Two weeks until WrestleMania. Besides the Diva’s Triple Threat, I’m still not really sold on this year’s WrestleMania at all. Let’s see if WWE can change my mind tonight. All I’ve seen announced is Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman and we have to assume that Roman Reigns will be there eating all of Triple H’s catering. It’s the WWE Raw 03/21/16 recap.
WWE Raw 03/21/16 Recap
Oh wow, we open with a “In Memory” graphic for someone named Mary Katharine Stewart. A little bit of digging tells me this is the daughter of a WWE cameraman who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. Well, this is horrible and tragic.
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We then see a video package showing us what went down between Triple H and Roman Reigns last week. We’re live from Philly and Lilian Garcia announces Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie welcomes us to the show and lets us know that Triple H will not be here tonight. She gives people sixty seconds to go get a refund. Triple H has corporate responsibilities and that is why he’s not here. It’s not because of Roman’s beat down. Considering a few days later Triple H was working out like a beast, I believe her. Stephanie goes on to say how they can buy anything they want or something, I literally tuned out and am shocked back awake by Roman Reigns’s theme music. Roman enters through the stage because Roman Reigns always entered through the stage. It’s Philly, so he gets mainly boos. Stephanie calls him out for being opportunistic. Roman grabs her mic and gets a bunch of boos. Roman shushes her, which gets more boos. Roman says the real reason Triple H didn’t want to come to Philly is because he knew that Roman would “whip his ass all over Broad Street“. Roman’s first pop of the night since he name drops the city we’re in and a local landmark. Brutal. Roman says at WrestleMania he’s going to walk into their stadium and take his title back, and probably eat some catering before doing so I’d imagine. Roman says there is nothing Stephanie or her “daddy’s money” can do about it. Stephanie goes to slap Roman and he blocks it, earning his first legit pop of the night. Roman then says he is the Authority, whatever that is supposed to mean, tosses the mic, and leaves.
Next, the announcers let us know that Vince has an announcement about the Shane McMahon and Undertaker Hell in a Cell match. Uh oh. Also, tonight is sponsored by Skylanders and thanks to them we get AJ Styles and Kevin Owens next. Thank you, based Skylanders.
Back from break, AJ Styles’s music hits and we’re shown video footage of his feud with Jericho.
Match #1: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles
Well, the match itself was great. The finish… not so much. The match goes through two (!) commercial breaks and is full of awesome near falls. I found it amusing that Michael Cole was so mesmerized by Styles doing a Ushigoroshi that he first calls it a “fireman’s carry into a knee” and then “like an AA into a backbreaker”. Never change, Cole. Anyway, this is a match that rivals the one these two had on SmackDown until “AJ STYLES” is heard over the PA and Chris Jericho wanders out in jeans, no shirt, and a jacket. Styles is able to avoid the distraction for a bit, but as he goes to lock on the Calf Crusher, Jericho goes up on the apron and Styles goes after him. A distraction roll up later and Owens gets the cheap victory.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – A great match ruined by a crappy finish. Styles has now allowed himself to be distracted twice by Jericho in consecutive matches against the IC champ which has caused him to take a pin loss both times. Why would his character logically do that? Oh, because the writing on this show is terrible. The finish felt like the end of a Diva’s match from 2014.
Post-match, Styles takes off after Jericho and Owens clutches his IC title tightly in the ring. Owens now has a mic and says that it is the Kevin Owens show. KO says everyone wants to know who will challenge him at KOMania. Then Dolph Ziggler’s music hits. Ziggler says there is no one more fitting to beat Owens than him. Then The Miz’s music interrupts. Miz says that Ziggler isn’t worthy. Miz and Ziggler begin to argue when Sami Zayn’s music hits. Sami pauses for a “Ole Ole Ole” chant and says he can’t think of a better place to get his hands on Owens than at WrestleMania. Miz calls Zayn “skinny Seth Rogen” and KO says that none of them deserve a shot at his title. Owens says he’s going to go to the Authority and see if a Triple Threat can be set up to determine who is the Number One contender. Well, I’m okay with this. I figured Ziggler would be the replacement when Neville got hurt.
Earlier today, Dean Ambrose’s nationwide tour of local bars continues. This time he’s at the Philadium. Dean is cutting a promo on Brock to someone off camera. We then pan to reveal Terry Funk who cuts a promo that makes little sense but Dean says he understands perfectly. Funk then produces a chainsaw and says that it is for Dean Ambrose. Well, Dean’s Leatherface costume for Halloween just got one piece closer to completion. Dean then fires up the chainsaw and starts cutting through a bar table. Okay, then.
Meanwhile, Stephanie is backstage texting someone. Owens appears. KO pleads the case for a Triple Threat match. Stephanie agrees to the match.
Next, it’s a video package with reactions from Superstars to Shane McMahon returning.
Meanwhile, the New Day are walking backstage and stopping to get random guys in suits to twerk. Okay, then.
Back from break, the League of Nations are in the ring and Rusev is saying something unintelligible. Sheamus then cuts a promo on the New Day. We see footage of the beat down from Raw and Barrett gets a turn to say a few lines. Del Rio gets the crowd to chant “New Day Sucks” along with him. I don’t get where they’re going with this match for WrestleMania at all.
