We start Raw with a recap of last week’s Raw, Ambrose going after Lesnar and asking to be pulled apart. I like that they’re highlighting this side of the feud – of course, we know that Roman then broke in, even after Dean had asked him not to, and then Roman’s brilliantly impressed face as Dean hits the low blow. That was hilarious.
We start as we mean to go on, with lovely Dean out with his lovely belt around his tiny, lovely waist, still setting up for Fastlane, and the exciting brother vs brother vs beast. Dean Ambrose is ‘truculent’ – who gave commentary a dictionary? Did they find it in a bin? Once more, Dean is going to call out Brock, for ‘another piece’… does he have another one for you to hit, Dean? But no, it’s Stephanie who comes out instead, and Dean flops over like a ragdoll, because bless him, he hates authority.
Steph coos for ‘my husband, THE GAME’ and again, this bdsm relationship is uncomfortable for all of us to watch. Dean’s in a fatal fiveway match for his IC title, and if Roman interferes, then Dean’s disqualified and out of the triple threat match at Fastlane. Ooer missus.
First out is Kevin Owens, of course, because no one likes a fight with ol’ Deano more than KO, and then it’s Stardust with a cartwheel and some confetti, before twinky Tyler Breeze has come to be the most beautiful person in the room. Dolph Ziggler joins us as well, as it’s not a match unless he’s… there.
My stream has decided to buffer and stutter so much that I can’t see a single thing, and I can’t even hear things properly. Now, not being able to hear commentary is a blessing, but the rest of it is very frustrating. When I find a stream that works, vaguely, Dean and KO are in the ring, but not for long, because Dean’s happy to take KO out over the ropes. He grandstands for a second before running into a dropkick from Ziggler, who gets a pin, but it’s an easy kick out. Stardust tries his luck, and then Breeze. KO takes Breeze down outside the ring onto Ziggler and Stardust.
Back to Owens and Ambrose in the ring, and Dean gets a near fall before Stardust drags him out of the ring and leaves him lying by the steps. There’s a kick from breeze to Stardust on the apron, but this whole match is pretty sloppy, really. Dolph and Stardust are keeping out of it as much as they can, so Dean must be calling the spots, but a few feel like they miss the mark, like everyone’s just standing around and doing nothing while they wait for a spot to happen in the ring.
We come back from commercial to Stardust and Dean in the ring, and you can see Dean’s blows miss, which is pretty rare to be able to see from him. Maybe he’s being gentle on poor delicate Stardust. KO very nearly gets a fall on Dean, after Ziggler threw him down and Owens took the advantage. There’s a fun little spot with KO in the middle of the ring and the other four in a corner each, so KO can cannonball who he chooses. Breeze gets a pin on KO, but doesn’t get it, the other three leaping in to make it stop. You can hear Dean muttering the spots to the others as they lie there, heads close.
In the end, KO pins Tyler Breeze to win the IC title off Dean, who sits in the ring like a broken man as Owens cuddles his title. He’s missed draping it over his kids and taking cute pictures. Dean didn’t even borrow Roman’s kid and drape his title over her for Instagram. Dean’s shaking his head, unhappy, and the crowd are a chorus of unhappy noises. Makes sense if Dean’s going to stay in the main event spot, but it’s a little sad to see it come off him so soon – though KO can continue being sad that he didn’t win it off Dean, so is he really the best? Hopefully this is also setting up for the Owens/Zayn feud, because we all desperately want to see that.
We catch up with Dean backstage, punching walls, Renee there to calm him down. He says he’s not shocked, but he’s angry and frustrated. The title’s gone – when your hands are empty, it leaves them open for something better – the Authority had given him the motivation to win the match at Fastlane, to win at WrestleMania, because he has nothing left to lose. He says, does that give Renee goose bumps, and she cocks her head. Of course. Yes.
KO is talking to her, too, and Renee says she doesn’t want to give him any recognition and say he was right, that he was going to beat Dean. Dolph is there to give KO the golf claps for being the winner. Dolph says there isn’t a spotlight big enough for them to share, and that he’s made a habit of beating KO – so Dolph thinks he deserves to be the first opponent for the IC title, against Kevin Owens, at Fastlane.
