February 18, 2015 by Joey Keogh
“We are indeed on the Fast Lane to Wrestlemania” Michael Cole tells us as Raw kicks off in Orlando, where, just to be clear, everyone hates John Cena. Well too bad because he has a twenty-minute promo to cut – in gangsta mode, no less – all about how he don’t quit and how Rusev gon’ get his ass whooped on Sunday night and blah blah blah – why does he suddenly care about this damn belt anyway? It’s the same old shit (save for a rather topical Blink 182 reference), as Lana helpfully points out when she strides out, along with her meaty client. The “Russian” is all “I crush you” and then they brawl on the ramp for a bit after he’s carefully handed the flag to his manager. Even the refs can’t make Cena stop because he’s that much of a bully. Er, I mean, because he’s so passionate. There’s a huge pop for Dean Ambrose as he appears on the Titantron in an ill-fitting sport-coat and some sort of wig. No, sorry, that’s just how his hair looks when it’s brushed. Don’t worry though, he’s still wearing his boots under the desk. Anyway, he wants BNB to sign a contract later on and, when he shows up for his match, he’s got it in hand because it always helps to be prepared and anything can be a weapon in pro-wrestling.
Luke Harper -v- Dean Ambrose
Harper kicks things off with a pretty rough-looking shoulder tackle, before Ambrose grabs him in a chokehold and works on his arm for a bit. Let’s face it, two dudes fighting in dirty jeans is never going to be pretty and this is a slug-fest through and through. It’s pretty entertaining though; a boot to Ambrose’s jaw is NUTS, while he lands a flying elbow from the top that almost takes Harper’s head off. The crowd are going crazy, losing their minds at every close two count, but Ambrose takes the victory in the end, ensuring he has his clipboard in hand before exiting the arena once more.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Later on, Daniel Bryan will be taking on Big Show while his current nemesis (and Fast Lane opponent) Roman Reigns is up against Kane. Woo-hoo. A pre-recorded Wyatt promo follows this shocking revelation, during which he brandishes a nail and makes references to death and shit – whatever could he mean? The suspense is killing me! Elsewhere, all the Rhodeseses are backstage having a domestic, including Dusty, who looks a bit ill. He tells Cody that family is everything and he can’t go over to the dark side, even if that’s kinda what his finisher is called almost. Also, painting just your ears and not the skin around them is a weird aesthetic choice.
Tag Team Match: Stardust & Goldust -v- Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods (The New Day)
The New Day get a jobber entrance tonight, which is sad considering their whole thing is yelling and jumping around on the ramp. Dusty is watching backstage, looking a bit worried as his boys duke it out with the “preachers”. We get the usual high-flying antics from Kofi, in a match that’s pretty much the same ol’, same ol’ until the end when Goldust loses it for them after his brother sort of messes up a move and gets chucked out and fed to Kofi as a result, leading poor Goldy to be pinned when Woods capitalises on it. He’s pretty fucked up so Stardust helps him up off the mat and they tease for a bit that maybe he’ll powerbomb him or something. Then, just when it seems safe again, he hits the Dark Matter and Goldust crumbles in a heap on the floor.
Winners: The New Day
The back of Reigns’s T-shirt reads “One Versus All” – who is he, fucking James Hetfield? Anyway, he’s in the locker room sorting through his underpants when Tom or Byron or some man who isn’t Renee shows up and gives him about ten minutes to cut a promo about nothing. He’s a little snide about Reigns’s chances on Sunday, and that’s totally funny, but otherwise this is way too long and goes absolutely nowhere.
Roman Reigns -v- Kane
Considering Reigns has a match, like, now why the hell didn’t he just cut a promo in the ring? Is it maybe because he’s totally inept and the crowd would just boo over it anyway? Someone they definitely will not boo, however, is Bryan, who enters to a rapturous “Yes” chant before taking his seat on commentary like a good little boy. Before he can get started though, we get another shot of Dusty backstage as he once again appeals to his son to see the light. Unfortunately, it seems there’s no going back for the artist formerly known as Cody. He tells him he has no brother and no father and he doesn’t even throw confetti or anything so we know he’s serious. Back at ringside, Cole refers to Bryan and Reigns as “partners” for Fast Lane instead of “opponents” because he is ridiculously stupid. As Reigns enters, a sign which reads “Seth Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself” becomes visible and it’s such perfect timing he almost doesn’t ruin it with his faux seriousness. Cole reminds Bryan of what was said earlier, and he rises to the bait, telling he and the other commentators that Reigns ain’t got shit on him. He also refers to him as “Mr. Reigns” as though it’s some sort of political debate. As for the match itself, it’s fine, albeit a little dull. Kane, trooper that he is, does the best he can under the circumstances. At one point, he goes to dismantle the announce table, but Reigns intervenes with a Spear to get him counted out. He and Bryan then stare each other out of it for a bit (above gif happens later on but we all know where this is going).
