This was a stacked Raw, especially the first hour. A lot of it was well worth seeing. But the final hour, particularly the closing segment with Triple H and Reigns just blows my mind. I don’t know what’s going to happen at Wrestlemania. If they stay the course, Reigns is going to get booed out of the arena again, and there won’t be a Seth Rollins in the wings waiting to save the day this time. The remainder of the Wrestlemania card is shaping up pretty well though. Ambrose vs. Lesnar could end up being something special, and we finally learned who Undertaker’s opponent will be…
Shane O’Mac returns!: Hit
It’s hard to be surprised by WWE in 2016, but this was a surprise, and a huge one at that. Shane received a huge ovation and he’s already added a ton of interest and intrigue for Wrestlemania. The takeaway from the segment is that we’ll see Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, and if Shane wins, then he gets control of Raw. I found that wording to be interesting. Does that mean he’ll run Raw and Stephanie/Triple H will run SmackDown? Does that mean we’ll get a brand split, which would be completely terrible? Or am I reading too much into this? I think there’s always the chance that Shane allows someone to wrestle in his place – perhaps Cena if he’s healthy enough in time. Either way, they’re beginning to stack the Mania card now. I won’t completely celebrate because at the end of the day, it’s still the same clowns writing this show, but the prospect of The Authority getting the hell off of my TV has me really looking forward to this match. I don’t know how they would book Shane beating Undertaker, without tons of shenanigans and smoke and mirrors. If 46-year-old non-wrestling businessman Shane McMahon beats The Undertaker clean at Wrestlemania in a Hell in a Cell match, that would just kill all the credibility of The Undertaker. I also am not sure if we should be looking forward to a huge high spot like we would 15-years-ago. It seems like a lot of people on social media are expecting a huge bump, but I’d be inclined to think that Shane (who is in his 40s and has a family now) won’t be taking any big time falls off the top of the cell.
The New Day vs. Neville & The Lucha Dragons: Hit
I still wish that we would have Enzo & Cass or American Alpha on the main roster as a fresh team to challenge The New Day, but this was a good match. Some of the spots here were just crazy, like Neville’s 450 from the apron, and Kalisto’s 450 off of Neville’s back. Really good six man tag.
Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman and Ambrose returning: Hit
Heyman’s mic work was on point, his promo was heated and this whole act is just all kinds of entertaining. Ambrose returning in the ambulance was cool, and the crowd was hot for it, but then he tumbled out of the ambulance still selling his attack and I began to feel like they shouldn’t have done this segment. But at the same time I do like the way they’re booking this. Ambrose is destined to be destroyed by Lesnar, and everyone knows it, but he won’t back down and he’ll keep coming for Lesnar until he’s completely wrecked. It’s very Foley-esque to me, and I’m very keen to see what kind of war they’ll end up having at Wrestlemania. It could be a pivotal match for Ambrose’s career, and hey if Mania is as disastrous for Reigns as it seems to be, Ambrose could end up finding himself at the top of the food chain afterwards. Lesnar vs. Ambrose is also a much more compelling match than Bray Wyatt vs. Lesnar.
The Ascension vs. The Usos: Botch
I like heel Dudleyz a lot more than face Dudleyz, but I also feel like I need to hear or see something from The Usos. It seemed almost like the whole table spot a few weeks ago was water under the bridge for them until The Dudleyz came out and cut their promo. I’m not sure if The Dudleyz vs. The Usos is an exciting Wrestlemania match, but maybe they’ll build that for the Toronto Network special. Either way, this didn’t do a lot to move the storylines forward.
Y2AJ vs. Social Outcasts: Botch
The match wasn’t bad, but I had hoped they’d have a new direction planned for both Styles and Jericho. This segment just seemed like they had nothing on the books for them post-Fastlane and thus were somewhat afterthoughts. Maybe they’ll move them off into separate directions next week. I’m just not sold on the idea of Jericho and AJ as a tag team at this point, not in this division. I think AJ could have a great singles program with Kevin Owens though, and Owens was strangely absent from this Raw. I’d love to see Jericho work with one of the younger guys, maybe Kalisto or Neville? He had an awesome match with Neville last year, that could make for a solid Mania match even.
Ryback, Big Show & Kane vs. The Wyatt Family and Ryback turns heel: Botch
They surprised me at Fastlane, I was expecting a total dud match but it turned out to not be all that bad. But I didn’t care for a rematch and the Ryback heel turn seemed so sloppy. I’m fine with Ryback going heel, I feel like they’ve needed to do something with him for a while, I just thought they could do it in a better way. I hope they start bringing in jobbers for him to squash again to build the guy back up.
Sasha Banks vs. Naomi + Charlotte promo: Hit
The match was fine. The hit was Charlotte really though. Her heel work is so good and she is so much better now than she was when she debuted. I loved the touch with her wearing Nikki’s shirt. She’s doing great and I’ll almost be sad to see her drop the belt. That said, I’m looking forward to a triple threat and either Becky or Sasha winning will be good fun to watch, they both deserve it. I just hope one of them gets to replace that god damn butterfly belt.
Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus: Botch
This was a disaster. The fans hated Reigns, and they didn’t care about Sheamus or the League of Nations. Isn’t it bad enough that we dealt with like two straight months of Sheamus and Reigns matches? The real mind boggling thing came at the end when Triple H appeared and the match was suddenly over. He beat the absolute hell out of Reigns, pandered to the crowd like he was their hero saving us from Reigns, then Pedigree’d him over the ring stairs. I don’t even know what to think anymore. They want Reigns over, they want him to be the next John Cena but he so obviously isn’t the next Cena or Austin or Rock or Hogan and at this point the fans will never accept him. And then you have Triple H out there acting like a badass babyface with the crotch chops and mocking Roman. I just don’t get it. This Wrestlemania main event is going to be an absolute mess and it’s well past time they threw in the towel with the Roman Reigns experiment. Turn the guy heel and let him be the top bad guy to Dean Ambrose, before he gets completely Lex Luger’d.