It’s a New Day, yes it is! Big E is walking like a penguin, and I’m not sure why, but it’s adorable, before he trots like a pony. Xavier’s brushing dust off Francesca, and hey, it’s the run in with Edge and Christian from last September, with Big E eating the kazoo. Xavier Woods tells Big E and Kofi how to masturbate via playing the recorder. I don’t understand this segment at all, but I don’t care. They’re very unhappy that Mark Henry walked out on them last week, and call him a bootyhole. Uh. I just have a feeling that isn’t actually what you meant. Big E even makes the shape for us, so we know exactly what he’s talking about.
Mark Henry ambles out, and apparently this is a match against Big E, because the other two are little in comparison. Commentary are talking about Suarez, a man who bites people for fun. Surely if we want to talk about that, we talk about Dean Ambrose. The crowd try to do a ‘rooty tooty booty’ chant, but are drowned out by a louder ‘New Day rocks’ chant, and Big E says he’s Mark Henry’s daddy now.
Beautiful big splash from Big E, and he hits it twice, but still can’t pin him. I’m wondering whether The New Day are a little sore that people don’t write fanfic about them, because shouting ‘Big E two times, do it two times’ is just asking for porn to be written. Hip toss and some clotheslines from Mark Henry, but Big E ends up taking the win for The New Day.
In the wake of her husband Daniel Bryan’s retirement, Brie Bella is out for an exclusive interview. So we see Bryan talking about his wife, and his last Yes chant, and then open to Brie leading another in the middle of the ring. Poor woman is trying to speak on what’s obviously a hard topic to go over, and of course, Charlotte’s here to interrupt with the lich king Ric Flair behind her. Charlotte says she was blown away with the retirement speech, that there will never be another like him, he was in a league of his own. Charlotte says it’s not like he died or anything, and that you have to live each day as if it’s your last. The crowd woo, in the hope that Ric’s going to be the next to die.
Charlotte says she thinks that women should want to be at home and look after their husbands. Brie says Daniel supports her fighting Charlotte. Charlotte says they need the money, that Brie should open a bed and breakfast with Daniel and that she should help Nikki with physical therapy. Charlotte says the crowd don’t need Brie, but that her husband and sister do. Brie’s not backing down from the fight at Fastlane, and she’s not going to walk away.
Charlotte talks about Brie’s ‘goat faced vegan babies’ and so Brie gets a slap in, and yes-kicks her out of the ring, Charlotte and her aged corpse of a father creeping away. That’s a hell of a set up for the championship match, and while neither woman may be a great actress, having real emotions behind Brie’s speech helped her a lot, and Charlotte’s venom allows her to make great faces. I was so into that segment, you don’t even know.
Flashy man Jericho is out and about to sparkle ominously at us, because his boyfriend AJ is going to have a tussle with The Miz later, so he’s got to make a good showing. He’s going to be on commentary while his bae fights the mizzle. Gerard Butler is in the crowd, if that’s relevant. Jericho tries to play it off, saying that he’s not sure he likes AJ Styles, but he does respect him – sounds like you want to bang him, Chris. Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.
The Miz goes straight in, before the match has even begun, ripping AJ’s jacket off him, as the crowd manage a lacklustre chant for Styles. “Why do the WWE universe like him?” everyone asks, and we reply ‘because we’ve seen him in Japan and his previous wrestling stuff’. Watching The Miz drag Styles around by his mouth like he’s caught a big fish, and it’s brilliant, like Miz is outright calling him a cocksucker. I love watching these men work stiff, I really do, because it leads to a much more exciting match.
The Miz dominates early, but AJ gets himself riled up, and also has the crowd chants behind him. Jericho distracts The Miz, and AJ gets a huge elbow onto him out of that distraction, leaving The Miz on the floor as we go to commercial. When we come back, AJ is in the centre of the ring and The Miz comes from the top rope. The Miz is pretty angry tonight, but AJ seems to be technically getting the better of him, and there’s a brilliantly interesting move that no one names for me, because Mauro isn’t here. Humph. The Miz kicks out at two, and then there’s a bit of a tussle too, with AJ kicking out at two.