Winner: Roman Reigns
They keep showing that lame-ass fake Sting from last week as though watching it multiple times is somehow going to make it appear less shit. Renee catches up with Bryan immediately after his match, as she is wont to do, and he’s all “Reigns sucks!” again. Byron is lurking outside the Divas locker room like a perv when those naughty Bellas reveal they have stolen Paige‘s ring gear, leading her to run around in a towel all panicked until she meets the Exotic Express/Rosebud people and robs a costume off one of them. The one she chooses is a pink fairy thing and yeah, whatever, I get the joke but why didn’t she pick the bee? It’s mostly black.
Divas Match: Paige -v- Summer Rae
Summer may be a pain in the ass on Total Divas, but she is great in the ring and it’s awesome to see her get an actual match for once. As usual time is not on the side of the ladies tonight and they have to hit as many moves as they can in as quick succession as possible. Paige doesn’t come out at first, but when she does she isn’t embarrassed at all, rather she’s owning her new look (she has her shorts on underneath the dress, but because of the skirt it looks a bit ruder than usual). JBL thinks it’s fitting, while Summer is all “You look silly” even though she used to dress like a goddamn beaded lampshade on a weekly basis. Summer grabs her opponent in some kinda gnarly lock early on, but this is Paige‘s match and she steals the victory relatively easily – though Summer kicks her butt, too, it must be noted. Following the match, the mean ol’ Bellas turn up again, but Paige cuts across Nikki before she can say too much to advise her that she doesn’t need an outfit to be great and on Sunday, she’s going to be wearing the coolest accessory of all; the championship belt. As you recall, Nikki said something similar a while back in a much less convincing manner.
Seth Rollins -v- Dolph Ziggler
This is easily the match of the night, but there’s lots of good stuff before it even gets started, including a rad promo from a clearly still embarrassed Rollins. Basically, he thinks Presidents Day is a waste of time because it’s all about celebrating great men of the past when he’s the future personified. He’s flanked throughout by his security team, who look dignified and who applaud respectfully at several key moments. Rollins can basically do whatever he wants, hell, he could be President if he wasn’t too young to run! Or even be the new Daily Show host! However, all he really wants to do is cash in and be the champ, if only stupid meddlers such as Erick Rowan (no reaction), Ryback (slight ripple) and Ziggler (MAJOR pop) would just mind their own goddamn business, god damn it! On cue, the man himself turns up to ask Rollins rather snidely whether he maybe had a bad Valentine’s Day. Rollins compares it to that shit he calls a career and for a moment it seems like Ziggler might concede but he soon stiffens up and assures him he’s gonna get rid of not just The Authority, but him personally. Of course, then it all kicks off with the two unloading on each other before Rollins flees out of harm’s way. His security team are banished for interfering in the match and they throw their jackets off in frustration, much to the crowd’s delight. Ziggler almost wins it but, naturally, they show up just in time and get their charge DQed. Ryback and Rowan appear next and beat the shit out of them and there’s a massive “Feed me more” chant as Rollins ascends the ramp once again, looking almost worried as he does so.
Trips is here to talk about Sting and show us that damn replay again. It’s such a massive comedown after that exceptional match but it doesn’t sting (sorry) as bad as it should because Ric Flair is here to talk some sense into his old buddy. He’s like “I love ya, but Sting is going to beat you WCW WCW WCW” – seriously, how many times can they say WCW during the one promo? WE GET IT. Trips doesn’t want to hear about it, especially when Flair calls him a pussy, and he pushes The Nature Boy over. He then leans over to tell him there are only three things in this world he truly cares about; his wife, his kids and wrasslin’. So there.
