How was RAW?
I wondered whether or not Shane McMahon would kick off RAW, and it took around five seconds to find out that yes, yes he did. It had to feel good to get close to the same level of a pop when he came out as he did two weeks ago, when Shane himself said the reaction he got completely blew him away, thinking people would react, but not to that level. Just like last time, Shane started by saying the reaction was overwhelming, thanked the crowd, and said he had missed them. Shane then talked about last week’s episode, hearing The Undertaker say what he needed to say, that Shane had the utmost respect for Taker, and then ripped into Vince McMahon. Shane said Vince lost his touch with the business, with the fan base, with reality, and with Shane as well. Shane said he was going to take things away from his egomaniacal father, and stop the business from having it’s life choked out of it. Shane said there are too many people with too much talent not being used, not getting breaks, and too many people getting all the breaks, but lacking any talent, saying that stops once Shane defeats Taker at WrestleMania. Shane called beating Taker Shane’s destiny, and then the gong struck, Shane’s eyes were glued to the entryway, the lights went out, and then the Titantron lit up with “WWE Chairman“, Vince’s music hit, and Vince walked out like a kid who just pulled what he thought was a great prank:
The crowd went ballistic, calling Vince an as*hole, chanting CM Punk, and then Vince went on a lengthy monologue about Shane being Vince’s greatest failure, smashing a photo of the first night Vince took Shane to a wrestling match, and then calling security to escort Shane out of the building. Shane tried warning security that he’d leave on his own accord, but Vince demanded they attack Shane, so Shane responded:
After unloading on the security guards, tossing all of them out of the ring, and challenging Vince to bring more people out, Shane’s music hit, and Shane O-Mac stood tall as he walked himself out of the arena.
Kevin Owens looked to dismantle Neville in a short match, but Neville countered a Senton, kneeing Owens in the back. Unfortunately for The Man That Gravity Forgot, when Neville did a Flip to the outside, Owens evaded it, waited for Neville to land, grabbed Neville, and chucked him into the steel steps:
After the commercial break, Neville was being controlled by the larger Owens, with Fight Owens Fight holding Neville down in a Chinlock. Neville fought out, got Owens to the outside, and went back to the air for an attack in the hopes it would help even the odds into Neville’s favor:
From there things were actually even for once in this match, until Neville countered Owens, took a boot to the chin, and Neville kept coming, allowing him to land a middle rope Phoenix Splash, which was an odd choice right from the start:
Owens kicked out –naturally– and rolled up Neville for a quick pin, and the win. Owens rolled to the outside, let Neville stew, then Owens rolled in, attacked Neville, set Neville up for the Powerbomb on the apron, and then this happened:
Sami Zayn is back!
Zayn entered the same way he did at the Royal Rumble, with Zayn and Owens immediately coming to blows, viciously punching one another until someone got the upper hand. Zayn didn’t let up for a solitary second, but when Owens looked to take the cowards way out and run, Neville was there to hit an Enziguri on Owens, keeping the IC Champ in the ring, and then Zayn sent Owens flying out of the ring with a Clothesline, leaving Zayn and Neville to celebrate in the ring. It was heavily rumored that Zayn was booked for both Roadblock and WrestleMania, but there wasn’t any concrete proof of that, until last night. Now it’s a question of what happens between now and ‘Mania? If it were up to me, I’d want to see Zayn and Neville team up to take on Owens and maybe Stardust or someone alpong those lines, delaying the first one on one between Owens and Zayn for ‘Mania, even though that likely will end up being a mutli-man affair. If we get a legitimate one on one between those two, it’ll seal the deal on what match will steal the show on the biggest stage of the year, because Owens and Zayn have history that goes back to the beginning stages of their wrestling careers. If you haven’t already done so, check out El Generico vs Kevin Steen, their final Ring of Honor (ROH) match:
The history these two have is almost unparalleled, aided by its decade plus existence, and the chemistry they’ve developed, which is second to none in this business. I don’t expect a singles match between the two at ‘Mania though, not with the rumors of a multi-man Ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. Owens vs Zayn has a ring to it that lights up my wrestling world, while Owens vs Zayn vs Miz vs Ziggler vs Big Show acts as a dimmer switch that’s shorting out.
