[Editor’s Note: Our resident backup recapper takes over during The Rock’s segment – so if you have an extra-strong urge to get the bricks this week, now you know who to aim for! …But please don’t aim well, as I am fragile and bruise easily.]
Okay, Raw recap is a swift one this week, as my household has the plague and, hey, there was a PPV! I was tired! Some of us have to watch those until 4am. Bloody American schedules.
We kick off Raw (after a recap) with, of course, an Authority segment, because they’re just soooo pleased with themselves after last night. As well they should be, the first time in two years that the whole thing hasn’t been a chorus of asking for refunds and booing. Steph, helping her geriatric father into the ring, is out in the full leather gear, because she was the one who got Trips into it back in the day. Vince is pretty excited about the idea of breaking Roman Reigns in half and… ripping his heart out. Steph’s face is a picture and a half, watching her father talk; it just keeps moving in a way that suggests that she’s really, really not sure what’s happening right now. Vince says he doesn’t care about keeping his audience happy – well, I guess that explains the Raw ratings.
Steph calls her husband ‘The Game’… does the father of your children make you call him that? I love hearing Steph talk about her hubby with such love and devotion. She even announces him like she’s a desperate groupie waiting for her idol, and it makes me so, so happy. I love how in love they are. Trips comes out in his suit, which he unbuttons to reveal he’s had a suit tailored so that he can wear the belt under it. That’s a hell of a tailoring job. I do think everyone suggesting it was a surprise is a bit far, though, I mean… we all called it. We’ve all been calling it for weeks.
Trips talks a big game – hah – about how good Roman is, and how he could be the greatest wrestler, but he doesn’t have any respect, he’s too arrogant. Uhm. I know we’re going to use Trips to sell Roman into the title at Mania, but still. This is a little heavy handed, Trips. There’s a loooong section where Trips call calls Vince God, which suggests Trips himself is the Mary Magdalene of wrestling, and says that he doesn’t need to be the champion, but he wants to be. Petulant child Triple H. Somewhere, Max Landis is slightly worried he can write the future while explaining the past. The only other explanation is that wrestling returns to old spots like a dog returns to vomit.
Dolph Ziggler is going to have a match against Kevin Owens, because KO hasn’t taken enough punishment lately, and Dolph exists to get other wrestlers over, these days. Kevin’s still limping after last night, and he makes his way to the ring like a wounded bear. Ziggler gets an early superkick and a pin and then takes KO outside the ring to attempt to get a quick victory.
There’s a good Famouser from Ziggler, which looks like it might get the pin, but not quite, and KO gets him up on his shoulders easily, before a sleeper hold from Dolph gets him in a poor spot. He goes for the cannonball once he gets Dolph off his back, but Dolph dodges, then a lovely suplex from Owens prompts a superkick from Ziggler. Hang on – is Michael Cole calling spots? Has Mauro been teaching him how to do it properly?
In the end, it’s a pop-up powerbomb from Owens to take Ziggler down for the three count, and Owens is so hurt he has to snarl at the referee for raising the wrong arm for the victory. A really strong, exciting match to take us into the start of Raw.
Reigns is backstage to be interviewed by tiny Jojo – someone please get her a box to stand on so she can fit in the same shot as these guys? I know it’s a thing, use small women to make them look bigger, but it just makes the interviews look unprofessional, with poor Jojo just a bobbing head at the bottom of the shot as Roman’s bulk fills most of the screen. Roman looks confused, then amused, and gives a nothing of an answer to her questions about Vince’s statements. We’re then told a terrible piece of news, which is that Flo Rida got the official WrestleMania theme. Dear god. The apocalypse really is coming.
The Social Outcasts have come to have a chat, and they’re all adorable. Bo’s swapped his nappy-like trunks for boxer-brief style ones, proving he’s a big boy now. We get the wonder that is Heath calling out Flo Rida, telling him to sit down and shut up. Adam is upset that anyone could dare to rile up his boyfriend other than him, calling him ‘Red Dragon’. If they’re not banging, I’ll eat JBL’s hat. Bo Dallas calls out Flo Rida to come into the ring, after Curtis Axel is confused about Mommy Rose’s nickname for Daddy Slater. Flo Rida comes into the ring alone, and Health says he doesn’t want to hurt him – but that they will embarrass him. So Flo Rida and Bo Dallas have a rap battle. I swear, I’m not kidding, I mean, I’m on a lot of heavy opiates right now, but I’m pretty sure this actually happened. At the end, Flo Rida calls the Dudley Boys out to face the Social Outcasts.
