RAW Ramblings – March 7th 2016
Allstate Arena: Chicago, IL.
This was the go-home RAW for Road Block and all things considered it turned out to be a pretty decent episode, especially when you take in to account how terrible last week’s show was. There were a couple of really good matches and two great angles to set up WrestleMania, although I still could not be more disinterested in the Road Block Network special. With four weeks left to go before WrestleMania, they really should be putting all their effort into making that show feel like the biggest WrestleMania of all time and wasting time half-assing a two week build for what is basically a house show just distracted from goal of making April 3rd in Dallas seem like the biggest show in the history of the business. The stuff they shot for Road Block was pretty weak and was overshadowed by two segments that built up WrestleMania matches, however Dean Ambrose closed the show by standing tall with the WWE title over HHH, which at least the live crowd enjoyed. Although it was made abundantly clear that there is zero chance of Ambrose winning the title.
Let’s talk about the great stuff first, because there were at least two segments worth going out of your way to see. First, Kevin Owens & Neville had a really good non-title match, which Owens won in 10:20 with a roll-up and a handful of tights. There were all kinds of big spots: Neville did a huge Fosbury Flop-style plancha over the top rope and landed on his feet then got sent into the steps. Neville hit a Shooting Star Press off the post to the floor. Owens landed a release German and Neville just about rotated enough to land on his stomach and not break his neck. Post-match, Owens went to give Neville a Powerbomb on the apron when Sami Zayn ran down for the save. Zayn & Owens traded some great fiery punches like Frye/Takayama then Neville caught Owens with a kick and Zayn clotheslined him over the top. Zayn got a great reaction from the Chicago crowd and the announcers actually tried to make it seem like a big deal that Sami had come back to RAW. It’s a damn shame that the IC title match at WrestleMania appears to be a multi-man ladder match, while Kalisto and, of all people, Ryback seem to be headed for a singles match. I know nobody cares about the US title anymore, but still the fact that we will not get to see Owens vs. Zayn in front of “100,000” people is damn near criminal.
The other great segment was AJ Styles & Chris Jericho challenging the New Day for the Tag Team titles. They had an excellent TV match, probably the best of 2016 so-far, which the crowd went insane for. Jericho & AJ had matching “Y2AJ” shirts, which looked so ghetto that it was clear a turn was coming from one of them. It was just an average tag match until AJ made the comeback off the hot tag. He finally hit his Quebrada Inverted DDT perfectly, which Kofi Kingston should take a lot of credit for also. Big E gave AJ his finish but Jericho broke up the pin. Jericho gave Kofi the Lionsault and AJ followed up with his Springboard 450, but this time Big E broke it up. Finish saw Jericho get the Walls on Kofi, but Xavier Woods held the rope out for his partner to reach. AJ took out Xavier, but Big E launched Styles into the barricade. Jericho went for the Codebreaker on Big E, who countered and hit the Big Ending for the clean pin at 11:30. (*** ¾) Afterwards, Styles helped Jericho to his feet but Jericho gave him a Codebreaker and the crowd were not happy at all. Jericho hit AJ with two more Codebreakers then shoved one of the hideous Y2AJ shirts down Styles‘ throat. A little later, Jericho did a backstage interview with Renee and said he was sick of all the people chanting for AJ Styles and said the fans won’t be chanting his name anymore. – The match was so good that after it was over, I was perfectly okay with AJ & Jericho remaining a tag team, however when the turn came I was in fact a little relieved and remembered that wasting Styles in a tag match at WrestleMania would have been utterly stupid. None of the AJ/Jericho matches have set the world on fire and they have been good/very good at best, however you have to imagine these two will go all-out if they are given enough time at Mania.