This brings out the New Day. Big E says the New Day has never sucked. Xavier has flash cards that say “You are trash”. No, this feud is trash. Xavier puts his flash cards in a garbage bag. But, wait… there’s more! Kofi then kicks the bag at the League. Kofi then cuts a promo on Rusev’s stinky feet. Okay, I’m done recapping this segment. Here’s the YouTube clip if you want to see the rest of this promo.
Match #2: Big E (w/ Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Rusev (w/ Sheamus, Barrett, & Alberto del Rio)
Well, it’s not working on me, but somehow they’re lucking into their apparent desire to turn the New Day face. This match helps that somehow. The crowd, who chanted “New Day sucks” along with del Rio earlier pop huge when Big E hits the Big Ending on Rusev and gets the win. The match is otherwise notable for Xavier Woods getting a second wind and managing to take down Barrett and Alberto single-handedly.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I’m still not on board with this feud, and I’m less on board with a New Day face turn, but it’s happening. At least it doesn’t involve Ryback.
Byron Saxton tries to sell us on Ambrose vs. Strowman tonight when Bray Wyatt interrupts. The Wyatt Family cut a promo about new beginnings in their smoky room. Strowman offers Dean Ambrose’s soul as a sacrifice. Bray lets us know it’ll all be over soon. Not soon enough.
Back from break, Alicia Fox and Naomi are hanging out backstage with Todd Chrisley. And, it’s an ad. For Snickers. Chrisley bites into the Snickers bar and becomes Natalya. Also, why would Fox and Naomi be hanging out? Aren’t Team Bad and Team Bella enemies? Is this supposed to be them “shoot” hanging out behind the scenes or what? This is a weird Raw and even the ads are weird. Also, how about using Natalya for something more than selling sandwiches and candy bars? Please?
Now, really back from break, we see the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy. This brings out Big Show. Show cuts a promo putting over Philly for keeping it real. Show then puts over Andre the Giant. Show says he wants to become a two-time Andre Battle Royal winner which brings out the Social Outcasts. Bo Dallas says the Outcasts are a Cinderella Story, but Axel says they’re something “cool, like Voltron“. Adam Rose says Big Show is in serious trouble. Show is not impressed. Show goes to chokeslam Slater and the Outcasts attack. As they gang up on Show, pyro hits and it’s Dean McCain! Kane clears out everyone except Bo Dallas and Show. Bo wants a handshake so Kane takes his hand and then throws him out of the ring. Show gets up and gives Kane a hug. Show then climbs the second turnbuckle and Kane comes over and chokeslams him back to the mat. Kane’s ring post pyro hits.
Up next, we throw Fandango a bone and let him wrestle Jericho again in what they’re calling a “WrestleMania Rewind” match.
Back from break, we learn Fifth Harmony is going to sing “America the Beautiful” at WrestleMania. I have no idea who that is. Also, Stan Hansen is the next person to be announced for this year’s Hall of Fame.
We then join Fandango in the ring. He’s getting a rematch after beating Jericho at WrestleMania in his first match. I guess this is for Jericho’s fragile ego? Since Fandango won? Also, this is only the third match on this show and hour two is winding down.
Match #3: Fandango vs. Chris Jericho
See, this is what infuriates me with the AJ Styles / Jericho feud. They’re making Styles out to be a complete chump. So, Fandango gets in a bit of offense and then Jericho takes control. Jericho goes to put Fandango into the Walls of Jericho which brings out AJ Styles saying “Y 2 Jackass” over and over. Jericho is momentarily distracted by this and Fandango rolls him up. Jericho kicks out, hits the Codebreaker and wins. Why is Styles so rattled by Jericho but not the other way around? Jericho is so obsessed with Styles, AJ even coming out like this should have taken Jericho completely out of the match. But, nope. I guess we can’t have Jericho lose a cheap match to Fandango. :: eye roll ::
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Stop making AJ Styles look like a chump, WWE Creative. He’s the babyface in this feud and Jericho is the obsessed madman heel.
Post-match, Jericho points at Styles and AJ rushes the ring. Jericho bails out of the ring and grabs some production guy holding cables as a human shield. AJ then cuts a promo on Jericho saying that he is the best at running from AJ. Styles says he’s competed all over the world, but there is one place he hasn’t competed. The camera pans up to the WrestleMania sign. Styles challenges Jericho to a match at WrestleMania and then starts a “AJ Styles” chant.
Back from break, we see another video package about Shane McMahon.
Meanwhile, Kevin Owens is backstage talking to some referees.
Back from break, Owens is in the ring and he tells Lilian Garcia that he’s “got this one”. KO then announces the participants in the Triple Threat match. Owens announces Stardust to no reaction. Next, KO introduces Sin Cara to no reaction. Lastly, KO announces Zack Ryder to no reaction. Ugh. They really found a way to screw this up, didn’t they?
