Notes In Observance – WWE Raw 1/25/16: Impress The Authority

WWE RawBy Nicholas Jason Lopez


“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.






(Aired 1/25/16)

Impress The Authority 

– In case you resided under a rock since Sunday night, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H made his main roster return as Royal Rumble match entrant #30, throwing Roman Reigns over the top rope to end his Title reign (which at least lasted longer the second time around) and eliminated Dean Ambrose to start his own reign. The opening video recapped all of this, even showing the lengths that Vince McMahon went to “stack the deck” against Reigns, sending the League Of Nations to take him out during the match on top of starting the Rumble as the first entrant.

– The opening segment with Vince, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H was pure antagonistic magic in terms of providing good heel logic in defense of their actions. Vince/Steph were entertaining from the get-go, from their two-steppin’ strut to the ring to how they played off the crowd chants, even if we all knew Triple H was going to be the 30th entrant and was a shocker to no one. We did like the lines about how they “broke Reigns” and transitioned that into introducing Triple H, who cut a great, passionate promo about how he didn’t need to be Champion per se, yet was motivated to do so in spite of Reigns, who disrespected his family and authority, big no-nos. The odd thing was that Triple H’s argument was a little too sharp and it sounded like his passion could’ve been misinterpreted as him being a good guy, but they quickly changed the subject into using the entire show for FastLane hype, since they revealed that at the end of the show, we’d know the FastLane main event, where everyone involved would compete to get a Title shot at WrestleMania against Triple H.

– Coming off an intense Last Man Standing affair with WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose the night before, we didn’t mind the idea of Kevin Owens coming out on Raw guns blazing. Well, it wasn’t quite “guns blazing” as much as it was him selling his injuries but still kicking ass. The theme of “impressing the Authority” became the purpose of most of the matches and what better foil for Owens in this situation than Dolph Ziggler? What we got was a good opening bout that provided an energetic pace. Ziggler was an afterthought headed in, but he managed to squeeze in a couple of great near-falls that had us second-guessing ourselves. Nevertheless, Owens winning made the better choice and he was put over as a serious guy in the running for the Authority’s choice.

– Reigns’ continued attitude of nonchalance to all things Authority doesn’t make him a good protagonist here. Why on earth would he simply shrug his shoulders at the news of Vince/Steph bragging that he was “broken” and say, “Man, those people are ridiculous,” instead of being, you know, angry about it? The funny thing about all of this is that if you look at it, there’s nothing evil about what Triple H did. Reigns attacked him without reason at the end of Survivor Series and this was simply him wanting revenge. They need to do more to paint Triple H as the bad guy here. The opening segment promo was a start as far as Triple H, but Reigns needs to be reacting more emotionally to help turn the tide. Until then, this storyline will not have the desired impact.

– Don’t even get us started on the Social Outcasts-Flo Rida “rap battle” segment. Firstly, does anybody even remember that Heath Slater was knocked out by Flo Rida at WrestleMania 28? Exactly. The one slight entertaining fact in all of this was that “Bo Rida” Dallas was rocking a humorous singlet with “Outcast” stamped on it and his rap lines and reactions of his mates to them were funny in the “so bad, it’s good” kind of way. The crowd seemed hyped to see what Flo Rida would respond with, but his response was so weak, they were instantly taken out of it. Never mind that the actual reason Flo Rida was even involved in this was to introduce The Dudley Boyz. Man, they didn’t even need to do all this “rap battle” crap if the idea was to get to that. Sigh.

– Given what this was following, the Curtis Axel/Dallas-Dudley Boyz match had a lot to live up to. Not really. Very meh, predictable action that unsurprisingly saw The Dudley Boyz win with a little help from their Flo Rida friend. What’s most frustrating about all of this is that this nonsense is being done at the Social Outcasts’ expense, who could be using momentum right now, not losing it. Don’t even suggest that Flo Rida-Slater will be a potential Mania match.

– Give WWE credit, they’re delicately handling the booking of “The Phenomenal One” AJ Styles and it’s paying off. His main roster debut was a 28-minute Royal Rumble appearance where he got to show off his skills and survive a little bit, then was thrust into a match with Chris Jericho the next night. Internet fans were probably in love with this match being booked to begin with in the building certainly dug it, since they had “This is awesome” chants not even three minutes in. The backstage promo between Styles and Jericho provided a good competitive base with the underlying story of Styles proud of his Rumble performance and grateful to be where he was, before Jericho praised him for finally being where he belonged before essentially giving him the “rookie treatment.” There was something we loved about the “Welcome to the big leagues, kid” line that was so condescending, but awesome. Maybe it’s just us wanting Jericho to be a heel again, but it’s nice to see heel tendencies begin to break out little by little.

– The Jericho-Styles match was everything you could’ve hoped for from these two in 2016 and didn’t disappoint. Commentary did a swell job pushing Styles’ elsewhere accolades as a two-time IWGP World Heavyweight Champion in Japan while also speculating how his success would translate on the WWE platform. Either way, you knew that Styles was a star, and he carried himself well in a way that connects to fans who knew him prior and to newbies. He got to show off elements of his versatile high-flying style, while Jericho met him every step of the way. Now was it the best match ever? No, not even close, but the crowd was drawn in from bell-to-bell and better yet, Styles got his first win in WWE cleanly over Jericho. The post-match interaction between the two seemed to put slight tweener heat on Jericho with him accepting Styles’ handshake before pulling him in intensely and smirking that little smirk. Something tells us they’ll battle again soon and perhaps this turns into a feud of sorts.

