It’s already 2016? You know what that means... the Royal Rumble is right around the corner, and the road to WrestleMania: Star begins. What, did you expect a random joke instead of going straight to the point? Sorry. Another sorry for the lack of a column last week, a.k.a "the week nobody gives a shit and it shows in the ratings." For those wondering, last week we had a pathetic Slammy Awards where half the winners weren’t in attendance, a Live Smackdown that really didn’t feature much excitement, the Tribute to the Troops that was taped two weeks earlier, and the last bit of my soul being destroyed trying to get through another difficult Holiday Season. With 2015 in the books, that also means the yearly Year in Review is up on Da’ Site, with my own personal awards for the best, worst, and occasional random bullshit that WWE has produced in 2015.
If that wasn’t enough to please your appetite, John Cena, Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, and Resect™ is back from his two-month long absence, challenging Alberto Del Rio to a rematch for the United States Championship. Instead of hitting the reboot button like they should’ve, Del Rio ended up retaining the title by taking a Disqualification loss. Post-match, the League of Nations did a beat-down, including on failed rescue attempters Jimmy and Jey Uso until Roman Reigns made the real save. Vince McMahon, who was bailed out by an unknown person (cough:Triple H:cough), returned at the close of the show to announce the big Main Event for the first Monday Night Raw of 2016: Roman Reigns defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Sheamus... with Vince McMahon himself serving as the special referee. When all else fails, watch re-runs of Raw from 1999 and go from there. Curious to see John Cena being an after-thought in the post-match moments of the Main Event. I wonder if he’ll go after the US Title again, or move onto bigger and better things.
The Intercontinental Title program continues to heat up, with Kevin Owens still obsessing over regaining his lost Championship from the Lunatic Fringe™. To make matters worse, Owens was jobbed in the Breakout Star of the Year Award, with NEVILLE of all people winning. Seriously, the non-stop jobbing and irrelevance still convinced marks to vote Neville over everyone else? His reward is a fluke 30-second victory over Owens here, only to get his ass handed to him in a post-match beating until Dean Ambrose made the save, chasing Owens off. This wouldn’t be the last we’d see of Owens, though, as he made his presence felt at the end of a Six-Man Tag Team Match between Ambrose and the Usos and the Non-Sheamus members of the League of Nations, attacking Ambrose and putting him through one of the ringside announcer’s tables.
In case you thought that the feud between the New Day and the Lucha Dragons had completed, you’d be wrong. Instead of getting yet another tag team match between the two teams, we were treated to a pair of singles matches, Kalisto vs. Kofi and Sin Cara vs. Big E, with each team splitting victories. The only notable thing from either match was Sin Cara suffering a separated shoulder mid-match. Jesus Christ, is that gimmick cursed or what? No matter who’s under it, injuries pop up frequently. This untimely injury meant no clear rematch on Smackdown, but a Six-Man Tag in its place. Kalisto’s partners? The Dudley Boyz. They fell out of the hunt for the Tag Titles, then spent the better part of a month doing job after job for Bray Wyatt and his Family. Why keep them on the main roster instead of shipping them to NXT where they can be douche bag heels who want to punish everyone for being beneath them? If Sin Cara heals up quickly, I could see getting another match between these two teams on the 1st Smackdown of the USA Network era, otherwise... who knows. The division is struggling right now. You’ve got the New Day, of course, but looking at the list, we’ve got the Usos, who are ice-cold with the crowds, the Lucha Dragons, with a questionable time-table for Sin Cara’s injury, the Dudleys, who haven’t won many meaningful matches since returning, and the Prime Time Players, with one member possibly out of action as well. I didn’t bother with the heel side with heels as Champions, but what is there? The Wyatt Family? Maybe a returning, repackaged Epico and Primo, without the Matador gimmick?
The Royal Rumble is only a month away, so it makes sense we start hyping the hell out of the Rumble Match itself, a guaranteed Championship opportunity for whichever Superstar (either closely associated with Main Event status or a Part-Timer shoe-horned into the Main Event scene) can outlast 29 opponents and point at the WrestleMania sign hanging in the rafters. WWE’s idea of making us care... doing a Miz TV segment, trotting out a bunch of scrubs (and I mean bottom of the barrel guys like Heath Slater) until THE BIG SHOW interrupts and declared his intentions of winning the Royal Rumble, officially naming himself the first man signed up. Because it’s the Big Show, and the script is terrible, he actually made it sound like he would be the first man in the match, but he definitely meant "first to sign up." When you need a little excitement, the man that draws "Please Retire" chants should never be an option. Every time I do this, I know it’s a waste of energy and time, but seriously... NOBODY. CARES. The Big Show hasn’t been relevant in over a decade, he’s turned so many times it lost meaning by 2002, and, again, crowds regularly chant "PLEASE RETIRE." People boo John Cena, but they don’t tell him to go the fuck away for good. Nobody wants to see the Big Show, and now we have him as a top name entered in the Rumble? Remember last year when the match went to shit because the crowd didn’t want Big Show and Kane dominating the Rumble... again. Because it was 2015 and ITS TIME TO PUSH NEW MONSTERS.
