By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Detroit, Michigan at Joe Louis Arena
[Q1] Footage aired of Roman Reigns beating Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose at Fastlane, and a clip of the post-show with Triple H coming out was included… The opening montage aired… Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. Cole hyped that WrestleMania is 41 days away…
The Vincent J McMahon Award was set up on a classy stand in the ring. The broadcast team hyped Triple H vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship as the WrestleMania main event. They also showed the footage of Brock Lesnar attacking Dean Ambrose when he arrived at Raw. They included additional footage of Ambrose wearing a neck brace as he was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Cole hyped that Lesnar and Paul Heyman would appear on the show…
Vincent K. McMahon made his entrance for the award presentation. Lilian Garcia mentioned Vincent J McMahon, Sr., but she did not include the “junior” when introducing Vince. Once in the ring, Vince told the fans that it’s a night that they will never ever forget.
Powell’s POV: Vince hates being called “junior” so that’s why he’s always Vincent Kenny McMahon rather than Vince McMahon Jr.
Vince spoke about his father and his promoting history. Vince said his father had a cunning business mind, but he was very kind. The fans gave Vince the “What?” treatment. Vince said the person they honor tonight has those same qualities. “And thus, it is my pleasure to introduce the Vincent James McMahon Award of Excellence to Stephanie McMahon.”
Stephanie made her entrance and hugged her father once she entered the ring. Vince said no one in the world deserves the award as much as her. “I am so proud of you, Stephanie,” Vince said. “You were born into this business.” He said she has all of his father’s virtues.
Stephanie acted like she was emotional and thanked the booing fans for being so supportive. She thanked her husband and snuck in a plug for his title defense at WrestleMania. Stephanie was about to read a prepared statement when family music interrupted her.
Shane McMahon made his entrance! A gray-haired Shane walked out wearing a suit with Nike shoes and did his dance. The fans popped big. Vince and Stephanie looked shocked. Shane did his silly dance once he entered the ring with is father and sister. The fans chanted “holy shit” and continued to cheer while Shane soaked it up. The fans followed with a long and loud “this is awesome” chant. Shane wiped a tear from his eye.
[Q2] Vince approached Shane for a hug, but Shane stuck his hand out to block him and then adjusted Vince’s suit and tie. The fans roared and chanted “Shane-O-Mac.” Vince stuck his hand out, but Shane moved it aside. Shane took the mic and thanked the crowd very much. He told the crowd to excuse him while he conducted a little business.
Shane said this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Shane said that the Vincent J McMahon Award was a wonderful idea, but Stephanie is not a worthy recipient. Vince told him to be nice and said they should talk backstage. Shane said it’s all getting done tonight. Stephanie said this is not about Shane, it’s her moment and her legacy.
Shane told Steph that she hasn’t earned it. Steph said it’s convenient for Shane to watch from home and talk about how to run things when he hasn’t been around for seven or eight years. She said she and Hunter have run a billion dollar business whether the fans appreciate it or not.
“She doesn’t know, does she?” Shane asked Vince. Shane said Triple H and Stephanie have run the company into the ground. He pointed to the stock, the ratings, and the talent injuries. He said they have run it all into the ground. Nice line. Stephanie said Shane is nothing more than a quitter and told her to get the hell out of his ring.
Shane asked Vince if he wanted to tell her. Vince said it’s not the time or the place. He said Vince messed up big time a couple years ago and he stepped in to save the day. Shane said they made a deal and he was able to step aside and run some business, “but I never lost my place in line.” Shane said Stephanie was only able to climb so high because he allowed it to happen.
Stephanie told Vince to tell her that none of this is true. The fans chanted “yes!” Vince asked to have a word with Shane. Stephanie said this is absolutely insane. Stephanie said that they have WrestleMania coming up and she could get him a ticket if he feels like showing up this year. She said it won’t be ringside, but she’ll do her best.
