RAW Ramblings – March 28th 2016
Barclays Centre: Brooklyn, NY.
Some people simply do not want to believe that the WWE – specifically Vince McMahon – are completely out of touch. There is a bizarre need to try and explain the unmitigated disaster of Roman Reigns as a “political hit” by HHH, or, even more laughably, that this has all been a long slow-burn build towards a heel turn for Reigns. Why these people cannot just accept that the company and indeed, Vince McMahon, are simply incapable of making stars anymore and have no idea how to book a likeable top babyface in 2016 is totally beyond me. If you were ever in any doubt as to the sheer scale of WWE’s ignorance and lack of awareness, the go-home show for WrestleMania 32 demonstrated some of the most clueless and tone-deaf booking ever seen since the heyday of Vince Russo in 2000. We have now reached the stage of Vince McMahon sticking his fingers in his ears while having a full-on tantrum like a petulant child that can’t get his own way.
There was exactly one big WrestleMania-sized angle on the go-home RAW, which came in the opening segment, and the rest of the show was customary WWE nonsense and idiocy. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the stuff they did was build for WrestleMania, however most of it was booked so poorly that it made for a very lacklustre and boring go-home show.
As mentioned, the big angle came in the opening segment. Undertaker came out and cut a promo about this WrestleMania not being his last then Shane McMahon showed up and got a great reaction just stepping into the ring with Taker. Shane said he would win control of RAW and cement his legacy by beating Undertaker, who replied that Shane needed to watch his mouth. Taker called Shane, “daddy’s b*tch” and Shane unloaded with his business-exposing punches, which poor old Undi had to sell for yet again. They brawled on the floor and Taker went for a Last Ride through the announce table; Shane countered and laid Taker out on the table with some shots to the head with a TV monitor, which gave Taker a cut that was dangerously close to his eye. Shane did his old Elbow Drop off the ring post and smashed through the table, barely grazing Taker on his way down. It was impressive that Shane still managed to pull off the dive after all these years, but even more amazing was that he didn’t kill the 51 year-old Undertaker, or himself, in the process. Fans went crazy and chanted, “Holy sh*t.” Shane walked up the ramp then Taker did his Michael Myers sit-up and got back to his feet, essentially rendering the big spot insignificant. There was also a backstage segment with Shane & Vince later on and Shane said Vince had “stolen” the company from Vince Sr and told him he would take it from him. – The segment worked well and the fans lost their minds for the dive, but I question giving away such a big spot for free on TV, especially when both guys could have been seriously injured. Also, how on earth do they top this inside a cage? I suppose the obvious answer is that Shane is going to fall off part of the Cell, but nobody has ever taken a bump off the top of the Cell since they went to the new, much bigger, cage and I don’t think a 46 year-old non-wrestler should be the first to try it. I suppose he could take the Shawn Michaels bump off the side of the cage, but even that seems like a bad idea. We also got a brief shot of Shane’s abs during the brawl and he is certainly in better shape than he was in his 30’s. Just how strictly he has been following his father’s cheesed to the edge of the platter workout plan remains to be seen.
Let’s get to what they did with Roman Reigns, because it was just pathetic. HHH & Stephanie came out at the top of the second hour and literary cut the exact same promo they do every week. Roman Reigns interrupted and was booed to a comical extent. Reigns got a few shots in on HHH and Trips bailed to the floor; Stephanie was left alone with Reigns in the ring for a second but the crowd didn’t bite for the tease and they continued to boo the hell out of Reigns. There was also a huge, “Roman sucks” chant and Reigns looked like a defeated man by the reaction of the crowd. We’re still not done though, as they pig-headily did virtually the same thing in the main event angle, only with a few geeks thrown in the mix. We also got a backstage segment where Reigns was jumped by the Dudley Boyz & HHH, which all of the fans cheered when Roman was being beaten up. HHH & Steph came back out at 10:55pm and did their stale old deal of burying the fans for being poor and having terrible lives. Reigns hit the ring again and had another brawl with HHH; fans booed him again. Eventually a bunch of geeks showed up to pull them apart and Reigns did a huge dive over the top onto the pile of guys and HHH. Some of the fans cheered the dive, but there was a huge, “you still suck” chant as the show went off the air with HHH & Reigns starring each other down. – I don’t even know what to say anymore about this. Reigns is simply not the guy, yet Vince McMahon refuses to change his mind. Maybe they will see sense and turn him heel on Sunday, but if they do then be assured that all of this disastrous build to WrestleMania has not been a master plan to make Reigns into a monster heel.
