If you’re a casual wrestling fan, now is the time to watch WWE Raw. Between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, WWE consistently puts on it’s best weekly programming. They’re not all home runs, but they’re remarkably better than most Raw’s during other times of the year. Last night’s Raw was one of those home runs. After last week was extremely heavy on the promo’s, this week’s show focused more on the in ring segments, which is WWE’s strong suit with most of their top stars injured. We got a good promo from Shane and Vince to start the show, and a great back and forth between HHH and Ambrose later in the show, but all the highlights were of the physical variety. Let’s take a look.
After Shane and Vince verbally sparred back and forth and Vince stepped on a childhood photo of him and his son, Vince summoned security to take Shane out of the building. The only problem with that is that Shane O’ Mac was having none of it. He quickly dispatched security with rabbit punches and knee strikes, and the segment was made all the better because the Chicago crowd was hot for it. As a side note, Chicago crowds have a tendency to be self serving (CM Punk chants, I’m looking at you) but last night’s crowd was awesome, especially during this segment, the tag match and the closing angle. This segment did a lot better than last week’s, where Undertaker walked out, said a sentence and left. We still have three more Raw’s until WM, and while I don’t think it’s necessary for Taker and Shane to get physical, I would still like more of an explanation as to why Undertaker is actually competing in this match.
The WWE Divas Championship match is already set, so we’re probably in for segments where each Diva looks strong going into the biggest match in all three of these women’s careers. Of any match that’s already on the card or could be added, I’m most excited for this one. This is their chance to prove on the biggest stage that women’s wrestling matters on the main roster. I can’t wait.
As much as I’d rather get stabbed in both eyes instead of watching another distraction rollup win, at least Lana has something to do now. While a Brie Bella feud is almost always awful, the crowd obviously loves Lana, and she’s very athletic, so why not give her a chance and see what she can do. Plus, Brie’s entire family is falling apart, so why not give her one more WrestleMania moment before she retires.
They’re destined to do this forever. Kevin Owens beat Neville in a very good match, and it looked like Neville was going to fall victim to another pop up power bomb on the apron until SAMI ZAYN comes out for the save. Zayn and Owens feud in NXT was cut critically short due to the injury of Zayn and the fact that Owens was just too good to keep off the main roster, so if they’re going to get a WM feud right now I am all the way in. I don’t know if they’d do a 1 on 1 match or a multi-man match like last year, but either way, any version of Owens and Zayn is gold. Throw Neville in there and make it an IC Title/’Who’s the best NXT Champion on the main roster’ match. Either way, I am all the way in.
If I could pin point why this Raw was a gift from the Gods, it would be because Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio finally stopped feuding. Kalisto got a clean win over Tyler Breeze (who got a full entrance for the first time in forever) and Ryback continued to maul the Social Outcasts. Ryback and Kalisto even got promo time backstage where Ryback inexplicably name dropped every superhero movie he’s ever seen. As much as I love Kalisto, if he fights Ryback at WM their match should end when Ryback literally pulls him apart limb by limb.
This match was important for a number of reasons. The New Day, at least on the microphone, has kind of grown stale. They’re still kind of funny, but it seems more scripted than it used to be and that is always a bad thing. What this match proved though is that The New Day in the ring, specifically Big E and Kofi, are bananas. Big E catching human beings out of thin air and slamming them to the mat will never not be awesome and Kofi has eclipsed Dolph as the best seller on the roster. I could watch that AJ Styles backflip into a reverse DDT all day every day. Speaking of AJ Styles, anyone who had any doubts about how amazing he is should watch this match. He’s flying around the ring, looks great on offense and takes a believable beat down. The old veteran Jericho was also fantastic in this match, and this is his best run with the WWE since ‘Best in the World’ Jericho. Speaking of THAT Jericho, he’s back, baby. You sensed it was coming, but heel Jericho is so great that I didn’t care. Give me Chris Jericho stuffing shirts into people’s mouths and calling them sons of bitches and I’m a happy man. Great match and a great post match angle.
