Live from Nashville, Tennessee this is the Raw Deal for episode #1134. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Here’s my review of WWE Fastlane from Sunday night. I also wrote about ten things WWE did right at Fastlane, so check that out too.
The Raw intro video played to start the show. Hey look there’s the WrestleMania logo without a number on it because crazy Vince McMahon thinks that numbers make it feel old.
Randy Orton started the show off with his Raw return after being out since early November. He received a nice ovation as well as a “Randy” chant. He soaked up the cheers a bit.
Orton said he’s not the guy to come out there for a long winded 20 minute promo, but there’s something he has to get off his chest. He noted that he was out of action for nearly four months because of The Authority and Seth Rollins. A video aired of Orton getting beat by The Authority with Orton hitting him with multiple Curb Stomps including a final one on the steel steps. He was off because he went to film a movie and also had a minor surgery in January. Orton said that at Survivor Series, Rollins got away and that now Orton is done talking. He wanted Rollins to get out there right now.
Instead of Rollins, the music of Triple H started up as the WWE COO entered with wife Stephanie McMahon, Kane and Big Show with the men in suits. The announce team of Michael Cole, Booker T and John Bradshaw Layfield went over the stories as the four people entered the ring.
Stephanie welcomed Orton back and gave him credit for a huge return. She tried to suck up to him, so Orton told them he’s not part of that family. Orton said the only thing he’s going to do to Rollins is bash his brains in. Stephanie said that Orton can forgive Rollins and that they are willing to forgive him for doing what he did too. She wanted him to join The Authority. Orton said he’d rather kick some ass than kiss some ass.
Show grabbed the microphone to try to talk some sense into Orton. Show said that joining The Authority was the best personal decision that he’s ever made. Fans chanted “you sold out” at him. Yeah he knows. He just said it was the best thing he did. Show told Orton that going back to The Authority was the best decision he could make and Randy said that would be selling out.
Back to Stephanie talking to Randy. She said that Randy does what he does because he wants to reap the rewards, not because of the fans. She reminded him of deplorable things he’s done including things to her family as well as herself. Hunter looked angry either because of this storyline or that he hasn’t been able to talk during this long winded promo. She re-iterated that they want Randy to come back home. The fans chanted “no” as Randy said nothing. The Authority just walked away although Hunter had a long staredown with him.
When The Authority reached the top of the ramp, Orton said he would join them at the business meeting later in the show. He dropped the microphone to end the segment.
Analysis: It’s funny that Orton talked about how he wasn’t the guy to do 20 minute opening promos yet he was part of a long winded segment like that one. It actually went about 15 minutes. The crowd was very supportive for Orton and if he did an attack here it would have been well received, but they’re holding off on that. Orton’s promo work was fine. He’s never been a truly great talker, but they gave him some good lines that worked in that setting.
The announce team summarized things while hyping things for later, which were just promos.
Bad News Barrett entered without the Intercontinental Title even though he’s the IC Champ. It was stolen by Dean Ambrose on Sunday.
Barrett complained about how he was the IC Champ while Ambrose was just a common thief. He said he wants his title back. Dolph Ziggler’s music interrupted. R-Truth was on commentary because he beat BNB in a non-title match on Smackdown.
Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is non-title. Barrett hit a suplex while Truth was saying he wanted a IC Title match while encouraging fans to put #GiveTruthAChance on Twitter. Ziggler hit a neckbreaker followed by an elbow, but Barrett nailed a hard kick to the ribs. Barrett whipped Ziggler hard into the corner while the fans chanted for Ziggler. A Ziggler dropkick sent Barrett to the floor for the vintage floor to commercial break spot.
Back from break, Ziggler made a comeback with ten punches in the corner and then he countered Wasteland with a DDT. During the break, Barrett tossed Ziggler into Truth. Barrett nailed a kick to the ribs and then a Powerbomb that was a bit sloppy looking, but it turned out okay. Ziggler avoided a clothesline with a rollup for two. Winds of Change slam by Barrett for two. That Truth saying was trending on Twitter. Barrett stomped on the corner, the ref made him move back. Ziggler got a rollup for two. Ziggler avoided a corner charge and hit the Zig Zag for the win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler
Analysis: **3/4 Solid with a clean ending. They were able to get in some nice nearfalls and I like how they set up the finish as well. They’re continuing the story that Barrett is going through a bad streak right now.
