Live from Denver, Colorado this is the Raw Deal for episode #1131. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Regarding the banner, I have plenty of thoughts on how things might go after the last match on this show, so be sure to check it out.
There was a recap of last week’s Smackdown with Triple H talking about some big announcement. Then the Raw music intro played.
Raw begins like it usually does with The Authority’s Triple H and Stephanie McMahon coming out for a promo. In other words, the usual. The announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Booker T welcomed us to the show.
They talked about the Super Bowl and how they were happy that the New England Patriots won the game. The Denver crowd hated it because the Broncos are their rivals. Hunter did a joke about the #CancelNFLNetwork movement, which is his way of mocking the #CancelWWENetwork phrase that people used. They talked about how they listened to the fans about the Royal Rumble. A clip aired from the Royal Rumble with Rock coming out to save Roman Reigns from a Big Show/Kane attack. Thanks to Rock, the ring was cleared and Roman eliminated Rusev to win the Rumble.
Hunter mentioned Big Show and Kane getting involved in the match after being eliminated. He said they were unsportsmanlike. He had a problem with The Rock getting involved even though he’s one of the biggest stars in WWE history and he’s the biggest Hollywood attraction ever according to Hunter. He said part of it is his fault because letting people back that have a name can affect things. Then he turned things to Sting for his two times when he showed up to affect things. This rambling promo is being used to set up his WrestleMania 31 match with Sting too. Then Stephanie plugged Fast Lane if you want to see Sting for his face to face with Triple H.
They went back to the issue at hand, which is Roman’s Royal Rumble win. Steph wondered what would have happened if The Rock didn’t interfere and that we could have had a different winner. She said that Reigns will go down as the winner of the Rumble, but should he go on to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title at WrestleMania? That led to Roman’s music starting up as he walked down the steps from the crowd. He should get rid of that entrance. Just walk down the ramp.
Roman grabbed a microphone and entered the ring. He got right in Hunter’s face and was mad that Hunter was going to take it away from him. He said “hell no” to this idea, then he stared at Hunter and Stephanie had to get in his face. She talked about his Samoan family heritage by saying that she understood Roman’s close ties to his family.
Daniel Bryan’s music started up and the crowd came alive for the “Yes” man. Stephanie sarcastically welcomed him back. Bryan told Roman that he was sorry they were messing with him. Bryan complained about how Hunter stripped him of the WWE Title and never gave him a rematch. Bryan wants to get a title shot. Hunter said Bryan failed to make his contractual obligations, so they had no choice. Hunter pointed out that Bryan may have got a title shot, but he threw himself in the Royal Rumble. “You never lost the championship, Brock Lesnar never beat you…” and then the music of Seth Rollins started.
Rollins had a microphone in hand along with J&J Security at his side. He was trying to talk, but we couldn’t hear anything. They threw to commercial with Cole saying we’ll hear from Rollins next. Steph said “we can’t hear you” and they went to break.
Analysis: What an odd commercial break nearly 20 minutes into the show during a promo. That doesn’t happen very often. Maybe some of the boring, repetitive commentary by Hunter and Stephanie could be cut out so they could get to the point. From a story perspective, I agree with Bryan not getting a title shot. He was hurt for eight months. The “30 Day Rule” isn’t real and is ignored because if it was used then Lesnar would be stripped too, but in Bryan’s case he was legitimately hurt.
Seth entered the ring. I guess he just stood outside the ring for three minutes. He said “live TV huh?” to Triple H while laughing. Rollins told Bryan that Lesnar would eat him alive. He reminded Bryan that he got hurt, welcomed him to the deep end “where the big boys play.” Hey there’s a random WCW reference. Cool. Rollins told Reigns that he wouldn’t even be the number one contender if it weren’t for The Rock. Rollins said that he broke Lesnar’s ribs, so he deserves a title shot. Reigns said that if he gets closer then he will knock Rollins into next week. The microphone was barely by his mouth, though, so we couldn’t hear him that well.