In this match, Bo reveals his new outfit is actually a singlet. Hmm. Makes sense, I guess, taking it old school. Most of what we learn from this match is that Bo Dallas can’t take a punch for very long, and that Curtis Axel is an angry little man. Boy’s got a lot of repressed rage, but that’s not exactly saving him against the Dudleys. Flo Rida dumps Heath into the ring, upsetting the Red Dragon, and just as Flo Rida goes to throw a punch, Heath runs away, straight into Bubba Ray.
It’s not the match of the year, by any stretch of the imagination, but you know what it is? Fun. Bo takes his buddies on a ‘Bo Train’ run around the ring, everyone’s pretty into what they’re doing, the crowd are laughing along, and… it feels really good. The Dudleys win, pinning Curtis Axel, and celebrate with Flo Rida. The Social Outcasts take their leave, Mummy Adam cuddling his hubby and babies, and promising that he’ll go up to the school on Monday and talk to the principal.
Renee Young is trying to interview AJ Styles, and I’m trying to refuse to care, because homophobic dickwad. But reporting is reporting, and apparently we want to know who AJ Styles is – for those of us who don’t use google, or didn’t care, he’s had an illustrious career in TNA, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he was part of the infamous Bullet Club formed by our very own Finn Bálor, back when he was still Prince Devitt. He held a string of championships in TNA and was the first American champion in NJPW. It’s a pretty illustrious career, but I don’t care, because homophobic dickwad. I’ll probably do an opinion piece dissecting that later. Anyway, Jericho calls him ‘the biggest, hottest free agent in the world’, and gets excited about beating him to death. Well, I would, too. Jericho’s too flamboyant to not at least have gay friends, even if he isn’t himself.
We hear about Nikki’s neck surgery – which I now know went very well, so we have to hope that Nikki can at least have a less violent in-ring career after this. She’s been sorely missed while she’s been out.
Jericho’s got his sparkly jacket on again and some frankly obscene red trunks, because he’s here for us, ladies. He’s also co-ordinated with Lilian, as her dress matches his LEDs. Sorry, AJ, I can’t like you, so Jericho gets the good commentary here. The crowd chants ‘this is awesome’ before either man has even done anything, which I find pretty excessive. I know, in-ring he’s exciting, and he’s new blood, and we’re all keyed up about this, but let him actually wrestle first? Also I love that his first match (other than the Rumble) is against an old man who part-times in a rock band and who’s been wrestling for long enough that his name gimmick references the Millennium Bug. AJ seems to be working pretty stiff, which Jericho also had a reputation for, so perhaps that’s why they’ve been paired together – I can imagine there are quite a few people who won’t want to be worked as aggressively as Styles works Jericho in this match. Maybe Jericho’s just selling very well, but he’s not normally quite this responsive, so it could just be the two of them taking a chance to work very stiff with someone who does the same.
Jericho catches Styles beautifully with a dropkick on the apron, and Styles goes down hard, catching his shoulder. You can see him flex his fingers for a second to check everything’s still running properly. There’s a spot with some chops for Styles, Jericho countering, and Jericho grins for a second. They’re having fun with this, absolutely, and it’s impressive. I don’t want to like Styles, but I can’t argue with the in-ring situation – it’s a good match, the bumps are sold well, both men are clearly in some pain. This isn’t like watching two guys who sell well from minimal spots. This is genuinely impressive.
Jericho hits a gorgeous northern lights suplex and bridges into it – more men should use the bridge, it’s an impressive show of flexibility and adds a little something to moves – and Styles manages to bridge up from a pin, a terrific show of strength. There are some very near falls and then a great spot with Styles coming off the top rope with impressive agility and speed. Makes me miss Seth Rollins and his flippy shit. Jericho locks Styles into the Liontamer, and for a moment, it looks as though Styles is going to have to tap. He crawls on his hands to the bottom rope to force a break – it’s impressive. He’s really being showcased to the best of his abilities in his Raw debut, as well he should be.
