Monday Night Raw is in the books for another week. We’re five weeks out from the Royal Rumble on January 29th, 2017 at the Alamo Dome. What does the build up for this event look like for the Raw brand?
Unlike years past, this episode was not terrible. The WWE tends to go on autopilot this time of year and phone in the last couple shows of the year. This year, they’re letting the stories flesh out some more which, despite mostly flawed results, is better than holiday themed matches that mean nothing.
One positive comes with Jack Gallagher, a cruiserweight featured on the 205 Live show. The past few weeks he’s been feuding with Ariya Daivari. I’m loving the English gentleman character. There was a match he did last week where he teased doing a dive outside of the ring yet ended up stepping through the middle ropes and attacking someone on the outside with a jump off the apron. He’s one of the few cruiser-weights that understands the importance of having a character people want to see, even if it’s for laughs.
While I’m still digging Neville taking a turn to the dark side, he’s sending mixed messages to the crowd. He’s still pretty horrible on the mic. When given a chance to speak tonight, he went the easy route and started bad mouthing America, which is what you do when you have nothing else to say as a villain because the audience is sure to always boo you for saying it. I’m also not digging his idea that being a bad guy means you have to scream everything on the mic. He needs to use his subscription to the WWE Network and study the promos of people like Jake the Snake Roberts who would actually become more intense the quieter he got. I get that when you’re talking to a live, rowdy crowd like they had in Chicago, you can’t necessarily whisper. Screaming everything on the mic is just lazy in my opinion.
They are dropping the ball with Kevin Owens as champ. The show closed with Kevin Owens vs Roman Reigns for the WWE United States Championship. While he looked pretty decent in the match, we once again saw him come up short against Roman Reigns. If they’re going to pique the interest of the audience, they’re going to need to show that Owens can beat Reigns without the help of Chris Jericho. I’d even go so far as to let him have a winning streak until the Rumble, beating Reigns clean in the ring without Jericho’s help. That way, once Reigns wins, the fans won’t crap all over the match because the outcome would be in doubt.
I do have to give it to Reigns. Near the end of the match, the usually critical Chicago crowd was actually behind him, albeit more so after Seth Rollins came in to even up the odds. There was an interesting bit of business at the start of the show where Stephanie McMahon teased a possible reunion of The Shield which may be the one thing that could get Roman on the fans good side again. While I am critical of Roman in his current run, I get what others see in him. The problem is, he’s not at the point where he can be the top guy. He’s not going to replace John Cena. If they find a way to reunite The Shield, it could be the one way that he gets some of the help on the mic he needs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are two of the best in the business today on the mic and they could teach Roman a hell of a lot.
Overall, the show was all right. For a show that’s on every week, you can’t expect every show to be a winner. It’s simply not going to happen. But compared to holiday episodes past, they actually stuck to business as usual. While the results were uneven, it could have been a whole lot worse. And next week, Goldberg returns!