How was RAW?
The Undertaker opening the show was honestly surprising, I wouldn’t have thought he’d be the one to open the show; but, if you’re not going to headline or close out the show, it’s better to open it than be thrown in he middle somewhere. It does sort of solidify in my mind that Taker won’t be the main event of WrestleMania. Taker reiterated that Shane McMahon‘s blood isn’t on Taker’s hands, that it’s on Vince McMahon‘s, but added that Vince’s blood may well be on Taker’s. Taker made sure we all knew that WrestleMania 32 wouldn’t be Taker’s last, that WrestleMania is Taker’s yard, that the Hell In A Cell is Taker’s house, and at ‘Mania, and that Shane will Rest In Peace. Shane entered to tell Taker that Taker may be Vince’s instrument of destruction, but Shane is an instrument of change, one that will make it out of Hell, show up on RAW the next night, and be the new leader of RAW, and Shane would change his legacy. Taker said Shane didn’t get to talk about Taker’s legacy, but Shane had a quick retort, saying Taker’s legacy died two years ago in New Orleans. Taker brushed it off, said Shane is just like Shane’s father, which for Taker wasn’t a surprise, because since the day Shane was born, Taker said Shane has been Vince’s “bitc*,” garnering a familiar reaction:
Last time, Shane called Taker that and Taker went ballistic. this time, Shane returned the favor. Taker gained the upper hand on things very quickly, but when Shane clocked Taker over the head with a monitor, things had evened out in an instant:
Then Shane did something I wasn’t expecting at all, hitting a monster Flying Elbow on Taker, through the announce table. When Shane started climbing, setting up for the leap, I assured My Fiance that it wasn’t going to happen, he wasn’t going to do it, that WWE would save something like that for ‘Mania…and then had to quickly admit to being very very wrong. It was a spectacular moment, one that I glad it happened, because that feeling I felt when the match was announced, that intuition that it would be something special, came flooding back. Last week killed their match for me, I was no longer looking forward to it in a way that I was proud of, feeling like Shane was going to get his tail handed to him in an instant, because that’s what we saw happen. Now? Now I’ve seen Shane battle back, find a way to get the upper hand, even for a moment, and capitalize on it, now I think there’s a chance, even though I feel like I know there’s not.
Chris Jericho faced Zack Ryder in a singles match, with AJ Styles sitting ringside. It was a strange pairing, but a backstage segment showed the two of them being interviewed, where Jericho said he wasn’t going to give AJ a ‘Mania moment, and Jericho also wouldn’t give Ryder a RAW moment when Jericho and Ryder faced each other later in the night –it was filmed before RAW started.– With the help from AJ distracting Jericho with “Y2-Jackass” chants, Ryder was able to counter Jericho’s efforts, rolling up Jericho for the shocking pinfall. Jericho attacking Ryder afterwards, then slamming a chair against the ring post and throwing the steel chair away wasn’t surprising at all though, nor was Jericho grabbing a mic, yammering on about how AJ needs to realize what The Phenomenal One is asking for, and that AJ will regret it, accepting AJ’s ‘Mania challenge. There was no stipulation added, at least not tonight, and there probably won’t be one. Like I said in my RAW Preview, I didn’t know what stipulation could be added, since the most popular ones were already being used, but I still had hoped something would be done. It didn’t happen, which sucks a little, but who knows, maybe we’ll get an outstanding match out of these two.
Charlotte faced Becky Lynch in a somewhat quick match, where Becky appeared to be getting the upper hand, but after Ric Flair grabbed Becky’s ankle as she slid in, Charlotte capitalized, hitting Becky with a Big Boot, then dropping Becky for good with Natural Selection:
Charlotte losing to Sasha Banks on Smackdown was surprising, but beating Becky was telling of their current feud, and possibly of the outcome at ‘Mania. Unless we see Becky and Sasha on Smackdown this week, with Becky picking up the win, I’m smelling an upset victory for Becky at ‘Mania.
Vince was getting interviewed about what happened between his son and The Undertaker went about as expected, where Vince talked up Shane being willing to do whatever it takes to win, but that Vince was siding with The Deadman, who will go even further than Shane is capable of to get things done. Suddenly, much like the start of the show, Shane appeared out of nowhere, saying that the difference between Shane and Vince is that Vince stole the company from Vince’s father, but that Shane is taking it from Vince.
