Monday Night RAW (is a Preview for Fast Lane)

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John Cena’s Obligatory Opening Promo: John Cena does his best Mick Foley impersonation and tries to hype Orlando the crowd up. Why? I have no clue. His promo was pretty paint-by-numbers Cena, however when Rusev comes out, things got really, really good. What I like about this program is that Rusev won’t back down from anyone and he relishes it when Cena wants to charge into a fight. I’m tired of seeing Cena fighting cowardly heels, because it’s so been there and done that. Rusev brings out a different type of Cena — the aggressive one who believes in reckless abandon. That’s the kind of fire and heart I wanna see in John Cena because that’s when he’s at his best. Also, he put a tremendous amount of emphasis on winning the U.S. Title, which is rare these days. Honestly, I think Rusev gets the win here and these two take the feud to Wrestlemania — maybe in a flag match or a submission match?

Dean Ambrose Does The News: Dean Ambrose is the Roddy Piper of this generation. He’s just off the wall, unpredictable and funny as hell. He’s one of my favorite parts of RAW.

Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Haper in a T-Shirt and Jeans Match: Sadly, Luke Harper has gone from an almost top tier guy to an impressive jobber to the stars. Harper is just so amazing in the ring – a guy of his size taking a wrist lock and countering it with a bridge and then a roll through — super impressive. Harper countering the tope with a stiff shove and a boot, also impressive. Oh, and his super kick, hot damn. Dean Ambrose is just frenetic poetry in motion — his jabs always look legit and his “Nigel Clothesline” is BRUTAL. Dirty Deeds is a nice finisher, but I wish he had something better. This was a terrific match that sadly, someone had to lose. Winner: “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose

Big Show and Kane Backstage: Ugh, does this mean it’s Kane vs. The Big Show at Wrestlemania?

Bray Wyatt Promo: These are obviously directed towards Undertaker and I’m totally okay with that. They need to pull the trigger on Taker’s return soon though if it’s going to happen.

The Rhodes Family Promo: Damn it, Dusty you can still give us the feels! Seriously, this was a nice, simple promo from Dusty. Of course this means Cody and Dustin’s team will fall apart tonight, but hey, it’s still a nice moment.

The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Goldust and Star Dust in a “Stop it New Day, You’re Drunk” Match: Cody Rhodes is just so charismatic, I hope one day he can main event for WWE one day.  The New Day is a stupid gimmick, by the way. Seriously, what is this gimmick? Are they evangelists? Preachers? Just guys who are happy and like rhythmic clapping and chanting? If they gave these guys direction it’d be smart because all three of these guys (including Big E.) have an amazing amount of talent. Sadly, this match was a really pedestrian meant to show the dissension between The Rhodes Brothers. Winner: The New Day

And The Inevitable Happens: Cody/Star Dust hits The Cross Roads on Goldust/Dustin. This’ll lead to what’ll be probably Goldust’s final feud before he transitions to being a road agent. It’s an obvious feud, but from an in-ring standpoint it’ll be a killer feud.

Sufferin’ Succotash, It’s a Roman Reigns Promo:  This was one of Roman’s better promos and I have to tip my hat to Byron Saxton for really playing the devil’s advocate interviewer here. I honestly don’t think Reigns is a good baby face, because I feel his strengths lie as a heel. Make him a heel and it’s print money time people.

Star Dust/Dusty Rhodes Promo:  Wow, this was a really great moment. Cody really let loose. When he said “Cody Rhodes is dead” and then he paused you knew what was coming. You could tell that it was hard for Cody to even utter the words, and fighting back a huge lump his throat he says, “And so is his father!” Wow, that’s just some real, emotional shit right there.

Roman Reigns vs. Kane in a ‘This Match is Sponsored by Zzzquil Match’: Daniel Bryan is on commentary and is markedly improved as a talker. He really sold his feud with Roman, although I hate this stupid ‘I’m out here to distract my PPV opponent’ angle. Meanwhile, in the ring…zzzzzzzzzzz. This match was as plodding as plodding can get. Roman Reigns is a two-move guy and only one of them is any good. Reigns uses that one move to knock Kane out and score a count out win. Winner: Roman Reigns

Divas Segment: The Bellas steal Paige’s gear, Cameron acts like a bitch, The Rosebuds act like morons and that was a waste of time. Oh, weren’t The Bellas supposed to be MORTAL ENEMIES? God, I hate WWE sometimes.