Vince said he wanted to talk with Shane and then he would have a conversation with Stephanie. “Is it true?” she asked. Vince said he would present her the award backstage. Shane asked Vince to say whether it was true. Vince said there’s some truth to it. Shane said it’s all true. “At the time, Stephanie, it was best for business.” Shane told Stephahie he would hold the ropes for her. “Bye, bye,” he said. She told him that she will never forgive him. The fans sang the goodbye song to Stephanie as she left the ring.
“So what’s this all about?” Vince asked. He said he would take out his checkbook and write another check to him. Vince told Shane to name his price. Shane said it’s not about money and he is not beholden to Vince anymore. He said it’s about legacy and he and his wife have three boys at home. He listed his sons names and said he wants the business to be around for their generation and future generations.
Vince asked Shane what he wants. “Simple, I want control of Monday Night Raw,” Shane said. The fans chanted “Yes!” Vince laughed and said that’s a good one. Vince said that as Raw goes, so goes the company. Vince said that Shane would be controlling the company if he did that. “Exactly,” Shane said. Vince said things have changed and it’s a publicly traded company. Shane said it hasn’t changed for the better. He started speaking about generational and seemed to lose his place momentarily.
Vince asked the fans if they want Shane to run Raw. He said they have no idea and no clue. Vince said he would make Shane a deal. Vince said that he wanted Shane to have one match and he would get his way if he wins, but otherwise Vince won’t be under his thumb. Vince said he would pick the opponent and the place. Shane thought about it while the fans chanted “you’ve still got it.”
Shane said it won’t be his first deal with the devil. Shane said Vince has a deal. Vince was censored as he said something to Shane about a beating. Shane said he remembers those beatings and they just made him stronger. Vince said he was naming the place and the time and it would be almost as big as Shane’s ego.
[Q3] Vince booked Shane in a match at WrestleMania against The Undertaker. The fans didn’t pop for that announcement, but there was a “holy shit” chant. Vince said the match will be in Hell in a Cell… [C]
Powell’s POV: Shane is the most popular guy in the company right now. The live crowd was as hot for him as the Seattle crowd was for Daniel Bryan even. The match announcement is a complete shocker, but it’s odd in that it would seem to make Undertaker a heel at WrestleMania in Texas. That said, it beats the hell out of Taker vs. Braun Strowman! I didn’t quite grasp the logic of Shane agreeing to the match when it seemed like he had the storyline business arrangement in his favor. It was a ridiculously long segment with WWE going 30 minutes without taking a break, but they never lost my interest. A hot and completely unexpected start to WrestleMania season.
1. Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods vs. Neville, Kalisto, and Sin Cara in a six-man tag match. A New Day pre-tape aired with the trio saying they took the high road at Fastlane, and they showed off a box of Booy-O cereal with their cartoon images. They cut to break just 30 seconds into the match, which is no surprise since they have some breaks to make up for coming out of the long opening segment. [C]
[Q4] New Day worked over Neville heading into another break. [C] Neville performed a flip off the apron onto Big E. Kalisto took out Woods with a dive. In the ring, Kingston performed Trouble in Paradise on Sin Cara and pinned him…
New Day beat Neville and The Lucha Dragons in 15:25.
Backstage, Roman Reigns was reading this live coverage report on his phone (okay, maybe not) when JoJo approached him. Reigns spoke about trying to get updates on Dean Ambrose. JoJo shifted the focus to the WrestleMania main event. Reigns said no more family business or corporate trips, just him and Triple H in front of the world. He said it will come down to “this (fist) and this (heart)” and said he likes his odds…
Cole narrated the footage of Brock Lesnar attacking Dean Ambrose before Raw. He hyped Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Thanks to Dot Net reader Jerry Roth for pointing out that Vince said “beatings” when he was censored, not “meetings” as I mistakenly wrote. In other words, the Mr. McMahon character and Adrian Peterson have something in common. The match was entertaining and yet another reminder of how underutilized Neville is. The Reigns promo was okay and it’s nice to hear him speaking again rather than standing around while everyone else does the talking. I’m just not sure why the family games and corporate stuff is finished. What’s stopping Hunter from screwing him over again?