The Social Outcasts had a match against Big Show and Kane, but when the two members not in the match interfered, the ref called it off, and then we saw the ring get rushed by seemingly all the entrants in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The notable absentees? The Wyatt Family, who were nowhere to be found. Big Show and Kane cleared the ring with little effort, including hitting a Double Chokeslam on Mark Henry:
Perhaps with Bray Wyatt‘s rumored back injury, combined with learning that Luke Harper has supposedly torn something in his knee, WWE felt like it’s smarter to hold the Wyatt’s out of the Andre match entirely? For the Wyatt’s to not have a presence at WrestleMania though, that would be a true shame. If it means someone else gets the chance to shine in the Andre match, and something insanely big for the Wyatt’s after WrestleMania though, then I’d be more okay with it.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon came out to cut a promo on how Triple H is going to end Roman Reigns‘ dreams, because Triple H is The Game, and The Cerebral Assassin has been in more Championship matches at WrestleMania than anyone else. Reigns saw this as his opportunity to shut Triple H up, came rushing out to get his hands on Triple H, but when Triple H greeted Reigns with a kick to the forehead, it didn’t seem like things would go Reigns’ way. Roman found a way to his feet, went to town on Triple H, but before anything significant happened, Triple H escaped, while Steph blocked Reigns’ path.
New Day talked up their Booty-O’s cereal box and shirt, trying to sell the WWE Universe on something they might actually want, unlike the League of Nations‘ line of four tees:
Seriously though, I’m glad LON finally got shirts. If you’re going to try and push a team or faction, at least act like it, and that requires at least a shirt.
Kofi Kingston faced Alberto Del Rio, which put to rest any thoughts that Del Rio wouldn’t be competing. The match was decent, nothing too special, but the chemistry was good, which is a promising sign. I’m not looking forward to their Tag match at ‘Mania in the slightest, but this let me know there’s a chance we’ll see something better than I believe any fan is expecting.
Other than Kofi winning –which leads me to believe that LON really is going to be winning on Sunday,– the most important part of this segment wasn’t the match itself, it was Jonathan Coachman returning to RAW, where Coach announced that SportsCenter would be at WrestleMania, covering the event live. It was amusing to see Coach back out there, but hearing that ESPN is sending their flagship program to be in Dallas for ‘Mania, that is awesome. WWE can always benefit from more exposure and there’s no bigger sports program than SportsCenter.
Renee Young went to interview Reigns, but Bubba Ray came shouting down the hallway, demanding that Reigns try to finish what they started on Smackdown, but as Reigns got closer to Bubba, Devon came out from the side. Bubba said Reigns wasn’t going to do a thing, but Reigns attacked Bubba, fended off Devon, only to have Triple H attack from behind. The three of them laid Reigns out, and Triple H told Reigns that Reigns’ dream was over, that Reigns would never get the Championship again, then smashed Reigns’ face into the Title:
I liked the pairing of Kalisto against Konnor, pitting the US Champion against a much bigger opponent, much like the opponent Kalisto will face on Sunday in Ryback:
The problem I had wasn’t in who Kalisto faced, but in how the match played out, because Kalisto didn’t face insurmountable odds like he should have. Instead, Kalisto dealt with about thirty seconds of a challenge, then wiped the floor with Konnor in a squash match:
Kalisto beat Konnor, took out Viktor, then went face to face with Ryback, but nothing happened, they stared at each other until Ryback started his Feed Me More chant. It was yet another moment where I wanted something to be excited about, but nothing happened, and it made me care about this even less, despite liking both of them.
Lesnar appeared with his Advocate, Paul Heyman, where Heyman talked about how if you took a crazy man and put that crazy man in the ring against another man, another man who has won an NCAA National Wrestling Championship, a UFC Heavyweight Championship, and is a multi-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, that accolade laced man will utterly destroy the crazy man. Heyman said that Lesnar will be the victor on Sunday, something that isn’t a prediction, it’s a spoiler, and as Heyman went to add to it, Dean Ambrose made his way down…little red wagon in toe:
Ambrose practically ignored Lesnar’s existence, opting instead to grab up the tools of he trade hidden under the ring, packing the red wagon full, before leaving the arena:
Lesnar watched the entire time, wondering what was happening, then found it amusing that Ambrose wasn’t paying the Beast Incarnate any attention. It was curious, but while I would have liked to have seen the two come to blows, I’ll remember that scene with the wagon well before remembering Ambrose and Lesnar punching each other a few times.
