This week in WWE: The build to the Royal Rumble continues
This is a weekly look at the action in the WWE:
Alexa Bliss chased down Kurt Angle to talk him out of her match against Asuka later that night. Angle, then, came to the ring to wish fans a Happy New Year. He explained that the Women’s Royal Rumble match will feature 30 competitors. The Bar interrupted Angle. They are still upset about losing their titles to Rollins and Jordan. Jordan came to the ring, and Angle decided to put his son in a match against Cesaro. Jordan won the match after Sheamus’ plan to get involved backfired thanks to Seth Rollins. Bray Wyatt defeated Apollo Crews in a very competitive match. Matt Hardy appeared on the big screen after Wyatt’s win and warned him, he cannot escape his woken wisdom for much longer. Alexa Bliss asked Nia Jax to support her ring side during her match against Asuka. Jax declined as she has to tend to a sick Enzo Amore.
Bliss and Asuka put on a great match to start hour two of Raw. Asuka upset the champion submitting her with an arm bar. Samoa Joe explained he is going to take Roman Reigns’ Intercontinental Championship. It may be Roman’s yard, but this is Samoa Joe’s world. Braun Strowman’s match against Rhyno somehow turned into a handicap match when Heath Slater got involved. Strowman, of course, won the match. After the match, much to the crowd’s delight, he destroyed both men with Running Power Slams. Backstage, Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan, for some reason, cooled Reigns down before his match against Samoa Joe. Kane explained to Strowman that together they can stop Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Finn Balor found Kurt Angle backstage to tell him his good brothers, Gallows and Anderson, will be his partners in his match against Elias and the Mizterouge.
Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe put on another great Intercontinental Championship match. The added stipulation that Reigns would lose his title if he got disqualified only made the match that much better. Reigns escaped a Coquina Clutch and pinned Joe after hitting him with a Spear. Cedric Alexander and, for some reason, Goldust tagged and defeated Drew Gulak and Diavari. Finn Balor, Gallows and Anderson defeated Elias and The Mizterouge. After the match, they celebrated with “two sweets,” much to the approval of the fans that’ve been following them since NJPW. Paul Heyman spoke about Lesnar’s match at Royal Rumble against Kane and Strowman. Kane came to the ring and hit Lesnar with a Choke Slam. Lesnar got up, quickly, and a brawl ensued to close the show.
Highlight of the night:
Samoa Joe is an absolute SAVAGE. In his promo, he told Renee Young that Dean Ambrose is a stay at home husband living off his wife’s checks. Well, Young is the exact wife Joe was talking about. Young’s face when Joe said this was absolute GOLD. Add to that the fact that Joe and Reigns have had some absolute great matches on Raw, and we see why Joe has been one of the brightest spots currently in the WWE.
The WWE Champion, AJ Styles opened SmackDown Live. He shared his New Year’s Resolution: to hold the WWE Championship until WrestleMania. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, then, came down and continued to bicker about their issues with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The two “agreed” that McMahon, Bryan and Owens will be ringside for the main event between AJ Styles and Sami Zayn. The Usos defended their Tag Team Championships against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. The challengers pinned Jai Uso after their finisher, but Gable was the one that went for the pin, not Benjamin-the one who was the legal man. The referee realized his mistake, and restarted the match which the Usos won after a barrage of Super Kicks to Benjamin. The Bludgeon Brothers destroyed Breezango before their match could even get started. The Ascension raced down to save their buddies, but suffered the same beating the Fashion Police received.
Xavier Woods spoiled Rusev Day after hitting English with a Big Elbow Drop to win the match and advance to the next round. Natalya, Tamina and Carmella tagged against The Riott Squad. Sarah Logan hit Tamina with a nasty knee to pick up the win for Riott Squad. Ruby Riott took to the mic to explain how The Riott Squad is a dose a reality, and declared all three members as entrants in the Royal Rumble. This prompted Charlotte Flair, Naomi, and a returning Becky Lynch, to give them “a dose of reality” via a beating. Of course, Bryan and McMahon’s issues got in the way of the main event, again. Kevin Owens prevented the referee from reentering the ring, causing McMahon to toss him from ringside. Bryan, then, said it would only be fair if McMahon, himself, left too. This distraction allowed Zayn to hit Styles with a Helluva Kick and win the match. Styles expressed his frustrations with all parties involved, and suggested taking on both men. Bryan took his rant as serious and explained that Styles will be defending his championship against both men at the Royal Rumble in a Handicap Match.
Highlight of the night:
The shenanigans in the tag title match were great. The Usos continue to show us why they are the best tag team in the WWE. They, along with Gable and Benjamin, made a TV match memorable.
How do they compare?
Thank goodness we are out of the end of the year filler purgatory. The Royal Rumble build continues with a successful week of build. We now have more participants announced for the rumble matches, US Tournament matches, and even got a WWE Championship match. Raw proved once again why it is so dominant. At the end of the day, it comes down to them using their stars so much better, generally speaking. Samoa Joe is an absolute savage, himself, and he is not even in the main event title picture. Raw establishes what we have come to know as the norm by winning this week.