By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Miami, Florida at American Airlines Arena
[Q1] A Royal Rumble recap aired with still shots of how Triple H became the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion… Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary…
Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon made their entrance. “Well, shut up!” Vince started. Stephanie said the fans never listen. Vince said he’s feeling damn good. He said they don’t care how the fans are feeling, because they are feeling good. Vince admitted that Roman Reigns is “one tough son of a bitch” but he is “broken in half.” Vince said the fans tuck their tails between their legs and whimper off just like Reigns.
Vince said he had a confession to make and he said it was probably his first in WWE. Stephanie said it was probably his first confession in life. “I confess that I enjoy the misfortune and misery of others,” Vince said. He said the fans are broken and miserable too. “Yes, you are,” Vince said with glee. Stephanie boasted that they pulled off one of the greatest coups in WWE history.
Stephanie mocked the “pipe dreams” of the fans believing Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, or AJ Styles winning. The fans started a loud “AJ Styles” chant. “Who?” Vince asked. Vince said he doesn’t care who it is because at the end of the day everyone ends up at the bottom of their shoes. Stephanie said no one holds a candle to her husband. She said Hunter works harder than anyone on the roster. She said he’s a businessman, the Cerebral Assassin, the greatest superstar in WWE history, and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: Vince and Stephanie were tremendous. You knew we’d get this long, gloating promo, but they really hammed it up. Vince has good nights and bad nights as a performer these days, but this was really good. His confession was a riot and he looked like he was having a blast delivering his lines.
Triple H made his entrance to “The Game” theme song. Hunter wore a suit and opened the jacket to reveal the title belt. After Hunter joined Vince and Stephanie in the ring, Vince told the fans to “bow down to the king.” Hunter said it’s good to be the king. He said he had to hand it to Reigns. He said Reigns could be one of the most amazing athletes he’s ever seen. “The thing is he could be,” Hunter said. “Today he is not.” Hunter said Reigns lacks one thing – respect.
Hunter said he could put up with a lot of Reigns’ disrespect, but he took it too far by disrespecting Vince. Hunter said Vince “might as well be God because he created all this.” Hunter said “this” is his religion and his church, and he’ll be damned if someone like Reigns disrespects him or his religion. Hunter said fans may wonder why he wants to be champion given everything he’s gone. Hunter said they are right.
“I don’t need to be WWE Champion, but I want to be WWE Champion” Hunter said. He said he wants it because people like Reigns want to be champion and they don’t deserve it. Hunter said he will be champion until he says so. “Until everyone back there and everyone out here, I will be WWE Champion. Why? Because I say so and there isn’t a damn thing that anyone can do about it, and that includes Roman Reigns.”
[Q2] The fans chanted “Roman.” Vince said that’s not the respect they were talking about and once again told the fans to shut up. Hunter said people like Roman and the fans will either conform or they will cease to exist. Stephanie asked who Hunter will teach a lesson to at WrestleMania. Stephanie said they will evaluate each wrestler tonight and then announce the main event of Fastlane. She said the winner of the Fastlane match will go on to face Hunter in the main event of WrestleMania for the championship. Hunter and Stephanie kissed to end the segment…
The broadcast team hyped the “major star” hyped for Raw. They also announced Chris Jericho vs. A.J. Styles for later in the show…
Powell’s POV: A good, passionate promo from Hunter, who used good heel logic. I like the way they all went after the fans, as it would have been easy for fans to cheer for Hunter over Reigns coming out of the Royal Rumble. Meanwhile, they’re wasting no time getting to a big Styles match on Raw. This should be fun.
1. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens. Flo Rida was shown in the crowd. Ziggler caught Owens with a superkick once the bell rang for a quick two count. Owens rolled to ringside and Ziggler went after him. Owens recovered and whipped Ziggler into the barricade. There was an audible “Fight Owens Fight” chant from some adult male fans. [C]
[Q3] Ziggler performed a Fameasser for a two count coming out of the break. Owens came back with a German suplex, but Ziggler caught him with a superkick for a two count. A short time later, Owens hit the Popup Powerbomb for the clean win…
Kevin Owens defeated Dolph Ziggler in 8:50.
