RAW Ramblings – March 14th 2016
Consol Energy Arena: Pittsburgh, PA.
For at least the third year in a row, WWE have failed spectacularly at making WrestleMania season feel special. We’ve only got two RAWs left until what will legitimately be the biggest WWE show of all-time and the build to the show has been nothing short of a farcical calamity. The main event of the show – in that it is being pushed harder than any other match – is the 46 year-old, non-wrestler and son of the promoter vs. a 50 year-old part-timer who is getting more immobile every year. The actual main event of the show – in that it will probably go on last – is the 46 year-old part-time executive World Champion vs. the biggest flop of a babyface since Lex Luger twenty-two years ago. It’s a pitiful state of affairs.
Speaking of pitiful, RAW was in Pittsburgh this week and the crowd lived up to its city’s reputation of being one of the deadest crowds in the country. The crowd certainly played their part in making the show seem cold, however even in front of a hot crowd this episode of RAW would still have been a laborious chore to sit through. Let’s start with the main event segment, which saw Vince McMahon come out to a tepid reaction. Vince was clearly not happy that these fans had been sat on their hands all night, so he made Lilian announce him again. His plan failed, as he received a mixture of indifferent cheers and boos. He said Shane’s promise of a better product with fresh matches and new guys on top was never going to happen then introduced his own “instrument of destruction,” the Undertaker. Vince told Taker to never put his hands on him again and talked about how Taker would destroy Shane at WrestleMania. He said some people would call it, “an unholy alliance,” but he just calls it best for business. Shane showed up and cut a laughable promo about how he would blow Undertaker up by being faster than him and said he would use his body as a weapon. He was stumbling all over his words and had to correct himself a bunch of times; it was quite sad. Shane’s big line was that while he had the misfortune of being Vince‘s son, Undertaker was, “Vince’s b*tch.” Taker went to Chokeslam Shane, however Shane escaped then threw his abominable punches, which Taker had to sell, then danced like an idiot. Shane ducked a shot from Taker, you see because he is quicker than this old man, but Vince shoved Shane into Undertaker and Taker gave him the Chokeslam. Taker glared at Vince, who got out of the ring as fast as possible for a 70 year-old man and the show ended with Cole hyping the Cell match. – What kind of babyface starts dancing while they are in a fist fight with the Undertaker?! Anyway, that is the least of our worries with this program. From their brief altercation here, it certainly doesn’t look good for the match and they will have to use every gimmick in the world to cover up for Shane’s deficiencies. The storyline itself is also all over the place. The whole deal with Shane’s secret deposit box and whatever he was holding over Vince’s head seems to have been dropped. Plus, the conflict between Shane & Stephanie has not been brought up since Stephanie cut that scathing promo two weeks ago. If it feels like they are making this stuff up as they go along, it is probably because they are.
Roman Reigns returned after his nasal surgery and received a unanimously negative reaction; well, apart from a handful of giddy teenage girls. The deal was set up when Stephanie came out and introduced HHH at the top of the second hour- more proof that she has been taken out of the Vince/Shane angle. HHH cut a lame knock-off of a Vince McMahon promo from 1999 about the fans hating their bosses and such; it went on forever. Finally, Dolph Ziggler showed up and after more insufferable dialogue, he called Steph “idiotic” and she slapped him across the face. Steph booked Dolph in a match against HHH later on, with the stipulation that Ziggler could have any match at WrestleMania if he won, just not the WWE title match. HHH vs. Ziggler went on at the top of the third hour and the crowd did not care at all when it started. To say that we only get a few HHH matches a year, it was scary how quite the crowd were here. The match was your typical, very good HHH affair and the crowd eventually woke up for the near-falls. Finish was virtually the same as the Ambrose match at RoadBloack, as Dolph beat the referee’s count at 9 and walked right into a Pedigree for the clean pin. Roman Reigns came down the ramp to a chorus of boos; they weren’t thunderous heat-generating boos, it was more like a “go-away forever” type of reaction. Reigns beat HHH up forever and rammed his face into the announce table just like Trips did to him. They fought backstage and HHH got bloodied up and it appeared to be real this time, as he needed six staples to close the wound. Reigns shoved some referees and hit HHH with a TV monitor then the Usos, Jack Swagger & Mark Henry showed up to talk Reigns down. As the camera pulled back, you could see HHH being helped away by Road Dogg, so even after a savage, bloody, beating, HHH still couldn’t be bothered to sell it. – I know a lot of people are rejoicing in this utter failure and finding humour at the expense of Roman Reigns, but to me this whole situation is just plain sad. Since Vince is clearly not changing directions, I suppose the only thing you can do is laugh at how monumentally they have botched making Roman Reigns into the next top babyface. They seriously need to just cut their losses and turn the guy heel, because his entire career is in danger of being ruined if this débâcle continues.
