Live from Pittsburgh, PA off the heels of Roadblock, the WWE looks to push WrestleMania into high gear for real this time. The Undertaker was confirmed on WWE.com to appear. Also, former Women’s champion and Cruiserweight champion Jacqueline was announced to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. What will happen with the New Day? Is Shane-O Mac gonna do coast to coast? Will HHH bring his shovel? Would Wiz Khalifa make an appearance?
The show began with the roar of Big E and the magical unicorns galloping down the aisle. Now this is how you start a Raw. I think I’ll be ordering my Booty-Os cereal box tee. The advertising hit its mark. I won’t be buying the booty exercise DVD All the twitter fingers from this past weekend lead to this match against the other half of the League of Nations…the half they didn’t beat Saturday anyway.
Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. The League of Nations
Remember when the WWE used to feed all three of these guys to Rusev a couple years back? Now look at you, Tong Po! It was fun to see Woods compete in this match. It just makes sense to use your third member if you’re going to play by Freebird rules. We even got to see him hit the Honor Roll clothesline. Damn good match in which The New Day won with Xavier Woods pinning Rusev. However, The League handed New Day a beating that will more than likely end up in Donald Trump’s porn folder. They beat the black brakes off our heroes and left them in a heap. Sadly, I’m sure this is how they turn New Day full babyfaces and capitalize even more on their ability to sell shirts and unicorn horns. I was wrong about not turning them into the New Nation (of Domination). So since I have trepidations about turning them face, hopefully I’m wrong and pleasantly surprised.
Dean Ambrose Invites Brock to the Bar
Ambrose expressed his dismay over losing at Roadblock But he sucked it up and looked forward to the future and his no-holds-barred match with Brock Lesnar at Mania. Because he has no chill, he summoned Brock. Better Call Paul pleaded with Ambrose to lay off, but off course he didn’t. Paul walked off, but Brock likes beating people up. So he made his way to the ring. Ambrose unzipped his jacket to unveil a crowbar. Brock took a lap and made his way back up the ramp because crowbars hurt.
Ryback vs Sin Cara
Sin Cara’s new outfit is pretty monochrome, but it’s kind of ill. Ryback has been sending little sneak disses and slick shots at Sin, so they decided to squab it out. Sin Cara got the hard working, Spanish daddy body. After running around and keeping Ryback off balance, his luck ran out and he got caught in a Shell-shock…and then another Shell-shock for the uno, dos, tres. After the match, Ryback challenged Kalisto to meet him at Mania for the US Title. While I’m not the biggest Ryback fan, I can appreciate giving any decent performer a focused storyline. I can finally start to get into this guy because they have a direction for him to go in and he’s playing his part well. Just keeping it simple and beat guys up.
In an effort to fill some time with their sponsor Burger King, they ran a quick video about a few guys who have the word “Dog(g)” in their ring names. Mad Dog Vachon, Junkyard Dog and Road Dogg Jesse James were honored…because BK sells hot dogs now? I don’t believe in anything anymore.
Stephanie McMahon Talks and Brings Out HHH to Talk
You know how your mom gives you the pretalk after you’ve done something wrong just to finish it off with, “Wait until your father gets here.”? That’s what this was. Steph introduced HHH and I hit start on the stop watch. He gave all the married men who paid all that hard earned money to bring their kids to Raw and severe dressing down. Dolph Ziggler hit the ring to defend the honor of the common man. Long story short, he found himself in the main event against Triple Haytch for any match he wants (besides the WWE World Heavyweight title match) at WrestleMania 32. Boy, go and fetch my shovel.
Sami Zayn vs The Miz
Kevin Owens joined the announce team for this match and gave real color commentary. While I love Kevin Owen’s in-ring work, I can’t wait for him to become a full-time commentator. In the ring, Miz was being a great sport and made Sami look great. Not that Zayn needs it. But Miz made him look that much better. Sami got all his stuff in. Of course KO had to get involved, but Miz had a bone to pick with him for that stunt he pulled on Smackdown. Back in the ring the Miz caught a whole lotta sole in the mouth and got pinned.
Brie Bella and Alicia Fox vs Team BAD
Before the match began, Lana strut to the announce table and looked like a nice young lady you’d want to introduce to your mom…and then have your mom judge the hell out of you. The match itself looked like somebody picked Ken Masters four times on Street Fighter and only pressed all kick buttons. Brie kicked Tamina. Naomi kicked Brie. Alicia kicked Naomi. Tamina kicked Alicia. It looked like the end of The Departed. Team BAD did some new move and pinned Brie. Alicia confronted Lana and when she turned around? You guessed it, she got a stereo kick from Naomi and Tamina. Later backstage, Lana stepped on Paige’s interview with Jo-Jo and she brought Team BAD as backup. They’ll probably toss the rest of the Divas in some huge battle that lasts a whole five minutes.