Tag Team Match: The Ascension -v- Darren Young and some random tattooed fellow
At first, this seems like yet another stupid squash match for the boring ol’ Ascension, and they’re beating the living shit out of their opponents to start but then suddenly Young’s old tag partner Titus O’Neill shows up to sort things out. He interjects as his buddy is getting double-teamed and the two of them quickly round on The Ascension, tossing them both over the top ropes. This stupid crowd don’t care, but it’s still pretty cool.
Winners: Darren Young and friend
Backstage, The Miz is trying to convince Bad News Barrett to kill Mizdow so he can teach him a lesson. If he agrees, Miz promises to take care of Ambrose. Barrett is like “have your people call my people” but he’s clearly just trying to keep a straight face because nobody believes Miz can take care of anyone.
Damien Mizdow -v- Bad News Barrett
Miz is telling his PA to tone it down before they’ve even descended the ramp and he spends most of the match trying to mess with him. He even has a little bell to ring whenever he needs a shoe buffing or if there’s a spot on his shades. It’s this second task that ultimately loses it for Mizdow after he eats a Bullhammer, which is kind of disappointing because he was doing well in spite of his boss (this is the most entertaining Miz has ever been, though, so we’ll take what we can get). Ambrose then shows up to tackle Barrett, tying him to the turnbuckle and forcing him to sign a contract for Sunday while he screams “This is illegal”, “Get him off me” and “Get a bloody knife” to nobody in particular – or maybe they just can’t understand his accent sometimes. Once Ambrose has managed to scrawl the three letters for him, Barrett screeches “That’s not my signature!” Already, this feud is great and it’s been built even less so than Cena/Rusev so that’s really saying something.
Winner: Bad News Barrett
In his final, pre-recorded, promo of the night, Wyatt is actually hammering the final nail into the coffin. Have they hammered this point home enough yet, do you think?
Mixed Tag Team Match: Jimmy Uso & Naomi -v- Tyson Kidd & Natalya
Naturally, the great Cesaro accompanies his team to the ring along with, er, the other Uso. The ladies get short shrift in this match, as per usual, but Naomi ends up winning it for her team after a succession of roll-ups leads to her pinning Nattie. Once they’ve left, Tyson scolds his wife for being shit and even Cesaro looks kind of uncomfortable on her behalf.
Winners: Jimmy Uso & Naomi
Main Event: Daniel Bryan -v- Big Show
Reigns is on commentary for this one, as payback for earlier, but thankfully he doesn’t say much, just sits there trying his best to look pensive while some lad sat directly behind him mimics his every move. Bryan is still so over, and Reigns is noticeably impressed/jealous. The crowd are totally behind him, even in a nothing, going-through-the-motions bout such as this, during which the Big Slow is even closer to comatose than usual. The coolest thing about this match is that they are comparatively quite different in size and stature. That’s it. Bryan gets distracted as Reigns signs autographs and takes selfies with ringside fans who wish he were Cena. He later chucks merch out, quite literally bribing them to like him. Bryan is slammed into Reigns and he ends up eating a Spear after Bryan dodges Show’s attempts. The end comes, however, when Reigns Superman punches Show, leading to another DQ. Bryan leaps out to tackle him and they brawl for a bit before being pulled apart by a group of refs as the crowd chant “Let them fight!”. There’s a forced handshake, after which they immediately resume fighting, spilling out behind the crowd and the announce table.
It was another interesting, albeit slightly disjointed week on Raw that didn’t quite feel like a go-home show but, then again, Fast Lane doesn’t quite feel like a real PPV so wash. Cena had no match, which is always good, and Ziggler/Rollins was an exciting, fast-paced bout right in the middle of the show. Paige got an actual opponent for once, in Summer, and they did the best they could given their time slot. Steps were taken to build up Ambrose/BNB for Sunday, too, which is fine and that match should be good – much like the tag with Kidd and Cesaro, just because of who’s involved.
Obviously, the main feud right now is Reigns/Bryan and that’s fair enough but one of them needs to turn already or we’re going to end up in a loop of Cena-esque proportions and we can barely deal with one of those, let alone two. It should be a decent match, provided fucking Show and Kane aren’t involved, but it’s hard to care about it. Or, in fact, Fast Lane in general. It almost feels like we need another few weeks to get ready for a PPV about which we’re probably never really going to care.
Follow Gorilla Press on Twitter: @Gpressonline
Follow Joey on Twitter: @JoeyLDG
Like Gorilla Press on Facebook: GorillaPress
Check out more of Wrestling Giffer’s work: Wrestling Giffer