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Live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this is the Raw Deal for episode #1190. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. The banner up top is the logo of the Raw Deal column that you can purchase on a t-shirt at Prowrestlingtees.com/tjrwrestling right now along with two other options with more to come soon.
The Tag Team Champions The New Day begin the show this week. That’s rare. Maybe Vince is still writing the McMahon family promo segment. The crowd was firmly behind The New Day as we start the show with a match. They did a quick promo, but not much to it other than talking about the Booty O's cereal.
Analysis: I’m stunned that Raw is actually starting with a match! I joked about it on Twitter a few hours earlier and it actually happened. This feels bizarre, but I like it because of the tired promo that usually begins Raw.
Tag Team Titles: Big E & Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Rusev & Alberto Del Rio (w/Sheamus & King Barrett)
It’s another tag title match for the League of Nations although on Saturday it was Sheamus and Barrett losing to Big E and Kingston. Good to see Woods in a match. Nothing against Kingston, but I think Woods needs to be wrestling more. They did the unicorn stomp in the corner on Rusev and then Woods blew the trombone even though he’s in the match. Rusev nailed a kick on Big E as well as a dropkick. Del Rio nailed a Backstabber on Big E. Even though New Day appear to be turning face, they are standing in the corner usually reserved for the heel team (the face teams tends to be facing the hard camera). Woods nailed a nice clothesline on Del Rio. Barrett distracted, so Del Rio nailed an enziguri kick on Woods. Time for a break.
Back from break, Rusev nailed Woods with a fallaway slam. Del Rio applied an armbar on Woods using the ropes for an assist. Woods nailed a running knee on Del Rio and here’s the hot tag to Big E against Rusev. Belly to belly by Big E on Rusev three times in a row. Huge splash by Big E on Rusev. There’s a spinning heel kick by Rusev for a nearfall. Back body drop by Big E to break free. Woods tagged in with a knee to the face of Rusev and a Tornado DDT gets two as Del Rio made the save. Del Rio with a knee to Big E followed by a double foot stomp on the edge of the apron. Woods took down Del Rio. Rusev nailed a superkick on Woods for two. Good nearfall there as the crowd chanted “New Day Rocks.” Kingston distracted Rusev when Rusev wanted the Accolade. Kingston took out Sheamus with a dive and sent Barrett into the barricade. Rusev grabbed Kingston. That allowed Woods to do the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! with tights for the win after 15 minutes.
Winners: Big E & Xavier Woods
Analysis: *** A good tag match to start the show. I’m really sick of the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! that ends matches on what feels like every episode of Raw, but they love going to it. Since New Day aren’t fully faces (they are very close) it’s okay for them to cheat to win. Plus, a team like Los Guerreros used to do that too. I think as a funny team they should be able to win by cheating once in a while. They did a great job of getting to the finish with Kingston taking out the two guys on the floor. Like I said before, I’m glad Woods was involved too.
Post match, The League of Nations attacked the three members of The New Day. They nailed some big moves on each guy by going after Kingston first and then Big E. Sheamus planted Big E with a Brogue Kick to put him down. Woods fell victim to a double foot stomp by Del Rio. The crowd was booing all of this. Rusev applied the Accolade on Woods. Huge celebration by the League of Nations. The show went to break.
Analysis: That pretty much cements the face turn of The New Day by continuing the feud with League of Nations. I haven’t heard LON receive boos like that, so having them lose that match and then attack post match was smart. Cheap way to get heat with four guys beating up three guys.
Dean Ambrose walked out in his street clothes, which is similar to his in-ring attire. They replayed the finish of his WWE Title match against Triple H at Roadblock where Ambrose had his foot under the rope while even using a red line to show that Ambrose’s foot was actually under the rope. Here’s my full review of Saturday’s Roadblock event.