Pele kick from Styles and it looks like it’ll be the end, The Miz down for two and a half, leaving him in the middle of the ring as AJ takes in to the top rope, but The Miz fights him down off there, Styles slipping free. Beautiful forearm off the top rope from Styles to The Miz, but he kicks out of the pin, punch drunk before Skullcrushing Finale from The Miz to Styles. Styles kicks out at two and a half, and then rolls him up for the Calf Crusher, and a tap out from The Miz gives AJ Styles the win, the referee having to pull Styles off him at the end.
Jericho ambles around the ring with a mic, and decides that he can’t let this pass by without him getting to talk to the bae. Styles says he knows Jericho won on SmackDown, but that it’s eating him up inside that Styles beat him in his very first match. He wants a third one, at Fastlane, and Jericho’s never been proposed to before, so he doesn’t know what to say. He says he’ll let Styles know on Thursday if he can be bothered, which means I can’t do my predictions until we know when that’s happening and have the Fastlane match card. It’s like the world is conspiring against me.
A silent Black History Month video package again, with just a Mandela quote and no attempt to link it to wrestling. Okay. I’m also still having trouble with ‘paved the way for all of us’. That sounds very uncomfortable to me.
The Dudley Boyz are out following their heel turn, and have become nice young men now who put tables away very carefully and gently. They say they’re not going to be a nostalgia act, they don’t want to be the good old days, or a farewell tour – they’re the baddest tag team on the planet. Uh, you misspelled ‘worst’. They say they don’t want the chants anymore, because nostalgia acts are people too. They don’t give a damn what you chant anymore. Apparently this is just a talking segment. Cool. Okay.
Backstage is the glorious Paige, and she’s WRESTLING AGAIN. I’m even more excited because I know Little Kuriboh is there tonight, and he’s the one who got me into ‘heavenly angel Paige’, so I’m excited for him, too.
So it’s Paige vs Summer Rae – I’m really happy to see Summer in the ring, as I don’t think I’ve ever really caught her in the ring before, but I’m always happy to see the Diva’s roster expand from the maximum ten we had previously. Summer makes some squeaky noises, and shoves Paige around. I’m enjoying seeing these two Diva segments per Raw.
This is pretty dynamic, and it’s upsetting to hear the crowd going quiet, aside from the cheers for Paige’s scream of ‘this is my house’, because Sumer’s not unimpressive, even if her ring trash talk could do with some work. A couple of leg drops, emphasising her incredibly long legs, and okay, Summer might be a bit of a joke after that love quad thing, but that’s not her fault.
The ‘we want Sasha’ chants are frustrating. Sure, Summer is no Sasha, and she hasn’t got anything like the aggression of Sasha Banks, but she’s putting up a hell of a battle. She rolls Paige up for the win, and I don’t even care that it’s the most unlikely win I’ve ever seen, that was AWESOME. It wasn’t the best technical wrestling I’ve ever seen, no, but it was well-timed, well-executed, and I’d happily see more of Summer Rae in the ring.
Paul Heyman is here to try to get the crowd excited about something. I haven’t even seen any good crowd signs, California, how lazy are you? Paul says he’s not going to stand around and talk to empty air, he wants Roman to come out so he can talk to him face to face. The thing I love about Paul is he can get anyone over, even when he’s trying to do the opposite. Roman ambles down, smiling at people, after being called an ‘irascible hothead’. Uh, right. Yeah. This mild-mannered dad. Sure.
Paul stick his hand out for a handshake, and Roman lets him, with a look of bland confusion. Paul says he hopes Roman knows that he is not disrespectful, but that Roman needs to know that on Sunday, the Beast will win. However, Paul’s point is that Roman wants it, Roman wants to be there, wants to be able to go back to his wife and child and say he won.
