The Rumble is over and we’re officially on the Road to Wrestlemania. It feels very much like bizzaro world; 46-year-old Triple H is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and AJ Styles is now on the WWE roster. This was actually a pretty fun episode of Raw with some nice surprises and really good matches. Definitely worth checking out.
The Authority promo: Botch
It was a well delivered promo, but it was still another bout of overlong Authority circlejerkery. They got some decent heat on Triple H for being champion. The idea that Triple H is the WWE Champion in 2016 still seems ridiculous to me. If only they hadn’t spent so long marginalizing 90% of their roster through 50/50 booking, they might have had some legitimate contenders and some big names to put up against Reigns. Nevertheless, Triple H is the top heel in the product (still) and we just have to accept it. I was hoping we would get either Reigns or some babyface come out to please the crowd and do something, but it was just a lengthy heel promo that ended and they moved on to the next segment.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens: Hit
A fun match. I liked Owens still selling from the Last Man Standing match the night earlier. You don’t normally see that consistency when it comes to Raw. I’m glad Owens got a clean win too – he really needs it. I don’t know where they’re planning to go with him, whether we end up with Owens vs. AJ or Owens vs. Zayn, but I think they need to build him up again coming out of his feud with Ambrose. I also hope they do something fresh with Ziggler, who has clearly become complacent with his role. Maybe another heel run could do him some good?
Flo Rida and Bo Rida: Hit
It was lame and cheesey and I thought it was hilarious. I know it’s not for everyone, but I loved OG “Bo Rida” trying to school Flo Rida. It was just an entertaining little segment to get a laugh out of the crowd. Worked for me.
#SocialOutcasts vs. The Dudley Boyz: Botch
Last week, Big Show laid out all four of them. This week, The Dudley Boyz beat them in short order. It wouldn’t be so bad if The Dudleyz didn’t feel so irrelevant right now. Social Outcasts are just 3MB all over again really. It’s nice that they’re getting TV time, but putting a bunch of jobbers together doesn’t change the fact that they are a bunch jobbers.
AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho: Hit
I was surprised that they gave this match away for free since it’s certainly something that they could have promoted for Fast Lane, or hell, even Wrestlemania. But, it was an awesome Raw debut for AJ Styles, and it’s still so surreal seeing him in a WWE ring. They had a great match and it looks like it might not be their last. I like that Jericho seemed to be acting heelish, I’m hoping that means he’s going full heel. Babyface Jericho is just a bit too dated now.
The match was fine, although the crowd wasn’t as responsive as they were at the Rumble to the title match. I’m actually glad that we didn’t see a clean finish. I don’t think Becky should be dropped from the title feud – the idea of them having a triple threat match works for me. They could put on an awesome bout. Charlotte got a lot of heat for her run-in too, so that was good.
Goldust needs a partner: Botch
Didn’t get a laugh out of me, but then again, humor is subjective. Bo Rida will make me laugh, but R-Truth thinking Goldust is hitting on him just didn’t. Still, Goldust wants a tag partner and there’s been talk that the Stardust gimmick is being dropped soon. Maybe Goldust & Cody Rhodes will reunite? Or even better, I want to see one last Goldust & Booker T run!
Bray Wyatt vs. Kane: Botch
We’ve seen it all before. The crowd was more interested in the group of fans cosplaying as old school wrestlers. Boring match and I feel like I’ve seen it a thousand times already. Was hoping we would see Lesnar or Heyman, but we got no such appearance.
The Rock returns to Raw: Hit
This was great. Everything backstage with Lane, Rusev, Big Show and Miz was hilarious, and the crowd loved seeing The Rock come home. He went off script and interacted with the cosplaying wrestling fans. The New Day were also great. It was just a great segment. My only gripe is that we don’t have any clue as to what he’s doing at Wrestlemania. I doubt he’ll be doing anything involving The New Day or the tag division come Mania time, would have been cool to just get a hint at what program he’ll be involved with. Nevertheless, this was a major highlight from Raw.
Natalya & Paige vs. Brie Bella & Alicia Fox: Botch
It was too short to be anything it felt like just another Total Divas promo. Paige and Nattie get the win, but there’s nothing here. Whatever happened to the Paige and Nattie feud that was brewing a few months back? I guess we just have to forget about that. They have enough women now that they can book more than one women’s storyline at a time, I’m not sure they’ve realised that yet though.
Kalisto vs. The Miz: Hit
It was a fun match where Miz showed more aggression than normal. Kalisto was great and the fans have really caught on with him now. A part of me was afraid they’d do another rematch with Del Rio and once again, hot potato the US title. But we got this match and it was pretty solid.
Reigns & Ambrose vs. Rusev & Sheamus: Botch
The match was fine, but once again, it’s something that I feel like I’ve seen a thousand times already. I just didn’t care. I knew the faces were winning, and it didn’t matter. Like I said earlier, the only heels protected on the show are the non-wrestling Authority, whereas The League of Nations lose more often than they win. There’s no top heel except Triple H. So these main events don’t even matter to me. I cared about AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho since there’s intrigue in the match and the outcome matters – but these LoN tag matches don’t matter, unless they suddenly give the heels some big wins. The announcement of the Fast Lane main event is interesting. Ambrose vs. Reigns vs. Lesnar should be a good match, but it makes me wonder why Reigns is in there. The Authority hate Roman Reigns, so why even give him the opportunity to headline Mania for the title? I was expecting Reigns to have to fight just to get an opportunity, but they just handed it to him. You could maybe argue that The Authority putting Ambrose and Reigns in a match against Lesnar is a punishment since Lesnar will obliterate them, but I’m not sure if that’s great reasoning. We’ll see, in any case, the match should be good.