Ambrose said he came so close to winning. He talked about how he made a mistake, but added it’s okay because that’s how he lives. The fans chanted “Let’s Go Ambrose” for him. He wanted people to ask Triple H how he’s feeling because he knows he’s not feeling good. Ambrose said that Hunter learned what can happen when you underestimate him and show him the proper respect. He mentioned WrestleMania, so here’s Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar walked out with his advocate Paul Heyman by his side. They stood at the top of the ramp. Heyman said he’s the only voice of reason that is saving Ambrose from a hellacious beating. Heyman said that he was protecting Lesnar. Ambrose suggested that Heyman let the beast off his leash. Heyman said he wants to see Lesnar get his hands on Ambrose, but one of the reasons people should watch WrestleMania is the “main event” with Lesnar against Ambrose. In a previous promo, Heyman said that Lesnar is always the main event. Heyman got down to one knee to plead to Ambrose about not provoking Lesnar. Heyman said that Ambrose is the only one crazy enough to fight Lesnar in a No Holds Barred Street Fight at WrestleMania.
Ambrose said it looks like Lesnar wants to come down there to fight right now. Heyman hyped up WrestleMania being free to new subscribers on WWE Network. He continued to hype up the Lesnar/Ambrose match. Heyman thanked the crowd and Lesnar’s music played as Heyman walked to the back. Lesnar was still on the stage.
Lesnar marched down to the ring. Ambrose opened up his jacket to show that he had a crowbar with him. Lesnar stalked Ambrose around the ring. When Lesnar got on the apron, Ambrose almost hit him, but Lesnar avoided it. More staring from a distance. They just went to break with Lesnar staring at Ambrose.
Analysis: The promos were fine although nothing that we haven’t heard from them before. Heyman pushed the idea that Lesnar is going to save the beating until April 3 while Ambrose wanted it now. It’s a really good feud even though they are both faces and neither guy is getting booed. They are such strong characters that the crowd is invested in it. I’m also fine with no physical altercation here. Save it for another time.
Sin Cara (w/Kalisto) vs. Ryback
Sin Cara’s wearing a black outfit while the US Champion Kalisto has a white outfit. I’m having Sin Cara flashbacks with the different outfits. Ryback overpowered Cara early on. Ryback missed a splash. The crowd isn’t into this very much. Ryback came back with a suplex. Ryback tossed Sin Cara across the ring. The announcers were talking about Ryback showing a spark of greatness. JBL was saying who cares if it looks pretty and entertaining. They should care about the dead crowd. Sin Cara came back with a springboard cross body block for two and then he sent Ryback out of the ring. Suicide dive by Cara takes out Ryback on the floor. Sin Cara went for a slingshot attack, Ryback caught him and hit Shellshock. Ryback stared at Kalisto and hit another Shellshock for the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ryback
Analysis: * A decent match to put over Ryback. The crowd didn’t seem to care about it much. I can’t blame them because they are two performers without anything exciting going on. Ryback’s turning heel without actually doing the full turn while Sin Cara is rarely featured in singles matches.
Post match, Ryback said that’s what happens when a big guy takes on a little guy. He challenged Kalisto for the US Title at WrestleMania.
Analysis: That’s probably going to be a title change at WrestleMania. They seem intent on rebuilding Ryback as a heel.
Stephanie McMahon was shown walking backstage for a promo.
Analysis: We went about 48 minutes without a McMahon.
Stephanie McMahon entered for a promo. The announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton talked about her.
Stephanie welcomed people to Raw and the crowd booed, which led her to say that’s when they should cheer. Did she know we are nearly an hour in? She introduced her husband, the WWE Champion Hunter Hearst Suit Wearing McMahon Helmsley or Triple H for short.
Hunter talked about how Dean Ambrose failed on Saturday at Roadblock. He reminded us that The Authority always wins while telling us that hope is a dangerous commodity and that’s how all of us live our lives. Hunter said that people hope they can be the one that end the reign of The Authority. He spoke about how people hope for things in their life, but then it doesn’t happen and you blame everybody but yourself. This promo feels like a repeat with him talking about how people complain about the authority in our lives. He kept on going on. This promo feels like every Authority promo for the past three years. Then he said that’s why people love Dean Ambrose because he gives you hope and you love Roman Reigns because you hope that Reigns will be the one that becomes the WWE Champion at WrestleMania. Hunter said he guarantees it that just like our lives, he will fail. “I will beat Roman Reigns at WrestleMania because as I have said time and time again…The Authority always wins.”
