WWE Raw Report CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 2/2: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Triple H's big "announcement," Rumble fall-out, Bryan vs. Rollins main event, more
Feb 2, 2015 - 10:12:26 PM
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WWE Raw TV Results
February 2, 2015 - Episode #1,131
Live in Denver, Colo.
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
- The Card: Triple H's "big announcement" concerning the Royal Rumble match eight days ago, John Cena welcomes back Dolph Ziggler & Ryback & Erick Rowan to Raw two weeks removed from being fired, The Ascension vs. Goldust & Stardust, more Rumble fall-out, Fast Lane & WrestleMania 31 hype, more.
- Pre-Show: Scott Stanford was joined by Corey Graves and David Otunga for a new trio. No Alex Riley. Renee Young interviewed New Day and then IC champion Bad News Barrett on Hunter's announcement. The focus was on Curtis Axel not being eliminated from the Rumble match. WWE also played clips of Vince McMahon's "millennials" comment from Stone Cold's podcast in December.
Live Raw on USA Network
Afer the Raw intro video package played, Raw opened with fireworks and pyro inside the Pepsi Center. Michael Cole introduced the show from Denver before Triple H's music played to start the show. Out came Hunter and Stephanie McMahon to loud boos. Backstage, faces and heels were shown standing by watching a monitor. Ringside, Michael Cole, JBL, and Booker T introduced the show. JBL heeled on The Rock for interrupting the Rumble.
In the ring, Stephanie said they should open things up by talking about how awesome the Super Bowl was. The crowd booed. Steph hyped the Patriots in front of Broncos fans, which didn't sit well. Hunter said the win wasn't without controversy. Steph said the Patriots are Super Bowl champs, which is best for business. More boos.
Hunter said he sure hopes the NFL can survive with the "#CancelNFLNetwork" movement. No response for the joke. Hunter moved on to the Royal Rumble having its share of controversy. Boos. Steph said they've heard from the fanbase and there is some outrage after what happened at the Rumble. And they understand why. Hunter said they can't let something like this happen...
Cue video of the Rumble ending with Reigns eliminating Big Show & Kane, Show & Kane returning to the ring to attack Reigns, The Rock making the save, and Rusev sneaking back into the ring to only get eliminated by Reigns. WWE faded out the boos for Reigns winning.
Back to Hunter, who said he wants to address that controversy right from the start. He said that after Show & Kane were eliminated, they got back into the ring, which was wrong. They were guilty of being unsportsmanlike, like the Seahawks. He said he doesn't have a problem with that. Rather, The Rock. He said Rock had no business in that match. "Rocky, Rocky" chant. Hunter said that's right, he should be cheered and he has transcended the business to become the biggest box office star, ever. "But, he's not a WWE Superstar any longer, and he had no business getting involved in the Royal Rumble," Hunter said.
Hunter said it's his bad because he lets people backstage out of his goodwill and then those people try to affect events. He let Sting - big reaction - get away with it at Survivor Series. "He came back and affected the course of WWE, and that is unacceptable," he said. Hunter vowed to end Sting's involvement in WWE at Fast Lane, which is why he has called him out. "We Want Sting" chant from the crowd. Steph asked the crowd if they really want him. She said they'll get him at Fast Lane ... on WWE Network for $9.99. (Boos) She noted the Network is available for free for new subscribers in February. (Silence)
Hunter went back to the Rumble winner, Roman Reigns. Mix of cheers and boos for the Reigns mention. Steph said The Rock's involvement affected history. She said that Reigns will go down in history as the winner of the Rumble, but should he still challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Title at WrestleMania? The crowd was mixed in their noise.
Suddenly, Shield's music played and Roman Reigns made his way through the crowd to address Hunter and Steph. Women were freaking out as Reigns made his entrance, while some guys were excited and others looked disinterested.
Reigns walked right up to Hunter and got in his face. Reigns said he earned the right to main-event WrestleMania. "Hell no" are you taking that away from me, he said in Hunter's face. Steph tried to interject as Reigns and Hunter remained within inches. Steph told Reigns to calm down, then said they haven't said anything yet. She said Reigns talked "so eloquently" about his family history last week. Actually, that was Paul Heyman. Steph said Reigns needs to listen to them, or else he will not main-event WrestleMania.
[Q2] Daniel Bryan's music interrupted to bring out D-Bryan sporting his new t-shirt. Loud "Yes!" chants as Cole noted this is the man who main-evented last year's WrestleMania and beat Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista on the same night to win the WWE World Title. Bryan entered the ring to loud cheers and "Yes!" chants.