Post match, Ambrose walked out with the IC Title. He talked trash to Barrett while Ziggler looked at the title in Ambrose’s hands. Ambrose bumped Ziggler on his way out of the ring and Ambrose left with the title.
Analysis: Barrett loses so much that it’s hard to keep track, but I guess the potential idea is that they might do a multi-man match at WrestleMania. They could make it a four way although Truth doesn’t really fit in. He’s in his 40s so maybe it’s a way for him to have a WrestleMania match and retire soon after. I’m not sure. The other three guys could have an entertaining triple threat match.
The Triple H/Sting story is up next.
They showed photos of Sting and Triple H from Fastlane with Sting pointing at the WrestleMania sign. They didn’t call Sting “The Vigilante” enough. Fools. Sting vs. Triple H is official at WrestleMania, which was pretty much known since Survivor Series.
The business meeting took place backstage with Rollins standing with the other Authority members and Orton there as well. Rollins complained about it while Kane suggested a different action. Stephanie bragged about how together they are an unstoppable group that has absolute power. Stephanie wanted them to forgive Orton and move forward. She asked Orton if he could move forward. Orton said nothing, but he extended a hand to Rollins. He stared at Rollins as they shook hands. Stephanie made a match with Rollins and Orton against Bryan and Reigns.
Analysis: It was an effective segment because it gets people talking and thinking about what might happen. Either Orton is really back with them or he’s playing them for fools. As “smart” fans we know he’s going to face Rollins at WrestleMania so he’s not really with them, but they have over a month to let this play out.
A video package aired for Sheamus returning to WWE. The rumor is that he’ll be back as a heel to face Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania.
The Prime Time Players were back together as Darren Young and Titus O’Neil were dancing in the ring. They’re babyfaces again. I’m fine with that because they’re better together than they were as singles wrestlers.
The Ascension vs. The Prime Time Players
Prior to the match, a pre-tape promo by The Ascension ripped on The Bushwhackers as jokes. That’s true if you saw them in WWE. The Ascension worked over Young in their corner with Viktor hitting a suplex and a back elbow. They hit a double shoulder block. Young fought back on Konnor with a clothesline and then an overhead suplex. Konnor whipped Young hard into the middle turnbuckle. O’Neil saved Young from a pinfall and gave Konnor a clothesline outside the ring. Young got an inside cradle on Viktor for the win after four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Prime Time Players
Post match, The Ascension attacked O’Neil and sent him out of the ring. They hit the Fall of Man on Young.
Analysis: * That was a weird tag match since O’Neil didn’t even tag in and do a hot tag sequence. I’m surprised that The Ascension lost, but maybe WWE is serious about building up the PTPers as title challengers. I don’t mind that part of it. More credible team is good for the division. They could have built up The Ascension as a more dominant team with more wins.
Roman Reigns is up next.
A picture of The Rock at the Oscars was shown. I still don’t get why WWE would schedule a PPV against that when it’s one of the most viewed TV shows of the year.
Roman Reigns Promo Time…With Guests
Roman Reigns entered for a promo. He talked about his win over Daniel Bryan at Fastlane and now he can say he’s going to WrestleMania. He showed good energy in saying that while the crowd cheered lately. Reigns said that he knew a lot of people were rooting for the other guy, but to all my doubters…and there’s the music of Daniel Bryan.
Bryan marched down to the ring with the crowd serenading him in “yes” chants like usual. Bryan talked about how people who doubt Roman Reigns and when he mentioned Reigns winning the Rumble, a lot of fans booed. Bryan said he knew that Reigns deserved the opportunity to main event WrestleMania, but he felt like the fans and booed because the biggest Roman Reigns doubter is himself. Bryan said “promise and potential” really means size and athletic, but there are lot of guys like that who don’t have the heart that Bryan does. He said that’s why the fans like Daniel Bryan and they don’t like Reigns. Bryan said that’s why he didn’t like Reigns. Bryan said he gave their Fastlane match every single that he had and he still didn’t do it. Bryan admitted that he didn’t regret a thing because he gave it every single thing that he had and it wasn’t him. He told Reigns that he proved that he had more heart than he thought. Bryan admitted that Reigns beat him. “I put it all on the table and all I have left to say is this…congratulations.” Bryan shook his head. He said he’s happy with teaming up with Reigns later in the show. Bryan: “Now do me one last favor and go beat the crap out of Brock Lesnar in the main event WrestleMania.”