Dolph Ziggler’s music interrupted and he walked out there in a suit. Stephanie: “Well speaking of failures.” Ziggler spoke about how they couldn’t take anymore of them telling people to know their place. Ziggler said he knows his place is in the ring busting his ass for all of them. She said “how very Cena-esque” of him to pander to the crowd. She told Ziggler his role is in the back, but not out there. Ziggler wondered if she was going to fire him and noted she almost fired him over a tweet. He said that after a while you realize you have nothing left to lose. He knows that his place is here and he said he will not quit. Ziggler couldn’t take anymore of them badmouthing the fans. He noted that he and Ambrose are not failures – they were screwed by the system. Ziggler said that if they want to fire him they can, but he’s not going to quit.
Hunter said they’re not going to fire him and they can see the big picture because the people love him. Hunter urged them to cheer so they did. Hunter called Ziggler a lovable loser like the fans. Hunter suggested that Ziggler doesn’t have to be a loser – maybe he just doesn’t have the right people backing him up and giving him advice. He suggested that maybe Ziggler could get everything he wants out of life. Ziggler said he wouldn’t side with them if they were the last people on Earth. He said he wouldn’t side with his “tyrannical, idiot wife” either. Stephanie slapped him. Stephanie said that if Ziggler wants a WrestleMania match he has to win a match here tonight. Then he can pick any match at WrestleMania except the WWE Title. Stephanie told him he’s not going to win – she’s going to break his spirit. Ziggler said he didn’t care because he won’t quit and told her to name it.
Stephanie put Ziggler in a match with Triple H right here on Raw. Hunter looked a little surprised by it, but then he did a staredown with Ziggler. Fans chanted “yes” for it.
Analysis: I didn't like the repetitiveness of Triple H's promo, but that's the point of it. They wanted Ziggler to get cheered a lot for interrupting, so it worked in that sense. That was a twist I wasn’t expecting with Ziggler out there. He’s one of the most popular guys on the roster, so they can use it as a way to have Triple H work a match with a popular guy and then bring back Roman Reigns later. It’s another way to use another face to help Reigns get cheered just like they used Ambrose for it. I’m just glad Ziggler got promo time and that he’s going to be in a featured match on Raw. He’s been in WWE for over ten years and hasn’t been in a singles match at a WrestleMania. I have my doubts that he will be in one this year.
Later on the show, The Undertaker and Shane McMahon will be there.
The Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens was on commentary for this match. They replayed Sami Zayn on Raw last week and then on Smackdown when Owens avoided him in a tag match.
Sami Zayn vs. The Miz
About one minute into the match, they were outside the ring and Zayn nailed a moonsault off the barricade to knock down Miz. Time for a break.
They exchanged blows in the ring as Owens said anybody would want to challenge him at “KO-Mania.” Miz nailed a DDT on Zayn as Saxton mentioned Owens was eliminated by Zayn at the Royal Rumble, so Owens threatened him. Zayn got a rollup for two and Miz came back with a couple of clotheslines. Zayn nailed clotheslines of his own to start a comeback. Zayn with a cross body block off the top and then a clothesline sent Miz over the top to the floor. Zayn nailed a flip dive over the top to take out Miz. Owens went up to Zayn, but Miz nailed him with a forearm to the back. Back in the ring, Miz got a rollup. Owens distracted Miz, then Miz turned around and Zayn hit a Helluva Kick in the corner that was good enough for the win after about seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sami Zayn
Analysis: *1/2 A short match where about four minutes were shown. I hate when a match so short gets a commercial break. There wasn’t much of a flow to the match because it felt a bit rushed. It’s weird that Zayn won his first Raw on match due to the assist of Owens, but there it is. This seems to be building to a multi-man match for the IC Title, likely a ladder match. I’d prefer Owens vs. Zayn as a singles match although it’s probably going to be saved for a later show.
There was a replay of the League of Nations destroying New Day after the Tag Title Match earlier in the show.
The League of Nations foursome was interviewed by Renee Young backstage. Del Rio said they sent a message that was loud and clear. Rusev said nobody makes fun of them. Sheamus said they were issuing a challenge at WrestleMania. He said if they accept it won’t be comedy – it will be tragedy.
Analysis: There’s a rumor that it might be a 3 on 3 tag match with the Tag Team Titles on the line. I think Barrett won't be in the match on the League of Nations side. We have to wait for that to be confirmed soon.
Brie Bella with her awful song entered with Alicia Fox for a tag match.