Steph sarcastically welcomed Bryan back to the ring. Bryan told Reigns that he had to deal with this all of last year, so don't worry about it. Bryan noted he was stripped of the WWE Title last year and he never got his title re-match. Hunter replied that they probably would have given him that shot if he didn't come back to WWE full of himself and entering himself in the Royal Rumble, which he doesn't belong in anyways. Boos. But, he understands Bryan never lost the WWE Title and Brock Lesnar never beat him for it.
Suddenly, Seth Rollins's music played. Mr. Money in the Bank walked down to the ring with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury. Rollins tried talking on the mic, but there was no sound and Cole started sending Raw to break. "We can't hear you," Steph said as Raw abruptly cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 8:18]
So, The Announcement continued after the break with Seth Rollins entering the ring. Apparently he sports-entertained on the outside during the break. Now in the ring, Rollins joked about this being live TV. He said this is all sounding very ridiculous right now. Rollins addressed Bryan, saying Brock Lesnar would eat him alive. Rollins continued to talk down to Bryan, saying this is where the big boys play.
Rollins then shouted at Roman Reigns that he wouldn't have won the Rumble if not for The Rock. He said if anyone deserves to main-event WrestleMania, it's the man who stole the show and broke Brock Lesnar's ribs. So, he deserves the one-on-one title shot. Reigns cut him off, saying he'll knock him into next week if he gets any closer to him.
Hunter interrupted and said they listen to the audience. Sarcasm dripping from the heels. Hunter and Steph conversed, then noted all three of them have a claim. So, they will have a match - Bryan vs. Rollins. The winner advances to Fast Lane to face Roman Reigns. The winner of the match at Fast Lane goes to WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Title at WrestleMania.
Reigns seethed and paced ringside. Hunter noted he has everything to lose, but he has a chance to end the controversy and stop all the booing by just accepting this. Steph said she understands that this sounds preposterous, but this is Reigns's chance to prove to the audience and his entire family and himself that he belongs in the main event of WrestleMania.
Bryan spoke up. He told Reigns not to listen to her. He said he'll beat Rollins tonight, then they can tear the house down and find out who the real title contender is at WrestleMania. Rollins interrupted to run down Bryan again, then tell Reigns that he doesn't have the guts to accept this offer. Hunter told Reigns that it's his choice to accept the challenge or not. "Yes!" chants from the crowd. Steph told Reigns that this is the most defining moment of his career. Reigns looked down at the mat, paced around a bit, looked up at Bryan, then Rollins. "Screw it. I'll fight you. I'll fight you. It's been one versus all the whole time. Let's do it," Reigns said.
Hunter made it official: Bryan vs. Rollins tonight. The winner faces Roman Reigns at Fast Lane. The winner faces Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Title at WrestleMania. Bryan and Seth smiled, then Hunter told Reigns not to go anywhere. Big Show's music played to bring out Reigns's opponent in a repeat of how Thursday's Smackdown opened.
[Commercial Break at 8:27]
1 -- ROMAN REIGNS vs. BIG SHOW
The match was joined in progress with Show bear-hugging Reigns in the ring. Cole said Reigns's head doesn't appear to be in the match after having his world rocked by the opening announcement. Reigns made a comeback, but Seth Rollins and J&J Security ran a distraction play, allowing Show to tackle Reigns for a two count. Meanwhile, Booker set up Reigns needing to prove himself by fighting against all odds on the way to Mania.
Reigns bumped the heels off the ring apron, then smashed Show with a Superman Punch. Reigns wanted the spear, but Rollins smacked Reigns from behind with a briefcase. Show dropped Reigns with a chokeslam and it was good for the pin and the win. Cole complained about Rollins and his henchmen interfering in this match.
WINNER: Show at 2:38. Clear booking plan heading to WrestleMania. They think cooling off the Reigns Freight Train a bit will quiet the anti-Reigns sentiment, so they had him lose here (with plenty of interference and the mental distraction) to set up Reigns rebounding John Cena-style. They also put D-Bryan in jeopardy by making it seem like he has no chance to beat Seth Rollins tonight with all of the interference in-play.
Authority Office: Triple H and Stephanie joked on-camera about their plot to manipulate everyone in the opening segment when they had no power to do so. Hunter said all they have to do tonight is have Rollins take care of Daniel Bryan, then Seth takes care of Reigns at Fast Lane, and Rollins advances to WrestleMania. WWE showed the crowd watching the Titantron to show that this "private conversation" was made public. Steph asked Hunter about his podcast with Steve Austin tonight after Raw. Hunter said he'll manipulate Austin just like he did everyone else out there, setting up an angle on Austin's podcast on WWE Network. Hunter and Steph smooched.
