WWE Monday Night RAW Review
January 20
Dallas, Texas

So while you were watching some excellent matches as part of #RAWlternative, this was happening tonight. I was doing neither at the time they aired. I was eating my weight in meat at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian churrascaria. In honor of this fact, tonight we shall be ranking the different meat options throughout the report.

Every year it is nice to see the very sincere tribute by WWE to Martin Luther King. This year expanded to include Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Nelson Mandela and more. But I can’t help but wonder if Vince’s love for King also explains why his concept of how black people act isn’t frozen sometime around 1963.

I usually fast forward through the opening montage so I had not seen the new look. Opening. Slick, and nice to see some of the new faces.

Yay! Old people will be on the show!

Opening Promo: All the Usual Suspects – It is a feat of some skill that Paul Heyman has been able to keep the crowds booing at the presence of Lesnar. The second Lesnar took the mic the crowd instantly cheered for him.

HHH got in the ring three seconds ago. It has been at least two seconds too long that he has been out here without Lesnar murdering him.

The angle with Lesnar and Rollins is a very interesting one. The angle with Lesnar and Rollins and Cena is just boring. Perhaps the most amazing part to me is how small Cena feels in this angle. Sure he’s fighting for his friends and he’ll win at the Rumble and all that, but it’s just kind of there.  The intrigue is in the chess game between Heyman/Lesnar and the Authority.

Forget everything we know about Lesnar’s future and his contract. Think about the story only in terms of what is being presented to us on the screen. Brock Lesnar is an unstable wrecking machine controlled by someone the Authority has never liked. They made a tentative alliance against John Cena because that’s just a thing that always has to happen. But now Brock has been curb stomped twice by Rollins. Brock is an angry Viking now. Heyman is desperately trying to control Lesnar. He doesn’t want to have the company turn on Brock. Rollins is full of bravado and youthful excitement. He wants to take on the world now that he is back in the loving arms of the Authority. And the Authority…we’re not sure what they want. Other than to make John Cena miserable, because you must be thinking about John Cena at all times.  Everyone is at the edge of exploding but still trying to be civil. Heyman may have to let Brock blow everything up and deal with the consequences. The Authority may have overplayed their hand, or perhaps this is how they force Lesnar out. Or maybe there’s an even longer con going on, the kind that David Mamet would approve of.

Meanwhile John Cena is wearing blue tonight.

“Ashholes.” Everything I hate about John Cena’s character summed up in one single word.

Nice to see John taking a long time to think about whether he should give up a title shot, something he gets all the time, to have a chance to bring his friends, the ones he got fired in the first place, back onto the show. John Cena is not a good person.

Having lived in Chicago all of my life I know a rigged election when I see one. And I can say that while serving as an election judge I did have at least one person come in and try to vote under the name of a dead person. Winner: Seth Rollins for making it seem perfectly reasonable that he’s involved with Lesnar and Cena

Meat: Frango (Chicken) – Seriously? I’m here to do my level best to eat an entire cow. I have neither time nor inclination to interrupt this by the eating of chicken. Getting Frango is a total rookie mistake at Fogo, like believing WWE will keep to its stipulations. I will allow one piece of the chicken wrapped in bacon, but only one. Save that stomach room for the real good stuff.

Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt: Good god almighty I am happy to see Bryan back.

The unending problem with heel authority figures rears its head again. If Bryan loses to Kane on Thursday night he’s out of the Rumble. Why? Why have matches to decide this? If the Authority doesn’t want Bryan in the Rumble it seems like the simplest thing to do would simply be to not put him in the Rumble. There is no compelling reason to set up that barrier. It isn’t like they hate him but feel they need to keep him around for business, like Vince with Austin or seemingly like The Authority with Cena. He’s someone they don’t respect but seemingly like keeping him around to screw with. I am not asking for much. Just one line or two explaining why they keep allowing him on the show.

Everytime I see Bryan land weird on his arms or shoulders I get worried. I really hope he is truly healthy. Not the Kurt Angle kind of healthy where the Grim Reaper is always watching from the first few rows (note: he may be there for TNA just as well as Angle.)

I don’t give a damn about any hashtags or “movements” on Twitter. What I do know though is no one else is ½ as over as Daniel Bryan is right now. If they intend to keep going with Lesnar/Reigns at Mania, the road getting there will be mighty bumpy.