The Usos vs Social Outcasts
Looks like Ken Masters never left the ring as the Usos just kicked everybody not name Uso or referee. It probably took you longer to read this sentence than it did for the Usos to beat the Outcasts. That’s what happens when you boys eat Burger King before athletic activities.
It’s always good to see Mick Foley. And since becoming a Santa (seriously. Look it up) he’s in the giving mood. First he tried to give some advice to Dean Ambrose to not fight Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Dean mentioned Hell in the Cell and got Foley all misty-eyed. So being a Santa (look it up!) Mick presented Dean with something special for the No-holds-barred match; the holy barbed-wire bat.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion HHH vs Dolph Ziggler… Buried Alive Match
So going into this thing, we know Zig was the underdog. He came in the match as he was called earlier in the evening, the loveable loser. HHH bammed on Ziggler for about 10 minutes before Dolph clawed back into the match with a flurry of his usual moves. All the while, he sold a shoulder injury. Hunter reversed the momentum with a spinebuster and set up for the Pedigree but got a superkick for his trouble. He kicked out and pushed Ziggler off the apron onto the injured shoulder. Of course this led to a Pedigree, which put Ziggler away. So no Mania spot for Ziggler.
Here Comes a New Challenger
But before that sting could settle in Roman Reigns made his return and mauled HHH from one part of the arena to the other. JBL screamed his head off. HHH started leaking from the dome. Reigns Radio Raheemed HHH with a trashcan and cracked him in the back with an LED TV because the WWE got bread like that. The babyfaces jumped in between Reigns and HHH and stopped the onslaught.
Goldust and R. Truth the Saga continues to continue…
Truth dressed up like a penguin and said something about the hood. He asked Goldy to be his partner. Goldust was like, “Nah”. Since when did Goldust become the hunted in this situation? Wasn’t he the one pursuing Truth? Did creative get bored with this thing in its seventh week and forget where they left off?
Chris Jericho vs Neville
Honestly, I lost interest as soon as they came back from commercial and Jericho was talking. I’m as sick of hearing him say AJ Styles’s name as he is of the crowd chanting it. After it looked like Neville hurt himself (hopefully it’s a work) Jericho shoved referee Charles Robinson and was promptly DQ’d. AJ was conjured and flew out to the ring to hit Jericho with a Phenomenal Elbow that he saw coming a mile away. Im sure they’ll continue the fight the 100 years war at Mania in 20 days.
So in a brilliant move, Vince has decided to save the talk for the middle and end of the show. Vince had a monologue, intro’d Taker and brought up the throat grabbing thing from a couple weeks ago. Shane invited himself to the chatroom. He laid out his battle plan and called Taker McMahon’s Bitch. There’s that word. Right on time. Brawling ensued. Vince pushed Shane into Taker’s hand, which Undertaker promptly used to chokeslam Shane.
Tonight’s Raw wasn’t perfect, but it’s a few steps in the right direction. Instead of lumping in all the Shakespeare at the beginning of the show, they spread it out over the course of the show. I hope they continue to start shows off with more action than chatting. I was really hoping for them to give us a reason for Taker’s allegiance to Vince. He doesn’t seem to agree with the status quo, so why would he want to stand in the way of the progress Shane promises? It’s not like they have the streak for him to protect anymore. That would have been perfect. “Taker, you beat up my son Shane or you’ll forfeit your match at WrestleMania and lose your streak.” But I’ll admit hindsight is 20/20. Maybe Vince could have come in possession of the urn, thus coming in possession of the Undertaker. Anything is better than the most powerful force in the company’s history just doing what his boss told him to do. Taker’s hands aren’t tied at all, which takes out a lot of tension and makes this match a little less compelling. Even with the entire company’s future hanging in the balance, I don’t buy it. This wouldn’t be the first time the Authority had been taken out of power. I give it three weeks before they return.
The other big takeaway from Monday’s Raw was the ramped up violence. I’ve been hearing the WWE is going a little harder core on the way to WrestleMania. Let us rejoice. Cautiously. The problem with WWE is not in-ring. The performers are actually better than they’ve ever been. What I don’t want to see is a higher risk of injuries. Watching New Day get pummeled at the top of the show was a little rough on a crowd who is used to the PG era level of violence. This was done right as the League really only did all their trademark finishers on New Day. That’s professional wrestling stuff they would do anyway. New Day sold their…booties off. So that’s fine. What we don’t need is LEDs and bloody heads. I don’t mean to coddle the boys. We’re just working with a skeleton crew right now. I’m with the violence, but for the sake of Jesus, be careful!