3/14/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
HHH def. Dolph Ziggler, Brawls with Roman Reigns
Ziggler interrupted a gloriously elitist promo by HHH and said that he is tired of HHH insulting WWE fans. He said that he owes his career to the fans and he has been a success because of their support. Stephanie McMahon mocked him and said that he could have any match he wanted at Wrestlemania if he could win a singles match against HHH later in the night.
Ziggler wrestled a very good match against HHH with plenty of opportunities for hope. He got a near fall off of a jackknife and another from a famouser. After HHH reestablished momentum, Ziggler hit a superkick for another two count. Finally, HHH blocked a Zig Zag and answered with a Pedigree to get the win.
At the conclusion of the match, Roman Reigns’s music hit and the Pittsburgh fans started to boo the return of the challenger. Reigns made his way down the ramp rather than through the crowd. He and HHH brawled around the ring, into the production area, and backstage. Reigns hit him with a suitcase, a trash can, and a flatscreen TV. The beating opened a sizeable cut on the side of HHH’s head that caused significant bleeding during the brawl. Finally, the Usos calmed their cousin and the Reigns assault ended.
After HHH got such a positive reaction from his intense beating of Reigns several weeks ago, it makes sense to get Reigns a positive reaction by doing the same thing. Reigns is a better fit as an unapologetic ass-kicker than a sympathetic everyman. When he embraced the former role, he got a better reaction from the fans.
New Day def. League of Nations to Retain the Tag Team Titles
Interestingly, New Day wrestled this match as pure babyfaces. Xavier Woods took a beating from Rusev and Alberto Del Rio before he finally reached Big E for the hot tag. Big E played to the crowd and got a positive reaction. Woods tagged back in and narrowly kicked out of a superkick. A Kofi Kingston distraction allowed Woods to roll Rusev up and get a three count with a handful of tights (ok, not entirely babyface). After the pin, the LON ganged up on New Day and laid them out with each of their finishers. Later in the show, they made a formal challenge for a Tag Team Title match at Wrestlemania.
I like the idea of New Day gradually growing as fan favorites since so many fans already appreciate them. I think it’s also wise to pit them against established heels to give their tag titles some value. Unfortunately, it seems like most of the reaction to the LON is “go away” heat rather than any genuine investment.
Shane McMahon Confronts The Undertaker
For the first time since Shane accepted a Wrestlemania match against Undertaker, they appeared in the same place at the same time. Vince McMahon said that he and Undertaker have formed an unholy alliance that is best for business. Meanwhile, Shane responded that he respects Undertaker, but doesn’t understand why he would be Vince’s “bitch.” He stood up to Undertaker and started to fight with him. When he used his speed to stick and move, Vince shoved him into a chokeslam that laid him out. Vince looked pleased until Undertaker gave him a death glare, which turned his expression to fearful. Although I wish there was a clearer explanation of why Undertaker would fight for Vince, I am enjoying the tension between them. There was no way to sustain the shock and excitement of the night of Shane’s return, but the storyline remains interesting.
–Chris Jericho got himself disqualified when he shoved Charles Robinson. It might have been an ad lib when Neville went down with a twisted ankle, but it worked quite well. AJ Styles stood up to Jericho at the conclusion. It’s wonderful to watch Jericho’s expert work as a true heel.
-Dean Ambrose had another very good night. He wielded a crowbar and tried to bait Brock Lesnar into a fight, only for Lesnar to back down when Ambrose took a swing at him. Later in the night, Mick Foley found him backstage and passed the metaphorical torch of the hardcore lunatic. He also gave Ambrose a barbed wire baseball bat, which will certainly come into play at Wrestlemania.
-Sin Cara wore cool all black ring gear for his match with Ryback. It didn’t help, and he got Shell Shocked twice for a straightforward pin. Afterwards, Ryback challenged Kalisto to a US Title match at Wrestlemania. It’s a fine matchup that has no place on the Wrestlemania card.
-Sami Zayn had a weirdly under-hyped match with The Miz. When Miz tried to attack Kevin Owens at ringside, Zayn hit a Helluva Kick to win. It was an ok match, but the pacing was way too fast. Since Zayn’s greatest strength is his timing, it compromised the overall quality. I’m still looking forward to what now seems like an inevitable Zayn-Owens match at Wrestlemania.
-Lana’s distraction let Team BAD hit a double team powerslam on Brie Bella to get a win. Afterwards, Lana and Team BAD interrupted Paige backstage. I am much more confident in Lana as the leader of a heel group than as a singles wrestler. It would be a waste if the goal was just to create a multi-woman match for the cast of Total Divas, though.
-Charlotte gave another very good interview in which she called Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch scared little girls. Charlotte has made up for a lackluster main roster debut and quickly grown into an elite heel.
-The Usos took out the Social Outcasts despite the preence of the Dudley Boys at ringside. Speaking of matches that don’t belong at Wrestlemania, the Usos and Dudleys is officially on the card.