[ JC: Only justification for the lazy storytelling of a "private conversation" airing in front of the entire audience is getting to the point of the mysterious Board of Directors setting up The Authority getting booted from control after "catching their plot" on-camera. ]
[Commercial Break at 8:37]
In-ring: Curtis Axel's music interrupted the announcers. Axel told the TV audience not to turn the channel, then he complained about never being eliminated from the Royal Rumble because he was sucker-punched from behind. Axel said he wants justice. As JBL heeled on Axel for taking up TV time, Axel stood on the top turnbuckle and did the WrestleMania sign point. He said he wants Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
Dean Ambrose's music played to bring out Ambrose in street clothes looking for a fight. Ambrose dumped Axel out of the ring, visually "eliminating" him from the Royal Rumble. "Now you're eliminated," Ambrose said to laughs. Ambrose said he has demands of his own. After the Rumble last week, he took a long walk through the snow to WWE HQ. Then, he looked around and found a wall with a bunch of photos of past top champions. He said he takes a pretty nice mug shot, so his face would look great on that wall.
After a pause, Ambrose said he pinned IC champion Bad News Barrett two weeks ago. So, he's in line for an IC Title shot. Ambrose vowed to get that title and get his face on that wall. Great storytelling making the IC Title sound important for the first time in a while. Axel tried to sneak back into the ring, but Ambrose cut him off and nailed Dirty Deeds to put down Axel.
[ Reax: Based on the comments and tone from the announcers, this came across like WWE riffing on people who mentioned Axel's lack of elimination as a talking point for Hunter's "big announcement." Maybe it turns into something for Axel, but the main take-away was Ambrose telling a great story that actually enhanced the IC Title and built up a title chase. ]
[Q3] Announcers: Cole transitioned to Black History Month discussion. Cole introduced a video package on wrestler/football player Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd. They aired the video from last year, complete with the same error of saying Ladd played in the "Southwestern Conference (SWC)," when he played in the "Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)."
Still to come: Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins.
[Commercial Break at 8:47]
In-ring: The Ascension was in the ring ready to face Goldust & Stardust, who were also in the ring.
2 -- THE ASCENSION (KONNOR & VIKTOR) vs. GOLDUST & "STARDUST" CODY RHODES
The second repeat match from Thursday's Smackdown opened with basic in-ring action as JBL and Booker argued about this being a new era in the tag division. Booker was all over the place talking tag team wrestling. In the middle of Super Bowl Halftime discussion, Ascension hit Fall of Man on Goldust for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Cody yelled at Goldust. He claimed to have his head on straight, then bailed from the ring as Goldust knelt down in the ring trying to maintain his emotions.
WINNERS: Ascension at 1:47. Sensory overload with the announcers going nuts for two minutes while four face-painted men battled in the ring.
Up Next: John Cena welcomes Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan back to Raw.
[Commercial Break at 8:54]
Smackdown plug: U.S. champion Rusev has an issue with John Cena.
Backstage: Cody Rhodes was talking to himself. "Stardust!" Goldust called out. Cody continued to talk to himself, then Goldust shouted, "Cody!" Stardust stopped in his tracks and told Goldust to never call him Cody again. Cody made a cat-like noise, then stomped off.
John Cena Segment
In-ring: Two minutes before the top of the hour, John Cena's music played to bring out Cena sporting a nasty-looking right eye. Did he play in the Super Bowl last night? JBL noted it looked like someone popped Cena in the right eye. Cole plugged Cena vs. Rusev at Fast Lane, noting it's now for the U.S. Title.
In the ring, Cena listened to the crowd as he let the camera get a look at his injured eye to draw sympathy. Cena said he's beat up, half-blind, and almost broken. He said he's fired up to be in Denver, Colorado, though. Cena brought up Hunter sitting down with Stone Cold tonight after Raw on WWE Network. he said they're going to talk about the "State of WWE."
[Q5 -- second hour] Cena said Austin is not afraid of Hunter, so he's curious to see if Hunter does what he always does - dance around the questions. Now, one thing Hunter was not shy about was calling him "the past" last Thursday on Smackdown. Boos from the pro-Cena crowd, then "Cena Sucks" chants from the anti-Cena crowd. Cena owned the sentiment as some people siding with Hunter.
Cena then framed NXT as Hunter's place to breed the next group of stars to come up and take his place. Because Hunter doesn't want a WWE with John Cena. He said he respects the crowd for telling him he sucks to his face, but a guy like Hunter will do business with him in the ring, but he's afraid to fire him. Because then he would have to answer to TV people, sponsors, and the Board of Directors.
So, The Authority came up with a scheme to make him give up. He said they wanted to test his resolve, but they can give him all the obstacles, and he will never give up. Cena said all that crap Authority puts him through only makes him stronger. Cena said along the way they get moments like this.
