— Onnit (@Onnit) March 24, 2016
The Undertaker will be fighting Shane McMahon inside Hell in a Cell in 10 days, but first he’s going to “celebrate” his birthday. I put the word celebrate in quotes because no man has ever looked more unhappy while surrounded by cake and toys. I guess that’s what happens when you spend your adult life getting buried alive, surviving flaming coffins and literally crucifying people. If we’re being honest, we wouldn’t have him any other way.
Shane McMahon Returned To The WWE Last Night In One Of The Most Genuinely Shocking & Exciting Moments in #RAW History
I’m not going to lie, I watched this entire segment standing up 2 feet from my TV. When Shane’s music hit, I leapt off my couch and just could not contain my excitement. WWE is known to pull out all the stops when it comes to WrestleMania season, but this was one of the most genuinely exciting moments in recent memory. A lot of it goes back to what I wrote about Daniel Bryan a few weeks ago. His retirement was so sad because it gives his career a finite end. Wrestling fans want to believe that their favorite wrestler, whether he/she is 20, 30, 40 or 100, will always return. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fantasy booked Shane McMahon returning in my head, and now it’s finally happened. You don’t get feelings like this in other sports. In 10 years from now, Tom Brady isn’t going to come out at halftime of a playoff game if the Patriots QB gets hurts. David Ortiz is going to pinch hit in a World Series game 20 years from now. But in pro wrestling, you never fucking know.
As far as the actual segment goes, LISTEN TO THAT CROWD. That is a pop usually reserves for a Stone Cold or The Rock, but here’s Shane McMahon, in his suit and Jordan’s, shuffling across the stage like never left. Shane was a huge part of the success of the Attitude Era, and he’s involved in a lot of my favorite moments. Shane vs. Kurt Angle at KOTR, Shane falling from the god damn Titan Tron, Shane vs. Vince at WM 17. Now that’s back, he only wants one thing: control of Monday Night Raw. Vince says he can have it under one condition: he must beat The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania.
That, my friends, is how you sell your audience on WrestleMania. Combine this segment with the end segment, which saw HHH brutalize Roman Reigns, and you have to main events that are sure to blow us away. If the Mean Street Posse comes out and helps Shane I might actually burn my house to the ground.
Roman Reigns Is The New #1 Contender For The WWE Championship After Last Night’s Excellent Fatal Four Way #RAW Main Event #WWE
I don’t know who wrote and decided the creative direction for last night’s Raw, but it was one of the better Raw’s in recent memory. For the first time in a long time, it felt fresh, and that storylines were finally heading in a new direction. Even the rehashing of the Paige heel turn felt different because there was actually some action to it, not just Paige verbally bashing everyone within earshot. The biggest development was the #1 contenders tournament, which showcased five awesome matches, concluding with the fatal four way main event. The best kind of triple threat or fatal four ways are the ones in which all of the competitors come off looking like stars, and that’s exactly what happened here. All four guys won clean to get into the main event, and all four had their own unique moments in the match where it looked like they were going to win. People might complain that Reigns won and looked ‘strong’, but the fact is he has the best motivation to be #1 contender over anyone not named Brock Lesnar. Rollins screwed him over by betraying The Shield and then screwed him over again at WrestleMania. Reigns/Rollins should tear down the house whenever they decide to book it, and I hope this momentum rolls over to the secondary and Divas divisions as well.
The go home Raw before Hell in a Cell Sunday was live last night in Dallas, and ‘The Texas Rattlesnake’ himself Stone Cold Steve Austin opened the show. He half promoted his post Raw podcast with Lesnar and Lesnar’s match with the Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell, and started a trend of cameos by WWE Hall of Famers that included HBK and Ric Flair. WWE tends to overuse it’s stars from the past, but I thought all three were used effectively last night. They hyped up whichever match they were supposed to hype and you believed what they said because they have built-in credibility. This was a better Raw than the past few weeks, and it was certainly helped by the presence of Austin, HBK and Flair.
Raw was live from Buffalo last night. We’re four days away from the live MSG special on the WWE Network and less than four weeks away from Hell in a Cell. Kane is suffering from a personality disorder, The New Day are still wonderful and two young guys tore it up in the main event. Let’s get to the 5 stars from last night’s Raw!
1. Xavier Woods
New Day showed up, entertained my pants off AND beat John Cena and the Dudley Boyz, so you know they’re getting a star, but Xavier Woods earned his own one as well. Woods gets overlooked as the trumpet playing cheerleader on the outside while Big E and Kofi do most of the ring work, and although this match wasn’t as long I’d like it to be, it was easily Woods’ best singles bout on the main roster. Cena is in between feuds right now, as Rollins is preoccupied with Kane and there hasn’t been a new #1 contender to emerge yet, so the first installment of the ‘second round’ of the US Title Open challenge features none other than Xavier Woods. The X-man got in some nice offense, and as usual, his character work was amazing. That character work carried into the six man tag too, as he was constantly yelling about how he should be the new US champ even though it was his New Day partners who caused the DQ finish. I love The New Day so much it hurts my heart.