The difference between a good Raw and a great Raw is the stuff that happens after a fantastic match like the Tag Titles match. WWE’s roster is stacked with talent, so even on a bad show, they’re going to put on some fantastic matches. The problem is that the writing is inconsistent, so while some performers can overcome the writing and put on a great match, others can’t and the show goes downhill. That did not happen last night, and the main reason for that is Dean Ambrose. It’s hard to believe that a Raw in March without three of the top guys in three of the main event matches of WM (Reigns, Lesnar & Taker) could be this good, but that’s what happens when you let a guy like Ambrose connect with the crowd. Wyatt deserves some credit too, and as a Bray Wyatt super fan that interaction with HHH and the World Title at the end was INCREDIBLE, but Dean Ambrose is the shit right now. Not only does he out duel HHH in a promo earlier in the night, but he puts on a great match with Wyatt, gets beat down, and then summons enough energy to turn the tables on HHH and end the night with the belt in his hands. Also, don’t sleep on HHH selling Dirty Deeds like a goddamn champion. I saw a few people on Twitter complain about it, but they’re missing the point. With HHH selling it like a knockout blow, you just showed your audience that any given moment, Ambrose can pop up and hit that move and HHH will be forced to lay there like he got hit with a shovel. So now if HHH is murdering Ambrose on Saturday, we can revert back to that image and remember that at any moment, Ambrose could strike. I don’t know what’s going to happen Saturday night, but I know I’ll be watching, and that’s half the battle.
Triple H Will Defend The WWE Title Against Dean Ambrose On 3/12 At The Newly Named WWE Roadblock Event
— WWE (@WWE) March 1, 2016
If you didn’t watch Raw last night, you missed The League of Nations and Triple H beat the ever loving shit out of Dean Ambrose to end the show. The show began with Ambrose challenging HHH for a title shot, claiming he knows deep down that Ambrose would beat him. HHH obliged Ambrose after pedigreeing him and then proceeding to punch him about 1,000 times. When Raw went off the air, we didn’t know when the title match would take place, but thanks to this tweet by WWE, we know it’ll be on March 12th. The event, which will air live on the WWE Network on Saturday March 12th from Toronto, was originally called the ‘March to WrestleMania’. Vince must have been in a bad mood after the Undertaker choked him last night, so he decided to change the event to ‘WWE Roadblock’. Both names are kind of terrible, but at least we’ll be getting a title match at a live event. I don’t know if this is a move to further push Ambrose for his eventual main event run after WrestleMania or if WWE is genuinely interested in making him a part of the main event, but either way, I’m intrigued.
WWE Fastlane takes place this Sunday live on the WWE Network, and it is the final pay per view before WrestleMania 32 on April 3. Most of the WrestleMania card is still a mystery, but one definite we’ll have after Sunday’s show is the main event. Will Lesnar, Reigns or Ambrose face HHH in the main event of WM32? Let’s find out!
Pre Show : 2 Out of 3 Falls US Title Match: Kalisto (C) vs. Alberto Del Rio
This is a great reason to tune into the pre-show, although I’d much rather have it on the main card. Either way, these two have proven that they have great chemistry, and I think Kalisto needs a really good showing here to prove to the fans and the WWE that he’s the real deal. WWE has been searching for the next Rey Mysterio for a long time, and while there will never be another Mysterio, Kalisto has the ability to fill the spot of the masked fan favorite underdog. Del Rio hasn’t really done much since returning besides winning the US title, but I don’t think putting the belt back on Del Rio is the right call. Kalisto could create so many more opportunities as champion, and I’d like to see some fresh blood inserted into the title picture. This should be a hell of a way to start off the night.
