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.