Sometimes as WWE approaches a pay-per-view, you're left wondering on a Monday night exactly what they did to make you want to watch the upcoming show. This Monday night, though, WWE left fans with a striking image for exactly why you want to watch the Royal Rumble on Sunday night.
Almost everything on Monday night led to the Royal Rumble. Whether it was tidying up some storylines to build matches for the show, or Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn needing to compete for a spot, everything pointed in one direction, and that was to Sunday night. However, it could be argued whether or not the first 2 ½ hours of the show did anything to make someone who was on the fence about watching want to watch on Sunday. That's where the main event segment came in.
Goldberg had been advertised all night, and he came out to cut a promo. Or, at least he tried to cut a promo; he stumbled over his lines early on and had to restart a few times. Quick though, as JR would say, business picked up. Paul Heyman came out, and shortly after, Brock Lesnar would come out in an extremely rare unannounced appearance.
WWE has Brock Lesnar so infrequently that if Lesnar would be on television, WWE had always made sure to heavily advertise to try to boost the viewership. So this, in itself, was an unusual occurance.
Goldberg challenged Lesnar to come to the ring, instead of stay on the stage, and Lesnar did just that, circling the ring before stepping in. It seemed like we might get the Survivor Series confrontation to send us to the Rumble, which would have been fine on its own, but in one last twist, suddenly the lights went out and the gong hit. When the lights came back on, Undertaker stood in the ring between the two, staring back and forth between both. And just as the fans took it in, the show ended.
You can quibble with the specifics of the ending, particularly how quickly the show cut to the end after Undertaker appeared. It certainly would have been nice to give that moment a little more time to breathe. However, what is not in dispute is how enticing that snapshot was.Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Goldberg, all standing in the same ring, ready to come to blows, knowing that all three of them could end up in a confrontation in the Rumble.
That's what the WWE is selling for the Rumble, and it's a very enticing pitch. Even the most jaded fan has to wonder what would happen if those three do end up in the ring together. WWE is selling the stars this year for the Rumble, and unless The Rock managed to come back, those are the three biggest WWE can provide. And in a business that's made up of moments, there is no better snapshot to sell a show.
Will those three actually end up in the ring together? It's possible, though I'd say somewhat unlikely. But that vision is in fans' minds now, and that's enough.
The Rest of RAW:
>> As mentioned before, there was one very dramatic development for the Rumble, as Sami Zayn earned his spot at the expense of Seth Rollins. Sami became the only person to actually need to earn his spot, as he tried to declare it like everyone else, and Stephanie McMahon said that he had to earn it. Not only did he have to earn it, but he would have to face Rollins, and if Sami won, then Rollins would lose his spot. This ended up being an excellent match between the two, and delivered an important ending. Rollins had just hit a peidgree on the apron, basically ensuring the win. Just as he was about to cover, Triple H's music hit, and it seemed like we might finally get the confrontation that Rollins had been asking for. After what felt like forever, Rollins realized H wasn't there, turned around to try to pin, and got caught in a roll-up for the 3-count.
This brings to a big question: what do you do with Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble? Everyone is assuming Rollins/Triple H at Mania, so pulling him from the Rumble isn't necessarily the worst thing. After all, he probably wasn't winning. But you have to do something with him at your third biggest show of the year. So what now? I hope it's more than getting involved with the Owens/Reigns match, but we'll have to see.
>> Speaking of that Owens/Reigns match, Reigns ended up getting his rematch for the US title on RAW, though it ended in DQ as Owens interfered when Reigns took advantage towards the end. Owens and Jericho teamed up to try to put Reigns in the shark cage, however, Reigns fought them off and ended up locking Owens in the cage before hitting a Superman Punch of Jericho. Their segment ended with Reigns standing victorious as Owens was swinging high above the ring in the cage. Later in the night, the Royal Rumble match was made No DQ. Many people assumed this would be when Reigns took the title back. However, between the change in stipulation and the fact that Reigns stood tall on RAW, you do have to wonder what's in the plans on Sunday.
>> Braun Strowman, Titus O'Neil, Rusev, and Jinder Mahal beat The New Day and Enzo and Cass. All of these guys, except maybe Enzo, will be in the Royal Rumble. Braun has to be considered one of the (many) favorites this year.
>> Luke Gallows beat Cesaro in a singles match, after Karl Anderson distracted the referee. The tag title match between the two teams will be contested with two referees after the ref bumps or distractions the past two weeks.
>> Rich Swann beat Noam Dar. Afterward, he called out Neville. As Neville appeared, Swann finally got the advantage over Neville as the two will fight at the Royal Rumble.
>> Nia Jax quickly wrecked a jobber, and cut a promo on Sasha after. Sasha came out with crutches, but used the crutch as a weapon to clear Nia out of the ring. They will fight on the preshow.
>> Mustafa Ali, TJ Perkins and Jack Gallagher beat Drew Gulak, Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout