Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Raw Review: Two Major Angles (2-22-2016)

Last night's show was certainly a "happening," but the whole thing was a blend of good, bad, and WTF?!  As the title suggests, this show hinged on two big angles.  The first one was a legitimate jaw-dropper, and the second was just completely bizarre.

Just to be upfront here, I'm going to focus on those two angles for the most part here as everything else was pretty much run-of-the-mill Raw action.  Basically, I think my premise going forward is that I will give you opinions on things that I actually have opinions about at the time.  For the special shows/PPVs, they will more likely be titled as Review and Results and that will give you the old style of posts where I touch on everything.

With that out of the way, let's look at Shane McMahon's return, and our main event angle involving SAW favorite Roman Reigns and WWE World Champion Triple H.  While neither is a major angle in my mind, I will also touch on the continuation of Brock Lesnar v Dean Ambrose, and Ryback's turn.

  • Opening Segment/Award Ceremony/Shane McMahon's Return--The show started just as promised with Mr. McMahon announcing the winner of the inaugural Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award.  In what shouldn't have been a surprise to us the inaugural winner was Stephanie McMahon.  At that moment I have to be honest and say that I chuckled and thought it was a pretty good choice as it would likely help advance the Roman Reigns v The Authority storyline.  Something was off though as Triple H's absence was noticeable.  (Let's hold off on that point until we discuss the main event segment.)  Everything changed though when Shane McMahon returned.  It was good to see him back and the sort of "worked shoot" nature of his confrontation with Vince and Steph really worked for me.  My thought was they would try to use this monster reaction he got to kind of shoehorn Reigns in there as Shane backed him or something like that.  They didn't go there which was probably for the best as the segment was absolutely off-the-rails in a good way.  It felt like an important moment, the crowd was into it, and it was...special. 

    Things took a turn for the weird though when we ended up with 46 year old Shane accepting a match at WrestleMania 32 for the opportunity to run Raw.  Things went way beyond weird when Vince chose him to face The Undertaker.  I mean...that's just bizarre.  Despite all the good in that segment I had zero desire to see Shane wrestle and see The Undertaker have him as his Mania opponent.  Like many on Twitter, etc. I hope there's a swerve coming that allows Shane to assign someone to represent him.  That would be far more interesting to me, but considering how he accepted the challenge I have no idea how they'd get there. 

    Overall the segment was great, but like I said it took a really strange turn at the end and I feel like I am not as excited about what we got as I should have been.  Will they make it work at Mania?  I don't know.  Their track record in general is spotty, but when you look at that rabbit they pulled out of their hat at Mania 31 you realize they may actually pull this off.

  • Main Event Angle w/ Roman Reigns and Triple H--This was every bit as bad as Shane's return was good, but again I will give it credit for being exciting if nothing else.  The setup here was they gave us Roman Reigns v Sheamus with the League of Nations at ringside.  I mentioned above that not tying Triple H into the opening segment was a troubling sign.  The second troubling sign was how this show was laid out.  A crowd that was clearly hostile to Roman Reigns was being given a main event of Reigns v LoN which no one wants (no matter how good the match could be) and was yet another example of how they put Roman in a bad situation.  That concerned me, but that was nothing compared to what we were fixing to get. 

    Reigns is booed mercilessly as he is apparently about to beat Sheamus via countout when Triple H's music hits.  What took place next was absolutely brilliant if Triple H were the face taking down a heel Roman Reigns.  I mean Triple H showed up like the biggest badass in the world, attacked Roman Reigns, and dominated him.  The brawl itself was awesome although it was pretty one-sided in H's favor.  He thrashed Roman Reigns as the Detroit crowd rallied behind the alleged heel in a scene that in no way at all painted Triple H as a heel in the first place. 

    He got an uncomfortable amount of blood from Reigns which had me a little concerned for the guy.  We found out this AM that Byron Saxton via Cageside Seats that the blood wasn't on the up and up which pleased me.  It was very well-executed and some fan cam footage exposing the theatrics don't affect that at all for me, but that's probably another story for another day. 

    The problem here was that unless WWE is planting the seeds for a double-turn they pretty much murdered Roman Reigns.  I mean it's either that they want you to hate Reigns, they are cosmically incompetent, or Dylan Hales "Political Hit Theory" is true.  I must say at this point I find it hard to believe that they laid out this show in that manner with the intention to get Roman Reigns over.  If they did then they failed so miserably it's hard to comprehend.  It's not often that I get worked up in a negative way about wrestling anymore, but this main event baffled me and got me right to the edge of angry if I'm being honest.  It sounds stupid, but it's the truth. 

    Since then we've had a kayfabe surgery for Roman Reigns along with a promise that he's going to deliver a beating like Triple H has never received.  Hopefully that's the case and hopefully it culminates with a heel Roman Reigns at Mania or just after.  That's my only hope right now as a guy who really likes Roman Reigns.  They cannot continue going on this way if they want to maximize his value.  It's insane.

  • Brock attacks Dean, Dean challenges Brock--The parking garage attack by Brock Lesnar on an arriving Dean Ambrose that was on social media before the show was really solid.  Dean jacking the ambulance and showing up on Raw was expected.  The execution of it left a lot to be desired. 

    Look, I like Dean Ambrose a lot.  He's probably my favorite guy in WWE behind Roman Reigns.  He isn't perfect though and I thought this segment was a great example of hammy Dean Ambrose that doesn't really work for me as well.  His "CrAzY!" gimmick needs to be dialed back just a touch because he came off like a caricature last night.  Al that said, I'm looking forward to the match at Mania.  I had no issue with the rumored Bray Wyatt v Brock Lesnar Mania match, but I think this will be better.  I just wish this segment last night was better.

  • Ryback turns--The Big Guy bailed on the Titans of WWE and cut a backstage promo saying it wasn't personal.  It looks like a heel turn and that's a shame honestly. Ryback is going to be this era's Lex Luger or Big Show who has his value harmed by constant turning.  Hopefully he at least gets an increased push out of this, but I have my doubts. 

This Raw was carried by the power of Shane McMahon's return.  The show felt important and had an energy regardless how poorly they handled the main event so I have to give it a thumbs up.  I think in my post-Raw Twitter rant I basically said, "This may be bad, but at least it's exciting."  Honestly, considering how boring a three hour Raw can be I will take exciting.

If you're interested in a full review of the show I always recommend Powell's WWE Raw Live TV Review.

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