Dean Ambrose came out at the top of the second hour and cut a great promo about how he would ruin the WrestleMania plans by winning the title and would become the champion that the fans deserved. HHH showed up and called Dean a “bump in the road” then said he was driven by power, money and success which made him what he is and made Ambrose what he is. Ambrose challenged HHH to get in the ring, but Hunter declined and booked Dean against Bray Wyatt in the main event instead. Ambrose was spitting dollar signs with his promo; it was painfully obvious watching this that he is infinitely more charismatic and better and delivering scripted lines than Roman Reigns, but he is still not,”the guy,” everyone. HHH kind of killed the momentum of the segment by coming out and blathering on; Ambrose should have just gone after him like the “lunatic” he is instead of just standing listening Hunter talk. Bray Wyatt cut his usual pre-tape promo before the match and said he would “conquer the conqueror,” Brock Lesnar, at road Block. Wyatt showed up for the match without his goons, so it was clear they would be doing some kind of run-in. Match was fine, but these two are near the top of my list of men I don’t need to see wrestling each other anymore. Finish saw the Wyatt Family show up after a lights-out spot and they attacked Ambrose for the DQ then Bray finished Dean off with Sister Abigail. HHH came out again and for some explicable reason he had a stare-down with Bray Wyatt and teased a match they will not do in a million years which nobody wants to see. HHH went over to the announce table, I guess to prepare it for the beating he was going to give Ambrose, but when he got back in the ring Ambrose came to life and laid out HHH with one single DDT then posed with the belt to close the show. After HHH “destroyed” Roman Reigns’ face and demolished Ambrose last week, seeing Dean hit one move on Trips was hilariously weak, and classic HHH.
Shane McMahon opened the show and was still wildly over with the crowd. He talked about having the utmost respect for the Undertaker and called Vince an “egomaniacal, miserable, old bastard.” He rehashed the same stuff he said when he returned about Vince being out of touch with everything and noted that he didn’t know how he was going to do it, but it was his destiny to beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Taker’s gong went off, but Vince McMahon came out on the stage instead; fans chanted “assh*le” and “CM Punk,” but Vince was a great troll and made fun of the fans for not keeping the chants up. Vince had a picture of himself and Shane from the 70’s and he noted that it was taken before Shane’s trip to see his first “wrestling match” in Worcester, MA. He dropped it on the floor and stepped on the picture then stated he wouldn’t need it anymore now that Shane is no longer his son. Vince said it was ironic that his greatest creation (Taker) would put his greatest failure (Shane) to rest and called out some security to get rid of Shane. In a scene not witnessed since the infamous Legacy feud in 2009, Shane McMahon turned into Steve Austin and beat up all four security guards with his trademark punches that even Edmond Tarverdyan would shake his head at. It was of course utterly ridiculous, but it had to be done to get Shane over as a, ahem, “badass.” Shane & Vince’s performances were good, but this story is still obscenely preposterous.
Other Stuff: They showed a short selfie video from the Rock saying he would be at WrestleMania. Earlier in the day, Dolph Ziggler Tweeted something about the Authority sucking and subsequently deleted the Tweet. Stephanie met with Dolph backstage and thanked him for deleting the Tweet then in the most imbecilic moment on the show, Dolph brought up the 2014 Survivor Series when he claimed he “single-handedly” forced the Authority out of power. That’s right, they buried their own stipulation and reminded everyone that the Authority had already been removed from power once before which lasted all of two weeks. Steph booked Dolph in a 3-on-1 Handicap Elimination match against the League of Nations later on. Match was better than you would have expected; Dolph eliminated Wade Barrett at 5:46 with a Superkick but ate a Brogue Kick from Sheamus for the pin at 6:35. Summer Rae pinned Brie Bella in 2 minutes when Lana came out and distracted Brie. Lana, who for some reason was wearing her double denim Dolph Ziggler attire, gave Brie an X-Factor afterwards, which was quite an impressive feat in a denim mini skirt. Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks beat Team Bad in 1:54 when Sasha tapped-out Naomi with the Banks Statement. Charlotte & Ric Flair were at ringside and afterwards Charlotte beat both of them up like chumps. R-Truth tried to give Goldust a Chicago-style pizza as an apology. Goldie said he was lactose intolerant and his butt would explode if he ate it. It was horrible. Mark Henry showed up and stole the pizza, which looked absolutely disgusting. Kalisto downed Tyler Breeze in 2:10 in a non-title match with the Salida del Sol. Kalisto did a backstage promo with Jo-Jo and Ryback showed up and proceeded to deliver the most wooden promo of his entire career, which is saying an awful lot. Apparently they believe Kalisto vs. Ryback at WrestleMania is a good idea. Ryback beat Curtis Axel in 2:08; the Social Outcasts cut a goofy promo beforehand. It was terrible. Stephanie met with Vince in the back and was worried about Shane beating the Undertaker and said they needed to stack the deck. Vince said he had it covered.