There was a video about WWE doing work with Connor’s Cure.
Brie Bella & Alicia Fox vs. Naomi & Tamina
The lovely Lana went down to ringside. The heels worked on Fox, who made the hot tag to Brie about one minute into the match. Brie was on fire with her dropkick and kicks. She hit her Bella Buster faceplant on Tamina for a two count. Naomi broke it up. Lana was on the apron to distract the ref. Tamina and Naomi did a double powerslam on Brie that was good enough for the win. It went about three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Naomi & Tamina
Analysis: 1/2* It was a rushed match where they did the hot tag spot about one minute into it. I feel bad for the girls when they get such little time and are forced to rush to a finish like that. It’s hard to get the fans to care about a story that way.
Post match, Fox confronted Lana outside the ring. Then Naomi and Tamina attacked Fox with a double superkick.
Analysis: There’s likely going to be a divas tag match at WrestleMania on the pre-show. I’m not sure how many women will be in it, but the main story will be about Lana in her first match and Brie probably pinning her to get revenge for this storyline they are doing. Doing a tag will protect Lana since she’s not an experienced in-ring performer. Plus, it gets other women on the show.
The Social Outcasts foursome did a promo backstage. They advertised some Grilled Hot Dogs from Burger King.
Analysis: I hate the deliberate commercial spots, but gotta pay those bills I guess.
Paige was interviewed by Jojo backstage. When Jojo tried to mention Total Divas, Paige talked about how it was WrestleMania season. Lana spoke about how Paige is hanging out with those weak Americans on Total Divas. Paige mentioned that Lana has no friends and has bounced from man to man while not having a match or a championship. Paige said she’d be happy to show her what a real diva does. Naomi and Tamina showed up to support Lana. They suggested that Paige uses her words more wisely because you never know who is listening.
Analysis: Like I said earlier it’s about building to that divas tag match. They can put Paige on the side of Brie and Alicia against Naomi, Tamina and Lana. I’d like to see one more woman on the heel side because Natalya should be there on the face side too.
The Divas Champion Charlotte with her father Ric Flair were interviewed by Renee Young. Charlotte said that when Sasha Banks had her first NXT match, Charlotte was holding her hair because Sasha was throwing up after the match. She talked about how Becky Lynch would wait for somebody to care about her. Flair said that Charlotte knew those girls would be great, but Charlotte knew she had to better and this (the Divas Title) proves it. Renee mentioned that Charlotte requested time on Smackdown and said that this Thursday they’ll learn you can’t run from the past forever. As soon as that ended, Cole wondered what she was talking about.
Analysis: It’s a good idea that they talk about the history between the three women. Whether it’s real history or just storyline, it’s a way to make things more personal, which will help the quality of the feud going into WrestleMania.
The Usos made their entrance for a match.
The Usos vs. Bo Dallas & Adam Rose (w/Curtis Axel & Heath Slater)
The Dudley Boyz were on commentary. Dallas is wrestling in a singlet now. The Usos nailed some superkicks early on. Then they dealt with Slater and Axel on the apron, but they nailed them with superkicks to knock them off the apron. The Dudleys were only on commentary for about one minute before leaving. Kick to the gut by Jimmy on Bo. Then Jimmy nailed a Superfly Splash off the top for the win after about two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
Analysis: * A short match to put over The Usos in order to add more heat to the story with the Dudley Boyz. Like the divas match earlier, it felt very rushed.
Dean Ambrose was in the locker room with Mick Foley while Ambrose was holding a crowbar. Ambrose was shocked that he was there. Foley was there to try to talk some sense into Ambrose. He asked him why he was doing this. Ambrose asked him when he was standing on top of Hell in a Cell right here (in Pittsburgh, PA), was Foley scared? Foley admitted that he was terrified. Ambrose wondered why he kept going and Foley said “because I’m Mick Foley and it’s what I did.” Ambrose said I’m Dean Ambrose and this is what I do. Foley wanted him to take Lesnar on a journey at WrestleMania. Foley tossed aside the crowbar. Foley gave Ambrose a wrapped up red box and left. Ambrose opened it up to reveal a barb wire baseball bat, which Foley used many times in his career. Ambrose was happy to have it.