Raw flashed back to two weeks ago when Sting made an appearance to help Cena beat Seth Rollins to win back the jobs of Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback. Back to Cena, who said that was an historic moment with Sting making his first-ever Raw appearance. After burying the lead of the segment's title, Cena welcomed back the "fired" trio.
Ryback's music played and out came Ryback first, then Ziggler and Rowan bringing up the rear. A "tell" that Ryback was going to wrestle since they played his music to save Ziggler's and Rowan's for later. Cena said these three men are proof that The Authority can be beaten. Back to Cena, who said this is also proof that he can beat Rusev at Fast Lane. Cena said he's not the past. Suddenly, Stephanie McMahon interrupted from the Videotron. Ziggler asked Steph if she gets tired of watching them overcome obstacles over and over. Steph shot back that everyone has been fighting Dolph's battles for him. So, he gets the first opponent on her list after mouthing off. It's against Bray Wyatt.
As for Erick Rowan, he gets to face U.S. champion Rusev. As for Ryback, he's in action next. "Feed Me More" chants from the crowd. Steph sold annoyance with the interruption, then said Ryback will be fed until he chokes, gags, and wishes he never came back to WWE. And his match is against Luke Harper.
[ Reax: Total heel segment from Cena, sounding like Paul Heyman talking up Brock Lesnar breaking The Streak over and over while standing next to Cesaro. Cena talked about himself, his feud, finally brought out the three guys he was welcoming back, and talked about himself and his feud with Rusev again. They tried to put the heat on Stephanie for interrupting, but Cena was a total heel never giving his "friends" the floor. Not saying he's turning heel, his character was just written like a heel coming across self-centered. ]
[Commercial Break at 9:07]
3 -- RYBACK vs. LUKE HARPER
Back-and-forth early on before Harper snapped off a dropkick that cleared Ryback to the ring apron. Harper then kicked Ryback off the apron to the floor. Back in the ring, Harper covered Ryback for a two count. Ryback responded with a front-face suplex as Booker called him one of the strongest "wrestlers" in WWE. He "corrected" himself labeling Ryback a "Superstar."
[Q6] Ryback knocked Harper to the floor, but Harper returned to the ring and ran into a spinebuster. Ryback warmed up the Meathook Clothesline, but Harper blindsided him with a standing kick for a close two count. Harper scored another close two count on a pinning combination, but he stood up and ran into the Meathook Clothesline. Ryback followed with Shell-Shock for the pin and the win. The announcers hyped Ryback looking to be in great shape after missing weeks of TV being "fired," sticking it to The Authority.
WINNER: Ryback at 5:57. Where does Ryback land on the WrestleMania card? Interesting to see where he ends up. Meanwhile, Harper looks destined for the Andre battle royal - if there is one - after being turned into a loosely-affiliated Authority cast-off.
Still to come: Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt.
[Commercial Break at 9:19]
In-ring: The Usos walked out on-stage in the dark. Lights up for the WWE tag champs to complete their tribal war dance intro. To differentiate them, Jey Uso was wearing a shirt and Jimmy was not. Naomi then jumped into the celebration. In the ring, Lilian Garcia announced a random singles match featuring Jimmy. Cesaro was also in the ring.
4 -- WWE tag champion JIMMY USO (w/tag champ Jey Uso and Naomi) vs. CESARO (w/Tyson Kidd)
Before the bell sounded, Cole talked about some sort of double-date situation set up by Natalya that did not work out. Booker said someone's mind is not in the right place. (Which could have been interpreted as referring to Nattie's scripted plan or the script, itself.) As for the match, Cesaro opened things up with uppercuts as Cole referenced Cesaro & Kidd looking for a Tag Title shot against The Usos.
Uso knocked Cesaro to the floor, then teased flying over the top rope, but Cesaro moved out of the way. On the outside, Cesaro argued with Jey, allowing Jimmy to sneak over the top rope with a flying attack to Cesaro. On the way back into the ring, Cesaro throat-jabbed Uso across the top rope to begin working over Uso. Cole noted Cesaro won the inaugural Andre the Giant Battle Royal last year, then Uso made a comeback. But, Cesaro cut him off and delivered the Big Swing into a half-Boston Crab. Cesaro released the hold, then double-stomped Uso across the chest for a two count.
Cesaro delivered a butterfly suplex, drawing a Scott Steiner reference from JBL. Cesaro tried to a corner move, but Uso cut him off. They collided mid-ring going for clotheslines, then Cesaro dumped Uso out of the ring to the floor. Booker interjected a point that Cesaro might be on the advantage because he's more accustomed to singles matches. Ringside, Kidd was reprimanded for thinking about getting involved. Cesaro then reprimanded Natalya and Kidd sold agreeing with Cesaro.