Earlier in the day yesterday, Reddit user FalconArrow posted “Admittedly a bit more generic than a Shane surprise. Something tells me you will still enjoy it though.” A good friend of mine looked at that, said “Generic. Generic,” and came to the conclusion the hint was in the line, calling out El Generico –Zayn’s character on the independent scene,– and that Zayn was going to be re-re-debuting last night. It made sense, but I didn’t want to believe it, not when a match between him and Owens at ‘Mania is a dream come true, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up for nothing. Now we know, now we know Zayn is back on the WWE Roster, which explains why he isn’t challenging Finn Bálor for the NXT Championship at NXT Takover Dallas.
Dolph Ziggler was backstage talking to Zack Ryder, until Stephanie McMahon approached The Show-Off, thanking Ziggler for taking his tweet down earlier in the day, which was disparaging to The Authority. Ziggler boasted about his Survivor Series win that removed The Authority from power nearly two years ago, saying history would repeat itself, and Steph said it didn’t really matter since she was still standing there as his boss. Steph would then put Ziggler into a 1 on 3 Handicap match against three members of the League of Nations, just to relive that Survivor Series moment a little.
Brie Bella was seemingly having a quick match against Summer Rae, until Lana came out, distracted Brie, and Summer got the roll up win over the only standing Bella Twin. We then got to see our first taste of Lana in a wrestling ring, delivering her first ever in-ring move, which turned out to be Brie’s Sit-out Facebuster:
The strangest part wasn’t Lana attacking Brie, it was Lana coming out still wearing one of her outfits from her Ziggler relationship. Did she forget to bring one of her power suits? Is that why she hasn’t been on screen much, because she’s ventured back to Ziggler? It was strange, but probably wasn’t anything more than not having her gear or grabbing the wrong suit, but one would think if she’s going to became one with Rusev again, she’d go back to the power suits and tight ponytail, instead of the more carefree look. With Rusev tied up with the LON though, WWE may just be wanting to separate her entirely, at least on screen.
Dean Ambrose cut a long promo about how Ambrose is going to hijack WWE Roadblock, Ambrose is going to hijack ‘Mania, and give the WWE Universe the Champion they deserve. Triple H had a few things to say about that, declaring that Triple H would be retaining his Championship for as long as he wants. Ambrose challenged Triple H to get in the ring and settle things right then and there, but Triple H blew Ambrose off, saying Ambrose would get his shot at Roadblock.
Ziggler went one on three with the LON, getting battered and beaten as expected. Rusev manhandled Ziggler at the start, handing it off to King Barrett to keep it going, and then moments later Sheamus made his way in for good measure. Ziggler continued to fight back, eliminating Barrett with a Superkick first, but failed to eliminate Sheamus seconds later, due to Rusev breaking up the count. Ziggler fought off Rusev, tossed the Bulgarian Brute out of the ring, tried to roll up Sheamus, the Celtic Warrior kicked out, Ziggler went for another attack, got caught by a kick from Rusev, and then a Brogue Kick from Sheamus, which dropped Ziggler for good:
Hard to believe that Ziggler is on a definite losing streak on RAW, but that, combined with Steph having a backstage segment with him suggests that a big time moment at ‘Mania might be fast approaching. Could he be winning a Title? Maybe Ziggler is set to make a big contribution to the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal…or even win it.
Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks teamed up to take on Naomi and Tamina, with half of The Fourhorsewomen making short work of the two remaining members of Team B.A.D.:
After Sasha made Naomi tap –which Michael Cole said was just like Connor McGreggor….yeah, no,– Charlotte came rushing in to attack Sasha from behind, then fended off Becky, who tried to save her would be friend. Charlote made sure to remind the challengers who the Diva’s Champion is, and helped elevate Charlotte once again, after looking like Charlotte had sunk the last few weeks, as Sasha and Becky began to look like gold
R-Truth bought Goldust a Chicago deep dish pizza, but Goldust said a real tag team partner would know that Goldust is lactose intolerant, and that if Goldust were to eat a piece of that pizza, his butt would explode like Kane‘s pyro. Goldust slammed the pizza box down, and stormed off, quickly followed by Truth. No need to worry though, Mark Henry was there to put the world famous pizza to good use.
