Air Date: 4/1/16
This is the first episode of RAW in like two years that I’ll watch in full in an attempt to watch and review every WWE show this year.We start the show with a recap of the Vince McMahon angle from last week. We start the show off proper with Stephanie McMahon and Roman Reigns making their way to the ring as I already regret deciding to review this show. Reigns calls out Vince but Stephanie lets him know the boss isn’t here yet. They have a boring back and forth hyping the main event, honestly if you’ve seen any RAW opening promo in the last year you’ll know what this was. Luckily this was pretty short and Reigns didn’t say much so it was inoffensive at least.
Michael Cole goes to a video of Kevin Owens attacking Neville last week and Ambrose coming out to defend him.
Dean Ambrose comes out to do commentary and they have a quick shot of him passing Reigns, the feud these two will ultimately have has all the potential in the world to be something special. They just have great chemistry together and Dean really brings the best out of Reigns when they’re together.
Kevin Owens vs. Neville
This is a rematch from last week. Neville came out with his Slammy and his ribs taped up. These two had a fun little match with Neville coming out of the gate like a house on fire with a lot of cool, innovative offense, the highlight of which for me was a shooting star press from the apron to the outside. Ultimately Owens takes advantage of Neville’s injured ribs and got the win. Kevin Owens wins with a Pop Up Powerbomb ** ½
Post-match Owens goes after Neville but Ambrose comes to his aid again. They brawl for a bit which ends with Ambrose putting Owens through the announce table in a mirror of last week.
We see a limo pull up and Mr McMahon steps out of it. JoJo goes to interview him and Mr McMahon calls himself the law.
Titus O’Neil vs. Stardust
We come back from commercial with both of these guys already in the ring. The crowd is dead for this, which is no surprise given who is in the ring. This was the very definition of a nothing match, they wrestle back and forth for a bit and then Titus wins. Titus O’Neil pins Stardust with the Clash of the Titus *
Becky Lynch Is backstage looking a lot less orange than usual. She and Charlotte talk about their “friendly” match tonight and Ric Flair appears out of nowhere behind Becky.
Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch
Before the match we are shown a recap of Charlotte cheating to beat Becky from a few months ago as the Flairs smile. These was a pretty good TV match, we start off with some solid back and forth wrestling until Charlotte starts to become more aggressive. Becky mounts a comeback and Ric tries to cause a distraction roll up for Charlotte but Becky counters and pins the champ. Becky Lynch pins Charlotte with a roll up ** ½
Post-match Charlotte attacks Becky solidifying her heel turn. I am excited for this since I think Charlotte works best as a heel.
Backstage Vince is talking to Sheamus about the main event and makes it clear whose side he is on.
Ryback vs. Big Show
This was just a set up for an angle with the Wyatts taking out Ryback and Big Show. NR
League of Nations (Alberto Del Rio & Rusev) vs. The Usos
The Usos also come out with their Slammys. Usos are very over here. This was a pretty exciting tag match, lots of dives and high flying by the Usos. Del Rio used a cool variation of his new finisher with one of the Usos in the middle ropes and not the corner. JBL was super annoying here constantly talking about Coach and ESPN Del Rio gets the win for his team ** ¾
Dolph Ziggler vs. Heath Slater (w/Adam Rose, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel)
Seems like there are a lot of matches on this show. Dolph has an insert promo before the match announcing himself as taking part in the Rumble this year. Slater comes out with his new “goons.” I am not a fan of Dolph’s new darker hair and long tights look but he’s fallen a lot in my eyes the last few years anyway so a change might be good for him. Crowd is dead for this as well. This match went way longer than it should’ve, it was just a nothing performance by both men. Slater gets a roll up off of a distraction *
Heath and friends cut awful promos and dub themselves the Social Outcasts. Not a strong debut but these guys are clearly just going to be lower card fodder so it’s not worth getting too annoyed about.
Vince gives Roman the rundown of the rules for the main event, it’s notable that he said exactly what he said to Sheamus earlier but it’s clear he was mocking Reigns this time. Rare bit of subtlety by WWE which I like.
New Day come out and make jokes about Mike Tyson falling off of a hoverboard, these guys used to be really great but they jumped the shark a few months ago. Chris Jericho makes his return in this segment and basically buries the company which is very weird. He enters himself into the Royal Rumble and was just generally trying way too hard to still be cool, Jericho returns haven’t been interesting since like 2012 but I guess the show needs star power and he can still put on fun matches so I am not complaining.
New Day vs. The Dudley Boyz and Kalisto
Sin Cara is out injured so Kalisto is teaming with the Dudleyz tonight to take on their common enemies in the New Day. Pretty fun match here, sweet interactions between Kalisto and Kofi early on that made me want a singles match between those two at some point. Bubba and D-Von looked like tough bastards and New Day outsmarting the faces makes them look awesome. New Day wins with Midnight Hour ***
There’s a quick promo video for Brock coming back next week, I guess that confirms he’s going to be in the Rumble as well. The commentators cut to the same video package from the start of the night.
Vince comes out in a muscle tee to referee the main event. His heel antics here were awesome, I really like this Vince and he’s been used well sporadically instead of dominating the entire show like other heel authority figures.
Roman Reigns © vs. Sheamus (w/ Special Guest Referee Vince McMahon) (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
McMahon is playing the crooked ref here, giving Sheamus a fast count whenever he covers Reigns and a slow count when Reigns goes for a cover. I loved the spot where Sheamus tells Vince to look away so he can use the stairs on Reigns. Vince refuses to count after Reigns hits Sheamus with a Superman Punch which leads to Vince eating a punch of his own. Reigns shows a lot of intensity in the story portions of this match which he doesn’t do enough of, he looks like the badass that he can and should be in those parts. Stephanie comes out and Reigns teases going after her, I don’t know if it was the way Stephanie acted but that came off as very heelish to me. I love the continuity of crooked referee coming out to make the count after Vince is out. Reigns disposes of him and retains the title. Most of this was really good, Roman should be a complete badass that kills everyone in his path and that’s what we got here. Reigns wins with a Superman Punch ***
After the match Vince McMahon makes the Royal Rumble for the WWE title. I saw a lot of people hate on that and claim it’s obvious that either Reigns or Brock will win to set up their rematch, but I think there’s nothing wrong with going down the obvious path in this instance. Reigns and Brock had a pretty great match at Wrestlemania 32 and if you really want to go all in on Roman as the top star going forward there’s no better way to do it than by beating the unbeatable Beast in another great match.
Overall rating: 5.0
God damn this show felt long. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t an awful RAW by any means and there was some decent stuff. The New Day and the Dudleyz had a fun match and the main event delivered, there was a lot of filler that I could do without and some just straight up bad matches but other than that this was a fairly inoffensive show. Hopefully things stay like this next week.