Analysis: That was an awesome promo from Bryan, who has improved so much on the microphone in the last five years. He was average. Now he’s very good as a promo guy. This was WWE’s way of having their most popular guy endorsing the man that they want to be in that spot. They used Bryan’s in-ring ability to make Reigns look like a million bucks at Fastlane and this promo added to it.
The great Paul Heyman walked out alone as Bryan left. He went into the ring to speak to Reigns. Heyman congratulated Reigns and then shook his hand while telling Reigns that he had an impressive victory at Fastlane. Heyman admitted that he wasn’t surprised because his money would always be on Reigns no matter what man he ever faced. Heyman: “Only a fool would say you’re not the one.” He said Reigns is head and shoulders among the rest. Heyman said if it was Reigns vs. Sammartino in 1975 then his money is on Reigns, Reigns vs. Hogan & Andre in 1987, Reigns vs. Austin in 1998, Rock in 1999, Triple H in 2000 or John Cena in the last 13 years then his money would be on Roman Reigns. He admitted that at the Rumble, truth be told, his money was on Roman Reigns. Heyman told Reigns he was the right guy in the right place (pointed at WrestleMania sign) at the wrong time.
Heyman said that Reigns is not fighting a man at WrestleMania, you’re fighting a beast. Heyman told Reigns: “You can’t slay my beast.” Heyman told him he can’t beat the one in 21-1 and that at WrestleMania his money is on his client. At the end of the night, there will be an announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, the winner and still reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion of the World…Brock Lesnar.” The announcers never really say it that way. Heyman does it better than them.
Reigns asked Heyman to tell him again that he can’t do it. He told Heyman to give him some more motivation. Reigns reminded Heyman that Lesnar is going to respect him, but he really didn’t care if Lesnar respects. Reigns said that he’s going to beat Brock at WrestleMania and it’s not just about beating him, but it’s the way that he will beat him. Reigns: “When I’m done with him, he ain’t going to like me anyways. Believe that.” Roman’s music hit as Heyman left to end the segment.
Analysis: Heyman’s promo was outstanding like usual. He’s the best talker in WWE and he showed it again. I liked how he said that Reigns could beat anybody except Lesnar. Most fans don’t really believe Reigns is above those legends, but the way Heyman laid it out was brilliant. Brock Lesnar’s absence was disappointing. It would have been nice to have that staredown with Reigns although they still have four more weeks of Raw after this. It was still a very good and effective promo segment. WWE did a smart thing by having Reigns not speak a lot while Bryan put him over big time and so did Heyman in his unique way. There will probably be more promos in the next month with people trying to talk about how great Reigns is to continue to build him up for the fans.
The announcers talked about WWE Network. They noted it’s the one year anniversary for the WWE Network.
The tag titles are up next in a Fastlane rematch.
Tag Team Titles: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (w/Natalya) vs. The Usos (w/Naomi)
I like title matches on Raw. Kidd nailed a dropkick early, but Jimmy and Jey outsmarted the champs. Kidd hid behind Natalya and followed it up with a cheapshot. JBL condoned the move by Kidd because it was a good move. Jey got a tag as did Kidd and Jey hit a headbutt while Kidd was upside down against the turnbuckle. Kidd did an athletic move using his legs to send Jey outside the ring. Kidd went for a dive onto both Usos, but they caught him and sent him into the barricade. Back body drop on Cesaro outside the ring by the Usos. Back in the ring, Jimmy hit a clothesline on Cesaro to knock him out of the ring. Jey hit a cross body block on Kidd for two. Commercial time.
Back from break, Cesaro hit a crushing uppercut on Jey. Cesaro hit a kick on Jimmy while he was on the apron, Jey got a rollup for two and Cesaro hit an attack. Cesaro Swing leading into a dropkick by Kidd, but Jimmy broke up the pin. Cesaro hit a forearm shot on Jey. Cesaro wanted a superplex, but Jey fought out with an Electric Chair drop. Tag to Jimmy, who hit a splash and Kidd made the save with a springboard elbow. Kidd did a cover as the announcers wondered where the tag was, but apparently there was one. Jimmy got a rollup on Kidd for two and then Jimmy connected with an enziguiri kick to the head. Corner charge by Jimmy, Kidd avoided it, put his feet on the ropes and Naomi knocked his feet off the ropes. Natalya shoved Naomi down and Jimmy hit a superkick. Jimmy to the top, but Natalya tripped him up for the DQ finish. The match went 11 minutes.
