3/7 RAW: Road to WrestleMania in full swing

WWE RAW Review
March 8, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

The Road to WrestleMania is making it’s final four major stops in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn, so one would assume the shows would be much better as these are traditionally some of WWE’s best markets. That assumption would be correct. Last night, the first two hours of the show were as good as I’ve seen in quite some time. Those two hours flew by and had some tremendous segments and matches. The third hour fell off the table completely, which is a long established tradition by now, but even that wasn’t totally horrible. It was a good show all around. Let’s talk about what worked and what didn’t.

Shane McMahon is bringing some reality into this storyline

The return of Shane McMahon has certainly shaken up WWE quite a bit. Two weeks ago, Shane returned as a legitimate surprise as really no one was expecting it. Even more unexpected was him being booked into a Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania. It took a WrestleMania that on paper looked to be a disappointment with a main event where the finish seems like a foregone conclusion to an interesting event. By all rights, this is slowly turning into the real main event of the show, even if that’s not where it’s placed on the card.

So far, I’ve found this entire storyline pretty fascinating if for nothing else than the reality they’ve injected into it. Shane came out and talked about how his father is out of touch with the business, the fan base, and reality, three very real criticisms of his father that exist outside the realm of WWE. I thought it was crazy they brought up the sinking ratings, stock price, and attendance when he came back two weeks ago, and they continued it on. Shane also criticized that superstars with no talent are being pushed over superstars that are talented. That’s an interesting statement and one has to wonder just who he is talking about. Shane then talked about watching RAW last week with his three sons and the disappointment they felt over what Vince was saying on television. All in all, it was a pretty intriguing promo I thought, and the crowd was red hot throughout.

Then The Undertaker’s bell tolled, but soon after Vince McMahon’s music played to near nuclear heat. The crowd in Chicago was fired up for a good majority of the night and really added to the show. Vince got a much better reaction than he got last week. Vince was visibly upset over his reaction last week. I have to imagine he was pleased with this reaction. Vince seemed to really enjoy shutting down their attempts to hijack his speech with the ridiculous “CM Punk” chant. Vince then brought out a picture from probably 40 years ago with him and a young Shane going to Shane’s first event in Worcester, Massachusetts. Vince then smashed the photo before talking about how Shane has always been a disappointment. I kind of hope they bring out that clip of Vince McMahon on the Steve Austin Podcast where he didn’t even know in what country Shane was trying to start that video-on-demand company as an example of Vince being an uncaring father. Vince was fantastic here.

Vince then sent out four security guards to get Shane out of the ring. Shane easily dispatched of them and walked off on his own. This was all around a tremendous segment.

Strange build for the actual WrestleMania main event

I titled this section saying that the build for the WrestleMania main event is strange because there was no build for it whatsoever. I get what they’re trying to do. Roman Reigns is arguably one of the weakest performers to ever enter a WrestleMania main event. That’s honestly a point that is inarguable. I’m not going to go into all the reasons right now, as I’d just be repeating many things I’ve said for the last year and a half. Now it appears they’re keeping him off television and barely even mentioning him in an attempt to make people want to see him come back, but that’s a gamble. The very few times Dean Ambrose or Triple H mentioned his name garnered either boos or very little reaction at all from the crowd. The cities don’t get any easier in the coming weeks. It’s just strange that they’re picked now of all times to keep him off television, but to barely mention him is even stranger. They aren’t even airing any hype packages for him or showing any commercials really promoting the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. I guess you could say they’re focused on WWE Road Block this Saturday, but that’s just some meaningless WWE Network special. It’s certainly not WrestleMania. Is there something more to it than meets the eye?

There was also no build for Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar. I get that Brock Lesnar isn’t going to be on every show, but couldn’t they send Paul Heyman out there to have a promo battle with Ambrose? It’s just totally bizarre to me that two big WrestleMania matches are not getting any build at this point. The back and forth between Ambrose and Triple H was fine, but it felt like they were just filling time. Their match at Road Block should be quite good. Here’s a strange thought. Could Roman Reigns return at Road Block to save Ambrose from a beating after he loses the match? This event should draw more of a house show crowd, which is vastly different from a regular television audience. You always see those reports talking about how over Reigns is at house shows and then watch TV and he’s booed mercilessly. If he comes back there, he’d probably get a huge pop that they could replay on RAW as validation for him being the guy. Then again, it’s Canada and he could be booed out of the building regardless of it being a house show.

