WWE Raw Report CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 2/9: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Bryan & Reigns in conflict, Lesnar appears but does not speak, Sting "answers" Hunter, more
Feb 9, 2015 - 10:10:39 PM
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WWE Raw TV Results
February 9, 2015 - Episode #1,132
Live in Columbus, Ohio
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
- The Card: WWE World Hvt. champion Brock Lesnar is advertised, Fast Lane PPV hype, including Triple H wanting an answer from Sting, U.S. champion Rusev "tributing" John Cena, Damien Sandow vs. Sin Cara, and the third WWE Hall of Fame announcement.
Live Raw on USA Network
Raw opened with the standard video package and Michael Cole introducing the show from the home of the National Champion Ohio St. Buckeyes. After a pause, The Shield's music played, generating a lot of loud noise for Roman Reigns's arrival in the crowd. The noise sounded like a combination of piped-in sound, screams and shrieks, and some scattered boos. Reigns walked through the crowd to the ringside area as WWE recapped last week's main event - Daniel Bryan beating Seth Rollins with help from Roman Reigns to set up Bryan vs. Reigns in a #1 contender match at Fast Lane.
Once in the ring, Reigns surveyed the crowd, which was again mixed with a lot of different noise. Reigns said that this time last week, he stood in the ring the winner of the 2015 Royal Rumble match (more noise). See, when you win the Rumble, you guarantee your spot in the main event of WrestleMania, which says he fights and beats Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Title (more noise).
But, also this time last week, The Authority made it clear they don't want him in the spot. So, now he has to prove himself by winning the Rumble, beating Bryan at Fast Lane, and go on to WrestleMania to breat - beat - Brock Lesnar for the title. He said he doesn't care anymore who gets in his way. "And you can bet your ass that you can believe that," he closed.
Daniel Bryan's music played to bring out Reigns's PPV opponent in two weeks. "Yes!" chants from the crowd as Bryan made his way out. Once in the ring, Bryan waited for "Yes!" chants to pick up. He told "big dog" Reigns to go easy. He said he didn't come out here to fight him, but to thank him. Bryan said now it's the two of them fighting at Fast Lane to advance to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Pause for crowd noise.
Bryan said he gets it that Reigns is bigger than him and stronger than him, but they're about even on looks. Reigns smiled and circled the ring after some levity from Bryan. But, the reality is that when it comes to wrestling, he is the better wrestler than Reigns is.
The Authority's music interrupted the discussion at this point. From the stage, Stephanie McMahon spoke while standing next to Triple H, Big Show, and Kane. Steph side-noted that Fast Lane is available for free on WWE Network for new subscribers. Zero crowd reaction. Hunter said it's the same PPV where he calls out Sting (strong reaction), but he has not heard a response from Sting. He demanded an answer by the end of the night. (The crowd cheered, thinking there was a chance Sting will appear live.)
Steph spoke next that she doesn't appreciate what Reigns did last week on Raw, costing Seth Rollins the main event, and speared an innocent bystander, Big Show. Reigns said he did it because he could, angering Show. Steph then addressed Bryan, saying he's sick and twisted for putting Kane into a casket two weeks ago on Smackdown. Bryan reminded Steph that he was put in that match by The Authority and he thought she would appreciate it considering her husband's history with caskets (a Katie Vick reference that about 35 percent of the audience picked up on). Hunter stood motionless on the stage trying not to sell anger toward Bryan. Steph said they could trade barbs all night long, but she wants to see action, so it's a tag match, and it's next.
[ JC's Reax: One of those overly-rehearsed promo exchanges that gradually loses the audience. So much of the segment came across unnatural, impacting everyone involved despite WWE's best attempts to create tension between Bryan and Reigns. ]
[Q2] [Commercial Break at 8:15]
1 -- DANIEL BRYAN & ROMAN REIGNS vs. BIG SHOW & KANE (w/Triple H and Stephanie McMahon)
The bell sounded immediately back from break. Bryan low-bridged Kane, sending him to the outside. Bryan then dove at Kane on the outside, drawing "Yes!" chants. Ringside in their executive chairs, Hunter and Steph sold frustration watching Bryan control the match. Back in the ring, Bryan tagged in Reigns, who took a beating. During the beating, WWE decided to replay Reigns's spear on Show last Monday, which looked bad in slow-motion. Great launch, good point of impact, and then Reigns kind of clumsily fell on top of Show as they crumpled to the ground. They were better off leaving that spear to the imagination.
