February 25, 2015 by Joey Keogh
Following an, er, interesting night at FastLane, Raw rolls into Nashville, TN where it’s safe to say newly-returned and still pants-less Randy Orton is totally fucking over. “He’s baaaack” Cole sing-songs as Orton strides toward the ring, clad in a brand new shirt emblazoned with the word “venom” much like the band of the same name. He kicks things off by assuring us we won’t have to suffer through any twenty minute long promos tonight (unlike last week) before vamping with the crowd, Jericho-style like all “Scream for me Donington” and shit. There’s a little replay of the infamous curbstomp from four months ago, just to remind us that this show used to be pretty good and to rub it in that we’re still watching. Orton is definitely stoked to be back, he has a fire in a belly, and he cuts a promo about how he’s just getting started – the weird part being we totally believe him. In fact, he tells us succinctly, “I’m done talking. Seth Rollins get your ass out here”.
Naturally, it’s not chicken shit Rollins who appears but The Authority who, somewhat predictably, are dying to have Orton back in the fold. Steph does most of the talking, even getting a “Ran-dy” chant going and, at first, he’s having none of it, telling her simply that he’s no longer a part of their family. He’d rather kick some ass than kiss some ass, but Steph reminds him that it wasn’t too long ago he was kissing her ass against her will! Sexual harassment! There’s a tonne of heat for Big Show, who hushes the boos with a simple, yet effective, “I’m trying to talk here” as he explains that he empathises with Orton’s struggle, but it’s all for the greater good or whatever, so get on-board god damn you. And hey, if he comes back to The Authority, maybe they’ll give him some pants? A rousing “RKO” chant ensues as Steph squares up to Orton, but he crosses his arms over his chest, refusing to relent. Then, when they’re halfway up the ramp, he agrees to a business meeting later on anyway because this is The Apprentice, right?
Bad News Barrett -v- Dolph Ziggler
As you probably recall, Barrett was involved in the match of the night last night opposite the incorrigible Dean Ambrose, who stole his IC belt and legged it with it even though he didn’t win. He’s so angry about it that he doesn’t even wear his cape tonight, and begins cutting his promo during the commercial break. Basically, he wants to assure us all that Ambrose is a thief and he is the true IC champ. Ziggler’s entrance interrupts this little speech as R-Truth (who apparently beat Barrett on Smackdown recently) joins the commentary team. Cole is at pains to remind us that the IC championship may be a jobber title, but it still means something. He also believes Ziggler might now be in the running for it, for no other reason than he’s been booked in this particular match tonight. Needless to say, Truth’s contribution is unnecessary but the action in the ring isn’t bad, in fairness. Ziggler hits a cool neckbreaker into an elbow for a near fall early on, after which he eats a massive boot as the ref scolds BNB who rather brilliantly tells him to shut up. A crazy dropkick by Ziggler knocks Barrett clean off the apron. He goes for the Wasteland but Ziggler counters, turning it into a DDT leading to another near fall. Barrett lines up the Bullhammer but Ziggler counters again, going for the Fame Asser only for Barrett to hit the Winds Of Change for yet another near fall. The champ almost has it won with a second Winds Of Change but Ziggler tops him with a Zig Zag to emerge victorious, much to Truth’s delight. Once the bell has rung, Ambrose turns up on cue, belt in hand, to goad the exhausted Barrett with it. Ziggler stares at the belt for a bit, confirming Cole’s earlier theory (groan), they size each other up, teasing that something might happen, but then Ambrose rolls out and leaves, smirking as he does so.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
The Authority are backstage strategising for the Main Event later when Rollins cuts across his adopted mommy and is scolded for his insolence. He raises the point that they can’t trust Orton, but Steph is like “well if we can trust YOU…” The man himself sticks out his hand for a really awkward handshake, as it’s announced that the two of them will tag later opposite Reigns and Bryan. They stare hard at each other while Show looks on happily, blissfully unaware of the tension simmering just beneath the surface.
