WWE RAW Review
March 16, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
This past Monday’s episode of RAW was certainly newsworthy for a number of things. A long and brutal streak was finally ended, one half of the WrestleMania main event returned to yet another disappointing crowd reaction, and the WrestleMania card itself is becoming much clearer. Was it a good show or mediocre? Let’s review!
The long and painful streak ends at 553 days
Yes, it’s finally happened. A streak that no one wanted to have started a year and a half ago when I was but a young and naïve unmarried man has finally come to an end. The streak of Monday Night RAW starting with a long (and often boring) talking segment rather than a wrestling match has come to a close. The last time RAW opened up with a match was September 8, 2014 when Bray Wyatt took on Chris Jericho in what was a very good Steel Cage match. To be fair, there have been times on occasion that RAW opened up with a John Cena US Open Invitational (which they really should bring back for whoever is the United States Champion), but that was often preceded by a fifteen minute promo followed by 30-seconds of action. It’s hard to claim that RAW opened up with a wrestling match when that’s the criteria.
This past Monday, the show opened up with Big E’s boisterous, animated voice announcing the arrival of The New Day. I didn’t immediately get my hopes up as creative has been known to leave The New Day out there for far too long doing comedy, but they kept it short and to the point. After a quick promo, The League of Nations made their entrance, and the action was on. Streak over! The match itself was actually very good. It started slowly, but it built nicely to a fun finishing sequence. I’m not huge on them winning by having Xavier Woods pin Rusev with a handful of tights, but I guess they did that because a.) The New Day hasn’t really ever “turned” and b.) there has to be come kind of disputed finish to (in theory) make people want to see this match again at WrestleMania. The beat down by The League of Nations after the match was effective as well, but the crowd was pretty quiet during that. I liken that to it being Pittsburgh and the crowd was unsure of how to feel about the tweener group of The New Day getting destroyed.
The Roman Reigns situation is what it is heading into WrestleMania
After a three-week break where he was completely absent from all WWE television, Roman Reigns made his return to what has to be considered a very disappointing reaction. The WWE’s hope was probably to create sympathy for a guy who was really ice cold. They decided to have the evil heel brutalize him (in what was a straight up fight, no cheating, so how was that supposed to work?) and have him disappear for a few weeks.
There were signs that this wasn’t taking as the few references they made to Reigns on television were met with either no reaction or complete indifference. Earlier in the night during a promo by Triple H, he made reference to how much people love Roman Reigns, which was not well received at all and came off as so tone deaf to what people see on television. I know wrestling fans have short memories, but that’s ridiculous.
Finally, after wrestling Dolph Ziggler (more on that in a bit), Roman Reigns made his return to a mix of silence and boos. These aren’t boos like John Cena gets from crowds that just like being part of the act. The reactions to Reigns are boos from a fan base that largely is indifferent to him. It’s the sound a defeated crowd makes. It’s not positive at all. Cena’s reaction, whether they cheer him or boo him, is positive because it involves people who care enough to make a choice on how they feel about him, and I’d bet more often than not, the detractors deep down really like him. I don’t sense that for Reigns. Having been in crowds before where he’s appeared during this singles run, that’s what I feel. The momentum just isn’t there.
To make matters worse, upon his return, Reigns showed absolutely no fire. Reigns came out to the stage and just stared. Rather than seeking immediate revenge, he just stood there soaking in the lack of reaction. Then he made his way down to the ring and started fighting because that’s what the script called for. None of his punches or offense had any real fire. When he grounded Triple H and was punching away at him, it didn’t have any real emotion behind it. He was following a script. The most flare any offense had was when he threw Triple H into the barricade and Triple H hurled his body into it in a violent way. It just wasn’t flashy whatsoever.
It may seem like I’m picking on him, but I liken Reigns to how a presidential candidate gets criticized by the media as he rises up in the polls. Reigns is at the top of the heap and appears to be the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The criticisms are valid and justified.
Bottom line is this is what it is concerning Reigns. They’ve tried literally everything to get him over to no avail. Keeping him off television for three weeks leading into the biggest show of the year was a gamble that just didn’t pay off. All they can do is hope for the best heading into Jerry-Land in Dallas, Texas. Best case scenario is he’s not completely booed out of the building. My take on the matter is they just don’t put it in the main event slot so the highest attended WrestleMania of all time doesn’t end on a sour note. I guess that would mean putting Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon in the main event slot. That’s risky too, but that match would probably have more heat. If they choose to go with this as the main event, at least Randy Orton will be able to hang his hat on the fact that he no longer was a participant in the most apathetic WrestleMania main event of all time.