Analysis: Good segment. Nice to see Foley there. I think something like that would have went over even better in the ring, but I get why they did it that way. Hopefully Ambrose sets the bat on fire at WrestleMania as a way to pay tribute to Foley in that way as well. I’m really excited about the Lesnar/Ambrose match. I’m picking Lesnar to win, but would love to be wrong because it would be huge for Ambrose.
Dolph Ziggler made his entrance at the end of hour two for the match with Triple H.
The WWE Champion Triple H made his entrance with his wife Stephanie McMahon joining him at ringside.
Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon) vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is not for the WWE Title. Hunter got a good luck kiss from his wife. They had a long headlock spot for each guy with the announcers talking about how Triple H did great on Saturday despite time off as they mentioned Michael Jordan winning titles after he retired over 20 years ago. It’s the announcers job to try to tell relevant stories like that, so I don’t mind it. Ziggler got a dropkick. Hunter came back with a back elbow to take him down. Hunter tossed Ziggler into the barricade for the floor to commercial spot of the match.
Hunter was in control of the match as he worked on the left shoulder of Ziggler. When Ziggler did a comeback, Hunter hit him with a high knee to knock him down as Cole called it vintage Triple H. That certainly is a good time to call it vintage. Hunter slammed him down. When Ziggler tried to come back, Hunter threw him out of the ring. Hunter sent Ziggler shoulder first into the steps. Hunter slammed Ziggler’s arm into the steps. There was a really slow pace to this beating as Hunter took his time working him over. He took too long to do an attack off the middle ropes as Ziggler got his foot up to the jaw of Hunter. Ziggler comeback with a running forearms, the Stinger Splash in the corner and a neckbreaker. He grabbed his left arm. Elbow got two for Ziggler. Hunter blocked a superkick, Ziggler avoided a Pedigree and got a jackknife cover for two. Ziggler hit a Fameasser for two. Cole was yelling that Hunter was stunned. Ziggler nailed a leaping DDT for two that was pretty close to being the finish. The crowd bought into those nearfalls while Stephanie was stunned at ringside. Hunter nailed a boot to the face followed by a Spinebuster. Steph was yelling at him to cover, but he was too hurt to do it. Ziggler came back with Superkick, covered with one arm across the chest and Hunter got only his right shoulder up at the count of two. With Hunter outside the ring, Ziggler nailed him with a clothesline to the back. Ziggler was on the apron, Hunter shoved him off and Ziggler went into the barricade. Ziggler countered a Pedigree with a back body drop. Ziggler went for the Zig Zag, Hunter held the ropes to block it and Hunter hit the Pedigree to win after 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Triple H
Analysis: ***1/2 That was awesome. It had an old school feel to it as Triple H proves again he’s still awesome in a big match setting. Of course it helps when you get more than 15 minutes. A very good match where Ziggler was given a lot of offense and looked like he could win the match. That’s a lot better than having Hunter win a match that was about ten minutes shorter. Telling a story in the ring where you work on a body part, have a competitive match and a smart finish is what we want to see more often.
Post match, Roman Reigns’ music hit. Hunter looked into the crowd for him, but Reigns was standing on the entrance ramp. Reigns went into the ring to brawl with Triple H. Fans were booing. Reigns tossed him into the ring post, the barricade and into the announce table multiple times. Most of the crowd was booing. Some of the crowd was cheering, but the boos were definitely louder than the cheers. Reigns tossed Hunter over the announce table. Reigns shoved referee Charles Robinson down when the refs tried to break it up. Reigns kept on punching him as Cole said he’s never seen Reigns like this. Some girl at ringside was screaming and trying to grab Reigns. JBL was saying Reigns should be arrested. Hunter went up the ramp to try to get away as Reigns followed him there. Reigns tossed a box at Hunter by the technical area. They went into the backstage where Reigns tossed Hunter into some doors backstage. Some security guys went after Reigns. Triple H was bleeding from the left side of his head. Reigns kept coming at him and tossed a garbage can at the side of Hunter. Reigns hit Hunter with a TV screen. His cousins The Usos showed up to calm him down. There’s Jack Swagger and Mark Henry too. Reigns stopped as Hunter got away leading to a break.
