The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 02/16/15

TJR/Melo Man

Live from Orlando, Florida this is the Raw Deal for episode #1133. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Here’s my review of last week’s awesome WWE NXT Takeover Rival show.

There was no opening video package. They just showed the musical intro for the show. There were even fireworks in the arena, which isn’t always the case anymore.

John Cena entered for a promo. He sucked up to the fans in Orlando and then set up the video package from last week when Rusev attacked him. Cena said that Rusev is a super athlete that is undefeated (not true, just hasn’t been pinned or submitted) and that Cena is going to beat Rusev. He said to beat Rusev you have to take the fight to Rusev. Cena said he loved it, even when the fans boo because Raw is about making noise and having fun. He did one of his fired up promos talking about how he’s going to be the first WWE superstar to beat Rusev. He said he’s fighting for respect and he’s also fighting to win the United States Championship.

Rusev’s music interrupted Cena as the US Champ stood on the stage with the ravishing Russian Lana. Fans chanted “USA” at them while Lana was trying to talk. She told Cena that he lives in a delusional world where his cup is half full and that she lives in a reality with Rusev where he is superior to any WWE superstar including Cena. She said that after the beating on Sunday at Fast Lane, there is no coming back for Cena.

Rusev said he doesn’t need USA and that on Sunday he’s going to destroy Cena as well as everything he stands for – your body, your spirit, your little will to live will be crushed. Cena told Rusev he’s never got his ass kicked and if he makes a move then he’s going to get his ass kicked. Rusev did the “you can’t see me” sign.

Cena charged up the ramp to take down Rusev with a tackle. Cena nailed Rusev with a clothesline at the top of the ramp. He told the refs to stand back and Cena tossed Rusev head first into the LED board just like Rusev did last week. Cena threw Rusev into the board again and then nailed him with some punches. The fans were counting along with Cena as he threw ten punches to the head. Cena yelled at him: “You think you’re untouchable? Every man can be beaten.” Cena celebrated as the show went to break after 13 minutes.

Analysis: It wasn’t the typical 15 minute promo from The Authority, so it felt a little different in that sense. I thought Cena did a really good job of showing the right kind of intensity that this feud needed. If he was out there telling jokes it wouldn’t be good, but he was very direct in saying he was going to kick Rusev’s ass. I liked his intensity. I think their match on Sunday is going to end in a DQ or countout to set up another match at WrestleMania. Rusev probably won’t win, but Cena will get hurt and then come back to win at WM31 since he’s the face. I’d be surprised if there’s a decisive winner at Fast Lane. That was a solid opening segment.

(Commercial)

They replayed the segment with a shot of Cena holding up the US Title.

The announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Booker T set up things for the show. They referenced Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special on Sunday, which was really good.

Dean Ambrose was shown doing a Weekend Update style bit from “earlier today” where he said he was going get Bad News Barrett to sign a contract for an Intercontinental Title match at Fast Lane.

Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper

Ambrose had the contract for Fast Lane and he put it on the announce table. Ambrose hit a cross body block and he got a bulldog for a two count. Back elbow off the middle rope by Ambrose, but his dive outside the ring failed as Harper caught him and hit a boot to the face. It’s vintage floor to commercial break time.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Harper was still in control in this battle of the men in jeans. Ambrose hit some elbows, then pulled down the rope and Harper was sent to the floor. Ambrose hit a massive tornado DDT, then a clothesline and his dropkick into the ropes. Flying elbow off the top by Ambrose for a two count. Harper hit a superkick out of nowhere for a two count. That looked nasty. Harper hit a side slam for two. Ambrose came back with his bounce off the ropes clothesline and then the Dirty Deeds DDT for the win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose

Post match, Ambrose grabbed the contract and walked to the back with it.

Analysis: *** That was a solid match featuring two good performers that are very capable of putting on a show if they are given an opportunity to do so. The last few minutes were excellent. Harper is so impressive for a guy his size. Ambrose’s comeback was very well done. Even though he’s not being pushed at a main event level anymore, the crowd still believes in him a lot. The feud with Barrett could be really good when they get going on it.

The announce team mentioned that Dusty Rhodes is coming to Raw. He lives in Orlando since he works at the Performance Center full time. We’ll also get Triple H responding to Sting, plus Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show and Roman Reigns vs. Kane.