Powell’s POV: Cole and especially Saxton did a nice job of emphasizing that the wrestlers are trying to impress The Authority to get into the Fastlane match. Of course, it’s kinda silly since the majority of the babyface characters should be completely demoralized and assume they have, well, no chance in hell because of the heel authority figures, but at least they are trying to give the matches more meaning. Owens getting a bounce back win was logical. I actually thought it might be more lopsided or even a beatdown angle, but it was a competitive match.
Backstage, JoJo told Roman Reigns that The Authority labeled him a broken man. “They really said all that?” Reigns asked. “These people are ridiculous.” He told JoJo to let “the champ and the chairman” know that he is in the building and won’t be leaving until he hears the announcement (presumably the Fastlane main event)… [C] Flo Rida’s “My House” is a WrestleMania theme…
The Social Outcasts stood in the ring for a promo. Heath Slater spotted Flo Rida in the crowd and went down to where he was seated and announced his presence. Slater said he shoved Flo around a lot the last time they met up. “Sit there and shut up, and don’t make me mad,” Slater warned. Adam Rose said something about Flo being the red dragon. Curtis Axel had no idea what he was talking about. Bo Dallas invited Flo to face the “four super friends.”
Flo Rida hopped the barricade and entered the ring. Slater said he didn’t want to hurt Flo, but they will embarrass him by having a rap battle. Flo took the mic and mocked the idea of them challenging him. Slater said “Bo Rida” would be doing the rapping instead. They put a hat, glasses, and a necklace on Bo, who then had lines about Flo being named after Florida, and something about a full house and Danny Tanner. Flo took his turn and closed off his rhyme by saying “welcome to Dudleyville.” The Dudleys made their entrance as the show went to break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Advantage Bo Rida. Wow, this was bad.
2. The Dudley Boyz (w/Flo Rida) vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas (w/Heath Slater, Adam Rose). The match was joined in progress. Bo wore a singlet and led his team in an early victory lap known as the Bo-train. Cole noted that the Dudleys will celebrate 20 years as a team in April, which made me feel old. Slater stood on the apron and Flo Rida climbed up and shoved him into the ring. Slater turned to avoid a punch from Flo, then walked into a bodyslam followed by the Whassup spot. Axel took the 3D and was pinned…
The Dudley Boyz beat Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in 4:35 (television time).
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles and asked who exactly is AJ Styles. Styles said he didn’t just make headlines, he turned WWE upside down. Chris Jericho interrupted him and said he’s been waiting a long time to have Styles in WWE “where you belong, in the big time.” Jericho said Styles has won championships around the world and now he has a chance to make a huge impression on Raw when they meet for the first time ever. “Welcome to the big leagues, kid,” Jericho said before delivering a hard pat to the chest…
Powell’s POV: Let’s just pretend everything involving Flo Rida never happened. Fortunately, we got a good backstage segment. It was simple and effective with Jericho big-timing Styles, who looked pissed when Jericho walked off.
Cole recapped the story of Nikki Bella requiring major neck surgery…
[Q5] Ring entrances for the Jericho vs. Styles match took place. Cole hyped that Jericho would be on ESPNews tomorrow night. Styles yelled “this is where I belong, this is where I should have been the whole time” as he made his entrance. JBL noted that Jericho is a two-time IWGP Champion…
3. AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho. There were “AJ Styles” and “this is awesome” chants in the opening minute. Styles performed a big clothesline early. Jericho came back with a springboard dropkick that knocked Styles off the apron and down to ringside. “Come on, kid,” Jericho said to Styles once they were back in the ring. Styles responded with a dropkick and Jericho rolled to ringside. Styles went to the apron and Jericho tripped him up heading into the break. [C]
Styles was on the offensive and got a nearfall off a slam. Saxton spoke about how important the match is for Styles with The Authority watching. Jericho picked up a near fall of his own, then Styles came back with a springboard forearm for a two count. Jericho caught Styles in the Liontamer. Styles teased tapping, but he reached the ropes to break the hold.
