RAW Recap/Analysis – March 28, 2016

This is it, ladies and gentlemen. The final Monday Night RAW before the Show of Shows: WrestleMania. The leadup to the biggest show of the year has been woefully bland, but this week’s RAW did a lot to garner interest in stale feuds.

That is . . . until the final hour.

Who is Vince’s bitch?

RAW opened in grand fashion in the final show before Wrestlemania, with the Phenom himself: The Undertaker.

“This WrestleMania will NOT be my last,” he proclaimed, reiterating that Shane’s blood would be on Vince’s hands, and Vince’s blood would be on his. He added that WrestleMania was his house, but was interrupted by Shane O’Mac himself.

He proclaimed himself an instrument of change for the WWE, even if it at the cost of Taker’s legacy, joining him in the ring. The two traded barbs before Shane sprung at Taker, who sent him out of the ring. Shane fought back with some goodies from under the ring, hitting Taker on the announce table from the top rope.

But as Shane was making his exit, Taker rose, flashing his signature symbol in warning.

This was the most interesting chapter of their story so far, and it was thrilling seeing Shane take to the sky once more. Taker and Shane played their parts well, and created a lot of intrigue for their match.

Well.

Next Sunday sure will be something.

Chris Jericho vs. Zack Ryder

Before the match even began, AJ Styles emerged, flabbergasted at Jericho refusing to fight him at WrestleMania, and proclaimed he wasn’t going to leave until he got the match he wanted.

Jericho, properly pissed off, beat down on Ryder, who took advantage of Jericho’s distraction with Styles to gain some momentum. Styles, at ringside, started a chorus of “Y2-Jackass” chants, which allowed Ryder to roll him up for the win.

Infuriated, Jericho beat down in Ryder in the ring and proceeded to tear the ringside apart. Calling Styles a stupid idiot, Jericho accepted his challenge for WrestleMania.

While in a dream world, I would rather have Styles facing a new opponent at Wrestlemania, I have no doubt that these two will put on a truly phenomenal show. Pun absolutely intended.

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch

With Sasha Banks at ringside, the Irish Lass-kicker took on the Divas Champion Charlotte in singles competition.

Becky began the match with momentum, working Charlotte’s arm with some vicious arm-drags, but the champion fought back with some well-timed reversals. But Becky would not be contained for long, fighting back with a series of clotheslines and suplexes.

However, that wasn’t enough to keep Charlotte down for the count, as she kicked out at two and reversed the Dis-Arm Her. A distraction from Ric Flair allowed Charlotte to hit Natural Selection on Lynch for the win.

There isn’t much left to do to hype up this match. The ladies will tear the house down, and the world will have no choice but to take notice.

Backstage, Renee interviewed Vince McMahon, who said that he was glad that Shane did what he did, because all it did was anger Taker. Shane approached him, declaring he was going to take forty years of pent-up aggression and frustration and let it loose.

The Social Outcasts vs. Big Show & Kane

The match itself didn’t last too long, as the ring was soon swarmed with entrants into the Andre the Giant Battle Royale, but soon enough the giants had cleared house, quadruple chokeslamming the Outcasts into the mat.

Oh, and Damien Snadow was there too. I might have marked out a little at the sight of him.

I mean, what else is there to say about this match? It’s lost its appeal, which was at its peak with Cesaro’s win, so I don’t really care who emerges victorious.

Unless it’s Sandow.

Boo-man Reigns

Stephanie and Triple H emerged, telling the crowd to grovel at their feet. Triple H mocked the crowd, telling them their dreams would never be a reality just like Reigns’ dreams would never be a reality.

Triple H proclaimed his obsession with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and all of the fame and power that came with it, saying that when Roman Reigns powerbombed him through the announce table four months ago, his obsession was reignited, and that his obsession would ensure his victory at WrestleMania.

Roman didn’t take too well to that, sliding into the ring and decking Triple H, driving him out of the ring to one of the most overwhelmingly negative receptions I have ever seen him get.

WWE absolutely HAS to hear the reactions Reigns is getting. It’s absolutely out of control. And i feel for Reigns, I really, really do. The man is not the best wrestler, but he’s not a bad wrestler either. He’s certainly a good man. But this is not his time. It’s just not.

The crowds are not behind him here. He is not ready, and we are not willing. Something has got to give.

Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio

Wow, you guys. The New Day are so, SO very over in Brooklyn.

The New Day cut a glorious promo, which was nearly drowned out by the overwhelming ovation from the Brooklyn crowd, and provided a stark reminder of what real babyfaces look like.

The action was swift from the get-go. Woods incurred the wrath of Del Rio by playing La Cucaracha at him, and Del Rio planted Kingston after interference from both sides. He kept his momentum through a commercial  break.

Kingston started to mount a comeback with the SOS and an incredible air move I haven’t seen him use in a long time. But Del Rio dodged a move to the turnbuckle, hitting Kingston with some vicious feet to the midsection.

It looked like he would take the victory, but Kingston managed to steal a rollup victory.

Jonathan Coachman emerged as the three were exiting, declaring the New Day his favorite SportsCenter guests and announcing that there would be live coverage of Mania to the show. The segment closed out with Coach and the New Day dancing together.

Backstage, the Dudleys and Triple H ambushed Roman Reigns backstage, sending him into the wall. Triple H thrust the belt in Reigns’ face and sent him face-first into it.

Kalisto vs. Konnor

You’d think that the announce team would mention the history between the Ascension and the Lucha Dragons, but I digress.

This match was over in seconds. After taking Viktor out, Kalisto hit the Salida Del Sol on Konnor for the win, taking both out once again after scoring the pinfall.

Ryback came out after the match, staring Kalisto down intently before leaving as soon as he came.

I’m actually excited about this match, but I’ll be excited about anything Kalisto is involved in. There’s nothing wrong with simply built matches, especially when Kalisto is over already, so hey.

Best of luck to both boys. Kalisto better steal the show!

Suplex City

Paul Heyman wasted no time in introducing his client, the baddest Beast in the land, and hyping Brock Lesnar’s upcoming battle with Dean Ambrose. Heyman disparaged Ambrose, calling him a lunatic in the truest sense.

Heyman gave Ambrose credit for being able to use weapons in the match, calling him smart like a fox, but pointed out that Lesnar would be able to use weapons as well, and was ready to absolutely destroy him.

Ambrose interrupted, coming out with a cart in tow. Seemingly ignoring Lesnar and Heyman, he pulled a crowbar, steel pipes, Barbie the baseball bat and Chainsaw Charlie, like he was grocery shopping.

Lesnar watched in disbelief, holding a kendo stick Ambrose had discarded, as he proceeded to add steps to his haul and left without even saying a word.

He didn’t need to. He’s THAT good.

This is my main event. It’s the match that I am thrilled and excited to see, the match

Paige vs. Emma

Welcome back to the main roster, Emma!

Emma did not hesitate to show off her new vicious side, beating Paige down efficiently and without remorse. Paige had some fight left in her, but with the referee distracted, Lana hit Paige with a kick, allowing Emma to pick up the win.

An all-out brawl broke out after, with Eva Marie emerging to come to the aid of the Total Divas. The ladies themselves didn’t look too thrilled, and Brooklyn was sure to voice their displeasure.

There aren’t enough words in the English language to voice my absolute and utter fury that Eva Marie is going to be in WrestleMania before wrestlers like Bayley, wrestlers like Asuka, wrestlers like Peyton Royce and Billie Kay.

What a joke. What a joke undeserving of the amazing women in the Divas Division today.

Stardust, The Miz & Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler & Sin Cara

Brooklyn serenaded Sami Zayn as he began the match against The Miz, who attempted tagging in Owens who in turn refused to go against Sami Zayn. Dolph Ziggler tagged himself in and went up against Stardust, who looked surprisingly energetic in the face of “CODY” chants.

Stardust rolled out of the ring, and Ziggler hit a Superkick on The Miz on the ring’s edge, daring Stardust to return. After a commercial break, Sin Cara was the legal man, and hit Stardust with a dropkick. The crowd, having a blast, all but ignored the action until Sami Zayn returned to the ring, joyfully continuing their “CODY” chants.

