RAW Ramblings – April 25th 2016
XL Centre: Hartford, CT.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. RAW was tortuously long this week and the show really started to drag around the third hour mark. Not that this is a new revelation or anything, but they completely buried the WrestleMania stipulation and treated the fans like a bunch of lobotomised goldfish when they announced that Vince McMahon would decide once and for all at Payback who is in charge of RAW. That’s right, the show opened with Shane McMahon doing his usual “Yes we can” change speech. Stephanie McMahon made her return – you really didn’t think she would keep herself off the show for a full month now did you? She talked about being from Hartford and everybody booed. They bickered for a while then Steph said that this was Shane’s last night in charge RAW and that Vince would officially decide at Payback which one of them would run RAW going forward. Shane had some indie security goofs come out to remove Stephanie, who of course had to manhandle these three men trying to eject her. One of the poor kids took a slap right in the nose from Wonder McWoman. It should also be noted that there was no mention of HHH on the show whatsoever and Stephanie was not wearing her wedding ring; maybe this is a tease of something or maybe it is just nothing. – The crowd loved seeing Stephanie being thrown out and I’m sure the McMahon family drama is interesting to some casual fans. But the fact they have completely disregarded the Undertaker/Shane match at Mania is literally one of the most offensive things they have ever done in terms of having no respect for their audience. I presume this is leading to another brand split, with Shane running RAW and the Authority running SmackDown – because it worked so well the last time they split the crews in 2002. It is great that we finally have a babyface GM after all these years, however they completely killed their own storyline to get there and I for one am greatly offended with the derision they have shown every single one of us since WrestleMania.
This was the go-home show for Payback and they did a pretty good job of setting everything up. The show-long storyline was whether Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows were working with AJ Styles. Styles beat Sheamus in the opener at 14:30 with the Phenomenal Forearm; Anderson & Gallows came out on the stage afterwards and applauded AJ’s victory. Styles acted like he was not too pleased to see them and it was pretty clear they are setting up Anderson & Gallows turning on him. Later on, Anderson & Gallows, who had some sweet new ring gear which had “#GB 4-Life” on it, beat the Usos in 14:00 with the Magic Killer in their debut. They had some generic rock music theme song and the match was way too long; the crowd didn’t care at all while they were getting the heat on Jey Uso. Post-match, Anderson & Gallows went after the Usos but Roman Reigns ran down to save the day and he fought off Gallows with ease and Anderson wanted no part of Reigns. Anderson & Gallows met with Styles in the back; Styles said they couldn’t stay out of trouble and Gallows told him that they had his back and their friendship was forever. They shook hands and hugged.
Main event saw Roman Reigns beat Alberto Del Rio at 12:30 of a non-title match with the Spear; it was dull and even the Hartford crowd hated Reigns. They even showed Reigns with some Make a Wish kids before hand in a desperate plea to convince you that he is in fact not a bad guy. Afterwards, Anderson & Gallows hit the ring and beat down Reigns; Styles showed up and talked them down but Reigns hit AJ with a Superman Punch. Anderson & Gallows went after Reigns, but THE guy took both of them out like goofs. Styles recovered and laid out Reigns with the Phenomenal Forearm and Cole & JBL speculated whether there was “collusion” between Styles, Anderson & Gallows. – They have made it blatantly clear that Anderson & Gallows are going to turn on Styles at some point. I just hope they don’t align themselves with Reigns and we actually get the Balor Club instead. It was a good hook to head into Payback with however, and I’m pretty excited for Styles first PPV main event in WWE.
Dean Ambrose called out Chris Jericho and they thankfully kept the goofy comedy to a minimum this week. Jericho demanded that Ambrose apologise and kiss his “$1,500” boots; instead, Ambrose attacked Jericho and they brawled out to ringside. Jericho ended up putting Ambrose in the Walls on the announce table, which as we have learned is more devastating for some reason. A bunch of refs ran out to break it up and Jericho yelled at Ambrose for being a “stupid ass.” – It was a solid go-home angle and really elevated this program past the wacky comedy of previous weeks.
There was a great video package recapping the history of Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn then Zayn actually won a match on TV when he beat Rusev in 11:55 with a banana skin roll-up. Kevin Owens attacked Zayn from behind on the ramp and stood over him to end the segment. The only other thing of note was that Lana was back in Rusev’s corner and it appears like the League of Nations is no more, as Sheamus, Del Rio & Rusev all came out own their own to their own music. #RIPTheLads.
They set up the finals of the Tag Team tournament by having New Day basically host a segment with the Vaudevillains & Enzo & Big Cass. The Vaudevillains had a cute line about partying like it was 1899 and the fans were into Enzo & Cass’ sing-a-long routine. New Day said it was exciting to see to new teams fighting to become the #1 contenders and Xavier stated that they would remain the champs regardless of which team won the tourney.
Starfish and Coffee: Stardust interrupted an interview with Apollo Crews in the back, which led to Crews squashing him in 3:10 with his sit-out Powerbomb. Natalya submitted Emma with the Sharpshooter in 2:15; Charlotte was on commentary and heeled it up. Flair was out there too but of course they didn’t trust him to have a live mic. Damien Sandow was out for a match with Baron Corbin, however Dolph Ziggler attacked Corbin while he was making his entrance and they fought around the stage. For the second week in a row we got an atrocious Miz & Cesaro segment; the only positive was Maryse being Maryse. Miz did the De Niro, “You talking to me?” line from Taxi Driver then tried the Joe Pesci, “Funny like a clown” bit from Goodfellas. The pay-off was Miz asking if Cesaro felt lucky and Cesaro did the, “go ahead make my day” line from Dirty Harry. – These movie quotes are absolute death. They announced that John Cena would return on Memorial Day – that’s May 30th for all of us non-yankee doodles. The show opened with a graphic for Chyna and they aired the lamest tribute video they have ever done and it was clearly thrown together in about ten minutes. At least they acknowledged her I guess. For whatever reason, they announced Ryback vs. Kalisto for the US title at Payback.