Raw kicks off with a rarity, a match! The crowd is amped up fast as The New Day hit the ring, promoting Booty-Os. Love it. Please make it real. Tonight, Xavier Woods and Big E. Langston defend the Tag Team Championships against Rusev and Alberto del Rio, who, in my opinion looked far better than their stable-mates Wade Barrett and Sheamus last night. At certain points, I almost believed Rusev and del Rio were going to win. Xavier is on fire in the ring, and I jumped when Big E. pulled a Brock and started throwing Rusev around with multiple belly-to-belly and belly-to-back suplexes. With a short brawl on the outside distracting Rusev, Woods rolled up the Russian, tights pulled for the three-count. The crowd popped huge. We love it when they cheat, because we don’t care that they cheat. We love the New Day.
Post match, all four members of the League of Nations completely overwhelm The New Day in typical heel fashion, with no one coming out to make the save as each member hit their finishing move.
Dean Ambrose cuts a promo for our second segment, showing humility and owning his loss last night. He is cut off by Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar, reminding the Lunatic Fringe of his upcoming match with Lesnar in a No Holds Barred Street Fight. Some funny banter between Heyman and Ambrose, you know, because Lesnar has gone mute. They tease a pre-mania fight, but Ambrose brandishes a crowbar and Lesnar backs off.
Next up, Ryback demolishes Sin Cara, then predictably challenges Kalisto for the United States Championship at WrestleMania. I like this new gimmick from Ryback. Would prefer less talking, more beating and leaving the ring.
In the confusing moment of the evening, a segment sponsored by Burger King promoting their Burger Dogs or whatever, WWE shows a highlight reel of famous “Dogs” in history, “Mad Dog” Vachon, Junkyard Dog, and The Road Dogg. Oy vey.
I think Stephanie forgot to turn her clock forward, because she welcomes us to Monday Night RAW. It’s 9pm Steph, show has been on for an hour. She introduces Triple H, who cuts a promo about Dean Ambrose being a loser, and the fans for being losers for having this false hope that Dean Ambrose would have gone to defend the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. He then spends the next five minutes running down the live crowd and audience at home for having false hope throughout life, starting for being a fool out of college, getting a crap job, having a piss-poor living, ultimately getting fired and losing family and friends, ultimately living alone in a run-down apartment with nothing left but an empty bottle. Or something to that effect. Triple H then ranks on Ambrose some more, then turns to bashing Roman Reigns about being the next failure.
Suddenly, Dolph Ziggler interferes. He points out how he will never quit despite Stephanie threatening him, and how much he loves this business and the fans. Steph, in a funny moment, calls Ziggler very Cena-esque. Ziggler responds that The Authority has gone too far and is completely off the rails. Triple H tells Steph not to fire him, because he is a “lovable loser” who fans relate to. Steph lays on the “hope is lost” pretty heavy with Ziggler, threatening to leave him out of WrestleMania should he not win his match tonight… against Triple H.
I’ll just leave that right there. Dolph Ziggler vs. Triple H. Huh. Did not expect that.
After that left-field segment, we get The Miz versus Sami Zayn, with Kevin Owens at ringside. Short match with an odd ending, seeing Miz get distracted by Kevin Owens, allowing Zayn to pick up the win. Lots of teasing for Zayn vs. Owens at WrestleMania. Keep in mind we seem to have Miz and Neville in the shadows as potential opponents for Owens as well, giving me more reason to believe we will get a multi-man match at Mania, and with this crowd, the stipulation can be only one thing… Ladder Match!
Tamina and Naomi defeat Brie Bella and Alicia Fox thanks to interference by Lana. Look, I am all for having Lana appear on my television, I am sure JBL, Cole, and Saxton had no complaints with her sitting on their announce table during the match, but if we get Lana vs. Brie at WrestleMania, I may cry. This will be a waste. Unless Lana is REALLY good.
