WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 4

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterJanuary 5, 2016

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 4

0 of 10

    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    WWE Raw rang in 2016 with an eventful, newsworthy show.

    Chris Jericho returned, announcing his plans to win the Royal Rumble. Heath Slater formed a new stable. And Roman Reigns found out he now has 29 challengers to fend off come Jan. 24.

    Monday was a night of instant classics, but rather matches that led to the next stages of stories. The Wyatt Family and Charlotte are among those who made an impact after the bell.

    John Cena was surprisingly absent from a busy show.

    Raw did fine without him. Surprises and animosity powered the program, kicking off the year with plenty to talk about. 

    How well did WWE tell its stories? How did the wrestlers do come crunch time? The following is a dive into Monday's Raw from Reigns' battles with The Authority to Slater's new posse.

Roman Reigns and Stephanie McMahon Kick Off the Show

1 of 10

    Roman Reigns interrupted Stephanie McMahon's entrance before the two enemies circled each other in the ring. 

    Reigns demanded to see the WWE chairman. McMahon told The Big Dog Vince would arrive later. She promised if Reigns lost his world title match, she would punish him by making him wrestle day in and day out until his body broke down.

    The champ threatened to hurt Mr. McMahon if he cost him the title.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I don't think we need you out here tonight, Steph."—Reigns.

    "Hope is not a strategy, Roman."—McMahon.

    "If anybody screws me tonight, you won't be picking up your father from jail; you'll be picking him up from the hospital."—Reigns.






    This is the version WWE must continue to show us. The intense, take-no-prisoners warrior out there fighting to make a living is light-years ahead of the poor man's version of John Cena WWE has previously asked him to play.

    The segment was shorter and more taut than the norm. It set up the main event angle, showcased Reigns' strong suits and didn't have McMahon overshadow the champ. 

    Simplicity often equals success.

Kevin Owens vs. Neville

2 of 10

    In a rematch from last Monday, Kevin Owens battled Neville. Dean Ambrose sat at the announce desk to watch the action unfold.

    Neville's high-flying got him the advantage early. Owens, though, slowed the action with a brutal assault. 

    Even with his ribs injured, Neville kept diving at Owens, grimacing through each move. Owens fought back, hitting his signature moves to set up a Pop-up Powerbomb for the win.

    Owens looked to follow up with a post-match beating, but Ambrose made the save. The Lunatic Fringe left Owens out cold atop a broken announce table.



    Owens wins via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "There aren't a lot of moves in this world that I can't do. But that's sure as heck is one of them."—Ambrose after Neville executes a Shooting Star Press to the outside.

    Neville hits a 450 splash off the ring apron.

    Owens hits a cannonball while Neville is hung upside in the corner.

    Ambrose hits an elbow drop onto Owens, breaking the announce table under him.






    Both men were made to look good here. Neville came off as gutsy, if not a bit nutty for taking so many risks. Owens was the powerful predator who flattened his prey in the end. 

    It was a solid match, but not as electric as their best stuff.

    And again the battle for the Intercontinental Championship grew more intense. Ambrose upped the animosity between him and Owens thanks to his attack. That leaves fans wondering what Owens will do to respond.

    It was odd, though, that Neville had his ribs taped, while Ambrose showed no lingering effects crashing into the table last week.

Titus O'Neil vs. Stardust

3 of 10

    Titus O'Neil found himself in defensive mode as Stardust issued a methodical beating. The heel focused on O'Neil's left leg, trying to chop him down at the knee.

    O'Neil rebounded, though, hitting power moves en route to a victory. A Clash of the Titus sealed the deal for the powerhouse.



    O'Neil wins via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    O'Neil dodged a chop block and countered with a clothesline.






    This sluggish matchup was a strange way to capitalize on what has been an odd rivalry.

    WWE has been highly inconsistent in telling this story of Stardust and O'Neil. It's not surprising then that it just threw these guys out there without building to it more. What are their issues with each other? What was at stake here?