(Commercial)

In the office of The Authority, Triple H was talking to Kane and then Big Show showed up. The big guys argued because Show knocked out Kane on Smackdown. Hunter complained about their issues since the Royal Rumble. Hunter tried to calm them down, Show kept saying “May 13th” at him. It’s supposed to be May 19 that Kane hates. Hunter calmed them down and told them to concentrate on their matches tonight. Hunter said he’s looking for solutions.

Analysis: I’m so tired of Show and Kane. They are pushed as top heels even though they lose so much. If this is leading to Show as a face so that they can have a WM31 match I really don’t want to see it.

Bray Wyatt did a promo backstage with a nail in his hand. He wondered what happened to “you” and said that whatever fear he had of “you” has turned into pity. “It’s coming.” That was the end of it.

Analysis: It’s another tease of The Undertaker, who may be back for next week’s Raw although it’s not a lock at this point. What might happen is Wyatt may publicly call him out next week and then Undertaker returns the week after that.

Goldust and Stardust were in the locker room. Their dad Dusty Rhodes walked up to them. The crowd cheered when they saw Dusty. Dusty said he was there to fix it. Stardust blew some dust, so Dusty told him that’s what he’s talking about. Dusty said all those things that Stardust talks about means nothing without family. He told both boys that he loves them. Goldust wondered if Stardust could do it. Stardust shook his hand, then Dusty told them to show the world what the Rhodes family is all about and to stand together. The dust boys walked off.

Analysis: Stardust didn’t actually say anything in the segment. He just shook Goldust’s hand.

(Commercial)

The New Day were in the ring. They don’t get a televised entrance, so that shows how far they’ve fallen. Dusty Rhodes was shown watching on backstage as Goldust and Stardust entered.

Goldust & Stardust vs. Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods (w/Big E)

Good tag team work by Gold and Stardust early on. Woods came back with an enziguiri kick on Goldust and tagged in Kingston, who was on fire. Dropkick by Kingston, a leaping clothesline and the boom drop. The crowd was pretty quiet although they woke up to do some clapping. Cross body block by Kingston, but Stardust made the save. Stardust sent Woods outside the ring. Stardust went for a kick off the ropes, Kingston moved and Stardust stopped short. Stardust was sent outside the ring. Kingston hit the Trouble in Paradise on Goldust to win. It went three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods

Analysis: * It was just a short match to further the issues between the Rhodes brothers. The New Day doesn’t get a crowd reaction at all. WWE should seriously consider a heel turn for them or doing something different.

Post match, Stardust helped Goldust to his feet. It looked like Goldust was struggling to his feet, so Stardust helped him up again. Stardust hit the Dark Matter on Goldust, who was left alone.

Analysis: I’m all for the heel turn. It will be cool to see the brothers in a WrestleMania match if that’s the plan. They can have Cody dump the Stardust gimmick, go after his brother and Goldust can put his career on the line. He’s been very good for a long time, but in his mid-40s now it’s probably time to call it a career. Cody will do fine on his own. He’s been on the main roster for nearly a decade and isn’t even 30 years old yet. He’s got plenty of time.

Roman Reigns was interviewed by Byron Saxton in the locker room. Roman said he was focused on WrestleMania. Roman said that The Authority wanted Seth Rollins in that spot, but it didn’t work. Roman said that Daniel Bryan had an opportunity and he took advantage of it. Roman said he had a ton of respect for Bryan, but if he got tossed out of the Rumble he would have taken it like a man and he’s the one that helped Bryan win to get that match at Fast Lane.

Analysis: Solid promo from Reigns. WWE has done a better job of having him do more basic promos instead of ridiculous promos about childhood stories. That was a little heelish at the end of the promo although I really don’t think Reigns is going heel. It was just done more as a way to show he’s intense going into the match at Fast Lane.

Daniel Bryan entered as it was mentioned that Reigns takes on Kane up next. He joined the announce team as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

There was a “during commercial” segment with Dusty talking to Stardust. That led to Stardust saying that Cody Rhodes was a beautiful disaster because that’s what space is – it’s a simple balance of forces. He said that it caused Cody Rhodes to explode and that Cody dances with the stars now. Stardust: “Cody Rhodes is dead. And as far as I’m concerned so is my father.”