Bryan tagged in and Yes! kicked Show. Show and Kane recovered on the floor, so Bryan tried a top-rope splash onto both giants, but they caught him and planted him back-first into the ringpost. "Yeah!" Steph exclaimed as the giants stood tall heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 8:22]
Back from break, Show worked over Bryan with his trademark bearhug. Show gave way to Kane, who covered Bryan, but he kicked out at two. Sidewalk slam and Bryan escaped again. Bryan broke free of Show, then tried to tag in Reigns, but Kane entered the ring and smashed Reigns off the ring apron. Bryan responded by putting Kane in the Yes! Lock, but Show yanked Bryan out of the ring and chucked him over the guardrail into the timekeeper's area. This was enough for a DQ, apparently.
WINNERS: Bryan & Reigns via DQ at 12:02. They were clearly saving something for the post-match, and a follow-up match...
[Q3] Post-match, Reigns attacked Show from behind on the outside, but Show jabbed him with a chair that he retrieved from the timekeeper's area. Show cracked the chair over Reigns's back, but was too slow entering the ring, allowing Reigns to smash him with a Superman Punch. Reigns then blasted Show with the chair before driving him out of the ring with the chair.
Kane then tried to attack Reigns from behind, but Reigns fought him off. Bryan tried to smash Kane with a running kick to the head, but Kane moved and Reigns took the kick. Bryan shook his head in frustration as The Authority celebrated what happened on the outside. Reigns got up and listened to Bryan's explanation, but shoved him down to the mat. Bryan sold shock as Reigns stood over him.
From ringside, Hunter said they seem to be getting along great. So, he's going to put them in another tag match later tonight. It will be Reigns & Bryan against Show, Kane, J&J Security, and this fifth man ... Seth Rollins, who emerged on-stage with a big smirk on his face. Rollins came down to ringside to join The Authority and laugh at Reigns & Bryan. "They don't have a chance!" Seth said.
... On the way to break, WWE ran an ad for the NXT: Takeover special this Wednesday on WWE Network. Included were "quotes from critics" praising NXT, including Houston Chronicle columnist Ken Hoffman.
[Commercial Break at 8:33]
Back from break, Seth Rollins was in the ring. Cole said it's one-on-one action for Rollins, who apparently will also be pulling double-duty tonight. Ryback was introduced for the match as Cole endorsed "a friend of WWE," Eminem, after winning at the Grammys last night.
2 -- SETH ROLLINS (w/J&J Security) vs. RYBACK
More "Grammys" discussion in the early-going as Rollins knocked Ryback to the outside. Back in the ring, Rollins stomped away on Ryback. But, Ryback knocked Rollins out of the ring. On the outside, Rollins tried to come up with a plan with J&J Security. So, after Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble failed to get to Ryback, they just ran into the ring and attacked Ryback as he tried to set up Rollins for Shellshock, causing a DQ.
Post-match, Cole sold indignation over how the first two matches ended. Rollins then blasted Ryback with a Curb Stomp as Booker angrily called this a re-run. Rollins posed in the ring as his music played, despite taking the loss, further reinforcing that WWE doesn't take match outcomes seriously.
WINNER: Ryback via DQ at 2:55. At least Cole sold indignation, but the constant stream of DQ finishes on WWE TV is almost comical at this point, especially when nothing is done about The Authority clearly abusing power. It just makes the fictional version of the "WWE Board" look silly for allowing this to continue, turning viewers off from the show.
Still to come: Hunter demands an answer from Sting and Rusev "tributes" John Cena.
[Commercial Break at 8:43]
[Q4] Video: Speaking of looking silly, on the way back from break, WWE ran an anti-bullying P.S.A. from a top heel, Big Show, taking viewers out of the fictional show environment.
Vignette: Sheamus is returning.
In-ring: Paige was waiting in the ring for Divas action. Brie Bella was introduced as the opposition, flanked by Divas champion Nikki Bella.