Jericho moves out of the way of a big splash, goes for a lionsault, gets countered and then there’s a roll-up reversal spot that leaves Jericho with his shoulders down for the three count. That was a brilliant match, Styles matching his pacing to Jericho, the two of them moving easily and smoothly… just spectacular. I really wanted Styles to be bad so I could hate him for more reasons, but I guess he’s a bigot and yet also a brilliant wrestler.
After the match, Styles holds his hand out for a shake, but they don’t move their hands, and Jericho pulls him in close, the two of them having a now kiss moment, hands clasped and faces close. Jericho says something the cameras don’t catch, then walks away, smirking.
We’re teased with a limo holding the star who’s been teased for tonight, and then re-introduced to the French announce team, who have the best facial expressions I’ve ever seen. Bonjour, monsieurs!
Sasha comes out, and we get a recap of the Becky/Charlotte match, with The Kiss distinctly not mentioned. Sasha’s coming for the title belt – but before that, she’s got to fight off another challenger: Becky. Becky clearly wants payback for Sasha coming in and kicking her out of the ring the night before, and it starts pretty aggressive.
Sasha starts with some shoving and trash talk, and Becky considers, nods, and then slams into Sasha, shoving her down. The crowd are actually chanting for Becky which, considering how strong support for Sasha is, really tells you how over Becky has got during the last month or so. That’s impressive. Sasha doesn’t stop the trash talk the entire time, continually talking about how she’s going to be champ, how she’s better than Becky, and Becky uses some of her pent up rage to bellow at the crowd. An impressive suplex from Becky gives her a pin, but it’s quickly kicked out of, and they’re back to going at it.
Sasha is furious when her pin also ends at two, and she pulls Becky up by the hair to roll her up, but it slips through, Becky getting the armbar on, and Sasha pushing Becky’s shoulders down to force the pin. The two grapple for a moment before Sasha gets the Bank Statement – and then the bell is ringing as Charlotte pulls Sasha off Becky, flinging her out of the ring, and goes to town on Becky Lynch, suplexing her after waving the title in her face. Becky rolls out, and Charlotte’s jumped by Sasha – but it’s not enough to stop Charlotte viciously beating her down and then holding up her title in the middle of the ring.
She smirks as her two NXT buddies lie groaning in the ring, one last disgusted look back at Becky as she walks back to the top of the ramp. See, THAT is Charlotte getting heel heat on her own terms, with her own actions, and that’s exactly what we want to see. Not some old man forcibly kissing a woman who probably doesn’t have the job security to say no to a spot she finds disagreeable.
Goldust is backstage, stealing R-Truth’s headphones and having a little jam to them, Goldie says he’s been looking for Truth everywhere, because he’s looking for a new partner. Well, that’s not quite what he says, because he has to mime having an orgasm and hiss about it, wriggling his body and making clicking noises, because that’s Goldust for you. Amuses the hell out of me that people think Stardust is the insane one in that family. R-Truth says there’s nothing wrong with that, but he doesn’t swing that way, and besides, he’s a married man – and it takes Goldie until he’s left for him to get the words out that he meant a tag team partner. Oh! Well, why didn’t you just say so?
We’re also told that on the Highlight Reel, it’ll be Dean and Roman talking to Chris Jericho… not going to lie, the picture looks like they’re announcing their engagement and intention to marry. Seth rollins is sat at home somewhere, quietly crying because they haven’t asked him to be Maid of Honour.
Bray Wyatt is having a jaunt down to the ring, and Kane is out on day release to face him. Obviously Wyatt’s not alone, as the Wyatts are like girls at the club, they don’t even go to the bathroom alone. We obviously get a recap of the Wyatts taking down Lesnar after they were eliminated and taking him out of the rumble, before Kane saunters down, his pyro making a grand entrance. I thought we’d already done the whole Wyatt/Brothers of Destruction thing…. please don’t tell me that Taker’s last match, rumoured to be Mania, is going to be against Bray Wyatt.
Bray has zero finesse. That’s one thing you notice upon seeing Bray vs. Kane, having seen Seth Rollins vs. Kane. The crowd chant ‘we want Lesnar’ because they’re tired of seeing this, and then there’s some drama with fans dressed as Undertaker, Randy Savage, and Hulk Hogan – a security guy clearly goes to speak to them, and then the crowd boo, before they chant ‘Randy Savage’ and the guy dressed as Savage stands up, showing off his costume to thunderous applause. When he is, once more, asked to sit down (and I think remove their costumes), there are more boos. I agree, crowd of Miami, it’s a very dull match, and we would have ignored these fans (like we had for all the other matches) if there had been something worth watching happening in the ring.
