WWE RAW Review
March 1, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
So apparently it’s WrestleMania season in WWE. This is usually a time of the year when storylines are pretty strong and people are really getting excited about the biggest event of the year coming up. Last week it got off to a hot start with the surprise return of Shane McMahon and the startling announcement that he was going to face The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell with control of WWE on the line, but as is usually the case, all excitement has come to a skidding halt. Watching last night’s marathon RAW, I just got the impression that all storylines created for WrestleMania are good enough for a three week build, but they had to fit them into six weeks of build. That was highly evident with The Undertaker’s segment last night. As for building to the actual WrestleMania main event, that was nonexistent last night.
Will absence make the heart grow fonder for Roman Reigns?
WWE seems to be taking a gamble and keeping Roman Reigns off television with an injury in hopes that people will miss him and pop big for him when he comes back. For the second year in a row, they’re taking a chance on Roman Reigns, who has been earmarked since 2012 to be the next “guy.” Will it work? I guess time will tell. It certainly can’t hurt. Given how awfully they’ve booked Reigns throughout this entire year and a half build, maybe keeping him off television will work. I remember when he went down with hernia surgery back in September 2014, when he came back in December that year, the pop was gigantic. Then he cut that unfortunate promo later in the evening when he stumbled over his words saying he’d be in the Royal Rumble. It was all downhill from there. I’d guess he’ll be back in a week or two to go into the final push. They’ve got some tough cities coming up in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. I’m anxious to see how he does there.
Going back to last night’s RAW, it felt like a placeholder with stuff just thrown out there for the heck of it. It’s been 540 days since RAW opened up with a wrestling match, or nearly a year and a half. If they wanted to give the Divas some credence heading into WrestleMania, they could have used that match to kick off the show. Then again, with how awful that ending was, maybe that wouldn’t have been that great. Still, it had to be better than the opening of the show with yet another long, boring promo about how The Authority is great and everyone else is a loser. Triple H went off on Roman Reigns a bit and hoped for a “Roman” chant, but that never took off.
Finally, Dean Ambrose interrupted him. Ambrose and Triple H awkwardly shoehorned some Academy Awards references that felt completely forced before Ambrose said that Triple H was afraid he’d win at Fastlane. Triple H then said he never considered Ambrose a factor in the match, which is the actual thinking everyone else thought going into that match. They were proven correct. Triple H then laughed at Ambrose wanting a title shot and said he’d let him know by the end of the show after Ambrose faces Alberto Del Rio.
The main event with Ambrose and Del Rio was pretty good and easily the best match on the show. Triple H came out to distract Ambrose before signaling to the League of Nations to destroy him. Triple H then came in to talk trash, but Ambrose punched back at him to a big pop from the crowd. Triple H then flattened him with a Pedigree and accepted the challenge, though he didn’t say when it would happen. It was later revealed that the match will take place on the WWE Network live special from Toronto. Ambrose then sarcastically thanked Triple H, which prompted him to come back and viciously assault Ambrose. The WWE was ok with Reigns getting some color last week. I think they should have done that again with Ambrose tonight. If you’ve got a guy punching away at another guy’s forehead over and over again, don’t you think he’d eventually draw blood from him? I’m not a huge fan of blood, but used in the right spot, it’s powerful. Last night’s closing angle could have used it.
Still, seeing and hearing how well Ambrose connects with the crowd, despite constantly being destroyed in almost all of his segments, it just screams to me just how wrong WWE got it when choosing who to run with from The Shield. Ambrose is over in a big way. We’ll see how it plays out in the coming weeks.
The Undertaker returns and nothing happens
There was a lot of excitement about The Undertaker’s return. Many people were wondering what his explanation was for going into a Hell in a Cell match to help out Vince McMahon. It turns out his explanation was no explanation at all. Undertaker just came, said Shane’s blood would be on Vince’s hands, and then left. That was just plain, flat out awful. So anticlimactic.
