Live from Pittsburgh, PA, we have this week’s edition of Monday Night RAW and we start out with a tag team title match as they had advertised on the Pre-show on the WWE Network. Great promo about Booty O’s and his new Kardashian inspired “Big E. Butts”, coming soon. Big E and Woods competing tonight instead of Big E. and Kofi as seems to be the norm. Woods gets the victory with a rollup after distraction from Kofi, despite the numbers game being in favor of the League of Nations. The League of Nations with a beat down after the match, seemingly cementing the rumored face turn of The New Day that has been teased for weeks. Finishers a plenty. There’s a Bullhammer from Barrett for Kofi, a Brogue Kick from Sheamus for Big E. and Alberto Del Rio with a beautiful, top rope double stomp on Xavier. Rusev locks Woods in the Accolade to end things and we have the League of Nations looking strong after two losses within a week.
After a commercial break, Dean Ambrose’s music hits and out comes the warden of the Ambrose Asylum. In-ring promo to follow on Roadblock.
“I was this close, but my foot was that far from the ropes.” -Dean Ambrose
“You were out of bounds, you dope.” – JBL.
Gold. Dean is about to talk about the road to WM, he can’t even finish before Brock Lesnar comes out to a massive reaction from ‘The Burgh. Heyman with a sound promo about the Beast. He is there to protect Ambrose from his ultimate conqueror. Ambrose comes him “Paul E.”, haven’t heard that in a minute. Heyman leaves as Dean continues to bait Lesnar. Brock takes the bait and is headed to the ring as Ambrose pulls a crowbar out from under his jacket. Brock circles the ring, thinking about entering. Brock on the apron, Ambrose with a wild swing and Brock jumps down. Commercial break with Brock backing up the ramp. My friends, that No Holds Barred Street-fight is going to be worth your money. That one should be something for all fans. More on that later.
Back from commercial and Ryback is in the ring. “Lucha” hits and out comes U.S. Champ Kalisto and Sin Cara. Sin Cara to compete against Ryback and he’s dressed in all black. Looks really cool. Ryback with “Big Guy” on his trunks, you know, just in case we forgot, apparently. Usual type of Ryback match. ‘Burgh is NOT into it. Very audible boos and a negative reaction. Springboard by Sin Cara into a Shellshocked. Not enough. Ryback hits another and it’s over. Nothing to write home about. Barely any offense for Sin Cara save for a suicide dive spot. Ryback challenges Kalisto for the U.S. belt at WM. Do I think that will be a good piece of business? Hard to say. Ryback isn’t getting over with the crowd and quite frankly, Kalisto is. Kalisto will either retain and move on to bigger and better things. He can have programs with any and all talent and draw good money, or Ryback can snag the title and go on to attempt to regain some relevance. We’ll have to wait and see how it all unfolds. Another commercial break.
We’re back as Stephanie McMahon’s music hits. She comes out to heat and is wearing a beautiful red and black print dress. Very sharp. Jawing with the fans before an introduction for the Game. Out comes HHH. The world champion is dressed in a fine suit and deep wine tie. A kiss for the wife and mic in hand. Trips covers the victory over Ambrose at Roadblock. Highlights include a reference to a point where the whole world watched with hope in their eyes as Ambrose would stop the tyranny. He failed. Knocks it out of the park saying people hope for things and they blame everyone but themselves. Wife hates you because you’re a failure. Kids don’t respect you because you’re a failure. Hang with your loser friends complaining about your boss, life, etc. Classic. Reminiscent of “Life Sucks” promo from Vince. Retire with a watch. Move to an apartment. Wife left you and took the house. Kids don’t come see you, ’cause you’re a loser. Says you love Ambrose because of hope. Cheers. Love Roman for the same reason and there are thunderous boos. Ouch.
I’m here to show the WORLD! Dolph Ziggler out on the ramp to interrupt HHH. That’s different, lol. Ziggler in a three piece suit with a pink shirt.
“Well speaking of failures.” -Steph.
Ziggler with an in-ring promo about knowing your place.
“Pandering, how very Cena-esque of you Dolph.” -Steph.