Analysis: That was pretty intense. Great work by Cody. It would have been better if it was live instead of “during commercial” because the crowd was paying attention to Bryan at ringside instead of listening to Stardust. I still think the story will be about ending the Stardust gimmick and going back to being Cody.

There was a replay of Bryan’s issues with Reigns from last week on Raw and then when they won tag team gauntlet on Smackdown. Those replays lasted longer than some diva matches.

Roman Reigns vs. Kane

As mentioned, Bryan is on commentary. Suplex by Reigns on Kane. Bryan led the crowd in “yes” chants to steal the spotlight while Kane tossed Reigns into the turnbuckle and then he nailed Reigns with an uppercut. Kane came back with a DDT for two, then a chinlock as well as a back elbow and here’s another boring chinlock. Side suplex by Reigns. Bryan put over Reigns saying that he’s very tough and that they’re both at the top of their game. Kane hit Reigns with an uppercut to regain control and then he hit a running dropkick for two. Reigns made the comeback with a leaping clothesline, then a clothesline off the middle rope and a running clothesline in the corner. Samoan Drop by Reigns for two. Bryan led the crowd in “yes” chants again while Kane hit a big boot to knock Reigns out of the ring. Kane tried to clear the announce table, but Reigns slipped out and hit a Spear on Kane outside the ring for the win by countout. The match went 6 minutes.

Winner by countout: Roman Reigns

Analysis: *3/4 I’m glad it was kept relatively short. A countout finish is a bit questionable. Kane isn’t somebody that needs to be protected considering he loses so many matches. Reigns should have pinned him to win although maybe they were just trying to prove the point that losses can happen by countout.

Post match, Bryan led the crowd in “yes” chants and Reigns invited him to go into the ring. Bryan just did the “yes” chant around the ring. Bryan’s music started to play.

Coming up we’ll find out what’s next for Triple H.

(Commercial)

Daniel Bryan was interviewed backstage by Renee Young. He said that Roman is an awesome athlete, but you have to be mentally tough and that Roman has to get used to the “yes” chants at Fast Lane.

Analysis: It was short and simple while getting over the point that Reigns has to be mentally sharp to beat Bryan.

Wyatt did another promo backstage. He talked about how limbo is no place for a soul like yours. That was it.

Analysis: Another tease for Undertaker since we don’t know where he goes after WrestleMania, so saying he’s in “limbo” is fair.

Byron Saxton was standing outside of Paige’s locker room. The Bella Twins emerged from the locker room with Paige’s gear. Apparently Paige has a match up next. Paige walked out of the room wearing a towel. She asked Cameron for her gear, but she was mean. What does Cameron do anyway? The Party Posse was there, so Paige grabbed one of the girls and told her to go with her.

Analysis: I guess we were supposed to assume that she was taking a shower.

(Commercial)

Summer Rae was in the ring for a match. Paige’s music started up, then it stopped. Paige emerged with a princess dress. She still had on the black top, black boots and the black tights although the dress was there too.

Paige vs. Summer Rae

Paige was aggressive early on and she yelled “this is my house” like usual. Paige hit some knees to the face to Summer and then Summer came back with a spinning kick that Cole called by saying “oh” only. Paige made a comeback, hit a boot to the face and hit the Paige Tap Out for the win after three minutes.

Winner by submission: Paige

Analysis: *1/2 It was a typical divas match where they were given three minutes and the woman that is getting pushed got the win over the woman that is barely on television. Summer barely got offense in. The crowd responded well to Paige.

Post match, Nikki and Brie Bella were on the ramp for a promo. Nikki tried to insult her, but Paige told her that she doesn’t need an outfit to make her look good. At Fast Lane, she’s going to win the Divas Title to make her look good. The Bellas left looking upset.

Analysis: Easy line for Paige there that was set up by the impromptu wardrobe change. I think Nikki will keep the title at Fast Lane, but I wouldn’t mind a title change either.

Seth Rollins was talking to J&J Security backstage. He’s up next against Dolph Ziggler.

(Commercial)

There was a video hyping up the return of Sheamus.

