Two weeks until WrestleMania, what will WWE focus on from Philadelphia? No part-time stars are advertised, but WWE is looking to finalize the Mania card.
WWE Raw TV Report
March 21, 2016 – Episode #1,191
Live in Philadelphia, Pa.
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
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- Vince McMahon to make announcement on The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon HIAC match at WM32
- Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman
- WWE tag champion Big E. vs. Rusev
- Dolph Ziggler trying to earn WM32 match
- Stephanie McMahon addressing Roman Reigns’s attack on Triple H last Monday
- Latest WM32 hype
- Announcers: Michael Cole, JBL, Byron Saxton
Raw opened with Lilian Garcia introducing Stephanie McMahon to begin the show. The crowd booed as Stephanie’s music played to bring out Stephanie to address Roman Reigns’s attack on Triple H last Monday on Raw.
In the ring, Stephanie welcomed everyone to Monday Night Raw. First, the bad news. Triple H will not be here tonight. (Mix of boos and cheers) Steph said if you are looking for a refund, you have 60 seconds to visit the box office. Stephanie said Hunter has corporate responsibilities to WWE tonight, so he is not here. Of course, it is not because of Roman Reigns’s vicious, brutal, and opportunistic attack last week.
Stephanie said Reigns proved last week why he will never be WWE champion – because he lacks intellect. He said Reigns was so short-sighted last Monday. You know, this is actually a teaching moment. Steph said people have to look past petty issues to see the bigger picture since they have so much power to where they can buy anything and anyone.
The Shield’s music interrupted to loud boos. Roman Reigns walked out on-stage to loud boos and circled the stage still feeling out a new ring entrance not walking through the crowd anymore. Reigns eventually walked down to the ring as Cole recapped Reigns winning the Royal Rumble and WWE Title on two separate occasions in this building.
Reigns entered the ring and listened to Steph dress him down for a few seconds before covering the mic. “Shhh,” he told her. “You don’t shush me,” Steph replied off-mic. Reigns said the real reason why Hunter is not here because Hunter didn’t want to get his ass whooped all over Broad Street. Reigns said if you thought last week was bad, wait until WrestleMania.
Reigns told Steph that he’s going to walk into her stadium, beat her husband, and take his title. Reigns chuckled to himself and said there is nothing her or her daddy’s money can do about it. Steph went to slap Reigns, but Reigns caught her arm. “Now I’m the authority,” Reigns declared. Reigns backed away and tossed the mic out of the ring before his music played. Reigns left the ring as Steph seethed in the ring, trying to cover for being showed up by Reigns. Cole said Reigns is confident and dangerous heading to WrestleMania.
And that was it for now. WWE kept it short and sweet, not keeping Reigns out there long enough to get booed, lose the audience with his basic promos, or have the audience take over the segment.
Still to come: Vince McMahon makes an announcement about The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon at WM32.
Up Next: Activision is sponsoring A.J. Styles vs. IC champion Kevin Owens in a re-match from Smackdown.
[Commercial Break at 8:10]
Raw returned from break with A.J. Styles’s theme music. Full pyro and fireworks for Styles, who got a strong reaction as he made his way to the ring for the opener. WWE replayed Chris Jericho costing Styles his match against Owens on Smackdown, then Owens was introduced with the IC Title belt slung over his shoulder. Cole plugged tomorrow night’s Smackdown TV taping in Boston before the opening bell.
1 – A.J. STYLES vs. IC champion KEVIN OWENS – non-title re-match from Smackdown
Owens and Styles grappled for control in the middle of the ring to start the match. Styles then pushed off Owens and nailed a textbook dropkick. Owens rolled to the floor to recover, then avoided a back flip attack from Styles. Owens then chucked Styles hard into the barricade to take control heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 8:19. Smackdown taping in Houston on April 5 now advertising League of Nations vs. four babyfaces, plus Chris Jericho live.]
Back from break, Owens had control of Styles. Owens taunted Styles by doing his pose, which gave Styles an opening to spring on him with a head scissors into an enziguiri. Both men recovered on the mat. “Ow,” Owens verbalized.
