’s shirt up and back, so we get a nice view of shirtless Ambrose, which, frankly, is what we all came for. Outside the ring, Sheamus calls Dean an embarrassment, and a crowd member shouts back ‘Shut up! How many mirrors do you break when you look at them?’. This upsets Sheamus, so he lifts Dean up and slams him into the announce table, standing on the ring apron to receive the boos and ridicule of the crowd.
Dean begins to bring it back with a little more movement, using the ropes, and taking Sheamus over the top rope, before joining him with a suicide dive. I already miss Mauro calling the spots, and my stream keeps going down, too, so I can’t wait for that to happen in the middle of something interesting, instead of the ad break. Back from another of those, Dean gets caught in an Irish curse backbreaker, and then the four leaf clover, but Dean makes it to the bottom rope to break the hold. He manages to get Sheamus down in the middle of the ring, and decides that the top rope is the best course of action, getting himself caught up by Sheamus, but Dean reacts to it well. Another corner spot is a great tornado DDT, which gets Sheamus down for two, but Ambrose just can’t seem to take him down, even with a third corner spot of an elbow drop.
I’m livid that no one is calling the difference between clotheslines and lariats as Sheamus throws Dean around outside the ring as the official counts; Dean’s shirt gets ripped around the seven count, and the two of them both get DQ-ed, Dean taking the aggressor’s side once the bell has rung. Sheamus us bleeding from a meeting with the steel steps as Dean pulls the announce table to pieces, and then Kevin Owens appears out of nowhere, ripping the rest of Dean’s shirt off, because Kevin Owens is committed to giving us what we want. It takes five officials to rip Owens off Ambrose – actually ripping, not just standing there waving his hands about – and they finally send him away, Dean left on the floor, flat. Of course, this is a great time to shill the network as a man lies dying on the floor. I’m making tea, I can’t deal with this.
Apparently we need street scenes now to convince us that we know where we are for Raw these days? Hi New Orleans, I guess? Renee Young is backstage outside the trainer’s room. Dean won’t stay for medical treatment, but he’ll stop for Renee, calling her baby and getting her to feel his pulse, but he won’t stop for some painkillers. Give him a cuddle Renee, he’s hurting. He says he’s still alive, and that’s bad news for Kevin Owens, then heads off to find someone who will give him a cuddle or something.
Paul Heyman lurks in some dark corridor somewhere and leaps out at Steph and Vince, and he says that Brock wants to fight for the title at Wrestlemania, rather than at the Royal Rumble. Vince says no one should change his plans – I sense Triple H has been writing creative scripts that Vince doesn’t like again. Stephanie calls for Paul Heyman like a dog as she suggests they take the discussion behind closed doors.
Stardust out to face Titus O’Neil, with his tribute Aladdin Sane album cover face paint, and JBL just shouts Bowie references until he’s blue in the mouth, because he’s desperate to be somewhat relevant. Titus gets an early lead, flinging Stardust around like a tiny chew toy. Titus wants Stardust to go back to being Cody, and take himself seriously, and commentary say that if Einstein hadn’t gone back to being normal, we wouldn’t have the theory of relativity? I don’t even know anymore, I can’t be bothered to try and watch a match and listen to complete nonsense as well. Stardust gets a pin, but it doesn’t work out the way he wants, and Stardust distracted by Cody chants loses.
Titus goes to celebrate with fans at the barricades, and Stardust decides he’s had enough of this grandstanding, so he leaps all over Titus and gets him down to the ground. His music plays as he leaves Titus on the floor. Stardust ambles away and hisses like he’s confused about what’s going on – maybe he heard Darren Young was meant to be here and is upset that he isn’t. Because I am.
We’re an hour in and nothing of note has happened. I mean, we saw Dean shirtless, but I’m not convinced that was worth being awake at 2am for. So, the Y2J highlight reel is apparently a thing again, and I wonder how many middle-aged men in their knickers Vince is going to have to march out to save his roster – but Jericho is actually wearing jeans tonight. He just forgot to put a shirt on, but hey, at least he remembered pants. We get a recap of the ‘rooty tooty booty’ chant I’ve been trying to forget as the crowd chant for a man most of them are too young to remember in his prime. Jericho thinks tweeting is called ‘twittering’, he asks whether MySpace is still a thing, and he says people are talking about him on Tinder. More like Grinder, babe.