Ziggler tagged in hot, hitting a splash and swinging neckbreaker on Stardust. The Miz hit a cheap shot on Ziggler before tagging in. Shenanigans continued to help the heels into another commercial break.

Sami Zayn brought interest back with a hot tag, taking both Miz and Stardust out in the ring before taking Owens out at ringside. Sin Cara, now the legal man, looked to hit Stardust from the ropes, but was hit with the oddball’s knees.

A lot happened all at once, but then Owens finally tagged himself in to hit Zaynw ith a Pop-up Powerbomb, but Zayn countered with a missile dropkick. Owens looked to tag out, but both of his partners abandoned him, allowing Zayn to hit a tornado DDT and Helluva Kick on Owens for the pinfall.

I feel so bad for these guys. The crowd was ignoring them blatantly, because aside from Owens and Zayn, there is no real story between any of these people. Too much talent, too little storytelling.

More Authority, because WWE hates us

Stephanie confidently proclaimed that she and Triple H weren’t going anywhere, and Triple H took to the mic as well, but was soon interrupted by Roman Reigns, who attacked him. Reigns drove Triple H into the timekeeping area, and the entire locker room came out to break them up.

But Reigns’ aggression would not be contained, no matter how much the locker room tried keeping the two apart, and he flew out of the ring after Triple H, who crawled away looking disheveled.

Shocker of shockers, Reigns was booed. Not as strongly as earlier in the night, but the crowd was anything but welcoming to the WWE’s golden boy.

Well, see you Sunday. Here goes nothing!

Advertisements

RAW Recap/Analysis – March 21, 2016

As far as wrestling goes, this week’s RAW was one of the stronger showings, mostly due to its first match. It also set up multiple other matches for the Wrestlemania card and built storylines further. However, a brutally honest Philly crowd and a troubling segment showed how many holes the WWE must fill before Wrestlemania comes.

Indifference reigns

Throughout the show, the WWE aired a series of well-crafted vignettes hyping up Shane and Taker’s match featuring a plethora of Hall of Fame talent like Mick Foley, Edge, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair.

Stephanie McMahon opened this week’s episode of RAW, because sure, why not? She went on about corporate responsibilities and such, but was interrupted by Roman Reigns, who entered to yes, a chorus of boos.

…Awkward.

In few words, he told Stephanie that he would be the new authority of the WWE when he took back the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It was nice that he never smiled and kept it short and sweet, but it’s too late, really.

He’s lost favor with the hardcore fans, and the casual fans don’t care enough about him to counter the boos. And it’s not completely his fault, either. He’s been booked so badly that the Philly crowd that welcomed his title win is now right back where it began: unsatisfied and angry.

AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

In a rematch from SmackDown, Owens took early control, keeping things slow and grounded until Styles powered back with a dropkick. The two took things out ringside, where Owens tossed Styles right into the barricade. He kept his momentum into a commercial, utilizing chokeholds.

But a well-timed dropkick allowed Styles to break in his high-tempo offense, going into the air again and again and planting Owens face-first into the ground before Owens hit Styles with a clothesline and drop of his own. Both kicked out against each other.

Owens scored another near-fall with a wild frog splash from the top rope, but Styles narrowly avoided a Pop-up Powerbomb and the two began to exchange strikes, hitting each other with a Superkick and Pelee Kick simultaneously, taking each other out.

Styles planted Owens to the ground after the two exchanged more strikes, but even that could not keep Owens down for the count, nor could a stunning powerbomb from the ropes. As Styles looked to finish Owens, Jericho emerged, distracting Styles to allow Owens to get a rollup victory.

Styles chased after a retreating Jericho, infuriated.

In the ring, Owens cut a promo about who would face him at KOMania and was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, the Miz and Sami Zayn. All three gave a case for facing Owens at Wrestlemania, but Owens set up a Triple Threat for the chance to face him at Mania.

A vignette then aired of Ambrose hitting the streets in Philly earlier that day, talking all about Ambrose to Terry Funk, who gave Ambrose his trademark Chainsaw Charlie.

Styles and Owens were given the time to put on a truly awesome bout in what is hopefully a tease of what is to come following the Show of Shows. Jericho once again did some stellar heel work and yeah, I do love me some KO promos.

Ambrose continuing to get the rub from hardcore legends is awesome to see. Yeah, last week’s segment was better, but this one was magical in its own right. It was awesome seeing Terry Funk again, and he said what we all know: Ambrose is the best. Seriously.

Reigns might be the face of the company, but Ambrose? Ambrose is the heart.

Big E vs. Rusev

The New Day cut off a scathing promo by the League of Nations, cheerfully calling them trash and making fun of them before going right for the fight, both teams brawling at ringside.

When the actual match did start, Rusev tried to retreat, but Big E tossed him back into the ring and took control of the match, with Xavier Woods providing excellent orchestrations at ringside. Rusev gained brief momentum with some chokeholds and spinning kicks (after Woods and Kingston were taken out), but Big E powered out.

Big E went for a Spear, but Rusev caught him with a knee. He nearly got pinned, but kicked out as Xavier Woods came back with a fury, taking Del Rio and Barrett out at ringside. Big E, in an impressive display of strength, speared himself through the ropes into Sheamus and hit Rusev with the Big Ending for the win.

Backstage, the Wyatt family cut a promo on sacrificing Dean Ambrose’s soul, because yeah sure, let’s give kids nightmares, shall we?

The New Day are still adjusting into their roles as babyfaces, but they’re wildly entertaining even in a state of flux. Yes, I do miss the wonderfully biting insults they would hurl at audiences, but I’m willing to see how their face run plays out.

Battle of the giants

Big Show emerged and cut a promo about how much Andre the Giant meant to the WWE and how much of an honor it was for him to have won the Battle Royale last year. You know, when he was a heel.

He was interrupted by the Social Outcasts, who antagonized him until he attacked Slater. The numbers game proved too much for Big Show until Kane emerged, tossing the four out of the ring with ease and chokeslamming Big Show from the top rope.

…Eh, okay.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango

Oh, how times have changed.

This time, it was AJ Styles who interrupted Jericho’s match against Fandango, chanting “Y2-Jackass” as he played Jericho’s own game. Jericho managed to just barely secure the win, running out of the ring as Styles charged him and hiding behind a crewman.

Styles called him a coward and challenged him to a match at Wrestlemania.

This rivalry is awesome, to put it simply, and Styles continues to look more and more comfortable on the mic as time goes on. He and Jericho will, without a doubt, put on a match to remember at Wrestlemania, don’t you doubt it.

Stardust vs. Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder

Kevin Owens cheerfully introduced the three competing for the chance to face Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania . . . only it was not anyone we were expecting. Nice one, Owens, nice one. You silly goose.

Shortly into the match, Sami Zayn emerged, angry at Owens, followed quickly by Ziggler and the Miz. The four men argued at ringside, and Owens sent Ryder into the Miz causing a DQ. The six men all teamed up on Owens, who retreated straight to Stephanie McMahon, who put him right into a ladder match against all six of the challengers.

I can live with this, even though Owens is wasted in a seven man match for his first Wrestlemania. However, it’s good to see Miz being rewarded for his “Awesome” heelw ork recently and Ziggler being given the chance to shine.

Look out for Sami Zayn, though. His rivalry with Owens is the heart of all of this, and will without a doubt extend beyond Wrestlemania, injecting life into a struggling midcard.

Oh, and Stephanie was leaving because she was uncomfortable with Roman around. That’s a total babyface move right there, right? Nothing like making a woman feel unsafe in the workplace!

Backstage, Triple H picked Stephanie up to take her away, but Reigns ambushed him, dragging the COO out of the vehicle and beating him down to a mostly indifferent audience.

Charlotte vs. Natalya

With Becky and Sasha at ringside on commentary, Charlotte took on Natalya in a rematch of their amazing Roadblock bout. Natalya started off strong, taking advantage of a distracted Charlotte and hitting her with a clothesline.