Bray rolls out to get away and be coddled by Rowan, but Kane comes straight back out, knocking Rowan out of the way to take Bray back in, He even spares time to knock Harper off the apron. Got to be pretty hard to wrestle while the crowd are howling at what’s going on outside the ring. Bray takes Kane down with a Sister Abigail – poor Kane, no one appreciates you properly and it breaks my dark little heart – and the Wyatts slide in for Strowman to put Kane into a bear hug, and then the double powerbomb from Harper and Rowan puts him down and keeps him there. Bray does some more cryptic posturing, and we’re done here.
Wrestlemania is only 69 days away, which is funny, because 69. This is WWE’s thing, the leaked announcer’s notes say no one knows dates, they only know days, or weeks, so they try to give us the number of days, rather than the date of Mania. Like, when it’s more than 30 days away… just say two months.
Back to the limo segment, because we’re all very excited about who might be in there – it’s a very big limo, maybe it’s a VERY big wrestler! Rich knocks on the window of the limo… and out climbs The Miz! No one’s particularly excited, despite Miz talking – and then a truck pulls up. Cue the screams of the crowd, because Roman’s very, very over cousin, The Rock is here!
Rock has a cuddle with Rick Ross, and then with Big Show – and makes him cry in about thirty seconds by saying he could have had the movie roles The Rock had. The audience chant for him, but he’s busy checking around to make sure no one sees him talking to Lana. Oh, good, more sex talk about Lana’s private life. I’m almost completely convinced this is the price Lana has to pay for stopping that awful Ziggler storyline by breaking the story on her real engagement to Rusev – apparently she’s not been popular with the higher ups since then, so I suspect that having to be part of storylines where people insinuate she’s slept her way through the company is someone’s idea of revenge, and she feels she’s in enough trouble that she can’t say no to them.
The Rock talks about how he’s been up since quarter to four in the morning – incidentally, this recap has taken your very sick recapper so long, it’s now quarter past four in the morning, UK time – which perhaps explains why he’s buzzing like he just mainlined Red Bull. And talking about himself in the third person.
It’s easy to get keyed up about The Rock. He’s got a very infectious cheerful persona, and he’s such high energy that it’s hard to feel like there are any issues with him. The crowd even chant ‘this is awesome’ before he says anything! But when it comes down to it, his speeches are three things: about him, about people being gay, or about women. Which is… a little disappointing, when analysed. Without looking too closely? He’s brilliant.
The Rock actually goes down to the guys in the crowd dressed as wrestlers, who are clearly getting a hell of a lot of crowd attention, and takes the time to have a couple of words with them on mic, and on camera, which I’m pretty sure made their nights. You catch yourself grinning, because he’s such an infectious, cheerful character, he sells himself as a man of the people, and you just go with it. He’s got a charm that you can’t deny.
[Recap Intermission: Due to medical issues your usual recapper has handed the reins (yes, I almost spelled that ‘reigns’) to a backup recapper. Hello! I am not nearly as prolific, but I will try my very best to be as entertaining – or, at the very least, as sassy and lewd. Anyway, onto the rest of the recap!]
So The Rock gets a little sassy at the costumed dudes just to make sure they pay attention – you’ve had your fifteen minutes, kids, now settle the heck down – and then pretty much takes control of the audience, because that’s what he does best. But before he can say much, here comes the New Day, as if we didn’t have enough charisma out here. The Rock looks legitimately amused at Big E’s booty shaking, but honestly, who isn’t? Xavier takes a moment to name drop Byron Saxton, who seems genuinely pleased at this turn of events, and can I just say it’s a little weird that the heels know more about the product than the face in this scenario? The New Day say they’ve whooped some people, including The Dudleys, “from your era,” which only serves to remind us that The Dudleys are hella old and so am I. But anyway, the New Day go on and are entertaining, as per usual. I could listen to them ramble damn near all day. Also, Francesca II is actually made of gold because Xavier traded up, apparently. Xavier says they’re champs and in the process does things with his tongue, and my mind goes to terrible, terrible places. They then call out The Rock for getting ‘the hell outta here’ when he left for his Hollywood career and that he ‘did it for the paycheck’ which, y’know, isn’t entirely wrong, I’m just saying.