Hunter set up a match for Raw with Daniel Bryan taking on Seth Rollins. He said that the winner of Bryan vs. Rollins will take on Reigns at Fast Lane. Booker on commentary: “Roman just got screwed, guys.” That’s another way of saying this booking is messed up. Hunter told Roman that he had everything to lose here, but that he had a chance to prove himself and stop all the booing. Way to put over the booing although it’s not bad here. Stephanie told Roman that he had a chance to prove himself to his family. Bryan said that he’s going to beat Rollins and then he will go on to Fast Lane to face Reigns where they can tear the house down – an expression wrestlers use to say have a great match. Rollins told Reigns that if he doesn’t accept this offer then that means he’s afraid to face Rollins. Hunter and Stephanie added Roman what he thought. Roman had a yes or no choice.
The fans chanted “yes” at this idea. Roman: “Screw it, I’ll fight you (Rollins), I’ll fight you (Bryan). It’s been one versus all the whole time. Let’s do it.” Hunter confirmed the match for Raw as well as the winner facing Roman at Fast Lane and then the winner of that faces Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania for the WWE Title. Hunter told Roman not to go anywhere. Big Show’s music started up.
Analysis: They are booking Roman like the fighting babyface that could have just said no because he has every right to go on to WrestleMania, but now he has to jump through hoops to get there. It’s a way for WWE to set up a scenario where he has to beat one of these top guys to get the match he already earned because they need to do something for this Fast Lane PPV. Roman’s promos were fine. Short and to the point. That’s how it should be. The others did well. As for the “major announcement that will shake WWE to its core” that Triple H promised, of course it wasn’t that big of a deal. They just set up matches. If you bought into it being something bigger, you should lower your expectations. I do.
Show walked to the ring, so their match is next.
Big Show vs. Roman Reigns
It started during the break with Show dominating. Show’s Authority friends were at ringside. Reigns made a comeback with a clothesline and then another clothesline off the middle rope. Then another clothesline that sent Show over the top to the floor. Running dropkick by Reigns outside the ring. When Reigns set up for the Superman Punch, J&J distracted him, so Show hit a Spear for two. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch. Mercury distracted the ref, so Rollins hit Reigns in the back with the Money in the Bank briefcase and Show hit a Chokeslam for the pin after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Big Show
Analysis: *1/2 That’s the first pinfall loss in a singles match for Reigns since he’s been on the main roster. Weird, but true. He has been pinned in tags. It was short and brief, which is fine with me because we’ve seen them wrestle too often. Sad thing is they’ll probably wrestle again on Smackdown or next week. It’s just done to make Reigns look like more of a sympathetic face. He’s been booked so strong since day one that they forgot the basic babyface principles of making a guy look weak to get the crowd support. Now they figured out that they need to do that more with Roman.
Backstage, Hunter and Stephanie were bragging about how the guys in the ring were easy to manipulate. They were happy that they just took care of Roman, then Seth can take care of Bryan and Seth can beat Roman at Fast Lane. Hunter said he’ll manipulate Austin on the podcast like everybody else. They shared a brief kiss to end the segment.
Analysis: They’re like a couple of poorly written Bond villains that reveal plans on camera.
They plugged the Austin podcast with Triple H. I watched it and enjoyed it. I don’t plan on writing about it, but if you missed it you should check it out.
Curtis Axel came out to say “don’t turn the channel because I have something to say.” He said he was attacked before he entered the Rumble match. Axel said he wanted justice. JBL said he wanted to change the channel. Axel pointed to the WrestleMania and said he wanted to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. JBL: “I think it’s about time for something to happen.” Here’s Dean Ambrose.
Analysis: It’s never a good thing when the announcer says he wants to change the channel and they laugh at the guy. Not good for the show or for the wrestler.
Ambrose sent Axel over the top to the floor. He told Axel he was eliminated. The crowd laughed. Ambrose did a promo about seeing a wall at WWE headquarters with pictures of former IC Champions. He mentioned beating Bad News Barrett recently, so he wants to go after the IC Title. “Strap yourself in for a wild ride with Dean Ambrose on the road to Fast Lane.
Axel went back in the ring to attack Ambrose, but Dean nailed him with his bounce off the ropes clothesline and then the Dirty Deeds DDT to end the segment.
