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.
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.
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!