In case you did not have a chance, check out my pre-RAW ramblings about the Royal Rumble. Then, come back here.
WWE Monday Night RAW kicks off with Vince and Stephanie McMahon giving an intense verbal beatdown on the fans and Roman Reigns. Steph needs to shut up. She is like a parrot when out with someone else. In any case, Vince is really driving the point as hard as possible about making Reigns suffer and his life a living hell. Steph name drops AJ Styles and the crowd takes the bait, so of course the McMahons then berate him too. Steph sings the praises of Triple H, saying no one ever works harder than he does.
Really hoping that line is meant to be scripted, otherwise a lot of people backstage will be offended right about now. Steph does the intro, and Triple H comes out, in his old Game theme music, wearing a suit and tie, and the WWE Championship around his waist.
Things get awkward fast, as Triple H explains his actions as comparing Vince McMahon to a god, and wrestling is his religion and no one will ever disrespect that and will fight anyone who disrespects his religion. So, The Game just declared a holy war on Roman Reigns. Oh boy. Triple H then says he doesn’t have to be WWE Champion, but since he wants to, he can. We are told the winner of the WWE Fast Lane main event will challenge Triple H at WrestleMania. The gimmick for tonight is The Authority will be “evaluating” the roster to see who will impress them enough to earn the match. Sigh.
This opening was odd. Really drilled the point, a bit too hard, that the McMahons rule all and Triple H is a literal King.
We find out a big match tonight is also an internet destroyer, as AJ Styles to face Chris Jericho in his first match on RAW.
The first match features a Suplex and superkick fest from Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler. Well-paced match which saw Kevin Owens using his ring smarts to outmaneuver Ziggler into hitting the Pop-Up Powerbomb for the pinfall victory. Seriously, when was the last time Dolph Ziggler won a match?
Backstage: JoJo asks Reigns if what Vince says is true, about Reigns having a broken heart. Reigns says something, but JoJo is too short and can’t seem to hold the mic high enough, so I have no idea what he replied with. I’m serious.
We then take a turn for the confusing as The Social Outcasts come to the ring, and call out Flo Rida. Heath Slater recalls how he got sucker punched by the rap artist last year, so he challenges him to a Rap Battle, against Bo Dallas… Or Bo Rida. Dallas was pretty funny, while the rest of the stable acted like… Well, you know… Over the top. Flo Rida sort of came back with his own, but I think he either forgot his lines or as @agentmes pointed out, sloppy improve, which concluded with his introducing The Dudley Boys. The Dudleys made quick work of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas via 3D.
Our next bout is the anticipated match with Chris Jericho and AJ Styles. As expected, Jericho puts over the Phenomenal One. What was not expected, there appeared to be a lot of miscommunication. At one point it seemed as though Jericho had difficulty keeping up, but on the other hand it seems maybe Styles was off-the-mark on certain spots. Either way, we got a good match, Styles did not hit the Clash, however reversed a roll-up into one of his own for the pinfall victory. Post match AJ Styles offered a handshake, which Jericho reluctantly accepted, then turned into an aggressive staredown. So… possible feud? Not sure if this is the right start. Would hope to see Styles vs. Owens or Luke Harper next week.
Following this bout, a really, really long limousine arrives with a “returning superstar.”
Becky Lynch takes on Sasha Banks in a short match as both go for their submission finishers, but is interrupted by Charlotte whose interference causes the match to end abruptly. Charlotte beats down both Lynch and Banks. Now I am wondering if this is to set up a three-way at Fast Lane, or possibly a Lynch/Banks match at Fast Lane, then one (likely Banks) going to WrestleMania to challenge for the Divas Championship.
Backstage, Goldust asks R-Truth to be his partner. Truth takes it a bit too literally as Goldust returns to his stuttering gimmick. Truth informs Dusty he doesn’t “swing that way” but he’s cool with it, and leaves. Goldy, shocked, shouts “I meant as a tag team partner!” Guess for once R-Truth was the straight man in the segment. Yes, pun intended.
RAW is slowing down and it’s not even 10pm yet. Up next is Bray Wyatt vs. Kane. The highlight of the match is the guy in the front row dressed up as Macho Man, riling the crowd into chanting Randy Savage until security tells the guy to sit down. Yes, this match is that uneventful security needed to intervene in order to get people to focus. The guy wasn’t doing anything except, being dressed up as Randy Savage. Oh look, Bray defeated Kane. No one cares… Not even Brock Lesnar who did not show up tonight.
Backstage: A shot of the limo. Shiny. A new interviewer knocks on the door and out comes… THE MIZ! Because he hasn’t been on RAW for a week, so it is his big return. He is immediately interrupted and nearly mowed down by a giant truck, driven by… THE ROCK.
Rock then asks Miz to park his truck, and goes around backstage chatting with everyone in sight. He hugs Big Show, and takes a trip down memory lane, recalling Royal Rumble 2000. He then runs down a list of what could have been, and Big Show becomes so upset, he starts crying and breaks his laptop. Rock goes around smiling and talking the whole way backstage, even reminding Lana about their “one night only.” Then hits the ring. Rock cuts a great opening promo, even going off-script when the crowd starts chanting “Randy Savage” again, and goes to acknowledge the goons dressed up at ringside. Rock then goes around, thanking Michael Cole, JBL, and… “the Black guy who I’ve never heard of.” Rock continues on until he is interrupted by… THE NEW DAY. This just became the Greatest Segment Ever. Xavier Woods starts off by telling Rock “the black guy you don’t know is Byron Saxton and is the best announcer ever… and the black guys the Rock should know are coming to the ring.” There is a new cereal called Booty-O’s apparently. At some point the Rock calls the unicorn horns a llama penises. The rest of this banter between Rock and New Day is insanely funny. I am loving every moment of this. The New Day attempt to leave after The Rock challenges them to come to the ring, but the Usos rush down to stop them, feeding them to the Rock who plants them with Rock Bottoms and Xavier eats the People’s Elbow.
Fantastic segment. The New Day was the perfect choice to antagonize The Rock.
The more I see the promos for the Edge and Christian show on the WWE Network, the more I really want to watch it.
Paige and Natalya completely maul Brie Bella and Alicia Fox. We also learn tonight Nikki Bella will undergo neck surgery and may be career ending.
Miz is in the ring whining about being interrupted, when he is interrupted by the new United States Champion, Kalisto.
Decent match, Kalisto took some serious bumps, but managed to come back and plant Mizzy with the Salida del Sol for the pinfall win.
Our main event tonight features Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Rusev and Sheamus. Decent main event match. League of Nations maintain their presence throughout the match with constant interference. Ambrose wound up being the Crash Test Dummy for majority of the match. Guy can take a beating, that is for damn sure. Reigns winds up getting the hot tag, hits Sheamus with a spear to end the match. Match was not exciting per se, but pretty good for a RAW main event. Post match is where it gets fun, as Reigns and Ambrose lose their minds and completely destroy Rusev with a double-powerbomb through the announce table.
Stephanie McMahon comes out to announce the main event at Fast Lane, which will be a Triple Threat Match between Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar!! Well, this certainly will get interesting.