Winners by disqualification: The Usos
Post match, Naomi tripped up Natalya while she was on the apron to send her down. Natalya grabbed her ankle as Kidd and Cesaro checked on her. Kidd ended up helping his wife to the back.
Analysis: *** I love watching these teams work. It’s fast paced with great timing and they are all very good in the ring. That match was really going well and I don’t mind the finish too much because it just means we’re going to get more matches between them. Ideally, the best thing they can do is have a long match at WrestleMania that is a classic tag team title match. I have my doubts about it happening since they might involve other teams. Just keep it as these two. The other story is that Natalya might have turned heel with that move. It’s been awkward with her as a face while her husband is a heel, but it’s better for the story if she is a heel with him. Nothing is for sure at this point.
Bray Wyatt up next.
The announcers sucked up to Vince McMahon on Muscle & Fitness magazine. Yes he’s amazing physically, but I wish he could book better shows.
The Miz yelled at Damien Mizdow backstage. Miz yelled at him about lint on his jacket. Miz said he’s won every title there is to win in WWE, so the only thing he has to win is the Andre the Giant battle royal at WrestleMania. He plugged his Marine movie coming out in April. Mizdow told him that casting directors and agents see him as a leading man. He said a company wants him to be a spokesman in a commercial. He thanked Miz, who told him to get rolling with the lint on the jacket.
Analysis: I’m fine with this angle except I have one question: If Mizdow is going to be a leading man leading to more money and opportunities then why can’t he just quit being the assistant of The Miz? It’s a bit ridiculous in that sense. Hopefully it leads to Mizdow eliminating Miz from the battle royal. Sandow winning that match would help him a lot too. Aside from the stupidity of Mizdow still putting up with Miz as his assistant, I like the angle a lot.
There was a recap of Bray Wyatt’s challenge for the Undertaker at WrestleMania from Fastlane. Clips of Undertaker were showed.
Bray Wyatt was shown talking to an empty casket asking if it sees what he sees and feels what he feels. He mentioned 21-1. Wyatt said that evil exists inside of him and that at WrestleMania he’s going to finish the job. “I know you’re afraid Deadman, but there’s no reason to hide. It’s so much better down here.” He closed the casket lid. “Find me.”
Analysis: The “down here” thing is Wyatt’s way of saying he’s in a dark place like hell and Undertaker used to be there, but now he’s just a mere mortal that has changed because of the fans. I like the angle for the promo. With four more weeks of Raw after this we can expect Undertaker back next Monday or the week after.
Stardust entered for a match. He’s back in a body suit outfit after going with just tights on Sunday.
Dusty Hill from ZZ Top was at ringside. Remember when ZZ Top were terrible Raw guest hosts? Brutal. JBL said they were the best rock band in the history of the world. Heels lie. That’s a big lie.
Jack Swagger vs. Stardust
Stardust was very aggressive early on with some fans chanting “Cody” to upset Stardust. Swagger hit a shoulder tackle to the knee of Stardust, but then his Swagger Bomb was blocked by Stardust. Swagger applied an Patriot Lock, then Stardust hit a jawbreaker using the ropes. Goldust’s music started, so Swagger applied the Patriot Lock again and Stardust tapped out quickly. It went two minutes.
Winner by submission: Jack Swagger
Post match, Stardust was upset while Goldust let him know that it’s not over. Fans chanted “Cody” to upset Stardust some more.
Analysis: * That’s a common finish with the music used to distract a guy leading to a loss. Normally a pinfall loss, but this time it’s a submission. I hate when somebody else’s music plays during a match. Just focus on the match. Anyway, it looks like Goldust vs. Stardust is going to happen at WrestleMania although he may go back to being Cody Rhodes by then.
A recap of John Cena’s loss at Fastlane was shown. Cole mentioned that Cena didn’t give up – he passed out. JBL added that it still counts as a submission loss. Booker’s glad that the ref stopped it because Cena could have been hurt. Cena is up next.
The video aired promoting WrestleMania, which is now 33 days away as of today aka Tuesday. It’s on March 29. The song used in the video is called “Rise” by David Guetta and Skylar Grey. It’s okay.
