Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Raw Review: Fastlane Set and the Great One Returns

The first Raw after the Royal Rumble is always an exciting one as we have a much better idea of where we are going at the big show.  Last night was no exception.  It wasn't an episode that lit the world on fire by any stretch, but it had a certain energy to it in large part due to the big return.  It also set our Fastlane main event which will play a role in the main event of WrestleMania.  Let's take a look at the moments that mattered in my humble opinion.
  • I liked The Rock's return, but it was controversial.--To say The Rock was all over the place last night would be a huge understatement.  From the time he exited his truck backstage you knew he was going to give everything he had to make it a special night in his hometown.  I knew from the moment he started talking to Lana there would be some strong takes about some of the stuff he was saying.  The phrase "casual sexism" was on my Twitter timeline before he had moved through the current.  I am not here to tell anyone what they should and should not like and what should or should not bother them.  I will say that while I respect the criticisms of his material, I personally enjoyed having him them regardless.  He livened up a show that far too often feels like it's sleepwalking towards the end of the show. 
  • Lesnar's absence was noticable.--The handling of Lesnar at the Rumble was awful in my opinion.  Not having him show up the next night for whatever reason they gave was another mistake.  Maybe WWE is thinking they are giving us The Rock so there's no need to use Lesnar last night, but his absence compounded my issue with him at the Rumble.  The reason for that is now you are stuck with that image of him casually strolling away after getting screwed by the Wyatt Family and it wasn't a good look for the Beast Incarnate. 
  • We now have a Fastlane main event and I like it.--Speaking of Brock Lesnar, he will be taking on the Shield boys at Fastlane.  The inclusion of Reigns and Ambrose is interesting, but less so since we just saw Reigns and Ambrose at Survivor Series.  The main question it raises is, "Why would The Authority give Roman Reigns an opportunity at a title shot?"  Excellent question, but in a world where the Irish Whip makes sense I prefer to think of The Authority as a James Bond villain.  Their plans are overly complicated and have a risk of failure, but they refuse to do things in a simple and effective manner.  I figure as most do that Ambrose will eat the fall after the Wyatts eliminate Lesnar.  Although we see this ending a mile away I have no issue if it comes to pass.  
  • The Raw main event was solid fun.--As for Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose I enjoyed their match against Sheamus and Rusev.  At this point I am not sure I will ever get tired of watching Sheamus and Reigns beat the heck out of each other.  While going through the announce table is largely played out I thought this one had a great impact and looked awesome.  What troubled me was how the big announcement at the end of the show was met with crickets.  This happened with the Royal Rumble stipulation announcement on Raw as well.  They've got to figure out a better way to handle that as the live crowds just don't seem to care.  I also feel bad for all four guys having to follow The Rock last night. 
  • I hate to do it, but I have to give my guy Roman Reigns a miss.--There was another issue with the main event and it was there for Roman Reigns' first appearance in front of the camera as well.  He did not show the fire that you would expect to see out him given the context.  He had it at the end of TLC and people responded to it.  He had it throughout Raw Philly and got that town on his side.  It's been lacking since and I thought getting jobbed at the Rumble would bring it back, but it didn't. That was a big disappointment. 
  • AJ STYLES WAS ON RAW!--He's obviously supremely talented and that was apparent when I saw him wrestle for NWA WildSide in Cornelia, GA. I still thought this day would never come.  The entrance music is great.  I didn't love him winning without a finisher or having to carry Chris Jericho, but it was great to see the Phenomenal One from Gainesville, GA on WWE TV.  
Again, not a mind-blowing show, but a solid one that was helped tremendously by the energy The Rock brought to it.  It will be interesting to see where we go from here to Fastlane and whether they can get all of this a bit hotter before Mania in Dallas.  

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