It’s the RAW after the Royal Rumble! Last night’s PPV met all of my expectations and then some. Even though I was disappointed with the finish and having to deal with what will likely be 2+ months of Triple H as champion, overall it was a great card and built up some feuds and continued some stories. WWE has been hyping the return of a “major star” tonight, so hopefully that will be cool and AJ Styles will be making his RAW debut as well.
We start off with a recap of the Royal Rumble. Haha, some guy in the Royal Rumble audience was holding up a stuffed poo emoji when Triple H won the belt. Vince and Stephanie come strutting out. We were discussing in the MBWS Facebook Group today about how the WWE has basically been doing a form of Austin vs. McMahon since 1997. It’s old. It needs to go. Hopefully this is the last run. Hopefully. Vince says Roman Reigns is broken. Vince runs down the crowd quite a bit. Vince says that he confesses that he enjoys the misfortunes and misery of others and that no one is more miserable than Roman Reigns and just like the WWE Universe, he’s going to stay that way. Steph said that we were all living in a pipe dream if we thought AJ, Ambrose, or Roman were going to win. Huge AJ chants. Steph introduces Triple H, who comes to the ring wearing a suit. He opens his jacket to reveal the WWE title around his waist.
Triple H says he has to hand it to Roman Reigns. He says Roman Reigns could be the best but he is not because he lacks respect and that Roman needs to learn his place. He says that Vince McMahon might as well be God and that he won’t allow Roman to disrespect him. He says a lot of people will ask why he needs to be WWE Champion. He says he doesn’t need to be WWE champion but he wants to be WWE champion because people like Roman Reigns want to be WWE champion and they don’t deserve it and until he says so he will be champion. Loud Roman chants from the crowd. Steph wonders who Triple H is going to teach a lesson to at WrestleMania. She says tonight they will be evaluating all the wrestlers and tonight they will announce the Main Event at FastLane. The winner of that match will challenge Triple H for the title at WrestleMania 32.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
Owens’ left elbow is taped up after last night’s brutal Last Man Standing match. Ziggler hits a superkick as soon as the bell rings and gets a two count. Owens rolls out of the ring and he and Ziggler brawl at ringside. Owens slams Ziggler into the barricade and drags him back in the ring, nailing him with punches and kicks in the corner. Owens goes for a backdrop but Ziggler counters it with a dropkick and Owens again rolls out of the ring. After the break Owens is in control and nails Ziggler with a headbutt. He gets a two count on the pin attempt. They go back and forth a bit. Ziggler nails the Fameasser and gets a two count. He then goes for a suplex but Owens counters by going for a Samoan Drop. Ziggler counters by getting Owens in sleeper hold. Owens gets out and goes for the cannonball splash in the corner but Dolph gets out of the way. Owens nails Ziggler with a huge suplex out of the corner.
It looks like Dolph is out of it but he nails Owens with another superkick and gets a two count. Ziggler tries to suplex Owens off the second turnbuckle but Owens shoves him off. Owens goes to the top rope but Ziggler jumps up for a suplex. Owens slides out and lands on the apron, catching Ziggler on the turnbuckle. Owens then hits the pop-up powerbomb and gets the pin. This was a good match with lots of back and forth action.
JoJo interviews Reigns backstage. Pretty standard stuff here about Reigns saying he will show something to Triple H tonight. Back in arena, the Social Outcasts are in the ring and Heath Slater talks trash to Flo Rida who is in the front row. Adam Rose calls Heath Slater “Red Dragon” and that when he gets mad he spits fire. Pretty great. Bo Dallas then challenges Flo Rida to get in the ring and Flo Rida jumps the barrier and does so. Heath Slater challenges Flo to a rap battle. Flo Rida is surprised at this and Heath then says he won’t be facing Heath, he’ll be facing “Bo Rida!” Bo shows off his sweet rap skills. Flo then does a diss rap on Heath Slater alluding to their previous altercation at WrestleMania 28. He then makes makes fun of the rest of the Social Outcasts and brings out the Dudleys.