Back in the ring, Cesaro came off the top rope right into a superkick to the chin. Corner butt splash, then Uso climbed to the top turnbuckle. After Jey cleared Kidd on the floor, Jimmy came off the top with a Superfly Splash attempt, but Cesaro countered in mid-air with a big uppercut. Cesaro pinned Uso for the win. Afterward, Kidd superkicked Uso to add insult to injury to keep building the Tag Title feud.
WINNER: Cesaro at 6:21. One benefit of being in a program with mid-card champs is getting to win quite regularly on TV since WWE's philosophy for making champs look vulnerable is to constantly lose. Which, in the long-run, diminishes the belts. But, for Cesaro, he got to look good on this night.
[Q7] Announcers: Cole and Co. hyped the free month of WWE Network for new subscribers. Cole hyped Stone Cold's podcast and Fast Lane on the Network this month.
Still to come: Bryan vs. Rollins in a "semi-final match" advancing to Fast Lane.
[Commercial Break at 9:32]
Somewhere Backstage: There was a table with food. Damien Sandow was quietly making The Miz's plate. Miz used improper grammar, then a P.A. walked up to Miz and said his friend is a really big fan. Of Sandow's. Miz ripped up Sandow signing the photo. Miz then told Sandow they know how this story goes: he threw a bone to a nobody, and now he wants to throw it away because of his ego. Miz told Sandow to stop mimicking him, calling him the worst stunt double ever. Miz told Sandow that he's fired. Sandow grimaced, then Miz said he is really big into philanthropy, so he's re-hiring Sandow as his personal assistant. Miz said he has a match tonight against Sin Cara, so he wants Sandow to assist him right now. And stop mimicking him. Sandow returned to the fruit table to get Miz's shake ready.
Locker Room: John Cena was randomly sitting down, then he randomly stood up. Erick Rowan walked in to talk to Cena. Rowan said he's been treated like an animal his whole life. And no one has ever stood up for him. So, he would like to thank Cena for standing up for him. Rowan said his time away perhaps made him a changed man. "Thank you, John," he said. Rowan said he would like to do Cena a favor tonight when he takes on Rusev. Cena told Rowan just to be on his game because Rusev is a dangerous man. He told Rowan not to take him lightly. Rowan extended his hand and Cena shook.
[ Reax: A needed exchange to try to erase Cena coming across like a self-centered heel a few segments ago. ]
In-ring: Dolph Ziggler's music played. Ziggler came to the ring to face Bray Wyatt next.
[Commercial Break at 9:42]
[Q8] Podcast Station: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was shown going over some notes with a p.a. preparing to interview Triple H. Did anyone tell Austin that Hunter plans to manipulate him?! Booker said you can't prep Austin, he preps himself.
In-ring: Bray Wyatt made his standard ring introduction as Cole introduced a hashtag for this match, which now represents a cue to the audience that this match is supposed to be important. And will go two segments.
5 -- DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. BRAY WYATT
Dueling chants of "Let's Go Ziggler / Let's Go Wyatts" early on, pointing to Wyatt not being a strong heel since WWE has positioned him as a somewhat neutral figure who is just Bray Wyatt, resident weird-o. After a back-and-forth exchange, Bray bailed to the outside and began taunting Ziggler, trying to act somewhat heelish. Bray returned to the ring and locked up with Ziggler, who took him down to the mat. JBL tried to play up Wyatt as a heel who won't give a clean break, which would have worked years ago when all in-match activity was protected and treated like a big deal. Instead, the announcers moved on to discussing Ziggler's choice of ring boots.
Ziggler teased a comeback, but Bray bailed to the floor. Ziggler, frustrated, walked into a neck-snap across the middle rope. Bray then hung Ziggler on the second rope, carried him out of the ring in vertical suplex position, and delivered the move on the padded floor. Bray laughed to himself and looked toward the ceiling as Raw cut to break with Ziggler in trouble.
[Commercial Break at 9:52]
Back from break, Wyatt was working on Ziggler in the ring. Ziggler cut off Bray charging for a corner attack, then ducked a clothesline and hit a clothesline of his own. Ziggler, favoring an injured shoulder, delivered a leaping elbow with his good arm. But, he ran right into a big lariat from Wyatt. Bray wanted Sister Abigail, but Ziggler elbowed out and planted Bray with a leaping DDT for a two count.
[Q9 -- third hour] Reset at 12:30. Ziggler airballed a corner attack, then Bray ran him over with a big corner splash. Bray hung himself on the top turnbuckle, looked toward the ceiling, and hung upside down in the corner to glare toward Ziggler. But, Ziggler answered with a thrust kick to the upper body for a two count. Or, "two-and-99 percent," according to Booker. Ziggler followed up with the Fameasser, but Wyatt absorbed the move, popped to his feet, and nailed Sister Abigail. It was good for the win.
