When Mr. McMahon revealed he’d be returning to Raw for the first time since Roman Reigns Superman Punched him into a dental surgeon’s chair, he probably didn’t expect he’d be leaving in the back of a police car. After his and Stephanie McMahon’s attempt to frame Reigns on a bogus assault charge went south, a scuffle ensued, during which time Mr. McMahon laid hands on one of the detectives in frustration. This led to the mind-boggling sight of New York’s finest hauling The Chairman of the Board to the tombs while the crowd “Na Na Na"ed him out of the building.
Looks like that Christmas magic carried over for Neville, but only to a point. The Man That Gravity Forgot had been scheduled for a match against Kevin Owens, who lost the Breakout Star of the Year Slammy to the Neville in what KO likely considered a robbery. Instead, it turned out to be one-and-done for the battle of the former NXT Champions; Owens thwarted an immediate Red Arrow and went for the Pop-up Powerbomb, only to be rolled up and pinned to cap the contest at shorter than 30 seconds. Which, of course, Owens took horribly, demolishing The Man That Gravity Forgot in a lengthy, frustration-filled beatdown that would have culminated in a powerbomb on the apron ... had Intercontinental Champion (and persistent Owens-tormentor) Dean Ambrose not come to the rescue at the last second.
Lass Kicker, meet lass kicking: Even though former East Village bartender/Hell’s Kitchen resident Becky Lynch was all hopped up for her New York homecoming, Boston-bred Boss Sasha Banks was ready, willing and able to spoil Maiden Ireland’s comeback in their first match since WWE TLC Kickoff — not to mention a reprisal of one of the year’s best contests.
Maybe it was the absence of Charlotte that did Becky in (though her help has been oddly spotty of late). Maybe Sasha’s TakeOver gear from her last trip to BK gave her good luck. Either way, a gritty effort by Lynch went the way of the New York Giants’ season while Banks played Tom Brady and came through in the clutch, reversing the Dis-arm-her into a rollup — with the tights, of course. Bosses gotta Boss.
Even The Power of Positivity can’t stop The King of Flight. “OMG”-inducing Slammy Award winner Kalisto proved as much on Raw when he went mano a mano with the aerially inclined third of The New Day, Kofi Kingston. Kalisto managed to knock off The Dreadlocked Dynamo, who seemed to think he would roll over the former NXT Tag Team Champion without incident. Instead, Kingston found himself rolled up after Sin Cara took out a meddling Big E & Xavier Woods at ringside, opening the door for Kalisto to seal the deal.
As good as Kalisto’s night was, Sin Cara’s was a nightmare. Fielding an on-the-spot challenge from Big E, The International Sensation was handled with the greatest of ease by the WWE Tag Team Champion, who seized control by hauling Sin Cara shoulder-first off the apron and never let up. The former NXT Tag Team Champion did not go quietly after that, rallying with an insane rolling senton to the big man from the top rope. But go he did, as Big E snuffed out Sin Cara's surge and, once Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods disposed of Kalisto at ringside, concluded the painful display with a Big Ending.
So “Miz TV” is back, and while The Awesome One intended to use his forum as a pulpit from which to celebrate the year in review, several interrupting WWE Superstars took it upon themselves to steal the spotlight and instead cast their predictions for the year to come. Ryback vowed to eat everyone. Goldust predicted a, erm, Golden Globe award for Miz. Zack Ryder promised to kick off the Year of Zack Ryder. R-Truth campaigned (belatedly) for Superstar of the Year. Someone hit Heath Slater’s music and The One Man Band made his grand reappearance. And then Big Show came out, declared for the Royal Rumble Match and destroyed everyone. Here’s to 2016, guys. Good luck.
But wait, there’s more! Apparently, Ryback didn’t take well to being manhandled by Big Show during his 2016 Royal Rumble Match declaration, so he demanded the giant present himself for a proper contest. The reigning Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal victor obliged, but only to a point. Once The Big Guy got a head of steam going, Show rolled out of the ring and took the count out loss. It’s a luxury he won’t have during the Royal Rumble Match itself, but then again, he won’t have to do something as strenuous as pin a man to win it, either. In any case, this head-to-head likely isn’t finished.
Sheamus may have lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but his League of Nations shows no signs of letting up against the collective power of the WWE roster. The Celtic Warrior himself led two of his comrades — King Barrett & Rusev — in a winning effort against Dean Ambrose and The Usos, setting the stage nicely for fellow League-mate Alberto Del Rio’s bout with a returning John Cena later in the night.
An injury to Jimmy Uso’s leg left him ripe for The League’s picking, and even a momentum boost from a fresh Ambrose and Jey couldn’t stop the numbers game. In fact, it was Barrett who provided the key distraction by teeing Jey up for the fateful Brogue Kick, but it was Kevin Owens who provided the final exclamation point by bum-rushing a beatdown Ambrose out of nowhere and powerbombing him through the commentary table.
He. Is. BACK. He, of course, being John Cena — and Mr. McMahon, but we’ll get to him. Before that, in his first televised contest since losing the U.S. Title to Alberto Del Rio at Hell in a Cell, Cena not only goaded Del Rio into sending The League of Nations back to the locker room, but he also talked Del Rio into defending said U.S. Title.
That’s not bad by any measure. However, there was no way The League of Nations was about to lose its last remaining piece of hardware, so they jumped The Face That Runs the Place at the moment of truth, giving him the disqualification. The Usos arrived to help but were quickly dispatched, so Roman Reigns came to bat cleanup, taking out Rusev and King Barrett before decking Sheamus with a chair. That, finally, brought out Mr. McMahon with some big news for the first Raw of 2016: Reigns would defend his title against Sheamus, with The Chairman himself as the guest referee. It’s a common tactic in business and battle to save your trump card for last. In keeping with that thinking, consider this The Chairman’s ace of spades.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Neville defeated Kevin Owens (0:21)
- Sasha Banks (w/ Naomi & Tamina Snuka) defeated Becky Lynch (15:40)
- Kalisto (w/ Sin Cara) defeated Kofi Kingston (w/ Big E & Xavier Woods) (2:46)
- Big E (w/ Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) defeated Sin Cara (w/ Kalisto) (5:58)
- Ryback defeated The Big Show by Count Out (2:58)
- The League of Nations (King Barrett, Sheamus & Rusev) defeated The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) & Dean Ambrose (16:53)
- John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio (c) by DQ in a WWE United States Championship Match (13:56)
Other on-screen talent