Welcome to another Raw review on this perilous road to Wrestlemania, I’m Dan and I’m bringing you through it all. Last week saw the insane return of Shane McMahon, and a beloved Triple H beating Roman Reigns bloody. WWE is throwing us into a spiral of questions and who knows if we’ll get any answers. The only way to know is to just.. jump in.
Triple H is out here to cut a promo about Authority. Everyone has an authority in their life and they all hate it, wanting to rebel and speak out but they’re too scared. H says that fear is there to make sure everyone knows their place in life, just like Roman Reigns. Reigns should have listened to that fear but he chose to challenge authority, chose to challenge H. H says Reigns should have known his place but he’s sitting at home now praying that he’s still got a shot at Mania and he’s interrupted by local madman Dean Ambrose. Ambrose says he just got off the phone with Reigns who said that he’s coming for H. Triple H says Ambrose is fresh off his win for Best Supporting Actor in a bromance at the Oscars. Topical humor does not fit you, Triple H, leave that for Lawler to vomit out. Ambrose asks H who he wanted not to win that triple threat at Fast Lane. H says it’s irrelevant cause clearly Ambrose wasn’t in the picture. Ambrose gets in H’s face and H says he really must be crazy and it’s not a shtick. Ambrose claims that H knows he can’t beat him and challenges H to find out if he’s just talking crazy. Ambrose gets under H’s skin and H says you can’t just yell “RIGHT NOW” and get what he wants, but he’ll consider if it’s best for business and tell him at the end of the show. For tonight, Ambrose will face Del Rio.
The political hit theory seems to gain more traction as weeks go by, this is most certainly a crowd that would have cheered Reigns in this segment, who isn’t even on the show tonight. The chants for Ambrose were high and if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was Ambrose/H at ‘Mania. They appear to be teasing this match for the Toronto special on the Network, but damn if that doesn’t take away hype for Reigns/H. It’s announced that tonight we’ll have Vince and Steph in separate segments to talk about the Shane situation. True hell.
Thank god for this match on my TV, was really hoping it would headline the show though. I should know better, shouldn’t I? A sequence of grapplin’ and pin sequences start the match off and a trading of baseball slides to the outside. Quick and fluid throughout this one. Sasha continues to incorporate the beautiful standing double knees, and Becky throws some brutal t-bones. It’s counters after counters, a really well-worked match from these two. The finish came when Becky and Sasha were fighting up top and Becky headbutted the hell outta Sasha, Sasha fell off into a sunset flip but fell back so they were just laying on top of each other and the ref counted the three. Lillian announces that all four shoulders were down and the match is a draw and the segment ends in confusion. This finish seemed very good on paper but not so good in execution. Sasha selling the headbutts after the flip is smart but it was weirdly executed. Still a very good match and definitely a good sign that the ‘Mania triple threat plans are still a go!
Bray cuts one of the best promos he’s done in a long while alluding to the way he’s been booked and saying he’ll conquer anyone in his way.
A less than a minute match with traded pin attempts, ending in Miz throwing Ziggler into the turnbuckle and rolling him up for a quick win. Huh. Ziggler is in absolute purgatory.
It’s time for Steph to come out and talk about her excellence award. Steph says Shane interrupted her proudest moment but she’s here to read her full acceptance speech. Steph tries to do her speech but the crowd won’t let her. Steph says she sacrifices her life and time with her family to do this for everyone but they chant for Shane. Steph flips the damn table and talks about how they cheer a man who is using blackmail to get his way. Steph says Shane just walked in and made demands to take the company after 7 years. Steph says Shane doesn’t care about legacy or family, he’s a backstabber. Steph says it eats him alive that she and H are married and that she wields so much power. Steph says Shane won’t have to worry about the company because at ‘Mania Undertaker will DISMEMBER him. Steph says everyone will be forced to “BOW DOWN TO THE KING and BOW DOWN TO YOUR QUEEN, ME.” before dropping the mic and walking out. Wow, this was some powerful brutality from Steph. Despite what anyone says, it can’t be denied that Steph still knows how to spit venom on a promo better than most.
Sin Cara is sporting an all-black attire, clearly starting to be consumed by the void in which all Sin Caras are eventually sent to. For now he’s stuck in the void of being worked over by Rusev and Sheamus for the entirety of the match until Kalisto gets the hot tag. Some high spots lead to Kalisto getting superkicked out of mid-air by Rusev for the win.