She’s on fire like a classic Springsteen song. Dolph says they’re not failures, they were screwed by the system. HHH calls him a loveable loser like dwellers of the ‘Burgh. HHH says he doesn’t have to be a loser. Indirect offer to Zolph to join The Authority. Insults Steph and Steph pastes him with a hard slap. Steph set to fire Dolph and Triple H says that’s not best for business, the fans love Ziggler because he’s a loser like they are. A proposal from Steph, if Dolph wins a match, he gets any match he wants at Mania sans a world title opportunity. He just has to win his match tonight. Dolph says what do we have, 10 on 1, 20 on 1? March Madness here in short order, is it 64 on 1 with one-arm tied behind my back? Nope. He’ll just have to beat HHH. Triple H and Dolph in the main event. Whoa! That will be one to see. We don’t get Triple on Raw in singles action very often for the obvious reasons, but that will be a good rub for Dolph and should be a great match. We head to commercial break.
Back on Raw with Kevin Owens, the Intercontinental champion on commentary. Sami Zayn’s music hits and a loud reaction. Singles action against The Miz. Back flip by Zayn and he lands on his feet. Cool spot and KO says “cool story bro” in a manner of speaking. Commercial. Back and we have good back and forth action. A spiked DDT from Miz. KO great on commentary.
“John, that’s why you are the cornerstone of this announce team” -KO
“Thanks, KO!” JBL.
Hilarious line. A Somersault plancha spot by Zayn hits its mark. Beautiful. KO set to attack Zayn on the outside but we get Miz with a clubbing blow to KO for walking out on him last week on Smackdown. Zayn turns the tables on Miz. Helluva kick in the ring, three count and it’s over. Seems like we are heading towards a multi-man affair for the IC Title based on how things are playing out. We’ll see.
Backstage interview with the League Of Nations and Renee Young. They challenge New Day for Mania. They don’t say if it’s 4 on 3, 2 on 2, title or non-title. I’m sure we’ll have all the cards laid out within the week.
“BRIE MODE!” Auto-tune in full effect as Brie Bella and Alicia Fox hit the ring. Tag team affair vs. Team BAD, Naomi and Tamina. Commercial break.
After the commercial, a very cool spot that showed Daniel Bryan and Brie visiting some children at a hospital and brightening their days. Bryan did great work with the late Connor “The Crusher” and that was something truly inspiring and if you’ve never seen that clip, it’ll surely bring a tear to the eye. That kid was so full of life.
We are back to the ring as the women’s match is about to begin and Lana’s music hits and out she comes. In the ring we’ve got a shining wizard by Naomi on Foxxy and we’re off to the races. Lana seated on the announce table and Byron says he can’t see. JBL mocks him saying you’re the only man who’d complain about that. JBL is awesome, as always. In ring action and a beautiful dropkick from the second rope by Brie. Yes kicks to follow. Brie Buster off the ropes and a kickout by Tamina. Lana with a distraction and Team BAD with a victory following a Big Ending/DDT double team move. Alicia eats a double superkick on the outside from Team BAD as well. The heels with the victory and some momentum for Team BAD.
Backstage, A Social Moment with the Social Outcasts. Grilled Dogs, 100% pure beef. Yes, it’s a Burger King promo. The Radical Mongoose says he’s the relish of the group, a perfect compliment for the dog. Curtis Axel is wearing a burger king crown and they take his food, even Bo Dallas. Cold blooded. Does a best friend snatch another man’s chicago style or chili cheese dog? Commercial break.
Backstage interview with Paige and JoJo. Paige has grey streaks in the hair. Looks awesome. Lana walks up and interrupts the interview and challenges Paige on keeping her title, her man and says she’s hanging out with weak Americans like Brie Bella. Paige says at least I had a title to lose, you’ve never even been in the ring. Paige is about to challenge her just as Team BAD joins Lana. Seems like they are headed towards a six man tag at WM with Lana, Tamina and Naomi vs. Paige, Brie and Foxxy. The heels are mean muggin’ and there’s a commercial.
Backstage following the commercial with Renee Young who is with the WWE Divas Champion, Charlotte and “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Charlotte is asked about Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch beings threats to the belt. Charlotte says she used to hold Sasha’s hair as she got sick from nerves before her first NXT show. She then says that Becky was the third wheel who stood around waiting for acknowledgement. Ric states that at one point, he took a phonecall from Charlotte where she stated there are two girls who are gonna be great, and she has to be better. They hype a confrontation on Smackdown where Charlotte will be in-ring with Sasha and Becky and talk about their pasts.