Quick Thoughts

The Kevin Owens/Neville match was just fantastic. This was the match they should always have. They just need to be given time. That’s exactly what they got on this past episode of RAW. There was a ton of action and a lot of fun spots. Owens won with a handful of tights. As Owens was attacking Neville after the match, Sami Zayn came out to a massive pop to make the save. Starting Zayn off on the main roster with a feud against Owens only benefits the two men and the people that view it. It’s win-win all around.

Brie Bella vs. Summer Rae was pretty sloppy and uninteresting. Things picked up after the match with Lana coming out in the attire she wore during that ill-fated Dolph Ziggler/Lana/Rusev love triangle angle and attacked Bella. She laid her out with the Bella Buster, which the commentators didn’t bother to call. They didn’t even realize it was Bella’s move until a few minutes later. If the goal is to have Shane McMahon be a face authority figure for RAW, he’d be instantly over if he disbanded this terrible three-man crew. I’m not even sure why it’s a three-man crew. What does Byron Saxton add to this? I digress.

The League of Nations defeated Dolph Ziggler in an elimination tag match where, of course, King Barrett was the only one eliminated for the heel team. This was punishment for a tweet Ziggler put up earlier in the day about The Authority. Next!

Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch beat Naomi and Tamina in an uneventful tag match, but the post match attack by Charlotte was well done. This triple threat, if given time on the WrestleMania card, could be tremendous.

This may not be the quickest thought. I have to say that the WWE Tag Team Championships match was the best match given on free TV this year so far. It’s by far the best match on RAW in quite some time. This was just pure fun, punctuated by a wonderful performance from AJ Styles. Some of the near falls Styles had, including a springboard 450 splash, had me on the edge of my seat thinking Y2AJ was going to become the champions. There was great drama in this and awesome action. The finishing sequence with Chris Jericho, who is not showing any ill effects of his 45 years on earth, and Big E was fantastic as well. After the match, the event everyone was waiting for happened: Chris Jericho turned heel on AJ Styles. Styles took three great Codebreakers and sold them really well by viciously snapping himself down onto the mat. After this match, I kind of wish Y2AJ had a few more matches, but a fourth match between them at WrestleMania will have to suffice. Styles is really fitting in on the WWE roster.

Kalisto beat Tyler Breeze in a match where the result was never in question. I think I say this every time Breeze has a match on RAW: I really feel bad for that guy. Ryback confronted Kalisto after the match in what I thought was a poorly delivered promo. This was where the third hour started falling apart in my view.

Ryback annihilated Curtis Axel of The Social Outcasts this week. I still think the ground and pound should be the finish now. I’m not sure why the referee doesn’t start counting on him to get off the guy. They need to treat that as more of a shoot.

Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt had a very good main event, but the crowd was noticeably tired by this point. They certainly worked hard and pulled the crowd into it. Eventually The Wyatt Family interfered and caused the disqualification. Triple H came out to pick the scraps and actually had a really cool face-to-face with Bray Wyatt. Wyatt looked at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship before leaving Triple H to Ambrose. Ambrose then surprised him with Dirty Deeds and held the title high to end the show. This was a good angle.

Overall impression

Other than a great angle featuring the return of Shane McMahon, the last two weeks of RAW haven’t felt anything like they were gaining momentum heading into WrestleMania. This week certainly changed that perspective. With the next three weeks going to be in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn on the horizon, I expect this trend to continue. No matter how the Roman Reigns return goes, whether he’s received back with welcome arms by the crowd or booed mercilessly, this WrestleMania should be fine as it will survive off this really intriguing angle with The Undertaker and The McMahons. What a bizarre, out of the box pairing, and it’s exactly the shot in the arm this company has needed.

Bump of the Night: Neville’s shooting star press to the floor!
Match of the Night: WWE Tag Team Championships match *** 1/4

Final Rating: *** 3/4

Well those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting or using one of the other two options to get in contact with me.

E-Mail – MikeyT817@gmail.com
Twitter – @MikeTedescoWV

Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Please check out my live recap of RAW every Monday at 8 PM EST.

Thanks for reading!

Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Monday Night RAW for Wrestleview.com.