Paige faced Emma, something I’m sort of blown away I’m even saying, because Emma seemed destined to stay in NXT for good, but after last week, Emma has teamed up with Team B.A.D. along with Summer Rae. Emma’s cohorts caused a distraction big enough to grab the referee’s attention, to give Emma the win:
Then we found out who would be joining Paige, Brie Bella, Natalya, and Alicia Fox to take on Team B.A.D., Summer Rae, Lana, and Emma at ‘Mania…
Yeah, if I had negative emotions about WrestleMania before, they’ve been amplified tenfold by Eva Marie being added to the card. I’m really hoping the hesitancy Team Total Diva showed Eva when Ms All Red Everything showed up for the battle, ends in them beating Eva senseless until they need to find a new partner. Eva hasn’t improved, she’s just as bad now as she was a year ago, Eva’s proved that in NXT; so why would I want to see her on a ‘Mania card, much less for her to be on the team of faces in this match? If WWE wanted the majority of their paying fans to give a flying crappola about this 5 on 5 match, it was buried under ten tons of red trash after that reveal.
I honestly wonder if Nikki Bella was rumored to be on RAW so that WWE could fake fans into thinking Nikki was somehow going to be the fifth partner, just to swerve everyone with the Eva unveiling. There are so many other names they could have pulled, but whatever, it’s done, she’s in it, let’s just hope she only gets tagged in for five seconds, and WWE isn’t so out of their mind that they have Eva be the one to win…she’s going to win, isn’t she?
Sami Zayn, Sin Cara, and Dolph Ziggler faced Kevin Owens, Stardust, and The Miz in a 3 on 3 match, pitting six of the seven men who will be in the Intercontinental Championship Ladder match at ‘Mania against each other. When you get fan favorites in the ring at the same time, it should reasonably be a show to behold, but instead of being focused on the in-ring things, the crowd chanted random things nearly the entire time, trying to distract themselves from what was a predictable matchup, and an uninterestingly paced affair. Ziggler had a moment of offense, getting the better of Stardust, then shook his booty for the crowd, only to have Stardust get the momentum back, and the crowd started chanting for wrestlers who aren’t with the company anymore. It’s impossible to care when not even the people in the building could care. I agree with Brooklyn, this match was booty. At least we got to see Sami Zayn show off a bit:
I’m now intensely concerned though, because Zayn was the one who picked up the win, and he did so against Owens. To me, that means Owens isn’t dropping the Championship, and if he does, it won’t be to Zayn. It could be interesting to see Owens retain at ‘Mania, say he was able to defeat six other men to keep his Title, declaring that he’s the greatest; only to have Zayn point out that Owens hasn’t gotten in the ring against only Zayn, which means Zayn hasn’t proven to the world what Zayn is capable of. It’s different when you lose to someone because they climbed a ladder, versus getting pinned or submitted, so Zayn would have a point. Going that route would mean an extended feud that means something, resulting in Zayn getting a hard fought Championship after months of battling, rather than snagging the Gold in under a month, and doing so on the biggest stage. I’d still prefer to see Zayn win, get that moment, and shine like crazy in Dallas, but if it’s better for Owens to stay Champ, I’m okay with watching things unfold…especially if we get an Owens Popup Powerbomb off the ladder.
The Authority came back out to finish their statement from earlier in the night that Reigns so rudely interrupted, but within a couple minutes, Reigns repeated the interruption once again. I’m glad Reigns came limping down the ramp, selling the beating he took earlier in the night after Triple H and the Dudley Boyz attacked. I called for the roster to need to pull Triple H and Reigns apart, but in the manner it happened, that was nowhere near the intensity necessary to help sell what would likely be the main event of WrestleMania. When Lesnar and Taker nearly tore each other apart, as well as the entire locker room, it was frightening, this was a bunch of men clearly play fighting, and it made me sad. The dial needed to be cranked up to 15 and these two fizzled out with a 5; but, at least we got a Reigns leap:
RAW MPV: Shane McMahon
When you put your body on the line like Shane did, along with pumping intrigue into one of the biggest matches of the year with a single move, you’ve earned the MVP honors.
RAW LVP: Triple H and Roman Reigns
These two did absolutely nothing to help sell their Title match at ‘Mania. If anything I’m less interested than I was before RAW; still want to see it, still want to see if something crazy happens, but they made me care about it less by not doing a single interesting thing to build their feud.
The go-home show for WrestleMania is supposed to get us hyped for the Grandaddy of them All…but last night’s RAW made me scratch my head, wondering if it really is on Sunday, because that came off more like a random throwaway episode than one to sell WWE’s biggest even of the year. That said, I give RAW a:
+ Shane McMahon dazzled
– No good match(es)
– Why the hell is Eva Marie back on RAW and why is she in a WrestleMania match?
– Triple H and Roman Reigns did themselves zero favors with that poor performance that failed to drum up interest in their Title match on Sunday
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!
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