The most shameless bit of product placement is done as Renee Young is talking with Natalya about how she stays so fit as a Subway sandwich and drink are in the center of the camera shot. Bless Nattie’s heart but her corporate shilling sounds like she’s reading it straight off a paper. This would have been insulting if it wasn’t so hilariously bad.
Ryback is working his new “fuck it i’m just gonna murder everyone” style and beats the living hell out of Adam Rose and Shell Shocks him right quick to win the match. He literally just came out like a shoot fighter, battered Rose, and left. Amazing.
New Day says they are the best three-man team in history, not a loose collective like the League of Booty. They’re the best team since Sonic and Tails, Snoop and Dre, and Edge and Christian. They are quickly interrupted by Jericho’s pyro. New Day isolate Styles for a while but the match break down into a pretty fun little match. Not the longest but a fun little display from these four. Jericho gets Kofi in the Walls and Kofi quickly taps out. Styles says he may be new around here but he’s pretty sure that moves them to the top of the list for a title match. Jericho challenges New Day to a tag title match next week on Raw.
Vince talks about the match he made and what will happen if Shane wins, claiming he’ll put Vince on the sidelines and bring the WWE into a new era but that’ll never happen. Vince says he loves Shane and loves him enough to teach him a lesson he’ll never forget, and calls out his ‘instrument of destruction’, the Undertaker. Taker comes out a huge pop and Vince calls him HIS force and gets a hand around the neck. Taker says that Vince knows that once the door closes behind him at Mania, Shane’s blood will be on his hands and leaves. That’s it. That’s the entire Undertaker bit. Entrance was double the time he was actually in the ring. No explanation as to why Undertaker is doing this or why he even gives a shit. I can’t even think of a bigger waste of an appearance.
Vince goes on about what will happen once Shane is destroyed by Taker, and says that he’ll hand the reins over to Stephanie and renounce Shane as his son live on Raw, and Shane will only be a son.. of a bitch.
This feud continues with a match that was just kinda there. D’Von took out a table and threw it at Jey who was trying to take him out on the outside. Bubba hits the Bubba Bomb back in the ring to win the match. I’ve never been entirely sure how the Bubba Bomb is supposed to be sold as a finisher, completely unsure why it’s being used as a finish in the year of 2016. A complete mess this was, if anyone is truly shocked.
Owens spends this match smartly trying to win by count-out, even hitting a tornado DDT from the apron to the floor. A callback to their SD match as it’s Owens this time who gets crotched on the top rope from Big Show, and Show wins by count-out. This feud has been very smartly booked and it’s kinda crazy. For more on this feud, check out Trask’s article that is working people into shoots.
Naomi continues to pull out indy spots in her moveset, although some don’t really work out well but god damn it’s pretty great to see her doing it. Naomi won with an odd submission move, making Brie tap out. The kicker to this is Lana coming out to just kinda stand there and smile at the defeated Brie. Who knows.
Becky and Sasha are arguing backstage about who won their match and Charlotte interrupts to tell them they have a second chance on Smackdown.
This is the main event.. unfortunately. This wasn’t bad by most standards but by the end of three hours, I’m exhausted and Ambrose/Del Rio certainly isn’t the thing to wake me up. The closing stretch was decent, Ambrose popping the crowd with comeback spots, hitting his top rope elbow to the outside taking out the entire League, and H’s music hits. Triple H gives the signal and the League destroys Ambrose causing the DQ. Triple H says Ambrose never learns and Ambrose punches him and goes after him but H catches him a Pedigree and says he’ll get his title match. Triple H throws Ambrose out of the ring, throws Byron Saxton out of the way and beats the hell out of Ambrose on the table, leaving him motionless as the show ends.
The contrast of this and last week’s closing segment are mind-boggling. The reaction they got here is what they wanted last week. Ambrose was cheered and H was booed. A complete switch, with a different guy. They have built up Ambrose to be THE guy so well, and Reigns so terribly, that it’s night and day when you have the same thing happen to both guys. I have no idea how this Ambrose/H match will be booked, I’m sure there will be a screwy finish, but at the end of the day, they’re just not gonna get the babyface reaction that they want with Reigns. Especially not now. The direction on this is so unclear. The only clear and good thing about this that I can truly say is that Triple H is being booked amazingly as a champion.
That’s Raw in a nutshell for ya. A show that made me look at the clock and groan more than once, with a few good things that kept me hooked for not very long. Thanks for reading.