2/16 RAW: Good build for WWE Fastlane

Mike Tedesco’s RAW Review
February 17, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

This show was definitely another long RAW, but along the way we got some good stuff for the main feuds heading into WWE Fastlane. After some really poor storytelling in the Daniel Bryan/Roman Reigns feud, they finally got them back on track. Some may say it’s too little too late, but I think all it’ll take is a very good match on Sunday to make the previous few weeks a distant memory. We also had another good segment for the Triple H/Sting feud, this time with the legendary Ric Flair. 

John Cena gets even with Rusev before WWE Fastlane

John Cena, who for some reason in this feud with Rusev has been characterized as someone who is an old man past his prime (something which they mercifully didn’t concentrate on this week), proved that he has a lot of fight left in him when he knocked Rusev for a loop last night. Rusev and Lana had been talking about how Cena has no fight in him and isn’t the same man he once was, so they had a brawl where Cena dominated him and knocked him out cold it seemed like. While I’m not a huge fan of Rusev being completely knocked out (I’d have preferred for him to retreat like a coward), it’s good for the audience to see Rusev can be taken down. I don’t think Cena is ending the undefeated streak on Sunday, but I do see him winning the match by disqualification to set up a return match for WrestleMania. I guess that’s a spoiler for my predictions column on Sunday.

It was also nice to see the entire crowd get behind Cena. They responded well to him throwing fists and being aggressive rather than goofy. They were even counting along as he mounted Rusev and slowly delivered right hand after right hand to him. At first they were mixed, especially during his promo, but when he turned up the aggressiveness, they all rallied around him. There may be something to Cena being more aggressive…

Dean Ambrose continues to seek an IC Title shot

WWE took a moment to congratulate Saturday Night Live on its 40th anniversary. They then did a skit where Dean Ambrose was pretending to audition for Weekend Update. I have to give Ambrose a lot of credit. More often than not, the stuff they give him is incredibly goofy, but he somehow makes it work and gives it his all. This Weekend Update audition was just ok, but it did lay the groundwork for what he would do later in the night. Ambrose said Bad News Barrett would sign the contract for the Intercontinental Championship match at WWE Fastlane whether he liked it or not.

Ambrose then fought Luke Harper in what turned out to be a pretty decent match. They went back and forth with a couple of neat spots. One part I loved was Ambrose going for that rebound clothesline only for Harper to counter into a spinning side slam for a near fall. Ambrose would eventually hit the rebound clothesline and followed up with Dirty Deeds for the win. I have to say that I love Luke Harper. I wish they were doing more with him, but maybe he’s just going to exist until after WrestleMania. Hopefully he’ll play a larger role as the year progresses. This guy is an amazing big man.

It has finally happened: Gold and Stardust are no more

After years of teasing this angle and never actually happening, they finally pulled the trigger on the Goldust and Stardust (Cody Rhodes) feud. It was pretty academic that this would happen last night when they announced Dusty Rhodes would be there. Before their match against The New Day, Dusty gave them a little pep talk to get them on the same page. Then they went out there and lost to The New Day in a nothing match. Stardust ducked Trouble in Paradise from Kofi Kingston, allowing Goldust to get smashed instead. After the match, Stardust helped Goldust up, and they hugged in the ring. Then Stardust grabbed him and gave him Cross Rhodes to kick off their feud. The crowd was pretty dead for this. It’s probably because the writing staff has so poorly handled them. They went heel out of nowhere, turned face out of nowhere, teased dissention out of nowhere, and now they’re split up. It also doesn’t help that this crowd was generally dead the entire evening – at least it came off that way on TV.

After that, Dusty Rhodes caught up with Stardust backstage. Stardust said that he was no longer Cody Rhodes and his father was dead to him. I don’t feel like this is a feud deserving of being on a WrestleMania card. Maybe they’ll announce it as happening at WWE Fastlane on Smackdown? Of course, if they want it for WrestleMania, they’ve got a few weeks to build some interest around it.

For the love of god, no more Kane in the main event

Am I the only one that rolls their eyes whenever they announce at the start of the show Big Show or Kane or both will be in action in a main event? It’d be one thing if they were having good matches, but they haven’t. Almost every one of their matches have been substandard and boring. They’re way past their prime, which doesn’t help things either. Mercifully, at least Big Show and Kane were switched for Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns. I don’t think I could have sat through another Bryan/Kane match or a Reigns/Big Show match. At least WWE helped us out in that way.