A graphic touted how many Facebook followers WWE has. Your mom would be really impressed…
[Q5] The broadcast team spoke at ringside and touted that Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker match for WrestleMania. Byron told viewers not to adjust their hearing. JBL called him on that odd choice of words…
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance. The fans chanted “suplex city” before Heyman introduced himself and said this is your main event of the evening. Heyman pointed out that Lesnar isn’t even in his wrestling gear, yet he is the biggest box office attraction in sports entertainment and MMA.
Heyman said Lesnar took Reigns and Ambrose to Suplex City. We learned that “pissed” is a censored word on Raw. Heyman said Lesnar is the god of violent retribution and he got his revenge when Ambrose arrived at the building. He said that since Lesnar is out of the main event of WrestleMania, Lesnar took Ambrose out of WrestleMania. He set up the footage of Lesnar’s attack on Ambrose.
Heyman said no shield can protect Ambrose from the wrath of Lesnar. He said Lesnar not only deserves to be in the main event, he is the main event. Heyman scoffed at Reigns or Ambrose thinking they are the main event when Lesnar is on the card. Heyman spoke about how people think kids who do tricks on their bikes are cool until a semi drives onto the semi and wipes them out. Lesnar smiled.
Lesnar said that if people think he’s in a destructive mood, imagine the mood Lesnar is in. Heyman said his client needs a WrestleMania opponent. He told everyone to visit Ambrose in the hospital and find out what happens when you cross Lesnar. Heyman said Lesnar won’t have mercy on any soul who comes up against him. Heyman once again dubbed Lesnar as the main event.
Suddenly, honking and sirens could be heard and then a backstage shot of an ambulance pulling into the building was shown on the big screen. Lesnar smiled and Heyman looked bemused. Cole asked what the hell was going on. The ambulance pulled into the arena and Ambrose was driving it. Ambrose stumbled out of the ambulance and took off his neck brace.
There was an Ambrose chant as he crawled onto the ramp and rolled down it to sell is injuries. Lesnar watched stone faced as Ambrose struggled to get to the ring. Lesnar eventually went to ringside where Ambrose was writhing on the ground in pain. Lesnar stepped on Ambrose’s face and then headed up the ramp with Heyman.
Ambrose called out over the mic and told Lesnar to kiss his ass. He recalled telling Lesnar that he’s indestructible and said Lesnar would find out the hard way. Ambrose said he wants Lesnar in a no holds barred, street fight at WrestleMania.
Lesnar headed back to ringside and gave Ambrose an F5 on the floor. The fans chanted “one more time.” Heyman knelt down by Ambrose and said over the mic, “My client accepts your challenge”…
Powell’s POV: It’s WrestleMania season and Heyman delivered a WrestleMania season promo. This was Heyman’s best mic work so far this year. Ambrose selling the Lesnar attack felt over the top considering the abuse and major spectacle bumps we’ve seen him take in various matches, but I’ll take overselling rather than underselling. I like the Lesnar vs. Ambrose match so much more than the Lesnar vs. Wyatt match that was rumored. I also like the way they are diving into WrestleMania right away rather than having a comedown period from Fastlane or focussing their time on setting up the network special from Toronto.
[Q6] [C] A Black History Month clip aired with a Halle Berry quote…
The Uso Brothers performed their usual entrance and were all smiles even though Cole acknowledged that it was their first appearance since being attacked by The Dudleys. They were scheduled to face The Ascension. The Dudley Boyz walked onto the stage.