3 -- BRIE BELLA (w/Divas champion Nikki Bella) vs. PAIGE
As the bell sounded, Cole relayed an exchange on the App, where the Bellas accused Paige of being afraid of the sun. Paige retorted that Nikki is afraid of losing the Divas Title at Fast Lane. In the ring, Brie started off in control. Nikki tried to get involved when Brie lost control, but Paige ran Brie into Nikki, causing a collision. Paige took advantage by pinning a stunned Brie. Afterward, Nikki tried to run into the ring, but Paige ducked and high-tailed it out of the ring.
WINNER: Paige at 3:18. Basic set-up for Nikki vs. Paige at Fast Lane.
Still to come: Brock Lesnar, via Paul Heyman, addresses the WWE World Title situation heading into Fast Lane.
Backstage: Rusev was shown walking down the hallway holding the Russian Flag as Lana held his U.S. Title belt. Rusev "tributes" John Cena next.
[Commercial Break at 8:54]
Back from break three minutes before the top of the hour, Rusev was mid-march down to the ring as Lana followed behind. Rusev's music stopped and there was some audio feedback in the arena, which happened a few times earlier. Rusev smartly played it off like "they" were screwing with him as an outspoken Russian.
Lana spoke first that Rusev should be honored to face the super-athlete, Rusev, at Fast Lane. See, they agree that Cena has accomplished great things in WWE and he is a great, fighting champion. So, they would like to honor and recognize Cena's career tonight.
A video package played on Cena's major title wins through the years. The video was suddenly interrupted and transitioned to Cena's worst moments, such as being sent through a spotlight by Big Show, smashed into chairs, injured smashed with weapons, beaten down, stretchered, injured again, smashed over and over by Brock Lesnar, and stretchered again.
[Q5 -- second hour] Back to Rusev and Lana, who said Cena must be so beaten up after all these years. He said Cena is just moments away from being annihilated, and he is very vulnerable. Rusev then proudly took the mic to note that he is the man to take advantage of Cena's vulnerability. "I am a hero!" he shouted toward the booing crowd. Rusev said Cena is no longer the tough, young man full of ruthless aggression. He said Cena's fighting spirit has left him and he is just weak. Nothing. "At Fast Lane, John Cena, I will break your body and I will crush your spirit," he said.
Cena's music played to bring out Cena for a rebuttal. Cena, still sporting a messed-up right eye shaded by his ballcap, stood on the stage for his speech. Cena said he's half-blind, but not deaf. Cena said Rusev is talking like he already won at Fast Lane, and if he's such an easy walk-through opponent, then why are they even having a match at the PPV. Because he, like everyone else here, just wants them to shut up.
Cena noted he's been knocked down and beaten up throughout his career, but every time he gets knocked down, he gets back up. Cena told Rusev that he needs a lesson in respect. So, he's going to hit him in his mouth, tie up Rusev in a tight pretzel, and this old man is going to hoist him up, adjust his attitude, and only be able to say afterward that he needs Lana to fix his boo-boo spot. Cena told Rusev that he picked the wrong old man to fight. "At Fast Lane, this old man is going to whip your ass," Cena said. Rusev threw a fit in the ring, but Lana held him back and said it's not the time to fight.
From the ring, Rusev laughed on the mic, saying Cena can't kick his ass. He said Cena talks tough from the stage, then told Cena that he can't see him out of his one good eye. Rusev vowed to crush Cena at Fast Lane. From the stage, Cena said Rusev has the jokes, while it seems like Lana has the balls. So, come fight him. Rusev left the ring and met Cena on the ramp for a fight. Rusev powered Cena down to the ground, Cena returned the favor, and Rusev heelishly jabbed Cena in the eye. Rusev then slammed Cena into the videoboard before stomping away on him as Cena remained face-down on the steel platform. Cena continued to sell as refs spilled out to check on Cena and send Rusev away.
[ JC's Reax: Rusev has improved so much on the mic since they first started having him talk. He just sounds natural doing his schtick and getting in strong one-liners that allows him to stand up to Cena, in a heelish way. It will help him avoid the trend of a typical Cena opponent getting steamrolled by Cena on the mic and in the ring and never recovering. ]
[Commercial Break at 9:08]
Moments Ago: Rusev and Cena battled on the entrance stage, with Rusev taking a shortcut to "win" the physical battle.
