Raw Ramblings – February 23rd 2015
Bridgestone Arena: Nashville, TN.
4 weeks. The WWE has 4 weeks of TV left before WrestleMania, so let’s just forget about SmackDown, because let’s be honest, nothing of importance is going to happen on that show, and focus on Raw. That’s 12 hours of TV, 13 if you factor in a 15 minute overrun on each show, for them to ramp things up for the biggest show of the year. I don’t need to bang on about how poor the product has been for months, because it’s clear for all to see, so let’s focus on the 4 remaining weeks. I have not been this underwhelmed for a WrestleMania card in a long time, or at least since XXVII, and unfortunately I cannot see what the company can do in terms of the build to turn around their creative slump. I don’t know what the deal is with Brock Lesnar, but he wasn’t on the show last night despite being advertised on WWE.com 20 minutes before they went on the air. I suspect it won’t take long for us to find out what went down. Anyway, from the reactions Reigns has been getting, Lesnar could very well be the babyface in their title match and pretty much nothing they can do will change that. Even Daniel Bryan & Paul Heyman failed at babyfacing Reigns on Raw. Brock killing a bunch of guys is always awesome, but that will only help in making Lesnar look like the cool badass and Reigns like a cheap knock-off. If they book Reigns like a monster and have him run through everyone there will surely be a bigger backlash from the majority of fans that already resent him for being the chosen one. So either way they are pretty much screwed. Trying to make Lesnar more of a heel will only get him more over as a face, likewise anything they do to try babyface Reigns will only make him more of a heel. But hey, that’s the price they pay for not going with Daniel Bryan. There’s the John Cena, Rocky IV stuff, which I suppose is good, although I’m so sick of the ‘Murica vs. the evil foreigner story. Rusev & Lana are great and all, but it’s 2015 and I would have thought we could have moved passed the, “my country is better than yours” trope. Still, If we get vignettes of Cena training in the snow to “No Easy Way Out” I may even forgive them when Cena taps Rusev clean. Sting has already laid out HHH twice, so I guess Trips will beat him down at some point and they’ll be the usual hocus-pocus vanishings and so forth. So where does that leave Undertaker and Bray Wyatt? I don’t expect many, if any, physical angles before their match, which means it’s all on the promos and Taker’s magic ga-ga. There are only so many tricks they can use when it comes to the supernatural stuff and I don’t think the booking team is creative enough to come up with different ways to present Sting and Undertaker without one infringing on the other.
The point of all that rambling was that I just cannot see the WWE turning its product around in 4 weeks and we’re headed into the coldest Mania in at least 18 years. I’m sure there will be a couple of good angles along the way, but boy there certainly weren’t any on Raw this week. The show was as long and terrible as ever; you could see them lining things up for the weeks to come, however what they set up was typically moronic. Story of the show was Randy Orton coming back and getting a big pop at the top of the show, however by the end of the opening segment he had virtually joined the Authority again. Main event was Orton & Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns. We’ll get to the bewildering Bryan/Reigns segment shortly, but the main event saw Bryan pin Rollins at 16:10 of a good match with the busaiku knee. Orton was mad that Rollins made a blind tag and set up for a punt on Seth, however Joey Mercury came in and took an RKO. Orton patted Rollins on the back and went to the back. Now, Orton came out to a huge pop at the start of the show and by the end of it nobody cared at all. Everyone was expecting him to RKO Rollins, which I thought the whole show was building up to, but no. They have to tell a goofy story about Orton playing MIND GAMES with Rollins instead of letting Randy be the babyface out for revenge.
Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns & Paul Heyman were involved in a disaster of a segment. Reigns talked about deserving his match with Lesnar and acknowledged the fans booing him. Bryan came out and tried his best to put Reigns over and give him the rub. He said he too was booing Reigns like all the fans, but Reigns earned his respect at FastLane because he was the better man. The crowd hated this and could see right through what was going on. Bryan was booed, Reigns was booed; it was a mess. Things got worse when Paul Heyman showed up. Heyman stated that Reigns could beat any man in WWE history: Bruno, Hogan, Austin, Rock and the fans absolutely hated it. It’s not like the heat was on Heyman all it did was put heat on Reigns because clearly, in the fans’ minds, he doesn’t measure up to any of those guys. It was mind-boggling. Brock Lesnar didn’t even appear, so they wasted a date for nothing. That will teach this guy not to sign a new deal!
There was a Cena/Rusev segment. Cena no-sold the loss at FastLane (did you expect anything less?) then asked for a rematch but Rusev said no. They did the usual pro/anti USA stuff and the fans liked it, after all they were in Nashville. A pre-tape from Bray Wyatt aired: He had an open casket and cut a promo about Undertaker being a scarred pile of broken bones. Wyatt slammed the casket and told Taker to come find him.
Bric-a-brac: Dolph Ziggler pinned Bad News Barrett at 11:05 of a non-title match. R-Truth was on commentary since he beat Barrett last week. Dean Ambrose came out afterwards with the IC belt and taunted Barrett. Looks like some kind of wacky 3 or 4 way at Mania. Why Truth is involved is anybody’s guess. Rollins protested to the Authority about letting Orton back into the fold, so Stephanie castrated him and yelled at him like a total chump. Prime Time Players over The Ascension in 3:05. Sucked. They showed an Ascension inset promo about the Bushwhackers going into the Hall of Fame two hours before they made the announcement on TV. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd w/Natalya the Tag Titles in a rematch with The Usos w/Naomi by DQ at 9:45. The wives got involved at the finish and Nattie showed some flashes of a heel turn, which would do her the world of good. Miz was mean to Mizdow during a pre-tape and officially announced that there would be an Andre Battle Royal this year and he would be in it. Oh the excitement. Jack Swagger tapped-out Stardust in 1:55 when Goldust showed up for the distraction finish. After 3 years of waiting for this program, the poor Dusts are being booked like utter prelim geeks. The Bella Twins beat Paige & Emma in 0:28; Paige didn’t even tag in and Emma was buried to the realm of Hades. Curtis Axel did his #AxelMania gimmick again then was squashed by Ryback in 45 seconds.