RAW Recap/Analysis – February 1, 2016

The Ambrose Asylum gained a lot of steam as the road to Wrestlemania ramped up on this week’s RAW. With three weeks until Fastlane, the WWE made sure to keep it always in our mind’s eye throughout the show’s three hours.

Suplex City gets an Asylum

RAW opened in a big way, with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar opening the show. Heyman did what he does best, laying out in no uncertain terms just what Lesnar would do to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns at Fastlane. Dean Ambrose interrupted, strutting out with no fear to face Lesnar. He spoke to Lesnar with as much gall as he had, proclaiming that he wanted the title and he was ready for whatever beating he would have to take.

Dean Ambrose is consistently one of the best on the mic and in the ring. He is electric between the ropes, and when he’s talking, everyone listens.

Kalisto vs. Rusev

Though Rusev started the match off in a dominant fashion, utilizing his strength and brawn against the US Champion, Kalisto fought back with speed and agility, nearly hitting a splash off the top ropes out of the ring. Rusev caught him, but was taken out by a Solida-Del-Sol into the barricade, giving Kalisto the win via countout. At ringside, Del Rio, who will be getting his rematch at Fastlane, looked quite outraged at Kalisto’s success.

This was a good performance by Kalisto, who is always fun to watch. The ending was pretty botched, but it didn’t detract from the match’s overall quality. It’s always nice seeing the Luchador getting a push, even if it still hasn’t recovered from the title flip-flop before the Rumble.

Backstage, Stephanie interrupted a casual conversation between Ambrose and Reigns, announcing they would face the New Day in the main event.

The WWE updated us on injured Nikki Bella’s progress recovering from injury, and Charlotte interrupted her sister Brie’s interview to taunt her and flaunt her own success.

The Usos vs. The Social Outcasts

The Grammy award-winning Usos (I love Lillian) took a beating early on from the energized Social Outcasts, represented by Adam Rose and Curtis Axel. With some skillful teamwork, Rose and Axel both dominated for a good majority of the match. But with a hot tag, Jimmy changed the tide, and Jey picked up the win.

I’d like to see the Social Outcasts pick up a nice, clean win. They performed very well, surprising everyone with their early signs of life. If the WWE are smart, they’ll start building them up for something real.

Miz TV with AJ Styles

I was wondering if the Miz was ever going to let Styles speak. The Miz took the liberty of telling AJ Styles’ story for him, taking responsibility for the success of Daniel Bryan and the Yes Movement in the process. And thus, his true intentions were revealed: he wanted to be AJ Styles’ mentor. Infuriated at the negative audience response, the Miz went nuts, angrily putting down the man he was just building up, calling AJ Styles a rookie redneck.

Well, you can guess what happened next. Styles attacked the Miz, throwing him out of the ring.

“YOU KNOW ME NOW?” Styles demanded as the Miz rolled away.

Oh yes, AJ. We definitely know you, and we adore you.

Now, I would have rather seen AJ Styles wrestle a nice, long match, but this segment did its job: it introduced those in the WWE Universe unfamiliar with Styles to his character. The man of action. “They don’t want none” indeed.

Charlotte vs. Brie Bella

Charlotte executed a punishing match against Brie Bella, never losing her smugness and attitude. A motivated Brie powered back with a dropkick, backslide, and chokehold, and despite an attempted distraction by Ric Flair, rolled Charlotte up for the pinfall for her first win in weeks.

So, Brie wins the title at Mania now?

I kid, I kid. Honestly, Brie needed the win to remain even remotely relevant in this division. But it’s a bit of a swerve, considering both Becky and Sasha are currently vying for the title. Might we see a no. 1 contender’s Triple Threat at Fastlane, or sooner at RAW?

Big Show vs. Erick Rowan

Blink, and you’ll see Big Show has defeated Erick Rowan after basically walking around the ring and hitting a chokeslam. After the match, however, the Wyatts ambushed the giant, beating him inside and outside of the ring.

Well, I didn’t like Big Show winning, but seeing Luke Harper taking command in Wyatt’s absence was especially awesome. Harper is so underrated, and the idea of him as the second-in-command is tantalizing.

