1/25/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
The Rock Returns to Raw
Throughout Raw, the announcers teased the return of a major star. With Raw in Miami and The Rock confirmed to Wrestlemania, most of the fans could do the math. Nonetheless, when a limo pulled up backstage, the Miz emerged and bragged about being the major star. A giant pickup truck pulled up behind him and The Rock emerged. He told Miz to park his truck, shook hands with Rick Ross, and told Big Show that their careers could have been switched if Big Show hung on to beat him in the 2000 Royal Rumble. He crossed paths with Lana and gave some lurid details on their last encounter, and he made his way to ringside where he made fun of cosplay guys in the front row.
After several minutes, New Day interrupted him and introduced themselves to him. They accused him of taking his paycheck and running away from Miami once he got famous. He responded that their unicorn horns look like “llama penises” and said that Big E looks like “The Incredible Hulk banged Urkel.” New Day started to walk away from the fight, but the Usos chased them back to the Rock for a round of Rock Bottoms and People’s Elbows. Rock and New Day were so entertaining together that I hope that they find a way to get them on the screen together many more times. New Day more than held their own with the most charismatic man associated with WWE. Amazingly, even The Rock couldn’t make The Usos interesting.
Roman Reigns Gets another Shot
At the top of the show, Vince and Stephanie McMahon gloated about HHH’s Royal Rumble win. HHH joined them in the ring and gave an impassioned promo in which he said that wrestling is his religion and Vince McMahon should be treated as a god. The Authority got together and said that they would spend the night evaluating potential challengers for HHH. They added that the main event of Fastlane will be to determine HHH’s Wrestlemania challenger.
Throughout the night, every match had an added layer of importance because it appeared that they could influence the determination of the Fastlane main event. In the final match of the show, Reigns and Dean Ambrose teamed against Sheamus and Rusev. The League of Nations cornered Ambrose, who was still injured from his Last Man Standing match at the Rumble. He finally reached Reigns, who effectively cleared out the ring. A distraction from Alberto Del Rio allowed Sheamus to hit a Brogue Kick. Ambrose arrived just in time to prevent the pin. Reigns recovered and hit a Spear to get the win. Reigns and Ambrose ganged up on the League of Nations and hit a Shield-like powerbomb through the announce table on Rusev.
After the result, Stephanie returned and announced that the Fastlane main event would pit Reigns against Ambrose and Brock Lesnar in a triple threat match. While the match has plenty of star power, the result seems very predictable. Lesnar’s tension with the Wyatt Family and the inherent no-DQ rules in a triple threat seem to create an obvious way to advance their feud and keep Lesnar from winning the match. Meanwhile, Ambrose has been close to the main event so many times that WWE would have to do something pretty drastic to make him seem viable. Of course, if Ambrose finally turns on Reigns, all bets are off.
AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho
Jericho interrupted a backstage interview with Styles and welcomed him to the big time. Their match started simply, but was very snug. It was easy to see the Japanese influence on each of them. Jericho seized control of the match with a springboard dropkick that sent Styles bumping hard to the floor. He stayed on top until a double cross-body put them both down momentarily. Styles blocked the Walls of Jericho and hit a fireman’s carry buster. He followed that with a springboard forearm for a near fall.
Jericho got out of trouble when he blocked a hurricanrana and turned it into the Walls of Jericho. The crowd cheered loudly as Styles made his way very slowly to the ropes. He hit a Pele kick, but missed a frog splash. He got his knees up to block a Lionsault. Jericho tried a rollup to counter a Styles Clash, but Styles rolled through (albeit a bit clumsily) for his own pin and a three count. They had a very tense handshake after the match to hint at more to come. Styles has been terrific in his first two nights in WWE. While this match had the added stakes of being Styles’s first in a WWE ring, I think the fan support is real. Jericho has been on top of his game lately and a more heelish role could lead to a fantastic rivalry between the two.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch Wrestled to a No Contest
Becky controlled the match early with an exploder suplex. She applied a version of her Disarmer, but Sahsa rolled it into a pin to force her to break it. She hit a back stabber and rolled through into the Banks Statement. Before Becky could tap out, Charlotte hit the ring and attacked both of them. Charlotte stood tall over both challengers at the end of the segment. I think the story went in the right direction here, but there was not enough time for any of them to make a significant impact. Such is life on shows featuring The Rock.
Kalisto def. The Miz
Kalisto got his first match after his US Title win. Miz was the perfect type of opponent for him because it allowed him to have a solid match with a decisive finish. He was too fast for Miz early on and dominated the first part of the match. Miz gained control and wore him down with a nice DDT. Miz went for the Skull Crushing Finale and Kalisto countered into the SDS to get the win. The best way to get Kalisto over will be to give him chances like this one, where he wrestles solid, entertaining matches regularly on TV.
-The Social Outcasts challenged Flo Rida to a battle rap. Their own MC, Bo Rida, put on a humorous show before Flo Rida introduced the Dudleys as their tag team opponents. Heath Slater tried to interfere, but Flo Rida got in the way. They hit a Wassup headbutt and a 3D to get the win. I’m still not sure why the Social Outcasts are a thing if they are going to lose every week.
-Bray Wyatt got a clean, easy win over Kane with Sister Abigail. The Family ganged up on him and made him tap out after the pin.
-Paige and Natalya abandoned their storyline to tag together for Total Divas. Alicia Fox broke up a PTO, but Paige hit the Rampage on Brie Bella to win. Paige remains an excellent talent, but the haphazard booking around Total Divas is a disaster.
-Goldust invited R-Truth to be his tag team partner, which Truth misunderstood as a sexual advance.