Uso Crazy hits and Jimmy and Jey are set for high flying, tag team action when they return from commercial. Adam Rose and Bo Dallas of the Outcasts are their opponents. Dudleys on commentary. The match begins and ensues and we’ve got a victory lap from Bo after he’s dumped over the top rope by the Usos. Crowd likes that. Superkicks a-plenty from the Usos. Big splash on Bo from the Usos and this one is over with the Dudleys heading up the ramp. Short match and a statement perhaps leading to tag team action at WM. Commercial.
We are backstage and Dean Ambrose is with MICK FOLEY! Huge “Foley” chant from the ‘Burgh. Mick says that he’s got a gift for Dean. Ambrose is still holding the crowbar and Foley and him have a great back and forth.
“Why Dean, Why?” -Foley
Cheap pop from Foley for a reference to the ‘Burgh and a reference to the Hell In A Cell match with Taker at King Of The Ring ’98. Foley says he was terrified of the legendary spot. He kept going because he’s Mick Foley and that’s what he did.
“I’m Dean Ambrose and this is what I do.” -Ambrose
Foley says to take Lesnar on a journey into Dean’s past. Reference to his indy days as Jon Moxley. He presents him with a gift in a big red box. Yep, it’s Barbie. Figured as much. Barbie, for those who don’t know, is a bat wrapped in barbed wire. I’m sure Negan of Walking Dead fame would be proud to see the instrument of destruction. Foley used the barbed wire bat in an Intercontinental Title match with Randy Orton at Backlash ’04, which is one of the most memorable matches of Orton’s career and one that really put him on the match. It was something fantastic. Curious to see if they are going to let the blood flow freely at ‘Mania in the street fight. Excited for that one to say the least.
Dolph Ziggler is out for his match with HHH.
“Time to Play The Game!” Out comes HHH. Back and forth action to start it off. Side headlocks and leap frogs a plenty. Running shoulderblock by Zolph and a hip toss shortly thereafter. Slow and methodical so far. Action picks up and we get the running high knee from HHH. Shades of the great Harley Race. Front release suplex to follow. A well placed knee to the face by Trips as well. Abdomen shots by Ziggler for the counter. The two end up outside as HHH throws Ziggler into the steel ring steps. Triple H slams Ziggler’s arm on the steps. A vertical suplex by HHH brings Ziggler back into the ring. JBL says HHH is putting on a clinic. Resilient counter by Ziggler. Forearm and a running clothesline. Stinger splash and a swinging neckbreaker. Ziggler with the comeback and the crowd is eating it up. Elbow to the heart by Dolph. Corner mount and furious rights by Dolph. Pedigree attempt by HHH countered by Dolph and a rollup and a two count. Fameasser by Dolph and a two count. Ziggler with a jumping DDT and a two count. Near fall central. HHH with a counter to Dolph with a boot and the Arn Anderson spinebuster. Beautifully executed. HHH picks up Ziggler but eats a superkick for a two count. What a contest. HHH buying time on the outside and he sends Ziggler into the barrier. Ziggler beats the 10 count. Pedigree attempt and a back body drop counter. Zig Zag attempt and a counter. Pedigree and a 3 count. Ziggler will NOT be picking his match at ‘Mania as HHH defeats Dolph in singles action.
Roman Reigns music hits and the crowd is booing like crazy. Keeping him off TV hurt him a lot. He’s at the entrance way. HHH just had his second match in 48 hours by the way. This is going to be a volatile confrontation. Reigns in with a double leg takedown and the boos are ridiculous. Wow. Reigns tosses HHH into the barricade. He posts him. Reigns slamming HHH into the announce table like Triple H did to him. Crowd is booing but some are starting to turn. Reigns shoves down “Little Naitch”, referee Charles Robinson. Triple hits Reigns in the head with a soda and it explodes. That was wild. Headbutt by Reigns and hard right hands. They brawl up the entryway. Reigns throws a crate at Triple H in the tech area. They are in the backstage area now. HHH into a door and Reigns busting up some plain clothes security. Wow! Reigns threw a loaded trash bag into Triple H’s quad. Yikes. He hits Hunter with an LED monitor. Here are the Usos to keep their cousin in check. Sillsby’s own Mark Henry and Jack Swagger in to be the voices of reason as well. Commercial break. That was a classic brawl. I get why the crowd is booing, I really do, but that was a fun brawl. Very 90’s. I kept waiting for Gerald Brisco to run in and pin one of them to win the hardcore title.
Back from commercial and the introduction of Jacquelyn as the latest Hall of Famer. What a great call! Miss Jackie was trained by Skandor Akbar and was a great hand in the ring. She in from Dallas. She’ll be inducted in her hometown. Very cool. She joins Sting, The Godfather, The Freebirds and The Big Bossman in a growing class.