Tag Team Match: Prime Time Players -v- The Ascension
Prime Time Players are a thing again! It wasn’t just a fluke! Hopefully this means no more New Day. The Ascension are mad about The Bushwhackers being inducted into the Hall Of Fame because they want to be the stupidest looking tag team on the radar, and they’re going to take that anger out on PTP, starting off by stranding Young in the corner with some massive shoulders. They then stop him tagging his partner in by stranding him in the middle of the ring, but Young manages to nail a clothesline before they double team him with a backdrop. Titus is finally tagged in but only lasts a second as he knocks Konnor out, then gets chucked out himself. However, it’s just enough of a distraction for Young to roll Viktor up to win. Naturally, they get their asses beat after the bell rings.
Winners: Prime Time Players
So, Reigns is kinda over in Nashville but he’s still complaining because, apparently, winning the Rumble wasn’t enough. There’s a teeny pop, comparatively speaking, for Bryan as he enters. He admits he was the biggest doubter of Roman Reigns but he now totally believes in him even though Bryan still has more heart than anyone else, according to himself. “That’s why they [the fans] love me and they don’t like you!” he explains, somewhat unhelpfully. The shake hands once Bryan has decided that he does like Reigns after all and he reminds him again to destroy Lesnar at Wrestlemania. Paul Heyman shows up next, waiting for Bryan to exit before he speaks, to cut an excellent promo about how he believes in Reigns and how Reigns could beat any of the greats, including Cena, Hogan and even Stone Cold. Of course, that doesn’t mean he can beat a BEAST so his money won’t be on Reigns for that fight. “You can’t slay the beast” he says, “You can’t conquer the conqueror, and you can’t be the one to beat the one who is the one in 21 and one” – yet another classic Heyman line that wouldn’t work if it was coming from literally anyone else in the WWE. Reigns insists Heyman get in his face and tell him that, even though they’re standing quite close to each other as it is, and then he goes all rapper-ish, adopting a weird accent as he assures Heyman that all the hate is just motivation. BELIEVE DAT. Oh my god you guys doesn’t Reigns look super strong right now? I know, right?
Tag Team Championship Re-Match: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro -v- The Usos
The tag team championship match was another highlight of what was an otherwise garbage PPV, but this so-called re-match (we know the titles aren’t going to change hands tonight) is cashing in in the worst possible way regardless. Kidd hides behind Nattie to start, so he can take a cheap shot at a cocky Uso. His partner Cesaro brawls with the other Uso on the outside as he takes care of the one in the ring. Uso clotheslines and superkicks Kidd, after which Kidd aims from the apron to tackle him but is caught and thrown into the barricade. A weird-looking crossbody from an Uso leads to another near fall, as Cole opines that there are a whopping 718 fans here tonight. Their awesome double team move utilising the Swing leads to another near fall, but the other Uso intervenes. Uso then hits an Electric Chair to Cesaro, but a flying elbow from Kidd almost wins it for them as he uses the ropes to pin an Uso and is stopped by Naomi, who then brawls with Nattie on the outside. An ensigury from an Uso almost wins it for them but Nattie intervenes and then they’re DQed and she’s hurt her knee and whatever this will all feature on Total Divas soon so don’t worry about it too much.
Winners: DQ (Usos win, Kidd & Cesaro retain)
Backstage, The Miz and Mizdow are discussing the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, because apparently that’s going to be a thing at Wrestlemania again this year, when Mizdow reveals he’s been getting attention from casting agents and Miz has to fight back the tears and pretend to be happy for him even though he’s clearly not. However, he quickly assures Mizdow that he isn’t quite famous enough yet not to roll the lint off his jacket. A pre-recorded Wyatt promo follows, during which he attempts to romance a presumably empty coffin using roses from Valentine’s Day two weeks ago. But who is he talking to? We still don’t know!
Stardust -v- Jack Swagger
Stardust freaks out on his way to the ring as fans are chanting “Cody” at him, and he gets distracted mid-bout when they get even louder. Poor ol’ Swagger seems at first to be being fed to him tonight, as he unloads on him, easily countering a Swagger Bomb before making it to the ropes after about five seconds of struggling in the Patriot Lock. However, as his bro turns up to stare a bit, Swagger seizes the opportunity to lock him in again and wins it, much to Stardust‘s disgust/disbelief. Er, okay.