Amused Rock is amused, but before he says anything he stops to listen to the audience chanting his name, in case we needed a reminder of who’s going to ‘win’ this segment. The Rock gives the New Day props for being entertaining but then goes on to point out the “llama penises” strapped to their heads. “YOU CAN’T SAY PENISES ON TV!” the New Day stage-whispers, multiple times, on TV, bless their hearts. And of course there’s a ‘LLAMA PENIS’ chant, in case we thought PG meant we were going to steer away from potty humor and dick jokes. Also, the phrase ‘chocolate cornholes’ is used, and I’m reminded of why I like Dwayne the person but not the character of The Rock. And oh look, now he’s calling Big E “big momma” and saying “she’s upset,” because clearly dissing a dude by calling him a woman is a fabulous idea in 2016. He also uses ‘nerdy’ as an insult and says Big E is what would happen if ‘the Incredible Hulk banged Urkel’ – clearly whoever wrote this hasn’t watched television in fifteen years. They may also be fifteen years old, but I’m not sure a fifteen-year old today would know who Urkel is.
The Rock challenges the New Day to get into the ring, so he can shove poor Francesca II up their asses. Why is he obsessed with their posteriors? Then again, they’re equally obsessed with booty, so they’re a match made in butt heaven. While the New Day discuss their options, The Rock calls them “three uni-bitches in a circle,” and I’m not even sure what he meant by that except that I guess he wanted to say ‘bitches’ on TV. The New Day retreat up the ramp because the WWE Universe™ apparently doesn’t ‘deserve’ to see this match. The Rock stops them and says he’s got ‘a plan on top of a plan’. The Rock is now Xanatos, a reference which I’m hoping will not sail over anyone’s heads because if it does I will be so disappointed. Anyway, The Rock’s Plan A failed, but he’s got a Plan B, and cue Big E muttering about how he “got snipped already” because ha ha, contraceptive joke! Plan B, by the way, actually turns out to be ‘family’ – aka the Usos in a surprise attack, tossing the New Day into the ring despite their refusals. Womp womp. There’s a Rock Bottom to Big E, a Samoan Drop to Kofi, and poor horrified Xavier gets a double superkick followed by a spine buster, and on top of that, the People’s Elbow. We close this segment with The Rock saying that we’ll see him and his family at ‘Mania. Hooray, I guess!
Next up is Brie Bella and Alicia Fox, the remnants of Team Bella, versus the new-ish Total Divas-inspired team-up of Paige and Natalya. Byron wants to have a viewing party for Total Divas, and he’s made fun of, because he’s always made fun of. Hold up, though: does this mean they want us to not like Total Divas, or do they want us to make fun of Byron for liking a thing that’s For Girls? I don’t know how to feel about this, or how I’m supposed to feel, except I still don’t like or watch Total Divas, so the Paige/Nattie team still feels incredibly out of place. Oh, well.
Alicia starts off aggressive, and Nattie tumbles around only to get a few well placed kicks for her trouble. Alicia then tags in Brie. By the way? Alicia’s haircut is badass, and I’m really liking this new aggression too. Also, this is a hard match for me to call, since commentary isn’t actually calling this match but instead talking about Nattie being thankful to be here, or something. K, cool I guess. Brie shoves a forearm at Nattie and goes for a quick cover and gets a two count. Brie then puts her into a submission, which Nattie gets out of, shoving an elbow into Brie’s midsection for a few good shots until Brie slams her to the floor. Brie takes a moment to do that LOSER L sign on her forehead at Paige. Ah, yes, jock versus freak, that is certainly a thing… though I get the feeling the Bellas would pull that sign at anyone who looked at them funny. Which amuses me greatly. Meanwhile, commentary says that Team BAD is “pretty much running things around here” which is weird, since I haven’t actually seen Tamina or Naomi around here for a while. I guess they’re running things in secret, a Unity-flavored illuminati, the power behind Sasha’s throne. Someone write me a fanfic.
