Despite it being the day after Valentine’s Day, let me tell you: there has been a lot of love lost between the Superstars of the WWE in the road to Wrestlemania. This week’s RAW had the important task of setting the stage of last year’s biggest pay-per-view flop.
Fun fact: I was there at that flop. Still bitter about it. Still lucky that I got to see Daniel Bryan in action before his retirement.
Ambrose set up to fail
Dean Ambrose, in a very wise move, opened RAW, cutting a promo recapping the events of the last week’s show and once again, called out Brock Lesnar for another round of F-5 action.
Stephanie interrupted, and announced that Ambrose would be defending his Intercontinental title against 4 other Superstars in a Fatal 5-Way match, and would be disqualified if Roman Reigns interfered.
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens vs. Stardust vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship match)
Owens very quickly set his sights on Ambrose, and the two went at it in the ring while the others brawled at ringside. Ambrose and Owens fought alone before Owens was tossed from the ring and Ziggler took the stage.
At one point, Ambrose took out everyone but Owens with a wild suicide dive, and nearly got Owens, but Stardust broke up the pinfall. The chaos continued as several of the players scored near-falls. Owens cannonballed himself into everyone until breeze countered into a nearfall before being foiled by the others.
But it was, yes, KEVIN OWENS who pinned Tyler Breeze for the title.
Things just got VERY interesting for Dean Ambrose. Without the Intercontinental Championship, his prospects heading into Fastlane are now completely different. Him against Triple H might very well be a reality.
Backstage, Renee interviewed Ambrose, whose focus was now absolutely on getting his WWE World Heavyweight Championship shot. After, Owens demanded that renee give him his “due credit,” and was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, who challenged him to a match at Fastlane. Owens’ response?
Big E vs. Mark Henry
The New Day emerged, wasting no time in making fun of Edge and Christian, who antagonized them last September and would be hosting them on Sunday on the Cutting Edge Peep Show, teased Coldplay, and then called out Mark Henry, who walked out on them.
A very grouchy Mark Henry then came out, and the match began. Henry took early momentum in the match, tossing Big E out of the ring, but distractions by the other New Day members allowed Big E to take the lead.
“I am his DADDY!” Big E proclaimed.
The boys broke out the trombone, but Henry kept kicking out at two, staging a comeback before knocking Xavier Woods away from the ring as he played the trombone. Big E hefted Henry onto his shoulders, but Henry landed badly as he fell off, and Big E took the quick pin.
Brie Bella: Wife and Sister
Byron Saxton brought out Brie Bella, who began to tell everyone about what her husband was up to, but was interrupted very quickly by Charlotte, who oh-so-kindly offered Brie the chance to forfeit her match at Fastlane.
“Go home and be the good sister and wife I know you are,” Charlotte sneered. She continued to taunt Bella until she cracked, beating down a retreating champion.
In all honesty, I am the opposite of amused by this entire storyline. Catapulting Brie to the top of the division to capitalize on her husband and sister is beyond ridiculous. She is not a good enough wrestler to deserve this, no matter how good of a person she is. I don’t buy it. I don’t believe it.
And if she goes to the top, we’ll all know that it has nothing to do with her.
Divas Revolution, indeed.
AJ Styles vs. The Miz
Chris Jericho emerged for guest commentary before the match.
The Miz wasted no time in attacking Styles the second he stepped into the ring. He was still visibly terrified of Styles, showing fear even as he took control early in the match, working Styles very well until Styles’ quick-tempoed offense broke his stride
Miz then began yelling at Jericho, and Styles took advantage, hitting him with a flying punch. Miz regained some momentum, but Styles turned the tide with a knee to the gut and a pair of rollups and a forearm off the top rope.
Miz managed to hit the Skull-crushing Finale, but Styles kicked out, locking in the Calf Crusher for the win by submission. Jericho approached the ring, mic in hand, and Styles cut him off, challenging him to a tie-breaker at Fastlane. Jericho told Styles he would let him know on SmackDown.
