03/28 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: WrestleMania go-home show with Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Shane McMahon, Triple H, Vince McMahon

Logo_Raw_dnBy Jason Powell

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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center

[Q1] After the “then, now, and forever clip, a wide shot aired inside the arena. Undertaker’s gong sounded and he made his entrance to open the show. Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. Cole said there were 15,616 fans in attendance.

“WrestleMania will not be my last,” Undertaker said once he stood in the ring. Taker said he told Vince McMahon that the blood of his sons hand are on his hand, “but Vince’s blood may very well be on mine.” Taker said Shane will fight for his legacy with his last breath, but Taker said “WrestleMania is my yard, Hell in a Cell is my house, and at WrestleMania, Shane McMahon will rest in peace.”

Shane McMahon walked onto the stage and received a loud “Shane O Mac” chant. Shane said they will be ripping each other apart on Sunday because they have no choice. Shane said the difference is he is fighting to win, whereas Taker is fighting not to lose.

Shane said he is fighting for change in WWE that has been needed for a very long time. Shane said he will crawl his way into the ring the next night on Raw and they will leave hell in the rearview mirror. Shane said the fans deserve better and he will be in control of Raw. Shane said that if he has to cement his legacy by destroying Taker’s legacy then that’s what he has to do.

“You need to watch your mouth, rich boy,” Taker fired back. “You don’t get to talk about my legacy.” Shane walked to the ring with confidence. Shane entered the ring and looked Taker in the eye while the broadcast team acted surprised. The fans chanted “holy shit.” Shane told Taker that his legacy died at WrestleMania two years ago.

Taker said Shane is just like his old man. “And it figures because seeing how from the very day you were born, you’ve been your daddy’s bitch,” he said. Shane dropped the mic and attacked Taker with punches. Taker eventually grabbed Shane by the neck and threw him over the top rope and down to the floor. Taker went after Shane and threw a pair of knees at him and then threw him into the barricade twice.

Taker took the broadcast team’s table apart. The fans chanted “this is awesome” as Taker picked up Shane for a powerbomb. Shane slipped away and caught Taker with a kick. Shane threw punches at Taker, then picked up a television monitor and struck Taker with it.

With Taker down on the table, Shane went to the ring and climbed to the top rope and then dropped an elbow from that position that drove Taker through the table. The fans chanted “holy shit.” Taker was cut and had a bit of blood to the side of his left eye. The fans chanted ‘You’ve still got it” at Shane as he struggled to get to his feet.

[Q2] Shane headed up the ramp. Taker sat up. Shane looked surprised as Taker got to his feet, glared at him, and made the throat slashing gesture. Shane pointed to the WrestleMania sign as Taker’s music played to end the segment…

Powell’s POV: As silly as it is to think that the promoter’s part time son can rough up the legendary Undertaker, the overwhelming majority of the tough Brooklyn crowd totally suspended their disbelief and bought into the angle completely. We can point out all the reasons it’s absurd, but the bottom line is that it worked. I was surprised to see Shane perform a big spot here. I’d be a little gun shy about taking chances tonight if I were Vince McMahon given the company’s recent injury history.

The broadcast team stood at ringside and recapped the Shane and Taker segment with highlights from the key points…

Zack Ryder stood in the ring and then Chris Jericho made his entrance. Footage aired of Jericho stating on the Raw Pre-Show that he won’t be wrestling AJ Styles at WrestleMania. Styles’ music played and he came out to loud chants of his name as he asked Jericho about the match. Styles said he wouldn’t leave until he got the match he wanted…

1. Chris Jericho vs. Zack Ryder. Styles stood by the broadcast team, who had chairs in front of their collapsed broadcast table. Ryder rolled up a distracted Jericho for a two count. Jericho quickly recovered. As Jericho was going for the Wall of Jericho, Styles took the house mic and chanted “Y2Jackass.” Ryder ended up catching a distracted Jericho in a schoolboy for the win.

Zack Ryder pinned Chris Jericho in 1:55.

After the match, Jericho immediately hit a Codebreaker on Ryder. Styles ran in for the save. Jericho threw a fit at ringside. Jericho looked into the camera and yelled, “Shut up” before shoving the camera. He took the house mic and told the chanting fans to shut their mouths. Jericho said Styles kicked the hornet’s nest and called him a “stupid ass.” Jericho asked if Styles wants him at WrestleMania, then told him he has it.