Styles went rapid-fire on Owens with strikes into a knock-down clothesline before firing up the crowd. Styles nailed a corner attack, but missed a lariat. He regrouped and nailed a high-impact frontslam for a two count. Styles back-elbowed Owens, then tried the Pele Kick, but Owens avoided and nailed an inside-out clothesline. “Lariat-o!” JBL declared. Owens followed with a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for a close two count.
The crowd buzzed as Styles and Owens regrouped. Jericho’s favorite “A-J-Styles” chant picked up steam, which also angered Owens into missing a cannonball splash. Styles hit a fireman’s carry knee drop, but Owens kicked out in time. Styles then took Owens to the corner and hoisted him on the top turnbuckle looking for a Frankensteiner, but Owens blocked and Styles crashed to the mat. Owens then nailed a huge frog splash from the top rope. Owens covered, but Styles kicked out just before three.
The crowd buzzed again as both men recovered from Owens’s big-man frogsplash. Owens got up first and went for the pop-up powerbomb, but Styles blocked. The two men then traded forearms and strikes until punching each other repeatedly in the middle of the ring. Suddenly, Owens kicked Styles in the gut, but Styles answered with a Pele Kick to the head. Both men fell to the mat selling the match as Raw cut to break.
[Q3] [Commercial Break at 7:29]
The match returned with Styles and Owens battling in the corner. Owens landed a hard chop to the chest, but Styles fired back with right hand blows. Owens then took Styles to the top turnbuckle looking for a superplex, but Styles slipped out, then hoisted Owens in the air for a Lex Luger-style torture rack into a sit-out slam for another close nearfall.
Styles took a deep breath, then dragged Owens’s body to the corner. Styles climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Owens woke up, cut off Styles, and chopped him again. Styles cut him off, though. Styles and Owens grappled for control, then Styles suddenly hopped over Owens into a sunset flip powerbomb for another close two count.
Styles and Owens were slow to return to their feet, then Styles approached the ring apron. That was Jericho’s cue to come out taunting Styles with a sarcastic “A-J-Styles” chant. Styles tried to ignore Jericho’s presence by grabbing Owens for the Calf-crusher, but Jericho hopped on the ring apron. Styles chased after him, allowing Owens to roll up Styles from behind for a three count.
Post-match, Styles ran out of the ring and chased after Jericho while selling the effects of the match. Styles and Jericho disappeared to the back
WINNER: Owens at 19:19. That was a heck of a Raw TV match.
Meanwhile, back in the ring, Owens triumphantly held up the IC Title belt. “This – this is the Kevin Owens Show!” he said. Owens said it’s time to talk about WrestleMania. He said everyone wants to know who he’s going to face at WM32. Suddenly, Dolph Ziggler’s music played. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Owens said over Ziggler’s music.
Ziggler, dressed in a skinny suit, walked to the ring to challenge Owens for the IC Title. Owens said this better not be one of his crappy jokes from his stand-up stuff. Suddenly, The Miz’s music played. Miz walked out saying Dolph doesn’t deserve an IC Title shot. Miz told Dolph to step aside for someone who has actually main-evented WrestleMania.
Dolph shot back that if Miz wants to re-live his glory days, go watch them on WWE Network. Or, last week on Smackdown when he superkicked him and beat him. Ziggler and Miz argued, then Sami Zayn’s music played. Owens seethed as Zayn strolled down to the ring with something to say about this. Zayn waited out some “Ole!” chants before entering the ring. Zayn said he’s been waiting a long time to get his hands on Owens, and he can’t think of a better time or place than for the IC Title at WrestleMania.
Miz told Zayn that he’s going to have to wait a whole lot longer. Owens told them to stop bickering because none of them deserve a title shot. Owens started to limp away, still selling the effects of the Styles match. He said he’s going to do this – talk to The Authority about having a triple threat match between them to decide who faces him at WM32. Cole said he usually doesn’t agree with Owens, but he thinks that’s a pretty good idea. Cole was set up to sound like a dupe for not questioning the heel.
Still to come: Ambrose vs. Strowman. Cole said this is the main event tonight.