Styles responded with a Pele Kick. Styles went for a frogsplash, but Jericho avoided it and came back with a Lionsault attempt. Styles put his knees up. Styles went for the Styles Clash, but Jericho countered into a pin. Styles rolled it over and pinned Jericho to win the match.
AJ Styles beat Chris Jericho in 13:45.
[Q6] After the match, Styles offered Jericho a handshake. After a long pause, Jericho shook his hand. Styles tried to leave, but Jericho pulled him back and stared at him before leaving… A shot aired of a limo arriving backstage as Cole played up the major star teaser… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong debut match for Styles and it was a blast to see him and Jericho in the ring together. It can certainly be argued that they could have had Styles win a glorified squash match and built to a Styles vs. Jericho match on pay-per-view, but I really like that they are not wasting their time with Styles. Even if there are casual fans who don’t know who he is, his win over Jericho combined with the gushing the broadcast team did over him sends the message that he’s a star.
4. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch. Saxton spoke of the history between Banks and Lynch in NXT. Lynch had a run of offense and let out a primal scream, which drew a modest crowd response. Late in the match, Sasha performed the Backstabber and applied the Bank Statement, but Charlotte hit the ring for the DQ. Charlotte threw Sasha to ringside and attacked Lynch. Cole questioned why she targeted Lynch. Sasha returned to the ring, but Charlotte ended up leaving both women lying…
Sasha Banks fought Becky Lynch to a no-contest in 3:35.
Powell’s POV: These two needed some mic time to help establish what the dynamic is. Is Sasha a heel? Is she a babyface? I honestly don’t know because she ended up attacking both Lynch and Charlotte last night. It’s not like they played up a mystery, they just went to the match and expected fans to take sides. The crowd just kind of sat there until the finish and when Charlotte interfered. Fortunately, I think the Divas division is in a better place today than it was even last month, and I am happy that it appears Sasha is no longer stuck in Team BAD. I assume they are setting up a Triple Threat.
[Q7] Backstage, Goldust entered R-Truth’s locker area and stuttered a bit while telling him that he’s looking for a new partner. “I’m a married man,” Truth said. “Ain’t nothing wrong with that.” Truth told him he doesn’t swing that way. Truth started to leave, then Goldust told him he was talking about being tag partners in a team known as Golden Truth… Cole hyped Kane vs. Bray Wyatt for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A cute segment that got some laughs from the crowd. I think they managed to be cute and harmless enough that it wasn’t offensive. Okay, so someone will always be offended by something in 2016, but I don’t think they crossed any lines.
Smackdown will feature The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho interviewing Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose… Ring entrances for the Wyatt vs. Kane match took place. The broadcast team narrated still shots of Brock Lesnar and The Wyatt Family from the Rumble match…
5. Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, Braun Strowman) vs. Kane. They cut to a break early in the match. [C]
[Q8] There were guys dressed as some classic wrestlers at ringside. The fans amused themselves by chanting Randy Savage and the guy dressed like Savage stood up. Apparently he was told to sit down because the camera cut away and the crowd booed. The chant picked up again as Kane teased a chokeslam and Wyatt rolled to ringside. Harper distracted Kane, allowing Wyatt to hit Sister Abigail for the win…
Bray Wyatt beat Kane in 7:10.
A shot aired of the limo parked backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: WWE ejected fans dressed as wrestlers before, so it’s nice to see they eased up on their policy. This may make them reconsider their stance yet again. I say that if what you are doing in the ring isn’t as interesting as fans dressed up like Savage, Hulk Hogan, and Undertaker, then you’re not doing your job right. The fans had every right to be bored by what felt like the one billionth match between Wyatt and Kane. I assume limo guy will be showing up just in time for the third hour.
A WrestleMania video aired. We are 69 days away…
Butthead’s POV: It said 69.
Backstage, The Miz exited the limo and the fans booed. Miz said the most must see superstar is back on Raw. A truck arrived and the fans roared. The Rock exited the truck and the place came unglued. “Who the hell do you think you are?” Miz asked. Miz accused Rock of trying to steal his spotlight. Rock told him he looked like a flying nun, then told him to do him a favor and park his truck.