Winner: Jack Swagger
Cena is here! He points at the sign! He seems to have been watching a different PPV to the rest of us because he reckons FastLane was awesome! This promo goes very pro-USA very quickly, but before that happens Cena says “hat’s off” to Rusev and then actually removes his hat. He also claims not to be mad that he lost but more annoyed that the “Russian” is a coward – what, like Cena’s never hit someone with a low blow ever? Lana and Rusev show up to rub it in that Putin thinks they’re great and the whole thing devolves into the usual America v Russia bullshit. The best part is that Rusev refuses to give Cena a rematch at Wrestlemania and just saunters off, leaving him to be startled by the Russian flag that drops every time these two show up on Raw. Elsewhere, in the locker room, Rollins confronts Orton and is forced to do without his beloved security team for a bit so the two can talk like bitchy women about how they don’t really hate each other. Tonight, they’re on the same team: The Face and The Future. Believe DAT.
Divas Tag Team Match: Paige & Emma -v- The Bella Twins
There’s been much talk online this week about the unfair treatment of female wrestlers in the WWE, with dearly departed AJ Lee calling Steph out on Twitter for rallying for female equality while simultaneously spearheading an organisation that favours male competitors. Paige followed this up with an inspirational Instagram shot featuring lots of famous female wrestlers kicking butt. This match will do nothing to help assuage concerns that the girls don’t get as much of a chance to impress as the boys – especially as a Sting clip package plays before it even gets started. The whole thing is over in about thirty seconds as, after Paige yells at Nikki for being a cheater, Brie knocks her off the apron in spite of her arm not connecting with her body in the slightest. Nikki steals the moment to roll Emma up to win and that’s it. Paige superkicks Brie, Nikki hits her with her forearm and then lords the belt over her. Watch Total Divas every week on E! for more great matches like THIS where the crowd reactions are totally not retroactively added to make it seem like they matter.
Winners: The Bella Twins
Ryback -v- Curtis Axel
Axel still has a bone to pick about the Rumble and his Mania shot as a result. He’s even had a T-shirt and tights made up for the occasion. As much as this angle kind of annoys me, at least Axel can cut a promo without flubbing his lines, unlike Roidback. Er, I mean, Ryback, who won’t even shake his hand even though they used to be so close they wore matching friendship hats. These two are into the Battle Royal too and a meathook clothesline, followed by a shellshock, ensures we don’t think much of Axel’s chances for #AxelMania.
Main Event: Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan -v- Randy Orton & Seth Rollins
Rollins’ security team clap Orton respectfully as he enters, as Kane and Show hang out ringside to prove we’re not getting rid of them that easily. This match is clearly just setting up one, maybe two, of the Mania matches (aside from simultaneously making Reigns look super duper strong of course) but, even so, everyone apart from Orton appears to be going through the motions. Bryan lands a cool Mexican surfboard on Rollins early on, before he runs off to play up the cowardly heel angle once again. Cole can’t stop talking about Cena throughout, noting that “Bryan doesn’t have a date for Wrestlemania either” like it’s fucking Senior Prom or something. As things are winding down to a predictable finish, Orton sets Bryan up for a DDT off the second rope only for Rollins to tag in and attempt to steal the spotlight. Orton hits it anyway, before being talked down by the other lads ringside as they desperately try to explain that Rollins is “just a kid”. Reigns Superman punches Rollins, and Bryan lands a running knee to win it for them. Orton teases an RKO on Rollins but ends up hitting Noble with it instead, before helping his new buddy up. Aw.
Winners: Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan
Suffice to say, if you don’t love Reigns or Orton, then this Raw probably wasn’t for you. Likewise, if you prefer to watch matches as opposed to lengthy promos then, you know, maybe give this one a miss. I’m torn this week because FastLane felt like a bad Raw episode to me and, comparatively speaking, this week’s instalment was a step up from it, albeit a small one.
The weirdest thing about WWE right now (aside from the massive, startling divide between the main roster and the exemplary NXT) is that Wrestlemania, the biggest event of the year, doesn’t feel as close as it is. WM31 is less than five weeks away and yet it feels like we need about ten more to get to a place where it’ll feel like a natural progression to the biggest stage on earth.
Whether they can make up the time remains to be seen, but there’s a lot to be done and, on this week’s evidence, it’s easier to remain sceptical about what’s to come.
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