As Sasha and Becky bickered on commentary, Charlotte mounted an offensive combat, stomping Natalya into the ring’s corner. However, Natalya fought back with a wicked powerbomb, locking in the Sharpshooter before Charlotte made it to the ropes. She tried using the ropes to pin Natalya, but she kicked out.

However, she didn’t kick out of Natural Selection, giving Charlotte a short victory as Becky and Sasha stared her down at ringside.

Once again, the ladies were not given as much time as they deserve, but Charlotte and Nattie did what they could, putting on an entertaining bout for the Philly crowd. Banks and Lynch were on fire on commentary, simultaneously building heat between each other while keeping a collective eye on Charlotte.

R-Truth vs. Bubba Ray Dudley

After DeVon provided an early distraction, Bubba Ray began to cruelly beat R-Truth in some fairly one-sided action, taunting him verbally throughout about Goldust.

R-Truth showed some spark with a few well-paced kicks, taking DeVon out. However, he ran right into Bubba Ray, who took him out for the count. The pair looked to continue the beating after the match, but Goldust emerged to look for the save. However, he fell to the Dudleys.

Luckily, the Usos ran out to come to the unlikely pair’s rescue, pulling out some tables for a welcoming Philly crowd. However, the Dudleys escaped, much to everyone’s chagrin.

No chance in hell (in a cell)

Vince reminded us all of his (former) son’s upcoming match, saying that if Shane were to win, they’d probably not see him anymore. He accused the crowd of enabling Shane’s determination and passion and then said that if Undertaker did not defeat Shane, this year’s Wrestlemania would be his last.

This is no surprise, and a welcome stipulation to this match, because now the Undertaker has a real reason to want to beat Shane. As for what this means for the match’s winner . . . that will take an entire post to discuss.

Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman

Staring down Vince without fear and cutting off the Chairman’s music as he did so, Ambrose entered for his main event match against the black sheep of the Wyatt family. Strowman came out with the Wyatts behind him, and Paul Heyman sat down on commentary.

Strowman used his size to his advantage, working the giant angle hardcore and laying a beating down on Dean Ambrose, who had to really up his antics to turn the tide in his favor as he took punishment after punishment.

Ambrose locked in a sleeper hold on Strowman, who regained momentum with encouragement from Wyatt. He began hitting Strowman with strike after strike, sending him into the turnbuckle and attacking him with a steel chair and hitting Dirty Deeds into the chair, looking right at Paul Heyman and telling him that Strowman’s fate was what was awaiting Lesnar at Wrestlemania to close the show.

Bless his heart, but even Ambrose cannot make a Strowman match interesting to watch. However, his brief encounter with Vince and antics post-match continued to display how much of an asset he truly is.

Overall, a fairly bland RAW, not the kind you’d see two weeks before Wrestlemania. But I remain hopeful, because if last year’s show proved to be a blast, this one should too.

 

 

The unchosen ones: Examining Dean Ambrose & Mick Foley

On March 14’s episode of Monday Night RAW, WWE Hall of Fame hardcore legend Mick Foley appeared in a brief but unequivocally powerful segment with Dean Ambrose, who is currently on a crash course with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania.

In it, Foley “passed the torch” along to Ambrose in the form of a gift: his famous barbed wire baseball bat, to the delight of the WWE Universe. It was a surprisingly poignant moment seeing the two interact, because Foley and Ambrose are universally loved for many of the same reasons.

But sadly, the same things that have endeared both Foley and Ambrose to hardcore and casual fans alike are what is currently holding Ambrose back from surpassing Roman Reigns as the WWE’s top babyface. So today, I’m examining the draw of unconventional heroes like Ambrose and Foley, what the WWE can do to take advantage of it and if there is even a possibility of Ambrose getting the marquee status he deserves.

Aside from how incredibly in-shape Ambrose is, he looks very much like the kind of man you would just see on the street. He isn’t drop-dead gorgeous (many will disagree, including me, but let’s be real, he’s insanely attractive in a less polished way) and doesn’t look like a star. Like Foley, he isn’t some sort of Greek sculpture. He’s just a human. At first glance, there’s nothing spectacular about him.

But then you take a second glance. And a third. And Dean Ambrose makes you fall in love with him.

Ambrose doesn’t rely on his look to get over because he doesn’t have to. Everything that’s spectacular about him is, as cheesy as it sounds, from the inside.

Mick Foley was this way too. His first gimmick, the heelish Cactus Jack, was not spectacular by any means, but he made it spectacular with his wrestling ability and mic mastery.

He really began to flourish when both were let loose in his Mankind persona, where he was able to flourish creatively and athletically. Mankind was absolutely out of his mind, imbued with a lunacy much like Ambrose’s, only much darker and more sinister. And, of course, the socks. Oh, those wonderful socks.

He also spent time partnered with a Samoan star destined for success.

Ambrose is much like Foley in that everything about him seems organic. His struggle seems real because in many ways, he is the true underdog of the main event scene. Always so close to the mountaintop, but always overshadowed by more cookie-cutter wrestlers with half of his connection to the crowd.

But also like Foley, his talent and his fanbase will not be denied or ignored. In recent months, Ambrose has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the only tried and true main event babyface on the WWE’s roster. His never say die attitude and consistent performances in the ring have resonated with crowds everywhere, forcing the hand of the WWE.

The WWE seems, finally, to be noticing what a draw Dean Ambrose is. Yes, they are still positioning Roman Reigns as the company’s top babyface (despite him being tailor-made to be a top heel, in my opinion), but the days of Ambrose dwindling on the lower midcard are long gone. He is selling too much merchandise and drawing too many cheers for that.

So how should they utilize Ambrose, if they aren’t planning on having him be at the very top? Well, quite simply, they have to change their game plan.

Right now, the WWE should capitalize on the thunderous cheers Dean gets and the chorus of boos Roman Reigns gets. Sure, give Roman Reigns the title, but turn him to the dark side while you’re at it. Seth Rollins will be returning soon, hopefully as a babyface, so pit him against Reigns.

Have Rollins and Ambrose work together to get to Money int he Bank, then duke it out fair and square for the famed briefcase. Then, because of karma, have Dean Ambrose finally grab the briefcase, which he cashes in at Summerslam against Roman Reigns. However, because of interference, he fails.

Then, at Wrestlemania, we get the main event we were always meant to have: a Shield triple threat for the title.

And Ambrose wins.

Will this actually happen? The triple threat, maybe, but I’m not a fool. I don’t expect to see Ambrose going over Reigns any time soon. However, Ambrose is not going to be buried. The WWE proved with the Mick Foley segment and with their investment in Ambrose at Roadblock that they are positioning him to be a main event player in the future.

It’s up to the fans to keep them listening, to keep showing their appreciation of Ambrose. He will probably never be booked in the way he deserves, but maybe, just maybe, we will get something close to it.

RAW Recap/Analysis -March 14, 2016

Wrestlemania is weeks away, and the WWE has a daunting task ahead of it: make us care. After Roadblock failed to change anything, we were left with a fairly stagnant card and main event. RAW this week proved to be good and entertaining, but the storytelling did not develop enough, leading to a disappointed step on the road to Wrestlemania.

The New Day vs. The League of Nations (WWE Tag Team Championship match)

Following their victory against Sheamus and Barrett Saturday at Roadblock, the New Day once again put their belts on the line against the other half of the League of Nations. Xavier Woods and Big E started strong against Rusev, unleashing the Unicorn Stampede on him joyfully.

But a tag from Del Rio moved things back in the League’s direction, with Mexico’s greatest export stealthily laying a firm beating on Big E. Woods tagged in hot, gaining some momentum, but a reversal by Del Rio once again changed things. He and Rusev laid a beating down on a struggling Woods. Woods managed to fight back enough to tag in Big E, who nearly took Rusev out.

Big E nearly had Rusev pinned, but Del Rio interfered, leading to a near-fall by Rusev on Woods. Rusev tried locking in the Accolade, but Kofi helped with a distraction allowing Woods to get the win.

After the match, the two teams brawled, with the League teaming up on one member at a time, much to the dismay of the crowd. And boy, it took forever and a day.