John Cena Promo Time
John Cena entered to a mixed, but mostly positive reaction for a promo in the ring. Cena said that Fastlane had defining moments including his US Title match. He gave credit to Rusev for taking Cena to his limit. Cena respected Rusev for giving him a true championship contest and he found himself stuck in the Accolade when he told himself to not give up. Cena admitted that he didn’t give up and he thought he would be the first to defeat Rusev. He added that Rusev hit Cena below the belt to win the match. “Last night at Fastlane I lost and Rusev won. I got no problem with that. My problem is with Rusev because this man parades around like when he is some hero, like some sort of Russian hero.” Cena said that Rusev could have proved that he was a hero, but the way he won made him a coward. Rusev’s music started up as he entered with Lana. They stood on the stage.
Analysis: I’m fine with that sort of logic from Cena. He would be fine if Rusev beat him in a fair match, but he’s upset because Rusev used Lana’s distraction to hit that low blow leading to the Accolade for the win. Logic like that is cool with me.
Lana bragged, saying “we told you so” while fans chanted “USA” at her. She told Cena that he failed and he let down millions of people as well as his country. She mocked him for giving up just like a lot of Americans. She called Rusev a superior human being. She tried to tell us that Rusev received messages of praise from the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Rusev grabbed the microphone to say that he broke Cena and mentioned Cena’s stupid country. Rusev said it’s his time now, he’s the US Champ and nobody can beat him. He wanted Cena to admit that Rusev is better than him. “I want you to admit that Rusev and Russia is better than Cena and America.”
Cena said that Rusev can say anything he wants about him, but he better watch it when he talks badly about America. Lana said that Cena give up. Pics were shown of Cena after the loss looking like he was knocked out.
Cena told them that he will always get up, fight and keep fighting until he gets the job done. He told them that’s what Americans do. Cena said they work harder and come back stronger. He said that Rusev makes him sick and Vladimir Putin should be disgusted. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care. Cena told Rusev that he’s garbage, that he’s going to beat him and he’s going to beat Rusev for the US Title. Cena added that he’s going to beat Rusev’s ass at WrestleMania.
Rusev wondered what makes Cena thinks he deserves a match at WrestleMania. He ranted in a foreign language so the crowd chanted “what” at him. When he spoke English again, he told Cena that he was great and now he’s just the “quitter John Cena.” He told Cena he doesn’t deserve a rematch, so the answer is no. The Russian flag was shown above the ring as Cena looked at it.
Analysis: Good promos from both sides. Fans will hate that Rusev won’t grant a rematch, but obviously it’s coming. Cena gave a fiery promo like we’ve seen so many times while Lana fired back well and Rusev keeps improving on his promos. This is what I wrote in my analysis of the Cena/Rusev match at Fastlane: “They haven’t done a lot of ‘USA vs. Russia’ in the feud, so I expect them to push that part of the story more in the next month. Cena will get the win at WrestleMania.” Time to give myself a Horowitz-like pat on the back because I called it. It’s no surprise. That’s the best way to make Cena appeal to the masses because with a mostly American audience, people can think of him like Rocky Balboa beating Ivan Drago in Rocky 4 from nearly 20 years ago. It’s easy, predictable booking because it works.
A recap aired of The Authority saying they were together. We already saw this. Give matches more time. Enough recaps.
Orton was shown in the locker room with Rollins and J&J Security. Orton told Rollins to leave his “pets” at the door, so Seth told them to leave. Rollins said that he knows Orton hates him, but Orton said he’s a big picture guy and they’re on the same page. Orton told him he won’t forget about what happened. Orton added that Reigns & Bryan were lucky that Orton wasn’t in the Rumble match. Rollins agreed, so he said let’s show them what the The Face (Orton) and The Future (Rollins) are all about.
Analysis: That’s some solid building to the main event tag match. Nothing wrong with segments like that.
A Sting video is coming up. Paige entered for a tag match.
They showed Tennessee Titans (that’s NFL for those not aware) head coach Ken Whisenhunt at ringside. Most of the fans booed because they are a terrible team with the 2nd pick in the NFL draft. He seemed excited to be there.
A video package aired about Sting. There were clips of various WWE personalities like John Cena, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Ron Simmons, Booker T, Hulk Hogan and even former announcer Tony Schiavone talking about him in his early years as the blonde guy that was excitable. It’s not a Hall of Fame video, but it felt like it. They changed the focus to the darker crow version of Sting against the NWO with Heyman saying he could say more with his stare than most people in a 10 minute promo. Several people mentioned that he stayed as the true hero of WCW until they shut the doors. It ended with the focus on Sting’s WWE debut leading to WrestleMania against Hunter.