Earlier Today: Dean Ambrose went around Philadelphia. Ambrose talked to someone off-camera about facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Ambrose said he doesn’t think Brock is willing to go as far as he needs to go to beat him at WrestleMania. Suddenly, Terry Funk walked into the shot. Funk called him a mean ol’ tough s.o.b. who is crazier than a fox. Funk asked Ambrose if he understands him. He said if he had a son, he would want Ambrose to be just like him. If he had a daughter, well … Funk went and grabbed a chainsaw. Funk told Ambrose to use this at WrestleMania. Funk told him that it’s his. Ambrose fired up the ol’ Chainsaw Charlie gimmick, frightening the planted patrons in the back of the tavern. Ambrose cut a gimmicked table in half to demonstrate the power of his latest weapon, joining Mick Foley’s barbed wire baseball bat.
[Q4] [Commercial Break at 8:45]
Backstage: Stephanie McMahon was texting on her phone in The Authority’s office. Kevin Owens walked into the room to hype himself up, which Stephanie didn’t have time for. So, cut to the chase. He wanted a triple threat to determine who faces him at WrestleMania. Steph liked the idea and made it happen. Owens told Steph to tell Hunter he said hi.
Announcers: JBL said Owens is a matchmaker as well as champion! This is too clean – what’s the catch?
Video Package: WWE went to talking heads on Shane McMahon returning to WWE. Mick Foley, John Cena, and Michael Hayes talked first. WWE focused on Shane’s story of being part of WWE, then walking away from it. More talking heads from Booker T, Chris Jericho, Edge, and Cena again. The story has clearly been simplified to Shane simply wanting control of WWE because Vince has lost his grip on reality. Zero mention of Shane holding the contents of a lockbox over Vince. That story from Shane’s return promo seems to have just disappeared. The video shifted to Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Edge, Jerry Lawler, and Foley again focused on the Taker aspect.
Backstage: New Day walked down the hallway doing their antics.
[Commercial Break at 8:55]
In-ring: The League of Nations was in the ring back from break. Rusev shouted over the announcers that The League will crush New Day at WrestleMania. Sheamus spoke next that kicking New Day in their booty-o’s at WrestleMania will prove that they aren’t in their league. Sheamus introduced a video package from last Monday showing League losing to New Day, then delivering a vicious post-match beat down to the tag champs.
[Q5 — second hour] “Now how’s that for the power of positivity?!” King Barrett growled after a review of the video. Alberto Del Rio followed with a “New Day Sucks” chant. Big E.’s voice interrupted to bring out New Day in the confused role of heel champs opposite unlikable heel challengers.
New Day walked and talked to the ring. Big E. said New Day does not suck, Xavier Woods asked for flashcards, Kofi Kingston produced, and Xavier read some flashcards about New Day being trash. Kofi then punted a trash bag out of the ring. Kingston then ran down Rusev for his stinky, toejam feet that are finally covered by shoes.
Kofi then ran down Del Rio for formerly driving around in fancy cars with his own ring announcer. Now, he’s stuck in League of Nations. Meanwhile, Barrett has no throne, cape, and crown, and is such a waste of a king. (The crowd was quiet throughout this.) Kofi painted a picture of the three of them being kings. Xavier told Barrett he would be sent to the gallows for his public shaming. “Shame him, shame him,” Xavier repeated, then he connected it to “Sheamus.” Kofi said his parents could have called him Mike or Steven, but they instead called him “Shame-Us.”
Big E. said all of this can be fixed with a box of booty-o’s. New Day did their sign-off lines, then the League charged the ring, but New Day dropkicked them through the ropes. A brawl broke out ringside, with New Day taking control of the situation. The League recovered on the floor before Big E. vs. Rusev officially started.
2 — WWE tag champion BIG E. (w/New Day) vs. RUSEV (w/League of Nations)
As soon as the bell sounded, Rusev rolled out of the ring. So, Big E. followed him to the floor and a singular brawl broke out. Back in the ring, Big E. controlled Rusev as Xavier worked his trombone. Big E. maintained control heading to a break 90 seconds in.
[Commercial Break at 9:08]
Back from break, Rusev had control of the match. Meanwhile, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston were KO’ed on the floor after being taken out by The League during the break. Back in the ring, Rusev missed with a running boot, then walked into a Samoa Joe-style frontslam from Big E. for a close two count. Big E. tried to follow with a running attack, but Rusev kneed him in the face, then kicked him to the mat for a two count.
