Raw Ramblings – February 16th 2015
Amway Centre: Orlando, FL.
It’s so hard not to be negative about the withering WWE product right now, but there were a couple of good angles on the go-home Raw for FastLane. Still, the overcomplicated booking of Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns is hurting their appeal as top babyfaces and the strength of the heel roster is possibly at an all-time low. With the exception of John Cena, arguably Seth Rollins, and the part-timers like HHH, Brock Lesnar and Sting, nobody is over to the extent that they should be, which only compounds the monotony of an aimlessly booked three hour TV show.
The theme of the go-home show was, MIND GAMES. Not the In Your House PPV from September 1996 with the tremendous Shawn Michaels/Mankind main event for the WWF title, but the exhausted euphemism that has become overused to the point of absurdity in order to explain everything from guys acting uncharacteristically due to poor booking, to a child with a demon voice scaring John Cena. The MIND GAMES began between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan when Bryan sat in on commentary during Reigns vs. Kane. Bryan did a good job of speaking logically and said he should not have been stripped of the WWE title because he only had one less defence than Brock Lesnar. Bryan got up and distracted Reigns by starting a “Yes” chant, making both guys look like chumps: a babyface being distracted is stupid 99% of the time, but a face distracting another face just for the purpose of a stupid MIND GAMES story is just bad booking, plain and simple. Reigns speared Kane on the floor and won by count-out at 6:20. That’s right, THE ROYAL RUMBLE WINNER CAN’T PIN KANE CLEAN. Main event was Bryan vs. Big Show and Reigns sat at ringside, but thankfully they had the sense not to put him on commentary. Reigns returned the favour of being a tool by signing autographs and posing for selfies with the fans. In another moronic finish, Reigns hit the ring and superman punched Show for the DQ at 14:40, because we can’t beat Big Show again. Bryan got hot and hit Reigns with a missile dropkick and they had a brawl and a pull-apart. Bryan and Reigns shook hands but went right back to brawling, with both guys looking strong but neither really getting the upper hand. They ended up on the floor; Reigns no-sold a chair shot, they spilled over the announce table and continued brawling to close the show. It was an intense angle and the crowd were into it, so they did a good job of making you want to see these two fight at FastLane. It’s just a shame that all the stuff prior to the closing angle was the usual garbage involving Big Show, Kane and the stupid MIND GAMES spiel that is damaging both Reigns and Bryan as relatable babyfaces.
The second angle that didn’t absolutely suck, and that is high praise considering the product at the moment, involved HHH responding to Sting’s response to HHH’s challenge for Sting to show up at FastLane which will inevitably lead to a WrestleMania challenge. Got all that? JBL also had a “MIND GAMES” field day here too. Ric Flair came out and essentially put Sting over big and told Trips not to take him lightly. HHH admitted he would never be Ric Flair, but when it came to kicking Sting’s ass, Flair was no Triple H. Naitch told HHH he better not end up on his ass like last week then HHH shoved Flair down, which got quite a bit of heat. Trips said he would beat Sting’s ass so bad that he would never show his face again and walked away. It was a great use of Flair, which is a rarity these days, and even though it is 14 years too late I actually don’t mind them presenting Sting as the last bastion of WCW coming in to cause trouble for the evil Authority. Of course, we all know how the last WCW vs. WWF angle played out, but I have to imagine they will not screw Sting up as badly as the Invasion.
Opening segment saw John Cena cut his usual, “I’m going to have to stop being the nice, happy smiley, babyface” promo he does before he faces any big monster heel. Lana & Rusev showed up for some more blather then Cena told Rusev he was going to kick his ass and he did in fact kick his ass. Cena destroyed Rusev, threw him into the stage and “knocked him unconscious” then proceeded to punch his comatose corpse in the head ten times while the fans counted along. I found this to be quite absurd. What incentive is there to root for Cena now we have seen him beat the hell out of Rusev and leave him for dead? Obviously they wanted to make Cena look strong before they either have him lose at FastLane or do some kind of screw job finish that leads to a Mania rematch. Even so, all that work they have done making Rusev into an unbeatable killer over the last year was completely undone just because Cena has to be booked strong no matter what. Perish the thought that someone else should benefit from being the one to finally put a beating on Rusev.
Various Filler: Dean Ambrose did a completely unfunny SNL News Desk skit and said he would get Bad News Barrett to sign an IC Championship match contract. Even the multi-talent Ambrose couldn’t make this tripe work. What he did do though was beat Luke Harper at 11:01 of an unsurprisingly good match with his DDT. Later on, Bad News Barrett beat Damien Mizdow in a non-title match in 2:30. Miz was at ringside and had Mizdow do demeaning things like shining his shoes during the match. Afterwards, Ambrose showed up and zip-tied Barrett’s hands to the ring post then made him sign the contract. Barrett screamed that it was illegal and he was absolutely correct; no court in the land would allow this contract to stand. Remember them hyping Dusty Rhodes for the show? Well after he embarrassed Stephanie McMahon last time he was given a live mic, Big Dust was involved in a lame pre-tape and told Gold & Stardust to stand together. Of course, the Dusts lost to Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods w/Big E in 3:05 and Stardust laid out Goldie with the cross-Rhodes. Backstage, Stardust told Dusty that, “Cody Rhodes is dead” just like his father. The Bellas “stole” Paige’s gear, so Paige came out in one of the Rosebud’s wacky costumes, looking like a pervert’s fantasy. Paige beat Summer Rae in 2:40 then the Bellas came out and they went back-and-forth with some terrible dialog that did nothing for the perception of the women on the main roster. Seth Rollins killed some time by cutting a promo about absolutely nothing. Dolph Ziggler showed up and joked that Seth had a, “Bad Valentine’s Day” – Hey, I get that reference! They had a short match that ended in a DQ at 5:15 when J&J Security attacked Ziggler. Ryback & Rowan hit the ring to help Ziggler run off the heels, so presumably we’re getting a 6-man at FastLane. The Ascension were set to face Darren Young & a Generic Jobber; Konnor & Viktor beat them up before the bell and Titus O’Neil ran out to save Young and reform the Prime Time Players. At least they didn’t just kill Young as punishment for speaking the truth on Twitter, which I’m sure everybody watching assumed was going to happen. Jimmy Uso & Naomi w/Jey over Tyson Kidd & Natalya w/Cesaro. Nobody cared. They aired the Sheamus vignettes again but didn’t say when he’d be back. Bray Wyatt did three pre-tapes throughout the night. He was holding a nail, which he eventually hammered into what presumably was a casket and told someone to find him before he found them. I guess they are holding off the Undertaker’s return until after FastLane, which is fine. So, in theory, next week we could have the main event for WrestleMania, Sting/HHH and Wyatt/Taker all official. But of course, plans change and until Vince makes up his crazy old mind then anything is possible.