Analysis: I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it sucks that Ambrose has fallen from main event level to just being another midcard. On the other hand, it’s nice to see two guys I like battling for the IC Title. Hearing a guy talking about wanting to win the IC Title should be seen as a positive.
There was a video package about Ernie Ladd for Black History Month. They’ve done this in past years in February. I don’t mind history tributes.
Bryan vs. Rollins coming up later.
The Ascension vs. Goldust & Stardust
They didn’t show the introductions. They were just in the ring. Stardust got beat up, so Goldust pulled him over to their corner and Goldust tagged himself in. Viktor was legal, but Konnor tagged himself in. The announcers argued about The Ascension like usual. Atomic drop by Goldust, then he had to fight out of the corner and the two heels worked together to weaken him and hit the Fall of Man for the win after two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Ascension
Analysis: * Another easy win for The Ascension. No time for a hot tag sequence. The finish was a bit weird, but they got the job done.
Post match, Stardust went into the ring and yelled at Goldust. He told him he needs to get his head on straight. Then he left angrily.
Analysis: It’s the start of their split that will lead to Goldust retiring in the near future.
Up next, John Cena welcomes back Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan to Raw.
Backstage, Stardust was freaking out. Goldust called him Stardust first, then he wouldn’t listen to him and he called him Cody. Stardust: “Don’t ever call me Cody, again.” Then he did his weird yell in his face. Stardust left.
Analysis: There’s the continuation of the split. I assume the plan is for Stardust to snap, go back to being Cody and have a match at WrestleMania that is the last match for Goldust. I’m cool with that. Cody still has a bright future. Stardust is limited.
John Cena entered for a promo. His Fast Lane match against Rusev is for the US Title, which is weird because Cena going for the US Title is so 2004. Cena’s right eye was partially closed as he sucked up to the local fans. He plugged the Triple H podcast with Steve Austin. Cena talked about how Hunter rebranded NXT and has a whole stable of stars that are there to take his spot. He said Triple H’s view of WWE is a WWE without John Cena. He mentioned that if Hunter fired him then Hunter has to answer to sponsors mad about no Cena being around. Cena did a fired up rant about never giving up. Then it led to the video of Sting showing up on Raw two weeks earlier. Cena said the he owes Sting a thank you because they’re officially welcoming back Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan to Raw.
To summarize this storyline, these guys were fired on January 5. They missed the next week. They were re-hired on January 19. They were back wrestling on Smackdown on January 22 and all three had roles in the Rumble match although Rowan wasn’t officially in it. The first Raw after the Rumble they weren’t on the show and last week wasn’t in the arena due to the snow, so here’s their Raw return.
The promo continued with Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan in the ring with Cena. That led to Cena ranting about beating Rusev at Fast Lane. Stephanie showed up via the big screen while Ziggler got mad about Stephanie making them fight battles. She put Ziggler in a match with Bray Wyatt, Rowan will face Rusev and Ryback will face Luker Harper next.
Analysis: There really wasn’t anything interesting in there. It was like John Cena was some party host for this show and he had to summarize the things we already knew without saying anything that was exciting.
Luke Harper entered for the match with Ryback.
Ryback vs. Luke Harper
The bell rang as they returned from break. Ryback hit a delayed vertical suplex. Harper came back with an impressive dropkick. Boot the face by Harper while Ryback was on the apron, so that led to Ryback getting kicked to the floor. Harper hit a rolling senton over the top into the ring and JBL said it was like a “zombie Eddie Guerrero” doing that. Apparently people were pissed off about it. Here’s how JBL explained it on Facebook: “This was a WALKING DEAD reference toward Luke-who I have said before looks like a ‘walker’. I would NEVER insult my friend Eddie, for those who took it wrong-sorry about that, but it is what it is.”
Back to the match, Harper missed a corner charge and went crashing into the turnbuckle. Ryback with a Thesz Press followed by a splash for two. Harper hit a Bossman slam for two. Barrett does that move too. Ryback sent Harper outside the ring while some fan called Harper “Brodie” which was his indy name. Spinebuster by Ryback, but Harper hit a kick for two. Harper countered the Shellshock with a rollup, but Ryback came back with a Meat Hook Clothesline and then Shellshock for the win after 6 minutes. The crowd liked that.