The Kane feud absolutely has to end Thursday. The crowd can’t even get worked up about him beating up Bryan, and 3 minutes earlier that crowd was losing their shit for Bryan. If it’s just a way to let Bryan get back in the ring with a guy who he is familiar, and is well regarded for being a safe guy to work with, that’s fine. End the feud this week and there will be no hard feelings. But either this ends now or they end up back in therapy. No other option will be acceptable. Winner: Bray Wyatt

Meat: Linguica (Sausage) – On its own a good spicy linguica can be an excellent piece of a meal. And there’s nothing at all wrong with their version. It had a spicy kick and the casing had a solid snap. But it’s still sausage links. Not bad sausage links at all, but sausage nonetheless. Like Bray Wyatt, you know what you are getting with the linguica, and unless you are a huge fan of it, you can probably let it go and aim for better meats.

NwDX Reunion: HBK gets a big pop. As I predicted.

I wonder where Jason Sensation is these days. I would like to see him hanging out with the thoroughly bonkers Sandow.

I have absolutely no doubt the way Miz was treated in that bit is exactly the way he would have been treated in the locker room by all of those guys. I miss angry Miz who was full of indignant rage about the way he was shunned by the old guard in the back.

It is somewhat odd to go from angry boss HHH to guy hanging with his buds. I mean, I’m okay with it. Multi-faceted characters are totally my jam. Hell, being peer pressured by the Clique into bringing back Erick Rybiggler would be a hell of a way to wrap this up. Far better than John Cena overcoming odds. Winner: Jason Sensation for being namedropped in 2015.

Meat: Costela (Ribs) – They have two kinds of ribs here. Neither of them are the star of the show. They’re kind of the Heath Slater of the meat selection. You don’t miss them if they never bring them to you, but if you really just need something to eat (or watch wrestle) right then and there then you’ll live with it and probably be okay. Only choose one type of rib (beef or pork) and only try one unless you’re Takeru Kobayashi. (One of these weeks we’ll have to rank competitive eaters.)

Legends Panel: 23 years ago today, Ric Flair won the Royal Rumble. There has never been a better hour of announcing than Bobby and Gorilla working that match. Heenan flip-flopping on Piper wearing a kilt/skirt still makes me laugh.

This is the most esteemed group having a panel discussion since Tonto, Frankenstein and Tarzan. I hope to find out their stances on fire.

Interesting that none of the legends picked Roman Reigns. Obviously neither Bray or Ambrose are winning the Rumble. Could there be a faint ray of hope for Daniel Bryan to win the Rumble and go to Mania.

I just watched the DX episode of the Monday Night Wars. Seeing HBK tonight is like watching a PG rated version of him from back in late 1997. Making fun of everything and taking none of it too seriously, but still being so damn charismatic that you can’t not be entertained. The bit with Hogan and Summerslam 2005 was hilarious, especially since Michaels was at peak noshitstogive that night.

The reason no one picked you Show is because they’ve seen this show before. They know the giants never win the Rumble.

I love Ric Flair, but he had that one coming. And of course out of those three guys you knew who would have to do the job. Still, the dance before he got knocked out will surely live on in a thousand GIFs.

Never mind about that earlier stuff. Reigns is taking the Rumble. Though I would be so happy if Reigns somehow ended up paired with Big Show at Mania. Winner: Roman Reigns

Meat: Filet Mignon – Truly the most overrated of the steak, especially in Latin cuisine. Much like the HHH vs. Undertaker WrestleMania matches this cut has gained a reputation far beyond what it deserves. However the truly discerning fans of meat and wrestling can see past the hype. They know the filet is under-flavored, they know those Mania matches were just dudes laying around trying to make their exhaustion seem epic instead of detrimental. Only ranked this high because of the option wrapped in bacon. Have a piece wrapped in bacon, and start readying yourself for the heavy hitting meats.

John Cena talked. He’s going to fight and fight and fight, fight, fight, fight, fight.

Dean Ambrose vs. Wade Barrett: This is not the kind of match that I want to see over multiple segments at midnight with my belly full of Picanha (still to come in our rankings).

Dallas is hot tonight. Kind of sad that with all the legends announced there was no word of Kevin Von Erich and his kids making an appearance.