Thankfully, the New Day are her to rescue us from this old man in the ring pretending to be hip. Seriously, Jericho, talk to Ziggler, he’ll help you out with this new-mangled millennial technology nonsense. He’s got some of it worked out. My stream decides I don’t get to hear New Day talk, probably because it’s run by Vince, but I get it back in time for Jericho to start the ‘rooty tooty booty’ chant, desperately upsetting Xavier Woods, because he’s a sensitive boy, and they tell Jericho that he should be ashamed of his hair, his scarf, his show, and his return.
The Usos are here to talk about how the New Day don’t get to say that they’re the real winners of Tag Team of the Year, because, hey, guess who has the Slammy status? New Day say the Usos are looking messy, and the Usos come back by calling Xavier Woods half a man. Jericho throws in a couple of tributes while he’s talking, and he says that they’ll do a match instead of just talking. Really, Jericho, but… talking is what you’re good at, and you’re not doing that very well right now. At some point Jericho calls the Usos his ‘back of the bus brothers’ which… sounds like a race thing? I mean, I’m assuming it isn’t, but maybe the one white guy in the ring should be a little more careful about that sort of thing. If we don’t come back to the five of them just beating him to death in the corner, I’ll be disappointed.
Raw, as always, disappoints, because apparently the Usos are happy to have the old white dude in their corner, I guess. Commentary want to ‘talk about the Usos, just for a moment’ because let’s face it, they don’t normally bother. Though, to be fair to them, they’re managing to call the twins fairly well, just apparently they can’t call matches AND name the twin at the same time. Jimmy has a little dance to mock Big E, because why not – anything’s better than Jericho being allowed to do his white dad dancing. Apparently Big E’s arm is twenty-three inches, but no one can call a damn match. I miss Mauro, can he come to Raw too, please? The matches feel lacklustre and unimportant with this poor commentary and pacing.
Xavier does the saddest trombone sounds, giving Francesca her outing for the day, and Jericho goes for him, but doesn’t need to go far before Xavier’s running up the ramp and away from this oh so exciting and brand new idea of a four man tag with two people at ringside. When we come back from commercials, we’re reminded that the Usos need to win this to get themselves back in the tag team title picture, but it just doesn’t feel like there are any stakes involved at all. Xavier just shouts about how Michael Cole can’t tell the twins apart, that he does it on purpose, but Cole just can’t be bothered. Pretty much, Xavier. Pretty much.
Jericho isn’t really helping out the Usos, just standing around and waving his arms, while the New Day are working together as a team to make sure the odds are on their side, with Big E working distraction on the outside of the ring while Kofi’s inside it. So, hang on… Uso Crazy… and Lunatic Fringe… are we just saying outright that you’ve got to be insane to be family to Roman Reigns? Especially right now, I guess. Jericho sullies Francesca by getting his mouth all over her, then pulls her apart in front of Xavier, who weeps in her memory as Jericho wraps an arm around Byron Saxton, who looks like he wants to say ‘get the hell off me’. The Usos win, while we’re busy looking at Xavier crying, because it’s more interesting than the rest of the match, and the New Day cuddle their fallen mouthpiece as he laments his woman.
We’re reminded that Cena’s wrecked his shoulder, and that the entire roster is dying faster than Vince can bring old guys back, especially as Trips won’t let any of his precious babies come up from NXT to be subjected to the terrible storylines and commentary that the main roster have to put up with. We’re also reminded that Kalisto gets a US title shot against Del Rio.
Steph and Paul Heyman are talking about Brock Lesnar, who they keep naming fully, like he’s Voldemort or something, because Paul says no but Steph says yes and it’s all very confusing, but on the plus side, we get to watch Steph look disgusted at Heyman breathing on her. She says Lesnar will compete in the rumble, and Heyman agrees he’ll sort it – as a favour to Steph.
