RAW Ramblings – April 4th 2016
American Airlines Centre: Dallas, TX.
Following an atrociously booked WrestleMania, what is usually the hottest and most fun RAW of the year was appropriately lacklustre with some booking decisions that were frankly insulting to one’s intelligence. This was not the usual post-Mania RAW with fans hijacking the bad segments and chanting all kinds of wacky things all night long. The crowd were still unquestionably hot and it’s not like they didn’t make a ton of noise throughout the night, however after such a direction-less WrestleMania, I honestly expected more of a mutiny from the hardcore fans that stayed for this show. They had the perfect opportunity to vent the frustration of every hardcore fan when Vince McMahon came out to open the show, however instead of letting senile old Vince know that his television show has been abysmal for years, the crowd treated him like a hero and even did the stupid “we’re not worthy” bow to the man who treats them like garbage. All things considered, this episode of RAW, for the most part, was an improvement over recent shows; although that is not exactly high praise.
If you want to know just how bad the booking on this show was then look no further than what they did at the start of the show. First, the announcers told all the viewers at home that the RAW after WrestleMania crowd was different from every other crowd and they would boo the guys who normally get cheered. It was so completely condescending and patronising that I found myself yelling, “F-you” at JBL’s robotic fake smile when he told the viewers to not pay attention to the crowd because they were,“just having fun, Maggle!” As noted, Vince came out and the fans sang his theme song; he said, “how about that WrestleMania?” and the fans booed, but that was the extent of their protest. Shane McMahon came out with a fake bruise on his face and hobbled out onto the stage – the fact that he was on the show at all bothered me to no end after taking a 20ft bump the night before. Even more insulting was the fact that Vince just willingly handed over control of RAW to Shane for the night. So essentially, the match with Undertaker meant absolutely nothing. I guess it’s okay though, because Vince had a piece of paper and he mentioned in a throwaway line that he had procured the contents of the “lockbox” that was mentioned once and never brought up again. So with Shane in charge, HHH & Stephanie were not on the show at all, and Shane promised to deliver a show that was completely different from the norm. He failed spectacularly.
Roman Reigns came out at the top of the second hour and the announcers again made sure to tell the viewers to ignore the crowd, who booed Reigns out of the building. Reigns tried to brush off the boos by saying, “I’m not a bad guy. I’m not a good guy. I’m THE guy.” It was a good line, but that still doesn’t make it true. He issued an open challenge for the WWE title and Chris Jericho came out to cut a promo. He called all the fans idiots – which lead to a, “We are idiots” chant – then said he “buried” AJ Styles at Mania and demanded a title shot. Styles showed up and got a decent reaction, but Kevin Owens was out next and he got a huge pop. Sami Zayn was the last guy out and he immediately started brawling with Owens; AJ & Jericho began to fight as well while Reigns looked on. Zayn did a dive onto Owens over the top then AJ pointed at Reigns’ WWE title before Jericho threw him out of the ring. Reigns hit Jericho with a spear and everybody booed as the new WWE champ stood tall. Later, Shane booked a Four-way main event to determine the #1 contender and Reigns was cool with that. Owens attacked Zayn during a backstage interview with Renee and Powerbombed him through a table, so Cesaro made his return and replaced Zayn in the main event. Owens, Cesaro, Jericho & Styles went 16:45 and they had a really good TV main event. AJ pinned Jericho with the Styles Clash to become the #1 contender and the show went off the air with the announcers hyping Styles vs. Reigns for the WWE title. – All I could do was shake my head when Styles won. Sure he will almost certainly have a good match with Reigns and even though he will end up getting pinned, it could lead to some much needed character development for AJ. What really turned my stomach was the fact that Styles lost clean to Jericho at WrestleMania in a match everyone will remember then he became the #1 contender and got his win back on Jericho in a Four-way on RAW that no one will remember. It is just the worst kind of booking imaginable. Imagine if Styles had a series of matches with Yuji Nagata and lost the fourth match at the Tokyo Dome before he went on to challenge Okada for the IWGP title in 2014.
