WWE RAW Review
March 23, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
With less than two weeks to go before the so-called “biggest WrestleMania of all time,” when a feeling of excitement should be enveloping the WWE Universe, WWE produced an episode of Monday Night RAW, their flagship show, that was ill conceived, uncreative, flat out boring, and showcased many of the problems with the build to WrestleMania this year. It also underscored so many of the problems that have existed within the WWE for the last few years.
WrestleMania is going to be ugly for Roman Reigns
I get it. Philadelphia was never going to be a good crowd for Roman Reigns, but Vince McMahon was able to pull out a miracle and turn them around back in December. Doesn’t that feel like ten years ago? From that one December night when finally everything went right for him, it’s been downhill ever since. In my opinion, his positioning is even worse than before that night. Reigns got to the mountaintop once and immediately lost all of his steam. Even when crowds boo him, it doesn’t have a whole lot of passion behind it. The guy is just damaged goods at this point.
The question is how do you turn him around? They’ve invested so much in him only for him to be almost completely rejected by the audience. Obviously there’s nothing they can do going into WrestleMania. That ship has sailed. Reigns is going to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and get booed out of the building in the process. Maybe they can limit the damage by not making it the final match on the card. I just wonder how they’re going to handle him after WrestleMania. Who is he going to face and how will he continue to be received? At this point, it would be a fatal blow to their separate touring house show troupes to turn Dean Ambrose heel. Ambrose main events many of the house shows as it is right now while Reigns headlines the other group. It would also kill their television shows because Ambrose is the only guy that is really over with the crowd in a natural, organic way. If they turn him so Reigns has a guy he can face for the championship that just wouldn’t be good. They seem to be gearing Ryback up for a big heel run. God, could you imagine those promos with him and Reigns? Bottom line is it’s not just the WrestleMania build that is ugly. It’s post-WrestleMania that has the potential to be even worse. Unlike last year, they really don’t have that out to put it on hold indefinitely. Reigns can’t lose another main event or he’ll be tainted forever in the fans’ eyes. They’ve got to go through with it – I just don’t know if they’ve thought out all their plans for the title run. Personally, I’d turn him heel the night after WrestleMania and let him build his character that way, but that’s just me.
Anyway, as for Reigns’ performances on this past Monday’s episode of RAW, it was so-so. Reigns was predictably booed, which is a microcosm of what’s in store at WrestleMania. Even going against Stephanie McMahon, who always has strong heat with the crowd, Reigns couldn’t get the desired reaction. At least it was quick and painless. The beating of Triple H later in the show was epically lame and poorly planned out. Even though it’s the so-called main event of WrestleMania, Triple H vs. Roman Reigns was relegated to about ten minutes of total build on a three-hour show. It’s kind of bizarre when you think about it. Total build time since the night after Fastlane? Probably not much longer than the ten minutes already allotted to this show.
The end of The Undertaker at WrestleMania?
WWE teased a big announcement regarding the Hell in a Cell match to be made by Vince McMahon later in the night. For those that were hoping it’d be an explanation for why Undertaker is in this match, you’ll be disappointed again. Instead, it was a rather unceremonious and uninspired stipulation that if The Undertaker doesn’t beat Shane McMahon, then he’ll never wrestle at WrestleMania again. It’s important that he didn’t say he’d be done forever. McMahon only mentioned WrestleMania. If that’s how they want to retire Undertaker at WrestleMania, that was a lame way to announce it. First of all storyline wise, if Undertaker loses, McMahon is out of power, so how could he enforce it? Secondly, people now have to come to grips with the fact that Undertaker’s very last WrestleMania opponent (because I don’t believe there’s anyway he doesn’t lay down for Shane) is Shane McMahon.
Oh, and did anyone else gag when McMahon said that Shane McMahon was probably the toughest WrestleMania opponent of Undertaker’s career? I get they’re trying to build Shane up, but come on. Don’t insult the crowds’ intelligence.