Since WWE decided to run a house show opposite of Monday Night Raw (LOGIC!), the roster was a bit depleted, so we didn’t have much else to write about. They continued to push Becky Lynch is a gullible fool, having done the job to Sasha Banks in a long, boring match because her back up, Charlotte, couldn’t be there (real reason: working the house show), while Banks had the support of her Team B.A.D. buddies, Naomi and Tamina. They teased Ryback vs. Big Show as a program moving forward with, which I swear we just saw when Ryback was the Intercontinental Champion. Oh, and the Rock will be at WrestleMania 32. He won’t wrestle, but he’ll be there. Sell those 100,000 tickets! If that wasn’t enough for you, over on Smackdown, they appeared to have blown off that thrown-together mini-program with Tyler Breeze and Goldust. The big finale turned out to be Breeze and Summer Rae splitting up under good terms, because Summer Rae needs to suck the heat away from someone else and Breeze can go about his life-long journey of being exclusively on Superstars and Main Event. In a bit of a surprise, the Usos did a fairly quick job to the team of Harper and Strowman, because Erick Rowan has become obsolete and needs to be exterminated. Smackdown also featured a lame little angle with Bo Dallas giving advice for the New Year, including an appearance from long-absent Curtis Axel. This lead to a match between Dallas and Dolph Ziggler... and that’s that. It was just a match, nothing great, nothing bad. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
From the December 22nd episode of Main Event, taped from Des Moines, IA... Tyler Breeze (1-0) made his debut on the C-Circuit, defeating Goldust (1-1) in a longer than usual, competitive,and overall decent, match to follow up their little exchange the week earlier on Smackdown... Bo Dallas (3-5) defeated Fandango (2-2) to continue a mildly impressive record. I fully expected him to be winless, but facing guys like Fandango helps... Jack Swagger (4-0) keeps his undefeated streak alive with a victory over The Miz (2-1). Superstars did not feature original content, just replays of the best matches from 2015 (including Cena vs. Rollins vs. Lesnar from the Rumble, Lesnar vs. Undertaker at Hell in a Cell, and Cena vs. Owens at Elimination Chamber). Now that we have the records caught up...
From WWE Main Event, taped on December 29th from Washington, D.C... R-Truth (2-0) defeated Heath Slater (0-8) in his token monthly appearance. His last appearance on these shows was Superstars taped on November 23rd. I guess we can expect another R-Truth appearance the week after the Rumble PPV... Titus O’Neil (5-0) squashed Adam Rose (1-6) to continue proving the 50/50 club doesn’t exist (Spoilers: It does)... Jack Swagger (5-0) kept pace with another victory over Stardust (0-5) in one of the better matches featured on Main Event in recent weeks. From WWE Superstars, taped on December 28th from Brooklyn, NY by technically broadcast at a later date than Main Event... Darren Young (1-1) defeated Adam Rose (1-7), drawing him this much close to taking over Slater’s spot with the worst record. Wait... Darren Young? I thought you were injured! WWE lied to me!... the wonder team of Jack Swagger (6-0) and Mark Henry (1-0) defeated The Ascension (0-3). Maybe Mark Henry will make a big deal about entering the Royal Rumble, too.
Unfortunately, even though we are 22 days away from the Royal Rumble PPV (I’m typing this on a Friday night), we do not have anything announced except for the Royal Rumble Match and one participant, the previously acknowledged waste of space known as the Big Show. When it comes to the Rumble Match itself, we can always expect a handful of surprises, names from the past worth giving a cheap pop to. When it comes to the regularly working roster... the roster depth is really suffering. There’s not a whole lot of top names that scream obvious winner, unless they throw Brock into the match or stupidly take the Title off Roman Reigns before the PPV. It’ll take a lot of creativity and hard work to really get people excited for a watered down field that will likely include Sheamus and his goons running over a lot of the field. And then there’s the Big Show. We’ll no doubt get the token Rumble appearance of Kane, who has appeared in almost every Rumble Match since 1999.
With the undercard still taking shape, we can pretty much assume Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title will be added to the card, but maybe they will work double duty, since both are considered top performers and the Rumble could use them to carry the work-load. If Roman Reigns enters the PPV as Champion, I can see it being a strong possibility they’ll throw Triple H in there for a big encounter. Reigns has to be entering WrestleMania as part of the Royal Rumble plans, so there’s no chance they would be Triple H in the World Title Match at a WrestleMania in 2016. There will definitely be a Divas Championship Match, but right now, everything is a muddled mess. I can see them using the New Day and Lucha Dragons for a Tag Title Match, and again, hopefully they’ll put Kofi Kingston in the Rumble for his token awesome spot, even if the crowd is dumping on the match and refuses to respond.
Final Thoughts: Thankfully the Holidays are over, a notorious time for WWE to stop giving a crap, and the few weeks of the year where my interest takes a serious hit due to some difficult times. On the bright side, the calendar has flipped, it’s 2016, and the Royal Rumble will be taking place three weeks from Sunday. Before we get there, we have a big Main Event taking place on Monday Night Raw. Will Vince McMahon succeed in screwing over Roman Reigns? Will Sheamus regain the WWE Championship? Will Triple H show up and pay Reigns back for what he did at TLC? Will I ever find my ham and cheese sandwich I made two hours ago? Most of these questions will hopefully be answered next week. Until then...