So, er, this is a thing. On the bright side, XAVIER WOODS WRESTLED!

The real main event

Dean Ambrose emerged, cutting a promo about just how close he was to achieving the impossible. But, he said, win or lose, Triple H learned not to underestimate him. However, Brock Lesnar emerged to cut him off.

Paul Heyman said he was the only thing keeping Ambrose safe from Lesnar, which instigated no fear from Ambrose, who dared Lesnar to let his beat loose on him. Heyman assured him that if he did, Ambrose would not make it to Wrestlemania. Heyman quickly wrapped things up and left hastily, but Lesnar made to go after Ambrose, who pulled out a crowbar.

Unfazed, Lesnar continued to stalk towards Ambrose, circling the ring as Ambrose taunted him fearlessly. Lesnar did fake a charge at Ambrose, but ultimately left him to his own devices.

Heyman has a point. THIS is going to be the best rivalry going into Wrestlemania, and will be the real main event, rivaled only by Shane vs. Taker. Ambrose is the most over, electric babyface in the entire company, and Brock Lesnar is, well, Brock Lesnar.

I can’t wait to see them steal the show of shows.

Ryback vs. Sin Cara

Sin Cara, dressed like Batman, emerged with Kalisto at his side to take on the heelish Ryback.

Ryback’s strategy was simple: ground the high flier. He wrestling strong and dominantly, using his brute force to keep Sin Cara from gaining momentum. However, Sin Cara used a reversal to find his footing, launching the Big Guy out of the ring.

However, once they got back in, Ryback hit Sin Cara with not one, but two Shell Shocks, all while looking directly at Kalisto, his intentions fairly clear. After, Ryback took the mic and challenged Kalisto to a match for the US Title at Wrestlemania.

First off, Sin Cara looked awesome. Secondly, the booking of this rivalry is actually pretty good. It’s a simple David and Goliath story. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to love or hate Ryback enough to invest. My faith in Kalisto will have to do.

Hope is lost, maybe?

Stephanie McMahon strutted out, introducing her husband Triple H, who emerged smugly carrying the title he “successfully” defended Saturday. Triple H, mic in hand, talked about his victory over Dean Ambrose, saying that yes, the Authority always ends.

“Hope is not a strategy. Hope is a dangerous commodity.”

He heckled the crowd, calling them losers and detailing an amusingly tragic story about the crowd being a guy whose wife and kids hate him before being interrupted by-

Dolph Ziggler?

Ziggler said he knew his place: in the ring, busting his ass every night for the WWE Universe. He said people like him and Dean are not losers, they’re just victims of the same system the Authority sat atop of.

Triple H cut him off, shrewdly offering him a place in the Authority, but Ziggler refused, calling Steph an egotistical tyrant while he was at it. In response, Stephanie put him in a match with Triple H for the right to any match he wants at Wrestlemania.

Sami Zayn vs. The Miz

With Kevin Owens at ringside, Zayn made his RAW redebut in singles competition. Zayn made an enthusiastic start to the match, clearly having fun as he took out the Miz with a moonsault off the barricade.

Zayn’s momentum continued throughout the match, as he kept bringing out the aerial maneuvers that made him famous. He launched himself at the Miz who was out of the ring, taking him out, and Owens tried distracting him. However, he failed, as Zayn picked up the win anyways.

Backstage, the League challenged the New Day to a match at Mania. And the crowd booed. Because WHY.

Brie Bella & Alicia Fox vs. Team BAD

Lana emerged before the match’s start, distracting Alicia Fox and allowing Naomi and Tamina to take an early lead. However, Brie tagged in hot, hitting Tamina with the Yes kicks and a dropkick, going into Brie Mode and hitting the bella Buster fromt he ropes.

Naomi looked to interfere but Alicia fought her off. However, a distraction by Lana allowed Tamina to pick up the win. After the match, Alicia looked to take on Lana, but was hit by a double Superkick from BAD.

Backstage, Lana confronted Paige, putting her down, with Naomi and Tamina at her side. Elsewhere, Renee Young interviewed Charlotte about facing Sasha and Becky at Wrestlemania. The Divas Champion mocked Sasha, calling her a scared little girl, and called Becky an awkward outsider.

So, we might be getting two Divas matches after all. It’s a shame to see Paige relegated to a tag match, but hey, at least she’s on the card, I think?

The Usos vs. The Social Outcasts

With the Dudleys on commentary, saying the Usos relied on their Samoan family legacy, the Usos put on a strong showing against the Social Outcasts. The Usos kept their focus on the Dudley Boyz as they picked up the quick pinfall with a splash.

After RAW, Renee Young announced the Usos vs. the Dudleys at Mania. Hello, kickoff show?

Passing the torch

Backstage, Mick Foley approached Dean Ambrose to ask him why he was putting himself in the hands of the Beast Incarnate. In response, Dean asked Foley if he was afraid in his legendary Hell in a Cell match. Foley responded yes, but he kept going because he was Mick Foley.

“And I’m Dean Ambrose, because that’s what I do,” Ambrose said in response. Foley, in response, gave Ambrose his wonderful barbed wire bat. I might have cried.

This was my favorite part of RAW. Mick Foley, a stellar human being in general, is the perfect legend to pass the torch on to Dean Ambrose. Both are unconventional performers who deserve to be at the top of the card, but are (or were) held back by not being cookie-cutter muscle men.

Ambrose is the everyman daredevil we all want to rally behind, just as Foley was. And it was great to see the WWE acknowledge it.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Triple H

Ziggler started off strong against Triple H with nothing to lose and a series of headlocks and arm drags. The crowd cheered half-heartedly for CM Punk, but that died off, thankfully. He continued to score nearfalls with a series of rollups and a dropkick, relentless in his offense.

A high elbow helped Triple H began mounting a comeback, sending Ziggler out of the ring and into the barricade, hard. He continued his punishment through a commercial break, even hitting Ziggler with a high knee when the Show Off looked to be mounting a comeback.

Once again, Reigns took Ziggler out of the ring and slammed him into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Ziggler stunned Triple H as he looked to hit a move off the ropes, building momentum into a swinging neckbreaker and elbow. He almost scored a rollup victory and then pinfall with the Famouser, but Triple H kicked out, stunned. He scored a third nearfall, but the Game once again kicked out.

He hit Ziggler with a desperate Spinebuster and kicked out of a nearfall from the Superkick, throwing Ziggler out of the ring viciously to buy recovery time. Ziggler returned, just barely beating the countout, but went right into a Pedigree. Triple H got the three-count.

Right after, Roman Reigns returned, going right after Triple H to a very mixed reaction. He unloaded on the Game, bashing him into the announce table. Officials tried to stop Reigns, but he attacked them too, only to right into an attack from Triple H.

However, his attack lost no momentum, going through all of ringside and through the  production equipment, throwing a speaker into Triple H. The assault continued backstage, with Reigns tearing into a bloodied Triple H, beating him quite thoroughly. The Usos and Jack Swagger  and Mark Henry tried to calm him, just barely keeping him from further decimating the Game.

Backstage, R-Truth approached Goldust in a penguin suit, because penguins stay together forever. Goldust refused.

Ziggler showed here how much he can deliver when given the platform to do so. He performed fantastically, with he and Triple H drawing the crowd in with excellent psychology. The loss was necessary, but Ziggler still looked great.

The same cannot be said for Roman Reigns. His return was less than spectacular, despite beating Triple H down in fun fashion. A few months ago, people would have eaten it up. But after the Royal Rumble, after months of being booked so clearly into a spot he is not ready for, it wasn’t enough to save the Wrestlemania main event.

Will it be a good match? Sure. But when we look back at Wrestlemania and the road to it, Reigns won’t be the true star, no matter what the WWE tries to shove down our throats.

Which really is a shame.

Chris Jericho vs. Neville

Neville started off strong, frustrated an already heated Jericho, who had started off the match by calling AJ Styles overrated and a shoddy wrestler. Jericho took his frustrations out on the cameraman and steel steps.

