SAN ANTONIO - So it’s Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus, WWE World Heavyweight Championship hanging in the balance, and Mr. McMahon himself pulling the strings in the referee’s stripes. It’s not looking too good for The Big Dog, all things considered, but at least he got in his last remarks on Stephanie McMahon, interrupting her entrance and talking some last-minute tough stuff just hours before his fate is decided. Good luck, big guy. You’re gonna need it.
As Roman Reigns’ grudge with Mr. McMahon brews to its boiling point, another rivalry just took a smashing — and we do mean smashing — turn. One week after annihilating both Neville and Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens cemented his run of dominance over The Man That Gravity Forgot by repaying his quickie rollup loss by turning Neville’s shocking opening surge into a calculated plan of attack on the Slammy winner’s taped-up ribs. A Pop-up Powerbomb got the win, but before KO could deliver the TKO to 2015’s Breakout Star of the Year, Ambrose intervened, delivering some payback of his own to Owens by elbow-dropping him through the commentary table.
No more intergalactic shenanigans for Stardust and Titus O’Neil. The Prince of Dark Matter’s wacky beef with The Big Deal came crashing to terra firma on the first Raw of 2016, where O’Neil — who’d already decked ’Dust’s halls — rang in the New Year in impressive fashion. To Stardust’s credit, he held this battle of the former WWE Tag Team Champions firmly in his gloved clutches for minutes on end, even going so far as to whack O’Neil with a Disaster Kick. The “Cody” chants of the WWE Universe threw off his rhythm, though, and O’Neil pounced like a gator in waiting, big-booting Stardust before executing a textbook corner splash and Clash of the Titus for the win.
Can Becky Lynch win without Charlotte? Yep. Can she beat Charlotte in a one-on-one friendly? Yep. Can she beat Charlotte despite Ric Flair meddling in the match? Oh yes. How did Charlotte take all that? Not great.
In what was initially a lopsided affair between the BFFs, Becky had Charlotte on her heels from the jump. It took a mean streak and interference from Flair to keep the Divas Champion in the game, and all that wasn’t enough to stave off Becky’s match-winning rollup (tights-assisted, of course — fight Flair with flair). Becky's reward for her hard-fought win? A frustrated stomping from the Flair heiress after the bell ... and a title match on SmackDown Thursday night.
A match between two of the first entrants in the Royal Rumble Match quickly turned into a mauling, courtesy of the next four contestants in the winter melee. Ryback and Big Show, who tussled moments after the giant became the Rumble’s first rumbler last week — The Big Guy threw his hat in before this week’s Raw — were in the midst of their rematch when The Wyatt Family made their entrance. Materializing moments after the giant had thrown Ryback over the ropes, Bray Wyatt & Co. laid waste to both big men with ease and, moments later, The Eater of Worlds officially confirmed his entire flock’s participation in the January battle royal.
The field is still wide open for any tag team to challenge The New Day for their WWE Tag Team Titles. So the battle on Raw between The Usos and The League of Nations — repped by Rusev & U.S. Champion Alberto Del Rio — carried far more implications than bragging rights. And there was plenty to brag about for both teams, who beat each other to the brink and back in pursuit of victory.
The Usos seemed to have it won when they countered Del Rio’s big stomp into a splash. But with some help from Rusev, The Pride of Mexico executed a grisly variation on his signature move, stringing Jey Uso up in the ropes and delivering the two boots to the chest. Go ahead and brag. Just don’t hurt them anymore.
Heath Slater has been crowing for a while now that he’s still got something to say. He’s not the only one. Not only did The One Man Band make a splash on Raw by knocking off Royal Rumble Match–confirmed Dolph Ziggler, but he also came to the ring flanked by Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel and Adam Rose. The trio all assisted in helping Slater upset The Showoff moments before announcing that the four “social outcasts” would collectively be pooling their efforts from here on out.
It’s a new day for Y2J, babaaayyyy! Record-setting nine-time Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho made an astonishing return to WWE, interrupting The New Day’s belated New Year’s toast with a millennium-man countdown of his own. The Ayatollah of Rock ’n’ Rolla ran down the WWE Tag Team Champions, announced his participation in the Royal Rumble Match, and disappeared in a flash, having come to save us once again.
Sin Cara’s banged up, but Kalisto, lucky Lucha Dragon that he is, got himself some backup in his bid for retribution against The New Day. The King of Flight was joined by none other than The Dudley Boyz, who chased the WWE Tag Team Champions in pursuit of their 10th title run for much of late 2015, and picked up right where they left off.
Credit Chris Jericho for throwing New Day off their game; Kalisto & the Boyz feasted on the champions with impunity until Big E helped turned New Day from rooty-tooty into rootin’-tootin’. His flattening of Kalisto gave New Day life and Xavier Woods sealed the comeback, incapacitating a pre-Wassup! D-Von by shoving him off the top rope before Big E and Kofi Kingston finished him off with the Midnight Hour.
One-on-one isn’t a problem for Roman Reigns. Not even one-on-two. But how does he really feel about “one versus all”? We’re about to find out, as Reigns’ title retention over Sheamus in the Mr. McMahon–officiated main event of Raw came with a giant caveat that paints a bull’s-eye on The Big Dog’s back and puts the entire roster on his trail.
Officially, the result of the match was that Reigns pinned Sheamus after a Spear. But that was only after Reigns Superman Punched a partial Mr. McMahon, replacement ref-on-the-take Scott Armstrong failed to pick up the slack when Sheamus landed a Brogue Kick, and impartial official John Cone finally counted the three. Having been foiled quite thoroughly, Mr. McMahon declared that Reigns would not only defend his title at the Royal Rumble, but in the Royal Rumble Match itself. In other words: The Chairman has spoken, and the champion has no chance in You-Know-Where.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Kevin Owens defeated Neville (9:15)
- Titus O'Neil defeated Stardust (4:16)
- Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) (10:46)
- Ryback vs. Big Show ended in a no contest (1:20)
- Rusev & Alberto Del Rio defeated The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (13:21)
- Heath Slater (w/ Adam Rose, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) defeated Dolph Ziggler (4:36)
- The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) & Kalisto (16:37)
- Roman Reigns (c) defeated Sheamus to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (Special Guest Referee: Mr. McMahon) (18:20)
Other on-screen talent