There’s a video package about Sting being inducted into the hall of fame, notable for Seth saying he had Sting t-shirts and everything, and leaves the rest of us feeling sorry for Sting for coming to Wrestlemania just to lose to Triple H. You know, a chance of greatness most people can only dream of.
They Wyatts are back, ambling along to the ring to mutter at us. God, I want to like them, but I just can’t deal with the slow pace of the whole thing. So when the Social Outcasts interrupt the proceedings. Bray looks actually delighted at the proceedings, and we realise how spindly Adam Rose’s legs really are. Curtis Axel literally looks like he’d beat up anyone who even looks at him, like that guy in the bar who wants to hit you for looking at his girlfriend, but he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Does Bo Dallas count as a girlfriend? They Wyatts agree to the match, and off we go – but we’re interrupted by Ryback, too. I was really hoping this was an actual match, and not a segment to tell us that there are jobbers we need to remember before the Royal Rumble. Damn.
Renee Young is interviewing Kalisto about his win over Del Rio, and how excited he is about the US championship. He makes an actual statement about how important being accepted in the US is for Latin@ people, and it’s pretty stirring stuff, to be honest. I love seeing Kalisto all fired up and happy.
So, Kalisto vs Del Rio for the US title, and honestly, I just want Kalisto to win it. Del Rio calls the audience out and says that John Cena won’t be anywhere for a long, long time. Dude, we know, like, don’t rub it in that the whole roster has just exploded and everyone’s panicking that we don’t have enough people for the Rumble. Seriously, don’t talk about it. He says he’s going to squash Kalisto like he squashes mosquitoes. Okay.
Del Rio starts off strong, boos from the crowd because everyone loves the plucky underdog, and Kalisto’s actually likeable. Del Rio is flinging Kalisto around, not giving him any time to get up on the top ropes, or to do any of his better moves, which is the smart way to play it. There’s a brilliant corkscrew, and a pretty good crossbody slam, but there’s an awkward spot where Kalisto comes off the apron and into the barricades at what does not look like a good angle for the smaller man. Del Rio crouches at a distance as the official lifts Kalisto’s hand and checks if he can still move.
Back from commercials, we’re back up and running, Del Rio in the middle of the ring and Kalisto is on the top rope, but Del Rio manages to get out of the way. He goes back to slamming Kalisto into the mat, but he’s looking a little worse for wear, especially in the rib area, and Kalisto manages a couple of token kicks. Del Rio takes it to the top rope, but Kalisto gets him back down. There’s a hell of a spot from Kalisto, moving Del Rio right over his head, and I wish I knew what it was called, but Mauro’s not here. The ref gets to a count of five with both men flat, and then Kalisto gets a corkscrew, before a DDT, and takes Del Rio down for two and a half, so very close to a win. Kalisto gets a kick to Del Rio’s jaw, pins him again, but it’s only a two count once more.
Kalisto goes to the top rope, but Del Rio counters it, and flings him across the ring, like we’ve just witnessed a murder. As he’s under the bottom rope, Del Rio has to leave him vaguely alone for a moment, but once he’s back, he counters a salida del sol by basically hanging Kalisto out to dry over the top rope. Del Rio grandstands his ridiculous double stomp, and Kalisto moves just enough for Del Rio to hurt his knee when he lands, Kalisto getting another two and a half count. Kalisto walks into a boot from Del Rio, but he rolls up Del Rio and Kalisto is our new US champion!
I’m not going to lie, I’m utterly stoked by this, Del Rio’s throwing the steps around like a child having a temper tantrum, and Kalisto is just the happiest little wonder ever. Really happy to see this, a well-deserved win, and a match fought hard by both men.
We get a recap on the way Becky and Charlotte are falling apart, and for a second I thought Jojo was going to interview Charlotte on her own, but there’s Ric, right there. Charlotte cuts the promo of her life, talking about how she’s the victim in this situation, how there’s no room for sentiment in the business, and how she’s going to continue to be exceptional in the ring. Ric ruins it by coming back to shout ‘that’s my little girl!’ and woo at Jojo, basically undoing all the impressive work Charlotte just did. Ugh.