At this point, I don’t really know what the hell Dean Ambrose is in the eyes of WWE. Is he a dangerous man we should know can do evil things to people? Is he a prankster more content to annoy people than win matches? He got called out as a possible winner of the Rumble in the legends segment so he’s surely still someone they think well of and believe has credibility. But where do they go with it? His partner for Mania will tell us much about their plans for him going forward.

Holy crap Dean Ambrose won a match. I’m peeking out my windows to see if the moon has turned black as sackcloth. Yup. It has. See y’all at Har-Mageddon. Winner: Dean Ambrose

Meat: Lombo (Parmesan Dusted Pork) – Fitting that this slots in right here with Dean Ambrose. This cut of meat is hard to read. On certain days when you have a taste for it this is a main event meat. The cheesy flavor is so unlike any other meat you’re eating that it instantly stands out and shocks your palate awake like a cup of coffee in the morning. Like Dean, it doesn’t get as much love from the bosses, busy pushing their top sirloins and filets and John Cenas and McMahons. And sometimes the lombo doesn’t quite live up to expectations. When it does, it is transcendent. When it doesn’t you get shocked by a rogue monitor. But you have to get some every time. Maybe only a piece or two. Maybe you cry until the gaucho leaves the whole skewer on your plate. Who knows? But there will be lombo.

The Royal Rumble stat promos are always some of the best work they present every year. Glad to see our old pal HHH was able to work some HHH worship into this package.

I’m not sure which would be more depressing: thinking about the New Day on this holiday, or watching the Orton vs. Cena match from Royal Rumble 2014.

New Day vs. Swing Cats: Xavier Woods hinting at the eventual heel turn of New Day, talking about how if they stop smiling then there will be bodies everywhere.

Both teams are doing some actual tag team moves. Tag teams wrestling like tag teams, instead of two dudes doing intercut singles matches, makes for fun watching.

That delayed vertical suplex with a dropkick into a brainbuster was awesome. That should be a finish pretty much every time they hit it. It looks that cool.

For a short, kind of nothing match, I enjoyed this. I grew up a big fan of the NWA in the 80’s so for me tag team wrestling is in my blood. The belts were taken seriously and being in a tag team wasn’t a demotion. If anything it took guys who would never be able to rise past midcard and with the right partner they became main event level. I know this can still be done today if WWE ever has the will and the patience. Double team moves are a first tiny step towards that dream. Winners: New Day

Meat: Fraldinha (Bottom Sirloin) – We’re getting into the heavy hitting cuts. If you were forecasting the Royal Meat Rumble you would put this cut in the mix as a dark horse candidate to win it all. Not as aggressively seasoned as some of the meats to come this cut is a mild and subtle flavored piece. What it lacks in strong flavor it makes up for in being nicely fatty and full of juicy goodness. It’s kind of like Rusev. I doubt he’ll win the Rumble, but if they wanted a nice safe move you could always have Cena vs. Rusev with John defending America’s honor at Mania.  Little known fact is Rusev is in fact Russian for Fraldinha. I think. I learned all my Russian from Boris and Natasha. You will want multiple pieces of this.

Everyone Laugh at Ascension Segment: I bet Kevin Nash is an awesome dude to hang out with. Sure he has a very interesting view on booking, but I am sure he would be a hoot and perhaps even a holler to sit with at a bar.

Vince McMahon is not wearing pants during any segment with the Ascension.

JBL is a heel. Let us not forget this.

Spend 18 months building up a team as the dominant team in NXT. Bring them up and make them Rob Conway within three weeks. Can’t wait to see what awesome things they have in store for Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Sami Zayn, etc.

We all know that the team was probably doomed from the start, but why the hell waste time on them then? Just let them ride around on the company plane as throw rotten fruit at them if you’re seriously only bringing them up to get your jollies at their expense. Much cheaper and you get rid of all your old produce. Winners: Old Guys Who Hate Kids On Their Lawns

Meat: Beef Ancho (Rib Eye) – I hated this segment, but it definitely had some legends in it. It also had Bradshaw, but we’ll just overlook that fact. This cut of meat is in that legends category. More flavorful than the fraldinha but just as juicy. This cut is really in the sweet meat spot. For some palates this might be the best choice as it has flavor but still lets the meat be the star. Only the most milquetoast of eaters would find this piece to be too forward flavored for their taste. If you’re not a fan of herbs and garlic, this is your stop. Eat many pieces of rib eye until you feel Kuato ready to come pushing forth from your abdomen.