In-ring: Dolph Ziggler was introduced for what was positioned as a bit of a comedown match. Bray Wyatt's theme interrupted to bring out Wyatt as Ziggler's opponent. As Bray made his way out, Booker tried to play up Bray as a heel by calling him pure evil, but WWE has positioned Bray as an in-between guy for months. Overall, it wasn't clear why Ziggler and Bray were even having a match.
4 -- DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. BRAY WYATT
On cue, the crowd picked up a dueling chant, reflecting Bray not being received as a strong heel and a lack of investment in seeing Ziggler win/Bray lose. JBL said the fans want to cheer for a winner, Bray. Ziggler landed early offense, then he kicked Bray off the ring apron to the floor, sending Raw to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:17]
Back from break, Bray was in control. Bray worked over Ziggler with forearms to the back of the head/neck as Cole said it's "odd" how many people follow the words of Bray Wyatt. Meanwhile, Bray was bleeding from his nose. Cole dryly introduced a replay on how Bray received a bloody nose from a Ziggler dropkick. Ziggler came back with a snap DDT for a nearfall, but ran right into Sister Abigail. Ziggler avoided the execution, though, and caught Bray with the Fameasser. Superkick followed for a two count. Strong sequence engaging the crowd.
After a replay of the sequence, Bray rolled out of the ring to the floor. Ziggler also rolled out of the ring, but he ran right into a big clothesline from Wyatt. Ziggler sold being KO'ed, prompting Wyatt to have to drag Ziggler's lifeless body back into the ring. JBL said this is over. Bray went to the corner, hung upside down, and crab-walked toward Ziggler for a mild pop. Bray then stood over a KO'ed Ziggler, scooped him up, and delivered Sister Abigail to a pop for a finisher. Bray covered Ziggler for the win.
WINNER: Wyatt at 11:34. Poor Ziggler put against a "heel" who hasn't done anything heelish in a while, making Ziggler look weak splitting reactions with Wyatt, who is getting pops for his moves and signature poses. WWE is definitely not behind Ziggler at the moment, putting him in a tough spot when WWE is clearly behind Wyatt leading into WrestleMania.
Post-match, Wyatt dragged Ziggler out of the ring and started re-arranging the ringside padding. But, refs reprimanded Wyatt for contemplating further damage to Ziggler. Instead of staying in the moment of Ziggler facing impending doom, possibly getting Ziggler some sympathy, WWE cut to a replay of Wyatt's victory. Back to ringside, Wyatt pulled a babyface move showing restraint as refs checked on Ziggler.
[Q7] Announcers: Cole and Co. fed to this week's video package on Black History Month. It was Junkyard Dog. Back to commentary, where Booker talked about JYD being an American hero.
Still to come: Bryan & Reigns vs. The Authority in a 5-on-2 handicap match.
Up Next: Brock Lesnar's Fast Lane Address.
[Commercial Break at 9:32]
WWE returned from a break with a close-up of the College Football National Title trophy at Ohio St. University.
Brock Lesnar Address
In-ring: From one champion to another, Brock Lesnar was introduced to the ring sporting the WWE World Title belt around his waist. Lesnar bounced down to the ring with Paul Heyman, who had the mic. As Lesnar stood center-ring with the belt now over his shoulder, Heyman introduced himself. He said he has been authorized to disseminate information on behalf of The Beast, Brock Lesnar.
Heyman said the theme of tonight's sermon is information. Because this society no longer values credible information. For example, NBC News anchor Brian Williams has been crucified for falsifying or misleading the public. He said the real top liars in the land are Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan. Because they're going to have a match at Fast Lane, and the winner will advance to face This Beast at WrestleMania. Heyman said if either comes out here and says they have a chance against Lesnar, then they are lying - to their families, to each other, to the audience, and themselves. (Four in the series, not three.)
Heyman then brought up Reigns's Samoan family heritage, noting he stood next to him two weeks ago when Reigns came face-to-face with Lesnar and there was a yellow stream coming down his leg. And it was not pineapple juice. He said it's okay to be afraid, though.
How about Daniel Bryan? The tragic tale of the over-achieving, ultimate underdog who thinks he actually has a chance against Brock Lesnar. Heyman told everyone to look at Bryan and then look at Brock Lesnar. "Do you really think Daniel Bryan has a chance?!" he shouted. The crowd responded with 75 percent "Yes!" and some audible "No" chants. Heyman said he gets it, though, that Bryan has an arsenal of strikes, submissions, and a pipeline to God to pull of miracle after miracle, but he isn't the One to beat the One in 21-and-1.