Paige vs. Summer Rae in a Who Wore It Better Match: Two years ago I thought Summer Rae could’ve been an amazing heel in WWE. Sadly, she’s a great reality TV star and a rather forgettable wrestler. There was some decent wrestling here, but it was overshadowed by Paige’s horrendous outfit. In the end Paige makes Summer tap out. Winner: Paige

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins in a Loser Gets His Junk Tweeted Out to the World, Oh Wait That Happened Already Match: Sorry, Seth, I had to. This match was what you would expect from these two guys…you know, awesome. The ending was a bit predictable with J&J Security interfering and then Ryback and Rowan coming in for the save. Honestly, let’s just turn Ziggler heel at this point, have Ziggler and Rollins be the bad boys of the WWE running rough shod over everyone. Winner: Dolph Ziggler by DQ.

Triple-H and Ric Flair Talk About Sting: Despite all his personal downfalls and deficiencies over the past 5-10 years, Ric Flair knows how to cut a promo, sell a program and make the people care. This also proved to be one of Triple-H’s better promos in forever. Loved all the history that is brought up here, especially the NWA and WCW Sting/Flair stuff, because that’s the wrestling I grew up on. Flair was perfect here as the cool, calm, collected voice of wisdom and reason. Triple-H played the overconfident yet hot-headed foil just as well. When he was screaming how much he loves WWE and how much he is the WWE it really rang true, especially if you saw his appearance on Steve Austin’s live podcast. It felt like a shoot in so many ways, but without being all inside baseball and douchey. Overall, this sold the Sting/Triple-H feud for me better than anything last week.

The Acension vs. Darren Young and…Yeah, we never get the other guy’s name. In fact the announcers don’t even bother to tell us. He will now be referred to as “Dude Guy.” The Ascension beats the snot of Young and Dude Guy until Titus O’Neil runs out. Titus hits an absolutely sloppy kick to the midsection (I believe it was supposed to hit Viktor in the head) and The Ascension is bounced from the ring. Dude Guy is completely nowhere to be found, but we kinda sorta get a reunion of The Prime Time Players. People sorta pop, but if they had done the Millions and Millions of Dollars dance the crowd would’ve come unglued.

The Miz vs. Bad News Barrett in This is All About the Miz, ‘Bout the Miz, Not Mizdow Match: Bad News Barrett looks like he’s in the best shape of his career. Sadly, they dropped the ball with BNB. When he got injured he should’ve come back to TV much earlier and been trolling people for months. I think he would’ve kept his heat. Speaking of heat, The Miz is great as the piece of crap heel. His use of the bell and his constant commentary really got heat on him, something he hasn’t done for quite some time. Mizdow is great as the sympathetic baby face. Barrett wins with a vicious Bull Hammer, and his match served as nothing more as a backdrop for the Miz/Mizdown angle. Winner: Wade Barrett

Saving the day is Dean Ambrose: Ambrose beats the crap out of Barrett and then zip ties him to the ring post. He forces Barrett to sign the contract for Fast Lane. Uhh, Dean that’s not legally binding.

Sheamus Promo: Hey guess who’s coming back? And guess who likes to fight? Yeah. As someone pointed out to me, this promo feels like a set-up for Sheamus to cost Daniel Bryan his match at Fast Lane. Then we can get that “awesome” Sheamus/Bryan feud.

Tyson Kidd & Natalya vs. Naomi & Jimmy Uso in a Let’s Just Let The Ladies Wrestle Intergender Match: This match could’ve been a million times better than it was, but that’s only because Tyson Kidd literally did nothing in the match. With that being said, Nattie and Naomi really killed it. If you give them an extended match, maybe 10-15 minutes, they could easily tear the house down. I hope this happens one day. They have tremendous chemistry in the ring and to me, Naomi has future big money draw written all over. Sadly, her husband, ‘King of the Slop Dogs’ Jimmy Uso, does not. Winner: Naomi & Jimmy Uso

The Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan: Roman Reigns came down to ringside to “watch.” Ugh. He then took selfies and signed autographs, which “distracted” Daniel Bryan. Give me a break. This guy is one of the best wrestlers in the world and someone acting like a douche at ringside is going to distract him? Please. However, Roman kept doing stuff with the crowd and it just took away from the entire match. Kind of defeats everything Bryan said on commentary about how you have to be focused and not outside interference bother you. Big Show ends up spearing Reigns midway through the match, hooray! The match resumes and we get a slow, plodding, distracted mess of a match that was more abut Roman Reigns than the match itself. Reigns interjects himself into the match and knocks out Big Show. Show wins by DQ. Punch me in the nuts that was stupid. Winner: The Big Show

Post Match Shenanigans: Bryan and Reigns brawl salvage things by having one hell of a brawl all over the arena. I liked the fact they wanted to tear into each, that they want to win so badly at all costs. It’s nice to see your main event guys care, you know?
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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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