WWE RAW Review
April 6, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
Well the WrestleMania season has come to a close. WWE, having legitimately packed in 97,000 people into AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas (announced as 101,763) for a $17 million gate, had to be feeling on top of the world. Despite putting on a show that I felt contained some extremely questionable booking decisions, many people were entertained by it, rendering the months (or years in the case of Roman Reigns) of terrible build meaningless. Still, though, there are a few telling statistics that all is not right in WWE land, such as a below projection number of paid domestic subscribers and ratings that are trending down, even for this episode of RAW, which is traditionally the highest rated show of the year. The company is still in need of a creative shakeup, and that could have begun on this past episode of RAW. Let’s talk about this.
Some quick WrestleMania 32 Thoughts
Well actually before we begin talking about RAW, I’d like to give a few quick thoughts on WrestleMania 32 because… why not? I spent these last few months covering the build of it, so I’ll share some of my thoughts while watching the show.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match – This was a highly entertaining stunt show. In terms of wrestling psychology, it was lacking, but so has every ladder match of the last twenty years. These matches aren’t meant to be masterpieces. They’re just meant to be spectacles, but we’ve seen so many of these spectacles through the years (a lot of the times multiple times a year) that they all kind of blend together. Guys literally have to nearly kill themselves to do something completely memorable. I was not a fan at all of Zack Ryder winning the title. Last year, Daniel Bryan won it in an attempt to boost the importance of it. Bryan had to relinquish it due to injury, but they kept it on a decent guy like Ryback before moving it back and forth between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose. Putting it on Ryder, a guy who before being announced for this match had only appeared in six RAW matches in the last calendar year, winning a grand total of zero of them (thanks to ProFightDB.com), greatly devalues the title. More on that later in this review.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles – I thought this match was ok. It was kind of clunky in spots with both guys looking like they were just half a step off on everything. Still an entertaining match that was given time, but it was the wrong finish for Jericho to come out on top. I’m not one of those that think Jericho buried him at all. They didn’t choose the finish, and I’d bet that even Jericho probably didn’t see it as the right call, but that would be rectified the next night. Like the previous match, more on that later in this review.
The New Day vs. The League of Nations – Just bad calls all around here. While it’s not devastating to The New Day to lose here, it just wasn’t necessary. Over the past year, they’ve been one of the hottest and most over acts in WWE, so naturally they must lose to the coldest stable on the roster in recent memory. Then to completely negate their win, they send out three legends in Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley (who can barely walk), and Shawn Michaels, all north of 50, to beat them up. So at the end of the day, The New Day loses for no reason and the win picked up by The League of Nations means absolutely nothing. It was still entertaining to see Austin, Foley, and HBK, but it’s a microcosm of why no one ever gets over on this roster. Legends are always made to look stronger, no matter what age they are. I’m not saying go back to the days of Jerry Lawler ripping off Mad Dog Vachon’s fake leg, but they have to stop putting over guys that aren’t on television every week so strong.
Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose – Brock Lesnar absolutely annihilated Dean Ambrose all throughout this rivalry with Ambrose never getting the better of him. Then at their WrestleMania match, Ambrose showed very little against Lesnar other than a quick burst of offense before losing clean as a sheet. This was just bad.
The Women’s Championship Match – This was easily the best-worked match of the night in my mind. All three worked very hard and turned out probably the best women’s match on WrestleMania since Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James in 2006. I didn’t mind Charlotte winning at all as it sets up a strong singles run with her and Sasha Banks for the next few months since she has yet to be pinned or submitted by Charlotte on the main roster.
Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon – Watching Shane McMahon’s offense and seeing Undertaker sell it was tough to swallow. I get that wrestling is fake and involves a large amount of suspending your disbelief, but that was way too much suspending I had to do watching that. This was just a waiting game to see what kind of stunt Shane would do. At the end of the day, that stunt of jumping off the Hell in a Cell was a doozy. It was quite the spectacle, but this was a one move match. Undertaker won the match and there was no interference. I didn’t hate that, but I thought if Undertaker was going to have to sell so much for a guy like Shane McMahon, there should have been some interference.
André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal – It was fun to see Shaquille O’Neil in the match as well as Tatanka and DDP. Nice move to have Baron Corbin win the match. We’ll talk about how they followed up that win in a bit.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match – Roman Reigns was predictably booed out of the building, but he still won the match. They didn’t reverse their decision, which was the right call. What wasn’t the right call was making this match go nearly a half hour on a show that was on way past six hours long by this point. It was just a basic match that seemed disjointed at times. In hindsight, they should have just had The Rock come out and announce the attendance before leaving, but they had to have him insult and devalue The Wyatt Family in another example of a legend needing to be put over strong at the expense of their actual talent.
That was WrestleMania 32! There was a lot of great match work, but a lot of questionable calls in the use of their roster, but that is nothing new. Now let’s get on to actually talking about RAW.