2. New Day
New Day was once again the most entertaining part of the show, and until the main event went bonkers was also my favorite part of the show. One of my favorite parts of certain Raw’s are when people you don’t expect to show up come out and answer a promo, and that’s exactly what happened here. Cena opened Raw, which was fine, because the US Open challenge is one of the best parts of the show, but then Big E started screaming from backstage and the segment got infinitely better. It’s hysterical to hear Cena talk about how there’s a time to be serious and a time to be entertaining, because this is the same guy who used to rap his promos. Not even Cena’s best Lance Storm impression could stop me from enjoying New Day, AND they won the match. I have a feeling the Dudleyz are going to win the titles Saturday night in MSG, and I’m ok with that, because ultimately they will elevate New Day and make them better than ever. Plus, characters like New Day are always better when they have something to complain about.
3. Braun Stroman & Luke Harper
You know what I’m into? Braun Stroman and Luke Harper turning into Harper & Rowan 2.0 and making a serious run at the tag titles. If Bray is going to be the main singles guy in the group, which he should be, why not pair your monster Stroman with an already ace tag team guy like Harper? Realistically, who is going to beat those two? I know New Day are technically heels, but say you have The Dudleyz win the titles Saturday and then feud with Stroman and Harper who eventually win the belts. New Day going against those two would be instantly turned into good guys. Also yes, most of my fantasy booking involves the New Day one way or another. Back to Stroman and Harper; they dominated PTP here, which I don’t love, but Stroman is unstoppable right now, so it’s doesn’t demean PTP too much. This was a solid episode for the Wyatt Family, who have really looked great lately.
4. Bray Wyatt
So the main event deserves it’s own section, but I’m going to highlight both guys here, because this match and post segment brawl were awesome. As great a job as Seth Rollins has done this year, it’s nice to see someone else in the main event of Raw, and Wyatt and Reigns did not disappoint last night. Wyatt and Reigns have great in ring chemistry, and they really bring out the best in each other. Barring any serious injuries, these are going to be two of the main guys who bring WWE to the next level, and when you put them together, they’re a guarantee for a great feud. The way the match and the show ended definitely made it seem like this feud would continue, and I’m glad that neither man got a clean victory. When utilized correctly, a double count out or DQ can be great. In this case, both guys looked STRONG and WWE created a logical way of continuing the story. Wyatt is known more for his promos, but his move set is severely underrated. He punishes guys, and has one of the best clotheslines on the roster. I also love his version of the Rock Bottom and his throwaway standing suplex. Every move he does has a purpose, and last night was one of the best performances of his career.
5. Roman Reigns
It’d be tough to find someone in the WWE who’s having a better year than Roman Reigns. He’s had his ups and downs, but ever since February he’s been one of the best things on WWE TV. He was booed out the building at the Rumble, but that was more WWE’s booking of the match than Reigns himself. He had a hell of a match against Daniel Bryan at Fast Lane and a brutal bout with Lesnar at WrestleMania, and ever since then he’s been on a nice little roll. You know he’s going to be back in the title picture sooner rather than later, but for now he’s tearing it up with Bray Wyatt. Both these guys aren’t afraid to work a little stiff, and they both sell so well for each other. Reigns takes a couple hellacious clotheslines in this match, but also gives it as good as he takes it. No outside interference made this entire segment special, and Reigns has that ability to recover from a beating but make it seem believable, a trait that John Cena never mastered. Raw ends with Reigns and Wyatt both physically spent, and it was executed perfectly.
Brock Lesnar’s ‘Go To Hell’ Tour Now Includes A Stone Cold Podcast Appearance & A Hell In A Cell Match With The Undertaker
Special attraction Brock Lesnar is the smartest thing WWE has done in a long time. He’s not overexposed, and every time he comes back it’s treated as a special event. It’s easy to put that plan down on paper, but it takes a special athlete like Brock to make it work. He’s a larger than life character, so when he takes some time off and comes back, it IS a big deal. He’s been advertised for the MSG show for awhile, but now the WWE is turning October into Brock Lesnar month. Not only will he be at MSG, he’ll also be Stone Cold’s next guest on his podcast and will be fighting The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at…Hell in a Cell. That last part is the big news, as we knew Lesnar and Undertaker would be fighting again, but we didn’t know when. Now we not only know when, but we also know it’s going to be inside the Cell. If WWE was trying to build up some major hype for their next pay per view, they did just that. Lesnar should be back on Raw in no time.