Well, it’s 2016 and the first Raw of the new year has come and gone. I have to say it was a pretty solid effort. There was of course the previously announced main event with Roman Reigns, Sheamus and Mr. McMahon, some build to the 2016 Royal Rumble and some really great in ring action. Compared to previous New Year’s efforts this was pretty amazing. Especially since John Cena was nowhere to be seen in this week’s episode as they are saving him for tonight’s Smackdown Taping.

Having the McMahons on camera has always been a good thing for intrigue on weekly WWE television. And this week was no exception. I thought Roman Reigns came off well in his interactions with Stephanie and Vince making him more of a brooding badass. I’ve always said that he needs to be silent and violent. Without a doubt this week’s episode proved that in spades. While the ending had more shenanigans than the WWE corporate New Year’s Eve party, I think it gives the January 24 Royal Rumble some much-needed intrigue. Although I would’ve loved to have seen Roman Reigns taken out of this year’s Rumble and had the title on the line. That way you could have Reigns keep trying to find his way into the Wrestlemania main event but getting foiled at every turn. All that being said, this is definitely a good selling point for the 30 man spectacular this year with the championship being defended in such a way. Notice they did not say that Roman was is stripped so he is still technically the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. But the question is who is going to be a part of such a monumental match?

The theme this year appears to be safety in numbers as more factions keep popping up. You have The New Day, The Wyatt Family, Roman Reigns and his brothers in arms, the League of Nations and now The Social Outcasts of Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Do these groups have a chance of winning? Probably not with the exception of Roman Reigns. But at least it gives them more screen time a threatening aura for now. Don’t forget the 2011 of 40 man Rumble where the same thing happened between the New Nexus and The Corre. And while it led to one of the best openings in the Rumbles near 30 year history. The groups never really impacted the ending of the match. We had Legacy dominate in a similar fashion but what do they really do for those in the group overall. If it does one thing, it makes you want to see you all the different groups interact. And tries to give you hope that the lower card talent has the chance to win. I applaud the effort but I don’t know if anyone truly believes that. That being said I liked what they did with the Wyatt Family and their subsequent beat down of Ryback And Big Show which makes me think that those two will have a little group of their own soon enough.

One man standing alone in the field currently in the Royal Rumble is the returning Chris Jericho. It’s no secret that Jericho has become a polarizing personality in the eyes of many hard-core wrestling fans. Many find him a little full of himself these days being a multiplatform icon. Some think is act as the old Save Us character has definitely run its course. But it’s you hear that reaction he received on Monday his name still draws attention. And while you may not be excited to see him once again return for a limited run, you can’t discredit his in ring ability as a guy in his mid-40s. And the stuff with the New Day was pretty entertaining. I think with a lot of fans there so much claiming for new that there is a been there done that feel with Jericho because you’ve seen them so many times last few years especially at the Rumble. But remember the event has always been about remembering the past while acknowledging the future.

One thing I really enjoyed from this week’s Raw is that Becky and Charlotte finally got to show some of what they can actually do. Sure, the match wasn’t to the level of their work NXT but it’s a start. It was a nice solid 15 minutes of back and forth between the women. And now with a solid heal/ face dynamic going forward I’m interested to see how things go into The Rumble which has had a history of really great women’s action in the past.

Kevin Owens got to shine with Neville in a really great match that showed nice psychology. Dean Ambrose got some crazy retribution and it leads into an often set up for the next showdown.

So far so good for WWE in 2016. I know some fans on the Internet will be talking about how good Wrestle Kingdom was. And trust me it was. But to me it’s hard to compare one companies biggest show of the year to another company’s TV product. It doesn’t seem fair.

Hopefully, WWE can keep this momentum going making 2016 one of the most notable years in the professional wrestling industry in quite some time. We have Brock Lesnar in New Orleans next week so that’s a start.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.

  • Sam

    Is it at all weird, that even though it was a solid enough show, the thing that caught my attention the most was the Heath Slater portion of it?

    Maybe I’m just a big fan of attempts to make floundering lower carders relevant.