[Q6] Big E. recovered and thought about a big splash, but Barrett ran interference. That allowed Rusev to kick Big E. in the face for a two count. Suddenly, Xavier woke up and went after Del Rio, then Barrett on the floor. Sheamus smashed Xavier to the floor, though.
Back in the ring, Rusev wanted The Accolade to Big E., but Big E. blocked and lifted Rusev into the air with the electric chair. Both men sold on the mat, then more folks got involved. So, Big E. speared Sheamus through the ropes to the outside. Kofi then kicked Rusev into the head, sending Rusev right into the Big Ending. Big E. covered Rusev for the win.
WINNER: Big E. at 11:07. This was a quiet crowd for a match-up of a heel vs. unlikable heel. WWE thinks just pivoting New Day to a face/sympathetic role will get the crowd behind their act, but there has not been a discernible change to New Day to make this work. They’re just trashing an unlikable heel team as opposed to a likable face team, and the general audience isn’t sure how to react.
Still to come: McMahon makes an announcement about Taker-Shane at WM32. Plus, Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman.
Suddenly, the Wyatt theme interrupted. Bray Wyatt spoke from a smoky room about re-birth. Bray hyped the Wyatts’s re-re-re-re-re-re-birth, then Luke Harper spoke. Luke gave way to Erick Rowan talking about paradise awaiting on the other side. Braun Strowman then growled about the god of war watching over him tonight. Braun vowed to sacrifice Dean Ambrose on behalf of his family. Bray said when the sun rises, he will finally ascend to his eternal throne. “Run,” Bray whispered.
[Commercial Break at 9:21]
Back from break, WWE ran a goofy backstage Snickers spot with Natalya acting like Todd Chrisley when she’s hungry. Alicia Fox and Naomi, who just ran each other down on the Raw pre-show, were hanging out together for the spot talking to Chrisley/Natalya.
Ringside: The Andre the Giant statue was shown positioned at ringside. Big Show’s music played and he walked out to pose next to the statue before cutting a promo in the ring. Show said he’s been coming to Philadelphia for over 20 years and he thanked them for saying what they feel.
Show said he believes he is the greatest giant of all-time, which gives him confidence when he says it, but the real greatest is Andre. Big Show said it was important to him last year to win the Andre battle royal. That’s why it’s important for him to defend his victory and become a two-time champion this year. Show signed off.
Suddenly, Social Outcasts’s music played. Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, and Adam Rose walked out on-stage and Slater cut a promo on Show. Bo said that Show might be big, but with all of their powers combined, they’re like a Cinderella story. Axel said that’s not true. They’re super-cool. And they will have no problem throwing Show over the top rope. Rose said he’s being ridiculous. Rose told Show that he’s in serious trouble.
Show said the only trouble he has is figuring out which troll to knock out first. Slater told him to calm down as all four entered the ring. Show grabbed Slater around the throat, then pushed off the other three when they tried to cut him off. Slater eventually jabbed Show in the face and Axel cut him down. The Outcasts attacked Show, then Kane conveniently was standing by.
[Q7] Kane’s music played as he marched down to the ring to clear Axel and Slater. Suddenly, Bo Dallas was left in the ring opposite Kane. Bo extended his hand to apologize to Kane, who tossed him over the top rope to the floor. Show then got up and hugged Kane. Show randomly posed in the corner, then Kane tapped him on the back. Show turned around and Kane kind of tossed him off the top rope to the mat. Kane then shot off his pyro. JBL said there might be a new betting favorite to win the battle royal at WrestleMania.
Up Next: Chris Jericho vs. Fandango in a random WrestleMania Rewind match, quickly distracting from the previous segment.
[Commercial Break at 9:33]
Announcement: Fifth Harmony will perform “America the Beautiful” at WrestleMania.
Announcers: Cole and Co. were shown on-camera to introduce Stan Hansen to the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame. JBL threw up the Hook ‘Em Horns as Cole introduced a brief video on Hansen.
In-ring: Fandango was standing by without any of his visual dance aids. Just a man and his dated tune. Apparently all of the props were shipped to the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars tonight. Chris Jericho was then introduced as Fandango’s opponent, looking to get his win back from WM29 three years ago.