    Not answering those questions combined with below-average action led to a forgettable contest.

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch

4 of 10

    Charlotte and Becky Lynch agreed to have a friendly rematch of their bout from two months ago. Ric Flair stood in his daughter's corner. 

    Neither woman was able to seize the advantage at first in the back-and-forth matchup. Lynch and Charlotte tried to outdo each other, showing off with many of their moves. 

    Lynch had the champion reeling with a flurry of strikes, but Charlotte had The Nature Boy on her side. Flair held Lynch's leg who managed to roll up Charlotte for the win anyway, with a handful of tights and all.

    Charlotte attacked her after the bell, stomping her "friend" into the mat.



    Lynch wins via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Lynch helps Charlotte up. Charlotte takes the opportunity to chop her teammate in the chest.

    Lynch slides off a slap attempt and clamps on a sleeper hold. 

    "You want to deal with a Flair. Get ready for the repercussions."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield. 






    Charlotte is clearly a better heel than babyface. Her increasingly vicious character suits her perfectly. WWE is smart to be patient with her turn, making it more of an organic shift.

    Lynch and Charlotte did well in the ring, telling a strong story of one-upmanship that turned into something more hostile. WWE did well to have this splintering relationship fully crack, setting up a future clash between these two.

Ryback vs. Big Show

5 of 10

    Big Show overpowered Ryback in a dominating performance.

    The giant, though, didn't get a chance to finish off The Big Guy. The Wyatt Family emerged, beat down Ryback with Big Show watching on.

    Bray Wyatt then led the way as his posse pounced on Big Show, too. They left Big Show lying in the ring before promising to cause havoc at the Royal Rumble. 



    Match ends in a no-contest.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Get your pitchforks and lanterns. They're about to storm the giant."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

    Big Show and Braun Strowman engage in a staredown.

    "We are war. We are famine. We are pestilence."—Wyatt.






    The match was just there to transition to the beatdown. It was a clear sign Ryback and Big Show should never lock up again.

    The Wyatt Family issuing destruction was a welcome sight. The group doesn't seem to care if their victims are babyfaces or heels; they just want to take people down.

    Having The Wyatt Family go on a roll and likely cause hell for everyone at the Rumble is intriguing, but WWE has to make good on Wyatt's promises. Too often, The Eater of Worlds talks a big game and then folds come battle time.

The Usos vs. Rusev and Alberto Del Rio

6 of 10

    The League of Nations
    The League of NationsCredit: WWE.com

    The Usos slugged it out with Alberto Del Rio and Rusev, managing to keep the heels off balance.

    Rusev and Del Rio rebounded. They slowed the match to a grinding pace. Jey Uso took the bulk of the punishment from the two bruisers.

    Jimmy Uso fared better, kicking Del Rio dizzy and nearly securing the win. The League of Nations eventually overpowered The Usos, though, with a diving foot stomp doing the brothers in.



    Rusev and Del Rio win via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Fans chant "We want Lana!"

    Rusev suplexes Jey off the top rope.

    Rusev kicks Jimmy out of the air.

    Del Rio hits his double foot stomp while his foe is halfway across the ring.






    The most entertaining matches all night hinted at how great the tag team division can be this year.

    The action built to a strong finish. Fun exchanges filled the bout. And to top it off, WWE committed to its new villainous stable.

    The League of Nations gained a good amount of momentum here, knocking off the former champs and looking powerful along the way.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Heath Slater

7 of 10

    Adam Rose, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel accompanied Heath Slater to the ring. 

    Dolph Ziggler outwrestled Slater early on. The One Man Band responded with a series of right hands and bashing forearms to the back of Ziggler's head.

    Dallas and Rose distracted The Showoff, allowing Slater to steal a win with a schoolboy pin.

    Slater's crew all addressed the crowd, promising big things moving ahead.



    Slater wins via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You shut your mouth!"—Slater to the fans.

    "It looks like I found some friends."—Slater.