As I was watching AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens tear the house down for a second straight show, I just couldn’t believe they were continuing to give it away for free. What chemistry those two have. The finish was predictably lame with Chris Jericho providing the distraction to make Styles lose, but up to that point, it was a top ten RAW match of the year.
I absolutely loved seeing Terry Funk (no longer middle aged, but still crazy as hell) making an appearance alongside Dean Ambrose. I’d have had Funk give Ambrose his old branding iron, but I’m old enough to remember Chainsaw Charlie, so that definitely popped me. Still, the branding iron can actually be used as a weapon at WrestleMania. What can he do with a chainsaw?
Big E needs to stop doing that spear through the ropes immediately. It was only a matter of time before he spiked himself on his head, and he did on Monday night. Thankfully he came out of it ok, but that should be a signal to retire that immediately before he blows out a shoulder or flat out breaks his neck.
The build for the André The Giant Memorial Battle Royal with Big Show, Kane, and The Social Outcasts was pretty uninspired. It’s the same build three years in a row.
Even though Chris Jericho loses to everyone and he was being distracted by AJ Styles, Jericho still found a way to beat Fandango. I get that Fandango has no business beating Jericho (hindsight is 20/20 – he didn’t have any business beating him at WrestleMania either), but Jericho cost Styles a match earlier in the night, so shouldn’t the face return the favor? Instead it backfired on the face. It should have been the other way around. That is not how you book a strong face. Another way you don’t book a strong face is have him start a chant for himself only for no one to chant. It’s pathetic how they bungled Styles on that one. Styles will stay over because he’s a fantastic wrestler, but he’s quickly falling into “just another guy on the roster” territory.
Kevin Owens pulling a fast one on Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Sami Zayn and having Stardust, Sin Cara, and Zack Ryder come out instead was funny for about two seconds and that was it. I’m sorry but Stardust, Sin Cara, and Zack Ryder have zero business being in this match or on the WrestleMania card in general. Their presence taints the match because they’re so low on the totem pole. You know your stock is bad when Miz seems like a megastar compared to you. Why couldn’t it just be a fatal four-way ladder match? They need seven guys in it?
Speaking of Kevin Owens, he’s now literally just another guy on the roster after being dressed down by Stephanie McMahon backstage. They’ve been doing it consistently since 2013 and it hasn’t done anything for anyone. For the life of me, I do not understand why they have Stephanie emasculate the male roster, face and heel, when they can do nothing to get even with her. It’s maddening and it hurts the overall presentation of the show itself.
Natalya and Charlotte had a match that was nothing like their match on Road Block. It was given the typical amount of time for a Divas match. Charlotte beat her and we moved on.
So after all that time building up R-Truth and Goldust coming together as a team, they’re laid out in seconds by The Dudley Boyz and not seen again? Seriously, who books this crap? The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz must continue. They’re not going to stop until someone cares about the feud besides the four performers and their designated writing staff.
God, what an awful main event between Dean Ambrose and Braun Strowman. That was just the cherry on top of the crap pie WWE baked for Philadelphia. It was ill conceived and way too long for a guy like Strowman.
This was, plain and simply, a horrible RAW. The segments were mostly poorly thought out and illogical, taking away from the WrestleMania build, and the matches, except for one, were pretty lackadaisical. If this were some random RAW in November, it’d be what it is. WWE typically doesn’t really “try hard” during those months, but for Christ’s sake, it’s thirteen days before WrestleMania 32, the “biggest WrestleMania of all time,” and they put out that crap? Thirty writers and that’s what they came up with for one of the better wrestling towns in America? By the end of the night, the usually rabid Philadelphia crowd was nonexistent. It was a shameful presentation. WrestleMania itself will probably be good to very good as it always is. Part of that is the show itself carries a certain aura to it and the other part is they actually do get very creative for the show itself, but the road to get there? It’s been pretty awful. Save for one good show last week, it’s been a terrible WrestleMania season.
Bump of the Night: Big E impaling himself on the floor after a spear
Match of the Night: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens ***
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.