Neville looked to be getting beaten down by Jericho, but a shove to the ref got Neville the win by DQ. Furious, Jericho continued taunting the crowd, who cheered for AJ Styles.

Call and he shall come. Styles entered and promptly hit Jericho with the Phenomenal Forearm, a little bit of sweet revenge.

The segment was cut short by what seems to be a legitimate ankle injury for Neville, but Jericho’s heel work was stellar and Styles continues to be booked to perfection. If only the rest of RAW was this crisp and clear.

A Family Affair

McMahon emerged to tell the WWE Universe that their dreams of Shane leading the WWE would never come to fruition, and introduced “his” instrument of destruction: the Undertaker himself, whose entrance took forever and a day but was nonetheless chillingly cool to witness.

Vince told Taker to never lay hands on him again, which only prompted him to remove his coat, looking prepared for battle. Vince promptly apologized, saying Taker’s deal with the Devil was merely best for business.

Cue Shane O’Mac, who entered to the usual ovation, saying Vince was definitely not best for business, but gave him credit for the massive match against the Undertaker. He detailed his strategy against Taker, and said he was fighting for the future of the company and his children.

Taker responded that it wouldn’t be enough, and Shane called him a puppet.

“I have the misfortune of being Vince’s son,” Shane said, “But you’re Vince’s bitch.”

Undertaker attacked, and Shane fought back, only to fall to a Chokeslam due to Vince’s interference. The Undertaker looked horrified at Vince’s involvement, staring down the Chairman angrily as he beat a hasty retreat.

Huh, interesting. There’s a lot of places for this to go.

Shane was marvelous as expected, looking great even though he flubbed up a few lines. Undertaker showed a shade of remorse at yes, being used by Vince. The storyline now has a new layer to it, with Shane and Taker now having some legitimate beef with each other.

It still needs more, but it now has a direction, which is encouraging.

The Bilbs’ Conspiracy Theory: What if Taker Flips?

Just like many of you, I have read all the “what ifs” and the “theories” out there on the Internet about the Hell in a Cell match between Shane McMahon and the Undertaker. The debate is real: Would the Undertaker really lose to Shane? Surely Shane isn’t fighting! Cue John Cena!

I’ve read them all. However, there is a theory out there I haven’t read and so I’m going to throw it out there to fuel the fire…

With so much time until Wrestlemania, could the Undertaker possibly flip and join Shane’s side?

Think about it! It sets up so many things that the WWE Universe would like to see. Here is my scenario: It’s overtime on Monday Night Raw two weeks before Wrestlemania. Shane and Vince are verbally abusing each other in the ring. All of a sudden, the familiar “GONG” sounds and out comes the Undertaker. Vince starts grinning from ear to ear and directs Taker to attack Shane. The Undertaker, who we all know is not one to have orders barked at him, turns his attention to Vince and chokeslams him. Raw goes off the air with Shane and Undertaker shaking hands.

The following week on Raw leading up to Wrestlemania, Vince opens with his furious rant about how Shane and the Undertaker screwed him and how he will get his revenge at Wrestlemania by naming a new opponent for the Undertaker by the end of the evening. In order to punish the Undertaker, he will have to fight Braun Strowman (because Vince loves his big men) in the Raw main event.

During the last match on Raw, Undertaker is fighting Strowman when (surprise, surprise!) the Wyatt Family attacks Taker in the ring. To the delight of the crowd, we hear the music of the one, the only, JOHN CENA! Cena rushes to the ring to… attack the Undertaker! Bray Wyatt hits Taker with the Sister Abigail and then Cena picks him up and gives him an Attitude Adjustment. Vince comes out and tells the Undertaker to meet his new opponent at Wrestlemania, WWE Loyalist and the newest heel… John Cena!

Book it, Creative. You know you want to!

WWE Roadblock Recap/Analysis

Eat your heart out, Fastlane, because this glorified house show ended up being one of the most solid, entertaining, albeit predictable shows of the year. Natalya and Charlotte put on a stellar match. The New Day trudged towards babyface status. Enzo and Big Cass impressed. And Dean Ambrose showed the entire WWE Universe that he belongs at the top of every card he’s in.

The New Day vs. The League of Nations (WWE Tag Team Championship match)

The New Day kicked the night off by giving us the most entertaining advertisement for their new Booty-O’s box and shirt combo. They cheerfully insulted the League of Nation, but interestingly did not insult Canada like one would expect. Huh.

Some premature celebrating allowed Sheamus to take early control of the match before tagging in King Barrett, who fell to the Unicorn Stampede. Some double-teaming by the League, however, allowed them to regain momentum.

But a desperate dropkick by Kingston gave him the time he needed to tag in Big E, who hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Barrett, who countered into a suplex of his own. The two both tagged out, spent. Sheamus nearly took out Kingston with the Clover Leaf, but a beautiful counter gave Kingston the time to tag in Big E.

Barrett nearly covered him, but Woods distracted the ref, allowing Big E to hit the Big Ending for the victory.

The match was solid, but the most interesting thing was the lack of biting remarks from the New Day directed at the crowd. Looks like they’re being steered into babyface territory. I’m conflicted about this. I adore them as heels. They’re absolutely hilarious as heels. But at the same time, they are rarely booed because yeah, they’re that good.

I’ll see where this leads before I pass judgment…

Chris Jericho vs. Jack Swagger

Chris Jericho, in full heel mode, cut a promo in the ring about how ashamed he was to be Canadian, jeering at AJ Styles chants and insulting his home country as much as he could manage.

Jericho started his match against the real American with a slap, sliding out of the ring when Swagger hit some punches. A cheap shot by Jericho allowed him to take control of the match. The crowd taunted him with chants for AJ Styles.

Swagger seemed to be mounting a comeback, hitting a Swagger Bomb on Jericho, but the seasoned vet kicked out of it, nearly hitting the Codebreaker before Swagger countered out of it, locking in the Patriot Lock. But Jericho used the ref to make it to the ropes, locking in the Walls of Jericho for the win.

This was a showcase of heel Jericho, and it did its job. Short and sweet.

The Revival vs. Enzo & Big Cass (NXT Tag Team Championship match)

Enzo and Cass took control early on despite distraction attempts from Dash and Dawson with some fantastic double-teaming that included a thrilling aerial maneuver from Enzo Amore.

However, some clever tagging and interference allowed Dash and Dawson to regain momentum, picking Enzo apart without mercy by working his arm. Enzo tried getting back to Cass, but Dawson took him out of the ring to prevent it.

Cass eventually managed to tag in hot, clearing the ring viciously. Dawson tried hiding behind Carmella, but she had none of it, slapping him. Enzo rolled up for a near-fall, but was double-teamed out as the Revival scored a hard-fought win.

The most over tag team in all of NXT, Enzo Amore and Big Cass, along with the Revival, put on one of the best paced and most exciting matches of the night, filled with thrilling spots and excellent tag team tactics. No doubt they will be making the leap to the main roster in no time at all.

Charlotte vs. Natalya (Divas Championship match)

Dedicating her match her her uncle Bret Hart, Natalya took early control of the match before Charlotte began taking toll on her with a series of submission holds. Charlotte mocked her throughout, but Natalya locked in the Surfboard.

Charlotte got out, but the move served its purpose. However, Charlotte pulled Nattie out of the ring, weakening her. She pounded a weakened Natalya into the middle of the ring, wearing down the veteran Diva by working her legs.

Charlotte continued working Natalya’s leg at ringside, but Natalya sent her headfirst into the ring’s corner. Back in the ring, the two exchanged strikes, with Natalya nearly locking in the Sharpshooter. Charlotte looked to lock in the Figure 8, but Natalya refused to give in, even when Charlotte rolled out of the ring and hit her with the Natural Selection.

She nearly took the title with a massive powerbomb, but Charlotte barely kicked out. Natalya then locked in the Sharpshooter, but interference by Ric Flair distracted Nattie enough to let Charlotte roll her up, using the ropes to secure the win.

This match brought Toronto to its feet, which is always thrilling to see with two women in the ring. Nattie and Charlotte absolutely delivered, masterfully telling a compelling story and showing everyone why the WWE was abuzz after their last battle in NXT.

Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper vs. Brock Lesnar

Bray Wyatt entered with Harper at his side, announcing his henchman would be fighting at his side. Bray retreated from the ring, leaving Harper to take a suplex. However, a distraction by Wyatt allowed Harper to take control of the match.

But Lesnar couldn’t be controlled for long, powering back with one German suplex after another. Throughout, Lesnar kept glancing back at Wyatt, almost daring him to come get some. But Wyatt wisely stayed away, allowing Lesnar to hit an F-5 on Harper for the pinfall.

Wyatt beat a hasty retreat, leaving a beaten Luke Harper in the middle of the ring and saving his confrontation with the Beast Incarnate for another day.

Sami Zayn vs. Stardust

Entering to a massive pop, Sami Zayn took early and swift control of the match with his unique, quick-tempo offense. Stardust, however, gained some momentum of his own with a well-timed counterstrike, working Zayn’s shoulder.

Slowly but surely, Zayn fought back, working his way back to his feet. Stardust locked in a submission hold, but Zayn made it to the ropes. The pair exchanged rollups, and Stardust hit a huge superplex from the top rope, which Zayn just barely kicked out of.

Zayn regained momentum, taking Stardust out of the ring before hitting the blue thunder bomb in the ring. He maintained the momentum this time, getting the pinfall.

This match dragged near the end, but was a decent showcase for the WWE’s newest sensation.

Triple H vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE World Heavyweight Championship match)

Ambrose and Triple H traded momentum, with Ambrose mocking Triple H recklessly early on, taking control as Triple H grew flustered. Triple H looked to be mounting a comeback with his sheer power, but outside of the ring, Ambrose hit a reversal clothesline to get things back in his lane.

He targeted Triple H’s leg, buckling it in the ring’s corner and hitting it with a punch from the top rope. However, Triple H came back, nearly hitting a Pedigree but instead sending Ambrose into the steel steps and then the barricade.

The beating continued in the ring, the Cerebral Assassin methodically tearing Ambrose apart with ice in his eyes and locking Ambrose into a submission hold. Triple H taunted him, but Ambrose refused to tap, getting out of it. Triple H hit a Spinebuster, but even that couldn’t keep Ambrose down for the count as the challenger made it to the top ropes to hit a Flying Elbow.

Ambrose went manic at this point, hitting Triple H with a series of rapid strikes and a Running Bulldog. He went for Dirty Deeds twice, but was thwarted twice, getting hit with a wicked clothesline from the Game. Triple H again went for the Pedigree, but was sent out of the ring by Ambrose.

Triple H looked to put Ambrose through the announce table, but Ambrose threw him into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Ambrose locked in the Figure 4 on Triple H, but Triple H just barely managed to get out, only to be locked into the Sharpshooter, WHICH HE ALSO GOT OUT OF. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds for the three-count, but the official waved it off since Ambrose’s feet were under the bottom rope.

Triple H rolled up Ambrose using the ropes, but Ambrose kicked out, taking the Game out of the ring and hitting him with a savage suicide dive and then a Flying Elbow from the top rope out of the ring. Ambrose looked to send Triple H through the announce table, but Triple H dodged, hitting the Pedigree to retain.

Am I disappointed? Of course. Surprised? No, obviously not.

This match was fantastic from start to finish, a true breakout performance for Ambrose, who had the arena wrapped around his finger. Additionally, the screwy finish does have me wondering if perhaps his Championship hopes are not dashed just yet.

Even if they are, he lost while retaining his dignity and is now set for a bout even more anticipated than the main event.

Ha, good luck with Reigns, WWE.

 

Being a woman and a WWE fan

Happy International Women’s Day, friends! If you haven’t yet, go and tell your mothers, sisters, cousins, girlfriends, wives, or any woman in your life how special they are.

I’ve been ruminating on this post for a while, and today seemed like as good a time as any to post this: the experience of being a female WWE fan.

It’s an odd feeling, loving something that has historically treated your gender like pieces of meat to be gawked at and objectified. I don’t blame my mother for not allowing me to watch wrestling when I was a really young girl: that was the age of bra and panty matches, the age of Sable hosting bikini contests in the middle of the ring, of Lita being mercilessly pelted with a chorus of “SLUT!” every time she entered the ring after cheating on Matt Hardy.

The current crop of women on the WWE’s main roster now, even, are some of the best in the world at their craft. In Sasha Banks, the WWE has one of the best performers on the planet, male or female. Yet they are still given woefully short matches, and women like Eva Marie are given pushes far too soon merely because they are on a reality show. Corporate refuses to put Chyna in the Hall of Fame while Sunny remains enshrined. And don’t get me started on the WWE’s woeful characterization of one of their most gifted athletes: AJ Lee.

And it’s not just Creative who is to blame. The WWE Universe has had a hand in this for years, whooping and hollering for the return of bra and panty matches, calling women like Charlotte a man, and refusing to stop their relentless sexualization of athletes like Bayley. If you don’t believe me, look in any Youtube comments.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with women being comfortable in their sexuality. It’s healthy, even. But the WWE has, for years, taken things beyond empowered sexuality, tailoring everything for the male gaze.

Even I cannot escape the rampant, internalized sexism of certain parts of the WWE Universe. Ever since I began livetweeting and blogging, I can’t seem to go a week without being called “fucking gorgeous” by some strangers on the internet. I appreciate the compliment and all, but it can be aggressive and frankly, makes me uncomfortable. I doubt this happens as often to my male counterparts.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve also met some incredible people who haven’t once tried to flirt with me through Twitter, guys who treat me with respect and will talk wrestling with me all day. But for every good apple, there’s a bad one just waiting to pounce with a sleazy comment about my looks, because that’s all that matters about me, right?

So why do I stay? Frankly, it’s because of everything I wrote above. The world is changing, folks. The Four Horsewomen, Paige, Emma, Asuka and all of the women of the WWE are stepping up their games and changing the world’s perception of wrestling. The media is rallying behind them, calling Creative out for their abysmal booking.

And if women like me and the other women who love wrestling, give up, then our voices will never be heard. We would be letting down the trailblazers in the ring today who are working tirelessly to change the world’s view of women’s wrestling, the women of promotions like Shimmer, the women making magic in the indies.

That’s why I started this blog in the first place. The voices of women in the WWE and wrestling matter. Girls like Bayley’s biggest fan Izzy matter. Athletes who break the mold matter. And it’s not just about the WWE: it’s about the entire world.

I love wrestling, as imperfect as it may be. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. And I hope that one day, if I have a little girl, we can tune into Monday Night RAW and see them do their women justice. Equality is rarely ever given. It’s taken by hook or by crook. So I’m not going anywhere. I know the WWE can do better. I have faith in the unrelenting drive and passion of its Divas. And I have faith that maybe, someday, I can see the women main eventing Wrestlemania.

A girl can dream, after all. And this girl will never stop.

DSC_7995

RAW Recap/Analysis – March 7, 2016

News leaked early Monday that RAW would have yet another surprise in store for us as the WWE’s flagship show sailed into Chicago itself. And it was bound to be a memorable night anyways, with Shane O’Mac himself advertised for the show.

What ensued was a surprisingly solid three hours of television, with a thrilling debut from NXT’s most charismatic star, a strong showing from Shane and a lot of intrigue heading into the WWE’s busiest time of year. Let’s see what happened, shall we?

And the cats in the cradle…

Shane McMahon opened the show himself, looking fresh and energized as ever. He called out Vince for being an out of touch ego maniac, his words ringing a bit too close to the truth for comfort. The familiar gongs rang, but soon enough Vince came out instead of the Undertaker.

(Here, the CM Punk chants began, naturally.)

Vince took us down memory lane, showing a picture of Shane as a child, crushing it, and saying Shane was nothing but “Vince’s son.” He said his sons would see their father fail them, and he would be there to pick up the pieces after.

“My greatest creation will put to rest my greatest failure.”

He then told security to escort Shane out of the building, but Shane, for lack of a better phrase, beat the crap out of them, exiting with a definitive chip on his shoulder.