It’s a shame that was the big news coming out of that segment because it was sandwiched in between two great speeches from Vince McMahon. McMahon was great talking about how unbelievable it would be for Shane to beat The Undertaker and then closed off by saying that he’ll disown Shane and write him out of his will when he loses. Shane will just be a son of a bitch. That was great stuff, but it was lost in the disappointing appearance from The Undertaker. This is why I feel they’re just stretching this out as much as they can. This storyline doesn’t have the legs to stand in a six-week build.
Stephanie McMahon also had a phenomenal promo earlier in the evening. She was going to finish her acceptance speech for the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award, but she lost her cool when the crowd was booing too much. Stephanie then cut an incredible promo that probably had a lot of reality in it. She talked about how her brother thinks he’s entitled to inherit WWE just because he’s the son and that his sons will inherit it over her daughters. There was a lot of passion in her voice when talking about who would get what. You should definitely go out of your way to check out that promo. I’ve felt that Stephanie has just been coasting with awful material and delivery for a few months now, quite a fall from how good she was in 2014. This was a real return to form.
The Divas match was just an abomination. The double pin Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks did in NXT was creative. This was brutal. Sasha successfully executes a sunset flip powerbomb… and knocks herself out? Are you kidding me?
I guess they’re building up The Miz to be in some multi-man match at WrestleMania by having him beat Dolph Ziggler. The match was a nothing match. It was over before it even got started.
It’s getting old to watch Kalisto get the Rey Mysterio treatment. They only let the guy win in title defenses. Other than that, he loses and gets destroyed. The same thing happened last night. Either run with him as a United States Champion and bring back the open challenge (which would be a good thing) or give the title back to Del Rio and be done with him.
I really liked the new edge they gave to Ryback. Does anyone remember that old ground finisher from WrestleMania 2000 when you could mount the guy and punch him until he submits? That’s what it felt like to me watching Ryback do that to Adam Rose. That should have ended the match.
I’m not sure what they’re doing with Chris Jericho and AJ Styles being a tag team. I was really hoping for a Styles vs. Kevin Owens match at WrestleMania. I guess we’ll see what happens when they have their WWE Tag Team Title opportunity next week. Maybe Owens will interfere. In all likelihood, they’ll probably all be in a multi-man match for the Intercontinental Title. It just feels like a waste of AJ Styles.
The Dudley Boyz vs. The Usos must continue.
I guess at some point before WrestleMania, Big Show will face Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship. I have to say it’s really getting bad to see them throw out so many big moves as just regular moves. Owens gave Big Show a nasty looking tornado DDT on the floor and that wasn’t the finish. In fact, Big Show won by count-out and didn’t sell the move whatsoever. There’s too many big moves just being thrown out there for no reason in all matches. It’s just not good for wrestling to not sell anything. It’s been hurting the genre for years. It just really struck me watching a guy who is 500-pounds be spiked on his head on the floor and then still win the match. It’s just careless. And I’m sorry, if you have an argument against that, you flat out don’t understand wrestling. It’s simulated combat. You drop a guy on his head on concrete he’ll be feeling the effects of that. There is no argument against it.
I guess we’ll be seeing a Brie Bella vs. Lana match in the near future. That should be… interesting.
Congratulations to The Fabulous Freebirds on going into the WWE Hall of Fame. It’s been a long time coming for probably the greatest tag team in wrestling history.
This was another one of those episodes of RAW that was three hours, but it felt like nine. They just didn’t have enough to fill the entire show, which is startling because it’s WrestleMania season. The atmosphere should be electric for all of these shows, but this just felt like any other RAW. The things that one could get excited about like The Undertaker’s return ended in disappointment with no storyline advancement. The next four weeks should be pretty good with cities that historically have great crowds. We’ll see if WWE can present something worthy of those crowds.
Bump of the Night: Big Show getting spiked on his head on the floor
Match of the Night: Dean Ambrose vs. Alberto Del Rio **
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.
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.