Analysis: That crowd reaction was so telling. The guy has been gone for a few weeks yet the fans didn’t really miss him. They still booed him. It’s supposed to be something where the crowd feels bad for him after getting beat up, yet it’s not working. I think WWE has to think of the heel turn for Reigns despite their interest in making him the face of the company. If he’s not going to get cheered against a pure heel like Triple H then will he ever get cheered? I’m not sure. Go heel for 6-10 months, then go face and see if it works. I think Vince McMahon is set on having Roman be the next Cena and that doesn't mean he'll turn heel, but sometimes you have to change plans. Listen to your audience.
They aired replays of the attack by Reigns on Triple H.
The announcers plugged all the content on WWE Network in the week leading up to WrestleMania including a Daniel Bryan documentary following his retirement.
It was mentioned that former Women’s Champion Jacqueline is the next inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame. She’s from Dallas as JBL put over her accomplishments. They just showed some clips of her although like with the other HOFers, no video package.
Analysis: She was a good performer for a long time with a solid WWE career as well. I don’t think it’s a particularly strong HOF class, but that’s what will happen when you include so many people every year. The quality goes down a bit. I’m not really a huge fan of the HOF concept or the way WWE does it, but I think it’s big for the people going in. I have respect for the people in the business.
Goldust was shown walking backstage. R-Truth was there in a penguin suit. Goldust noted that he was dressed like that because of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. Truth didn’t know they were in Pittsburgh, which drew a laugh. It led to Truth asking to be his partner. Goldust said no again.
Analysis: My guess at this point is that they are in the battle royal, Goldust and Truth eliminate a couple of guys together and then at that point they realize they would make a great team.
Chris Jericho made his entrance for a match.
Jericho was in the ring telling a kid to shut up and yelled at him about his sign. Jericho complained about the fans choosing AJ Styles over him even though he (Jericho) is one of the greatest performers in this business. Jericho said that Styles is not as good as you think he is and he called him a hack. Then he compared Styles to the fans by insulting him as well as the fans. Jericho claimed that he showed Styles who his daddy is – Jericho. He called himself phenomenal and he’s the best in the world at everything he does. “Do you understand what I’m saying to you right now?” That ended it.
Analysis: It’s late in the show and Jericho was talking fast because he likely wanted to get the entire promo in. It felt like he rushed through that promo. It was good like all of his heel promos, but it was too fast. Jericho busted out his heel catchphrases again, which is always nice.
Chris Jericho vs. Neville
Neville was aggressive early, Jericho bailed to the floor and they went to a break less than one minute into it.
Back from break, Jericho was in control as Saxton questioned JBL for calling Jericho the greatest Canadian ever. It appeared Neville hurt his ankle somewhere in here. Jericho shoved ref Charles Robinson and that led to Robinson disqualifying him.
Winner by disqualification: Neville
Analysis: I have no rating for this. They went to 30 seconds, then a break, back for 30 seconds and it ended in a disqualification.
(UPDATE: It appears Neville hurt his leg, so that's why it ended so abruptly. I didn't realize it on the live viewing. Reports are that it's a broken ankle and broken shin for Neville, which sucks. Read more about it here.)
Post match, Jericho complained about Styles. That led to Styles coming out, hitting the Phenomenal Forearm (jumping off the ropes with a forearm) to knock Jericho down. That was pretty much it.
Analysis: That felt rushed, but that's understandable after the Neville injury. At least it was a chance for Styles to get revenge.
The announce team plugged something about a company getting rid of NBC channels. It doesn’t concern me, so I don’t care.
Main event segment with Undertaker and McMahons coming up.
There’s a divas segment advertised for Smackdown with Charlotte, Paige & Sasha Banks. Plus it says “Roman Reigns?” for Smackdown wondering if he’ll show up. He'll probably beat a League of Nations guy or Kevin Owens in a match. Just a guess.
Main Event McMahons With The Undertaker
Vince McMahon entered for a promo. He complained about the crowd reaction. Does he listen to the crowd when Reigns is out there because they reacted to him with more boos than they did for Vince. It was just a basic promo with Vince talking about the same things he’s gone over in the last couple of weeks. He referenced his 52” chest at one point because he’s really proud of that. Anyway, he called out Undertaker.