Kevin Owens vs. Neville

The man who declared himself the greatest IC Champ ever laid an efficient beating on Neville to open the match, mocking him throughout and antagonizing Michael Cole. But a well-timed reversal allowed Neville to make a comeback.

But Owens wouldn’t stay down for long, flinging an aerial Neville into the steel steps at ringside to buy himself time to recover. But Neville powered back with a HUGE splash out of the ring from the top rope, nearly taking Owens out with Apollo Crews’ finisher.

Owens nearly hit a moonsault on Neville, who hit him with the Red Arrow, but managed to stay alive long enough to roll up Neville for the win. But he wasn’t done, continuing to beat Neville down after the match.

BUT THEN SAMI ZAYN CAME TO THE RESCUE! The two longstanding rivals brawled in the ring, with Neville helping the former NXT Champion make a major statement.

Backstage, Stephanie put Dolph Ziggler in a handicap elimination match against the League of Nations.

Zayn and Owens have enough history, technical prowess and charisma to light up Dallas come Wrestlemania, if the WWE chooses to go down that route. The IC Title only makes their rivalry that much sweeter.

Welcome to the main roster, Sami Zayn. You belong here, and it’s been a long time coming. Wrestlemania won’t know what hit it.

Brie Bella vs. Summer Rae

Summer Rae began the match viciously, going on the offensive immediately until Brie used her husband’s kicks to mount a comeback. However, not a minute into the match, Lana emerged, distracting Brie and allowing Summer Rae (her former enemy, mind you) to roll her up for the win.

Lana attacked Brie in the ring, hitting the twin with her own move, before exiting smugly.

I, er . . . I don’t know why this is a thing, to be honest.

Suck it, Triple H

The WWE Universe’s favorite daredevil emerged, entering the ring with razor-sharp focus to cut a promo. He declared Triple H would respect him, because after Roadblock, he would be the face of the WWE.

He would be the king of WWE Champion “these people deserve.”

Triple H interrupted, but Ambrose just told him to “suck it.” Triple H called him delusional, and Ambrose countered by saying it got him this far. Dean taunted him, daring him to get into the ring. Triple H, of course, refused, instead making a match between Ambrose and Bray Wyatt.

Ambrose was on fire yet again, his DX reference truly and properly characterizing Ambrose as the WWE’s newest and best rebel. If only they would put their faith in him, because he could very well be the face of the company if they took that risk.

Dolph Ziggler vs. The League of Nations

Ah yes, four men with no real direction and all the talent in the world. What a shame.

Obviously, Ziggler struggled as the numbers game took its toll on him, with Rusev and Barrett laying waste tot he eternal showoff. Ziggler looked to mount a comeback when Sheamus entered the ring. His momentum continued against Barrett as the British man was eliminated first.

Ziggler nearly eliminated Sheamus twice, but interference from Rusev allowed the Irishman to steal the win with a Brogue Kick.

Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks vs. Team BAD

With Charlotte on hand to watch the action, the two contenders to her throne came out to battle Sasha’s former allies. A cheap shot allowed Tamina to take control against Becky early on, but Sasha took control back soon enough with Becky providing backup against Tamina at ringside.

Within moments, Sasha had Naomi in the backstabber and tapping out. Charlotte attacked Sasha as she celebrated, suplexing Lynch when she came to her aid to stand tall at the segment’s end.

Backstage, R-Truth brought Stardust some deep dish pizza as an apology of sorts, but that didn’t work out very well. Well, except for Mark Henry, who got the pizza.

Unsurprisingly, Banks and Lynch looked strong as ever, putting on an impressive showing int heir limited time slot. Charlotte looked dominant as well, continuing to grow more and more comfortable in her heel role.

The New Day vs. Y2AJ (Tag Team Championship match)

AJ Styles and Chris Jericho, both clad in those hideous Y2AJ t-shirts, took early control of the match with classic tag team offensive style, taking to the air in perfect sync. New Day, with the help of Woods, mounted a comeback, with Big E beating into Jericho.

But Styles tagged in hot to a magnificent ovation, beating down on Kofi until a tagged in Big E nearly ended the match then and there. Jericho tagged in and was nearly rolled up by a tagged Kingston. Styles hit a moonsault after tagging in, nearly getting the win before Big E pulled Kingston out of the ring.

Styles retaliated with an aerial move, nearly getting rolled up himself. Jericho locked Kingston into the Walls of Jericho, but Big E tagged in, hitting Jericho with the Big Ending for the win.

Styles looked to help Jericho up, but Jericho hit him with three Codebreakers in a row to a chorus of boos. Damn, it’s gonna be really hard to sell the rest of those Y2AJ shirts now! Especially after Jericho stuffed one in the mouth of his prone rival.

Backstage, Renee Young asked for explanation from Jericho, who furiously lamented Chicago’s constant cheering for AJ Styles. Nice.

I’m so relieved the WWE finally pulled the trigger on Jericho’s heel turn while simultaneously freeing Styles for a singles match at Wrestlemania. The t-shirts had me freaking out for a bit there, I’ll admit it, but now we’re back on track.

Look out, Jericho.

Kalisto vs. Tyler Breeze

The match between the two underutilized talents was quick-paced from the start, with Breeze and Kalisto both showing off the agile athleticism that served them both well in the past.

But a Salida-Del-Sol allowed Kalisto to grab a quick victory, giving him some much-needed momentum heading down the Road to Wrestlemania. Backstage, Ryback told Kalisto to branch out on his own.

Ryback vs. Curtis Axel

After a cute promo that involved lumberjack grunting of some sort, Curtis Axel took on Ryback, donning his new attitude with ease.

Suffice it to say, Ryback took Axel out with almost scary ease, further cementing his new push. Where is this leading? Pft, who knows. Rumor has it Kalisto and he are set for a crash course. Perhaps it’s true.

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt

Brock Lesnar’s two next victims-er, opponents, squared off in a matchup that last ended in an ambulance match.

The two traded momentum, with Wyatt’s strong and snappy offense keeping Dean fairly grounded in the match’s early moments. He continued to wear Ambrose down, preaching and taunting him in his delightfully creepy manner.

A wild collision nearly got both competitors counted out, and Ambrose rallied back with a series of strikes and clotheslines. However, Wyatt rallied with some counters of his own, bringing Ambrose to his knees by sending him shoulder-first into the barricade at ringside.

But Ambrose couldn’t be stopped for long, hitting Wyatt with a flying elbow. But then the rest of the Wyatts appeared, assaulting Ambrose and causing the DQ. As they celebrated, the Game emerged, nodding in approval and entering the ring. But Wyatt stood right up to him, staring him down without fear and stroking the belt ominously.

Triple H let the Wyatts leave before stripping down the announce table, but upo returning to the ring walked right into a Dirty Deeds from Ambrose. The Lunatic Fringe held up the belt to end the show.

It’s a real shame he’s going to lose on Saturday.

 

 

 

 

RAW Recap/Analysis – February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day, ladies and gentlemen! Tonight’s RAW began and ended witht he man who, in my opinion, should be the WWE’s top babyface. A relentless underdog who welcomes any and all challenges, regardless of whether or not they destroy him. A man who has put on stellar main event matches with the likes of Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar.

Dean Ambrose.

Know your place

Triple H opened the show, touting his authority figure status, saying that Roman Reigns’ disrespect earned him nothing except a battered face.

“Roman Reigns should know his place.”

But then, Triple H was interrupted by a swaggering Dean Ambrose, who sauntered into the ring without fear, saying Roman Reigns was coming for him. Triple H tried rubbing Ambrose’s sidekick status in his face (though a series of Oscars references), but Ambrose ignored him, asking who he was most afraid of winning the match at Fastlane.

Ambrose stepped right up to Triple H, saying he was sure he was the last guy Triple H wanted to face at Wrestlemania. “You’re smart enough to know that you can’t beat me,” he pointed out tauntingly before challenging the Game to a match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Triple H said he would consider it, and booked a match between the Lunatic Fringe and Alberto Del Rio.