Edge & Christian Interview The New Day
Normally I wouldn’t want to see an in ring interview segment eat up time on a pay per view, but Edge, Christian & The New Day are as entertaining as it gets. After the necessary schilling of Edge & Christian’s new WWE Network show, this segment should be a lot of fun. If I’m being honest, I’m actually looking forward to this a lot more than another Uso’s/New Day match. These five have interacted once before in the clip above, and it was wonderful. If you can’t enjoy Big E attempting to eat a kazoo you might not have a soul, and now that Edge and Christian are both pretty much retired, you don’t have to worry about either or them getting physical. In a perfect world, this segment should be the debut of Enzo & Cass to the main roster. They were probably next in line for a tag team title run, but now that Gable and Jordan have lit the world on fire, that’s not coming anytime soon. They’re easily the most ‘main roster ready’ team in NXT, and the WWE tag team picture desperately needs some fresh blood. Who wouldn’t want to see a New Day/Enzo & Cass feud? I’d pay all my money just for the promo’s alone. Make it happen, WWE.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs Tamina Snuka and Naomi
Hopefully this is the last time that Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch are on a pay per view card that doesn’t involve the Diva’s title, because they’re better than this. I understand you need a blow off Team BAD turning their back on Banks, but WrestleMania 32 needs to be the official changing of the guard in the Diva’s division. Nikki Bella may never wrestle again, Brie Bella is retiring soon and the NXT women are clearly the future. Give me a triple threat at WM with Becky, Sasha and Charlotte that has the ability to tear the house down in front of the biggest possible audience. THAT’S how you change the perception of women’s wrestling on the main roster. As far as this match, the outcome isn’t as important as the character work of Banks and Becky. Becky has really come into her own as an easy to cheer baby face, and Banks is a natural heel, so that should be highlighted in this match. I don’t expect Banks to be a good friend much longer, so look for her to turn either after this match or the next night on Raw.
Prediction: for the sake of predicting an outcome, I’ll go with Becky and Sasha. Just let Tamina stand on the apron until it’s time to kick someone in the face.
Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles
How do you debut a can’t miss talent when the main event picture is already overcrowded? Pair him with Chris Jericho and let them work their magic. AJ Styles is wonderful, and putting him with two guys (Jericho and Miz) who can carry segments on the microphone was a great choice. AJ isn’t terrible on the microphone, but it’s not his strongest attribute, so there’s no reason to turn him into Roman Reigns and force him to give these long winded speeches. Heel Jericho has and always will be the best Jericho, which also brings out the best in AJ. I also like the logical storytelling. WWE loves to have guys wrestle each other a million times, but almost every feud should be decided by a best of 3. If you beat a guy two weeks in a row, where’s the drama of the feud continuing? But if AJ wins the first match and Jericho wins the second, a third match is a logical conclusion to the story. Having it at Fastlane is an interesting move, because it sets up a lot of possibilities for AJ’s first WM match. Styles excels at having big time matches on the big stage, so his first WWE singles match on a pay per view should be great, especially since his dancing partner is Jericho.
Prediction: AJ Styles, preferably with the pay per view debut of the Styles Clash.
6 Man Tag Team Match: Ryback, Kane & The Big Show vs. The Wyatt Family
I don’t know which three Wyatt Family members will be wrestling this match, but if I had to bet I’d say Bray sits outs. I can’t imagine this match is going to be good from any standpoint, and it’s the same problem I highlighted above about WWE having the same guys fight over and over. The Wyatt’s have been feuding with Kane since their debut, and Big Show and Ryback since before the Royal Rumble. If they beat them again, who cares? WWE has already neutered the Wyatt Family so much that the outcome of this match doesn’t even matter. While I have a feeling Bray and company will affect the outcome of the main event, this match does nothing for me.
Prediction: Wyatt Family. If they can’t beat these three guys, they should just go home forever.