Seth Rollins entered along with Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble to deliver a promo. He mentioned that it was President’s Day when they honor the past, but that’s a waste of time because the future is standing right in front of you. Rollins talked about how he’s the most talented performer in the entire world and the most valuable asset in all of WWE. He said that he was untouchable and nobody could stop him. Rollins said that he could be the President (he noted he’s not even old enough yet) or be the host of the Daily Show with Jon Steward and make it watchable. He mentioned that he wanted to cash in the briefcase to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but instead he has to deal with people like Erick Rowan, Ryback and especially Dolph Ziggler. Cue Ziggler’s music for their match.

Ziggler wondered why Rollins was so mad: “It seemed like you had a bad Valentine’s Day.” He mocked Triple H’s voice during his promo and then Rollins said the only thing funny about Ziggler is the joke that he calls a career. Ziggler said he’s not whiny, protected, sellout douche like Rollins. He told Rollins that he’s ready to do what he does best and that’s show off. Ziggler attacked with a clothesline, Rollins bailed to the floor and their match is up next.

Analysis: I liked the promos by both guys. There’s nothing wrong with a little heated trash talk before a match. No reference to the hacked photos of Rollins although the bad Valentine’s Day joke could be construed as that. The only problem with Rollins’ speech was that he could add himself to the WrestleMania main event because he can challenge for the WWE Title any time he wants, so if he wants a shot there then he can get it.

(Commercial)

Seth Rollins (w/Joey Mercury & Jamie Noble) vs. Dolph Ziggler

Rollins was in control of the action. Ziggler got sent outside the ring, J&J tried to interfere and the referee caught them, so he tossed them both to the back. Rollins told them he’ll be okay. Back in the ring, Ziggler got an inside cradle for a two count and then Rollins knocked him down with a clothesline. Ziggler with an elbow, then he dodged an attack and Rollins hit his shoulder against the turnbuckle. Ziggler with a splash, neckbreaker and elbow drop for two. Sweet counter into nearfall by Ziggler for two and then an impressive DDT for two by Ziggler. Rollins regained control thanks to a kick to the gut, Ziggler nailed a superkick and then the Zig Zag connected. J&J ran back out to save Rollins, so it was a DQ ending. The match went 7 minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Dolph Ziggler

Post match, Ryback and Erick Rowan saved Rollins. Rollins was able to get away, but Rowan nailed Mercury with a clothesline while Ryback hit a Spinebuster. The heels retreated while the faces celebrated in the ring.

Analysis: **1/2 It’s a shame that they didn’t get more time because any time they wrestle they have great matches. Ziggler was on fire. His offense looks so believable. His DDT is as good as anybody in WWE. The dropkick is on point. The crowd really believes in him and it’s frustrating that he’s not at a higher level, but at least he’s getting consistent screen time. That post match attack is likely going to lead to a six man tag at Fast Lane with J&J possibly teaming with Rollins against those three faces. If it’s not J&J then perhaps Big Show and Kane.

Triple H was shown watching the monitor backstage. He’s up next as we approach the top of hour three.

(Commercial)

Triple H entered for a promo. At least it is later in the show than usual. That’s a change. A video package aired showing the history between Hunter and Sting.

Fans chanted “we want Sting” as Hunter looked at them. Hunter laughed at the idea that he was afraid of Sting. He spoke about how he represented everything that is WWE while Sting is WCW and before he could really get going, Ric Flair’s music started.

Ric Flair walked down to the ring in a suit. He wasn’t advertised for the show, but it was mentioned online that he would be there. There was a big ovation for Flair while Hunter hugged him when Flair got into the ring.

Flair said he was there because he respected and loved Hunter. Flair mentioned that Hunter inducted Flair in the Hall of Fame right there in Orlando. Hunter said he didn’t want Flair to be there to sing the praises of Sting. Flair told Hunter not to take Sting lightly and don’t put yourself in a position to fail. Hunter said he didn’t need a history lesson on who Sting is. Hunter talked about how good Sting was, then mentioned he remembered watching a blond haired Sting go 60 minutes with Flair the first time he got in the ring with him at a Clash of the Champions. It was actually 45 minutes, but close enough.