3 — CHRIS JERICHO vs. FANDANGO
Jericho quickly attacked Fandango, then shouted that Fandango never beat him at WrestleMania. “You are a stupid man. You idiot!” Jericho shouted at Fandango. Fandango responded with some offense, then neck-snapped Jericho across the top rope. Fandango wanted a top-rope leg drop, but Jericho rolled out of the way.
Jericho followed with a Walls of Jericho teaser. Suddenly, Styles walked out on-stage sarcastically chanting, “Y-2-Jackass.” Jericho told Styles to shut his mouth, then he nearly got rolled up. But, Jericho nailed the Codebreaker on Fandango for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Jericho at 2:35.
Post-match, Styles charged the ring and Jericho bailed from the ring like a heel. Jericho randomly grabbed a stagehand on the floor as Styles asked for a mic. Styles said Jericho seems to be the Best in the World at running from him. Speaking of the world, he’s competed all over, except for WrestleMania. Styles looked at the WM32 sign in the arena and pointed. He challenged Jericho to a match at WM32. And he’ll show Jericho and the world why they chant “A-J-Styles.” On the stage, Jericho shook his head and smirked. Jericho kept walking as Styles’s music played.
[Q8] Announcers: Cole transitioned to Taker-Shane. Cole said everyone has an opinion about this match. After brief teaser, Cole plugged another “special look” video package on the match next.
[Commercial Break at 9:47]
Exterior shot: Raw is in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center.
Video Package: Shane McMahon training for WrestleMania. Talking heads on Shane being nuts included Ric Flair, Pat Patterson, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, and John Cena. They focused on Shane having to be killed to lose. The video re-focused on Shane’s MMA training. The video transitioned to Taker’s words from last Monday of “it still ain’t gonna be enough” to beat him. Back to the talking heads, Jericho said Vince doesn’t think Shane can win. More talking heads from Road Dogg, Michaels, JBL, Michael Hayes, Mick Foley, Patterson, Cena, Booker, Edge, and finally Jericho, who stressed the word “main event” over and over. This match is getting the hype of going on last at Mania.
Backstage: IC champion Kevin Owens was shown talking to two WWE referees. The #1 contender match is next.
[Commercial Break at 9:55]
Back from break, Cole hyped Mick Foley on ESPNews SportsCenter tomorrow night.
[Q9 — third hour]
In-ring: IC champion Kevin Owens was standing by. Owens sent Lilian Garcia out of the ring so that he could introduce the #1 contender participants. Owens gave the big hype for The Miz … no, actually Stardust. And here’s the catch of Owens bringing out jobbers to fight for a title shot. Up next, a Superstar known for his high-flying antics and years spent wrestling under a mask … Ssssss-Sin Cara (instead of Sami Zayn/Generico). And, last but not least, a man who feels like he deserves more and acts like a teenager … Zack Ryder (instead of Dolph Ziggler).
4 — ZACK RYDER vs. STARDUST vs. SIN CARA — #1 contender match to the IC Title
Owens joined commentary to add to his resume of matchmaker, ring announcer, and champion. Owens said these three guys deserve a chance. Asked why these three men deserve a title shot, Owens said because they’re not Ziggler, Zayn, or Miz. And, he is a giving man. In the ring, Sin Cara and Stardust battled after they dumped Ryder from the ring. Ryder then yanked Stardust out of the ring. They battled until Sin Cara splashed both men with a springboard moonsault.
Back in the ring, Sin Cara covered Ryder for a two count. Suddenly, Sami Zayn walked down to ringside. Meanwhile, Ryder and Sin Cara collided and Stardust tried to make a pin. Suddenly, Miz walked down to ringside to yell at Owens. Dolph Ziggler then walked down to yell at Owens. All four stood at ringside yelling while Ryder scored a nearfall on Stardust in the ring.
Suddenly, Owens chucked Ryder into Miz and the ref called for the bell, throwing out the match. A fight broke out ringside, then spilled into the ring. Cole said there are seven men beating the heck out of each other. Owens eventually rolled out of the ring as the other six men stood in the ring staring at Owens.
WINNER: No Contest at 3:42; no opponent determined. It looks like a seven-way IC Title ladder match is on the menu.
Earlier Tonight: Roman Reigns confronted Stephanie McMahon. Reigns said he’s the authority around here now.