Heyman wrapped up his sermon that it doesn't matter who wins at Fast Lane because neither man can survive an F5 from Brock Lesnar. He said both should hop on a chopper with Brian Williams and take bullets from the enemy because that is the fate of the man who faces Lesnar, The Beast, at WrestleMania. Lesnar smiled at the conclusion of Heyman's words talking him up, then both men left the ring.
Still to come: Triple H awaits Sting's answer for Fast Lane and Reigns & Bryan face The Authority.
[Q8] [Commercial Break at 9:44]
In-ring: Goldust and Cody Rhodes were in the arena posing for the crowd. New Day's music played to bring out Kofi Kingston, then Xavier Woods, who brought the curtain with him as he emerged, then Big E. Xavier cut a promo on them being more like brothers than Cody & Goldust, who are having familial issues.
5 -- NEW DAY (BIG E. & KOFI KINGSTON w/Xavier Woods) vs. GOLDUST & "STARDUST" CODY RHODES
More Grammys discussion early on, reinforcing this as a comedown match. Booker switched the discussion to the brother issues between Goldust and Stardust, something he said he knows about with his wrestling brother. One minute in, Cody decided to bail from the ring apron and watch the match from the entrance stage. Goldust called out to Cody, but Cody just kept posing. Suddenly, Kofi rolled up Goldust from behind for the win. Cody kept posing, then disappeared to the back as Goldust sat frustrated in the ring. On commentary, Cole said Dusty Rhodes wants his sons to work this out.
WINNERS: New Day at 1:38.
Earlier Tonight: Daniel Bryan inadvertently dropkicked Roman Reigns after the opening tag match. Now, they have to team up later tonight against The Authority.
Backstage: Renee Young brought in D-Bryan to ask if he can really get along with Reigns tonight. Bryan said in a pleasant tone that what happened was an accident, and he understands why Reigns was upset in the heat of the moment, as he probably would have reacted the same way. Bryan rhetorically asked if they can handle The Authority tonight. "Damn right we can," Reigns answered from off-camera. Reigns walked into the shot to note they have a common enemy, who they need to take care of and then handle their business before Fast Lane. Reigns told Bryan that he'll see him out there.
Up Next: Triple H calls out to Sting to answer his challenge for Fast Lane.
[Commercial Break at 9:53]
Backstage: Goldust approached Cody Rhodes backstage. Goldust angrily said this is getting out of hand. He said this is Dustin talking - what's wrong with you, Cody? Cody angrily shoved down Goldust, saying he is Stardust. He left, leaving Goldust to continue selling frustration.
Triple H Address
Back in the arena, Triple H said he has spent the last 20 years in one company, trying to make it a better place. And one man tried to take it all away. Sting, the Face of WCW, a company that he helped destroy. And 14 years later, Sting finally gathered the guts to come to WWE and do something about it. Hunter said Sting stayed away because he would have personally exposed him. Now, 14 years later, Sting finally decided to take his shot at Survivor Series. And when he took his shot, did he do it like a man? No, he attacked like a coward.
"Well, Sting, I am a man," Hunter said. "And I am calling you out at Fast Lane." Hunter said if they meet at Fast Lane, he will make it clear why Sting was smart to stay away for 14 years. He said he is a patient man, but he's getting tired of waiting to hear an answer after calling him out for two weeks.
[Q9 -- third hour] Hunter waited for some sort of answer. A crow sound played, then the arena went dark. Another crow noise. There was a spotlight atop the arena, then another crow noise. Another spotlight in the arena. Suddenly, a video played. The video package was of Triple H's comments to Michael Cole on WWE's website last Wednesday, with facepaint super-imposed over Hunter's face. The video went to text spelling out "Triple H." Then, back in the ring, a Fake Sting who looked like an independent wrestler dressed in Sting gear was in the ring, scaring Hunter to the mat. Lights out again, then text flashed on the screen: "I Accept." Hunter saw the text on the Titantron and Raw cut to break.