Hunter added that he also watched Sting become the franchise of WCW and the icon of WCW. He claimed that he was and is WCW, which is true. When WCW’s final bell rang, Sting was standing tall while the other rats were jumping ship. Hunter said that Sting disappeared, so I guess working for TNA for nearly a decade is disappearing. Hunter claimed that if Sting went to WWE, Hunter would have ran him out of there. Hunter said he would have done that because Sting’s legacy was built on Flair’s reputation, so he would have kicked Sting’s ass on principle alone. The discussion continued with Hunter complaining about how Sting wants to make things personal. Hunter: “While Sting is WCW, I am WWE.”

Flair told Hunter to calm down. Flair said that when people ask him who the best wrestler alive today is he says Triple H…when he’s wrestling. Flair thought Daniel Bryan couldn’t beat Triple H last year at WrestleMania, but Bryan did. Flair reminded him that a wrestler’s worst enemy is time off. Flair wants Hunter to be the best and be The Game again. He told Hunter that he didn’t want Sting to sneak up on him.

Hunter admitted that he is no Ric Flair and that nobody is, but when it comes to kicking Sting’s ass, he looked Flair in the eye: “You are no Triple H.” Flair asked him to do him a favor and said that when he tunes into Fast Lane on Sunday, don’t let him see Hunter on his ass again like he was last Monday. Flair laughed.

Hunter shoved Flair to the mat. Hunter said that there’s nothing outside of his wife and kids that is more important to him than WWE. He said that if somebody stands between him and this company, he’s kicking their ass. Hunter ended it by saying that at Fast Lane, Sting will never show his face there again. Hunter walked away while Flair got back to his feet and the fans cheered the legend.

Analysis: That was a good job by Flair and Hunter’s reactions to him really worked. What it did was remind us that Flair is still one of the best wrestlers to set up a match even when he’s not in the match. However, this was still a promo that is merely there to set up a promo on Sunday. It’s still a good way to set things up for Sting at Fast Lane while Hunter comes across like a huge jerk for disrespecting his friend Flair.

John Cena is on Parks and Recreation on NBC this Tuesday. Speaking of Cena, they replayed his aggressive attack on Rusev from earlier. They face off at Fast Lane. Bryan vs. Show is later.

(Commercial)

Darren Young was in the ring with an unknown wrestler for a tag match. They never said the name of the partner, but he goes by the name of Kevin Kross in the indies. The Ascension’s music started up.

The Ascension marched down to the ring for this tag match. They attacked before the ref could even ring the bell. They did a beatdown on Kross and then stomped away on Young as well. Titus O’Neill ran out for the save. He tossed Viktor across the ring and he hit a boot on Konnor. Young hit a clothesline to take out Viktor while O’Neill tossed out Viktor. They played to the crowd, but there wasn’t much of a reaction.

Analysis: This was just an angle to put the Prime Time Players back together. It’s a good idea to put them back together because O’Neill’s career really didn’t go anywhere after he turned on Young early last year while Young had a torn ACL so he missed most of the year. The crowd reaction sucked, but the PTPers should do well together again. The “Millions of Dollars” chant was fun at least.

Backstage, Bad News Barrett was talking to The Miz. Miz wanted Barrett to send a message to Mizdow in their match.

(Commercial)

It was announced that during the Fast Lane kickoff show there will be Miz TV with Paul Heyman as the guest. Damien Mizdow set up a chair for Miz to sit at ringside.

Bad News Barrett vs. Damien Mizdow (w/The Miz)

This is not for BNB’s IC Title. When Mizdow got some offense, Miz rang a bell and told Mizdow to buff his shoe for him, so Mizdow went outside the ring to do it. Barrett hit a boot to the face while Mizdow was distracted. JBL was saying it was absurd. Yeah it sure was. Mizdow hit a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo and was in control, but Miz rang the bell. He told Mizdow to clean his sunglasses. Then he said it was nothing, so that allowed Barrett to capitalize with the Bull Hammer elbow for the win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bad News Barrett

Analysis: 1/2* It really wasn’t much of a match because it was all about putting over the angle that Mizdow had to serve Miz. It’s taking a while to advance this storyline, but it’s probably going to lead to a WrestleMania match.

