This week’s Monday Night Raw aired live from the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
We’re solidly on the road to WrestleMania with Fastlane three weeks away. The main event is set, but what will become of the undercard of a pay-per-view with pretty low expectations now that Elimination Chamber has moved down the calendar? Hopefully this edition of Raw will move us closer to a respectable card.
To start off the show Paul Heyman comes out to the ring with the man he calls the Mayor of Suplex City, Brock Lesnar. Heyman promises that his client will stack Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose on top of one another and go on to Wrestlemania to face Triple H at Wrestlemania. Heyman goes in on Ambrose specifically calling him sick and twisted. This brings out the the unstable one. Dean gets right in Brock’s face and lets the Beast know he isn’t afraid and he expects the beating, but he wants to title so badly that he welcomes a trip to Suplex City. With that, Ambrose leaves without incident. Lesnar simply stares him down as he exits.
Rusev vs Kalisto
Here we have a classic David vs Goliath situation. Rusev hulks over Kalisto. It is the job of the luchador to chop down the Bulgarian tree and that’s just what he tries to do. He works the legs and uses his speed to try for the upperhand. Alberto del Rio is on commentary for the match and it is revealed that he will get his championship rematch at Fastlane. Back in the ring Rusev catches Kalisto with a superkick coming off of the top rope and gains firm control. The action moves outside where the champion hits a huracanrana into the barricade and Kalisto wins by countout.
Stephanie McMahon bumps into Roman and Dean backstage where she’s still bragging about Triple H’s win in the Royal Rumble. She attempts to plant seeds of dissension between the best friends. Steph makes the main event for the night. Reigns and Ambrose will team up to take on the New Day.
We get an update on the condition of 2015 Slammy winner for Diva of the Year, Nikki Bella. Nikki had to undergo neck surgery and will have to take the next three off months to recover. We then go to her sister Brie to get her thoughts. She is quickly interrupted by current Diva’s champion Charlotte. The champ insinuates that Nikki’s career is now over and she is on her way to becoming the company’s top diva.
The Usos vs Curtis Axel and Adam Rose
Axel and Rose look good early on in the match. They are working good as a tag team cutting off the ring and working over Jey Uso. The momentum is changed quickly however when Jimmy receives the tag. He hits a superkick on Axel followed by a top rope splash by Jey and just like that the #socialoutcasts take another loss.
MizTV with AJ Styles
The Miz’s guest this week is the Phenomenal One, AJ Styles. Styles is hardly given any mic time though. Miz recites many if AJ’s accomplishments throughout his over decade and half long wrestling career. He points out Styles’ smaller stature, but compares him with Daniel Bryan. He says this all with the endgame of proposing to be AJ’s manager. The audience does not agree with this idea and when they turn on the Miz he turns on AJ Styles. He rips into him saying that he’s essentially a nothing compared with the talent in the WWE. With that AJ attacks Miz, throwing him off his own set and showing that at the very least he is the better of the two.
Brie Bella vs Charlotte
Brie comes out fired up after the disrespect shown by Charlotte earlier in the night. Her advantage does not last long as the champ begins to show her vicious tendencies. Charlotte throws Brie around like an NXT rookie. Brie does manage though, to slip on a sleeper hold. Sensing his daughter may be in trouble, Ric Flair hops on the apron and attempts to distract. This allows Charlotte to break the hold and set up for the figure four leg lock. Too busy “wooing” Miss Flair is susceptible to a quick roll up and Brie manages to pin the Diva’s champion.
The Big Show vs Erick Rowan
Before this match even starts the Big Show is leery of the rest of the Wyatt family (minus Bray) who surround the ring. Show grabs the ring steps to fend them off until he’s safely in the ring. He stays vigilant through the match and with good reason as Strowman and Harper keep hopping the apron. The Giant makes quick work of Rowan winning with the choke slam. Afterwards the Wyatts dish out a prolonged beatdown that ends with a double bodyslam onto the steps. They then carry the Big Show out of the arena.