Still no word on why The Undertaker is involved in this storyline
While I certainly like the storyline for being so out of left field and feeling fresh, there are still certain things that need to be made clear about it, particularly when it comes to The Undertaker. WWE yet again had an opportunity for Undertaker to explain why he was choosing to do Vince McMahon’s bidding at WrestleMania, and like they did two weeks ago, he essentially said nothing. Vince McMahon brought out The Undertaker, referring to him as his personal instrument of destruction. It was apparent that Undertaker wasn’t 100% on board with Vince, but that doesn’t explain why he’s going through with the match.
They had Shane McMahon then come out and instead of asking questions, he just talks about how he’s going to beat Undertaker. Undertaker retorted, and Shane finally asked why he was allowing Vince to control him. Undertaker basically gave a non-answer, which caused Shane to call him Vince’s bitch. Undertaker then lunged at him, and they had a short brawl. Vince then threw Shane into Undertaker, who gave him a Chokeslam. Undertaker then scared Vince off to conclude what wound up being a fine segment, but very little was answered coming out of it.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Dean Ambrose’s promo as he talked about losing to Triple H. I felt he should have put over more that he had him pinned rather than he lost and that was it. Paul Heyman then came out with Brock Lesnar to try to bring some steam back to this feud. Ambrose then scared Lesnar off with a crowbar. The match at WrestleMania should be very good, but the build is really lacking something. Putting it on the backburner for a few weeks definitely didn’t help. I kind of forget why they’re fighting in the first place.
Speaking of Ambrose, I have to say I really enjoyed the backstage segment he had with Mick Foley later in the night. Foley handed him his barbed wire baseball bat as a “passing of the torch.” Maybe there will be blood at WrestleMania?
I think the best course of action if they want to build Ryback up as a monster is to go back to his old gimmick of just quickly beating guys and walking off. Why does everyone have to have a competitive match, even when they’re supposed to be squash matches? Ryback doing what he’s doing right now isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire.
I thought Triple H’s promo was decent, but it could have stood to be a few minutes shorter, but that’s the case with a lot of promos. Like I mentioned before, the inclusion of the lines about people loving Roman Reigns just felt so tone deaf and stubborn. Dolph Ziggler’s interruption was certainly interesting. I’ve said it many times before, but I really don’t understand why they have Stephanie bury male superstars on the microphone and slap the taste out of them. I get that she’s a heel, but she’s also a woman. The guys can never get revenge on the woman. She never has to eat her words. It just emasculates the men so badly.
Nice to see Sami Zayn wrestling on Monday Night RAW. The match against The Miz was fine, but Kevin Owens’ greatness on commentary definitely distracted me. Owens was really killing it, particularly as he was targeting Byron Saxton, whose spot on the commentary team still feels so ham-fisted and out of place to me. I hope Zayn and Owens have a singles feud after WrestleMania.
The divas tag match could probably be characterized best by simply saying, “Eh.” Lana once again caused Brie to lose. After that, Team B.A.D. and Lana threatened Paige, so it appears that’ll be the six-diva match at WrestleMania.
The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz feud must continue!
Even though a lot of people are complaining that Dolph Ziggler got buried in his match against Triple H, I don’t feel that way. I felt like Stephanie slapping him buried him, but the match against Triple H was competitive and pretty even. Yes, Triple H beat him clean, but he’s the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and needs to look strong heading into WrestleMania. For Ziggler, it’s never bad for anyone to have a good match against the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, who also happens to be a legend.
I feel really bad for Neville with the unfortunate incident with his leg. My hat is off to Chris Jericho for thinking on his feet and going to a finish to protect him. The AJ Styles attack after was fine.
I’m just glad that the show opened up with a wrestling match. That makes this show an immediate win in my book. It doesn’t have to happen all the time, but having a wrestling match open up a wrestling show every now and then isn’t the worst thing in the world. Most of the matches on the show were decent. We’ve only got two RAWs left until WrestleMania, so I’m expecting the shows to continue getting better and better before the inevitable drop-off in mid-April.
Bump of the Night: Sami Zayn’s moonsault off the barricade
Match of the Night: Triple H vs. Dolph Ziggler ** 3/4
Final Rating: *** 1/4
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.