[Q3] Jericho told him to wipe the stupid smile off his face because this will be his 12th WrestleMania. Jericho called Styles a rookie and guaranteed that this will be the first and last WrestleMania for Styles. Jericho said it will be the worst night of Styles’ life. Jericho dropped the mic and his music played to end the segment…

Split screen shots aired of Charlotte with Ric Flair, and Becky Lynch as Saxton hyped their non-title match… [C]

Powell’s POV: I’m not sure how much Ryder gains from getting a flukey win over Jericho, but it’s better than taking yet another loss. The crowd was into Styles, but it felt like they saw Jericho giving Styles the match coming a mile away and were not as hot for the actual announcement as I’m sure both men would have liked. Still, we’re off to a good start for the go-home show. Can they go three hours without filler matches?

Cole spoke briefly about WrestleMania 32 and said they hope to set the attendance record on Sunday…

2. Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch in a non-title match. Sasha Banks sat next to the broadcast team and her non-title win over Charlotte on Smackdown was recapped. The fans chanted “We Want Sasha” briefly. Charlotte took the early advantage heading into a break. [C]

Lynch got a two count and then the crowd chanted for her after she looked to them. She went for the Disarmer finisher, but Charlotte countered into a cover that Lynch kicked out of. Charlotte was kicked to ringside moments later. Sasha followed and limped a bit as she chased her around the ring. Charlotte returned to the ring and then Flair grabbed Lynch’s leg as she tried to reenter. Charlotte used the distraction to perform a big boot and then the Natural Selection for the win…

Charlotte beat Becky Lynch in a non-title match in 6:35.

Powell’s POV: Well, I can’t say this left me anxious to see the title match on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to the match, but the actual match playing out the way it did nothing to increase my level of anticipation.

[Q4] Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Vince McMahon on the interview set. She asked if he was surprised that Shane put Taker through a table. Vince said he was not surprised because Shane isn’t afraid of Taker and will do anything to win the match. He said Shane will do anything to get control of WWE, but he also feels Shane angered Taker, and he wants an angry Taker to represent him.

Vince noticed Shane off-camera and said he would be halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge if her were him. Shane walked onto the interview set and said it’s a good thing he’s not Vince. Shane said he’s watched Vince treat people like human waste and act like he thinks he’s a god. Shane said that on the very stage that Vince created, he’s going to take 40 years of hostility, mental anguish, and physical hostility and let it all come out. He said Vince stole the company from his father and on Sunday he will take it from Vince…

Highlights aired from WrestleMania 24 of Shawn Michaels ending the career of Ric Flair and they included Jim Ross’s call…

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy (The Dre) was shown at ringside. The Social Outcasts sat on the ring apron and were about to deliver some mic work when Big Show’s music saved viewers for once. Kane made his entrance for a tag match…

3. Big Show and Kane vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas (w/Adam Rose, Heath Slater). Cole noted that it’s the birthday of Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig. Kane grabbed Axel by the throat and set up for his finisher, but Rose and Slater entered the ring for the DQ. Goldust, Tyler Breeze, Fandango, Darren Young, The Ascension, Jack Swagger, R-Truth, Damien Sandow, and Mark Henry all ran out for a big brawl. Once the ring was cleared, Show and Kane performed a double chokeslam on Henry. They also performed simultaneous chokeslams of all four Outcasts…

Big Show and Kane beat Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas by an apparent DQ in 0:30.

Powell’s POV: It may not have been entertaining, but even that doesn’t qualify as filler since they were obviously setting up the battle royal.

Cole recapped last week’s Triple H and Roman Reigns angle in the parking area. Cole hyped that Triple H would appear after the break… [C]

[Q5] A preview of the WWE 24 on Daniel Bryan was shown. It airs after Raw on WWE Network. Cole hyped the network exclusive content…

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their entrances. Cole hyped their mainstream media appearances. Stephanie boasted about her husband and told the fans they should bow down to him. Hunter spoke about the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and WrestleMania. He said everyone at home has had the fantasy of standing in the ring at WrestleMania and holding the title high above their heads.