Speaking of wastes, The Social Outcasts had a segment promoting more of this Burger King Beef Dog or whatever the hell it is called. Supposed to be funny, but forced, and failed. The tragedy here is the Social Outcasts actually CAN be funny, but their humor should not be wasted on bull like this.
Backstage: Lana interrupts Paige’s interview, and when Paige seems to get hot, Naomi and Tamina suddenly show up. So, now I am thinking a Six-Woman Tag Match at WrestleMania?
The Usos defeat The Social Outcasts. Very short match, Dudleys watch from the entrance ramp. Meh.
Backstage: Dean Ambrose standing around, until MICK FOLEY arrives to give him a pep talk. They talk about crazy moments, and it comes down to Mick Foley taking away the crowbar, and presenting Dean Ambrose with a “Passing of the Torch” gift… A Barbed Wire Baseball Bat.
I have said it over and over, and this just puts the ol’ seal of approval. Dean Ambrose IS the Mick Foley of this era. Mick Foley approved.
We get our match between Dolph Ziggler and Triple H. A great match, and plays out very similarly to last night, where Ziggles gets near fall after near fall, but just can’t pin The Game. The end comes after a failed Zig Zag attempt turned into a Pedigree. Great match, and a reminder of why Ziggler is desperately needed to get a push. He sold everything Triple H threw at him.
Except, the moment the match ended, the familiar unoriginal theme of Roman Reigns hits, and the crowd goes between dead silent and comatose. I am not making this up. I am not being mean. This is what happened. Reigns and Triple H brawl all over the place. Yawn.
What SHOULD have happened, is the music hitting first, distracting Triple H which would allow Ziggler to then achieve victory and his spot at WrestleMania, and then after the match is over Reigns would charge out and attack the WWE Champion. But nope, Ziggler has to lose.
The brawl continues backstage when Reigns bashes a flat-screen television across Triple H and is about to cause more damage until a bunch of referees, The Usos, Mark Henry, and Jack Swagger calm Reigns down. Hey! Mark Henry and Jack Swagger get screen time!
Announcement: Jacqueline is the next female to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Another awkward segment between R-Truth and Goldust, with Truth now trying to play nice guy and offer to tag with Goldy, but since he continues to be offended, Goldust declines. R-Truth is in a penguin suit this week. Next week, he will dress up as a slab of meat and be devoured by wolves, hopefully ending this horrible, horrible angle, even worse than the time ex-referee Tim White tried to kill himself anytime he was approached by Josh Matthews. Then again, anyone approached by Josh Matthews attempted suicide, which might explain TNA’s current state of affairs.
Neville earns a win over Chris Jericho, when Y2J gets himself DQ’d by shoving the ref. From what it looked like, Neville may have gotten hurt and this was a way to end it quickly. Not sure when exactly it happened, but it seemed Neville suddenly couldn’t put pressure on his foot. That could be bad.
Heel Jericho is Awesome Jericho. Telling fans to shut up and eat their signs, really going after the live crowd is great to see. It’s something he pulls off very well. AJ Styles then hits the ring and clobbers the Ayatollah of Rock-and-Rolla.
Our final segment of the night features The Undertaker having a serious sit down with Shane and Vince McMahon about their personal problems. I did not know The Undertaker was a Licensed Psychotherapist. Vince is out first, and once again, states the Undertaker is HIS instrument. This is just too weird. When did Vince suddenly take “control” of the Deadman? Does he have another Urn?
Vince brings out The Undertaker, who does his long entrance. As Vince blathers on, Shane McMahon comes out, flubs some lines, and then finally asks the question we all have been wondering, is whether Undertaker “is Vince’s bitch.” This prompts the brawl to begin, culminating with Shane eating a chokeslam, when Vince pushes him into the Deadman’s grasp. However it seemed ‘Taker was going to do the same to Vince, however the chairman escapes as the show goes off the air.
Very peculiar show. We had a number of WrestleMania matches made or at least begun their origins. Seemed like a fast show with a lot of short matches. Not a bad show, but not a great one either. Felt a bit rushed at times and some segments just felt dragged out. Very odd mix.