On the first Raw after the Royal Rumble, which saw Triple H win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the 14th time and screw over Roman Reigns in the process, The Authority kicked off the show by demanding that the Superstars of WWE “impress them” in order to earn a chance at becoming Triple H’s opponent in the main event of WrestleMania. And then they just decided to put Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns in a match at Fastlane in order to determine who will get to challenge Triple H. Yes, it’s another blatant attempt to make Roman Reigns look good, but over the course of Raw, WWE somehow managed to make him look worse than almost everyone else who appeared. In deference to finding the Superstars who truly deserve their shot, we thought we’d go through Raw and look at all the people who were far more impressive than the man who is ultimately destined to main event WrestleMania.
15. Kevin Owens
Admittedly, we’re already pretty vocal members of the Kevin Owens Fan Club (a group which Kevin Owens refuses to admit exists and probably hates), so it’s not hard to throw him on his list. But we have to give him credit for actually selling his injuries from the Last Man Standing match at the Rumble into the next evening. We’ve grown far too used to the idea that wrestlers recover inhumanly fast, both in real life and on TV, and WWE has created this problem by having brutal matches on PPV, then having the participants wrestle matches the very next night on Raw without showing any ill effects beyond the occasional bandage. Injured body parts are a huge part of wrestling psychology, and as we’ll talk about later with Dean Ambrose, it’s an excellent way to make someone seem tough but vulnerable, garnering crowd sympathy. In Owens’ case, since he’s the least sympathetic person on the planet, it manifests as respect, and makes him seem like a tougher heel that will be an even bigger challenge than previously thought. After all, if he can fight through what happened at the Rumble and still dispose of Dolph Ziggler, how hard is he to beat at 100%? It’s one of those lost arts of subtlety that needs to come back. But he’s being saved for someone else (possibly The Undertaker, if rumors can be believed), so he’s out.