Winner by pinfall: Ryback
Analysis: ** That was a solid match that got the right amount of time. They each hit some power moves out there with Ryback looking good in getting the clean win. Harper’s one of the better in-ring performers in WWE. He always has good matches. Ryback did a good job of making the comeback and the fans were into everything he was doing out there.
Ziggler vs. Wyatt coming up later.
As Jimmy and Jey Uso entered, Cole plugged some Toys R Us action figure thing. Then the announcers put over some storyline about some double date with Natalya and Tyson along with Naomi and Jimmy, but I tuned it out.
Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso & Naomi) vs. Cesaro (w/Tyson Kidd & Natalya)
Kidd beat Jey on Smackdown, so now the other two guys get a shot. Jimmy was aggressive early on. Cesaro went to the floor and Jimmy wanted to attack, but Cesaro moved. After Jey trash talked Cesaro, Jimmy hit a dive over the top to take out Cesaro. Cesaro got control with a double axe off the middle rope. Jimmy made a charge, Cesaro moved and Jimmy hit the turnbuckle. Cesaro Swing to a nice reaction, then Cesaro applied a single leg Boston (Swiss?) Crab. Double foot stomp by Cesaro for two and then a double underhook Powerbomb for two as JBL referenced Scott Steiner. Jimmy hit a kick to the gut and then a corkscrew cross body press. Clotheslines by Jimmy, but then Cesaro dumped him to the floor. Back in the ring, Jimmy nailed Cesaro with a superkick followed by a running butt splash. Jimmy went up top, Kidd distracted, Jey tripped him up and that distraction allowed Cesaro to nail an uppercut forearm shot on the splash attempt, so Cesaro covered for the win after 7 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cesaro
Post match, Kidd hit a dropkick on Jey. They celebrated their victory. The replay of the uppercut forearm shot was great.
Analysis: **1/2 That was a fun match. Both guy are very good in the ring. I liked the finish with the uppercut shot. Since both members of the Cesaro/Kidd team won in singles matches, they’re like going to get a Tag Team Title match at Fast Lane in a few weeks. I’m all for it. They should feud for months. They will have some great matches since all four guys are awesome performers.
The announcers plugged free WWE Network for February. I’ve had it since last March and never got a free month. Oh well. Still cheap.
Bryan vs. Rollins later.
Damien Mizdow was getting a plate of food for Miz. There was a guy with a headset on that said he wanted an autograph. Miz told him to leave. The guy wanted Mizdow’s autograph, so he signed it and Miz ripped it up. The guy left. So a guy that works there wants an autograph of a co-worker? Okay then. Miz complained about how he made Mizdow his stunt double and yelled about him. He told Mizdow he’s the worst stunt double he’s ever seen. Miz fired him. Then Miz told Mizdow he would be his personal assistant. Miz yelled at him for mimicking him. He told Mizdow to get his protein shake.
Analysis: It’s another relationship on Raw coming to a close leading up to WrestleMania. The over-acting by Miz was a little much, but it served its purpose.
John Cena was backstage doing nothing, then Erick Rowan walked up to him. Rowan said his whole life he’s been treated by an animal and outcast. He thanked Cena for standing up for him. Cena told him he shouldn’t have been fired. Rowan thanked him again and he’d like to do him a favor by taking on Rusev. Cena told Rowan to be on his game because Rusev is a wrecking machine. Cena told Rowan not to take him lightly. Rowan shook his hand.
Analysis: The role of Rowan is that as the awkward babyface that we’ve seen so many times in WWE history. It will be interesting if he gets far as a babyface, but I have my doubts about that. Too many other good babyfaces right now. I think he’s a limited performer that is a solid big man. I just think he’s better off as a tag wrestler.
Ziggler entered for his match.
They showed Steve Austin preparing for podcast backstage. He gave a thumbs up to the camera.