“That will never happen for any of you,” Hunter said. “You don’t have the ability to make your dreams a reality.” He said Reigns was able to win the title for all of five minutes and 15 seconds. Hunter said he will walk the aisle at WrestleMania for the 20th time. He said he will compete for the world championship for the ninth time at WrestleMania, which is the most in history.

Hunter said it’s because he is obsessed with being champion and the fame, power, and money that comes with it. Hunter said that obsession led him to become a 14-time world champion. Hunter said he put on a suit every day and went to the office and made it like everything was okay, but then Reigns powerbombed him on the broadcast table. Hunter said that lit the fire of his obsession once again.

Triple H said he didn’t know if he felt disrespected and people forgot who he was or if it was that “someone like Roman Reigns had the balls to put my name in their mouth or to put their hands on me.” Hunter said the obsession was back and it wasn’t long before he was champion again. Hunter said Reigns already lost because his obsession means the end of Roman’s dream. Hunter said his obsession means he will walk out of WrestleMania as champion. Stephanie said Sunday isn’t about marching bands or unicorn horns or street fights or ladder matches, it’s about the title belt and her husband.

Roman Reigns’ music played and he made his entrance via the stage. Reigns entered the ring and Hunter put the boots to him. Reigns quickly recovered and hit Hunter with a couple of big punches. Stephanie got in the way and looked intimidated, but Reigns let her leave the ring and join Hunter on the stage. The fans booed and then a “Roman Sucks” chant broke out as Reigns stood tall… [C]

Powell’s POV: Roman looked a little dejected by that chant as he looked at the fans for a moment. I like the way Hunter and Stephanie tried to make it feel like the title is the most important thing at WrestleMania. It doesn’t feel that way this year, but the participants should definitely make you feel like they believe it is. By the way, there’s been nothing stopping WWE from featuring Reigns in sit-down interviews that either don’t play on the big screen or simply with the crowd muted as they play on television. Reigns was very effective in that role on the snowed in edition of Raw. Instead, they try to protect him by limiting his appearances, which only makes the fans booing him dislike him more.

[Q6] A WWE Tapout t-shirt commercial aired… The broadcast team recapped the Reigns and Hunter physicality… Hunter and Stephanie were speed walking through the backstage area while talking to one another…

New Day made their entrance without talking as their recent issues with League of Nations were shown. Once in the ring, New Day hyped BootyO’s and pointed to the big screen, which had a box of the fake cereal on it. The fans chanted BootyO’s loudly and briefly. Kofi said LON never had their own cereal. Big E quoted the late Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest before leading New Day Rocks chants. League of Nations made their entrance for a singles match…

4. Alberto Del Rio (w/King Barrett, Sheamus, Rusev) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E, Xavier Woods). Del Rio was sent to ringside early, leading to Woods playing “La Cucaracha” on the trombone for a laugh. A short time later, Del Rio performed a reverse superplex on Kingston, who rolled to ringside. [C]

Del Rio was still in control coming out of the break. Kingston avoided the double stomp in the corner and made his comeback. Del Rio cut him off with a backstabber. Kingston had another offensive flurry, but Del Rio caught him with the double stomp. Instead of going for the pin, Del Rio played to the crowd and then went for the Cross Arm Breaker, but Kingston rolled him up and pinned him…

Kofi Kingston beat Alberto Del Rio in 7:45.

[Q7] After the match, New Day went to the stage and suddenly someone started saying “The New Day.” Jonathan Coachman walked out to a tame reaction. He said New Day are his favorites of those he’s had on SportsCenter. Coachman announced that ESPN SportsCenter will be at WrestleMania with live cut-ins leading up to the show. Coachman also said he loves BootyO’s and held up a box. Coachman danced with New Day…

The broadcast team hyped WWE Network programming for WrestleMania… A shot aired of Brock Lesnar’s locker room door. Cole hyped that Lesnar will appear later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: The SportsCenter cut-ins from WrestleMania can only help with driving people to WWE Network. I would say pay-per-view, but WWE copy for mainstream media shows continues to list the network as the only way to see WrestleMania. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to New Day’s WrestleMania mic work more than their match with League of Nations.