New Day put their Titles on the line against Chris Jericho and AJ Styles, aka Y2AJ, which started out in a very familiar way:
New Day may have gotten shown up by that move at the start, but they quickly changed things to their benefit. It wasn’t until Jericho survived through a Unicorn Stampede, and tagged AJ in that we saw the scales tip back into Y2AJ’s favor:
We first saw AJ try to hit that crazy backflip move on Jericho, but it looked more awkward than effective. AJ landing it smooth on Kofi Kingston though was money. After that spot, these four went all out, with Big E getting a hidden tag, catching an unsuspecting AJ for the Big Ending, with a little help from Kofi:
That Tag Team Finisher was one of the best we’ve seen out of New Day, and would start the series of near falls that would send heart palpitations throughout the WWE Universe, with Y2AJ coming oh so close to losing, but AJ and Jericho would somehow kick out, then New Day would find a way to break pins, until finally it came down to Jericho putting Kofi in the Walls of Jericho, Big E tagging in, fighting Jericho off at first until finally countering an attempted Code Breaker, hoisting y2J up on Big E’s shoulders for the Big Ending and the win:
After the match, AJ kept trying to help Jericho up, but Jericho played hurt, until finally catching AJ with a Code Breaker out of nowhere, followed by a second one as soon as AJ found a way to his feet, and a third when Styles used Jericho’s frame to climb his way up to AJ’s feet:
It sucked the air out of the building, stirred up a lot of boos, and got nearly everyone in the building shaking their heads. After the third Code Breaker, Jericho went for his Y2AJ shirt, stuffed it into AJ’s mouth, and mocked AJ. It was expected, although I honestly thought it would happen during the match, rather than afterwards, because fans would have hated Jericho all the more for turning on his partner mid-match, costing AJ the Championship, over just being a bitter douchebag after it’s over. Jericho knows what he’s doing though, giving AJ a villain to boo is the best thing that could happen to AJ heading into ‘Mania, and it means a singles match is in store. I haven’t been the biggest fan of their work previously, but knowing the stage it’ll be on, perhaps AJ vs Jericho 4 will exceed all expectations.
As for the match that preceded, I thought that was one of New Day’s best matches in a long time, so I’m sad to see it only last for a single match, but happy we at least got to see it once. Knowing who’s up next for New Day makes that hurt more though, because I can’t imagine New Day and LON having good chemistry; I could be wrong though, and I’d be happy to be proven wrong.
Jericho was asked after the match about what had just transpired, Jericho pointed out how Y2J was born in Chicago, but regardless of that, all the crowd wanted to cheer was, “AJ Styles! AJ Styles!” Curious that Jericho would suddenly be jealous now, but after losing a Title match, I guess it would be enough to send Jericho over the edge, knowing he wasn’t really getting the chants.
The look back on Shane’s career was cool, reminding fans and informing those who were watching of what Shane went through during his in-ring run. Shane is fearless, make no mistake about that, and if anyone is going to challenge Mankind‘s iconic launch off the top of the Hell In A Cell, it’s Shane.
Kalisto competed against Tyler Breeze in a non-Title match, which made me smile, seeing Breeze back on RAW TV, and not in a complete squash role. Kalisto did win within a few minutes, but Breeze put up a much better fight than we’ve seen out of Prince Pretty the last five or more times Breeze has been on prime time:
Things broke down for Breeze after that, with Kalisto winning via a corner-aided Salida Del Sol. Kalisto won, but the bigger deal for me was Breeze getting a shot in, and being taken a little more seriously.
Kalisto was asked by JoJo what Kalisto looked forward to most at ‘Mania, with Kalisto citing watching ‘Mania since he was a kid, looking up to the likes of Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. Ryback interfered, “not wanting to step on Kalisto’s spotlight”, but pointing out that Ryback looks the way he does, but wondered why Ryback isn’t in the main event, but a tiny guy like Kalisto has a ‘Mania match. Ryback urged Kalisto to break away from Kalisto’s tag team, and to watch Ryback tear the wings off the wings of the Social Outcasts. I was surprised Ryback didn’t outright attack Kalisto, but I suppose they’re waiting on that turn to happen.
Social Outcasts came out, saying Ryback not wanting to be on a team makes them sad, saying The Big Guy not wanting to be on a team means no team Dodgeball, no Ghostbusters, and no Social Outcasts. Ryback’s entrance showed a further separation from who he was before, dropping his chant with his music, eliminating the “Wake up” scream, and instead choosing to raise his head, look towards the ring, and simply walk down without interacting with the audience. We’ve seen this before, but this time, it’s coming from a mature version of Ryback, one that understands what works and doesn’t, which could lead towards a heel run that makes Ryback a success.