Analysis: That was excellent. I wasn’t watching WCW until the early 1990s when it was shown in Canada, but I always liked Sting. He was consistently very good as well as the guy that represented WCW well. A lot of fans watching know who he is, but some fans have no idea so videos like that will help.
Paige was still in the ring with Emma. She stood out there for like six minutes.
The Bella Twins vs. Paige & Emma
Brie nailed Paige with a forearm while she was on the apron. Emma looked at Paige on the floor like a dummy, so Brie kicked her and hit the Bella Buster facebuster for the win after 30 seconds.
Winners by pinfall: The Bella Twins
Post match, Paige kicked Brie in the face. Nikki nailed Paige with a forearm shot and told her not to touch her sister. Her trash talk is terrible. Mark Henry needs to teach a class. Nikki left with her Divas Title.
Analysis: LOL. That’s my rating. 30 seconds. That’s it? The intros were longer. Apparently #GiveDivasAChance was trending worldwide on Twitter during the show as well as after it was over. I want divas to have longer matches too. It’s ridiculous that there’s no time on a three hour show. This sort of problem has been happening for like six or seven years now at least. I’ve reviewed every Raw for six years and nothing will change. WWE cares about what’s trending when it’s convenient for them, but good luck getting them to book longer divas matches.
Hall of Fame announcement after the break. Cole: “We’ll tell you who this tag team is when we come back.” It was already mentioned during the show.
There was a video package for the latest inductees for the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame: The Bushwhackers. In terms of their credentials in WWE, they really weren’t that great. They were really more of a comedy tag team that lasted a few years and were rarely pushed as a serious team. Outside of WWE they had a good run although most WWE fans have no idea about it. The video noted that they won 26 championships as a tag team around the globe, but the video just featured them doing comedy stuff in WWE. They tried showing the crowd reacting to it although there was barely a reaction to them.
Analysis: If the Hall of Fame had any kind of legitimacy they wouldn’t be in because they’re like Koko B Ware in the sense that they rarely won matches. There are so many teams that are more deserving if you want to get picky. It’s the WWE Hall of Fame, though. Don’t take it too seriously.
Curtis Axel had an #AxelMania shirt on and pointed at the WrestleMania sign again. He told us he was still in the Royal Rumble match while saying that he’s been in the match for 29 days. Axel said he’s entering the Andre the Giant battle royal match at WrestleMania and will win it just like he won the Rumble.
Ryback’s music interrupted. He went into the ring to say that they were a great team, then he shook his head as if to say he was lying. He said he was going to win the Andre battle royal. He’s definitely a favorite.
Ryback vs. Curtis Axel
Axel got some very brief offense, but Ryback hit the Meat Hook Clothesline and the Shell Shock for the win in a match that went less than one minute.
Winner by pinfall: Ryback
Analysis: It’s all about making Ryback look strong. Oh wait that’s the Reigns saying. It applies here too. Crowd didn’t care about this. Neither did I.
Main event is up next.
This week on Smackdown it’s Ziggler, Ryback & Rowan against Rollins, Show & Kane in a Fastlane rematch because WWE loves doing rematches.
Rollins entered with Kane, Show and J&J Security joining him at ringside. There was a video about Rollins insulting Jon Stewart last week and then Stewart’s comedic reply to him. Rollins introduced a man he was proud to call his family, the one and only “Viper” Randy Orton. When Orton entered, he did a fist bump to Rollins to show their solidarity.
For the face team, Roman Reigns entered first with a clip of what he said earlier to Heyman. They must assume nobody watches the whole show since they replay so many things during the broadcast. Daniel Bryan entered as the show went to break.
Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton & Seth Rollins (w/Big Show, Kane, Noble & Mercury)
Bryan applied the surfboard stretch to Rollins and then he tagged in Reigns. It led to Cole mentioning that Nashville’s where Reigns had that hernia surgery in September. Orton tagged in and hit a nice dropkick on Reigns. Orton gave Reigns a hard whip into the corner, but Reigns came back with a clothesline while bringing in Bryan. Orton with a modified backbreaker on Bryan. Rollins tagged in, but Bryan was able to send him outside the ring with a back body drop over the top to the floor. Rollins saved Bryan from an attack as The Authority regrouped on the floor with the show going to break.