Cole set up footage from NBC”s “Today” of John Cena announcing that Joan Lunden will receive the Warrior Award, which will be presented by Dana Warrior at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony… The broadcast team recapped the Shane and Taker brawl as highlights were shown…

Backstage, Renee Young was about to interview Roman Reigns. The fans booed. Before Renee could finish her question (or more importantly before Reigns could speak), Bubba Ray Dudley jawed at him and asked if he wanted to finish what they started on Smackdown. Reigns walked toward him. D-Von Dudley appeared. Reigns went after both Dudleys, but Triple H showed up and attacked Reigns from behind. The Dudleys ran Reigns into a wall and then left.

Hunter took a lap around Reigns and then grabbed him by the hair and put the title belt in front of his face. Hunter told Reigns that his dream is over. He picked up Reigns and slammed his face onto the title belt. The crowd cheered. Hunter walked off with the belt while Reigns held his nose…

Powell’s POV: They’ve tried to make Roman look sympathetic already. It doesn’t work. How about introducing viewers to the real man and letting them decide rather than resorting to every trick in the book to protect him?

[Q8] [C] An ad aired for the Stone Cold Podcast with Mick Foley as special guest… A recap of Hunter leaving Reigns lying backstage was shown…

5. U.S. Champion Kalisto vs. Konnor (w/Viktor) in a non-title match. Kalisto won clean with Salida del Sol, then took out Viktor afterward. Ryback came out and stared at Kalisto, then yelled, “Feed Me More” several times before leaving the ring…

Kalisto beat Konnor in a non-title match in 1:45.

Backstage, Paul Heyman knocked on Lesnar’s locker room door and informed him that his public awaits… [C]

Powell’s POV: The build for the U.S. Title match has been weird. I can’t stress enough how much I wish the “get more guys on the show” ladder match was for the U.S. Title to free up Kevin Owens for a singles match.

The WrestleMania video featuring Rock aired. We are six days away from WrestleMania (and probably seven days away from not hearing that annoying song that accompanies the video ever again)…

[Q9] Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance to cheers. Heyman paused to let the fans chant “Suplex City” and then introduced Lesnar as the Baddest Beast on the planet today. Heyman said his job is to hype you on the fact that viewers are six days away. He said viewers have one of the rare opportunities to see “one of the once ever fighter” and a “once ever athlete.” Heyman said no member of the locker room can even hope to perform at the level Lesnar does.

Heyman said there is always one exception that defines the rule. Heyman said that one lunatic actually believes what it has to bring the fight to Lesnar. Heyman said Dean Ambrose believes he can be the one to conquer the one in 22-1. Heyman said he will give Ambrose credit for being smarter than anyone thinks. Heyman said Ambrose is crazy like a fox.

Heyman said Ambrose believes he can take Lesnar out of his element by using weapons. Heyman asked if he wasn’t supposed to use the word weapon and then said that’s what they are called. Lesnar smiled and Heyman smiled back at him.

Heyman said Lesnar is fully prepared to give Ambrose the defining WrestleMania moment of a lifetime “when Doctor Brock Lesnar takes every single one of those politically incorrect weapons and performs a colonoscopy on Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania.” Heyman said it’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler – Lesnar wins at WrestleMania.

Dean Ambrose’s music interrupted Heyman and he brought a red wagon to the ring with him. Ambrose reached under the ring and pulled out a crowbar, a steel pipe, the barbwire baseball bat, and the Terry Funk chainsaw, and the ring steps which he put inside the wagon. Ambrose took his wagon up the ramp while an amused Lesnar stood in the ring watching him while holding onto a kendo stick…

The broadcast team spoke about how crazy Ambrose is and then shifted the focus back to Hunter and Reigns… Paige, Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, and Natalya were shown talking backstage. Cole said Paige would face Emma after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: That was the best promo that Heyman has cut regarding the Lesnar vs. Ambrose match. The Ambrose bit was comical and the broadcast team was quick to point out that he never even looked at Lesnar. It was just Dean playing mind games. I would have enjoyed that more if we saw this segment on a previous show, but it didn’t feel like a strong go-home show moment. Maybe there’s more to come?

