RAW Ramblings – March 21st 2016
Wells Fargo Centre: Philadelphia, PA.
The penultimate RAW before WrestleMania was a predictably impractical and indiscriminately rudderless show. We’re headed for what will legitimately the biggest WWE show of all-time and in the thirty-one previous WrestleManias there has never been a colder top babyface challenging for the World title in the main event than Roman Reigns. Granted they were in Philadelphia so the reaction could have been a million times worse, but Reigns was still booed heavily for the 5 minutes-or so that he appeared in front of the live crowd. We’re way past the point of hopeless when it comes to Reigns as the heir to John Cena’s throne and every week the company makes themselves look more pathetic by acting like everything is okay. It’s not like the crowd suddenly turned on Reigns overnight and caught WWE off-guard; they have literally had months to change plans and go with someone else in the top babyface role. But of course, the 70 year-old man in the bubble refused to do anything to fix the situation.
And now we’re here, two weeks away from the biggest show of all-time. The television and booking are as bad as ever, the top babyface is absolutely despised by at least 70% of the audience, the undercard has been aimlessly thrown together and the real main event of the show is Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker for control of RAW and Taker’s WrestleMania career. How exactly did things end up in this pitiful state? I’m sure most the negativity towards the company will dissipate next week when fans start descending on Dallas and those of us that are not going to be there live get caught up in all the festivities from our own part of the world. The last two WrestleManias were built up terribly and turned out to be very fun shows, so if WWE puts on a great show this year I’m confident people will overlook the disastrous creative during the build up. If not, we could be in for a WrestleMania 29 scenario with a bad show in front of a dead crowd. Either way, whether WrestleMania 32 turns out to be good or not, there is no escaping the thunderous boos of 85,000 people when Roman Reigns makes his entrance or, even worse, when he wins the WWE World title.
What they did with Reigns on this show was somewhat intelligent, as he only appeared in front of the live crowd very briefly during the opening segment with Stephanie. Steph came out and said HHH was not there and people had exactly 60 seconds to go to the box-office to get a refund. She claimed that HHH was fine after the beating he took from Reigns last week and was not at RAW because he had a business meeting or something. Reigns showed up and was hated. He shushed Stephanie, said he would kick HHH’s ass, blocked a slap from Steph, and said he was the Authority now. It was a total failure. Later, HHH arrived to pick up Stephanie – apparently even she can’t handle the third hour of RAW. The garage door of the parking lot slowly opened to reveal Roman Reigns standing there like a corny B-movie – Lucha Underground this was not. Reigns dragged the defenceless heel out of the car and beat him up in front of his wife while she screamed in horror. HHH managed to get back in the car and they drove away while the camera zoomed in on Reigns, who was of course booed heavily. – How did Reigns know that HHH’s three young daughters were not in the car when he decided to break into it? More to the point, why did they do virtually the same angle here that they did with Daniel Bryan, Brie Bella & Kane last year when Kane was the heel?! These people are clueless.
Like last week, Dean Ambrose was in a nearby bar and talked about facing Brock Lesnar. The camera pulled back and revealed that Ambrose was talking to Terry Funk, who went on a full-on wild Terry Funk rant and said he would be proud to call Dean his son. Funk gave Ambrose his old chainsaw and Dean proceeded to cut up one of the tables in the middle of this Philadelphia tavern. – It was actually pretty great in a wacky Terry Funk sort of way, although now they have to deliver a chainsaw spot in the match at WrestleMania. What was not great in anyway was Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman in the main event of the show. Paul Heyman was on commentary and even he couldn’t save this horrendous match. Fans chanted, “this is boring” while Strowman was on offence. Finish was a lame DQ when Ambrose hit Strowman with a chair at 6:20. – Why they didn’t just book Ambrose against a guy he could pin clean is beyond me. Post-match, Ambrose gave Strowman his DDT onto the chair and went over to Heyman, who said he was just an advocate. It was a super weak way to end the show.
Vince McMahon came out for a “major announcement” regarding the Hell in a Cell match at 10:45pm, presumably to try and stop the third hour from tanking. He said Shane was the most “formidable opponent” Undertaker had ever faced then agreed with what Shane said last week and called Taker his “b*tch.” Vince’s big announcement was that it would be Undertaker’s last WrestleMania if he loses. – The crowd didn’t care at all, as by this point in the show they had been beaten into submission by this wretched show. Even Vince, who is usually great at this stuff, delivered the announcement in a very weak manner. He didn’t say Taker would have to retire if he loses, just that it would be his final WrestleMania match. They also showed some ludicrous hype videos with talking heads from a bunch of guys, I guess because they can’t rely on Shane to cut his own go-home promo. Chris Jericho actually said the Taker/Shane match would be the biggest match in WrestleMania history.
AJ Styles & Kevin Owens had an awesome match that went 19:20 and was completely ruined by incompetent booking. Chris Jericho came out and sarcastically chanted, “AJ Styles;” AJ was distracted like an absolute moron and Owens pinned him with a roll-up. This would have been an atrocious finish anyway, but the fact they did the exact same finish on SmackDown was completely unforgivable. It is any wonder that there are no stars in this company anymore? This set up a show long storyline of who would be challenging Owens for the IC title at Mania. Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn & Miz came out; Miz called Sami, “a skinny Seth Rogan” – a line that I bet Creative patted themselves on the back for hours over. Owens said he was going to ask Stephanie to book a three-way to determine the #1 contender. Later, Owens came out and introduced Sin Cara, Stardust & Zack Ryder for the #1 contenders match. The gimmick was that they are all non-threatening chumps. It ended in a schmoz when Ziggler, Zayn & Miz ran-in and all six guys went after Owens then started fighting with each other. Backstage, Owens ran to complain to Stephanie, who treated him like an utter geek and booked a seven-way Ladder match with all of the guys, including the three geeks who Owens thought were no threat to him whatsoever. – Ridiculous.
The idiocy didn’t stop there, as Chris Jericho wrestled Fandango in an epic WrestleMania 29 rematch. AJ Styles came out and tried to distract Jericho by chanting “Y2 Jackass,” however Jericho kicked out of a roll-up and pinned Fandango clean with the Codebreaker. – WHAT?! Styles cut a promo afterwards and challenged Jericho to a match at Mania. He tried to get the fans to chant “AJ Styles” but nobody really cared because WWE can’t help but kill anything that gets over.
The Rest: League of Nations & New Day exchanged some horrendous dialogue, which led to Rusev vs. Big E. Match was fine; New Day & LON fought on the floor and Big E nearly killed himself doing his spear through the ropes on Rusev. Kofi gave Rusev Trouble in Paradise behind the ref’s back and E won with his finish at 11:10. There was a wretched advertisement for Snickers with Team Bad, Natalya & that Chrisley weirdo. Big Show came out and said he would win the Andre Battle Royal again then put Andre over as the greatest Giant in history. Social Outcasts jumped Big Show; Kane showed up to make the save. Show hugged Kane then ended up taking a Chokeslam off the ropes because he’s a big idiot. Charlotte pinned Natalya in 4:45 with Natural Selection; Sasha & Becky were on commentary and bickered like petulant children. Bubba Ray Dudley beat R-Truth in 2:25; post-match, the Dudleys beat up Truth some more and Goldust ran down to make the save. The Dudley beat him up too – so all those months of building up the Golden Truth was pointless – then the Usos came down to run-off the Dudleys. The aired a much shorter than usual video package for Stan Hansen’s Hall of fame announcement. They claimed Hansen was the “biggest draw in the history of Japan” and said he was the only man to beat both Baba & Inoki. Neither of which are true. Still, at least they have a legitimate Hall of Famer going in.