– So, Sasha Banks returned and attacked Becky Lynch after she lost to WWE Divas Charlotte on Sunday, before also attacking Charlotte after teasing a BFFs reunion. This told us that Banks wanted a shot at Charlotte, which would make her a face against the obvious confident heel Champion. So, the night after, they put Banks against Lynch, who has just gotten over as a babyface herself. This was a confusing way to book Banks, especially since she didn’t come off as likable, being more brash and in-your-face. Now the match was some of the better stuff we’ve seen in main roster bouts between the two and the finish involving Charlotte coming down to intervene made sense in terms of her getting revenge for the night before and breaking the Bank Statement before Lynch could tap, but why would she attack Lynch first instead of Banks immediately afterwards? This all tells us perhaps the plan is to do a triple-threat at FastLane between the three, but they need to do a better job of establishing exactly where Banks’ character lies. Charlotte’s obviously heel and Lynch is the white-hot babyface and Banks is somewhere in the middle doing a little bit of both.

– The Goldust-R-Truth backstage segment was some cute innocent fun in terms of word play as Goldust proposed a tag team with him and Truth only for Truth to misinterpret the word “partner” as literal. We’re actually wondering if Golden Truth will become a thing.

– We had the latest Bray Wyatt squash, as he beat Kane in decisive fashion and his family members backed him up. Despite that, no one cared. Wyatt is cool, but give him something to do.

– The tease of the “returning WWE superstar” paid off since it’s ultimately The Rock’s segment that everyone remembers about this show. The thing is it’s for both good and bad reasons. Now, the good – he was his usual charismatic self, cracking jokes on everyone he came across from Miz (“flying nun”) to Big Show (“the Royal Rumble loser who should’ve won and gone on to be the big movie star”) to Lana (“basic slut”) and especially the WWE World Tag Team Champions, The New Day. Now, the bad stuff was that his material was his same old schtick that even though the fans get a kick out of, some of it can rub people the wrong way in 2016. Firstly, the stuff with Lana seemed to go way too far, especially since she’s rarely ever on camera anymore since the engagement storyline ended. Ruse’s in LON and she kind of faded to the background. Rock’s promo exchange with New Day bordered on racist (“chocolate,” “big mama,” etc.) and New Day’s rebuttal to them being “three black guys you do know” made us slightly uncomfortable. Worse yet, Rock again takes something nonsensical and turns an insult into a trend on Twitter. Yup, llama penis, everybody. We did like that he acknowledged the elephants in the arena per se and took time to embrace the fans dressed as Randy Savage, Undertaker and Hulk Hogan. The ending result of it with Rock having his Uso cousins come out and attack New Day was a sensible payoff that likely continues the tag feud and perhaps sets something up for Mania in terms of a six-man tag, but Rock never actually agreed to competing at the event and may just be there as some sort of special host.

– This was the second time Natalya and Paige have teamed up against Brie Bella and Alicia Fox, all in the name of “Total Divas” being new this week. It’s comedown material from The Rock’s last segment, but Paige/Natty couldn’t have felt less relevant. Brie got to do some of her husband’s moves, but beyond that, this match was a bore and Paige got the win for her team. Why are they suddenly besties again? So much inconsistency these days. Gosh. On that note, we do hope Nikki Bella fully recovers from that neck surgery. It’s a shame too, because she was starting to warm up to her role and was improving in the ring.

– We also applaud the idea of pushing WWE United States Champion Kalisto as he beat The Miz in one-on-one action. Surprisingly, this was the most competitive we had seen Miz to date and he made this match more even than we though it’d be, sneaking in a couple of tense near-falls. Still, Kalisto went over and that finish where he countered the Skull-Crushing Finale into the Salida Del Sol had even us gushing.

– We’ve seen so many variations of Ambrose/Reigns against Rusev/Sheamus that we’re numb to it. The main event bout starring these four wasn’t bad per se, but who doubted this result in the least? The only decent aspect to it all was the nicely built hot tag to Reigns. We understood the storyline aspect of “impressing The Authority” but Michael Cole was actually right in questioning if The Authority would actually give Reigns that opportunity to fight for a chance at the Title when the whole Royal Rumble match was designed to get the belt off of him in the first place. Sure enough, after Reigns/Ambrose put Rusev through the announce table Shield-Style, out came Steph to deliver the news that the FastLane main event would be Ambrose Vs. Brock Lesnar Vs. Reigns. We’re supposed to feel sympathetic that Reigns needs to beat “the beast” and also his best friend to get a chance to fight Triple H, but this is all malarkey. Reigns was the previous Champion and could easily invoke his rematch clause. Take that logical spin out of it and you could argue that the storyline could’ve been altered to stay consistent to The Authority wanting to avoid Reigns at all costs and have the FastLane main event be Ambrose Vs. Lesnar, with Reigns’ request to invoke the rematch clause continuously denied by The Authority until a “last chance” match of sorts that would’ve given us the same triple threat match that we have now but at a later time. Now it looks like The Authority doesn’t know what the hell they want because obviously, Reigns gets another shot at becoming Champion again. Why? Just. Why.






Quick Results

  • Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
  • The Dudley Boyz (w/Flo Rida) def. Curtis Axel/Bo Dallas (w/Adam Rose, Heath Slater) via pinfall
  • AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho via pinfall
  • Sasha Banks def. Becky Lynch via DQ
  • Bray Wyatt (w/Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman) def. Kane via pinfall
  • Natalya/Paige def. Brie Bella/Alicia Fox via pinfall
  • Kalisto def. The Miz via pinfall
  • Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus/Rusev (w/King Barrett, Alberto Del Rio) via pinfall 

About Nicholas Jason Lopez

Just a 29-year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently a freelance journalist with two websites - Pro Wrestling Opinion and The Music Bugle - he has also been published on sites such as The Bensonhurst Bean, Sheepshead Bites, Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Posted on January 26, 2016, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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