The other big match at WrestleMania should at least be very good and it would even be hard for the team of 28 writers to screw up a Brock Lesnar/Dean Ambrose program. Ambrose came out for the second segment at about 8:30pm and cut a promo about nearly winning the WWE title at RoadBlock. Lesnar & Heyman came out on the ramp and Paul cut one of his great promos about how he was the only man preventing Brock from killing Ambrose right then and there. Ambrose challenged Brock to get in the ring but Heyman said he would have to wait for WrestleMania and he headed to the back. Lesnar stayed on the ramp then headed down to the ring and Ambrose pulled a crowbar out of his jacket. Brock circled the ring and teased running in, but Heyman came back and talked Lesnar into retreating. – Heyman & Ambrose were great as always at delivering their lines and Lesnar just being Lesnar more often than not leads to a good segment. With this being a face vs. face match, Ambrose came off a little heelish by pulling out a weapon for a fair fight but I guess the excuse is that it will be a no DQ match and Dean needs all the help he can get to beat Lesnar. On that note, later in the show Mick Foley met with Ambrose in the back and warned him about the dangers of facing Brock in a no DQ match. Ambrose asked if Foley was scared when he was on top of the Cell with Undertaker and Foley said he was terrified, but he kept going because he was Mick Foley and that was what he did. Ambrose told Foley this is what he does, so Mick said he would need something more than his crowbar and gave him a big gift-wrapped box then said, “Bang, Bang!” Ambrose opened the box and pulled out Foley’s old barbed wire baseball bat, “Barbie.” – To think we nearly got to see these two men in a feud a few years back.
Elsewhere: Show opened with a short New Day promo and they shilled their Booty-O’s cereal box. The League of Nations showed up for another Tag title match for some reason, only this time it was Rusev & Alberto Del Rio w/Sheamus & Wade Barrett vs. Big E & Xavier w/Kofi at ringside. Match was fine; New Day were the defacto babyfaces again, although they won when Xavier rolled up Rusev and he held the tights. Afterwards, the League of Nations destroyed New Day in a beating that lasted a good eight minutes or-so and everyone hit their finishers on the New Day. It actually got some decent heat early on, but it just went on so long that the crowd lost interest. Later on, the League were with Renee in the back and they challenged New Day to another Tag title match at WrestleMania. Ryback beat Sin Cara in 4:15 with the Shellshock. He then got on the mic and challenged Kalisto to a US title match at Mania, which if there is any justice in the world will be on the pre-show. Sami Zayn downed Miz in 7:15 with his Exploder into the corner and the Yakuza kick. Kevin Owens was on commentary and was tremendous at constantly burying Sami throughout. The match was nothing; Zayn sold for Miz then made his comeback and won. Something tells me that Sami isn’t going to get over working competitive matches with the like of Stardust & Miz. Naomi & Tamina beat Brie Bella & Alicia Fox in 2:40; highlight of the match was Lana coming out and sitting on the announce table. She distracted Brie, which allowed Team Bad to double-team her and get the pin.
Jo-Jo interviewed Paige in the back; Lana soon showed up and said Paige used to be a strong European women but had got soft hanging around all the weak Americans on Total Divas. Paige told Lana she had never even had a match and accused her of being promiscuous. Charlotte was interviewed by Renee; she talked about holding Sasha Banks‘ hair while she threw up before her first match and claimed Becky Lynch used to hang around and begged to be included. They set up a three-way verbal debate on SmackDown with all three women, which I’m sure won’t be horrible at all. Usos over Bo Dallas & Adam Rose in 2:00; Dudleys were on commentary and said nothing. R-Truth dressed up as a penguin (they were in Pittsburgh) and asked Goldust to be his partner; Goldie said, “no.” WHY IS THIS STILL A THING?!!! Chris Jericho faced Neville in a noteworthy match that saw Neville break his ankle and shin bone while performing and in-ring baseball slide through Jericho’s legs. Neville tried to work through the injury, but the pro, Jericho, took over and called an audible and tried to roll him up for the pin. However, Neville’s shoulders weren’t completely down so Charles Robinson didn’t count to three and Jericho was incensed. He shoved Robinson and yelled, “He’s hurt!” Robinson, either thinking on his feet or via instruction through his earpiece, immediately called for the DQ at 4:50. Jericho was still furious and he berated Robinson some more afterwards. He got on the mic and said things like that happen when the fans treat him like a piece of trash and disingenuously told them to chant for AJ Styles. AJ showed up and laid out Jericho with his Springboard Forearm, which Cole called, “the Phenomenal Forarm,” and stood over him while they got a shot of the WrestleMania sign in the background. It was a decent little angle, but they are not making this fourth Jericho/Styles match feel special at all.