Shane McMahon gets control of RAW for the night
Vince McMahon kicked off the show with an appearance to gloat about The Undertaker defeating his son at WrestleMania. Vince cleared up the almost forgotten storyline of the lockbox Shane had that contained some embarrassing information by saying he received the lockbox and no one would ever hold anything over him again. Shane McMahon’s music hit, and he came out to a very good pop from the crowd, who definitely appreciated the stunt he pulled off the night before. Shane said he was just out there to shake his father’s hand on his victory and thank the fans. Vince was angry that he upstaged him, so he put Shane in control of the show for one night, which was the exact reason he put Shane in the Hell in a Cell against the Undertaker to prevent that from happening. The crowd loved it, but that was definitely an interesting decision.
That being said, I didn’t think they really made Shane McMahon a very consequential character on this broadcast. After this opening promo, which mercifully wasn’t that long, the only times we saw Shane were in 15-second teaser segments talking to various wrestlers and one quick interaction with Roman Reigns. The commentators put him over saying that he made The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz a Tables Match even though that was advertised before RAW started, well before Vince gave him control of the show, and how he was keeping the main event a Fatal Four-Way. I think especially for the main event, it would have been extremely effective to have Shane come out and announce it was still a Fatal Four-Way before announcing that Cesaro was back. It would have been huge for the live crowd (not that Cesaro’s return wasn’t) and kept Shane over as an instrument of change in the WWE. I just felt like they missed some opportunities here.
Roman Reigns trolls the fans in first night as new champion
Roman Reigns’ first night as the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship was much like his night at WrestleMania – the entire audience viciously booed him. Reigns actually did a pretty good job of trolling the entire crowd by taunting them with the fact that he’s THE guy at the moment. Honestly, if I were Reigns as a man, the way the crowd was abusing him at WrestleMania and on RAW, I don’t know if I’d be able to resist the urge to just flip them off. If there’s one thing I can say about Reigns it’s that he’s got more will power than I do. As usual, they kept Reigns’ talking to an absolute minimum, which is something I don’t know how they can continue to sustain.
Chris Jericho came out, and he laid into Reigns and the crowd in attendance. The crowd was trying to hijack the segment when Jericho called them idiots. Jericho demanded to be put at the top of the line for a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That brought out AJ Styles, who then said he wanted a shot at the title. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn soon followed. A brawl broke out between all. When they cleared the ring, Reigns speared down Jericho and left to loud boos from the crowd. One could argue that it’s the beginning of a subtle heel turn for Reigns, which wouldn’t be the worst thing for him at this point.
Phenomenal Fatal Four-Way in the main event
Ok, I admit I just used the word “phenomenal” to describe the main event just because it fit with who won. It wasn’t the best fatal four-way I’ve ever seen, but it was really damn good. It was easily the best main roster wrestling match of the weekend, way better than any match at WrestleMania was. Did it have all the stunts of the ladder match or Shane/Undertaker? No, but matches don’t need to have those to be good. This was just a ton of fun. You had the surprise return of Cesaro that really got the fans going for this one. There was some concern that Sami Zayn was injured doing a flip dive onto Kevin Owens earlier in the evening leading to him being removed from this match, but there were spots that were so well planned out that I just can’t imagine they threw it together out of nowhere. I’m sure Zayn is fine.
After a very exciting match where it seemed like everyone had a shot at winning, AJ Styles won with a Styles Clash on Chris Jericho to pick up the win. It’s definitely an interesting decision to go with Styles here as the opponent for Roman Reigns. It strikes me as when they put Reigns in the triple threat against Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar at WWE Fast Lane. You knew Reigns would be the least popular one in the match. It was almost like they set it up so Reigns couldn’t be cheered. This time I get the feeling that a few things could happen here. Reigns could turn heel or Styles could reform a version of the Bullet Club on the main roster, turning him heel instead (in theory). Either way, it’s going to be a good match for Reigns, something he definitely could use.
It also gets Styles involved in the main event picture, which is certainly a plus. The loss of Daniel Bryan has hurt the WWE in more ways than one, but from a presentation standpoint, they’re missing that guy that can really go and carry others to really great matches. Styles is that guy that could fill in that void on the roster.
I really liked The New Day’s promo and match on this show. I particularly liked how Xavier Woods admitted that he was asking for the Stone Cold Stunner when he was trying to get Austin to dance. I really didn’t like him taking the Stunner at all, but to kind of laugh it off the next night as no big deal but actually a fun thing was a great way to go with it. The New Day was ridiculously over on this night. The match against The League of Nations was pretty good, and they got their win back.
Interestingly enough, The League of Nations literally kicked King Barrett out of the stable with a Brogue Kick before calling him a weak link. I’m not sure, but that might be the end of Wade Barrett on WWE programming if the rumors are true. Then for some reason the lights went out and when they came back on, The Wyatt Family was brawling with the League of Nations. That strikes me as very odd. I guess after being embarrassed by The Rock the night before they figured they might as well turn The Wyatts face. I’d be interested to hear a promo explaining this one.
I really didn’t like the match Sasha Banks had with Summer Rae at all. Summer really doesn’t belong in the ring with her. She was off the whole time. Granted, the match wasn’t given a lot of time, but it was just sloppy at points.
