2/15/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Kevin Owens Becomes Intercontinental Champion
Dean Ambrose opened Raw by asking Brock Lesnar to come to the ring to give him another F5. Stephanie McMahon joined him instead and said that she would give him another kind of F5- a fatal fiveway match for his Intercontinental Title. He immediately faced Kevin Owens, Stardust, Tyler Breeze, and Dolph Ziggler. The fiveway match and the group in it ensured that the match would move at a frantic pace, which was the only real problem with the otherwise fun segment.
Ziggler hit a facebuster off of the top rope that got one of the first near falls of the match. Breeze was able to shine after some rough patches of late. He hit a Beauty Shot for a near fall of his own. Ziggler and Ambrose combined for a cool Dirty Deeds/Zig Zag combo. Owens ran in and hit a Pop-Up Powerbomb on Breeze to get the pin and regain his belt. Ziggler challenged Owens to a rematch with two recent victories, which will presumably be part of Fastlane. The heelish win is a great way to keep Owens moving in a positive direction and energize his fun rivalry with Ziggler. Ambrose stayed on the right path, too, as he told Renee Young after the loss that every time The Authority takes something from him, it gives him more motivation.
Later, a rather bland exchange between Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns got a lot more interesting when the Dudleys jumped Reigns. Ambrose made the save, but even he nearly gave Dirty Deeds to Reigns before Reigns escaped. If the Dudleys are aligned with Heyman, it presents numerous exciting possibilities. Emerging tension with Reigns, Ambrose, or both this close to Wrestlemania is on the top of that list. The conflict between Reigns and Ambrose has seemed inevitable for so long that it it interesting to see it finally boiling over. With the Intercontinental Title off of Ambrose, he seems like a more legitimate challenger than ever to win the triple threat match at Fastlane.
Wyatt Family Faces a New Challenge
Bray Wyatt gave a very Bray Wyatt promo about how he has taken out everyone who has crossed his path. It set up for a match between Braun Strowman and Big Show, which was mostly just the two of them taking turns laying down on the mat. As soon as Big Show started to build some momentum Luke Harper and Erick Rowan intervened and caused a disqualification. The Wyatts started to gang up on Big Show and Ryback hit the ring to help Big Show. When the numbers started to catch up with those two, Kane emerged from under the ring and chased the Wyatts away.
On the positive side, it’s nice to see some fresh faces in the main event. Guys like Wyatt, Strowman, and Ryback need to work in big spots to get over in big spots. Strowman, in particular, has been talked about as if he was a star without ever having an opportunity to do anything star-like. On the other hand, this segment was terribly executed. The fans were quiet, probably because any combination of Kane and Big Show in a major program feels exceptionally tired. If this rivalry turns into a six-man tag at Fastlane, it will probably be the least interesting match on the card.
-AJ Styles and The Miz have quickly figured out how to work with each other very well, with intricate counters and clever psychology. Styles got near falls with the Pele kick and a springboard forearm, and Miz got his own near fall from a Skull Crushing Finale. Styles rolled into his Calf Crusher to get a submission. Styles challenged Jericho to a rubber match at Fastlane, but Jericho did not give him an answer. Styles has quickly become one of the highlights of Raw every week.
-Neville teamed with the Lucha Dragons to take on the League of Nations. Del Rio pinned Sin Cara after he hit a rope-hung version of his double foot stomp. It gives Del Rio some momentum headed into his US Title rematch against Kalisto, which is slated to be a two-out-of-three falls match.
-New Day trashed Mark Henry for not joining them. Big E looked good against Henry until Henry apparently injured his midsection. The injury thwarted whatever was supposed to come out of the match, which is unfortunate.
-Charlotte interrupted Brie Bella’s heartfelt speech and insulted Daniel Bryan. Brie slapped Charlotte and she retreated. It was a solid way to set up their title match at the PPV, but it doesn’t change the fact that there isn’t much reason to want to see Brie in a title match.
-With no one left to accompany to the ring, WWE got Summer Rae in action in a match against Paige. She showed good fire early and ended Paige’s comeback with a surprise rollup pin. I hate seeing Paige needlessly lose, but there is some logic in seeing if Summer has a role as a wrestler.
-Becky won a very short match with Naomi via Disarmer. When Team BAD went after her, Sasha Banks made the save, seemingly guaranteeing a tag match between the four in the near future.
-Heath Slater used a distraction from the Social Outcasts to hit a leaping DDT on Zack Ryder and get the pin. What a win.