Rock spotted Rick Ross backstage and hugged him. Congrats to Ross for no longer being on house arrest. Rock saw Big Show and hugged him. Rock spoke about beating Show in a Royal Rumble. Rock claimed the director decided that whoever won that match was going to get a movie role, and everything Rock has starred in could have been Show in that role instead. Show crushed a computer.
Rock spotted Lana and approached her. He recalled their past issues and claimed Lana showed up at his hotel and told him that she didn’t want to be with Rusev anymore because he was big, hairy, and smells like testicles. Rock said they did special exercises together and she smiled. Rusev showed up behind Rock. Rock was still super happy and congratulated them on their engagement. Rock said Rusev has a hell of a woman, “she’s flexible as all hell.” Rock looked into the camera and told Miami he is coming.
Rock acknowledged the great Pat Patterson backstage and went right back to talking about how he got up at 3:45 a.m. and filmed “Ballers” for 14 hours. Rock said he was in the Gorilla Position and then asked if Miami was ready. He started his “Finally” routine and stopped. The fans chanted his name. “Home,” he said with a smile, then counted down and his music hit. The Rock walked into the arena to a big ovation.
[Q9] The fans chanted “this is awesome” before Rock said anything. Rock asked Miami if they are ready for WrestleMania. Rock said Michael Cole and JBL are ready. “That other black dude who I don’t know is…” Rock stopped. The fans chanted “welcome back” and then “Randy Savage.” Rock looked at someone in the crowd and the fans cheered. “Well, this is the time where we go off the script,” Rock said.
Rock headed to ringside to where the guys dressed like Taker, Hogan, and Savage had been moved. Rock said the weed is out after talking to the Hogan guy. There was a fourth guy who had a Rock t-shirt and a title belt. Apparently, he was Rock. The last guy was playing Savage. “Welcome to Raw, good, good to see you,” he told them. Rock returned to the ring, so apparently he was back on script?
Rock went into his schtick, but he was interrupted by New Day. Xavier Woods informed him that “that black guy” is Byron Saxton. Kingston said they should talk about the black guys that Rock knows – New Day. They boasted about beating The Lucha Dragons, the Dudley Boyz, and Rock’s cousins The Uso Brothers. “New Day representing, what was you expecting?” Kofi yelled. Rock shot them a bemused look.
New Day pointed out that Rock calls himself The People’s Champion, but he doesn’t have any gold. They boasted that they are the WWE Tag Team Champions. They compared Rock to Miami because he left town. They did the New Day rocks bit. Rock paused as the fans chanted his name again. Rock said he news who New Day are.
Rock said New Day are the tag champions and are extremely entertaining even though they wear llama penises strapped to their heads. Woods informed him that they are unicorn horns. Rock mocked “Big Momma” for getting upset and said it was like the Incredible Hulk banged Urkel. Rock challenged all three of them to get in the ring so he could shove the trombone up their candy asses.
[Q10] Woods asked if Miami wants to see it get real. “Well, you don’t deserve it, so goodbye.” New Day started to leave, but Rock stopped them. Rock said that when he comes out he has a plan and a plan on top of a plan. He said Plan A didn’t work, but Plan B always works. They asked him what Plan B was. “Plan Be?” he asked. “Family.” The Uso Brothers came out and attacked New Day. They rolled Big E inside the ring and Rock gave him a Rock Bottom. One of the Uso Brothers gave a Samoan Drop to Kofi.
Woods was saved for last. Woods took a spinebuster and The People’s Elbow. The Rock took the mic and thanked Miami and said he would see them at WrestleMania. “If you smell what The Rock is cookin'” he concluded…
The broadcast team hyped Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Rusev and Sheamus… [C]
Powell’s POV: This wasn’t the most memorable Rock segment, but I don’t think the fans or many viewers are complaining. They got 20 minutes of Rock insulting everyone around him and hitting some of his classic moves on New Day. Obviously, I was hoping for an angle to set up a big WrestleMania match, but his line at the end about seeing fans at WrestleMania left me wondering if this is the last time we see him on WWE television before he makes a non-wrestling appearance at WrestleMania.