Bubba welcomed them back and said not to take the attack personal. He said they needed to remind them and everyone else that they are not one trick ponies or a nostalgia act. He said they are the most decorated team in the history of WWE. Bubba once again emphasized that they won’t be defined by furniture and wouldn’t use tables again. D-Von took the mic and said that speaking of one trick ponies, their father should have taught them about respect instead of buying thongs…
2. The Uso Brothers vs. The Ascension. Konnor and Viktor attacked Jimmy and Jey after D-Von’s last line. The Uso Brothers had a superkick party. Jey performed a top rope splash on Viktor for the win. After the match, the Dudleys walked toward the ring, but then stopped and walked away…
The Uso Brothers beat The Ascension in 2:00.
Cole hyped the six-man tag rematch from Fastlane for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: I was really hoping the Uso Brothers would have been given a hot return. Instead, they did their usual entrance routine complete with the smiling. I hope we actually hear from them during this program with the Dudleys.
[Q7] Chris Jericho made his entrance and welcomed viewers to Raw is Jericho. He said he had a story. He said he’s been hearing about AJ Styles for years and how he was tearing it up all around the world. Jericho said all he heard was that he was phenomenal. Jericho said he didn’t like Styles when he debuted in the Royal Rumble.
Jericho said it made him angry that Styles was labeled phenomenal when he’d never had a match in WWE. Jericho said each of his matches with Styles were better than the last and the Fastlane match was his own best match in years and he would even call it phenomenal. Jericho said he had a few more things to say to Styles in person.
AJ Styles made his entrance. There were dueling chants of AJ Styles and Y2J once Styles arrived in the ring. Jericho recalled telling Styles that the pressure was on him and it could have derailed his career to lose to him two matches in a row. Jericho said Styles beat him.
Jericho said he told him before that he didn’t like him or respect him, but he wanted to congratulate him. Jericho said Styles proved to him and the WWE Universe that he belongs in WWE. Jericho said Styles has what it takes to go straight to the top to become a WWE Champion. Jericho said Styles isn’t good or great, he is phenomenal. Jericho and Styles shook hands.
The Social Outcasts interrupted to no reaction and mocked them for interrupting their hug. After some joking, Curtis Axel said they see right through Jericho. He said the only reason Jericho is playing nice is that Styles made him tap out. Heath Slater said Styles is a coward for taking what Styles had to say.
Adam Rose said no one is buying the Y2AJ friendship. Bo Dallas said the Social Outcasts are a team. Slater told the duo to get out of their ring. Jericho called Slater a “ginger jackass” and told him to shut up. Jericho said he and Styles weren’t planning to team, but they would team again the four of them. JBL spoke about “The Radical Mongoose and Red Dragon” facing Jericho and Styles after the break… [C]
Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly’s POV: Um, WTF JBL?
3. AJ Styles and Chris Jericho vs. Heath Slater and Curtis Axel (w/Bo Dallas, Adam Rose). Cole butchered his attempt to deliver the Y2AJ team name. Mauro Ranallo would have nailed it. Anyway, Styles fought off interference from the Outcasts on the floor only to have Axel clothesline him on the apron.
[Q8] Jericho took the tag from Styles and worked over Axel with a double axe-hadle off the top rope and then performed a springboard dropkick to knock Slater off the apron. Axel avoided a Lionsault, but Jericho came back with a Walls of Jericho attempt. Slater tried to run in, but Styles cut him off with a springboard forearm. Jericho applied the hold on Axel for the win as Styles dove onto the other Outcasts…
AJ Styles and Chris Jericho beat Heath Slater and Curtis Axel in 3:55.
Footage of Shane McMahon’s return was shown… Backstage, Triple H told Stephanie to let it go. Stephanie complained about being interrupted by her brother. Hunter said Shane always has been and always will be a failure. Hunter said the night didn’t start out the way they wanted it it, but it will end the way they want it to. Hunter asked Steph if he or she should inform Reigns. “Oh, I will,” Stephanie said… [C]
Powell’s POV: Will it somehow feel like a letdown if John Cena returns and takes Shane’s place in the Hell in a Cell match? Obviously, Cena would give Taker a better match, but there’s something truly unique and appealing about the Taker vs. Shane match. Let’s just hope that Stephanie doesn’t tell Reigns that interferences by DX and the NWO are legal after last year’s nonsense.
