With FastLane right around the corner (and some pretty low ratings last week), how will RAW respond? We’re in Orlando, Florida and ready to mix shit up!
– John Cena came out to his normal mixed reaction. He went on and on about stuff that, quite frankly, I’m sick of hearing. He said that he’d beat Rusev for the U.S. championship when, thankfully, “The Ravishing Russian” Lana and Rusev came out to set the record straight. Cena threatened Rusev…Rusev made fun of Cena…and Cena chased after him and initiated a fight. Rusev didn’t back down and the two of them went at it. Cena basically decimated Rusev, which made people at home believe that he’ll win on Sunday. That tells me that Rusev’s got a chance to get by so that it sets up their rematch for WrestleMania.
– Next up was Dean Ambrose taking on former Intercontinental champion Luke Harper. Ambrose is on a mission to force Bad News Barrett to face him at FastLane by beating former IC champs. It’s actually refreshing to see somebody place some type of importance into the IC title…so I’m all for this type of storyline. It’s actually a very 80’s-style form of storyline, but one that makes sense and that people can get behind. Heel champion wants to duck me as being “unworthy”? I’ll prove my worth so he HAS to defend against me. After a helluva good match that the crowd eventually got into, Ambrose pinned Harper to prove his point.
SIDE NOTE: Here’s the thing that really bothers me about RAW. They throw out some really interesting match-ups, but there’s never any build or reason for them to fight. With THREE HOURS to blow, surely you can come up with backstage vignettes or run-ins or challenges to actually give people a reason to fight. That, in turn, would make the crowd more responsive to a really good match like Ambrose vs Harper.
– Goldust and Stardust were backstage when Dusty Rhodes came in and tried to motivate the troops. All appears to be good again in the Rhodes family…which means that it won’t be after their next match.
– Great…the New Day is ready for battle as the crowd sits on their hands. Goldust (in a pretty awesome ring jacket, I must say) and Stardust make their way out to the ring as Dusty looks on backstage. The match was quick, with a miscommunication causing Goldust to take the pinfall. Stardust officially turned heel on his brother by attacking him after the bell. The announcers acted all shocked…which always baffles me when this type of turn can be seen from a mile away.
– Roman Reigns gave a backstage interview and, again, sounded really good. He may not be great live, but his taped interviews are getting better and better. You gotta give credit where it’s due…and at this point, there are subtle hints of a heel turn by Reigns, which makes him even more of a badass in my opinion. For everything that WWE did wrong in the months leading up to the Royal Rumble, they’ve booked him PERFECTLY since he won.
– Roman Reigns took on Kane next with Daniel Bryan sitting at ringside. As the match started, Bryan actually caused a distraction by leading the crowd with a “YES” chant…leading one to wonder if there are subtle hints of a heel turn on HIS behalf. To me, this was the only way they could have made this match interesting. I feel bad for Reigns…being fed Big Slow and Kane when he can wrestle a much faster, entertaining style against smaller guys. In spite of Bryan’s attempt to distract him, Reigns ended up winning by countout by delivering a spear to Kane on the outside.
SIDE NOTE: It’s funny…people want to compare somebody in NXT like Adrien Neville with Daniel Bryan in terms of a guy who isn’t overly charismatic on the mic but is dynamic in the ring. All you have to do is listen to Bryan on commentary during Reigns’ match tonight and compare it with the abysmal performance Neville gave a couple of weeks ago on NXT during Finn Balor‘s match and you can see the world of difference. A little can definitely go a very long way. Sorry, Neville…but you need more.
– A quick backstage vignette showed the Bellas running off with Paige‘s ring gear. Instead of wrestling in her street clothes, she decides to grab one of the Rosebuds and use her ring gear instead. Because…RAW.
And you wonder why NXT divas are getting all the buzz lately?
– Paige wrestled in her Rosebud outfit and destroyed Summer Rae in the process. I mean…absolutely destroyed her. It was one of the most impressive outings by Paige I’ve seen since her debut. The Bellas tried to smack talk after the match was over, but Paige talked over them on the mic and laid the smack down. Paige is getting better and better in her promos, which basically only leave Nikki Bella and Paige as the only two main roster Divas who can deliver a decent promo.