Post-match, the announcers tried to cover for Ziggler by endorsing his effort in defeat and noting he was injured. Wyatt posed in the ring with a big smile after taking the win. Lights out. One day, it will be Undertaker on the other side of the lights-out. Cole even used the Taker verbiage of "getting chills" when Bray does that.
WINNER: Wyatt at 14:49. Strong singles match, despite the issue of Bray not really being a heel. Meanwhile, Ziggler played "teflon Dean Ambrose" tonight to keep building Bray Wyatt for Taker. (***)
Earlier Tonight: The Authority "manipulated" Roman Reigns into putting his Royal Rumble victory on the line.
Authority Office: Stephanie McMahon and Triple H talked about Steph's fitness DVD, then Seth Rollins walked in to celebrate how well their plan worked in the opening segment. Apparently this was supposed to be another "super secret conversation" filmed by a cameraman and broadcast on the TV show. Seth was nervous about the whole Daniel Bryan thing. Steph said there's no way they're letting Bryan make it to Fast Lane, much less WrestleMania. She said they just need to give the fans a little hope, but they have complete confidence in Seth.
Hunter brought up Randy Orton being an example of someone who failed with the chances he was given. Seth laughed about Orton last being seen underneath his boot on a Curb Stomp. He said he's glad he's not Randy Orton, then vowed to punch his ticket to Fast Lane and stomp out the Yes! Movement once and for all.
[ Reax: So, Randy Orton has absolutely nothing to do with tonight's show. Got it. ]
[Commercial Break at 10:07]
Ringside: The Bellas were on commentary to hype Nikki Bella vs. Paige for the Divas Title at Fast Lane. Paige was introduced to the ring for singles action as the Bellas ran down Paige, noting why they cannot trust her. Already in the ring was Alicia Fox.
6 -- PAIGE vs. ALICIA FOX
The commentary focused on Total Divas drama, then JBL noted they were the only "divas" at the Super Bowl. It came across like a dig at NFL athletes having the rep of being "divas." Mainly from the WR position. Nikki added that she should have called the last play for the Seahawks and they would be champs like she is. After Paige yelled at the Bellas, A. Fox took advantage to control the action early on. But, Paige responded with a roll-up in the corner for the win.
Post-match, Paige let the Bellas know about her win, then Fox blindsided Paige from behind. Suddenly, Nikki "Kim Kardashian" Bella entered the ring with Brie and they pulled out a foreign substance from a clutch. Nikki sprayed Paige as if demonstrating how to use Raid, then they left the ring as Paige recovered from embarrassment in the ring.
WINNER: Paige at 2:44. This is what title match hype for WWE's version of a women's division looks like.
Fast Lane plug: Sting and Triple H go face-to-face.
[Commercial Break at 10:17]
Exterior Shot: The Pepsi Center in Denver. A Pepsi truck conveniently drove by on the road outside the arena.
"Sirens" USA Network plug: The Miz, playing Lance, put too much weight on the leg press. Miz, playing a Hollywood actor playing a wrestler playing a TV show character, talked in a mock sit-down interview about how much he gave to the audience in this role.
In-ring: The Miz was introduced to the ring with his new assistant, Damien Sandow, who was "fired" as Miz's stunt double earlier in the night. Sandow was still dressed as Miz, though, despite no longer being stunt double. Once they arrived at ringside, Miz shouted at Sandow to stand in his place. Sin Cara was introduced as Miz's opponent.
7 -- THE MIZ (w/Damien Sandow) vs. SIN CARA
As the bell sounded, Booker asked JBL if he likes Miz's acting. JBL confirmed. Booker said Miz finally found something he's good at, digging on Miz as a wrestler. Once the bell sounded, Miz shouted at a dejected Sandow to just stand there. JBL noted Sandow is not dressed as a personal assistant. Cole said he did not have time to change. JBL retorted that he had an hour. "Mizdow, Mizdow" chant from the crowd as Miz worked on Cara. Meanwhile, Sandow stood still at ringside looking toward the Tiantron and away from the ring.
Back in the ring, Sin Cara missed a top rope move as the "Sandow" chants grew louder. Miz climbed the top turnbuckle, then Sandow hopped on the opposite turnbuckle, returning to his stunt-double roots. Miz reprimanded Sandow, telling him to block out the crowd. He said they are nothing and he is everything. Back in the ring, Miz went to work on Cara as Sandow resumed standing in place trying to sell disinterest. "We Want Mizdow" chant, drawing a quiet smile from Sandow.