Oh crap, Cena’s in a handicap match. Guess we know what is happening here. Once more nothing makes a damn bit of sense. But the Authority keeps their own drummer and trumpeter on staff apparently.

Natalya/Paige vs. Summer Rae/Alicia Fox: Haven’t heard the big CM Punk chant in a while. Perhaps the Dallas fans don’t know the difference between AJ Lee and Alicia Fox.

The Scorpion Crosslock! Best finisher in WWE. Shame it seems to appear no more than 2-3 times per year at most.

I recently went back and watch the Knight Dynasty breakup as Saraya finally pushed Brittani (Paige) too far. Awesome angle and a reminder of how good Paige was even before she reached drinking age.

Winners: Natalya/Paige

Meat: Alcatra (Top Sirloin) – This meat is seasoned with Fogo’s signature blend of herbs and spices. This cut is doled out in larger thicker chunks than the next and final cut, hence the difference in ranking. The flavor is excellent, but the thickness of the piece doesn’t work quite as well for me. I prefer my more aggressively flavored steaks cut very thin. But for those who like a more substantial bite this is the winner. I don’t even have a wrestling connection for this. How about something like “this piece is really good, just like CM Punk used to be. But it will never be able to be THE MEAT at Fogo, just like Punk was always #2 behind Cena.” Actually, I guess that was a wrestling connection. O’Doyle rules.

We’ve got a good relationship, me and you, so we tell the truth to each other. I fell asleep as the Mizdow segment started and I couldn’t be bothered to go back and watch. Something happened and Mizdow did Mizdow things and the Usos said “OOOS” and yeah we have a main event to get to.

Rational Brock Lesnar might be the scariest of all the Brock Lesnars. The only thing scarier than a hurricane is a hurricane with aim. Heyman found the right button to push for keeping Lesnar in line just long enough to get through to the Rumble it seems.

John Cena vs. Kane/Big Show/Seth Rollins: I was still groggy for most of this, and just waiting to get to the fireworks factory. The minute the stipulation was made the ending was no longer in doubt so it was just a question of how and when they make it happen.

And that’s a hell of a way to make it work. Sting makes his first appearance on RAW and causes HHH to go apoplectic. Nifty mix of Sgt. Pepper era Sting jacket, Crow era paint, and Wolfpac/TNA alternate color scheme. It’s like when Jeff Jarrett did the many looks of Sting. Still wish they would get rid of the damn bird sounds in his entrance though.

So those people who said the crowds wouldn’t recognize Sting? That might not be correct.

Why is HHH so mad? He can just fire these guys again tomorrow. Hence my complaints from earlier. Why not just go on Smackdown and fire them again just to show Cena how pointless his efforts truly are?

They’re finally getting to the most interesting Lesnar story they could tell. Lesnar vs. everybody, especially the Authority. It took them almost three years and wasted millions of dollars, and they only have a few weeks to tell it, but this is the Lesnar I wanted to watch. Seeing him toss around Kane and Show and having the crowd going apeshit for it was beautiful. Almost enough to make me wonder if someone is giving the tiniest thought to Rollins/Lesnar at Mania. Winner: Sting and John Cena and Erick Rybiggler

Meat: Picanha (signature top sirloin) – As the show ends so does the Meatdown. We reach the apex, the summit of Meat Mountain. The Picanha. There’s a reason it is called their signature cut. Bursting with South American flavor, full of rich chunks of fat combined with tender thinly cut meat, you can’t go wrong with this. Unless you don’t eat it. Then you’ve gone so wrong there may be no bringing you back to the path of the righteous and true. I know he eats some meat now, but for years the best guy in WWE was a vegan. Yet it is Daniel Bryan who this meat reminds me of. I am happy when it arrives, I enjoy every minute of it, and I always want more.

Well that’s the end of our time together. If you liked this please share it. If you want to tell me things I’m on Twitter @spiffie6123 and always happy to respond. Leave a comment below. Go to the forums at VOW and start a thread saying “FIRE YOUR RAW REVIEWER NOW!” Anything that keeps us talking wrestling is a good thing. Thanks for reading. Tell your friends, and remember HOLY BULGOGI, CATMAN!