I have to give credit where credit is due. I really liked the promo Roman Reigns cut before this match where he talked about his current situation. Reigns seemed comfortable, and I loved the line about Daniel Bryan being less of a man for not taking the elimination from the Royal Rumble well. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Reigns cut a very good promo.

The match Reigns had against Kane, through no fault of his own, wasn’t all that great. During the podcast with Stone Cold Steve Austin a few weeks back, Triple H called Kane a constant and underrated. Maybe that was true of Kane through most of his career, but at the ripe age of 47 and pushing 48, he is constantly putting on lackluster performances and, unfortunately, very overrated now. Daniel Bryan was on commentary for this, and he was distracting Reigns by getting the crowd to do the “YES!” chant, which most of the crowd did. I don’t like that Bryan’s character has morphed into this cartoon that just screams “YES!” over and over again. The substance and edge he had last year is missing from the build this year. Of course, that’s all booking. It was interesting to not that Bryan said on commentary, “When’s the last time you’re seen me get disqualified or counted out?” That would play into the main event later on. Could it also be foreshadowing the match on Sunday? I can’t remember the last time a PPV main event ended by count-out. I don’t think that’d be a good finish and would probably turn the Memphis crowd nuclear. Anyway, Kane did take a nice bump outside the ring on the spear, and Reigns won by count-out. Bryan then stole his thunder and started a “YES!” chant. I don’t know why they’re protecting Kane from being defeated by Reigns, but if they’re setting something up for the PPV, I guess I can understand it. Maybe they’re showing Reigns has no problem winning matches cheaply.

Paige disappoints many by wearing clothes to wrestle

Moments before she was set to compete, the Bella Twins were seen coming out of the Divas’ Locker Room holding Paige’s gear. What she was doing out of her gear moments before she was supposed to compete is another question. Paige came out in a towel and grabbed one of the Rosebuds. She then wrestled her match in what I guess was a fairy costume. The story is she is over being upset by The Bella Twins’ attempts to humiliate her. I think all they did was spray her with spray tan for a moment. Not exactly the most humiliating thing ever. I have to say that Summer Rae is really bad in the ring. I don’t remember her being like this in NXT.

Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler continue to have problems

Seth Rollins was due up to face Dolph Ziggler next, but he started off with a promo about how he didn’t like President’s Day because it celebrates the past. He’d rather recognize the future. This wasn’t a bad promo at all. Dolph Ziggler came out next because Rollins was running him down as well as Ryback and Erick Rowan. Ziggler made fun of Rollins before insinuating that he had a bad Valentine’s Day. I was waiting for Ziggler to make a line about Rollins’ Twitter troubles last week, but he held from it. Ziggler strongly hinted at it though.

The match itself started during the commercial break. It was kept very short, but from what I saw, it was good. J&J Security was ejected from ringside, but the ran down to cause the disqualification moments before Ziggler picked up the win. They’re going to have a rematch on Smackdown, but I’m thinking it’ll be more of the same. Ryback and Erick Rowan made the save. I’m thinking it’ll be a six-man tag team match. Perhaps Rollins and Ziggler will just have a singles match at WWE Fast Lane, and that’ll be the return of Randy Orton.

Triple H and Ric Flair have a very good segment

Triple H was out to talk about going face-to-face with Sting on Sunday when he was interrupted by Ric Flair’s music. Flair was very good here. Flair did a great job putting over both Triple H and Sting. This was probably the best showing Flair has had in WWE in years.

The one thing I had to laugh at was Triple H insinuated that since the demise of WCW, Sting has disappeared. Of course they’re not going to acknowledge his TNA tenure; that’s not why it was funny. The funny thing was Flair warned Triple H not to take Sting lightly and also criticized him for not being a full time wrestler while being the COO. Flair said that time off is a wrestler’s worst enemy. Triple H hasn’t wrestled since WWE Payback. If they’re serious about their timeline, then Sting hasn’t wrestled since March 2001. Should Triple H take that seriously? Still, I get what Flair was trying to do. Triple H wound up shoving Flair down and saying that Sting tried to take away what’s most important to him, and no one will get in his way to get to Sting. This was a very good segment that I suggest you go out of your way to see.