The Undertaker made his entrance to a big reaction from the crowd. Vince told Undertaker that he should never put his hands on him again. Undertaker took off his jacket and his heat while doing his creepy faces at Vince. That led to Vince talking about how he knows Undertaker won’t hold back in Hell in a Cell. Vince said that some people may call this an unholy alliance, but Vince thinks this is best for business.
“Here Comes The Money” starts up as Shane McMahon walks down to the ring to confront his WrestleMania opponent, The Undertaker. He said he’s watched an immense amount of footage against Undertaker and figured out how to boot them. He botched a line early on, but then recovered quickly. He spoke about how he’s going to throw his 230 pound body at Undertaker and keep coming because Undertaker knows what he can do. Shane said he’s fighting for the future, for his children and their (the fans) children. He said it’s about the legacy of WWE.
The Undertaker told Shane it’s not going to be enough. Undertaker held up his fists saying these are his legacy. Shane said that he’s shocked that Undertaker is standing around there like a puppet as Vince is pulling the puppet strings. Undertaker said that nobody controls him. Shane said from where he’s standing he sees things differently. He said that he has the misfortune of being Vince‘s son, but he told Undertaker that he is Vince’s bitch.
Undertaker choked Shane, but Shane fought out of it. They threw some punches. It was pretty even. Then Vince shoved Shane in the back right into Undertaker’s grasp. Undertaker nailed a Chokeslam that Shane sold in a big way. Undertaker went after Vince, but Vince ducked out of the way and slipped out of the ring. Vince went up the ramp as Undertaker stared at him while Shane was down. That’s the end of Raw at 11:11pmET.
Analysis: They had about ten minutes to tell the story of Vince acting like Undertaker is going to do what he wants, Undertaker telling him he doesn’t follow orders and then Shane trying to pips off Undertaker by calling him a bitch. It worked in terms of getting reactions from the crowd and doing an ending where Undertaker was made to look strong. The key part to the story is whether Taker really is his own man that won’t follow Vince’s orders or if he is lying to us. I don’t expect the WrestleMania match to be clean at all. I think Shane has to win just because they need to end this Authority angle, but I’m not really sure how they are going to get to that point.
It was a pretty good ending. Not great, but not bad either. It was the first physical altercation with Undertaker and Shane for this story. They need to follow up in future weeks although there’s only two more episodes of Raw left. With Taker as the bigger guy, it’s better if Shane doesn’t get in much offense on him. Save it for the match at WrestleMania.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Dolph Ziggler
2. Triple H
3. The New Day
I cheated and put more than three people. It happens sometimes.
6 out of 10
Last week: 6
2016 Average: 5.64
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 4, 7, 5.5, 6.5
2016 High: 7 (Feb. 22)
2016 Low: 4 (Feb. 29)
I’m giving it a 6 out of 10.
It’s a tough show to rate because there were some quality matches like the tag title match and the Triple H/Ziggler match, but then most of the other matches were pretty forgettable. The main event segment was okay. All in all, it was a slightly above average show.
Then there was the return of Roman Reigns, which failed miserably while producing a reaction that WWE can’t be happy about. Turning Reigns heel at or around WrestleMania would be the right call. Will they do it? I have my doubts.
That Lesnar/Ambrose segment was effective in terms of putting over how fearless Ambrose is. I liked seeing Mick Foley showing up to pass the hardcore torch so to speak with the barb wire bat.
They deserve praise for starting Raw with a promo to start the show instead of the usual promo segment. That’s the kind of thing that has to happen more often because every Raw so far this year started with a promo. It’s important to change it up. What’s even better is they started with an awesome tag title match where The New Day one and looks like they turned face officially after that League of Nations post match attack.
I thought Ziggler was the star of the show because he got to step up with a big promo segment as well as a nearly 20 minute match with Triple H. It sucks that he’s not in a singles match at WrestleMania, but I assume he’ll be in that multi-man match for the IC Title.
In terms of building to WrestleMania matches, they made good progress towards a lot of the matches although several of them aren’t official yet. I know some fans are complaining about that. I don’t think WWE cares too much about announcing everything because they want to build the stories a bit more, which is fine. There are three major matches that they’re going to push heavily. That’s how it is every year.
Should Raw be better at this time of year? Sure. However, it wasn't that bad of a show. There were enough good things to make it above average. Let's hope the next two weeks really crank things up on the road to WrestleMania.
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org
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