As is tradition, we got some debuts on this show. Apollo Crews has been called up for some reason, despite his promo ability being no where near ready; I guess Vince got a look at him at TakeOver: Dallas and fell in love with his physique. Crews squashed Tyler Breeze in 1:54 with his Spinning Powerbomb; poor Breeze. Baron Corbin made his RAW debut against Dolph Ziggler and they went to a double count-out in 8:34. Corbin laid out Ziggler with his finish on the floor, so I have no idea why he didn’t just pin Ziggler. Crews got no build up whatsoever and was just thrown out there cold, but at least he looked good in a squash. Corbin didn’t really come off like a big deal at all and he couldn’t even beat Dolph Ziggler, who loses to everybody.
Shane’s “big change” that he promised turned out to be the return of the tables match; what a let down. The Dudley Boyz beat the Usos in a nothing 8:45 match. The finish was right out of WCW, as the Usos went for double splashes but the Dudleys moved. The Usos went through the tables and the timekeeper rang the bell early, but per WWE rules a tables match can only end via an offensive move. Bubba was hot and Devon tossed one of the Usos through another table in the corner to officially end the match. Bubba yelled at the timekeeper and the announcers acted like nothing strange had happened at all. After this mess, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady made their debut and got a great reaction. Carmella was no where to be seen and I guess she is staying in NXT. Everybody in the building sang along with Enzo’s catchphrases then he started making fun of the Dudleys. Cass challenged the Dudleys to get back in the ring, but Bubba & Devon teased it then walked away. Big Cass called them “SAWFT” and JBL seemed confused by the whole thing. Remember when JBL was General Manager of NXT and hardly ever was on the shows? I guess he really didn’t pay attention to what was going on in his short time as GM. – Enzo & Cass brought some much needed energy to the show and they certainly came of like stars in front of this audience. They need to never have Byron Saxton impersonate them ever again though, because that will kill them quicker than a bullet to the head.
Zack Ryder lost the IC title 24 hours after winning it in the Ladder match. He wrestled Miz in a boring match that went 10:30. Beforehand, Ryder cut a promo and hilariously claimed that winning the IC title was the greatest moment of his life. He showed a picture of himself with Razor Ramon and the IC title from when he was a kid then they put a picture of Ryder & Scott Hall from after he won the IC title at WrestleMania. Ryder thanked his dad, who was at ringside; Miz showed up and made fun of his Pappa Ryder. Finish of the match saw Miz jawing with Ryder’s dad and Pappa Ryder shoved Miz to the ground. Maryse jumped the rail and slapped Pappa Ryder, which distracted Zack and Miz hit his finish to get the win. – Just as pretty much everyone expected, Ryder winning the IC title was completely meaningless. I imagine Vince just decided on the day to have Ryder win it simply for the surprise factor. A lot of good that did. Hopefully Maryse is only back as a manager/valet; we don’t need her as part of the Women’s division now that the company has finally decided to take it seriously.
Speaking of the Women, all the girls were out for the presentation ceremony of the new Women’s Championship; Eva Marie was of course front and centre. Lita introduced Charlotte and presented her with the new title. Charlotte tried to cut a sincere “thank you” promo and attempted to put over the new era of women’s wrestling in the WWE. Fans didn’t play along and they sang songs for Bayley. Charlotte eventually went heel and talked about being better than all the other women. Sasha & Becky were the first to leave then all the other girls followed, leaving Charlotte alone with Natalya, who challenged her to a match. Charlotte said her family would always be superior to Nattie’s and Nattie put her in the Sharpshooter, but Ric Flair pulled Charlotte out of the ring. – Some people thought the crowd were being disrespectful during Charlotte’s promo, but she is a heel who has done nothing but cheat to win her matches. What did they expect?
Other Stuff: New Day (Big E & Kofi) retained the Tag titles over League of Nations (Sheamus & Barrett) in 8:45. Afterwards, Sheamus, Del Rio & Rusev turned on Barrett and Sheamus sent him packing with a Brogue kick. It looks like Barrett is pretty much done with the company. The Wyatt Family hit the ring and beat up the League of Nations; Bray hit Sheamus with Sister Abigail and the fans chanted, “Thank you, Wyatt.” Sasha Banks beat Summer Rae in 1:45 with the Banks Statement. The Vaudevillains were advertised for SmackDown; whoever made the decision to bring them up and not American Alpha are out of their minds. There was a vignette with the repacked Colons. Primo & Epico were in Puerto Rico (I presume) and they talked about how beautiful it was and a much better place to live than everybody else. Dr Phil, who is apparently still a thing, will be a guest on next week’s show for some reason.