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (No. 1 Contender’s match for the Divas Championship)

Charlotte emerged to sit in and watch the match between the two biggest stars in the Divas Division.

From the beginning of the match, Sasha and Becky both went for early submissions, keeping the momentum evenly balanced between them, reaching an early stalemate. However, it didn’t last long as Becky’s quick offense swiftly began to show itself. However, Sasha soon countered herself into momentum of her own.

The two continued to trade momentum, with Becky nearly getting the pinfall with a dropkick from the top rope. She went for a move from the top rope, but a sunset flip by Sasha ended the match in a pinfall with both ladies’ shoulders on the ground.

The match was called as a draw.

This was all too short, in my opinion, but the ending gives me hope that we might indeed get a Triple Threat match between three of the four Horsewomen on the grandest stage of them all. Becky and Sasha have excellent in-ring chemistry, so I don’t care how many times we see them go at it: it will never get old for me.

Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz

Blink, and you’d have missed the Miz rolling up Dolph Ziggler for a VERY quick pinfall.

Okay then.

I don’t know where this is going. Nor do I particularly care. Which is a shame, considering how talented both gentlemen are.

Bow down to the queen

Stephanie emerged, looking quite fabulous, I might add, to bask in the glory her brother interrupted last week on RAW. She said she would give her speech, and be given the respect she deserved.

Naturally, the crowd booed her out of the building. Enraged, she knocked over the podium holding the award, going off on her brother, enraged.

“What’s really sad is I love my brother, but I don’t respect him because every time I let my guard down he stabs me in the back.”

She went further, calling the crowd entitled just like her brother, saying the Undertaker would not just defeat Shane, but dismember him.

She ended by saying eventually, everyone would have to bow down to the Queen, her.

Holy hell. Stephanie outclassed her father, who would appear later, in spades, absolutely sinking her teeth into her heelish role. The best heels are grounded in reality, and her mentions of her own daughters and their legacy was a wonderful touch. Black and white plots are boring, anyways.

The Lucha Dragons vs. The League of Nations

The League of Nations (represented by Sheamus and Rusev, who had issued a body slam challenge for his sports car) took control of the match from the beginning, dominating poor Sin Cara absolutely until a DDT allowed Sin Cara to tag in a white-hot Kalisto.

However, it wasn’t enough, and Rusev pinned the US Champ. Del Rio continued to beatdown at the match’s end.

I don’t understand why the WWE keeps insisting on having Kalisto, the better half of the Lucha Dragons by all estimations, taking all the pinfalls, especially with the United States Championship around his waist.

Ryback vs. Adam Rose

Proclaiming in a pretaped promo he wanted the spotlight and would do whatever he had to in order to claim it. He followed through on that statement, making quick work of Adam Rose and hitting the Shell Shock quickly enough.

Ryback’s last dismal heel turn was not much to care for, and this seems to be following suit. Here’s hoping he gets a clear direction soon enough.

Y2AJ vs. The New Day

Entering cheerfully, the New Day hugged before proclaiming that they were the best three-man team in history, denouncing the “League of Booty” and putting themselves over big-time, claiming “Y2AJ” were just pretending to be friends.

Jericho interrupted them with his (still freaking awesome) entrance, followed soon after by Styles, and the rag-tag duo took early control of the match, taking to the air. But the Unicorn Stampede soon brought Styles to his knees. A lucky kick by the Phenomenal One allowed him to tag Jericho in. Big E interfered in a pinfall, but AJ got him out of the way, allowing Jericho to lock int he Walls of Jericho.

After the match, the pair challenged the New Day to a match for the Tag Team Championships the next week on RAW. What a relief for most of the internet, as everyone feared for a hot second Jericho was going to say Wrestlemania.

As entertaining as both groups are, the WWE would be absolutely wasting AJ Styles by sticking him in a tag team. I’m in no way trying to demean Jericho or the New Day, all of whom are the highlights of every segment they’re in. But Styles is not the kind of talent you attach to anyone else.

I hope he gets the singles match he deserves at Wrestlemania, or else the WWE is wasting all of the money they’re investing in the Superstar.

Sins of the father

Vince McMahon himself emerged, proclaiming that only fools believe in miracles, which Shane defeating the Undertaker would be. He said Shane’s match against the Undertaker was going to be a lesson, calling the Undertaker his own instrument of destruction.

The dead man himself didn’t take to kindly to that, grabbing Vince by the throat and saying the blood of his son would be on Vince’s hands, not his. Though visibly shaken, Vince remained steadfast, proclaiming he would write Shane out of his will and renounce him as his son upon his loss.

As much as I loved seeing the Undertaker, and as cool it was seeing him hold Vince by the neck, this segment did little to explain why exactly the Undertaker would play along with Vince’s scheme.

Perhaps he simply wins, no matter what the cost is, even if it means decimating someone who has done no wrong? It would’ve been nice to have an explanation instead of melodrama.

Jey Uso vs. Bubba Ray Dudley

Bubba Ray made quick work of Jey, with DeVon using a table to remove Jimmy from the equation, and took Jey out in under a minute.

Backstage, Goldust approached R-Truth in the locker room, who said he was just done with the odd man’s wild antics. Goldust then became the human equivalent of the sadface emoji.

Kevin Owens vs. Big Show

Owens got Big Show out of the ring soon enough, but when it looked like the human buzzkill was going to make it back into the ring, he hit him with a DDT to keep him down. Big Show, however, made it back at eight, throwing Owens into the ropes in a familiar move that got him eliminated on last week’s SmackDown.

It worked, with Big Show getting the victory.

It’s physically painful writing that. Big Show, as much as I like him as a human being, has no business being involved with Kevin Owens, let alone getting a win over him. I sincerely hope this is not indicative of the WWE’s plans for Owens heading into Wrestlemania.

Brie Bella vs. Naomi

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Brie Bella, head held high following her loss the week before, but the interview was cut short by Lana, who traded barbs with the Total Divas star, insulting her figure and husband both.

Naomi controlled the match early on, with Tamina hitting Brie on the curtain to provide some support for the athletic Diva. Naomi attempted an impressive moonsault, but Brie rolled out of the way, hitting Naomi with her husband’s kicks.

But Naomi would not be denied, locking in a submission hold and forcing Brie to tap out. Following the match, Lana emerged, laughing at Brie following her loss.

Lana has barely been on television in recent months, so it isn’t exactly clear whether or not she’s ring-ready. However, her presence is indeed missed, and it’s nice to see her on television again. However, whether or not she can carry a legitimate feud with Brie is yet to be seen.

Backstage, Charlotte approached a bickering Sasha and Becky, saying they would have one more chance to battle for the chance to challenge her at Wrestlemania on SmackDown.

Dean Ambrose vs. Alberto Del Rio

Still awaiting his answer from the Game himself, Ambrose emerged ready for action against Mexico’s Greatest Export.

Del Rio laid a beating on Ambrose early on, continuously driving the Lunatic Fringe into the barricade before taking a break to flex for the crowd. Ambrose fought back after taking more of a beating at the hands of Del Rio, with the support of the entire League of Nations, mind you, but was left prone outside the ring, just barely crawling back into the ring before being counted out.

However, he managed to start making a comeback, countering into a series of strikes and clotheslines and DDTs galore, hitting a missile dropkick off the top rope for a near fall before taking out the entire League outside the ring from the top rope.

Then, the Game emerged, removing his tie and motioning for the League of Nations to assault Ambrose in the ring as he watched at ringside. Taking a mic, Triple H said that Ambrose would never beat the Authority, but Ambrose attacked him out of nowhere before taking a Pedigree from the enraged COO.

“You want a championship match with me? YOU’RE ON,” Triple H growled, stalking off. Dean just barely managed to utter his thanks, cheeky as ever, prompting the Game to come back for more, throwing Ambrose into the announce table and pummeling his face in to a chorus of boos.

Huh. I seem to recall him doing the exact same thing to Reigns last week and getting cheered like a babyface.

Gosh, I hope all those lousy “smarks” who say that Ambrose is better fit to be the top babyface of the company weren’t watching!