Titus O’Neill vs Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze comes with the perfect strategy for fighting someone quite a few inches taller and quite a few pounds heavier. He cuts him down to size. Breeze works on the knee, twisting it, slamming into the ring post and applying the half-crab. Then out of nowhere Titus finishes him with the Clash of the Titus. O’Neill is undefeated on Raw in 2016. Breeze on the other hand is 5-13 in televised matches since his main roster debut. With all the success and fan support Tyler experienced in NXT, hopefully this trend turns around sooner rather than later.
Triple H finds Brock Lesnar in his locker room. Hunter jabs at Brock for not doing anything to Dean Ambrose after their earlier confrontation. He wonders aloud of the Beast might be getting soft. Lesnar let’s him know we’ll find out at Wrestlemania.
R-Truth is shown in a restroom after receiving a text from Goldust. The Gold One us found in a stall standing on the toilet. He is still trying to team with Truth who declines because he feels he is too weird. Dust then reminds him that his last partner was an imaginary child.
Kevin Owens vs Dolph Ziggler
This may have been the best match of the night. These two are immediately throwing bombs at each other, but Kevin Owens looks to exert his dominance. The show-off having none of that, keeps coming back time after time. Control of the match switches several times until the final sequence: Ziggler is shown and Owens us setting up for the top rope senton, Dolph jumps up and attempts the facebuster, KO slips out landing Ziggler in there tree of woe, Owens hits a cannonball and readies his opponent for the pop up powerbomb. At the last minute DZ leaps over and catches Kevin with the zigzag for the pinfall victory.
Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks
Before her match Sasha Banks has an in-ring promo. She says essentially that she is going for the Diva’s championship and she is going to do it by herself. This brings out here sisters in Team B.A.D., Tamina and Naomi. They let her know they support her decision and will always have her back.
The match starts and it’s Sasha’s from the get go. She’s able to hit her corner knees and is cutting Becky off at every pass. Banks ends up kicking Lynch out of the ring and B.A.D. grab her as heels do. This doesn’t sit well with The Boss. She yells at them to let her do this by herself. They then attack Banks, forcing the disqualification. Becky and Sasha team up to get the better of Tamina and Naomi.
The New Day vs Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns
After a short promo the New Day planned to show up two of WWE’S top guys. Big E takes Roman out of the equation with a slam on the announce table and they focus all their attentions on Dean. Though holding his own for a bit, Ambrose begins struggling in this virtual three on one battle. Right before the Lunatic Fringe is put away, Reigns pops in with a Superman punch. E falls victim to dirty deeds and the 1-2-3. Before Roman and Dean have the chance to celebrate we hear the Beasts music. Lesnar serves as enough of a distraction for the New Day to regain their composure and pounce. Kofi takes out Reigns on the outside and Brock delivers an F5 to Ambrose finally getting his one up. Lesnar stands tall as Raw goes off the air.
1. Does Brie Bella deserve a shot at the Diva’s title? Brie pinned the champion Charlotte clean, something Sasha hasn’t done. Banks claims to be going after the championship, but I’m the time since her return she hasn’t really earn the match.
2. What can change Tyler Breeze’s situation on the main roster? As mentioned earlier Breeze has a shoddy record since moving up. It’s still the beginning of his WWE career, but in cases such as Emma and the Ascension, the early struggles never turned around.
3. Did the Miz TV segment help or hurt AJ Styles? It seems like the aim was to introduce AJ to a WWE audience and at the same time get them on his side with the Daniel Bryan comparison and opposing him with the Miz. With more TV matches AJ is sure to show the world’s largest wrestling audience what he’s all about.
4. Is there anything better right now than “the quest for the golden truth”? Sure this seems like a rehash of the Booker T and Goldust team from years ago, but that was great and Truth might be able to take it to another level.
5. Are we slowly building to a match between Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt down the road? Paul Heyman reminded us all of how the Wyatt family plotted to remove Brock from the Royal Rumble. As well, they attacked him a few weeks back on Raw. If Brock does not earn the Wrestlemania title shot, this would be a worthy backup plan.