Oh, I almost forgot – the Prime Time Players are back

Darren Young was out with some guy – literally some guy because they never announced his name – to face The Ascension, but they got the tar kicked out of them before the match even began. That led to Titus O’Neal running down to make the save for Young. I can see why they’re reuniting this team since we just lost Gold and Stardust and we’ll soon be losing The Miz and Damien Mizdow, so we need tag teams… only they broke up Slater Gator to do this. They actually didn’t wind up replacing anything. Who will Heath Slater team up with now? I’m actually interested to see because I believe that guy can team with anyone and make it interesting and fun.

The Miz teaches Damien Mizdow some more tough love

The Miz asked Bad News Barrett to give Damien Mizdow some tough love to get him back in line with him. The Miz did what he did last week, which was force Mizdow to perform menial tasks in the middle of his match. This cost him the match against Barrett, but they couldn’t follow up on any more tension with Miz and Mizdow because Dean Ambrose ran in there to attack Barrett. Ambrose tied Barrett to the ring post with zip ties, and I had to cringe. I saw “Fifty Shades of Grey” over the weekend (the joys of the engaged man), so I’ll never look at zip ties the same way again. Ambrose then forced Barrett to hold a pen and sign the contract. That’s one way to make a match official…

Another good showing from a thrown together feud

I’ve really liked almost all of the interactions between Tyson Kidd, Cesaro and Natalya with The Usos and Naomi, except for that dining room attack. Jimmy Uso and Cesaro had a really good singles match a few weeks back and the tag match last week wasn’t half bad. These two teams have really taken a feud that I didn’t have high hopes for and made it entertaining. In this one, the story was Tyson Kidd didn’t want to face Jimmy Uso, so he had Natalya do all the work against Naomi. Kidd ultimately wound up “accidentally” costing Natalya the match before berating her. Just good, simple fun. The divas worked hard in this and really put on a good little showing. I’m really looking forward to seeing this match on Sunday. I just hope it’s given time.

Bray Wyatt continues to tease a feud with The Undertaker

Throughout the night, they aired vignettes of Bray Wyatt talking about someone whose soul is in limbo and isn’t that scary anymore. While doing those promos, he was first holding a nail, then a hammer, and finally he was hammering the nail into what appeared to be a coffin. It’s very good stuff by Wyatt, and I’m interested to see if/when The Undertaker responds. I have a feeling we won’t actually see much of The Undertaker during the build. It could just be lights going out and thunder in the arena, but no actual Undertaker until WrestleMania.

For the love of god, no more Big Show in the main event

See above to the Kane match for the reason I put this little tagline there. I really believe it’s hard for Daniel Bryan to have a bad match against anyone, but Big Show and Kane are doing their best to make sure it happens. Roman Reigns was at ringside for this. They smartly didn’t have him on commentary. Reigns was supposed to do something to distract Bryan to get even for what happened earlier in the night, but because creative has really crapped the bed on handling Reigns, his reactions are almost completely dead. It looked like Reigns had to solicit to give people autographs. I’m not sure how signing autographs and throwing t-shirts in the crowd was supposed to properly distract Bryan, but it did, which makes Bryan look like a goof.

Near the end of the match, Bryan and Reigns got into a shoving match outside the ring, which led to Big Show inadvertently spearing Reigns at ringside. That was a nasty looking bump Reigns took. Bryan looked primed to pick up the win on Big Show, but Reigns came in and punched Big Show to cause the disqualification. Earlier in the night, Bryan bragged about never being disqualified, so there’s that.

Bryan took exception to Reigns costing him the match, so he gave him a missile dropkick. They then started a brawl, but the referees quickly broke it up. The crowd was dead for that, and I was cringing at the thought of them ending the show like that. Then Bryan and Reigns started brawling again, and it got really good. They spilled into the crowd, in the timekeeper’s area, and over the commentary table. The crowd wasn’t red hot for it, but they definitely got more into it. The end results saw Reigns bleeding from the mouth and Bryan looking psychotic. It was a very good visual to end the show on and definitely something exciting to think about heading into the PPV on Sunday.

Overall impression

It was definitely another one of those RAWs where it really dragged at certain points, but they accomplished the goal of building up hype for the feuds they’re really concentrating on. The Bryan/Reigns match looks like it’s going to be a good one, and the Triple H/Sting confrontation sounds very interesting. In that aspect, this was a solid show, but to me it still doesn’t feel like it’s WrestleMania season.

Bump of the Night: Big Show spearing Roman Reigns at ringside!
Match of the Night: Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper **

Final Rating: ***

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

Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Be sure to check out my Smackdown recap this Thursday!

Also check out my predictions for WWE Fastlane, which will be up this Sunday!

Thanks for reading!

Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.