Paul’s worried about Dean standing in Roman’s way, and says that Roman will have to choose between his daughter and his brother, he’ll have to choose friendship or family. Holy. Shit. Roman’s shoulders go back, hackles up, but Paul says Roman’s choice is to fight Dean, to take down Dean, or to admit to his wife and child that he couldn’t get the job done and couldn’t get the title. Sure, Paul says, Brock Lesnar stands in his way, but then, so does Dean Ambrose.
Roman looks like he’s thinking about it, and cracks a smile, says he’s good, says no one does that anymore. He shakes Paul’s hand, says he respects him. Roman says he made a choice a long time ago, that he pays the price for it. He says they don’t have problems fighting, and they’ll keep on fighting, but they’ll keep on being friends. Roman says he’s never beaten Lesnar, but that coming into Fastlane, he’s going to win, somehow. He’ll beat Triple H for the title, he will – and now he knows that Paul thinks he can do it. They stand, hands clasped, for a couple of second in the ring, and then Paul makes his way out.
In come the Dudleys? So D-Von and Bubba are kicking the hell out of Roman reigns in the centre of the ring, dragging him around by the hair and taking him down. As he fights back, the crowd raise a tiny cheer, but Dean coming out gets a bigger one, coming down to fight his brother’s corner. Between the two of them, they clear the ring of D-Von and Bubba, the referees coming out to separate them. Dean and Roman clasp hands, go in for the hug, and the Dean goes for Dirty Deeds, but Roman pulls away.
The two of them making the statement that, if you want to be ready for WrestleMania, you have to be ready to fight anyone, any time. Roman edges out of the ring, watching his back, as the crowd boo that we’re not getting the Ambreigns breakup they’ve been teasing us with for two weeks.
Vince has named some award after his abusive father, so that’s going to be a barrel of laughs next week, as apparently ‘no one has deserved it before’. Oh good.
Social Outcasts are HERE! And oh my god, it’s Zack flipping Ryder, too? They’ve let EVERYONE out of the dungeon this week! So it’s Heath Slater vs Zack Ryder. God, I love listening to the Outcasts talk to each other, the super cuties that they are. One hit in and Slater’s leading them in the victory lap, but Slater gets back into the ring and into Ryder’s fist.
Heath picks up the win incredibly quickly, because the numbers game isn’t on Ryder’s side, but it’s nice to have him back. I just love how happy they all are, it’s so cute. I love a Social Outcasts segment.
R-Truth is out with a lovely lady, and then out comes Goldust to offer champagne and say it isn’t 1997. There’s a suggestion that Goldie jizzes all over Truth’s date, and I’m just… a little bit done with these now. Just a weensy, weensy bit. Also my stream goes dark during it, so I cease to care.
Six man tag team action with the Lucha Dragons out with Neville again to face Sheamus, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio, because Barrett’s not allowed to wrestle, even when the alternative is a man whose arm just came out of a cast. We start of with Rusev in the ring, but the situation quickly breaks down, Rusev sent out, Del Rio coming in to get involved, and then Sheamus having to defend his bronzed baes. They all end up outside the ring, and that gives Neville, Sin Cara and Kalisto the chance to do some wonderful high-flying moves for us, before they skitter back into the ring as if they’ve already won, as we go to commercial.
When we come back, Sheamus is sticking the boot into Kalisto, who’s in the ring with Rusev. Sheamus looked like he was favouring his good wrist after time off, and he also looks like he’s keeping out of it somewhat. Probably a good idea. Sheamus is in the ring, to kick Kalisto around a little, and he hangs him up on the ropes, Del Rio dragging him off them and onto the floor, Sheamus sent out to retrieve him like a kid asking for his ball back. Sheamus goes for a delayed vertical suplex, but in the delay, Kalisto gets his knee into Sheamus’ head and reverses it into a DDT.
For once, the action gets faster with Del Rio in the ring, up against Sin Cara, and easily takes out Del Rio, pulling him down. It devolves into chaos again, but in the end, it’s Del Rio and Sin Cara in the ring. Sin Cara gets caught in the ropes in position for the double stomp, but halfway across the ring. Del Rio goes for it anyway, and gets the pin for the win. Rusev picks Barrett up and squeezes him as they celebrate their win.