The simplicity of this rivalry is part of what makes it so entertaining to watch unfold. It’s fantastic booking made better by fantastic performers, and I would be more than happy to see these two continue to make each other look good both in the ring and out.
Also, a nice showing by the Miz, whose in-ring athleticism is too-often forgotten.
Paige vs. Summer Rae
The Dudleys entered briefly, cutting the kind of heel promo that made them so great in their original run, trashing the Usos and proclaiming they weren’t just some nostalgic novelty. They claimed that they didn’t care what the crowds chanted for, they were the baddest team in the game and they weren’t there to please anybody.
Ah, yes, meaningless Divas matches. What a time to be alive.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Summer Rae is an actual wrestler. After a battle trading momentum back and forth, Summer Rae stole the pinfall for the win.
I’m intrigued. Summer Rae was a good heel and wrestler back on NXT, so maybe the WWE is trying to recapture some of her old flair and magic.
Paul Heyman came out, hyping up the main event of Fastlane, and then summoned Roman Reigns so he could deliver some news to the Samoan’s face. The former Shield hound emerged soon enough.
“This Sunday night, you know that I feel that you can’t get by my beast Brock Lesnar. Not you. Not Dean Ambrose. Not the two of you combined.”
Heyman very pointedly reminded Reigns that Ambrose stood in the way of Reigns’ dream of going to Wrestlemania, and said that he had a choice: his brother or his daughter. Staying close with Ambrose or doing what was best for his family, making his dreams coming true.
Reigns, to the disdain of the crowd, refused to turn on Ambrose and shook Heyman’s hand. But after Heyman left, the Dudley Boyz ambushed Reigns from behind, and Ambrose emerged to make the save. After they chased them off, Ambrose attempted Dirty Deeds on Reigns, pointing at the Wrestlemania signs. Reigns still bumped fists with him to close the segment, but now we know:
Fastlane isn’t going to end like Payback.
Zack Ryder vs. Heath Slater
Sue me . . . I’m so amused by the Social Outcasts.
After a premature victory lap, Zack Ryder took Heath Slater for a ride, hitting him with blow after blow and the Broski Boot. He then launched himself into all four Outcasts, but a distraction allowed Slater to pick up the win.
In other news, Goldust interrupted R-Truth’s date. It was great.
The Lucha Dragons & Neville vs. The League of Nations
I’m not surprised the US Championship has been relegated to the preshow of Fastlane. The WWE’s less than exciting booking of Kalisto’s feud with Del Rio has taken all of the steam out of this match. Hopefully Kalisto gets a more meaningful opponent for Wrestlemania.
The League of Nations controlled the match early on, but a well-timed counter by Kalisto allowed Sin Cara to regain the Luchadors’ momentum. However, Del Rio outpowered him after a distraction by Barrett to take the pinfall.
Becky Lynch vs. Naomi
Both Lynch and Naomi put on a very quickly-paced and athletic match, unsurprising considering the parties involved, and Becky won in less than a minute. Tamina and Naomi began to beat down Lynch, but Sasha emerged, scaring off the two in due time.
Honestly, screw this. The WWE loves to talk up how they are revolutionizing women’s wrestling but then they book their most talented female competitors in 30-second squash matches while expecting us to buy Strowman vs. Big Show as a legitimate main event.
What a damn joke.
Big Show vs. Braun Strowman
Bray Wyatt cut a promo, telling the WWE Universe to bow before him, and then the match nobody wanted began.
I won’t bother to talk about what happened. Braun was strong. Big Show was strong. And because Strowman can’t carry a match by himself, the Wyatts interfered, and then Ryback ran in. Then Demon Kane emerged from the ring, and it looks like Fastlane has another match on its card.
I cannot even begin to fathom why they didn’t switch this segment with the Ambrose segment. It’s like Creative hates ratings, or just gave up considering they were up against the Grammys tonight.
Either way, while RAW started out strong, it seemed to move backwards in its final hour. Here’s hoping SmackDown does more to hype up Fastlane than this week’s RAW did.