[ JC's Reax: They could have at least presented a Fake Sting who looked close to Sting to avoid looking hokey. Captivating video setting up the Fast Lane confrontation, but WWE dropped the ball on Fake Sting. ]
[Commercial Break at 10:03]
Network plug: A Valentine's Day edition of WWE's history of love stories.
Announcers: Cole, Booker, and JBL reset the show on-camera. Cole went back to a confrontation between John Cena and Rusev earlier in the show. He then relayed an eye injury update on Cena, who has vowed to compete against Rusev at Fast Lane regardless.
In-ring: WWE tag champs The Usos and Naomi were introduced for the next match. Already in the ring were Tyson Kidd & Cesaro, joined by Natalya. No sign of Adam Rose. Before the match, WWE forced viewers to re-live the "double date" skit involving the participants last Thursday on Smackdown.
6 -- WWE tag champs THE USOS (JIMMY & JEY USO w/Naomi) vs. CESARO & TYSON KIDD (w/Natalya) -- non-title match
As the match started, Cole noted The Usos sent out a tweet earlier tonight "hinting" at the next Hall of Fame announcement. It was a bit more than a hint. Cole then scolded Booker for giving the participants advice to leave their ladies at home and take care of business in the ring. Cole said both Naomi and Natalya work here. Booker said they should be left in the back. JBL asked what if one of their wives were an accountant for WWE. Cole said the difference is they are Divas. He was trapped on how to complete the argument without using the dreaded "wrestler" word, but he caved and said they "wrestle" here in WWE. Kidd and Uso then crashed to the floor, prompting Natalya and Naomi to pick up an argument standing over their men.
[Commercial Break at 10:12]
[Q10] Back from break, Uso suplexed Kidd center-ring. Cesaro was able to tag in and knock down Uso, though. Cesaro worked over Uso with repeated forearms and uppercuts. Jimmy finally broke free, knocked Cesaro out of the ring, and hot-tagged Jey after Kidd tagged in. Jey vs. Kidd here. Jey superkicked Kidd trying a springboard attack, but Jey only scored a two count. The crowd thought it was over.
Jey tried a corner butt splash, but Cesaro pulled Kidd out of the way from the outside. Four-man chaos, then Jey landed another kick to Kidd. More chaos, then Cesaro smashed Jey with a European Uppercut behind the ref's back. Kidd covered Jey for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: Cesaro & Kidd at 10:32. Another non-title loss for the tag champs. At least it's setting up what should be a strong Tag Title match, presumably at Fast Lane.
Announcers: Cole and Co. transitioned to this week's Hall of Fame video package. It was the Usos's father, Rikishi. The focus was, of course, on Rikishi's posterior. The video transitioned to a look at The Usos carrying on Rikishi's legacy. Back in the arena, The Usos were still in the ring, with Naomi, to celebrate Rikishi's announcement.
Backstage: Damien Sandow was walking down the hallway. The Miz cut off his "assistant" and walked ahead of Sandow, who is in action next.
[Commercial Break at 10:23]
Returning from break, WWE ran the NXT hype video for the Arrival special Wednesday on WWE Network. The focus was more on the "NXT experience" than individual matches, although there was a brief clip of Kevin Owens taking out Sami Zayn at the end of the last special.
Announcers: Cole and Co. were shown on-camera. Cole list the top matches on the NXT special, focusing on Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens and Charlotte defending the NXT Women's Title.
In-ring: Sin Cara was standing by in the ring, then The Miz's music played to bring out Miz first and Damien Sandow following behind to not take the spotlight from Miz. Before the match started, WWE replayed events last week when Miz "fired" Sandow as his stunt-double, then "re-hired" him as his assistant. But, Miz lost to Sin Cara in the ring.
Back live, Sandow pulled out a director's chair for Miz to sit in to watch the match. Sandow then asked for a mic for Miz. No pre-match promo, though.
7 -- DAMIEN SANDOW (w/The Miz) vs. SIN CARA
Once the bell sounded, Miz shouted, "Stop, stop, stop." He said Sandow is doing this all wrong, then gave him instructions on what to do. Sandow removed his sunglasses, then locked up with Cara. Sandow controlled the action as the crowd came to life with a "Let's Go Mizdow" chant, frustrating Miz at ringside. Sandow knocked Cara to the floor, then threw him right back in. But, Miz requested a water. Sandow retrieved a bottle of water from ringside, but Miz wanted it opened. Sandow obliged, then Cara flew at Sandow with a big splash. "Pay attention to your opponent, Mizdow," Miz said in a Pre-K teacher voice.
