COLUMBUS, Ohio - It’s one vs. all in the literal sense for Roman Reigns on Sunday, but given the fact that he ate an F-5 last week, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion opened Raw with his mind set on one vs. one — the other being Brock Lesnar. Of course, with The Beast booked for “The Highlight Reel” later tonight, Chris Jericho wasn’t about to let his big guest get Speared into Tuesday, so Y2J floated the idea of a super-sized “Highlight Reel” featuring both Lesnar and Reigns.
Sounds good? Sounds great! Of course, The League of Nations wasn’t about to let any of this go down without getting their two cents in, instigating a confrontation that led to Jericho seizing matchmaking powers to slate Reigns against Rusev, with himself as the special guest referee.
Got a League of Nations problem? Call in some Y2J support. When faced with the overwhelming presence of WWE’s resident foreign menaces, Roman Reigns leaned on a timely assist from special guest referee Chris Jericho to hand Rusev a rare singles loss in Raw’s impromptu opening contest. To Jericho’s credit, however, he didn’t abuse his powers in the zebra stripes and called the contest down the middle, right down to a glorious trifecta of ejections for the meddlesome Sheamus, King Barrett and Alberto Del Rio. Those justified calls proved to be the difference-maker, and Reigns was right there to capitalize, Superman Punching and spearing a gobsmacked Rusev to get the win.
Drama! Intrigue! Surprise appearances! And “Total Divas” technically hasn’t even started yet! In celebration of the reality hit’s impending Season 5 premiere, OG cast members Natalya and Brie Bella went to the mat on Raw, accompanied — respectively — by recent cast additions Paige and Alicia Fox. It turned out to be a happy homecoming for Natalya; despite taking a knee to the face and several kicks to the sternum, she rallied immediately to put Brie in the Sharpshooter.
Not even a trip through a table can keep The Wyatt Family down. Unwilling to put their grudges with either The Dudley Boyz or Ryback to rest without punishing all three of them, Bray Wyatt’s original brood — himself, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan — took on the trio of The Big Guy and the Dudleys. Meanwhile, Braun Strowman provided backup for the Wyatts on the outside.
The New Face of Destruction didn’t even have to get involved to give the Wyatts the win. Instead, Harper got the win after Wyatt and Rowan intervened to save him from a Dudleys/Ryback rally. Rowan in particular provided the clutch assist, breaking up the 3D and allowing Harper to discus clothesline Bubba Ray Dudley into defeat.
Give The Social Outcasts this much: They have big ambition and big heart. Big Show, however, has a big fist, which proved to be the difference in his brutally brief dismantling of Heath Slater on Raw. Though the giant’s official contest was against Slater, he didn’t stop after KO’ing the former WWE Tag Team Champion, cold-cocking Adam Rose, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas, who mistakenly thought he’d evaded a knockout of his own, only to victory-lap his way straight into Show’s path.
Mr. McMahon and Stephanie McMahon have been embarrassed at every turn by WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns over the past month. On Raw, they convened to select entrant No. 1 for the Royal Rumble Match — a position offering the greatest glory in victory, but also the most grueling path toward it. Guess who ended up drawing No. 1?
If you picked Reigns, congratulations. But even Mr. McMahon knows a coincidence when he sees it, so he ceded to a second pick from the famed Rumble tumbler to prove the process’ fairness. It was Reigns again. And again, after a third pick from the tumbler to display beyond all doubt. It’s a bona fide Royal Rumble miracle. Either that, or Reigns was the only name in the tumbler. But that couldn’t possibly be. Could it?
Sheamus isn’t the only one with a fiery Irish temper. Becky Lynch has been on a tear lately, targeting Charlotte with brutal efficiency and coming within spitting distance of the Divas Title in the process. The Irish Lass Kicker continued her run on Raw by knocking off Tamina, but the real money came after, when she successfully goaded Charlotte into a title match at the Royal Rumble. She did so mainly by insulting Ric Flair instead of the champion herself, thus provoking “The Nature Boy” into accepting on his daughter’s reluctant behalf. That’s some good wheelin’-dealin’ right there, Becks.
Kevin Owens is pretty convinced he’ll keep Dean Ambrose down long enough in a Last Man Standing Match to regain the Intercontinental Title at the Royal Rumble. Alberto Del Rio, similarly, is confident he can stave off Kalisto to retain his recently reclaimed U.S. Title. They both may have their work cut out for them, though: The Lunatic Fringe and The King of Flight teamed up to take on League of Nations stalwarts Del Rio & Sheamus on Raw and, if not for some lucky breaks, may have emerged victorious.
Del Rio was lucky enough to be within kicking distance after Sheamus suffered what would have been a match-ending Salida del Sol. Similarly luckily, Owens was seated at commentary and occupied Ambrose’s attention long enough for Del Rio to take him out. Kalisto went for a second Salida, but Sheamus strung him up in the ropes to set up the Brogue Kick. Done. But it was close.
Francesca, you have been avenged. After Xavier Woods’ beloved trombone was shattered by Chris Jericho last week, The New Day took their rage out on Y2J’s accomplices in the act — The Usos — by sending Big E after Jey Uso, though not before sending Francesca off in proper, solemn fashion. Even though Jey hung tough, an outside-the-ropes collision between Jimmy Uso and Kofi Kingston took both of them out of the equation, which meant Big E had extra muscle in Woods and Jey did not. So when Woods went to thwart Uso’s top-rope splash, no one was there to stop him and all that was left was the Big Ending to seal it.
What do you get when you take four of the Royal Rumble Match’s under-the-radar entrants and team them together? A pretty efficient, if motley-on-paper squad, perfect for knocking off three supervillains and a supermodel. The victors? Neville, Mark Henry, Titus O’Neil & R-Truth, four great Superstars who each put their unique skills to the test to defeat the wily Tyler Breeze and the combined might of The Cosmic Wasteland. Neville and Breeze took it down to the wire after a salvo from each Superstar, with The Man That Gravity Forgot sealing the deal via a World’s Strongest Slam–Red Arrow combo.
Chris Jericho promised the biggest, baddest “Highlight Reel” of them all. If he meant in terms of Superstars involved, Y2J certainly delivered. He didn’t get much of an interview out of Brock Lesnar, though. Instead, he got a conversation with Paul Heyman that only brought out The Beast after Jericho got hostile. Roman Reigns arrived shortly after, Spearing The Beast to instigate a brawl that came to include The League of Nations — dispatched swiftly by Lesnar — and, shockingly, The Wyatt Family, who downed both Reigns and The Conqueror with their collective power. Maybe Jericho is right: Things really never will be the same again.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Roman Reigns defeated Rusev (w/ Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio & King Barrett) (w/ Chris Jericho as special guest referee) (13:54)
- Natalya (w/ Paige) defeated Brie Bella (w/ Alicia Fox) by submission (1:30)
- The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) (w/ Braun Stowman) defeated Ryback & The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) (6:39)
- Big Show defeated Heath Slater (w/ Adam Rose, Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) (0:57)
- Becky Lynch defeated Tamina (w/ Naomi) by submission (4:05)
- Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio (w/ King Barrett) defeated Dean Ambrose & Kalisto (13:15)
- Big E (w/ Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) defeated Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso) (9:33)
- Mark Henry, Titus O'Neil, R-Truth & Neville defeated The Cosmic Wasteland (Stardust, Konnor & Viktor) & Tyler Breeze (6:12)
Other on-screen talent