Bray Wyatt vs. Dolph Ziggler
The crowd was hot for this and chanting for both guys early on. Ziggler hit a nice dropkick, Wyatt came back with a forearm shot to the face and took control of the action. Ziggler hit another dropkick, so Wyatt bailed to the floor. Back in the ring, Wyatt got control back with a running back splash for a two count. A vice grip by Wyatt slowed things down. Ziggler hit an elbow and then another dropkick. Wyatt went to the floor again. Ziggler leaned over the ropes, Wyatt stunned him and hit a suplex onto the floor. Good spot as they went for the vintage floor to commercial break.
Wyatt was still in control after the break. Wyatt ran the ropes and hit a flying elbow for a two count. Back elbow by Ziggler and then Wyatt missed a charge, so he went into the turnbuckle. Ziggler jumped off the middle rope, so Wyatt nailed an uppercut punch. Ziggler avoided a splash attempt by Wyatt. Ziggler clothesline, neckbreaker and elbow drop for two. Wyatt nailed Ziggler with a hard clothesline. Leaping DDT by Ziggler for two. Ziggler missed a corner splash, Wyatt hit a running splash in the corner and did his upside down pose against the turnbuckle. Ziggler hit a kick to the gut after running the ropes for a two count as Booker said “two and 99 percent” with Cole questioning that unique call. They battled it out while on their knees, which was a battle won by a Wyatt uppercut, but then Ziggler hit a Fameasser. Wyatt ended up catching him and hit Sister Abigail for the impressive victory after 15 minutes of action.
Winner by pinfall: Bray Wyatt
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a really good match on a show that needed it. They had a lot of believable nearfalls that made it look like the match could end at any time. The crowd was really into it, which shows that Ziggler needs to be featured more often instead of being just a midcarder. Wyatt’s been on a roll for over a month now because he’s going to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania (not yet announced), so this is WWE’s way of making him look great going into that match. I hope these two get to have a legit feud down the road. It would be awesome. Their styles mesh well.
There was a replay of the announcement that could shake the WWE Universe to its core, which it really didn’t do. They just did what they always do by making matches.
Hunter and Stephanie were looking at Steph’s DVD. Seth Rollins showed up. He wondered what the deal was with the Daniel Bryan thing. Stephanie said that they had to appease the crowd and said that they don’t want Bryan going to Fast Lane or WrestleMania. Hunter mentioned how Randy Orton used to complain about things. Rollins said he’s going to beat Daniel Bryan and end the Yes Movement once and for all.
Analysis: The reason for that segment was to mention Orton repeatedly, which is WWE’s way of telling you that he’s coming back soon. I thought it would be this show. Nope.
The Bella Twins were on commentary for this divas match. Nikki Bella is defending the Divas Title against Paige. They complained about how Paige can’t be trusted and that’s why she has no friends.
Alicia Fox vs. Paige
The girls went to the floor, so Paige screamed at the Bellas. “They make fun of us for being different” says Nikki Bella with her fake boobs and tan. Because that’s being different in WWE. Maybe Brie is the different one without the fake boobs. I don’t know. The feed cut out for this for those of us in Canada and I’m told other international watchers as well. I watched it on WWE’s Youtube channel and saw Paige got a sloppy cradle, so at least it wasn’t the rollup.
Winner by pinfall: Paige
Post match, Fox attacked Paige. The Bella Twins attacked Paige and sprayed black spray paint on her because Paige is too pale. Nikki yelled “we want to give her some color.”
Analysis: * Typical short divas match. That post match segment was bad. Big fan of Paige. Just think this angle is stupid and the crowd barely reacted to it. It seems like the only divas storyline WWE knows how to book is two heels teaming together against one. It was like that with AJ and Tamina for a while. Now it’s back to the Bellas in control. Very repetitive.
More reminders of things to come.
There was a clip of The Miz on some show called Sirens. Never heard of it.
The Miz entered for a match. Then Damien Mizdow entered to a pop. Miz got mad at him and told him to stay behind. They replayed the backstage altercation from earlier. Cole said that Miz has re-hired Mizdow as his personal assistant.
