RAW Ramblings – April 11th 2016
Staples Centre: Los Angeles, CA.
For the first time since the days of the Shield having killer trios matches every week and Daniel Bryan being the hottest act in the company, we actually got a very good three hour episode of Monday Night RAW. Of course there were some glaring plot holes and utterly nonsensical storytelling, but that was a concession I was willing to make for the best WWE TV show in nearly three years. The big news was the debut of Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows, who attacked and laid out the Usos, however there was a ton of other stuff to enjoy on the show also.
Shane McMahon was in charge of the show again due to “overwhelming social media support,” which confirmed the WrestleMania match with Undertaker was a complete waste of time. He also wasn’t selling at all just 8 days after falling 20ft off the cage. Shane O booked Natalya vs. Charlotte for the Women’s title and a Tag Team tourney to determine the #1 contenders. Shane then booked Sami Zayn vs. AJ Styles with the stip that Sami would be added to the WWE title match at Payback if he won. Kevin Owens came out and demanded a rematch for the IC title, so Shane booked him in a #1 contenders match against Cesaro. – Look at that. An opening segment that actually set up some matches for the show and gave viewers a reason to stick around.
Cesaro & Owens had a really good opener and Cesaro won with the Neutraliser in 14:48 (***¼). Miz & Maryse were shown watching (like normal people, without their bodies facing the camera) in their own personal dressing room. They did a skit later on with Maryse complaining about how the bottled water wasn’t up to scratch and that the bowl of M&Ms they had needed to be taken away because Miz didn’t like the blue ones. Clearly someone on Creative watched Wayne’s World recently. Cesaro showed up and told him he was coming after the IC title. As for Owens, he yelled at Shane and made fun of his grey hair, so Shane had security escort him out of the building. – I’m not enamoured with a Cesaro/Miz feud, but at least they put some effort into setting it up.
AJ Styles & Sami Zayn went on at the top of the third hour and while it probably didn’t help the ratings all that much, they had a great TV match that Styles won at 16:45 with the Phenomenal Forearm (***½). Later on in the back, the two shook hands then a pumped up Shane McMahon appeared and thanked them both for having an awesome match. – A babyface GM putting over talent for being great?! It felt like Rick Sanchez had hacked my TV and I was watching a RAW from an alternate reality.
Natalya beat Charlotte via DQ at 10:56. They had a solid match and the finish was actually pretty good and set up a rematch for Payback. Ric Flair pulled Charlotte out of the ring while Nattie had her in the Sharpshooter. The ref called for the DQ just as Charlotte tapped out and they announced Nattie as the winner but noted that Charlotte was still the champion. Dr Phil was also involved here. The gimmick was that he was disappointed in Charlotte for always having her dad help her win. Flair & Dr Phil had a “Wooo” off in the back and Dr Phil came out to watch the match at ringside. The doc also showed up later during a Goldust/R-Truth segment, but didn’t say anything and just shook his head at the two clowns and probably wondered where his life went wrong.
As noted, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows debuted. The Usos had just downed Curtis Axel & Heath Slater in a 4 minute Tag Team tourney match, when Anderson & Gallows came through the crowd and stormed the ring. They beat up the Usos and hit the Magic Killer, which Cole surprisingly called, and left back through the crowd. The announcers only acknowledged them by their last names and JBL was yelling about how his “sources” had been telling him for weeks that they were coming in. They got a fairly strong reaction from the LA crowd and there was a “Bullet Club” chant, but it would have undoubtedly had much more impact last week in front of the post-Mania fanbase. – If they really are going with the Balor Club then you would have to think Finn is coming up soon. Then there is the question of what they could do with AJ Styles and the finish of the match with Reigns at Payback, but that is getting into fantasy booking territory so let’s not go there. There are a bunch of ways they can go, let’s just pray that they don’t screw this up.
Incredibly, they managed book Roman Reigns fairly well on this show too. Although they did have him come out to cut a promo, which maybe they should hold off on for a couple of weeks. He was booed heavily. He did his “I’m THE guy” line again and it got a smaller reaction that it did the week before. The League of Nations soon interrupted him, so at least they kept Roman’s promo short. Rusev said he was stronger and better looking than Roman; the man is engaged to Lana so I’m not going to argue with him. Reigns challenged all of them to get in the ring, but just as they did the Wyatt Family showed up after their lights-out spot and they cleared the ring of the LON while Reigns watched on. Shane showed up and booked Reigns & Bray Wyatt against two members of the LON in the main event. Reigns & Wyatt beat Sheamus & Del Rio in 11:07 when Bray & Roman both hit their finishes like a house show and Bray pinned Del Rio. It was so bizarre to see Wyatt playing the babyface, however he made an awesome fiery comeback off the hot tag and the dynamic of him teaming with Reigns was intriguing enough that it almost made you forgot what a horrible job they have done with Roman for the past two years. I also have no idea how any of this plays into the Reigns/Styles match at Payback, but for one night at least they managed to do something different with Reigns. Although, it should be noted that they did script him some John Cena-level comedy lines during his promo with the LON.
Even the usual horrible WWE comedy stuff was more palatable than usual; probably because the rest of the show was much better so it was easer to swallow, but still. Chris Jericho said he had the biggest star in the history of WWE as his guest on the Highlight Reel: himself! Jericho proceeded to conduct an interview with himself until Dean Ambrose interrupted. Ambrose had a new potted plant and replaced Jericho’s old one. “Don’t touch my potted plant!” Jericho commanded. Ambrose said he had a memo from Shane McMahon that said the Highlight Reel had been replaced by the Ambrose Asylum and he stuck a cheap piece of cardboard with “Ambrose Asylum” written on it over the JeriTron. Ambrose made fun of Jericho scarf, which Jericho noted cost $750. Jericho told Ambrose to leave or he would “bury” him and Ambrose laid him out with his DDT. – Ambrose/Jericho should be a fun program and both guys are talented enough to make pretty much anything the writers give them work.
Other Occurrences: New Day made their entrance and talked about the tournament to determine the #1 contenders. The Dudley Boyz beat the Lucha Dragons in 3:09 of a Tag Team tournament match. Kalisto was down at ringside the whole time and was being checked over by the doctors. It is unclear as of writing this whether it was an angle or not. Enzo & Big Cass showed up and the poor Dudleys had to banter back and forth with Enzo, although Bubba did a decent job to be fair. – Enzo & Cass vs. the Ascension is a Tag Team tournament match that will take place on SmackDown and the winners will face the Dudleys in the second round. No guesses who is going over in that match then. Apollo Crews squashed Bo Dallas in 3:35 with his sit-out Powerbomb; it was fine. The Colons in Puerto Rico vignette aired again and they showed a nice hype video for Baron Corbin.
Who would have though a show without HHH & Stephanie burying all the talent and berating the fans could be so much fun?