Backstage, Reigns was still checking out Prowrestling.net on his phone when Stephanie approached him. Reigns claimed he was checking for updates on Ambrose, but we all know the truth. Stephanie booked Reigns in a match against Sheamus. She spoke about how League of Nations doesn’t have the same opportunity that Reigns does at WrestleMania. She said she would hate to see them take out their frustrations on him and injure him to the point that he has to forfeit his title shot…
Backstage, R-Truth was listening to the Prowrestling.net All Access Daily Podcast on his phone when Goldust interrupted him and presented him with a cake that read “I’m Sorry.” Truth said Goldust follows him into bathrooms, ruined his wife’s dress, and cost him a match. Goldust made a pitch for Golden Truth. Truth was going to shoot him down again, but Goldust said he could predict his every move. Truth said Goldust knew that he was going to smash the cake in his face. Truth said he’s better than that. “Psyche,” Truth said before shoving the cake in Goldust’s face…
The Wyatt Family made their entrance as Cole spoke about WWE’s relationship with Snickers as a new sponsor.
[Q9] The babyface trio made their entrance. The Wyatts placed their masks over the face of Saxton. Cole said the six-man tag was up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: With Saxton’s smile covered, Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn may have just figured out that he contributes nothing to the broadcast team.
4. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan (w/Braun Strowman) vs. Ryback, Kane, and Big Show. There were some loud Goldberg taunts directed at Ryback, who was dominant heading into the break. [C] It was Ryback’s time to sell coming out of the break. He broke free from Rowan with a missile dropkick. Show and Wyatt tagged in and the crowd cheered. Show speared Wyatt and set up for his finisher, but Harper cut him off. Show eventually chokeslammed Rowan, but Strowman held the ropes, causing Show to tumble to the floor.
[Q10] Later, Show and Harper exchanged shots. Harper went for a big boot, but Show countered with a chokeslam attempt. Harper countered that into a sleeper hold, which Show broke. Later, Ryback walked out on Kane, who chokeslammed Harper. However, Wyatt attacked Kane from behind and performed Sister Abigail for the win…
The Wyatt Family beat Kane, Ryback, and Big Show in 12:30.
The broadcast team hyped Reigns vs. Sheamus… [C]
Powell’s POV: You know, because Ryback’s last heel run worked out well. Kane said something to Ryback right before he dropped off the apron. It may have been simply giving him his cue. The Wyatt Family got the win, yet they really didn’t get any heat back in the process.
The WrestleMania video aired…
Backstage, Ryback was asked why he walked out on his team. He said he won the match last night and has nothing left to prove. He said he is done being in tag teams and the spotlight should be on him because he deserves it. He said it was nothing against Kane and Show. Ryback closed by saying: “That glass ceiling, that brass ring? Break it and take it”…
Powell’s POV: This was a clumsily booked turn or whatever the hell that was. If Ryback is finished working tag matches, then why did he work so much of the match before walking out? His promo was very robotic and none of this left me looking forward to seeing what’s next, especially since I fear it’s a feud with Kane and/or Big Show. Hey, maybe Reggie Dunlop of the Charlestown Chiefs has someone to feud with!
5. Sasha Banks vs. Naomi (w/Tamina). Tamina pulled Sasha off the apron and caused her to bump face-first on the apron heading into a break. [C]
[Q11] Late in the match, Tamina distracted Sasha, who was pulled off the ropes by Naomi. Becky Lycnh ran out and attacked Tamina, and then Sasha applied the Bank Statement for the win.
Sasha Banks beat Naomi in 6:40.
After the match, Lynch entered the ring and shook hands with Sasha. Charlotte and Ric Flair made their entrance. Charlotte wore a top similar to what the Bella Twins wear. Charlotte acted like she was getting emotional while “watching the two of you bond over the last two weeks. She said it’s like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler only with cheaper hair dye.
