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Hits & Botches: Raw 02/01

A late entry for the hits & botches this week. A not so bad Raw with some decent matches, but aside from the main feud between Lesnar, Reigns and Ambrose, there’s really very little clear for Fastlane.

Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose open Raw: Hit

You mean Raw opened without Stephanie, Vince, Triple H or Roman Reigns having a 15-minute over-long promo that achieves nothing? More Ambrose and Heyman please. Heyman was great as usual, having Lesnar out there at the start really heated up the crowd. I was expecting Reigns just to come out and have a stare down with Lesnar or something, and I was constantly waiting for The Authority to show up and snatch the spotlight back, but it never happened. Instead, Dean Ambrose came out and cut a really good promo. The only downside is that I actually wanted to hear more. The silly thing is that Ambrose is really over, and having him do these awesome promos is going to make it all the more frustrating when he inevitably eats the pin at Fastlane. But still, I’m glad that Ambrose is being given some of the focus and it’s not all Reigns vs. The Authority.

Kalisto vs. Rusev: Hit

A decent big man vs little man match that the crowd was into. I liked Del Rio on commentary and I still look forward to their rematch, although I hope that will end their program and hopefully we won’t see yet another title change. I was cool with this having a count out finish as well. Rusev doesn’t eat a clean pin and it somehow still felt like a strong win for Kalisto despite the count out.

Stephanie promo with Ambrose & Reigns: Botch

Everyone was sort of more or less fine here, but you can see the seeds for the Reigns/Ambrose being planted and they’re just more or less going to telegraph it. I also just don’t get the logic behind the Fastlane main event. Stephanie was making it sound like she’s hoping that Lesnar wins the triple threat – WHY would she want to see her husband face Brock Lesnar? He should be the last person on the roster that Triple H wants to wrestle. I know he beat Lesnar at Mania once, but wouldn’t it make more sense for The Authority to want to throw the Social Outcasts or some other non-threat into the mix so it’s an easy win for Hunter, at least from a storyline standpoint?

The Usos vs. #SocialOutcasts: Botch

The match was fine, but there was really no interest from the crowd with this. The fans aren’t much into The Usos right now, and the Social Outcasts straight up are Social Jobbers. Outside of their first initial win over Dolph Ziggler, they’ve really done nothing. They’ve taken four Superstars jobbers, given them a name and some TV time, only for them to still be jobbed out. It’s a shame because all four guys are talented in their own way, but this gimmick is doing nothing for them.

MizTV with AJ Styles: Hit

This ended up being much better than I expected, despite AJ’s lack of mic work. I don’t know why they’re not letting him talk, but Miz was fantastic. He’s one of the most underrated guys right now and I wish they would give him something a bit more solid long term to work with rather than just random MizTV segments here and there. Whatever happened to that Neville and Miz pairing that they were teasing a little while ago? An AJ Styles vs. Miz feud doesn’t do a lot for me, but as a standalone segment this was solid.

Brie Bella vs. Charlotte: Botch

I feel like Brie is being hotshotted into the title picture just to keep the Bellas relevant in the division. The crowd popped for the win, but I’m not a fan of the champ taking a clean pin like this. I guess it’s a quick way to get Brie involved in the title picture – but should she be there right now? Between Becky and Sasha, I don’t think we need any more challengers for the belt.

Big Show vs. Erick Rowan: Botch

Oh boy, I’ve just been hanging out for the epic rematch from the Stairs match Show and Rowan had at TLC 2014. This was meh, but at least it wasn’t long. Although the post-match beatdown dragged. My guess is that they’re building up for Strowman vs. Big Show at Fastlane, which should be fairly horrible. I also just don’t care about the Big Show as a character since he flip flops between heel and face every 5-minutes. I’m shocked he didn’t turn heel mid-beatdown.

Titus O’Neil vs. Tyler Breeze: Botch

I’m all for Titus getting a bit of a push and working with some different people, and I assume that Titus and Darren Young seemingly splitting up is so they can experiment with Titus and maybe look to pushing him. I just wish Breeze was used better. He would have been better off staying in NXT where he was booked as a relevant heel, rather than treated like a comedic jobber on Raw. He’s treated like Fandango, but at least Fandango got a push for the few couple of months. This was a nothing match.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens: Hit

Best match of the night. I’m unsure that Owens should be losing clean right now unless it’s for a good reason. The guy should be pushed really hard right now, especially with so few clear matches on the Wrestlemania card. I also think Ziggler is another guy that should be positioned a bit stronger, but maybe not at the expense of Owens. It probably won’t matter since Owens will likely get his win back soon enough and maybe they’ll keep this rivalry going through to Fastlane. I’ve been enjoying the matches between these two.

Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks: Hit

The match work wasn’t great when you compare it to their NXT work, but they weren’t really out there to wow the crowd so much as to get over the long time coming break up of Team BAD. I actually liked the finish of Becky coming to Sasha’s aid. It really plays to Becky’s super babyface character and I’m glad Sasha didn’t just sucker punch her afterwards straight away, since it would’ve just made Becky look gullible and naive. I feel like we’re still getting a multi-woman title match either at Fastlane or Wrestlemania, but I like the idea of Becky and Sasha possibly becoming uneasy allies.

Golden Truth: Botch

I feel like they’re trying to relive the glory days of BookDust, replacing Booker with R-Truth. The problem with this teaming is that R-Truth has to play the straight guy to Goldust’s whacky over the top antics when R-Truth is typically the comedic relief. It’s not really working for me and Goldust’s craziness is more loud than funny. But some of the crowd was laughing so what do I know?

Main Event and Lesnar run-in: Hit

The main event was a decent enough match with Heyman on commentary. Even though The New Day lost, I do like how they stand out from the rest of the tag division, not just as champions but as the only team that could believably give the top babyfaces a run for their money. The problem is New Day is just so entertaining that no crowd is going to ever really boo them unless the New Day are up against some fresh mega babyface team that everyone loves. I liked the Lesnar run-in too and I kind of actually now want a Lesnar vs. Ambrose solo feud. I’m quite sure we’re still headed for Lesnar vs. Wyatt but still.

After tonight’s show, I’m still perplexed by the Fastlane main event. From a booking perspective, why book struggling babyface Reigns in a match with arguably the two most popular babyfaces in the company? It’s like the same arrogant booking that led them to booking Reigns vs. Bryan the same time last year. My only explanation is that Ambrose is going to go heel from it. From a storyline perspective, it makes no sense either. After everything, why would The Authority simply hand Roman Reigns a chance to get his title back? And why would they want Ambrose in the match? And why would they want to risk Lesnar coming after the title? It makes absolutely no sense, and it could have been resolved by them simply having Reigns invoke his rematch clause. Having said that, I am interested in the match and it should be pretty great. They still have a lot to do in regards to booking the rest of the show. We only know one other match, and that’s the US title match. We don’t know who The New Day will face, or who Owens is facing, or Styles. We have a vague idea of what’s happening with the women but nothing set in stone. They’ve got two weeks to announce some matches.

Featured image via WWE.com

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