With the Royal Rumble less than two weeks away, it’s clear that the WWE are intent on taking a foldable steel chair to the back of convention and forcefully tomb-stoning any expectations of a quiet build-up to the event.
On Monday night in New Orleans, that policy continued with a rollercoaster episode of WWE Raw which had a substantial impact on the likely outcome of the 30 man brawling bonanza on January.
From the outset, the surprises came. Vince McMahon, looking increasingly like a body-building peanut who happens to know a good tailor, stood in the ring alongside Steph, arguably the world’s tallest and most cosmetically altered Mini-me, and reiterated to their stable of stars the huge opportunity on offer in a couple of weeks. After years of toil and squeezing themselves into spandex, any one of them could become World Heavyweight Champion should they throw Roman Reigns over the top rope. Even the flamboyant twerking unicorns of A New Day, apparently. Brock Lesnar even got a mention. Hmmm … but he’s not even there. Strange that.
Not happy with how the McMahons were casually assuming his inevitable defeat, Reigns confronted the pair in the ring. At that point, they told him they’d give him some practice taking on vast numbers of competitors by creating the WWE’s first ever ‘One vs All’ match. Nice that. In essence, the McMahons had arranged to throw some of the finest and most sneaky stars of WWE at Reigns for the night.
It didn’t seem like a particularly fair fight. Somewhat pointless and most definitely cruel – not dissimilar to inviting Joey Essex to take part in University Challenge. After Reigns had some initial success fending off the roster of wrestling talent, Reigns succumbed and started getting the kind of savage kicking you normally only see in reviews of Adam Sandler movies.
But as the saying should probably go in the world of wrestling, it’s always darkest before the brawn and out of nowhere Brock Lesnar made his long-awaited WWE reappearance. Excellent foreshadowing WWE. The Beast stormed purposefully into the ring like a Paddy Power Marketing Department employee at a free bar. Looking not dissimilar to a nightclub bouncer during his downtime, Lesnar set about clearing the ring, firstly sending A New Day scurrying for the nearest bean bag chair and then dismissing Kevin Owens, Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus with remarkable ease.
With the starters cleared away, he set his sights on Reigns who was lying in the corner of the ring recovering from his earlier group shoeing. In an unexpected turn of events, Lesnar went to the aid of Reigns, offering him medical attention, some water and his last Rolo. It was a touching gesture from a man famed for his selfishness and remorselessness.
Only joking, he dragged his stricken rival into the middle of the ring and gave him a thunderous F-5, sending out a clear message about his intention to win the Royal Rumble. It means that after being as big as 7/2 to win the Rumble last week, Lesnar is now the overwhelming favourite for victory a week on Sunday. Despite performing commendably in the face of the hordes of WWE stars being thrown in his direction, Roman Reigns drifted to for the Rumble after being 7/5 favourite earlier in the day.
After such a ferocious display, you’d have to doubt if Lesnar will be throne from his position as favourite for the Royal Rumble.