The Dudley Boyz vs. Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel
The Dudleys are working over Curtis Axel when we come back from the break. Axel takes control after a distraction by The Social Outcasts. Bo then leads the Outcasts in a “Bo Train” around the ring. Axel and Bo re-enter the ring and work over Bubba. Bubba creates some space and makes a hot tag to D-Von who firmly takes control hitting Axel with a series of slams and clotheslines. He gets a two count after a big clothesline. D-Von tags in Bubba and they hit a double neckbreaker. Heath Slater gets up on the apron but Flo Rida dumps him into the ring. Flo and Heath stare each other down. Flo feigns a punch and Heath runs away right into Bubba. D-Von hits the Wassup on Slater and then Bubba Ray and D-Von hit the 3D on Curtis Axel to get the win. They celebrate with Flo Rida. This was pretty fun.
Rene interviews AJ regarding his match tonight with Chris Jericho. She asks AJ to tell those who don’t know who exactly AJ styles is. Before he can really do this, he is interrupted by Jericho. Jericho says AJ has never competed in the big leagues and this is his big shot. He calls him kid and walks away. After the break the announce team discusses Nikki Bella’s announcement today that she has a career threatening neck injury and will be having surgery. Bummer for Nikki and best wishes to her.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
What an awesome debut RAW match for Styles. Jericho was awesome in the Rumble last night, lasting over 50 minutes and really keeping things interesting the whole time. Great entrance by AJ Styles and a good response from the crowd. JBL acknowledges AJ as a two time IWGP champion. Big AJ chant from the crowd as the bell rings. They lock up and go into the corner for a clean break. We get some good chain wrestling and AJ hits a nice armdrag. He taunts Jericho and they lock up again. This time Jericho takes control and hits some Flair chops and then an elbow. AJ hits his big running clothesline and Jericho goes down. Jericho powers AJ into the corner and hits some more big chops. Jericho hits an awesome springboard dropkick off the ropes and knocks AJ off the apron and to the floor. AJ rolls back in and Jericho hits a suplex. He barely gets a one count before AJ kicks out. AJ responds with some chops of his own. Jericho regains control after reversing an AJ corner attack but AJ hits a great dropkick and knocks Jericho to the outside as we go to break. This is a great match so far.
When we come back from break Jericho has AJ in a headlock in the ring and AJ powers out. They both go for cross bodys and take each other out. Styles hits some quick strikes and then nails a flying forearm into the corner. Jericho hits Styles with an elbow and goes for the Walls of Jericho but Styles rolls out of it and nails him with a knee to the back of a neck. Jericho recovers and nails Styles with a Northern Lights suplex. AJ bridges out. Jericho hits an enziguri and gets a two count. More Flair chops by Jericho. Styles creates some space and hits a huge flying punch from the top rope. He gets a near fall on the pin attempt. Jericho surprises Styles with a punch. Styles responds with a hurricanrana attempt but Jericho reverses it into the Walls of Jericho. Styles barely makes it to the ropes.
Styles nails Jericho with a Pele kick and goes to the top rope. He goes for a frog splash but Jericho rolls out of the way. Jericho goes for a Lionsault but Styles gets his knees up. He goes for a Styles Clash but Jericho manages to roll out of it and turns it into a pin attempt on AJ. AJ reverses this with a sunset flip and gets the pin. This was an amazing match. Styles offers Jericho his hand afterward. Jericho shakes it but things seem a little tense between them as Jericho pulls Styles in closer to him and then leaves the ring.
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
It’s great to see Sasha back. She had a huge moment at the Rumble last night coming out after the Divas Title match and attacking both Becky and Charlotte. Sasha starts the match by taunting Becky about her loss last night. Becky responds by slamming Sasha to the mat and then hitting a jumping sidekick into the corner. Sasha responds with strikes of her own and takes Becky down with a slap. She goes for the pin and gets a one and a half count. The two go back and forth a bit, vying for control. Becky hits a series of strikes and then an exploder suplex out of the corner, getting a two count on the pin attempt. Sasha regains control and nails Becky with a stomp to the midsection in the corner. She gets a two count on Becky. Sasha goes for a suplex but Becky rolls through and gets an armbar on Sasha. Sasha powers out of this and nails Becky with the Bank Statement. Charlotte runs in and attacks Becky. Sasha then goes after Charlotte but Charlotte nails her with Natural Selection. Charlotte stands tall in the ring. Pretty great match and it continued to build to future matches between these outstanding women.
