So yeah…John Cena went down with a turn rotator cuff last week, and underwent surgery to repair it. He’ll definitely be missing Wrestlemania.
So let’s tally this up. These are the stars who WON’T be competing at Wrestlemania XXXII in Dallas: John Cena, Randy Orton, Sting, Seth Rollins, Cesaro. There’s also been some buzz about Paige and Sasha Banks being hurt. But to my knowledge nothing is confirmed.
The biggest WWE superstar of the last decade being out of what they were hoping to be the most attended Wrestlemania of the last decade is undoubtedly a big deal. But it’s not the end of the world.
Obviously, Wrestlemania isn’t going to be as stacked as anybody hoped it would be. But as was the case when Seth Rollins went down with his injury, WWE simply has to play the best hand they can with the cards they’ve got. And thankfully, they’ve got better cards now than they did at Survivor Series. Thankfully, Roman Reigns seems to have turned the corner as their new top guy. That’s not to say he’s completely out of the woods, but he’s in better shape now than he was in the fall. If they keep his storyline strong, Wrestlemania should at least have a good backbone. A Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar rematch seems to be the likely main event at this point, especially considering how Raw ended. That works for me. They had a really good match last year, and hopefully they can top it this year.
My question is, who do they put with The Undertaker now? Cena seemed like the man for the job…
Sting announced as the first entrant for WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Not really a surprise, and he’s definitely deserving. It’s probably been in the works since Sting signed in 2014. But for me, this is a disappointment. Sting never even got to win a one-on-one match in WWE. You’ll notice they didn’t mention THAT in his video package. Ending THAT run with a Hall of Fame induction is about as anticlimactic as it gets. Sting deserved better. The best we can hope for at this point is one more match.
Roman Reigns competes in “One vs. All” Gauntlet Match. Brock Lesnar cleans house, then attacks Reigns. Having Reigns spend most of the ring time with Kevin Owens was a nice spotlight for KO, and hopefully a sign of the faith they have in him.
Obviously this match was done to make Roman look strong. It’s an eye-roller on paper. But at least they didn’t have him lay out all 10 guys before Brock came out.
Paul Heyman’s involvement in this week’s show was sadly limited to backstage segments. That’s disappointing, but fine at this point. We are going to need another classic Heyman promo before the Rumble gets here, however.
All 30 Royal Rumble Match participants appear at the top of the Raw set to start the show. Conspicuous by their absence among the participants were The Undertaker and Kane. They didn’t have to physically be there, but Vince or Stephanie could have easily mentioned them. While things can certainly change, I can only assume this means they’re not in the match. That’s a downer. Their presence in the match would help make it as special as WWE seems to want it to be. In ‘Taker’s case, one can argue the pros and cons of bringing him in just to be eliminated. But eliminating The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble would be a big deal for somebody, and might even help kick off a program for Wrestlemania. They made sure all the members of The New Day, The Wyatt Family, and The Social Outcasts got in. But they can’t at least bring Kane in? What the hell?
It was interesting to see Vince highlight Dolph Ziggler the way he did, mentioning his 10 years of “reaching for the brass ring.” But one week after losing to Heath Slater, what did it really mean?
Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio to win the United States Championship. I love this. This is something Raw desperately needed. A jumpstart for a new singles star. I’ve been saying for months that Kalisto has what it takes to be the Hispanic star WWE has been looking for. Now he has that opportunity. This is something to look forward to on Raw in the weeks to come.
Becky Lynch attacks Charlotte before her match, cuts an impassioned backstage promo. I’m sure that promo was scripted. But to her credit, Becky made it feel very real. Considering we know so little about her something with such a personal touch, performed that well, really goes a long way.
Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel returns to Raw. At the risk of sounding like every fickle wrestling fan out there, Jericho’s cool factor has, well, cooled. I’m not sure if that’s what he’s going for to lead to an eventual heel turn. But between the vest and the stomach, the stupid “rooty tooty booty” line, the scarf and the jacket this week….I just don’t get it.
Also, Star Wars was number one at the box office before you came back, Chris.
I’m actually really surprised this segment didn’t lead us into a six-man tag between The New Day, Jericho and The Usos. But saving Jericho’s in-ring return for the Rumble, or at the very least advertising it beforehand, is the smarter move.
A match between The Wyatt Family vs. The Social Outcasts is interrupted by Ryback. So…are The Social Outcasts babyfaces? Everybody in this group was a heel before, weren’t they? But they acted like underdogs looking for a fight here. Then of course, you had Ryback coming out to attack the Wyatts, following up on an angle last week that no one remembered or cared about. So who benefitted from this segment? Nobody, that’s who.
Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose goes to a double count-out. Kevin Owens attacks Ambrose after the match. Nothing against either man, but this match didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t really do anything for Sheamus either. At least Ambrose and Owens got to further their program. Sheamus simply looks like even more of a lame duck after this one.
Titus O’Neil def. Stardust. I liked this. Pretty basic psychology. Titus wins, celebrates with the fans (including one kid who didn’t seem into it at all), and Stardust is a sore loser and attacks him. Simple, yet effective.
Images courtesy of WWE.com.
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