Miz exploded on Cara with a clothesline, but only got a two count. Miz played to the crowd to boos, then the announcers went silent for what felt like an eternity. JBL then changed the discussion on Sandow still being dressed like Miz as him trying to show up Miz. The match came to a stand-still, then Sandow hopped on the ring apron and did Miz's mannerisms to a pop. Cara then rolled up Miz from behind for the win. Post-match, Sandow returned to his statue-like pose, acting like he did nothing wrong as Miz flipped out.
WINNER: Cara at 5:38. Basic deal continuing to build to the Miz-Sandow split. WWE took an interesting right turn trying to establish Sandow as a babyface on his own, independent of mimicking Miz's moves for a reaction.
[Q10] Suddenly, the feed cut to Bray Wyatt's interruption video. Bray spoke in the dark about being called many names in the past. He said "you" may call me Bray. He said "you" used to be feared. All that fear turned into love and admiration, but he (Bray) is the new face of fear. "I am the dragon," he said. Bray said he cannot wait to see "you" again. "Find me," Bray chuckled as Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:32]
In-ring: U.S. champion Rusev was introduced to the ring with Lana. At ringside, Lana presented Rusev with his U.S. Title belt as the announcers plugged Rusev vs. Cena for the U.S. Title at Fast Lane in three weeks. Rusev did the full in-ring warm-up routine as Lilian Garcia tried to remain objective in the background. Erick Rowan was introduced as Rusev's opponent.
8 -- U.S. champion RUSEV (w/Lana) vs. ERICK ROWAN -- non-title match
Before the match started, Rusev gave Rowan a taste of his own medicine by blindsiding Rowan before he could enter the ring, giving him the Curtis Axel treatment from the Rumble. Rusev continued to beat up Rowan as the referee reprimanded him. But, Rusev continued to assault Rowan. Captain Booker said this is not a match, but a message to John Cena. Rusev then put Rowan in The Accolade and tried to force him to pass out. No sign of John Cena, Rowan's supposed friend.
WINNER: No Match. And Cena is back to being a self-centered non-friend after not helping Rowan when he was in obvious trouble as the sacrificial lamb.
Post-"match," Lana entered the ring and invited everyone to a movie premiere. This film is not your typical fairy-tale ending, but a movie showing the cold, bleak future of any man who opposes the super-athlete, Rusev. They cut to a "movie trailer" showing Rusev destroying all Americans who have stood up to Rusev thus far. A man in a faux Russian accent narrated Rusev's dominance.
Back in the ring, Rusev fired himself up and posed in the ring with his music before the giant Russian flag dropped. Oops, the flag was caught in the banner holder. The crowd laughed at Rusev and Lana as WWE showed the flag stuck in the rafters. JBL said that could be an omen for Fast Lane. Rusev then grabbed his personal Russian flag and waved it to answer the catcalls from the crowd.
[ Reax: If that was intentional, it was an interesting piece of writing to begin the crumbling of Rusev's wall of dominance. And, a way to avoid having Cena stomp and spit on the flag to get the message across, which would have promoted another faux apology. ]
Locker Room: Roman Reigns was sitting at his stall looking like he just woke up from a nap. Or watched a bad match. Or ate something bad at catering. Daniel Bryan then walked in and talked to Reigns, who said Seth Rollins has what's coming to him. Bryan said he hopes Reigns doesn't plan on getting his revenge at Fast Lane, because he will be facing him at Fast Lane. Reigns asked if that's a threat. Bryan said it's not. Reigns stood up to tower over Bryan, noting he will be at WrestleMania whether Bryan or the world likes it or not. "Now get the hell out of my locker room," Reigns growled. "No problem," Bryan quietly replied.
[ Reax: Reigns has his own locker room? The perks of winning the Rumble ... or kind of winning the Rumble. Plus, part of the mystery of Reigns is him coming through the crowd through a mysterious location in the building. Interesting to show Reigns in a locker room setting. ]
[Q12] In-ring: Seth Rollins was introduced first for the main event.
[Commercial Break at 10:46]
Smackdown plug: Roman Reigns and either Bryan or Rollins will be on Miz TV this Thursday on Smackdown.
In-ring: Daniel Bryan was introduced to face an over-confident Seth Rollins. As Bryan made his way to the ring, Cole talked up Bryan's history of overcoming obstacles. Cole noted that Bryan beat "The Man Known as Kane" in a Casket Match last Thursday on Smackdown. WWE replayed the ending of the match, with Bryan kicking Kane into the casket and slamming the lid to win. (Notably, no one from The Authority tried to help Kane during the casket match, setting the stage for Kane vs. Authority issues to continue down the road.)