Back in the ring, Cara worked over Sandow as some front row fans tauntingly chanted toward Miz: "You're from Cleveland." Miz replied on the mic: "Better than Columbus," drawing boos. Sandow made a comeback, then teased the Figure-Four Leglock. Miz hopped to attention, shouting, "Stop, stop, stop!" He said that is the move he invented, then told Sandow to get his own moves, obviously coming across full of himself after taking Ric Flair's move. Suddenly, Cara rolled up Miz from behind for the win.
Post-match, Sandow sat stunned in the ring as Miz reprimanded Sandow for not getting the win. Sandow quietly replied that he had the man beat, but Miz wasn't hearing him.
WINNER: Cara at 3:47. Sin Cara has victories over the IC champion Bad News Barrett (who has disappeared from the ring on Raw), The Miz, and Damien Sandow to begin the year. If outcomes mattered in WWE, he'd be in line for a bigger spotlight. But, all of Cara's victories have been presented as flukes and secondary to the effect on the loser.
Suddenly, the Wyatt theme interrupted. Bray Wyatt spoke from a fog-filled place - linking him to Undertaker - that man has tried to figure out what happens when he dies since the beginning of time. Some think they return to the earth, others of faith have a different perspective, and he and "you" see things differently - this is their hell. Bray said he doesn't fear "you" anymore and it's time for him to go home. "Find me!" Bray shouted twice before the video cut out.
Backstage: Dean Ambrose was shown warming up walking down the hallway. He's in action next.
Vignette: Sheamus is returning. And he loves to fight.
[Commercial Break at 10:38]
This Thursday: Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan go face-to-face on Smackdown. Wasn't that Miz TV last Thursday?
In-ring: Curtis Axel was standing there pointing to the WrestleMania sign. Axel said he had the spotlight stolen from him and he never lost the Royal Rumble match. He told a quiet crowd to keep the movement going. "Hashtag AxelMania," he shouted over and over. Dean Ambrose's music interrupted for th enext match.
8 -- DEAN AMBROSE vs. CURTIS AXEL
The announcers noted that Ambrose wants an IC Title shot, but Bad News Barrett does not believe Ambrose is worthy. JBL said perhaps he should get David Otunga to represent him. Almost like hearing a bell in his head, Cole robotically said David Otunga is part of the WWE Raw pre-show panel on WWE Network. Ambrose shook off Axel's angered offense, then dropped him with Dirty Deeds for the win.
WINNER: Ambrose at 2:30.
[Q12] Post-match, Ambrose took the mic and said he has some "breaking news" for Barrett that he can deny him an IC Title shot all he wants, but it's just delaying the inevitable of this mug going on the Wall of Champions at WWE Headquarters.
Suddenly, Barrett appeared on the Titantron with the TMZ-inspired "BNZ" logo over his shoulder. As a fake news crawler ran across the lower-third, Barrett said Ambrose will never get a title shot. Back in the ring, Ambrose ran around the ring like a madman, almost knocking over the in-ring cameraman who was inadvertently shown on-camera.
Up Next: Bryan & Reigns vs. The Authority main event.
[Commercial Break at 10:49]
Smackdown Replay: Jerry Lawler's voice returned to Raw in a video replay of The Authority taking out Daniel Bryan at the end of Thursday's show.
Back live, Roman Reigns was already ringside after making his entrance during the break. Daniel Bryan was introduced next. The crowd, given a two-hour break to rest their arms, broke into "Yes!" chants as Bryan entered the ring to stand next to a frowning and untrusting Reigns. After a pause, Seth Rollins's music played to bring out Rollins, Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury in suits, Kane, and Big Show. Joey and Jamie removed their suit jackets on the stage as Rollins led the group down to ringside.
Before the bell sounded, Reigns and Bryan stood back-to-back to assess the situation. A fight broke out with The Authority taking control of the situation. Kane and Show delivered a double chokeslam to Reigns, then Kane rolled Reigns out of the ring. Bryan was left in the ring, then the ref tried to restore order as The Authority pretended to be good sports getting four on the apron and leaving one in the ring. And the bell sounded.