Brie does some of those Yes kicks the crowd seems to love, ending with a two-footed dropkick to Nattie’s chest. She then follows up with Brie Mode, because there’s nothing that says ‘fearless’ like a move named after getting extremely drunk. Nattie easily dodges and then crawls to Paige but is pulled back by Brie for a moment. Nattie finally tags in Paige, who kicks Brie in the face, then kicks her around some more, and then covers her for a two count. This wasn’t enough damage, so Paige pulls Brie into the PTO, almost succeeding until a sudden rude interruption by Aggressive Alicia’s boot, ouch. But before Alicia can do anymore damage, Nattie charges in and slams her down, shoving her out of the ring, leaving Paige to perform a cradle DDT on Brie for the pin, and the win. Well, despite my continued misgivings with the reasoning for the Paige/Nattie team, that wasn’t so bad at all, and I’m always happy to see Natalya do her thing in the ring.
There’s a Be A Star anti-bullying video package, which only serves to remind me that I really, really wish they’d stop blurring kayfabe and reality so they wouldn’t look weirdly hypocritical when they do these things. Sigh.
And now, the Miz would like us to know that he’s tired of being interrupted! The Miz is then promptly interrupted by Kalisto… and oh, how awesome Kalisto looks with that US title. And oh, how happy I am that a hispanic dude has the US title HA HA HAA FUCK YES LATIN@S REPRESENT– sorry, sorry, I’m just absurdly happy about this. …Okay! So! The match! Ahem.
The bell rings, and Miz stops angrily stalking his corner of the ring to dive at Kalisto. Miz isn’t the most talented in the ring, but he sure is determined. Kalisto, meanwhile, just barely has time to set his title down before getting some kicks to the gut, ow. He answers Miz’s barely focused tantrum by whipping Miz back into his corner and giving back some of those kicks, because Kalisto’s a nice guy who knows it’s better to give than to receive. Miz attempts to toss our hero into the ropes, but Kalisto bounces back, and Miz gets a knee to the face followed by a lovely spinning headscissors. Miz ends up outside the ring, which is great for Kalisto, who takes this perfect opportunity to dive out after him, earning himself a nice little ‘LU! CHA! LU! CHA!’ chant from the crowd. Kalisto dances along for a moment before tossing poor dazed Miz back into the ring and pouncing on him for a crossbody and a two count.
Commentary prattles on about something or other, which makes this recap twice as difficult to write up as it’s like listening to an unrelated podcast at the same time as a fairly entertaining match. I say fairly entertaining because, while Kalisto is always a delight on my screen and the Miz oozes mic charisma, I have to ask: why does the Miz want to fight Kalisto, anyway? They have no history, and this isn’t a title match. They don’t exactly have a ton of in-ring chemistry either – they’re not horrible, don’t get me wrong, but this ain’t exactly Rollins/Ambrose, if you know what I mean. The only two things this match seems to do is repeat the ‘everyone interrupts the Miz’ joke and give Kalisto a few more minutes of time to shine. Replace the Miz with someone who actually needed some screen time (Breeze? Fandango? …Bueller?) and I would’ve been a little more entertained, I think. As it stands, I’m frustrated at how difficult it is to pay attention. This is what happens when there’s no storyline and commentary is almost actively ignoring the action. Bah.
Back to the match: it’s battle of the headlocks punctuated in between with a quick attempt at a mask removal, which I really wish commentary would point out as it seems the crowd doesn’t notice or particularly give two shits about it. They barely care when, after shoving Kalisto down, Miz proceeds to angrily taunt him with slow mocking lu-cha arm pumps, complete with scrunched up angry pug face. I guess Miz adds ‘lack of crowd participation’ to his list of things to get angry about, as his flailing offense gets more and more furious – though that could also be the fact that Miz’s every attempt to do anything worthwhile only results in Kalisto countering and looking better in the process. Raw even goes to commercial while leaving us with the imagery of a happy arm-pumping Kalisto standing in the center of the ring, while Miz lays somewhere off-screen, no doubt licking his wounds and plotting revenge that’s hopefully more successful than his offense so far.