We head backstage and we have Goldust with R-Truth in a Penguin costume. Goldust says cute, you decided to dress as a penguin because we’re in Pittsburgh.
“We’re in Pittsburgh?”
We love you Truth. Growing up in the hood, we had a 17 year old pigeon. Vintage Truth. R-Truth says Penguins find a mate and they stay together forever-ever. Appreciate the reference to Outkast and Mrs. Jackson, a fine woman I’ve grown to know well through many years of Karaoke. Truth asks Dust if he’ll be his penguin? Dust says he won’t be his partner and R-Truth shivers his way off.
Break The Walls down! Here comes Y2J for singles action. Commercial break. We’re back just as Jericho he tells a kid to shove a sign somewhere. He complains about fans choosing AJ Styles over him. He says AJ is a hack. Calls him arrogant, way in over his head and Jericho did what he had to do and he put him in his place because he’s a general. He had to show AJ who his daddy is. Jericho is gold. Neville’s music and here comes the man that Gravity forgot. This should be a contest if given some time. They had a great match on a Network Live special called “Beast In The East”. It’s where Finn Balor won the NXT Title from Kevin Owens. Neville with sound offense and a tantrum from Jericho leads to a commercial.
Back from the break and the action continues and we have a beautiful hurricanrana by Neville. Neville is up limping either selling an ankle injury or he did in fact land gingerly. Charles Robinson gets ANOTHER shove and Neville with a DQ victory. Jericho takes the mic and begs for Styles after telling them to cut Neville’s music short as Neville continues to sell the ankle injury. That epic theme song and Styles is out and the Phenomenal Forearm hits its mark. They have words and he head to commercial. AJ and Jericho, albeit their fourth encounter, is still something I am very excited to see at ‘Mania. Hopefully AJ has bought Jericho a tank of gas or at least a cup of coffee as this feud has already put AJ on the WWE Map. It is quality work and both individuals are shining so brightly.
“No Chance in Hell” hits and here comes the Chairman, the genetic Jackhammer himself, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. In the ring with a mic and he expects a bigger ovation then he received here in the ‘Burgh. A better reaction. Classic Vince. Asks how fans would feel if Shane wins and brings in new matches and an influx of new talent? How will you feel if Shane takes corporate to a new stratosphere? It won’t happen. It’s a dream. Vince says he’ll be in the ring the night after ‘Mania. He’ll be sticking out his 52 inch chest and gloating because his sons dreams will be crushed and he’ll be an impotent shell of himself. Vince won’t have to do it though. The most depraved instrument of destruction will do that for him. The Undertaker!
Gong hits and the crowd goes nuts for the Phenom as he slow-plays his way to the ring. Vince seems uneasy. Vince says its time for a little admonition and tells Taker never to lay hands on Vince again. Reference to Titus O’Neil. Not funny at all, but a sure way to get instant heat. Taker takes his trench coat off and the eyes roll back in the head. Vince says that it was a lapse of judgement that Taker grabbed Vince and Vince would like to apologize quite frankly, for bringing it up a second time. He knows Taker doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty doing the devil’s work. He knows Taker will lavish seeing Shane’s spirit in a puddle beneath his cold, hard feet. It’s what’s best for business.
HERE COMES THE MONEY! Out comes Shane O’Mac. He says Vince isn’t what is best for business anymore. He’s in the match of a lifetime against The Undertaker. He says he’ll beat the Undertaker by gassing him inside the ring and blowing him up. He will turn his own body into a weapon. He’ll use his heart to beat the Undertaker. Taker snatches Vince’s mic. Says whatever Shane does still isn’t gonna be enough. What I have are these. Taker hoists up his big ham-hock fists. Reminiscent of those big soup-bone shots we’ve seen for many years. Shane calls Taker a puppet and Vince is the puppet master. Nobody controls Taker, the Deadman says. Shane says he has the misfortune of being Vince’s son, but Taker is Vince’s, well, it’s another term for a female dog. We have a chokeslam attempt, counter by Shane and right hands a plenty and a Shane O’Mac shuffle. Vince pushes Shane into Taker and we have a chokeslam straight to hell. JBL calls Taker a remorseless gunslinger. Vince is grinning and that’s how the show ends. We are definitely on the road to Wrestlemania and the show is shaping up. Excited to see what takes place next week!
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