Post match, Dean Ambrose showed up to attack Barrett. He tossed Barrett into the ring post. Ambrose brought out some zip-tie from his pockets, then tied Barrett’s hands around the ring post. Ambrose brought out his contract. Even with BNB’s hands tied, Ambrose forced him to sign it while Barrett was yelling “get a knife” for somebody to cut it off. Ambrose grabbed a pen, then put it in Barrett’s hand and made him sign it while Barrett yelled that it was illegal. Ambrose signed it, so the IC Title match is on for Fast Lane.

Analysis: That was unique. There’s obviously a claim that Barrett can make that it wasn’t something he willingly signed, but this is WWE where ridiculous things happen all the time. It was a funny way for Ambrose to force him to do something that Barrett didn’t want to do.

Back to Bray Wyatt, who was driving a nail into something and he talked about how it’s time. He yelled for this person to find him. He ended it with this: “Or I’ll find you.”

Analysis: The nail could have been building a casket. It’s just another continuation of the return of The Undertaker.

(Commercial)

There was another video for the return of Sheamus. I assume it’ll be on Sunday or Monday. He’ll probably be a heel when he comes back, but that’s not a lock.

Jimmy Uso & Naomi (w/Jey Uso) vs. Tyson Kidd & Natalya (w/Cesaro)

This is a preview of the tag title match at Fast Lane. Kidd didn’t really fight Jimmy, so Kidd tagged in Natalya meaning Naomi had to tag in too. The women did some nice exchanges in there, but then the guys tagged in. After Kidd hit a slap to the face, he tagged in Natalya again. The girls did a double dropkick spot and then Natalya powered her down with a slam followed by a running dropkick. When Natalya asked Kidd if he wanted in, Kidd told her to stay. Naomi got a nearfall, Natalya got a nearfall and another pin attempt by Naomi was successful as she got the win after three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Jimmy Uso & Naomi

Post match, Cesaro was mad at Natalya for losing. Kidd told him to back off, then Kidd wondered what she was doing. He told her to put on the Sharpshooter. She looked sad about the loss while the fans reacted well to this by supporting her.

Analysis: * It was a short match, but it was more about furthering the angle that Kidd was upset at his wife Natalya for not getting the job done. It’s a good way to put some heat on Kidd to make him a bigger heel. Natalya is already a sympathetic face in the angle, so it will be interesting to see if there’s a payoff to this angle. Natalya’s either going heel to help Kidd or they’ll keep doing this angle where they have issues. The Usos vs. Kidd/Cesaro at Fast Lane should be great. I think the champs retain, but I like the challengers a lot.

There was a recap of the Bryan/Reigns story from earlier. Bryan was shown walking to the ring.

Roman Reigns entered through the crowd to check out Bryan’s match.

(Commercial)

This Thursday on Smackdown it’s Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler with J&J Security barred from ringside. That’s great. Give them 20 minutes.

Reigns was seated at ringside for the match and he was not on commentary. In other words, WWE has little confidence in his promo ability, so he’s just going to sit there looking tough.

Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show

Show nailed Bryan with some huge chops while Reigns smiled at ringside. Bryan attacked the legs of Show to try to knock him down, but it didn’t work as Show came back with a headbutt and a body slam. Bryan made a brief comeback that didn’t last long. Bryan applied a sleeper hold while Reigns mingled with some fans at ringside. Reigns signed some autographs for fans. Some of the guys at ringside were members of my favorite baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays, so that’s cool. Bryan hit some kicks to the chest of Show, then he stared at Reigns, was distracted and Show chopped him down. The show went to break as Show hit an elbow drop.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Show continued to beat on Bryan with a hard chop to the chest. There was a lot of stalling by Show to allow a brief Bryan comeback, but then Show applied a bearhug. Bryan applied a tight headlock on Show and pulled him over the top to the floor. It was a Royal Rumble 2004 tribute spot. Reigns was tossing merchandise to the fans. Bryan did a dive outside the ring, Show caught him and Show tossed Bryan into Reigns. Show went for a Spear, Bryan moved and Show took down Reigns. It wasn’t a great spear, but it got the job done. Back in the ring, Bryan hit a dropkick to Show’s knee to take him down. Bryan nailed Show with two dropkicks and then he went for the Yes Lock on Show, but Show got to the ropes. Bryan hit a series of kicks with the last one nailing Show in the head. With Bryan on the top rope, Reigns went into the ring with a Superman Punch on Show. The ref called for the bell, so Show won by disqualification. It went 15 minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Big Show

After the match, Bryan was still on the top rope, Reigns turned around and Bryan nailed him with a missile dropkick.