Charlotte said The Authority informed her that there will be a match to determine who her challenger is at WrestleMania. She questioned whether the cutthroat former NXT Champion Sasha Banks or her former BFF Lynch. “Becky, watch out,” Charlotte yelled. Lynch fell for it by turning toward Sasha and striking a fighter’s pose. Charlotte said the next few weeks “will be fun…for me”…
Backstage, the League of Nations members bro’d it up… [C]
Powell’s POV: I still wouldn’t mind a Triple Threat between the women. I usually prefer singles title matches at WrestleMania, but it felt like Lynch was just starting to click at the end of her program with Charlotte. Plus, she’s the true babyface, whereas Sasha’s character is over because the fans like her work, not because her character displays babyface qualities.
A Black History Month quote from James Brown was shown. It was not “I jump back, I wanna kiss myself, heeeeeyyyyyyyy!!!!!” but it should have been… Footage of the announcement of Shane vs. Taker for WrestleMania was shown…
Backstage, Stephanie told Vince that she refuses to work for her brother because the company will go to hell in a hand basket. Vince said he took Shane and twisted and turned him around so they have another main event at WrestleMania. Vince said you have to think like that and that’s the way you do it. He said that’s what makes this whole thing run. Stephanie labeled it a calculated risk, and Vince agreed…
The broadcast team hyped The Godfather being named to the Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The hilarious image of the religious Steve Borden next to The Godfather was shown…
Roman Reigns made his entrance through the crowd. One guy booed while making sure he bumped fists with Reigns. Funny…
[Q12] [C] Triple H was advertised for Thursday’s Smackdown television show to address Roman Reigns. In other words, they haven’t written the show…
6. Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus (w/Rusev, Alberto Del Rio, and King Barrett). There were some early boos when Reigns threw punches at Sheamus. The boos picked up again when Reigns clotheslined Sheamus to ringside. Reigns followed and performed a leaping punch off the ring steps. The League of Nations just watched. Sheamus caught Reigns with a kick as he entered the ring. Rusev blasted Reigns with a kick on the floor heading into the break. [C]
Rusev, Del Rio, and Barrett were ejected by the referee during the break. The match continued with Reigns getting the better of Sheamus. Eventually, both men ended up down at ringside. Reigns rolled in to beat the referee’s count and Sheamus was still at ringside.
Roman Reigns fought Sheamus to an apparent no-contest.
[Overrun] Before the referee could finish his count, Triple H’s music played and he walked out wearing a leather jacket, t-shirt, and jeans. Hunter headed to the ring and traded punches with Reigns, who eventually knocked him off the apron with a Superman Punch. Reigns took it to Hunter on the floor, but Hunter struck him with the timekeepers bell.
There was an audible Triple H chant. Hunter slammed Reigns head into the broadcast team’s table repeatedly and then walked away for a moment. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Reigns was a bloody mess once Hunter attacked him again. Several referees ran out and stopped Hunter while the medial staff tended to Reigns.
Hunter took the ring steps apart and then shoved one of the medical crew members aside. Hunter picked up Reigns and performed a Pedigree on the ring steps while a lot of male fans on the floor chanted “Yes!” Cole spoke about how it was a sickening scene. The males chanted “one more time” and then Triple H gave Reigns a crotch chop. Hunter grabbed his title belt, stood on the half piece of steps, and held it above his head while the crowd cheered…
Powell’s POV: I think the idea was to make Reigns sympathetic. And I’m sure he was to the fans who were cheering him. He had some fans, but the adult males clearly won out and they were vocally behind Triple H. Honestly, I’m not even sure if Hunter is a heel. After all, he crotch chops and plays to the crowd like he would if he were a babyface. I’m confused. Overall, it was a newsworthy show with the shocking Shane McMahon return and all of the WrestleMania match announcements. I’ll have a lot more to say in my audio review for members later tonight. Thanks for watching along with me.