9 -- DANIEL BRYAN vs. SETH ROLLINS (w/Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) -- winner advances to a #1 contender match vs. Roman Reigns at the Fast Lane PPV
Feeling-out process early on as the former Bryan Danielson and Tyler Black battled in the Raw main event. Meanwhile, the announcers talked about Bryan never being given his title re-match after being stripped of the WWE World Title due to injury last year. Bryan went for an early submission, but Rollins reached the bottom rope for a break. Referee Mike Chioda gave an audible time cue for the mid-match break, then Seth managed to swing Bryan out of the ring. J&J attacked Bryan on the outside as the ref was occupied with Seth, then Seth dove at Bryan on the floor. Bryan sold a shoulder/neck injury heading to break on time.
[Commercial Break at 10:55]
Back from break, Rollins was in control. Meanwhile, Big Show was ringside. Cole noted The Authority is trying to stack the deck against Bryan. "Daniel Bryan" chant from the crowd, drawing "no, no" head shakes from Seth trying to control the noise. But, Bryan fired back with Yes! punches and strikes. Then, uppercuts. Bryan tried a corner charge, but Seth sent him face-first into the middle turnbuckle.
[Q13 -- over-run] Bryan and Seth sold the effects of the match as Show tried to encourage Seth to follow up. Seth followed up with verbal put-downs, then corner-mounted Bryan. But, he spent too much time talking to the crowd, allowing Bryan to make his comeback. Yes! Kick to the chest. Another one. More. And a running kick to the chest for a two count. Bryan took Seth to the corner, then landed more Yes! Kicks into a running kick to the chest. Bryan wanted a top-rope head scissors, but Seth pulled off a "wow" counter with a pinning combination for a close two count.
Reset at 11:11 with Bryan and Seth exchanging holds. Bryan kicked J&J off the ring apron, then dumped Seth over the top rope onto both henchmen. Bryan then delivered a suicide dive taking out Seth and J&J like bowling pins. Seth was sprawled out across the announce table right in front of JBL, who sat stunned in his chair.
Bryan tossed Seth back into the ring, then climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Seth crotched him. Bryan, hung out to dry on the top turnbuckle, slid underneath Seth and crotched him for good measure. Bryan then climbed up behind Seth and executed a big belly-to-back suplex. Bryan sold injuring himself in the process, but he covered Seth for a close two count.
Bryan looked toward the WM31 sign hanging in the arena, then he stalked Seth for more offense. Running knee, but Seth caught him in mid-air for a Bucklebomb. Superkick, but Bryan kicked out. Show couldn't believe it at ringside. Seth and Bryan sold the effects of the move as the announcers hyped Bryan's fighting spirit.
Reset at 15:00. Bryan caught Seth out of nowhere with the Yes! Lock. Seth tried to drag himself toward the bottom rope, where Show was. The ref reprimanded Show, then Seth finally got his foot to the bottom rope with no aid from Show. Seth rolled out of the ring to recover, then Roman Reigns suddenly showed up and speared the heck out of Show. Reigns also speared Joey Mercury, then Seth talked trash toward Reigns. As the ref was occupied with Noble, Reigns Superman-Punched Rollins from the outside. Bryan took out Noble, then waited for Seth to turn around and take a running knee. Bryan connected and pinned Seth for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Bryan at 17:11. Very good TV main event. Reigns indirectly helping Bryan could be viewed a few ways: revenge tonight on Seth Rollins and Big Show post-loss, thinking Bryan is a lesser opponent than Seth at Fast Lane, or just wanting to take apart Bryan at Fast Lane post-locker room chat, so he helped him win tonight. And, there was no Randy Orton on this night. Perhaps next week (or the next week or the week before WM31) now that Seth has been cleared out of the title picture. (***1/2)
Backstage: Triple H was shown watching what just happened. Renee Young walked in to get thoughts from Hunter. Hunter said whatever he has to say will be said to Steve Austin on the podcast. Hunter walked off toward the set.
Back live, Michael Cole entered the ring to talk to Daniel Bryan. "Daniel, congratulations!" Cole told Bryan. Bryan took the mic and thanked the crowd. He said he will beat Roman Reigns at Fast Lane (pause to gauge a mixed crowd reaction), and he will go on to main-event WrestleMania. Bryan continued to celebrate in the ring as JBL introduced his P.O.V. that Reigns got involved in the main event because Seth and The Authority screwed him out of the guaranteed WM31 title shot in the opening segment. Raw signed off 12 minutes past the top of the hour with Bryan still celebrating in the ring.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Very interesting Raw. WWE tried to give the audience a little hope for Bryan getting back into the WrestleMania main event by setting up Bryan vs. Reigns at Fast Lane, but it feels like just a way for Reigns to get a credibility-boosting match against a very dependable wrestler before facing Lesnar at WrestleMania. Along the way, WWE will keep testing the waters on how crowds respond to Bryan and Reigns in different situations.
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