Analysis: **3/4 They had a good match going with Show working well as the big man in control and Bryan’s comebacks were really well done too. You could tell that they weren’t going to have a clean finish. The stuff with Reigns goofing around on ringside was an interesting way for him to distract Bryan without really getting involved physically until that finish. We’ve seen that spot where the guy gets attacked at ringside, then causes the DQ finish. It’s fine once in a while. I didn’t mind it here. Bryan lost to Show, but it’s not like it was a bad loss by any means.

The fans were chanting “Daniel Bryan” as Reigns went into the ring to brawl with Brawl. Reigns tossed Bryan out of the ring. Some fans cheered. Others were booing. Bryan went back into the ring as he went after Reigns. The annoying camera shaking was done as the two men battled it out. When they went outside the ring, Reigns tossed Bryan back first into the barricade at ringside. Reigns threw him into the barricade again.

Bryan and Reigns were separated by referees in the ring while the crowd chanted “let them fight.” It looked like they were going to stop, but then they brawled some more. The crowd was really into it. Bryan hit a dropkick that sent Reigns over the top the floor and then a dive outside the ring. Reigns tossed Bryan over the barricade as they brawled in the crowd. Back ringside, Bryan hit a chairshot to the back and Reigns crushed him with a forearm. They brawled over the announce table.

More referees came out from the back to break it up. There were also guys from the back like Bill DeMott, Robbie Brookside, Norman Smiley (all three are trainers at the WWE Performance Center) and others. The show ended with Bryan standing on top of the announce table while Reigns was taken away on the other side of the ring.

Analysis: That was a very good ending. It’s always a smart idea to end a Raw with a wild brawl to end the show because that’s what fans are going to remember more than anything else. It’s another one of those things that is okay to do once in a while, but if they did it all the time it would feel too repetitive.

Right now I’m probably going to pick Reigns to win the match on Sunday just because I feel like WWE has decided that they want him to face Lesnar at WrestleMania in a singles match. However, there was a report from a couple weeks ago saying that maybe Bryan will be a part of WrestleMania’s main event too. If that’s the case then Bryan has to go over on Sunday. I’m probably not going to decide for sure until Friday when I write the preview. I just like that it’s not a sure thing either way. There are a lot of things that can happen.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Daniel Bryan

2. Roman Reigns

3. Stardust

 

The Scoreboard

6.5 out of 10

Last week: 4

Last 5 Weeks: 4, 6, NR, 4.5, 4.5

2015 Average: 5.5

2015 High: 7.5 (Jan 5)

2015 Low: 4 (Feb 9)

 

Final Thoughts

I’m giving it a 6.5 out of 10. It’s better than last week.

The in-ring action wasn’t the best from top to bottom, but a lot of the angles were furthered in a positive way.

Very good ending. People are going to remember that when they go into Sunday. Since there isn’t a heel in the storyline, it’s important to make things look even for Bryan and Reigns. Having a crazy brawl is a good way to accomplish that.

Cena’s segment with Rusev to open the show was well done. Seeing Cena with fire like that is how he needs to be portrayed more often. It’s much better than the poop jokes as well as other stupid stuff they do for him sometimes.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Stardust. Cody Rhodes has so much untapped potential, so I’m hoping that he can really break through after this feud with his brother Goldust is over.

Using Ric Flair to hype the appearance of Sting was smart. They’ve got so much history. Having Flair put over Sting to Triple H worked well. It would have been even better if it was a month from now going into the WrestleMania match, but I get why they did it now.

I don’t think Fast Lane is going to be some all time great PPV by any means. However, if you look at the matches they have there’s some pretty good stuff on there. I’ll have a more in-depth preview on Friday.

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That’s all for this week. The WWE Fast Lane PPV preview will be posted on Friday night. On Sunday night I’ll write a Fast Lane review live on TJRWrestling and post on other sites on Monday. It’s Oscar night too, but I don’t care for award shows.

Check out my feature column archive that’s exclusive to WhatCulture.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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