Backstage: Stephanie McMahon was filmed talking on the phone in her office. Steph said she has a really uneasy feeling about tonight. She was apparently talking to Triple H and said she’ll meet him in the parking lot in a few minutes. Suddenly, Kevin Owens barged in, interrupting the conversation. Owens said none of those six maniacs deserve a title shot against him at KO-Mania. Steph told him that it’s not KO-Mania, but WrestleMania. So, he will defend the title against those six “maniacs.” Owens shouted at Steph for not respecting him like Triple H does. Steph said Owens talked about climbing the ladder of success earlier tonight, so he will be defending the title … in a ladder match. Steph told Owens to hit the lights on the way out since she’s leaving.
[Commercial Break at 10:09]
Parking Garage: Stephanie McMahon walked down the hallway and met Triple H at his vehicle. They smooched and hopped inside the car. The parking garage door slowly opened to reveal … Roman Reigns standing on the other side wearing dark gear. No reaction from the live crowd.
Reigns marched down the garage area to the vehicle and grabbed Triple H. Steph did her shrieks as Reigns pummeled Hunter. Hunter turned it around and jumped back into the vehicle, which sped away. The camera swung back around to Reigns, who stood stoically as the live crowd booed. Raw cut to break.
[Q10] [Commercial Break at 10:15]
Moments Ago: Roman Reigns ruined Triple H playing the role of Chaperone picking up his wife at the building.
Announcers: Cole and Co. talked about Reigns attacking Hunter and “acting like a hothead.” It’s Hunter vs. Reigns for the WWE Title at WrestleMania.
Ringside: Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were shown sitting at ringside to commentate on the next match. But, first, a look at Divas champion Charlotte running down Sasha and Becky on Smackdown.
5 — Divas champion CHARLOTTE (w/Ric Flair) vs. NATALYA
Natalya was in the ring on the other side of the video review. Charlotte, along with Ric Flair, was introduced to the ring next. Meanwhile, Cole hyped WWE in New York City this Friday night. Natalya started the match in control, with Charlotte not taking her seriously as tonight’s opponent. Natalya again took advantage of Charlotte being unfocused by hitting a sit-out powerbomb out of the corner.
Natalya went for the Sharpshooter, but Charlotte escaped to the ropes. Natalya tried again, but Charlotte kicked free and smashed her in the head for the pin and the win. Charlotte proudly held up the Divas Title in the faces of Becky and Sasha to promote their WM32 title match.
WINNER: Charlotte at 4:48. A condensed version of their match from Roadblock with Natalya getting a close call on the Sharpshooter before Charlotte eventually won.
Announcers: Cole transitioned to Dean Ambrose against Brock Lesnar (oh yeah, him) at WM32. They replayed Terry Funk talking to Dean Ambrose at a tavern in Philadelphia earlier today and giving him a chainsaw to face Lesnar.
Still to come: Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman.
[Q11] [Commercial Break at 10:30]
WM32 Countdown: WrestleMania is 13 days away. And, The Rock will do something. Back to Cole & Co. to run down the WrestleMania Week schedule on WWE Network.
In-ring: The Dudleys’s music played to bring out Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley for the next match. Lilian announced Bubba Ray for singles action. Cole then plugged The Dudleys vs. The Usos at WrestleMania before R-Truth was shown already in the ring.
6 — BUBBA RAY DUDLEY (w/Devon Dudley) vs. R-TRUTH
Bubba talked trash to Truth as a light “ECW” chant started and faded out. Bubba kept talking trash about Goldust before landing a lariat to tribute Stan Hansen. Bubba elbowed Truth on top of the head before walking into a spinning fist from Truth. Truth gyrated, then kind of brushed Devon off the ring apron to the floor. Bubba took advantage by slamming Truth for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Bubba at 2:07. The crowd was taken out of this show long ago.
Post-match, Bubba and Devon double-teamed Truth until Goldust’s music played. Goldust stormed the ring to fight The Dudleys, but he took a reverse hangman’s neckbreaker. More reinforcements. The Usos’s music played to bring out Jimmy & Jey Uso to fight The Dudleys. Superkick to Bubba, then a double superkick to Devon. The crowd mainly booed The Usos’s arrival. But, they cheered a tables teaser. The Usos set up a table in the ring, then set up Devon for a big table splash. But, Bubba rolled back into the ring to save Devon and prevent his tag partner from going through a table.
