2/22/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Shane McMahon Returns to WWE
Vince McMahon is purported to think that wrestling storylines should ask more questions than they provide answers. If that’s the standard by which Shane McMahon’s return to WWE is judged, then it is one of the greatest storylines in WWE history.
Raw started with Vince presenting the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award to his daughter, Stephanie. Before Stephanie could give her acceptance speech, Shane’s music hit and he joined them in the ring. He said that Stephanie does not deserve the award and she has damaged Raw in her tenure at the helm of WWE. He revealed that he maintained an ownership stake in WWE due to a behind-the-scenes deal with his father. He went on to say that he wants to seize control of the show.
Vince countered by saying that he could have control of Raw if he could win one match of Vince’s choosing. Shane accepted and Vince made a Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Why would Undertaker fight on the side of the villainous billionaire owner? How can a middle-aged non-wrestler put on a passable match against another wrestler far past his prime? What does Shane have on Vince and why does he have to wrestle a match to get control of Raw if it’s so damaging? Is Shane McMahon going to get himself killed? To some extent, the answers don’t matter as much as the fact that we’re interested in the questions themselves.
Dean Ambrose Challenges Brock Lesnar
Before Raw started, WWE posted a video of Lesnar jumping Ambrose in the parking lot of Joe Louis Arena. He beat him up and powerslammed him through the windshield of a car, which sent Ambrose to the ER. Later on Raw, Paul Heyman said that the beating should be a warning to other wrestlers who might challenge Lesnar. As Heyman continued, Ambrose drove an ambulance into the arena. He almost comically staggered to ringside with a brace still on his neck. Lesnar walked away from Ambrose, but Ambrose challenged him to a Wrestlemania street fight. Lesnar returned and gave Ambrose an F5 to add a cherry on top of the Sunday. Ambrose and Lesnar have already shown good chemistry in the buildup to Fastlane. Ambrose can take an incredible beating, which is a good fit with Lesnar’s destructive tendencies. Not only do their ring styles mesh, Ambrose’s resilience creates a very simple, effective storyline.
HHH Annihilates Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns and Sheamus wrestled in the Raw main event for what felt like the 11th time in the last 10 weeks. After Reigns hit a spear on the floor, HHH’s music hit and he made his way to ringside in jeans and a leather jacket rather than his executive getup. Reigns and HHH brawled at ringside until HHH pulled a Randy Savage and hit Reigns in the throat with the ring bell. The punches that followed left Reigns’s face covered in blood. HHH capped the attack with a Pedigree on the ring steps and a DX crotch chop. The image effectively translated the professional dislike between the two into a physical battle. It also reminded fans that HHH is more than a suit. Not surprisingly, many fans reacted positive when HHH posed with his belt as the show went off the air.
-New Day got a fun win over Neville and the Lucha Dragons when Kofi Kingston tried to remove Sin Cara’s mask and hit him with Trouble in Paradise. The fiery comeback from the babyfaces was especially entertaining. As great as New Day is on the mic, sprinkling in good matches like this one is essential to keep them serious threats.
-Chris Jericho and AJ Styles made up with one another long enough to tag against the Social Outcasts. Styles cleared the ring with a springboard plancha while Jericho made Curtis Axel tap out to the Walls of Jericho. Part of me expected Jericho to turn on Styles, which could still very easily happen. Their matches have steadily improved, so extending the rivalry would not be a bad thing.
-Bray Wyatt took Braun Strowman’s place in a surprisingly long and intricate Fastlane rematch. Wyatt got the pin on Kane from Sister Abigail after Ryback deserted his team. Later, Ryback said that he is done working in tag teams and wants to look out for himself. The question of Ryback’s motivation is more intrigue than this rivalry had previously produced, which is a very low bar.
-Sasha Banks won a brief, yet physical match with Naomi. Becky Lynch neutralized Tamina at ringside to set up the Banks Statement for a submission win. Charlotte made fun of the friendship between the two and informed them that they would face each other for a shot at Charlotte’s Divas Title at Wrestlemania. The triple threat option seemed compelling, but a drawn-out program is a good way to bridge the gap to Wrestlemania. Charlotte has also improved considerably on the mic.
-The Usos got a quick win over The Ascension while the Dudleys looked on from the ramp. The heel Dudleys are more interesting, but not by enough to make a program with the Usos feel important.
-Goldust tried to make up with R-Truth by baking him an apology cake, which Truth shoved in his face. Why?