The Miz (w/Damien Mizdow) vs. Sin Cara
Sin Cara was on fire and in control of the match. Mizdow was at ringside not doing imitations. Sin Cara missed a Senton Bomb. Fans chanted for Mizdow, so he mimicked Miz and then Miz told him to get off the apron. Miz told Mizdow that the fans are nothing and that Miz is everything. Back in the ring, Miz hit a boot to the face on Sin Cara. Mizdow just stood outside the ring while Miz applied headlocks for too long. Miz celebrated a move, then Mizdow went on the apron to celebrate. When Miz yelled at Mizdow, Sin Cara flipped Miz over and pinned him for the win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sin Cara
Post match, Miz yelled at Mizdow for messing up.
Analysis: * The match didn’t mean anything. It was all about the angle to further the jealousy issues that Miz has for Mizdow. It’s amazing to think that The Miz main evented WrestleMania 27 four years ago. Then again that was a crappy show that I regret going to, but it says a lot about how weak WWE was at that time. The Mizdow act has gone as far as it could, so I’m cool with the split coming.
Bray Wyatt did a promo backstage saying he’s called many names in the past like a seducer or destroyer. He said he’s been watching somebody for quite some time now. “They used to FEAR you, but you let that fear turn into love… I AM THE NEW FACE OF FEAR!” He said that that the devil is real. He said “I can’t wait to see you again.” Then he tilted his head back to say “find me” to the camera.
Analysis: Good promo. He’s talking to The Undertaker. It seems like the direction will be that he thinks The Undertaker isn’t what he was because he let the fans change him, so he wants to bring out the evil in him. That’s fine with me.
Rusev entered with Lana. It’s still so weird that John Cena is challenging for Rusev’s US Title.
Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Erick Rowan
Rusev attacked outside the ring by tossing Rowan into the steel post at ringside. The ref didn’t ring the bell because Rusev was aggressively attacking Rowan. With Rowan on the apron, Rusev kicked him in the head. The camera guy missed it. Rusev applied The Accolade submission on Rowan as the ref told him to break the hold. Nobody helped Rowan. After around 20 seconds, he let go.
No Match due to angry Bulgarian playing a Russian
After that non-match, Lana welcomed us to check out a movie about Rusev. That led a one minute video package showing Rusev beating many different wrestlers. We just saw him destroy a guy. The video wasn’t necessary, but it was fine.
When Rusev was in the ring posing, the Russian flag that usually drops on top of the ring had technical difficulties and didn’t drape down. That was a legit mistake. Rusev grabbed his flag from ringside and waved it around.
Analysis: Just a segment to put over Rusev. The beating was done likely so he didn’t have to sell any moves at all. He just kicked Rowan’s ass without the match ever starting. If Cena is Rowan’s friend, where is he for the save?
Roman Reigns was in the locker room. Daniel Bryan walked up to him. Bryan said that at Fast Lane, Roman is going to be facing him. Roman said he didn’t care who he faces at Fast Lane because he’s going to win and he’s going to WrestleMania. Roman told Bryan to get the hell out of his locker room.
Analysis: That was pretty aggressive from Roman. He’s either turning heel, which I’m okay with although I have my doubts about it happening, or they are trying to make him a lone wolf that wants no friends at all.
Seth Rollins entered with J&J Security.
This week on Miz TV on Smackdown it’s The Miz hosting Roman Reigns and whoever is his Fast Lane opponent.
Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins (w/Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury)
Bryan hit a butterfly suplex into an armbar. His momentum didn’t last long because of the outside interference and he was sent into the barricade. They went to break two minutes into it.
Back from break, Rollins was in control of the match. He hit a neckbreaker for a two count. Big Show was out at ringside. Rollins did a splash in the corner for a two count. Bryan made a comeback with punches and uppercuts, but Rollins gave him a neckbreaker face first into the turnbuckle. After some long taunting by Seth in the corner, Bryan hit a running clothesline and then a series of kicks with the crowd chanting “yes” for every one of them including the final kick that led to the two count. Bryan hit a running dropkick in the corner and then a hurricanrana off the top rope, but then Seth turned it into a rollup. That was sweet. Great technique there. Bryan hit a dropkick on J&J when they were on the apron. Back body drop sent Seth over the top and then Bryan hit a dive between the top/middle rope to take out Rollins. They went up top with Bryan hitting a back suplex to the center of the ring for a two count. The crowd thought that was it, even with a move that rarely wins matches.