Apparently this works, as the one good move Miz is able to pull off happens during a goddamn commercial. The replay makes it look less like a move and more like a botch, however, and I’m wondering if Miz was just lucky or if he simply has infinitely more talent when cameras aren’t on him. The irony would be delicious and also sad. At any rate, the match quickly devolves into a case of The Miz And The Angry Punches, followed closely by The Miz And The Angry Floppy Hair, and eventually The Miz And The Angry Yelling At The Crowd. Not sure what they were chanting to get him to respond, though, as commentary was talking too loudly about largely unrelated topics for me to hear a damn thing. Thanks for nothing, guys.
So Angry Flailing Miz keeps angrily flailing at Kalisto, as the crowd continues to chant incoherently, culminating in Miz shouting out “I’m the MIZ!” in a style not unlike Big Show yelling about how he’s a GIANT, as if someone mistook him for someone else and the crowd just went with it for a while to entertain themselves until the main event. They do wake up somewhat whenever Kalisto does something cool – like that corkscrew forearm off the rope – but they largely don’t respond to anything Miz does, which is weird and a little bit disappointing, and maybe I’m starting to understand why Miz just keeps getting more frustrated. Sidenote: Miz’s messy floppy hair is kind of hot, a little bit. Just, y’know, throwing that out there. Anyway, eventually Miz attempts his Skull Crushing Finale only for it to be countered into a Salida del Sol, and Kalisto pins him for the win. JBL dismisses the happy victor Kalisto by calling his moves “flippy floppy,” so I guess he doesn’t call the match because he just doesn’t know what any of those moves are. Poor, dumb JBL.
Main event time! Roman makes his usual special entrance, flashing the occasional smile at the kids but mostly looking either determined or vaguely worried, as per usual. Dean enters with the Intercontinental Title actually around his waist and good lord, Dean, your waist is tiny. The League of Nations march out – well, all except for Barrett, who bounces around and laughs with glee because he is so damn happy to be around his boys, you guys. And Del Rio… well, Del Rio is here! One bell ring later, the match starts and starts fast, with Sheamus and Roman going after each other hard, dealing painful-looking blows to each other. Sheamus’ translucent skin has me temporarily distracted as I keep thinking I’ll find giant red welts where Roman’s fists land, but no dice (for now?). Dean tags in for five seconds’ worth of chops and a double boot to Sheamus’ pasty, pasty chest before immediately tagging Roman back in, and for some reason I find this cute because it’s like sharing a vanilla milkshake on a date, except the milkshake wants to Brogue Kick them.
Sheamus rolls out of the ring like the pasty little sneak he is, and Rusev takes the opportunity to try rushing Roman, who is fortunately ready for him with a hard thwack that leaves the Bulgarian Brute just dizzy enough for Dean to take advantage and hurl himself at Rusev, who goes over the ropes where Sheamus deposited himself earlier. Cue Dean deciding this is a great chance to dive on them from the top buckle, causing JBL to exclaim, “What is WRONG with him?!” And y’know what, JBL? I’m not sure, since y’all don’t seem to have an issue with that move when anyone else is doing it. Man, that JBL’s such a hothead.
One commercial break later, Roman is now being beaten by Sheamus, who has him in a headlock while Barrett looks on with pride and Dean scampers across the apron like a distracted puppy. Eventually Roman regains some ground, and can I just say his clotheslines look great because they look less like clotheslines and more like ‘Roman tosses his entire body in his opponent’s general direction and slightly to the left’ which… sounds almost like a spear with the aim assist turned off. Clearly the IWC hate Roman because he’s a dirty console peasant.
There’s a cool bit with the camera crawling up behind Dean as he bounces impatiently, and across the ring we can see Barrett hanging over the ropes trying to motivate his boyfriend, and even Del Rio’s getting into it despite himself. Roman finally makes the tag and Dean explodes into the ring, landing wild hit after wild hit on Sheamus, as commentary oh so brilliantly sells this drunken monkey style offense as “he doesn’t know what he’s doing!” At least they follow up with saying he’s “incredibly effective,” as Dean sails through the ropes for a suicide dive at Sheamus, and – did someone just say Dean is “sipping on a slurpee full of crazy”? Are they high? Is that what’s going on? It really would explain a lot.