Up Next: Vince McMahon’s announcement about Taker-Shane. So, Dean-Strowman is going on last tonight.
[Commercial Break at 10:41]
Vince McMahon Announcement
[Q12] Back from break, Vince McMahon’s music played to bring out McMahon to a light reaction from the (weekly) worn-out crowd. McMahon celebrated his arrival down at ringside, then entered the ring as Cole hyped Taker-Shane at WM32. McMahon’s music faded out as Vince stood in the ring looking to generate some noise.
McMahon said he would like to remind everyone that his former son, Shane, will compete against The Undertaker at WrestleMania… inside Hell in a Cell. Vince said if a miracle happens and Shane wins at WM32, then his son will run Raw. It also means his daughter and son-in-law will probably quit the business. It also means probably the last of him. Oh, you like that? The crowd cheered and did “Yes!” chants.
McMahon said that’s what you people do – you cheer for Shane to run the show. But, that only enables him. Vince went for a video review from last Monday of Shane talking himself into a bad situation with Undertaker. Back to Vince, who said that was sweet watching Taker chokeslam Shane. He said that it will take more than one or two chokeslams to stop Shane, who will fight until he has no more breath in his body. Vince said he thinks Shane is the most formidable opponent that Taker has ever had at WrestleMania. The crowd kind of groaned at that.
Vince reminded everyone that Taker is his b—-, then he said that if Taker does not beat Shane at WrestleMania, then it will be Taker’s last. Vince’s music played as Cole filled in the blanks that Taker has no choice but to beat Shane. Otherwise, it will be his last WrestleMania. McMahon headed up the stage and posed for the crowd.
Suddenly, Dean Ambrose’s music played. Ambrose walked out on-stage a few feet away from McMahon, who sized him up. Dean then kept walking to the ring for his main event match.
[Commercial Break at 10:51]
This Thursday: Brock Lesnar is on Smackdown from Boston. Down at ringside, Paul Heyman joined commentary to hype Lesnar’s plans for Smackdown. “Eat, sleep, conquer, repeat,” Heyman said. Heyman hyped Lesnar vs. Ambrose at WrestleMania before the Wyatts made their entrance for tonight’s main event. Meanwhile, Cole brought up Heyman’s “extreme” background in Philadelphia.
7 — DEAN AMBROSE vs. BRAUN STROWMAN (w/the Wyatts)
Ambrose provoked the much-larger Strowman early on by slapping him, then knocking him out of the ring. But, Strowman whipped him into the guardrail to take control.
[Q13 — over-run] Ambrose delivered a jawbreaker to cut off Strowman, who answered with a big clothesline. Strowman then tossed Ambrose across the ring before screaming. Strowman took his time working on Ambrose as the crowd picked up a “This is boring” chant. That was the most vocal they’ve been in a while.
As Cole fired up on commentary trying to mask the crowd’s reaction, Ambrose finally fought back and sent Strowman shoulder-first into the ringpost. Ambrose then grabbed a chair from the outside and slammed it across Strowman’s shoulder, causing a DQ.
WINNER: Ambrose via DQ at 6:05. Seriously, are they intentionally trying to take this all the way down to set up some sort of big Road to WM32 comeback? Or, have they completely given up on this year’s Mania hype and/or lost their marbles with this main event selection two weeks away from WM32? I’m at a loss on what’s going on here.
Post-match, Ambrose continued to punish Strowman with the chair, then left the ring to stand next to Heyman. Heyman backed away, saying he’s just an advocate. Cole signed off five minutes past the top of the hour with a close-up of Ambrose looking nuts, selling the idea of him being a threat to Lesnar in two weeks.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is not good. Philly was quiet throughout the final two hours of the show, capturing the audience’s reception to this product right now. It’s fantasy camp vs. Taker in one Mania “main event,” a bland babyface challenger to the WWE Title in another “main event,” and they put Ambrose in tonight’s TV main event getting anticipated “boring” chants before facing Lesnar in another “main event.” And they still haven’t announced what The Rock is doing at Mania. Next week has got to be the best, most-focused show of the year to get people excited for Mania. Right now, they’re reinforcing Shane’s art-imitating-life point that Vince has lost touch with the product.
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