The WWE could have been very lazy with this episode, because all they had to do was hype up Roman vs Sheamus for the title. Instead, they built a well balanced show that furthered several feuds,
Oh wow, that recap from last week was way too long. They definitely could have cut it in half, just to get the show started sooner.
The interaction between Stephanie and Roman had no substance, and it felt completely empty. It was strange to see Stephane so quiet, and it took away from her purpose in the segment. Along with this, she didn’t quite sell the urgency of the main event. However, Roman was decent, as he delivered his promo with more determination.
Neville vs Kevin Owens
I went into this match thinking Neville would win once again, but in similar fashion as last week, although I’m happy they got to wrestle a proper match. Kevin was good as usual, but Neville was the true star. While he did take a clean loss, he left looking quite strong, considering how he was selling an injury. Initially, I didn’t believe the WWE would do anything for Owens-Ambrose, but I’m highly impressed with how they continue to further the program on each show. Having Ambrose on commentary was a nice touch, but watching him deliver an elbow to Owens through a table was beautiful.
Stardust vs Titus O’Neil
Instead having these two feud, I thought it would have been better to pair them together for a tag team program. There isn’t enough here to keep the fans hooked for a singles feud, but they might have gotten more mileage from an odd couple pairing. To reiterate my point, this contest was rather boring.
Charlotte vs Becky Lynch
Showing the fans what happened two months ago was a brilliant way of reminding them why they should cheer against Charlotte. At first, I was against them wrestling on this show, because it would spoil their inevitable match at the Rumble, but it worked out well. Just about everything from the finish to the post match beat down was done brilliantly. It was a excellent way to further this feud.
Ryback vs Big Show
We saw this last week, and nothing came from it. I expected the same for this rematch, but instead I was swerved. For a while I was wondering what was next for the Wyatts, and after some time in limbo, the WWE found something for them. Even though this would be the Big Show’s 50th face/heel turn within the past few years, I love the idea of him feuding with the entire Wyatt Family.
Rusev & Alberto Del Rio vs The Usos
I don’t mind the idea of this feud, but there’s no context. If this is the planned feud for the Usos going forward, they’ll need more material to make it work. The actually match wasn’t bad, there was just no emotional investment on my end. Also, I wanted to see Del Rio follow up on his win from last week against Cena.
Dolph Ziggler vs Heath Slater
On paper this comes across as a squash match, but giving Slater his own squad of jobbers made this a lot more entertaining. Like most people, I expected Dolph to go over, but Slaters win was a pleasant surprise. There may not be much in store for this new stable, but’s nice to see them get something to work with.
The New Day Promo
As usual, the New Day proceeded to make me laugh insanely. I didn’t know where the count down was going, but I can’t say I predicted Y2J to make an appearance. The second he came out, I just knew the fans were in for a good promo battle. It’s fair to say the two parties delivered.
The New Day vs Kalisto & The Dudley Boyz
With Sin Cara out of the lineup, Kalisto will need some partners to help further his feud with the New Day. Even though this was a rematch from Smackdown, I didn’t mind, because there’s natural chemistry between both teams. It was great to see the New Day pick up a clean win, but this match began to drag after a while.
Roman Reigns vs Sheamus (Vince McMahon as Special Guest Referee)
I know as fans we hate commercial breaks, but the long one in between this match and the prior one was much needed. Even though I was extremely confident in Roman winning, I still had butterflies in my stomach because of how everything was setup. Most of the match was rather bland, but that’s probably because this was their third match within a month. The shenanigans were highly entertaining, and it was the best part of the contest. There was no way this match could have been done without them.
As fans we beg for fresh ideas from the WWE, and Vince’s post match announcement delivered on that. While Roman may be an early favorite to win the rumble match to keep his title, I think that mindset may change once we see the other entrants.
I was convinced most of this show would be filler until the main event, but there was some decent storytelling. Honestly, there were only two matches that failed to progress any type of feud. So congratulations, WWE, you managed start the New Year off with a bang. The low point of the show was Titus vs Stardust, while the high point was the main event. Overall, I give this episode a well deserved 8/10.