6. Natalya and Paige vs. Brie Bella and Alicia Fox. Paige performed the Rampaige finisher on Brie Bell and pinned her…
Natalya and Paige beat Brie Bella and Alicia Fox.
A video package aired on WWE’s agreement with Boys & Girls Club of America… [C]
Powell’s POV: A comedown match. It’s nice to see Natalya and Paige are both medically cleared. The funny thing is that they’ve spent more time talking about Nikki’s injury tonight than they spent talking about Natalya or Paige’s injuries the entire time they were sidelined. Meanwhile, the sad thing about the charity video is that I don’t think Miz was in-character when he wore that plaid suit. I still can’t believe those eyesores are back in style. Whenever you wear them, just know that someday your children will find a picture and laugh at you the same way my generation laughed at our parents for doing the same thing.
[Q11] Footage aired of Kalisto regaining the U.S. Title at the Royal Rumble… The Miz stood in the ring for a promo, but he was interrupted by Kalisto’s music…
7. U.S. Champion Kalisto vs. The Miz in a non-title match. Kalisto jumped out to a quick start and Miz took a breather at ringside heading into the break. [C] Miz was on the offensive coming out of the break. Kalisto made his comeback and hit a nice corkscrew elbow off the ropes for a two count. Miz came back with a DDT for a two count. Kalisto hit Salida del Sol and got the win…
Kalisto pinned The Miz in a non-title match in 9:55.
The broadcast team hyped Reigns and Ambrose vs. Rusev and Sheamus…
Powell’s POV: I would have enjoyed this match more if it had been an open challenge match for the title. I’m a big believer in having Kalisto pick up where Cena left off. The fans see him as vulnerable. Why not turn a forgettable TV match with Miz into something interesting by putting the title on the line? By the way, a reader in our comments section suggested that Rock was telling The Uso Brothers that he would see them all at WrestleMania, meaning Rock was implying a six-man tag match. I didn’t hear it that way and I think the broadcast team would be going crazy about if it he did, but never say never I suppose.
[Q12] [C] Saxton hyped The Highlight Reel with Reigns and Ambrose for Smackdown… Ring entrances for the main event took place…
8. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Rusev and Sheamus (w/Alberto Del Rio, King Barrett). Ambrose wore a gray shirt and had his shoulder wrapped. Ambrose performed a dive off the top rope onto Rusev and Sheamus heading into the break. [C] Ambrose sold for both heels for a prolonged stretch.
[Overrun] The Ambrose beating continued until Ambrose caught Sheamus with a clothesline at ringside. Ambrose eventually made the hot tag. Reigns cwas dominant until Rusev caught him with a kick. Sheamus caught Reigns with a kick and went for a cover that Ambrose broke up. Ambrose took out Rusev on the floor. Inside the ring, Reigns speared Sheamus and pinned him to win the match…
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose beat Sheamus and Rusev in 15:50.
The broadcast team questioned how the Authority couldn’t be impressed by that. JBL said they have a tough decision to make. Ambrose went to ringside and took the broadcast team’s table apart as Cole said Ambrose didn’t forget what League of Nations did to Reigns at the Royal Rumble. Ambrose hoisted up Rusev on one broadcast table and Reigns powerbombed Rusev through another broadcast table.
Stephanie McMahon’s music played and she walked onto the stage. She said that since The Authority always does what’s best for business, she has a big announcement to make. Stephanie announced the main event of Fastlane will be Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar in a Triple Threat match with the winner getting the title match against Triple H at WrestleMania 32…
Powell’s POV: I know they tried to cover it with the “always do what’s best for business” line, but how ridiculous is it that Reigns is getting a chance to get another title shot just a night after they stacked the deck against him to take the title away from him? I’m sure Hunter will try to fill the hole as he usually does in a future interview, but it’s really silly. By the way, what’s stopping Reigns from invoking his rematch clause? Did they forget that one? Furthermore, they spent all this time trying to get Reigns over, and they put him in yet another situation where he is sure to be booed against two wrestlers who are more popular than he is. I will have more to say in tonight’s member exclusive audio review and in Tuesday’s WWE Raw Hit List.