    WWE thankfully went with the unexpected here. It's not clear what the company has in mind for this group of jobbers, but at least they have some TV time to see if something sticks.

    Getting the team some wins and establishing an identity is key to getting them noticed. Otherwise, WWE may just have the next 3MB on its hands.

    Slater will have to step up more than he did on Monday, though. His bout with Ziggler was good, but he stumbled at times with awkward exchanges.

Chris Jericho Returns, Banters with The New Day

8 of 10

    Galloping and giggling into the ring, The New Day recreated the viral video of Mike Tyson falling off a hoverboard. Chris Jericho soon interrupted the trio. Y2J promised to save WWE.

    He announced he is entering the Royal Rumble match.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "2016 will be the most magical years of our lives."—Big E.

    Jericho calls The New Day "trap queens."






    What a wasted opportunity.

    Jericho making a surprise return and tangling with one of WWE's hottest acts in a verbal battle should have been so much better. Instead, there was little spark. Y2J relied too heavily on catchphrases, offering too little original material.

    Things turned juvenile, too. Jericho getting the chant "rooty tooty booty" was uncomfortable.

    The exchange felt too much like something one would see on the schoolyard playground. 

    Here's hoping that the rest of Jericho's run isn't as geared toward the eight-year-olds in attendance. He can be a major boost to the roster, otherwise.

The New Day vs. Kalisto and The Dudley Boyz

9 of 10

    The New Day
    The New DayCredit: WWE.com

    The Dudley Boyz pummeled The New Day. Kalisto assisted as the babyfaces punished Kofi Kingston. The high-flyer showed good chemistry with Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley. 

    The champions managed to isolate Kalisto and go on a roll. 

    Eventually the match turned more chaotic, which The New Day took advantage of, smashing Kalisto outside and pinning D-Von to nab the win.



    The New Day wins via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Fans chant "Rooty tooty booty!"

    Bubba Ray throws Kalisto outside of the ring onto The New Day.

    Kalisto dives off Bubba Ray onto Kingston.






    Kalisto was the star here.

    The matchup featured bursts of excitement throughout an overall OK match. Kalisto provided the majority of those bursts. He's been extremely fun to watch.

    WWE just has to get us to care about him somehow. 

    Sin Cara is clearly banged-up as WWE left him out of the fray again. When he returns, WWE has a golden opportunity to have The Lucha Dragons take the tag baton from The New Day. It's going to be hard to match the champs in terms of entertainment, though.

Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

10 of 10

    Decked out in a sleeveless striped shirt, Vince McMahon sauntered out to referee the action.

    McMahon pulling the world title from Roman Reigns caused a distraction that allowed Sheamus to get the upper hand. The Celtic Warrior flung the champ all over the ring. It helped that McMahon let Sheamus do just about everything he wanted without recourse.

    Sheamus focused on Reigns' ribs. The Big Dog battled on, but he had to contend with a crooked referee as well as his powerful foe.

    McMahon angered Reigns with his bias officiating, eventually punching out the chairman. 

    When Reigns looked ready to pummel Mr. McMahon, Stephanie McMahon came down to ringside. The champ chased her away, though.

    A pair of Brogue Kicks and crooked referee Scott Armstrong trying to fast-count couldn't do him in. Reigns survived.

    McMahon then announced the Royal Rumble will be for the WWE title.



    Reigns wins via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    McMahon issues painfully slow counts during Reigns' pin attempts.

    "I need some eye drops!"—McMahon.






    The match got silly at times with the McMahon shenanigans, but it effectively told a story of Reigns overcoming overwhelming odds. It felt like Reigns was doomed at several points.

    Why McMahon didn't make the count toward the end when Armstrong came in? That looked to be a blown moment there.

    But the real story will be McMahon forcing Reigns to put his title on the line at the Rumble. That opens a variety of doors for how that match unfolds. Reigns may lose thanks to Triple H, setting up a match between them. Brock Lesnar could dominate en route to taking back his prize.

    Suddenly, the Rumble is far from predictable.