– Seth Rollins came out with J&J Security and delivered a money promo. Dolph Ziggler came out and tried to be funny, but Rollins shut him down pretty quick. The little back-and-forth lead to their match, which is beginning to get a little boring to watch even though it’s Ziggler & Rollins. I mean, really…with all of the superstars on the WWE roster, why are we given the same match-ups week after week? Anyway…J&J Security ended up getting sent back to the locker room so we’d end up with a one-on-one match-up. Just as it looked like Ziggler was going to win with a Zig Zag, J&J Security came in to cause the DQ. Erick Rowan and Ryback then came down to do whatever they do and save Ziggler from a beatdown before starting a “Feed Me More” chant. Yawn.
– Triple H came out next to give a response to Sting after the incident that happened last week. “The Vigilante” needed to be addressed, apparently. Just as he was beginning to roll on his promo, he was interrupted by “The Nature Boy”, Ric Flair!! Obviously, as somebody who wrestled Sting a million times…he must have some things to say on the subject. They had a really great back-and-forth promo that resulted in Triple H proving that Sting has gotten under his skin, pushing Flair to the mat and vowing to kick Sting’s ass. While not a match, I’m still intrigued to see where this “face-to-face confrontation” goes.
– The Ascension came out to take on Darren Young and some un-named partner.
– Viktor and Konner attacked the babyfaces and were double-teaming Young when Titus O’Neil came out and helped clean house. So in 60 seconds, we had a babyface turn by O’Neil, a reunion of the Prime Time Players that nobody was asking for, and a non-match beatdown of The Ascension that only continues to make them look weak. To me, this was a segment that nobody won. A complete waste.
– Bad News Barrett took on Damien Mizdow, in a match set-up by The Miz in order to “take Mizdow down a few pegs”. Basically, The Miz distracted Mizdow so Barrett would win. Immediately following the victory, Dean Ambrose rushed the ring and attacked Barrett. He tied his hands around the ring and forced Barrett to sign the Intercontinental title contract. Obviously, this wouldn’t be legal in the “real world” (as JBL said more than once)…but it was still fairly entertaining.
– Bray Wyatt delivered his third promo of the night. This time, though, he was hammering a nail into what appeared to be a coffin. They’re really doing a good job of setting up a match with him against the Undertaker without actually saying the words or calling him out specifically. The anticipation is building.
– Next up was husband & wife taking on husband & wife, with Jimmy Uso & Naomi taking on Tyson Kidd & Natalya. The story of the quick match was that Tyson didn’t want to face Uso one-on-one, so he kept tagging out to Natalya. Both of the divas did a GREAT job of showcasing their talent in a very short amount of time, right before Naomi won the pinfall in a fluke roll-up. After the match was over, Kidd went off on Natalya…who sulked her way to the back with both Kidd and Cesaro. I don’t know about you, but I really hope this leads to a full-on heel turn by Natalya. It would just be a more entertaining group that way.
It was later announced that the two teams will face off in a tag title match at FastLane.
– Roman Reigns made his way to ringside so he could get a close-up view of Daniel Bryan taking on Big Show. He wasn’t on commentary, though…so again, WWE playing to his strengths and hiding his weaknesses. Smart move. The match itself was bad. I mean…you can’t blame Bryan in any way; it’s freakin’ Big Show. In an effort to cause a small distraction outside of the ring, Reigns got up and started signing autographs and taking selfies with fans at ringside. You’d think this wouldn’t be a big deal to anybody, but Bryan somehow got distracted and seemed to get angry at the whole thing. Really?
Reigns continued to distract Bryan by throwing out t-shirts to the crowd. A comedy of errors resulted in Show spearing Reigns after Bryan and Reigns had a confrontation. I’ll tell you…Bryan looked downright tiny next to Show. Somehow, though, they made a match out of it where Bryan looked as if he might end up winning until Reigns got involved and nailed Show in retaliation for the spear, causing Bryan to get disqualified.
The show ended with Reigns and Bryan having their own physical confrontation to end the show. It was a nice little fight because it showed both men being strong and neither gaining an advantage. Referees filled the ring to end things, which resulted in a chant of “Let them fight!” by the Orlando fans. They ended up shaking hands before turning around and going after each other again. They fought into the crowd and battled back to ringside. Bryan grabbed a chair and used it on Reigns, which only pissed Reigns off and he fired off a helluva right forearm that knocked Bryan on his ass. Cameras faded as both men had to be held back by officials.
All in all, it was a pretty effective way of building up the main event of FastLane. And for the most part, RAW did its job in selling the pay-per-view. It certainly wasn’t a bad episode of RAW by any stretch…but what did YOU think?