The night after Fastlane WWE took an exit off the highway on to a rest stop. While this show had all the right ingredients to kickoff many of the feuds for Mania, they chose to hold back. I found many of the booking decisions rather odd and misguided. The WWE is running out of time and needs to make the next few weeks count.
Randy Orton Promo
This crowd didn’t care much for Randy Orton, which is very odd because it’s his first Raw since November. Once he started talking though, he got the crowd going. I was completely wrong about Orton and Hunter, but I guess they need somebody for Rollins to hide behind. It was great to see Stephanie as the lead talker for the Authority, I completely forgot how great of a heel she can be. I don’t get why Big Show said joining the Authority was a personal decision, because it seemed like a professional decision. Asking Orton to come back to the Authority was a curveball, but it showed how they enjoy manipulating people and situations. Surprisingly it only lasted 15 minutes, I was convinced we’d be in for a long winded promo.
Bad News Barrett vs Dolph Ziggler
I think R-Truth was here just because they felt like putting him on the show. He did make a few good points about beating Barrett, and at least some of these victories are becoming meaningful. Having these two open the show was a great idea, because they put on a solid match. Barrett looks to have added Wasteland back into his regular routine, but Ziggler’s counter into a DDT was graceful. I questioned the ending, it wasn’t a smart idea. It’s one thing for Barrett to lose once on TV, but to have him continuously lose against people he’s not feuding with is ridiculous. Once Ambrose came out and exchanged looks with Ziggler, it became clear they might look into doing a multiple man match for the Intercontinental title.
Rollins was absolute gold in this segment. He played the role of bratty kid going to the nice parent. It seemed like a strange idea to have Orton and Rollins in the same room without them ripping each other apart. This was a rehashed idea from what happened with Ryback before Survivor Series. I thought it was neat for the authority to propose the idea to Randy, I just didn’t agree with how he joined so easily. At Fastlane he was ready to decimate Rollins, and now his motives just don’t make sense.
The Ascension vs The Prime Time Players
Think PTP is reunited because the tag division is lacking competition. Notice how the Ascension has faced all but two tag teams on the roster. While the match was nothing special, I didn’t expect the Ascension to job. I don’t know what their angle is on this decision, because the Ascension was being booked as unstoppable. I hope they’ve got big plans for PTP, they’re entertaining as a tag team, and can bring some legitimacy to the division. As for the Ascension, I hope this isn’t the beginning of the end.
Roman Reigns Promo
Reigns came out to a huge reaction, this town obviously loved him. They should have just had the Rumble in Nashville. For some reason though they turned on him once Bryan came out and spoke, but he was getting big reactions either. I didn’t like how Bryan was sounding at first, but he found a way to turn it around and put Roman over well. If we thought Bryan did a good job at making Roman look good, Heyman did an even better job. This was a useful segment, for the feud, and especially Reigns. I’d keep an eye on Paul Heyman, and what he says, because I’m highly confident they’re setting up for a Reigns-Heyman alliance at Mania. He’s just showing much more interest in Reigns than he did with anybody else Brock faced.
The Usos vs Kidd & Cesaro
This match picked up exactly where it left off from Fastlane. I felt the rematch could have waited, because they could have built some hype. The spots outside the ring were amazing, and it was evident that these men knew how to wrestle a proper tag team match. This won’t be the last match these teams will wrestle. Considering how the two divas might feud, they might keep this feud going into Mania. What bothered me was how Kidd & Cesaro’s music played after it was announced they’re still champions because they lost. Music should not be played for losers.
Bray Wyatt Promo
Now that Wyatt is openly talking about the Undertaker, it makes it easier to understand what he’s saying. I really wish they had Wyatt cut his promo in person, it would be more appropriate considering they only have 5 episodes of Raw to create build.
Stardust vs Jack Swagger
Swagger finally picked up the victory he needed to get him over the hump. He could have also been used as a pawn in this Stardust-Goldust match. I like how Goldust was used in this match, and I loved how the crowd played into everything. Stardust looked enraged during the Cody chants, and he sold it very well. A clean pin would have sufficed though, we didn’t need to see Stardust tap, and it just made him look weak.
John Cena Promo
They really made sure to tell fans that Cena didn’t give up since he passed out. I know he didn’t give, but it just makes him look weak since he fell unconscious. As I said, they need something else to keep this feud going, because it didn’t seem like Cena had much of a basis to hate Rusev. They’re starting to go the more patriotic root with these two for this program. For Cena to tell Rusev he isn’t a hero was very ignorant. Just because Rusev beat him and insulted him doesn’t mean he can’t be his country’s hero. Cena got this crowd excited, but I didn’t like the substance of his promo, he sounded like a sore loser in complete denial.
The Bellas vs Paige & Emma
It looked like somebody on the production side botched the order of the segments. This match was given no time, and it was all because they managed to ruin the order of Sting’s video. These girls deserved a little more time, and I felt bad for them. Raw gets filled with many pointless matches and segments, but why can’t they make for the divas? They definitely didn’t need that Sting video package .I was very soured by this match.
Ryback vs Curtis Axel
I found it hilarious how Axel convinced himself that the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is a good consolation prize for not being eliminated from the Rumble. He should take a look at Cesaro and reconsider about following that path. This match was obviously not going to last very long, and it was made for Ryback to look strong.
Randy Orton & Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan
This match was very star studded, and arguably the most star studded main event we’ve seen on Raw this year. Maybe it’s because Show and Kane weren’t involved. The way Rollins and Orton were getting along, I thought maybe they’d be tagging at Mania instead of wrestling each other. They kept the match at a very slow pace, and it was obvious Bryan and Roman were going to exchange hot tags. Roman should have looked much stronger in the first half of the match considering he’s getting ready to face Lesnar in 5 weeks. Bryan’s suicide dive was unnecessary, but Rollins was still able to sell it well. The camera angle used by the turn buckle was neat, I’ve never seen them use that before, but they should consider it for future matches. Some might say that they don’t like how Bryan and reigns are friends now, but I personally enjoyed that laugh they exchanged when Bryan tagged himself in . I continue to find it amazing that Rollins can get pinned clean, but yet it doesn’t hurt his character. This goes to show well he’s been booked. Orton and Rollins got mad at each other very easily, over a small issue, and this felt forced. After much thought, they should have kept Orton angry with the Authority, because we’ve seen this slow build between October and November of last year. They’re at the point where this feud should take off, and it scares me they’ll take their time.
For a Raw that could have set up much more, they chose to hold back. We’re officially 5 weeks away from Mania, and these feuds were hardly developed. Other than the Reigns-Lesnar and Cena-Rusev programs, they chose to play this episode at a slow pace. I believe they needed to deliver more than what they did. Overall I give this show a 6/10, or C-.