Titus O’Neil vs. Tyler Breeze

Breeze, who actually got a real entrance this time, started off strong with a swift offense, but Titus wouldn’t be denied, quite literally powering his way to the victory.

I’ve heard the whispers that Breeze has some heat backstage, but I’m still sad to see him as a jobber now. He’s worked so hard and is wildly entertaining when given the chance. Don’t ruin a talent like him because of pettiness, WWE. Grow up.

Backstage, Triple H approached Lesnar, asking if he had gone soft after witnessing Ambrose’s proclamation. “We’ll see at Wrestlemania,” Lesnar replied.

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler

In a continuation of their seemingly endless rivalry, Owens and Ziggler put on a quick and intense fight. Owens quite literally beat Ziggler, taunting him throughout and mockingly cheering him on. Continuing his antagonizing proved unwise, as Ziggler rolled out of a move and drove him into the corner. A Superkick bought Ziggler time to recover, but a kick of his own brought Owens back into the mix. Owens looked to hit Ziggler with his Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Ziggler hit a Zig-Zag outta nowhere for the win.

Well, all I took from this was that Owens is a master trash-talker and I love him.

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

Sasha came out with a mic, declaring she was done standing back and watching other Divas take her spotlight. Naomi and Tamina arrived soon after, claiming they were there to support Sasha despite her declaring she was branching off on her own.

Sasha and Becky have faced each other several times on RAW, and tonight continued their trend of really, really good matches. No Takeover, of course, but exceptional as always. Naomi and Tamina tried to interfere, but Sasha furiously put a stop to it, even pushing Naomi. The two began a beatdown on Sasha, but Becky joined in on Sasha’s behalf, and the two fought them off.

This was a wonderfully entertaining throwback to Sasha and Becky’s alliance on NXT, and the audience loved it. Might we be seeing something akin to AJ Lee and Paige’s shaky alliance at last year’s Wrestlemania in the leadup to Fastlane? Sasha and Becky do share a common enemy, after all.

Backstage, Chris Jericho put AJ Styles over like crazy, saying he would be paying very close attention to his match against the Miz on SmackDown.

Fastlane, anyone?

Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns vs. The New Day

The New Day very passionately shamed The Rock for his language against them last week and declared they would get their revenge by beating, yes, Ambreigns. New Day has been to Tumblr. Everyone hide your fanfictions.

Ambreigns took control early in the match and maintained it fairly consistently, but after a commercial break the New Day had staged a comeback, with the crowd hilariously rallying behind Kofi. But Ambrose tagged in hot, throwing Big E into the Ambrose Asylum to the delight of the crowd. An interference by Woods returned the control to the New Day. Ambrose endured a lengthy, agonizing beating courtesy of Big E and Kingston, but managed to tag in Reigns hot after hitting a suplex on Big E. Ambrose tagged back in, hitting his flying elbow for the win, but Kingston broke it up.

After laying Reigns out on the announce table, the New Day looked to double team for the win, but Ambreigns hit their respective finishers and Ambrose picked up the win. But they couldn’t celebrate for long, as Lesnar emerged. New Day took advantage of the distraction and attacked, and Lesnar hit an F-5 on Ambrose in the ring.

This was fun. I was terrified its only purpose was to make Roman look strong, but tonight belonged to Dean Ambrose, totally and absolutely. I hope officials take a good, hard look at his reception and book him accordingly.

The development between Styles and Jericho is interesting. I expected them to face off once, but now it seems like we might be getting a rematch at Fastlane, which I am all for, before a feud with Owens at Wrestlemania.

Overall, a semi-decent three hours of television that was fun at its best and slow at its worst. The incredible wealth of talent the WWE has, however, makes up for a lot of the subpar booking.

In other news:

  • Shinsuke Nakamura is coming to NXT! I’m still thrilled!
  • I booked my ideal feud for AJ Styles after Wrestlemania: Styles vs Rollins. Watch the video on Youtube!
  • I’m pretty busy this week, so expect little from me in way of blog posts, but hey, anyone have ideas for what I should book next?
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