Match #4: Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder vs. Stardust (Triple Threat match)
So, this match happens. Sorta. But before long, Zayn, Miz, and Ziggler come down to confront Owens who is on commentary. Owens then attacks Ryder after he follows Stardust out of the ring and the ref throws the match out.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – facepalm.jpg
Post-match, everyone brawls in the ring for a bit and Owens escapes.
Next, we see Stephanie and Roman’s promo from earlier. Meanwhile, Stephanie is on the phone with someone saying she has an uneasy feeling about Reigns. Stephanie is thinking of leaving the show and is going to meet someone in the parking lot soon. Owens comes running in and freaks Stephanie out. KO says that none of the guys who attacked him deserve a shot at the IC title. Because we have no ideas, we repeat last year’s WrestleMania IC Title match by having a ladder match with Ryder, Stardust, Sin Cara, Zayn, Ziggler, and Miz vs. Owens. Yep, they found a way to screw this up. Check another match off the list of matches I’m looking forward to at WrestleMania. If Owens doesn’t retain it’s a travesty.
Back from break, Stephanie is putting on her coat and walking. She sees an Escalade backing up into a loading dock area. Triple H gets out of the back and lets Stephanie get in and then gets in himself. Please let Roman Reigns be the driver wearing a chauffeur hat. Either that or something like this needs to happen. Well, that doesn’t quite happen, but what does is still pretty hilarious. The garage door slowly opens to reveal Roman Reigns standing there like he’s the Terminator or Michael Myers or something. LOL. Roman then walks over and pulls Triple H out of the back of the car because I guess I’m the only person who locks their doors anymore. Roman beats on Triple H and throws him into the back of the car. Roman then tries to open the door where Stephanie is and Triple H hits him. This causes Roman to back off enough for H to jump in the back and the car to speed off. The camera then pans up to Roman and the crowd boos.
Back from break, we see the Reigns horror movie villain attack again. Seriously guys, Roman would be way better as a heel.
We’re then sent back to Cole and Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks are at the announce table. We then see footage from their promo at SmackDown which I’ve already written about. We then cut back to the ring and Natalya is already there posing.
Match #5: Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Natalya
Well, this is probably going to be the match of the night and it was nothing super special. Nattie and Charlotte had a better match at Roadblock than the one here, but it’s still better than handful of matches we’ve seen so far tonight. Nattie gets a few hope spots in but Charlotte prevails with the Natural Selection. It’s like the Diva’s division is the only one properly booked for WrestleMania where they’re not just slamming something together or doing desperate “maniac killer” parking lot segments to try to get the match over.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Champ goes over and we get to see Nattie do something more than sell us Subway sandwiches and Snickers bars.
Next, we see the Ambrose / Funk segment again because we have to absolutely make sure we don’t have seven matches on this three-hour wrestling show.
Back from break, the announcers shill the Network. Then the Dudley Boyz pyro goes off. You see Bubba Ray has a match with R Truth but apparently we don’t have time for entrances tonight even though huge segments of the show have been replays and video packages.
Match #6: R Truth vs. Bubba Ray Dudley (w/ D-Von Dudley)
So, Bubba Ray dominates R Truth and trash talks him the entire match. I’m not sure what the point of this was beyond having an excuse for the Usos to run out and make a save after the match.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – A pointless squash match on a show with almost no wrestling on it so far.
Post-match, the Dudleys beat down Truth and Goldust comes out to make the save, but gets double teamed. This brings out the Usos. The Usos double super kick the Dudleys to boos. Great idea to do this in Philly, WWE. The Usos then get a table, which is probably the only thing that could save this segment. They set up a table spot with D-Von, but Bubba Ray makes the save and everyone leaves to boos.
Back from break, Vince McMahon is out to cut a promo about the Hell in a Cell match at Mania. Vince reminds us of the stakes for the Hell in a Cell match. We then see last week’s segment with the Undertaker again. Vince says that nothing will stop Shane and he’ll fight with every breath in his body. Vince then says that Shane is the most formidable opponent Undertaker has ever had at WrestleMania. Vince says that Undertaker is his “bitch” and if Taker loses at Mania it will be Taker’s last WrestleMania.
Vince leaves to end the segment and as he poses on the stage, Ambrose’s music hits. Vince looks confused and Dean looks at him and then heads to the ring.
Back from break, we learn that Brock Lesnar will be on SmackDown this week and Paul Heyman is joining us for commentary for this main event match.
Match #7: Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman (w/ Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, and Luke Harper)
So, the main event gets a loud and sustained “this is boring” chant. It is pretty boring. You know Strowman isn’t going to win and Ambrose isn’t going to go over clean. Sure enough after Strowman tosses Ambrose around a bit, Dean grabs a chair and hits Strowman with it to get the DQ.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – A perfect ending to a completely uneventful show.
Post-match, Ambrose hits Strowman with the chair a bunch of times. Rowan and Harper try to sneak in to the ring and this gives Strowman enough time to recover and drop Ambrose. Dean fights back and gives Strowman Dirty Deeds on the chair. Wow, I didn’t know anyone was allowed to take Strowman off his feet yet. Dean escapes to the announce table and he and Heyman stare at each other. Dean tells Heyman that the same thing will happen to Brock at WrestleMania.
Well, that was… underwhelming.