Brie Bella out with Alicia Fox at ringside, to face Charlotte, who brought her old man, because Ric literally has nothing else to do with his life. Charlotte has a look on her face like she has to get him back to the nursing home in an hour, as she waves her hand a little to move him out of the way of her little flip ring entrance. As she gets into the ring, Becky flies into the ring to beat the hell out of Charlotte, who hasn’t even had time to take her title off yet. Two officials pull Becky out of the ring as she shouts that she’s taking the championship and she’s taking Charlotte’s arm.
As Becky leaves, Ric says that Charlotte’s in no condition to fight, that she can’t compete, and so she feigns a limp and gets led out by her dad, Brie in the ring looking angry she bothered putting on the latex pants and the lipstick just to stand in the ring and look pretty. To be fair, Brie, you used to do it when your sister wasn’t out injured, so I don’t really know what you’re mad about, but I, too, am tired of Ric Flair, Diva’s Champion. Maybe he’s just angry that it’s a title he never got to win.
Jojo talks to Becky afterwards, and Becky’s furious that Charlotte promised she’d never break up their friendship, that she’d never use her Hall of Fame father, and that she’s done both of these. Becky’s all on her own, but she will make Charlotte pay, and she will get that championship. I’m loving seeing Becky come back into her own as a wrestler, without having to be behind Paige or Charlotte.
Roman’s out for a 1 vs All match against Sheamus, Del Rio, KO, The Wyatts, The New Day, Tyler Breeze, The Ascension, and Stardust. I’m so happy to see the Ascension that I don’t even care about the beating that Roman’s about to take. He looks so perplexed, as Vince say ‘we’re going to start with…’ and pauses as he tries to remember Kevin Owens’ name. KO looks so very, very bored about this, like Vince asked him as he was on his way out to the car and he just sighed and reluctantly agreed. Steph is being the perfect heel, sat with her father by commentary, feet on the desk and sneering at the action in the ring, and I love watching it happen. Some of the other superstars look really into it, but Sheamus and Del Rio look really, really tired.
KO has Roman in a headlock for a long while, wearing him down, and then Sheamus distracts Roman so KO can hit him with a huge kick, taking him right over the ropes. Sheamus seems to have recovered nicely from that gushing head wound he got at the start of the night, and KO is flinging Roman around like he weighs nothing. Stardust looks pretty sad that he’s not allowed to just leap on Roman at ringside, but honestly, KO seems to be doing a pretty good job all by himself. The crowd shout for Roman, and he wills himself up to slam KO into the mat, but we’re about four minutes away from the end of Raw, and Roman takes a hell of a kick from Owens, who gets a pin for two.
Roman looks out of it, and KO puts him back in a headlock, Roman still trying to fight out, but his eyes are closed, and it looks like the flailing of a desperate man. He manages to get up and get KO in the corner, but he dodges, Roman taking a ring post to the shoulder and then a cannonball Kevin Owens. Owens asks Steph and Vince if someone else needs to come in, but they’re pretty happy with the job he’s doing so far, and just leave him to it. A slumped, staggering Roman gets a kick to KO, and finally seems to rally, winding up for a superman punch, and taking KO down with two big kicks. Roman musters the energy to grin for the crowd, and now it’s a dogpile, Stardust and Breeze and the Ascension in to attack Roman, although the New Day stay back a fair amount. As he looks like he’s going to make it, Vince gives the signal and everyone heads into the ring, mauling Roman before holding him still for a brogue kick.
Brock Lesnar? Comes out? Everyone seems pretty excited to watch Lesnar attack Roman, but instead he goes for the heels. Sheamus gives him a little run for his money, Roman still lying motionless on the apron. Lesnar stands over Roman’s limp body, pulls him into the middle of the ring, and then hits the F5, grinning as Roman lies in the middle of the ring, blinking like he isn’t sure where he is, or what he’s supposed to be doing. He musters enough energy to grin through the pain, his eyes unfocused as he sits up a little, and the two men nod at each other – the Rumble will be between the two of them. Everyone else is just a matter of paperwork.