Back in the locker room, Goldust is looking for R-Truth. He finds his headphones and starts listening to them. Truth arrives and asks what he is doing. Goldust says that now that the Royal Rumble is over he thinks they should be partners. R-Truth says there is nothing wrong with that but he is a married man. Goldust doesn’t understand. As R-Truth leaves Goldust realizes the misunderstanding and yells that he wants them to be tag team partners as Golden Truth. He asks him to think about it. That could definitely be fun.
Bray Wyatt vs. Kane
So Kane is back. Exciting. I think he’s fine if he’s used properly so hopefully that will be the case and he isn’t in the main event picture. Kane and Bray exchange power moves to start things off. Kane gets Bray in the corner and nails a series of punches. He hits a nice looking dropkick on a prone Bray. Kane is looking pretty good here. The crowd is chanting “We Want Lesnar.” I guess I can’t blame them. Bray and Kane go back and forth and the crowd is booing pretty loudly. Bray misses a senton and Kane plants him with a DDT. He then nails a series of corner splashes followed by a sidewalk slam, getting a two count on the pin attempt. Kane goes for a chokeslam but Bray counters this. They go back and forth a bit until Bray hits the Sister Abigail after a distraction from the Wyatts at ringside. Nothing exciting here. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great. The Wyatts gang up on Kane after the match. You’ve seen this all before.
After the break Rich Brennan is standing outside a limo that we are led to believe contains the big returning WWE superstar. He knocks on the door and The Miz gets out. The Miz starts to deliver a promo but a truck drives in and The Rock gets out. He calls The Miz a flying nun and asks him to park his truck. The Rock greets Rick Ross backstage. He then gives Big Show a hug. He reminds him of the 2000 Royal Rumble where they both went over at the same time and says Big Show should have won. He says that Big Show could have been The Scorpion King and gone on to a big movie career. Show crushes the laptop he’s holding. Pretty funny stuff. The Rock continues on backstage and runs into a smiling Lana. He reminds her of the time they were in Brooklyn and that Lana came over to his hotel afterwards. Rusev comes from behind and The Rock congratulates them on their upcoming wedding. That was a little dumb and more than a bit degrading. He then continues with his promo as he walks to the curtain. He. does his “Finally…” bit, his music hits, and Rock enters the arena to a big pop from the Miami crowd.
It takes awhile for the crowd to settle down enough for the Rock to start talking. He asks Miami if they are ready for WrestleMania. He says he plans on being at WrestleMania and they will break records. He calls Byron Saxton “the other black dude that I don’t know.” Ha. The Rock says he’s going off script as he goes to talk to some guys dressed as Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and The Rock. He says “The weed in Miami must be good tonight.” The Rock then resumes his promo but is interrupted by The New Day. Xavier gives Rock a hard time for not knowing who Byron Saxton is. They talk about how they beat Rocky’s cousins, The Usos, last night. Good stuff from Kofi. They all mock Rocky’s tongue flapping. Awesome. They run down Miami and tell Rock he was smart to leave it for Hollywood. The Rock mocks the unicorn horns by calling them llama penises, which the crowd starts chanting.
Some great back and forth between The Rock and New Day. You should just watch this and enjoy it. The Rock says Big E is the result of The Incredible Hulk banging Urkel. He then invites them to come in the ring so he can take Francesca 2 and shove it up their candy asses. He then calls them Uni-Bitches. Definitely pushing that PG rating tonight. Xavier asks Miami if they want to see The New Day get in the ring with The Rock and then says they don’t deserve it and they start to leave. The Rock says he has a Plan B and The Usos attack The New Day on the ramp. Big E gets The Rock Bottom. Kofi gets a Samoan drop. Xavier gets superkicked by the Usos and a spinebuster from The Rock followed by The People’s Elbow. The Rock thanks the WWE Universe and says he’ll see them at WrestleMania. This was really fun overall.