The League gangs up on Dean and tosses him into the timekeeper’s area, and a concerned Roman attempts to head over but is stopped by Lil Naitch who wants to see this play out as it reminds him of this fanfic he’s writing. Rusev gets his hands on Dean and shoves his kidneys into the apron and then hauls Dean back into the ring for a two count, after which Rusev stalks around angrily while Barrett yells “MATCHKA! MATCHKA!” and Roman frets in the distance. Another suplex and a two count forces Rusev to tag Sheamus, but not before Rusev delivers a final ‘screw you and your resilience’ kick to the side. The ‘Aaaaambrose’ chants start up, as well as boos for Sheamus, while Barrett remains all grins outside the ring, and it occurs to me for the millionth time this match that Barrett would make a fantastic manager. Roman, meanwhile, stalks the apron like a neurotic panther cub. Dean takes so many Irish Curse Backbreakers, so many, and Rusev stands on the bottom rope, screeching at poor disoriented Dean while Sheamus keeps him there in a headlock.
The crowd finally rouses Dean, who attempts to simply hurl himself at Roman, but Sheamus catches him before Roman can, Lil Naitch taking internal notes for the next chapter of his fanfic. Rusev is tagged in once again, and there are so many elbow drops I almost get worried about Rusev injuring himself. Barrett isn’t concerned at all and is, in fact, now the official cheerleader of the League, shouting about power and basically being a better motivational speaker than Bo Dallas (but who isn’t?). Commentary talks about how Dean’s body is clearly failing him, except this is followed almost immediately by Dean slamming Rusev down and rolling out of the ring, Barrett yelling out in concern for his precious Bulgarian bunny.
Rusev retrieves Dean and then tags Sheamus back in, clearly tired of Dean’s shenanigans. Sheamus arranges a punch drunk Dean on the ropes and, well, punches him a lot. One would think people would learn by now that this is the spinach to Dean’s Popeye. Sheamus gets Dean up against the barricades to yell about how Dean isn’t tough at all, no sir, and a hilariously red-faced Sheamus is apparently just what Dean needs to recharge, doing his little ridiculous spinny-apron-thing and delivering a lariat – look, should we just call this the apron variation of the Lunatic Lariat? Dean crawls back into the ring, dives at Roman, aaaand… tag, you’re it!
The crowd pops LOUD for Roman, which warms the darkest cockles of my shriveled little heart. Roman delivers multiple lariats and then is bounced into the ropes only to hurl himself clear the fuck over Rusev, and okay, tell me this, WHY are they trying to sell Roman as a powerhouse when he sails through the air so beautifully? His skills in kicking and jumping clearly make him a dual class Dragoon/Monk, which is so much more interesting than the Berserker they’re trying to sell him as. I am frustrated at the DM. …Anyway, Roman tosses out both Rusev and Sheamus and then runs around the ring to greet them with more pain. He misses the Superman Punch but makes up for it with what I believe is a Samoan Drop and what commentary simply calls “Wow!” Sigh. One drive-by apron kick to Rusev later, and Roman hurls him back into the ring and into a corner, with nine counts of forearm slams followed by a lovely hard right hand, sending Rusev to the ground. Ow.
Roman loads his special fist (tee hee hee), but he’s interrupted by a sneaky Del Rio and Barrett climbing onto the apron, and he chases them away only to get a Rusev kick followed by a Sheamus tag-in and Brogue Kick. Sheamus attempts a pin but is interrupted by a Sudden Ambrose Appearance! Rusev runs screaming at Dean, who can hear him coming and sidesteps, Rusev pretty much tossing himself out of the ring. Dean goes after him, while Sheamus tries throwing Roman into the ropes once again, but – whoops, Sheamus gets a spear for his troubles, and he’s pinned for the win. Go Team Ambreigns!
The match is over, but Dean and Roman aren’t done yet. Roman casually tosses Rusev into the steel steps, and Dean clears up the commentary tables. They grab Rusev, shove him on top of the table, and for a moment it looks like a fanfic I’ve read. And then Roman and Dean proceed to shatter my heart as they perform a double powerbomb on Rusev – or as commentary puts it: “Shades of the Shield!” Rusev is laid out on a now broken table, and Roman’s music rings out before it’s rudely interrupted by Steph McMahon. She’s impressed by their antics, truly, and decides that the main event of Fastlane is going to be a triple threat match: Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns… and Brock Lesnar. Whuh-oh. Dean and roman look at each other with no small amount of “are you fucking serious,” and we close out Raw with a great shot of our favorite bros standing tall, the Wrestlemania sign hovering behind them like a grim spectre.