Back from break, the heel side as working over Reigns. Bryan encouraged Reigns by leading the crowd in a clap in support of him and Reigns hit a powerslam on Rollins. Bryan received the hot tag, dropkick to Orton on the apron and a running clothesline on Rollins. Bryan hit the kicks to chest of Rollins, then he was able to counter a rollup into the Yes Lock although Orton broke that op. Clothesline by Reigns sent Orton outside the ring. Bryan sent Rollins outside the ring and hit a dive between the top/middle rope to send Rollins into the barricade. Back in the ring, Bryan to the top, Mercury distracted and Rollins tripped up Bryan to get momentum back for the heels.
Orton worked over Bryan by whipping him hard into the turnbuckle. WWE has installed cameras into the top of the ring post, so they showed a replay from that angle. Bryan used a headbutt to knock Orton off the top ropes and Bryan missed a headbutt dive. He should stop doing that move. It’s not necessary or worth the injury risk. Reigns received the hot tag, hit a leaping clothesline to knock down Rollins and crushed him with more clotheslines in the corner. Spinning slam by Reigns, Superman Punch on Mercury on the apron and Rollins nailed a kick to the head. Orton tagged in with a quick powerslam. Show was encouraging him from ringside.
It looked like Orton was going for the draping DDT off the ropes, but Rollins tagged in. Orton wasn’t happy. He still hit the DDT. Orton ranted at ringside while Show & Kane tried to calm him down. Reigns avoided the Curb Stomp and hit a Superman Punch. Bryan tagged in without Reigns seeing it, but Reigns laughed it off and Bryan hit the running knee to get the pin on Rollins. The match went 17 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan
Post match, Reigns and Bryan shook hands. They left.
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good main event for the time given, but I expected better out of those four. It was also about the story of whether Orton would work with Rollins. They worked as a team for most of the match, but Orton wasn’t there to save his partner at the end. Since Bryan/Reigns aren’t feuding anymore, Reigns was fine with Bryan tagging in to win the match. It’s also another way to put over Reigns as a likable guy that fans should be supporting.
The focus shifted to Orton looking angry at ringside with the fans chanting “RKO” for him. The shot went out for a few seconds due to technical difficulties. Orton was in the ring with Rollins. Noble went into the ring, so Orton hit a RKO on Noble. Orton lifted Rollins up in the corner, patted him on the chest and then just walked up the ramp. The Authority stood in the ring watching on.
Raw ended with the announcers plugging the WWE Network on WWE.com and the WWE App for the one year birthday celebration. Cole signed off, but then they showed Orton’s RKO on Noble and his restraint regarding Rollins. The Authority were together in the ring wondering about what happened. It was a flat ending because they should have signed off when Orton walked away.
Analysis: The expectation was that Orton would attack Rollins and fully turn face, but they are holding off on it. I’m not a big fan of holding off although like I said during the show they have another four weeks of Raw to build to WrestleMania. They can tell the story that Orton was playing them for fools, suckering them in and then when he does attack Rollins it will lead to more. The crowd is ready for it now, but they are going to have to wait.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Daniel Bryan
2. Randy Orton
3. Dolph Ziggler
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 4, 6, NR, 4.5
2015 Average: 5.5
2015 High: 7.5 (Jan 5)
2015 Low: 4 (Feb 9)
I’m giving it a 5.5 out of 10. It was an average show with some good parts, but a lot of head scratching moments that just dragged on.
Regarding Lesnar, apparently he was there and not used for some reason. That reason isn’t entirely known at this point. Perhaps there is something in his contract. I’m not sure if he’s being difficult about something or if it’s from WWE’s side. That’s a developing story.
There were a lot of promos from the opening promo to the “hey everybody you should like Roman Reigns” promo and Cena’s promo with Rusev. That’s WrestleMania season. They are going to drive home these major storylines with promo after promo. I didn’t think any of them were that bad, so I was fine with them. It’s just a long show when most of it is talking the whole time.
I’m glad that fans on Twitter were upset about the divas match because they should be. I have my doubts that any sort of change happens. Watch NXT for good diva storylines. I enjoy it.
The Undertaker could be back next week. Sheamus is due back any time likely to go after Daniel Bryan. Brock Lesnar should return soon as well. Welcome to WrestleMania season.
As I said it was an average show. Let’s hope for some better ones in the near future because these shows need to be better than average.
That’s all for this week. Check out my feature column archive that’s exclusive to WhatCulture.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton –firstname.lastname@example.org