Our second Black History Month segment, this time on Booker T, covering his felony charge for aggravated robbery, into his career starting in 1989 – the year that your recapper was born – and we hear of his WCW success before his WWE wins. We get recaps of the Booker T and Goldust tag team, and the Pulp Fiction pastiche. He’s always been a character, and he’s never stopped doing that, even as a Hall of Famer and a commentator. He’s a lesson a lot of the new kids could learn about character, and about being explosive in the ring, and out of it.
Becky was met in the car park by Naomi and Tamina, and they said they just wanted to make sure she made it on time and safely, and then of course they kick Becky into her car. That was a loud noise. Next up, Becky vs Naomi! Three segments with women in? I don’t know what this is, but sign me up for it every single week, okay? This is marvellous!
The league are backstage having a cuddle, and Del Rio has an interview with Renee, so they head off to get lubed up and ready for him. Del Rio says that at Fastlane, the match needs to be two out of three falls, and then he whistles. Renee Young looks correctly displeased at being whistled at like an animal. Respect her, Del Rio, she’s wonderful.
Becky Lynch to fight Naomi, who comes over the top rope beautifully to start the match, and Tamina’s up there to make the numbers uneven. She hits a Lassplex early and takes Naomi right out of the ring, but when she comes back in, Naomi has a flurry of kicks, her light-up shoes just making it better. Naomi might come up early with strength, but Becky’s got speed over here. They trade roll ups for a little while before Becky gets the Disarmer, and Naomi has to tap out. The second the win is announced, Tamina’s in the ring taking out Becky, the two of them beating her down.
In comes Sasha, taking her earrings off as she comes down to the ring, checking to make a good entrance, and she’s enough to scare her former Team Bad cohorts out of the ring, though Naomi continues to mock her once she’s safely out of the ring. Six more days until Fastlane, Sasha promises them, and she and Becky will take them down. She puts an arm around Becky – for all that they’re not friends, she wants her partner healthy for Fastlane, and if that means coming out in her heels, she will.
It was a fast match, but fine, we’ll deal with that, because at least there’s some plot in these battles, and we’re actually getting story time. It could always be worse, guys. It could be a bra and panties match.
Our main event – if you can call it that – is huge evil baby Braun Strowman vs. Big Show, so the story of this match is ‘two big men are big until someone falls down’. The Wyatts are apparently going after the giants of the WWE so that they give the WWE universe someone else to look up to. The Wyatts get to talk for a little while, and Erick Rowan does some pauses that we’re enjoying, too. I can’t wait until we get the Wyatts vs Cthulhu at WrestleMania. Or just Wyatts vs. this crowd, who chant ‘what’ after every single line. Come on, guys, this isn’t an easy promo to deliver, and they do a good job with this gimmick. Give poor Bray Wyatt the respect he deserves. Strowman’s mask finally comes off as he tells us to wake up, or run.
So…. The Big Show is a face now? I hate that this seems to change almost every week, as he lumbers down to the ring. I’m weirdly invested in this match after that promo, but I do catch myself yawning. It’s 4am here, though, so I’m allowed. Strowman takes down Big Show really easily, and once more, the crowd are chanting for the Big Show… it’s pretty weird to hear that.
Strowman tries to go for a suplex, but can’t manage it, Big Show taking him over instead. As Strowman looks weak, Rowan comes in, then Harper and Wyatt, too, and whist they might get the DQ, they at least look like they’re going to take him apart. Ryback’s music hits, and Ryback comes into try to take apart the Wyatts, too. They drag him down to the ground again, Big Show having a nap on the apron, and now there are two fallen giants beneath the feet of the buzzards. Ryback and Big Show taken down, Demon Kane’s pyro hits, and the hole in the ring opens up.
Suddenly this doesn’t look like it’s going to be Wyatts’ show, with three giant men, Big Show and Kane giving a double chokeslam to Harper, and even Strowman looks nervous as the Wyatts edge away, leaving three titans in the middle of the ring. Kane sets more pyro on the ramp, and the Wyatts pause, trapped between the stage and the ring. We end out the night with Kane’s music echoing in our ears – the titans refuse to be usurped by these new gods.