Nice to see Apollo Crews make his debut, but I just can’t help but think there are guys in NXT that are more ready than he is to be making their main roster debut. Oh well. Hopefully they have some plans for him unlike they did for his opponent, Tyler Breeze, who should be looked at as a vision of caution to the NXT Superstars. I really feel bad for that guy.
I didn’t mind the promo Baron Corbin cut to kind of introduce himself to the crowd. I know a lot of people didn’t like it, but I thought it was fine. A lot of people aren’t going to know who he is, so a quick promo like that helps to give insight as to who he is and what we could expect. What I did mind was him not winning his debut singles match on the card against Dolph Ziggler. I get that they want to get a feud out of these guys, but this match went way too long, exposed Corbin as not being 100% polished, and made him look dumb as well. I say it made him look dumb because he spent all that time in NXT and acted like he couldn’t fathom the idea of what a count-out was. They should’ve just had him run over a jobber and attack Dolph Ziggler backstage.
I found Zack Ryder’s speech to be nice, but just a little tacky. Showing the comparison pictures with him and Razor Ramon was cool, but the rest of it was lame. I get why it was done to introduce his father for the upcoming angle, but man oh man. The Miz then came out and was angry that Ryder cost him his chance at the title the night before. Miz then goaded him into a title shot.
Ryder and Miz fought in a decent match that was made better by the angle at the end. Ryder’s father shoved Miz after Miz got in his face. That led to the surprise return of Maryse to defend her husband. That was pretty neat. With the departure of Brie Bella and Nikki Bella’s future seriously in doubt, adding her to the main roster and the Total Divas roster is a good move because she has a lot of personality. It’s also good for Miz’ character. That being said, as I previously mentioned with the ladder match, the Intercontinental Championship took another hit with The Miz now winning the title. I’d have personally liked to have seen an NXT guy get the call up and take Ryder out, but I guess we’ll have to live with this rivalry.
Damn, the crowd really ruined that segment with Charlotte being presented with the WWE Women’s Championship. Charlotte was trying to put them over, but they were just too smart to it and knew she was going to turn it around. They were doing their chants and threw her off from her promo. I didn’t appreciate that at all.
My reaction to the Dallas crowd and hijacking crowds in general
That brings me to the crowd. For a RAW after WrestleMania crowd, they were a little more docile, but they were still obnoxious. The incident with Charlotte was annoying, but there was one moment with The New Day that irritated me to no end. It’s not just this crowd. It was the crowd in Brooklyn that did the same thing. I’m sorry, you can’t be all into the New Day and the next moment be doing the wave and chanting for whatever the hell you want, and then get back into the New Day. You cannot have it both ways. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you disrespect the New Day and the other competitors in the ring, you aren’t allowed to cheer for them or do their chant because you’re a damn hypocrite. Then that stupid incident with the beach ball during the Corbin/Ziggler match – come on. Doing the wave and all those ridiculous chants disrespects the performers in the ring. You can’t do a 180 and then get back into them after that. You are not a real fan if you do that.
They love to chant “We are awesome,” well I’m here to tell them that they are in fact the exact opposite of awesome. They are a bunch of disrespectful dumbasses. This isn’t directed at everyone. There are some that didn’t partake and some that feel the peer pressure of having to follow along. I’m talking to the instigators of the chants and the wave. It’s crowds like that that ruin it for everyone. Going to shows isn’t about hijacking the show. Don’t get me wrong – I hate shows when the crowds are sitting on their hands for everything, but this is no better. There needs to be a happy medium. Crowd reaction is a part of the show, but when they try to make it THE show, there’s a problem. They’re not real fans. Boo and cheer whomever the hell you want, but do not disrespect the men and women performing in the ring by going into business for yourselves.
Back to Quick Thoughts
Anyway, getting back to the WWE Women’s Championship match, Charlotte did turn and the women in the ring walked out on her. Natalya was the only one left, so it looks like they’re going to hold off on Charlotte and Sasha Banks a little while longer for the summer.
The Usos and Dudley Boyz mercifully had the blow off to their awful feud with a Tables Match that fittingly had a botched ending. Of course the ending was botched with a feud like this. After that we had a good backstage segment that featured Kevin Owens taking out Sami Zayn before going back to ringside, where The Dudley Boyz were still hanging out. Then Enzo and Cass came out to a HUMONGOUS reception from the crowd. This was so much fun. Enzo Amore was incredible here making fun of both Dudleys, and the crowd ate it up. It was a lot of fun to watch. When the crowds go back to normal next week, I hope they’re still just as over, but it’s doubtful. Still, on this night, they were huge superstars.
This was a fun show that featured a big surprise with AJ Styles winning and fresh talent being inserted into the fold. The crowd was predictably obnoxious, but it didn’t kill the show. The guys they liked went over for the most part, and they actually contributed to making the moments even bigger. It’ll be back down to earth for WWE next Monday. Hopefully the crowd stay excited and the stories started on RAW, which were good beginnings, grow in a positive direction.
Bump of the Night: Owens powerbombing Zayn through a table backstage
Match of the Night: The Fatal Four-Way ***
Final Rating: *** 1/2
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.