Monday Night Raw is in the books for another week and what an eventful show it was. The buildup for the Royal Rumble is in full swing and on this episode, we saw some developments that should make that Pay Per View interesting to say the least.
The biggest news is the fact that The Undertaker made his return to Raw and announced he would be in the Royal Rumble match. This marks his return to the Rumble match after an eight year absence. With the Royal Rumble itself being such a disappointment the past three years, it is great to see the WWE throw some big names into the match. I know one frustration I’ve had the past couple years was due to the outcome of the Rumble being telegraphed well before the show actually happened, it took the suspense of the match and tossed it out the window.
Take the 2014 Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan was on one hell of a role, getting over with the fans in ways not seen since the days of Hulk Hogan. Yet the WWE brought back Batista that year after a long hiatus and pushed him to the moon, despite the fact that the fans didn’t want to see that. It was certainly not a knock against Dave Batista himself. His talent in the ring, and now in Hollywood with roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and SPECTRE, speaks for itself, but fans were not looking for Dave Batista to come back as a hero and win the Rumble. Or look at the 2015 Royal Rumble. What ended up being the coronation of Roman Reigns as the WWE’s new golden boy, the match itself was terrible because the WWE gave the audience no reason to believe anyone else had a legitimate shot of winning the match.
With as lackluster as the Rumble has been the past few years, it’s great to see the company learn from it’s mistakes. When you add a Goldberg, a Brock Lesnar, or an Undertaker to the mix, those are three contenders who could easily win the match that fans would celebrate. It also makes the Road to Wrestlemania a lot more clouded which is not a bad thing. When any number of matches could legitimately occur, it makes the build up to the big show more fun. Fantasy booking amongst the fans gets us more excited.
The show closed with a handicapped match between Roman Reigns vs Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho with the United States Championship on the line. Going into the match, I assumed we’d see Roman Reigns tear through Jericho and Owens, which would not have made much sense but that’s how the WWE has been working as of late. Yet they surprised me with Chris Jericho picking up the victory to win the United States Title.
While I’m happy with Jericho getting the championship, my fear here is that the WWE didn’t want fans going nuts with Roman Reigns beating Kevin Owens at the Rumble while holding both the Universal Championship and the United States Championship. What I see happening at this point is, thanks to the shark cage stipulation that will see Chris Jericho suspended above the ring during the match between Reigns and Owens at the Rumble, Roman Reigns tears through Kevin Owens for the win. From there, we’ll see Kevin get upset with Jericho, causing them to feud over the United States Championship in a match at Wrestlemania which will see Kevin Owens win, relegating him to midcard status. I hope I’m wrong but the cards don’t look good for Kevin Owens staying in the main event scene.
Overall, a number of noteworthy events happened on the show tonight. Yet the three hour run time made the show a little tedious to watch. I know the show won’t go back to the two hour run time anytime soon but the WWE needs to find a way creatively to make those three hours more interesting to watch. Too much of a good thing will turn your fans away. While the WWE is financially benefitting from a three hour Raw, the quality of the show is being damaged over the long run and the ratings show that fans are just not into the show as they once were. Something needs to change. As to what that change will be, time will tell.