Bryan went for the running knee, but Rollins caught him, hit the Powerbomb into the turnbuckle and then a standing side kick for the two count. Bryan was playing possum and locked in the Yes Lock on Rollins. It looked like Rollins was going to tap, but he got his feet on the bottom rope to break the hold. Roman Reigns ran out to ringside and hit a Spear on Big Show. Reigns hit a Spear on Mercury. Noble snuck into the ring, the ref saw him so that allowed Reigns to hit a Superman punch on Rollins. Bryan sent Noble out of the ring. Bryan hit the running knee on Rollins and got the win after 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Daniel Bryan
Analysis: ***1/2 It’s no surprise that they had a really good match because they are two of the best in-ring performers in the company. Maybe the two best. I’ll never get tired of seeing them in a match. I’m looking forward to when these two have a legitimate intense rivalry and some major PPV matches because then we’ll see some incredible stuff. I’m not a huge fan of Reigns getting involved as much as he did because it would have meant more if it was a clean win, but this is WWE’s way of making Reigns look like a bigger star as well as a more likable guy by helping Bryan when he needed it. Now they can have a mutual respect kind of rivalry.
That win means that Bryan will face Reigns in the main event of Fast Lane with the winner going on to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 for the WWE Title.
After the win, Renee Young tried to interview Triple H backstage. Hunter said he didn’t have anything to say. He’ll talk about it on the podcast with Austin right now.
Following the match, Michael Cole congratulated Daniel Bryan on the victory. Bryan grabbed the microphone to say that he was going to WrestleMania. He made sure to thank the fans too.
They replayed the ending of the match with Reigns actually helping Bryan win the match. Bryan celebrated the win to end the show. It ran a little long, but I’m not going to complain about Bryan vs. Rollins.
Analysis: It was a happy ending to the show that ends things on a right note. Regarding the end of Raw, I thought it was good. People can think about that Bryan/Reigns match and try to figure out how it’s going to go. I think there’s a small chance Reigns goes heel, but I doubt it.
What’s more likely is that Reigns gets the win, then Bryan shakes his hand after the match and basically endorses Reigns as the guy. In other words, they would be using Bryan to try to put over Reigns as a way to tell the fans that this is the guy. It’s the typical thing where a former champ puts over a guy on the rise. WWE is saying that if people don’t believe in Reigns that’s fine, here’s a win over Bryan. Booking 101.
Then there’s that other option where you just have Bryan win to make fans happy because that’s what they want. However, Bryan is probably facing Ziggler at WM and I think that’s still the plan for WM. I think they’re going Reigns with the win at Fast Lane, he’s staying face and Bryan is going to be that guy that makes Reigns look like a big star because he’s the best person that can do that.
I guess if people want to believe Bryan is going to main event WM31 they can still believe until Fast Lane, but I really don’t see WWE going away from the plans of this Reigns push. Sorry.
It’s not what I want. Of course I want Bryan to win. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Daniel Bryan
2. Seth Rollins
3. (tie) Bray Wyatt
3. (tie) Dolph Ziggler
6 out of 10
Last week: NR
Last 5 Weeks: NR, 4.5, 4.5, 7.5, 6
2015 Average: 5.63
I’m giving it a 6 out of 10, which is solid although nothing spectacular.
The last hour was really good. The Bryan/Rollins and Wyatt/Ziggler matches were both above average. This show needs more of that. There were also some solid shorter matches like Ryback/Harper and Cesaro/Jimmy so that’s encouraging too. The tag title feud should be awesome.
That 30 minute promo to open the show was too damn long, but at least it got people talking and set up a big match for this show as well as Fast Lane.
You can see there is some direction for some storylines with the Miz/Mizdow split coming soon and the Goldust/Stardust team breaking down. Ambrose going after Barrett is good for both of them.
I felt like they should have done more to push the Cena/Rusev story. It was weird not seeing Cena come out there to save his buddy Rowan when he got destroyed.
I liked some of the things on this show and some of the direction is good. Fast Lane is not a major PPV, but if we can get a few good matches out of it then that’s cool with me.
That’s all for this week. Check out my feature column archive that’s exclusive to WhatCulture.
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John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org
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