Monday Night Raw aired live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The show kicked off strong with a promo from WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, who made his first appearance since being Superman Punched by WWE Champion Roman Reigns during his eventual title win two weeks ago.
John Cena made his first televised appearance since losing the United States Championship at Hell in a Cell in a rematch against current champ Alberto Del Rio. Here’s a look at WWE’s rankings following the final episode of Raw in 2015.
5. Neville: Neville shocked the wrestling world when he beat out Kevin Owens for the Breakout Star of the Year award at the Slammys last week. But that’s not even close to the upset he pulled off this week by defeating Owens 1-on-1 just seconds after the opening bell. In NXT, sure, Neville would have a long, competitive match against Owens. But on the main roster? This seemed like the strongest booking he’s received since his call up… at least until he was destroyed by his opponent after the victory.
4. Alberto Del Rio: Del Rio faced Cena in Raw’s main event match for the U.S. Championship and — despite losing via disqualification — managed to retain his title against WWE’s franchise player. Del Rio seems to have the most momentum of any League of Nations member not named “Sheamus” entering 2016 and will likely continue working with Cena at least until Royal Rumble.
3. John Cena: The horns were back. The split crowd was back. John Felix Anthony Cena, the face who runs the place, was back. It felt right seeing Cena in a WWE ring after spending months promoting his upcoming reality show American Grit and new film Sisters. He has his critics, but there’s no denying that Cena is still one of the most entertaining aspects of WWE television and a legend.
Raw featured a very Cena-esque promo somewhat pandering to the crowd while calling out his opponent followed by a match where he was clearly the stronger competitor despite facing a barrage by the League of Nations. There’s no doubt that Cena will play a major role in WWE’s plans on the Road to WrestleMania and remain near the top of the card.
2. Sheamus: Sheamus — despite playing second fiddle to The Authority in Reigns’ list of enemies — remains in the title picture. He will face Reigns in another championship match stacked to his advantage with Mr. McMahon as the special guest referee on next week’s Raw. The League of Nations also picked up a victory against “Roman Reigns’ buddies” Dean Ambrose and The Usos. So who looks stupid now?
1. Roman Reigns: Reigns did basically the same thing as last week. He interrupted a McMahon’s promo, provided several verbal jabs and later ran in to counter the League of Nation’s attack on a top babyface just before the show went off the air. Yet all that matters is that he’s holding the title and has received the same super booking that led him up to his championship reign. Reigns will face overwhelming odds on next week’s Raw and will likely overcome them. He’s the new John Cena.