WWE Divas Title Match: Charlotte (C) vs. Brie Bella
Regardless of your opinion of Brie Bella, she’s been an important part of the Diva’s division for almost a decade. This is an out of the blue title opportunity for her, and it’s possible they’re throwing her this bone because her sister and her husband are falling apart and she’s retiring soon. Regardless of Brie’s situation, Charlotte needs a dominant win here. As much fun as it is to see crazy old man Ric Flair throwing his jacket at people and trying to kick Alicia Fox in the head, the WWE Diva’s division needs a clear cut leader. WWE did the same thing with Seth Rollins. They gave him the belt, and then went overboard with the ‘needing to cheat to win’ shtick. I understand what they’re going for with Charlotte, and it was necessary for her to transform from bad to good, but now she needs to start kicking ass. On paper, Charlotte vs. Brie is a slaughter. Brie is one of the worst wrestlers on the roster and she couldn’t be less intimidating if she was missing both her legs. Charlotte is the alpha female, and while having Flair as a safety valve in case she gets into trouble is fine, she shouldn’t rely on him every match. Plus, when the title does come off of Charlotte, it should be coming off an unbeatable physical machine, not a grab the tights to win opportunist.
Prediction: Charlotte. And we never saw Brie Bella ever again.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Speaking of guys who wrestle each other all the time…This match will be great, just like all their other ones have been, but I can’t help but think about how much better it would be if they hadn’t already fought each other 25 times. When the New Day fight the Uso’s every week, it’s frustrating but I understand it, because there really aren’t any other decent tag teams. But when it comes to singles titles, there is no excuse for repetitive matches. Just look at the other guys in the IC title match from Raw. Why can’t Stardust or Tyler Breeze get an IC title feud? What about Rusev or Neville? WWE has so much talent, but refuses to use them. I don’t the see the point of having Owens drop the belt six days after winning it, but then again I don’t see the point of a lot of WWE storytelling. Owens should be the champ heading into WM, where we can get another one of those multi-man ladder matches again, except this time the winner won’t have to retire forever.
Triple Threat Match : Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose (Winner is #1 Contender)
When Brock Lesnar is involved in any kind of matchup, he’s the automatic favorite. The man has a giant sword tattooed on his chest, so excuse me if I don’t ever pick against him, but this match is his kryptonite (that and getting punched in the dick). If the rules of a match state that you can lose said match without being pinned or submitted, Brock Lesnar is probably going to lose. Honestly, it’s the only match he should lose. It happened at the 2015 Royal Rumble. It happened at WrestleMania 31. It’s probably going to happen Sunday. I like the build up of drama between Reigns and Ambrose, because it hopefully saves us from a match where most of it is spent beating up Brock Lesnar. Whether it makes sense for the story or not, nobody wants to see that. People want to see Brock Lesnar rip off car doors and suplex and F-5 human beings until they can’t move. I suspect we’ll get a lot of that here, but I don’t think Brock will win. The Wyatt’s have been suspiciously MIA around Brock Lesnar since the Royal Rumble, but I believe that changes here. I think Lesnar dominates most of the match, until the Wyatt’s take him out, which leaves us with Reigns and Ambrose. WWE has done a great job recently of turning Ambrose into a motivated, refusing to stay down type of crazy. Yes he’s a lunatic, but he’s not a wacky, joke spewing lunatic. He’s a guy that will take your best shot but keep getting up, because that’s all he knows. Reigns is Reigns, and whether you love him or hate him, he’s here to stay. It’s just too bad that WWE refuses to give him any semblance of a character, because I do think he can be great. The surprise beat down from the Dudleyz Monday night is also something to keep an eye on, as we still don’t know why they did it. Are they associating with Heyman? The Authority? I wouldn’t be shocked if they come out during this match as well. In the end, it will come down to Reigns and Ambrose, and I think WWE is going to shock us a bit.
Prediction: Dean Ambrose.
Sweet sassy molassey this is big news. It’s been reported for awhile now that The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson aka the biggest movie star in the world, wouldn’t be able to attend WrestleMania 32 in Dallas because of his insanely busy movie schedule. But time and time again, The Rock has proven that no matter how many movies he’s apart of and how much money he makes, the WWE will always be his home. So it shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise that per his official Instagram account, he will in fact be in Dallas this April. I doubt he’s going to wrestle, but just his presence alone is a game changer.