Cole hyped Triple H appearing on the cover of Muscle & Fitness… Ring entrances for the Divas match took place. Cole hyped John Cena appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Falon on Tuesday night…

[Q10] 6. Paige (w/Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, Natalya) vs. Emma (w/Naomi, Tamina, Summer Rae, and Lana). Cole hyped all nine women in a 10-Diva tag match with the heel teams going by the name “BAD and Blonde.” He noted that the babyfaces were still one short.

With the referee distracted late, Lana kicked Paige, then Emma pinned her. After the match, Emma went back to punching Paige. Brie entered and took Lana down and threw punches at her. All of the women brawled. Eva Marie’s music played and she entered to boos. Eva ran to the ring and attacked Lana and ended up standing tall with the babyfaces…

Emma pinned Paige in 2:55.

Backstage, R-Truth spoke to Goldust about the battle royal and what teammates do for one another. Truth said that’s what makes it difficult, then acted like he was crying. He blew his nose into a shirt that he handed to Goldust while saying, “You think it’s funny, but it snot”…

Powell’s POV: Emma’s blonde hair paid off in the form of getting a spot on the heel team at WrestleMania. Meanwhile, the same company that thinks Roman Reigns is a top babyface also thinks it’s a good idea to book Eva Marie as a babyface. You can’t make it up.

The broadcast team spoke about Snoop Dogg entering the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame…

7. Kevin Owens, The Miz, and Stardust vs. Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, and Sin Cara. The fans sang the Ole song for Zayn as the match started.

[Q11] They cut to break five minutes into the match. [C] The crowd became distracted by something taking place out of camera view, then they went back to singing Ole again. Stardust was getting the better of Ziggler going into the commercial break, because if that’s not a hook heading into a break then I don’t know what is! [C]

Powell’s POV: By the way, what is the hook for the remainder of this show? I realize it’s the WrestleMania go-home show and the diehards are going to keep watching, but all of the advertised big names have already appeared. I assume they have something big still to come, but they would have been wise going into the women’s match to hype whatever it is that’s coming up or simply to tease a surprise.

[Q12] Late in the match, Owens finally tagged in. He wanted to tag out again, but his partners abandoned him and left him in the ring with Zayn. Sami caught Owens with the Helluva Kick and got the win…

Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, and Sin Cara beat Kevin Owens, The Miz, and Stardust in 21:55.

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were shown walking backstage. Saxton said the Authority fill finish their message to the WWE Universe…

Powell’s POV: That was the hook? Ugh. WWE answered my question from earlier in the show about time filler matches. The wrestlers tried hard, but you can’t blame the crowd for losing interest at this point in the evening when it was obvious that WWE was more concerned with filling time than setting up the ladder match. The crowd amused themselves with chants and I don’t think many were engaged by the time Sami and Owens ended up in the ring together. They were pretty flat when Sami pinned Owens.

Dean Ambrose vs. Erick Rowan was announced for this week’s Smackdown television show…

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their entrance. Stephanie said the fans look at them with hatred and loathing in their eyes. She said the fans live their lives just like Roman Reigns, based on hopes and dreams that never come true. Stephanie said the title isn’t going anywhere and neither are they. Hunter took the mic and said he hears the talk about attacking from behind and running away as if it’s not strategy and as if it’s cowardice rather than strategy. He said you can take your morality and shove it.

[Overrun] Roman Reigns made his entrance and limped toward the ring. He fought with Hunter, who met him in the aisle. Reigns sold a nose injury before Hunter rammed him into the post. Reigns fought back. Stephanie called for reinforcements. A bunch of heel wrestlers from League of Nations, plus Stardust and the Dudley Boyz came out to help. The babyface reinforcements were the Uso Brothers, New Day, Mark Henry, and Ziggler.

Hunter teased walking off and then ran back only to be held up by a group of wrestlers. Reigns dove over the top rope and onto Hunter and the other wrestlers. Hunter crawled up the ramp to where Stephanie was waiting. The fans cheered for the dive, but then chanted “You still suck” at Reigns. Hunter and Reigns had the long distance staredown to close the show…

Powell’s POV: The go-home show started strong and lost momentum during the marathon third hour. The fans just continue to reject Reigns and I didn’t see any signs of a double turn tonight. The way they hyped the title match left me thinking it’s going on last. Of course, join me for live coverage of WrestleMania on Sunday night. The spoilers for this week’s Smackdown taping are already available on the main page.


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