If you still don’t believe that the same company that made Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin & The Rock into worldwide megastars have forgotten how to get babyfaces over, or even what makes them likeable, then look no further than what they did with Eva Marie. Emma beat Paige in 2:55 after Lana hit Paige with her Kung Fu kick of doom behind the referee’s back. All of the women in the multi-Diva tag match brawled at ringside, with the babyfaces being outnumbered five to four. Eva Marie’s music hit like she was the saviour of the women’s division and she even posed and pointed at the heels as if the fans were supposed to buy her as an ass-kicking babyface. Eva, who could barely even run down to the ring without looking like a malfunctioning animatronic, attacked Lana with some horrendous offence and stood tall with the other women from Total Divas. The crowd booed Eva just as much, if not more, than Roman Reigns and I’m sure Vince & Kevin Dunn were dumbfounded as to why this gorgeous model, who has shown no interest at all in becoming a competent pro wrestler, was booed out of the building. – You cannot make this stuff up.
There was yet more idiocy on the show, as Chris Jericho lost to Zack Ryder in 1:55 after AJ Styles distracted him by chanting, “Y2 Jackass.” Before the match, Styles said he would make sure he got his match at WrestleMania with Jericho and afterwards Jericho accepted the challenge. Of course, Jericho got his heat back immediately by hitting Ryder with the Codebreaker. – So this feud is essentially all about two guys who are such stupid losers that they get distracted by a chant and lose matches to complete jobbers. Why it is so hard to book two men who win all their matches then face each other to see who is the best is totally inexplicable to me.
Paul Heyman did his best to save the show and cut a hard-sell promo about Brock Lesnar killing Dean Ambrose at Mania. Brock just stood there and looked mean; it was great as always. Heyman made fun of the WWE’s banned words and noted he was not supposed to say the word, “weapons” and proceeded to say it at ever opportunity. It was funny, because when Heyman pointed it out it became blatantly obvious that the announcers were trying their hardest not to use the word. After Heyman finished being awesome, the 28 writers took over and tried to turn the segment into a cute wacky little angle. Dean Ambrose came out and dragged a red wagon down to ringside, which he then filled with weapons from underneath the ring; including Mick Foley’s barbedwire bat and Terry Funk’s chainsaw. Ambrose never looked up at Lesnar, who just stood in the ring and looked bemused at this fool and his little toy cart.
If You Want Crud (You Got It): Charlotte beat Becky Lynch in a non-title match at 6:35 when Ric Flair distracted Becky by grabbing her foot and Charlotte pinned her with Natural Selection. Sasha Banks was on commentary and it was clear that the real story is Charlotte vs. Sasha, while Becky is a complete afterthought. – That was the second distraction finish in a row by the way. Big Show & Kane were best buddies and booked to face Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, despite the fact that Kane chokeslammed Big Show last week. The rest of the Social Outcasts jumped in for the DQ at 0:30 then every geek under the sun ran out to join the fray. Goldust, Tyler Breeze, Fandango, Darren Young, The Ascension, Jack Swagger, R-Truth, Damien Sandow, & Mark Henry were some of the chumps involved and the segment ended with Show & Kane double chokeslamming Mark Henry. New Day did their usual spiel and Brooklyn ate up the wacky comedy act. League of Nations showed up and we got Kofi Kingston over Alberto Del Rio in 7:45. New Day celebrated on the ramp then Jonathan Coachman came out on the stage and announced that SportsCenter would be live at WrestleMania. Coach, remarkably, got a decent babyface pop – JONATHAN COACHMAN! He also danced like a moron with New Day. Kalisto pinned Konnor in 1:45 with his move; Ryback came out and said “Feed me more.” Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler & Sin Cara over Kevin Owens, The Miz & Stardust in 21:55. Match went way too long and in Brooklyn – during a match involving Owens & Zayn – the fans got bored and started all the goofy chants: “CM Punk”, “Chris Benoit” & “This is booty” were some of the highlights. Yet again, there was no word on what roles the Rock, Steve Austin, Mick Foley or Shawn Michaels will have at WrestleMania and they were barely mentioned at all besides a promo video for the Rock.