Ryback then spent the next five-ish minutes beating the holy hell out of Curtis Axel, until mercifully ending things with a Shellshock, followed by Ryback quickly leaving the ring. This wasn’t so much a match as it was an utter beat down, with Ryback punching the crap out of Axel like Ryback did to Adam Rose last week.
Vince was backstage on the phone, talking to someone about breaking the all-time attendance record, until Steph interrupted, wanting to talk about Shane possibly doing the unthinkable, defeating Taker at ‘Mania. Vince said he’s got it, Steph asked what if Vince doesn’t, and Vince further assured Steph that he’s got it under control.
The main event was between Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, but before the action started, Bray cut a backstage promo about how he’ll do something Ambrose has continually failed at, to conquer The Conqueror, to slay The Beast Incarnate, and that Bray would use his RAW match against Ambrose to show the world how ruthless Bray can be. The match was good, but nothing we haven’t already seen a dozen times before, it was what happened at the end that is worth mentioning:
Triple H coming out and The Wyatt Family just leaving the ring so The Game can do his thing was probably the biggest head scratcher of the night, but it did involve a spectacular face to face moment:
That scene took me back to the Rumble, where Bray refused to help Triple H, and attacked The Game, not to mention sparking the fantastical part of my brain to ponder the scenario in which Ambrose actually beats Triple H, possibly with the help of Bray, leading to a Bray vs Triple H match at ‘Mania, and the main event to become a Triple Threat Street Fight for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, between Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar. It won’t happen, the matches announced will be the matches that happen, but still, in a perfect world, Bray would get his big time ‘Mania match for the third year in a row, instead of being relegated to the Andre match, as it appears he will. Still though, the crowd reacted the same way I did, they cheered wildly, both because of the scene unfolding, and because Bray was coming in contact with the Championship, something he’s not done until that moment. Bray against Triple H would be a massive ‘Mania match, and to me, it would be a bigger spectacle than Triple H vs Reigns, regardless of the story being told. Reigns is my favorite, but I’m not excited for that match, I know its outcome, but I don’t know what would happen between Bray and Triple H, so I’m over the moon for it, it feels like a WrestleMania match, whereas Reigns vs Triple H feels like a standard PPV match.
Before Bray and the Wyatt’s exited, Bray took notice of the Title, brushed his hand against it in an almost loving fashion, and then told his followers to exit the ring. Triple H didn’t take his eye’s off Bray until the Wyatt’s were on the ramp. Once Bray and the Wyatt’s were out of sight out of mind, Triple H took to abusing Ambrose, until remembering his promise to repeat last week’s brutal attack. Triple H cleared of the announce table, prepping it for Ambrose to go through it or over it again, but when Triple H got back in the ring, Ambrose was ready in a way Triple H hadn’t prepared for:
The Dirty Deeds dropped the Cerebral Assassin like a ton of bricks, and Triple H lay face down on the mat, knocked out from Ambrose’s finisher. Ambrose took this opportunity to pick up the Championship, holding it firmly in his grasp as RAW went off air. It’ll be the final time the WWE Universe will see Ambrose come within arms reach of the Title before WrestleMania, and Ambrose ending the RAW before his Title shot, confirms it. There was little chance Ambrose shakes up the ‘Mania main event, but this development shot that to hell and back.
RAW MVP: Sami Zayn
Zayn coming back to RAW was/is a really big deal, got the biggest pop of the night, and arguably pumps interest into WrestleMania for the hardcore fan, that almost anything else.
RAW LVP: Golden Truth
While I laughed at the “Kane’s pyro” line, I’m now over the idea of this team happening. It was funny at first, then WWE made it sad, and now I’m past it.
RAW’s first hour was great, from Shane’s opening promo to the Sami Zayn reveal –and the Owens/Neville match that came before it,– but other than an outstanding Tag match between New Day and the now defunct Y2AJ, the rest of the show was par for the course. That’s why I give RAW a:
+ Shane McMahon continues to be a highlight
+ New Day vs Y2AJ
+ Kevin Owens vs Neville
+ Sami Zayn‘s re-re-debut
– Main event was more of the same –not bad, just nothing different–
– The rest of the matches were either squashes or were too short to mean anything significant
That’s The Lowedown on RAW this week, thanks for reading, and remember to watch more wrestling!
The future is bright and full of suplexes!
Want to help support The Lowedown? Donate