Brie Bella and Alicia Fox vs. Paige and Natalya
It still hasn’t been explained why Paige and Natalya are teaming up. I know Total Divas is popular and has gotten a lot of exposure but these nothing matches are not helping anyone. Brie hits some great looking strikes on Natalya and this match has already gone longer than last week’s Total Divas match. Nattie manages to tag in Paige and Paige goes to work on Brie. She goes for the PTO but Alicia Fox makes the save. Nattie comes in to take out Fox and Paige hits the Ram-Paige on Brie to get the pin. This was only slightly longer and better than last week’s match. Bleh.
The Miz vs. Kalisto
This is a non-title match. Kalisto has had quite a month. Let’s hope he can continue the momentum. The Miz starts off on offense but Kalisto quickly comes back with a series of kicks. He hits a spinning headscissors, tossing Miz out of the ring. He then hits a big dive to the outside. He tosses The Miz back in the ring and gets a two count. The Miz makes a comeback and slams Kalisto to the mat. He then mocks Kalisto’s lucha chant. This gives Kalisto the space to mount a comeback of his own and after a series of strikes he hits a big splash off the top rope. After the break The Miz is back in control. He hits a big clothesline and gets a two count. He follows up with some mounted punches and then slams Kalisto into the corner, hitting him with some kicks to the midsection. He then hits his flying corner clothesline. The Miz nails a diving strike off the top turnbuckle and gets a two count on the pin attempt. Lots of great offense from The Miz but the crowd is getting to him and Kalisto capitalizes with a kick to the head. He then hits a big seated senton off the top rope and then a springboard corkscrew. He goes for a pin and gets a two count. The Miz regains control by hitting a big DDT. He goes for The Skull Crushing Finale but Kalisto counters with the Salida Del Sol and gets the three count. This match was way better than I expected. The Miz can be really good in the ring with the right opponent.
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus and Rusev
Del Rio and Wade Barrett accompany Sheamus and Rusev. Reigns and Sheamus start things off and Reigns quickly goes on the attack. Big clothesline by Reigns and some quick tags and double teams by the former SHIELD teammates.. When we come back from the break Sheamus is in control and has Reigns in a headlock. Roman powers out and attempts to attack Sheamus in the corner but he’s met by a big kick. Roman surprises Sheamus with a flying forearm and manages to tag out Ambrose. Ambrose takes firm control over Sheamus, hitting his forearm attacks as well as a suicide dive to the outside on Sheamus. The League of Nations regains control after distracting Ambrose and attacking him on the outside. Rusev tags in and manhandles a weakened Ambrose. He hits a series of gutwrench suplexes and tags out to Sheamus. Sheamus hits three Irish Curse backbreakers and goes for the pin, getting a two count. Ambrose tries to mount a comeback but Sheamus shuts him down by shoving him into the corner and tagging in Rusev. Rusev hits Ambrose with his big judo kicks and then gets him in a headlock. Ambrose still shows some fight and manages to power out of it with a backdrop. He rolls out of the ring but Rusev throws him back in and tags out to Sheamus, who hits him with several forearms on the apron as well as some elbows.
Ambrose surprises Sheamus with a clothesline on the outside and manages to roll back in and get a hot tag to Reigns. Reigns cleans house both inside and outside the ring. He throws Rusev into the corner and hits a series of clotheslines, finishing it off with a big right hand. Barrett and ADR distract Reigns long enough for Rusev to recover and nail Reigns with a big kick. He tags out to Sheamus, who nails Reigns with a Brogue Kick and goes for the pin. Ambrose makes the save and goes after The League of Nations on the outside. Back in the ring, Sheamus Irish whips Reigns who counters with a huge spear and pins Sheamus for the win. This match was pretty good thanks to Ambrose.
After the match Reigns and Ambrose get payback on Rusev for his attack on Reigns last night by double powerbombing Rusev through the announce table. Stephanie comes out and says that the main event for FastLane will be a triple threat between Ambrose, Reigns, and Brock Lesnar. The winner will face Triple H at WrestleMania. It’s pretty obvious where this is going. This was a pretty great RAW overall, highlighted by the amazing match between AJ Styles and Chris Jericho. Storyline wise it seems kind of dumb for them to make a big deal out of how they were evaluating ALL of the wrestlers tonight to determine who would go on to the FastLane match and then they chose Lesnar, who wasn’t even there tonight. I might just be nitpicking though. That should be a great match.