Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Raw Review: Roman Empire Rises

Last night's Raw was a breath of fresh air to say the least.  Coming off the hot close to TLC, WWE had an opportunity to jump start their flagship which has been struggling mightily for the last month or so.  The whole show was entertaining, but this Raw Review is only going to focus on the main event and what appears to be the legitimate rise of the Roman Empire. 

The first good sign of the night was the initial reaction Roman Reigns got.  Now I wasn't a huge fan of Stephanie slapping him and didn't necessarily care about Vince's return, but it seemed like things were trending in the right direction.  Shout out to Vince for the "You people fall for that all the time" or whatever he said when the crowd cheered the mention of a title match that night.  Once they turned it into a title match I really started to believe that tonight was the night, the night that Reigns was going to be crowned.

As for his opponent I won't claim to be the biggest Sheamus fan in the world, but the guy has really won me over since Survivor Series.  There's one thing we've always known that he could do and that is have hellacious HOSS FIGHTS.   His matches with Roman Reigns have been no different.  I hope that him and the other League of Nations guys can get some traction out of this whole deal even if that stable disbands.  I also hope they locate Wade Barrett as he has apparently gone missing.  When he returns he can still be King Barrett, but that crown and scepter need to go.  Those are some goofy props which doesn't really work for him.  Anyhow, getting back on topic I fully expected Reigns and Sheamus to have a solid match.  That was never even in doubt.  What was in doubt was whether the crowd would care especially in Philadelphia.  As mentioned Reigns' initial reaction was great and his second entrance was also received pretty well.  The entrance for the main event was lacking and some folks I follow on Twitter seized on that as evidence that Roman wasn't over.  Others pointed out that it was his third time out in front of the live crowd and I do think that was kind of unfair to him.  Each time he showed up out there he got music and everything too.  It's hard to get a great reaction each time when you trot a guy out there repeatedly.  The stipulation that Reigns would win or be fired guaranteed that something BIG was going to happen although firing angles are beyond idiotic.  Either way the stage was set.

The match itself was every bit the hoss fight that was to be expected.  Mr. McMahon at ringside was another element that kind of spoke to the idea that something big was happening.  As is common with Roman Reigns' matches the crowd sort of got into it as it went along.  I have mentioned previously that he does seem to have some ability to get the crowd going even if they are cool to his entrance.  The match was laid out perfectly and built to the obvious opportunity for shenanigans.  I thought we'd get a nearfall on the Superman Punch to Sheamus, but instead we got Vince pulling the ref out of the ring.  The League of Nations (minus Barrett) shows up to continue down the path of a screwy finish, but it wasn't to be.  After the Superman Punches to Sheamus and then Vince, we get a Sheamus Brogue Kick which I thought might be the very disappointing finish to a really good match and opportunity for WWE/Reigns.  When Roman kicked out it really felt like this HAS to be the moment.  One Spear later and it was in fact the moment and the Philadelphia crowd was into it.  That really was incredible too because if any crowd wasn't going to buy into this it was Philly.  WWE set the stage at TLC and pulled the trigger on Raw and the crowd ate it up.  As bad as WWE programming has been lately this was equally as good.  I've heard the hot shotting complaint already today, but that's missing the point.  This was hot shotting, but Raw and your top face were dead in the water until last night and now you've got some juice.  Follow-up is key and Reigns has to be himself and not bootleg John Cena, but things are looking up for a change and that's a good thing. 

As for the rest of the show, they continued down the road of Charlotte embracing the dark side.  The Wyatts and ECW guys had a fun Extreme Rules match which the Wyatts desperately needed to win and did.  Owens attacked Ambrose and Ziggler which included a sweet spot where he powerbombed one on to the other.  In what was the most controversial segment possibly we got to see New Day pay respect to the Usos and Lucha Dragons before celebrating obnoxiously and getting attacked for it.  The attack didn't bother me, but I do see the other sid eof the argument which is it made the Usos/Lucha Dragons look like sore losers.  The crowd was firmly behind New Day there too.  It was a really good show with a darn near magical main event.  I showed the five minute WWE.com version of the finish of the title match to my son and he ate it up. 

This Raw gets a big thumbs up from me.  Congratulations to WWE for pulling it off and congratulations to SAW favorite and Georgia Tech alum, Roman Reigns for becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for the second time.  More importantly congratulations for getting that kind of reaction in a city that completely rejected him in January of this year.  As it relates to WWE, Raw, and Roman Reigns you could say that I am FIRED UP!