9 -- DANIEL BRYAN & ROMAN REIGNS vs. THE AUTHORITY (SETH ROLLINS & BIG SHOW & KANE & JAMIE NOBLE & JOEY MERCURY) -- handicap match
Rollins vs. Bryan to start. This will be a real test for Bryan's character trying to get sympathy and a reaction from a crowd long ago taken out of the show. A brief "Daniel Bryan" chant started as The Authority took turns working over Bryan. Noble tagged in and posed and strutted before continuing the attack on Bryan. Noble lost control, so he lit up Noble with right hands until Noble backed Bryan into the corner and tagged in Mercury.
[Q13 -- over-run] Authority continued to work over Bryan until Reigns returned to the ring and ran over J&J until Kane took down Reigns. Kane then held Reigns for Show to land a KO Punch on Reigns. Kane dumped Reigns out of the ring, leaving Bryan alone in the ring with no sign of hope for the babyface duo. Rollins tagged in and gave Bryan a Bucklebomb, but it was only good for a two count.
"I've had enough of you!" Rollins shouted down at Bryan. Rollins directed traffic, instructing his teammates to start re-arranging the announce table. Rollins and J&J then dragged Bryan out of the ring, but Ryback's music played. Ryback, joined by Ziggler and Erick Rowan, ran down to ringside to start a fight with The Authority at ringside. No decision by the ref despite an attack on match participants.
In any event, the fight continued on the stage and down at ringside, removing Kane, Show, and Rollins from the equation. Back in the ring, Bryan was alone with J&J Security. Bryan climbed to the top rope and delivered a double dropkick to the heels. Bryan went off on both men with Yes! Kicks to the chest, then he finished off Noble and Mercury with head kicks. Yes! chants from Bryan, who warmed up for a corner kick on Mercury, but Reigns snuck onto the ring apron and blind-tagged to boos. Reigns took the spotlight with a spear to Mercury for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: Reigns & Bryan at 7:38. WWE's use or non-use of a disqualification was so inconsistent in the book-end matches.
Post-match, Bryan sat down in the corner not pleased with Reigns taking the victory from him. As Hunter and Steph watched on a backstage monitor, Bryan spun Reigns around to yell at him for spending the entire match on the floor while he took a beating. Reigns turned his back to leave, but Bryan grabbed him and reminded him that he did all of that work. Bryan shoved Reigns, who rebounded into the ring apron, then delivered a big spear to Bryan. There were audible boos in the arena. There were also a few front row fans on the hard camera who did "No" for Bryan earlier in the show applauding Reigns's actions.
Reigns looked down at a hurting Bryan as Hunter and Steph gloated watching on a backstage monitor. Reigns's music played as Bryan remained down on the mat clutching his stomach. After a replay of the post-match happenings, Raw signed off eight minutes past the top of the hour with back-and-forth shots of Reigns leaving up the stage and Bryan continuing to sell.
FINAL THOUGHTS: WWE is risking damage to both Reigns and Bryan with this approach, unless they're planning to position Reigns as a heel. Or, at least a tweener if they go with a WrestleMania main event of Lesnar vs. Reigns vs. Bryan. It just feels too early to start messing with Reigns's character when they need to build him up slowly over the long haul, and Bryan's character thrives on 100 percent fan support. There's also damage being done when the Creative material is so flimsy, such as in the opening segment, that the product cannot support two delicate babyface characters in a serious conflict, especially in a three-hour Raw environment where the crowd is routinely taken out of the show. By the time the main event rolled around tonight, the crowd seemed more interested in their parking lot escape plan than being caught up in what would happen between Reigns and Bryan. Or, as PWTorch correspondent Gregory B. noted, WWE announced that as soon as the show ended, tickets for the Money in the Bank PPV in June were going on-sale, so people may have been looking to get out quick.
On a side note, interesting to see the step-down in promotion for NXT compared to the previous two specials. The previous two specials were promoted via in-ring matches, giving the announcers ample time to talk up NXT. This time, WWE did not have an NXT match and promotion was limited to a stock video package running twice and Michael Cole verbally glossing over the line-up on-camera without graphics or video to highlight the top matches.
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