WWE Hits Some Speed Bumps On Raw

Roman Reigns retained his title despite Vince McMahon's refereeing, but it didn't come across well ...

The Roman Reigns push has had a lot of good over the last several weeks. The inclusion of Mr. McMahon, though somewhat desperate on WWE’s part, helped facilitate a better babyface reaction for Reigns, particularly in some unkind markets.

The crowd in Philadelphia the night he won the WWE World Title on Raw cheered him only a few months after booing him out of the building following the Royal Rumble last January.

The arrest angle on last week’s show, while generally a little too unbelievable for my taste, still received a positive reaction from the crowd. Not the snarky Twitter crowd, but the live crowd.

That’s how you judge if something is getting over. Listen to the people. Are they cheering? You’re doing something right. Are they booing? Well, time to readjust some things.

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Last night, however, the push had some surprising brakes put on it. They didn’t de-emphasize Reigns. Far from it, actually. He overcame the odds with Vince McMahon as referee and defeated Sheamus, retaining his World Title thanks to another referee making the pinfall count after Reigns knocked out McMahon with a superman punch.

The execution of the match, however, was as clunky as anything WWE has done in a while.

First there’s Reigns knocking out McMahon in the middle of the ring, seconds later hitting Sheamus with a spear and then going for a pin, despite knocking out the official only a few seconds prior.

Why did he do that? Well I’m sure that was “the spot,” but “the spot” made Reigns look like an idiot. The referee is knocked out. He knows that because he did it.

Later in the match, Reigns hits Sheamus with a spear and again goes for the cover. McMahon, who it appeared blew the spot this time, was in the ring instead of (I’m assuming) being on the outside. Reigns, with McMahon right next to him, signals to the back for another official. McMahon isn’t even selling his injuries at this point, and then slowly, and awkwardly, rolls out of the ring to allow another official to make the count.

Eventually, the third official in the match counts Sheamus’ shoulders to the mat for three, but McMahon announces that Reigns will defend his title at the Royal Rumble 2016 in the actual Rumble match itself, against 29 other men.

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It’s the first time that will happen since 1992.

Reigns and Triple H seem on a collision course for a WrestleMania match. After the TLC beatdown — which Triple H so greatly put over by being fine on television two days later for NXT — Reigns and Triple H are leading up to a match, it’s just a matter of when. If it’s not happening at Royal Rumble 2016, you can surely bet it won’t be happening at a second-tier event like Fastlane.

Here’s how this could play out.

Your No. 30 entrant into the Royal Rumble match is … Triple H. He eliminates Reigns, wins the World Title.

I know … YAWN.

Reigns wins a title shot in the main event at Fastlane against who knows who? Then main events WrestleMania against Triple H, winning back the World Title and giving WWE the confetti moment.

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Last year’s show ended with a heel going over. That’s not how WWE likes to end its biggest show of the year. A babyface is going over this year and they’re going to kill for that babyface to be Roman Reigns. He didn’t get that moment last year, and deservedly didn’t get it, but the truth is Reigns has come a long way. He’s much more deserving of this spot now than last year.

Honestly, who is in better position to be there? Cena? OK. Who else on the babyface side of the roster?

No one, really.

It’s not that Roman Reigns is the best, it’s that he’s probably the best they’ve got.

Match Results

1. Kevin Owens beat Neville

2. Titus O’Neil beat Stardust

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3. Becky Lynch beat Charlotte

4. Big Show & Ryback fought to a no-contest

5. Alberto Del Rio & Rusev beat The Usos

6. Heath Slater beat Dolph Ziggler

7. New Day beat Kalisto & The Dudley Boyz

8. Roman Reigns beat Sheamus to retain the WWE World Hvt. Championship (Vince McMahon special guest referee)

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Quick Strikes

1. Chris Jericho returned to Raw on Monday, announcing that he’s entering himself into the Royal Rumble match. If Jericho is back for Royal Rumble 2016, it also likely means he’s back for a match at WrestleMania.

That’s great news, especially for 30-somethings like me who grew up watching Jericho in his heyday, but it once again — and this is a yearly occurence — points to a larger issue within WWE, and that is, of course, it’s reliance on former stars to make WrestleMania feel special. Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, and the Undertaker will all likely have top billing. Those guys are all, at best, part-timers. Jericho works more than all of them, with his house show loops. Lesnar second most while Triple H generally wrestles once per year and Undertaker the same, until this past year where he added a few more special attraction matches to his schedule.

That doesn’t even acknowledge that The Rock apparently has a big role this year that he’s been teasing on Twitter.

2. A new stable debuted, as Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, and Curtis Axel helped Heath Slater defeat Dolph Ziggler. I like the idea of doing something with these guys. There are three hours of television to fill on Raw alone, not to mention two more hours on SmackDown, it shouldn’t be difficult to feature everyone on the roster.

I’m hoping this group takes on a serious tone rather than some goofy comedy act. There are some real emotions they could play on here, I’m sure, going against “the machine” for not doing anything with them.