Grappler’s Choice #1: WWE Raw – 21.03.16

 

WWE: The Raw Review – 21/03/16

WWE-RAW

© WWE

Recap: Last week’s episode saw a savage revenge attack from Roman Reigns on Triple H. The attack was brutal, ending up in the backstage area. Fellow wrestlers had to restrain Reigns from continuing his pursuit of Triple H.

Entertainment

Entertainment Score Overall: /10

Discussion:

  • Stephanie McMahon/Roman Reigns Promo

Raw begins with a promo from Stephanie McMahon explaining that Triple H is unable to be at the event, however she reiterates that it is not due to the brutal attack from Reigns the previous week, rather, due to his professional commitments – thus furthering the gap between the WWE fans & the authority, Stephanie’s wording and insulting manner toward the crowd is pretty strong, she’s always been good on the mic and is very skilled in maintaining a heel reaction.

Whilst this divide between fans and the company has worked in the past (think Vince McMahon & the Corporation from the Attitude Era) it doesn’t appear to work now. Many of the sources I have read from fans, together with, professional shoots on the subject (check out Jim Cornette’s shoot with Lance Storm; Lance sums it up very well in regards to how WWE has preconditioned this negative reaction from fans) as fans have become too involved with the product, they know too much about the industry (e.g. the exposure of Kayfabe and other industry secrets), thus making it difficult to maintain a hold on this angle. I seriously think they should drop this angle after Wrestlemania and try something completely new. That being said, recent promos such as the addition of Shane McMahon Vs Undertaker appear to be presenting the more compelling type of narrative that WWE used to produce.

Roman Reigns’ mic skills have improved a little bit this week. I was honestly very impressed. He delivered his part of the promo very well and it was a sincere and engaging segment.

Short but sweet, this was a good promo overall. I’ll give it 8/10.

  • AJ Styles Vs Kevin Owens

It’s genuinely a pleasure to watch AJ Styles perform. I wasn’t familiar with him until very recently and ever since I’ve started watching some of his old matches, together with, his matches in WWE, it’s really been an eye opener in terms of his athleticism and skills.

Kevin Owens is a great character. I really feel that they should push him more as a heel, he seems to revel in this, and it comes quite natural to him.

This match showcases more of Styles’ athleticism, he really is a joy to watch. He always goes for high-risk manoeuvres it would seem, and this makes his matches so much more enjoyable to watch.

Some very impressive moves from Styles. Him and Owens work well together, this would be a good match to see again in the future. This is much better than their previous encounter on Smackdown (excluding the disturbance of Chris Jericho as part of the ongoing storyline feud which effectively ended the match).

Owens matches Styles’ athleticism, throwing down a very impressive frog splash. This match was worked very well, plenty of surprises, and the Philadelphia crowd were hooked on the match.

I didn’t like the match conclusion however. They simply repeated the events from the previous week and the finish was predictable. That being said, everything else in the match was superb.

This match was fantastic. I’ll give it 9/10

  • Kevin Owens/Dolph Ziggler/The Miz/Sami Zayn Promo

The promo afterwards concerning the Intercontinental title picture for Wrestlemania shaped up very nicely. It looks more appealing than the Triple H/Roman Reigns match if I’m honest. Owens arranged a Triple-threat match between The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn to become the number one contender for the intercontinental championship to appear later on Raw (or so it would seem…)

I’ll give this promo 6/10.

  • Dean Ambrose Promo

The Dean Ambrose promo was brilliant. I loved last week’s one with Mick Foley and this weeks’ didn’t disappoint. Another legend introduced and another weapon at Ambrose’s disposal. It would be brilliant if Ambrose actually uses these weapons at Wrestlemania, that would make for one heck of a match!

I’ll give this promo 8/10.

  • League Of Nations vs New Day Promo

I have to say, I initially found The New Day a little irritating but I am really enjoying their promos and matches now. They’re a team that really grow on you after some time. They’re good on the mic and they wrestle well. This promo wasn’t fantastic if I’m honest, but I think that’s probably due to a poor script. The New Day delivered it well. I am starting to get annoyed with the ‘in your face’ immediate product placement in terms of them promoting their ‘Booty O’s’ Cereal every week though. It was fun at first in terms of an addition to their gimmick, but it feels a little bit like a sales pitch now.

I’ll give this one 4/10.

  • Rusev vs Big E

Some impressive moves from both men, including Big E’s excellently executed belly-to-belly suplexes. Rusev pulled off some awesome moves too, including a very powerful spinning heel kick. It’s incredible to see larger superstars pulling off these types of moves, a true testament to their athletic abilities.

It was a good match overall, I was disappointed with the ending though. I feel that the League of Nations should have got a win this week. They’ve lost three times now and it just makes it difficult to take them seriously as a strong stable.

I’ll give it a 7/10.

  • Wyatt Family Promo

A very brief promo but very compelling. I love this stable. I especially love Bray Wyatt’s character. This has to be the best gimmick on the current roster. They look cool, they’re good on the mic, they have a strong entrance theme etc.

I’ll give it 7/10.

  • Big Show Promo

It was touching hearing Big Show discuss the legacy of Andre The Giant. The rest of the segment was ok, nothing special. The social outcasts are a stable I can’t really identify with, I don’t really understand how they fit into the bigger picture. The end of the segment sees Kane chokeslam the Big Show, to which the crowd barely responds. It was all a little strange to watch. But nonetheless, the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal Match at Wrestlemania looks like it will be fun to watch.

I’ll give this 5/10.

  • Chris Jericho vs Fandango/ AJ Styles vs Jericho Promo

A very quick match, wasn’t really able to get into this one due its shortness. It was however a set up for the following promo. It was funny to see AJ styles getting back at Jericho. This feud is building very nicely. Jericho has always been a fantastic heel, and he’s really pushing it this time around. It looks like a Chris Jericho vs AJ styles match will be on the cards for Wrestlemania. I’d like to see some sort of a twist added to it though. We’ve seen these two compete before so it’d be nice if there was a match twist (e.g. a ladder match). Both men are high flyers and this would be a great opportunity to take advantage of that.

I’ll give this whole segment 6/10.

  • Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship Number 1 Contender Spot

A nice brief introduction by Kevin Owens to the match. Bringing us a twist by presenting the same match mentioned earlier in the program, except with completely different competitors. Namely, Stardust, Sin Cara & Zack Ryder. Sin Cara & Stardust worked well together in this match. I’ve always enjoyed watching cruiserweight competitors and Sin Cara does not disappoint! Jumping off the ring ropes very eloquently and almost effortlessly, he makes the match very exciting to watch. On a side note, it was funny listening to Kevin Owens & Michael Cole bickering on commentary. Owens is a brilliant heel.

The match descends into chaos when Ziggler, Miz & Zayn come out to confront Owens. It ends by disqualification and all men involved start fighting on the outside of the ring.  I think some form of elimination match should be arranged for Smackdown between all 6 men involved, with the winner going on to face Owens at Wrestlemania. Considering rivalries and the best match possible for the show, it would be good if Sami Zayn goes on to face Owens.

Immediately afterward, Stephanie McMahon announces a ladder match at Wrestlemania for the Intercontinental title. I’ve gotta say, that’s one of best announcements for the Wrestlemania card so far (excluding the Hell In a Cell match between The Undertaker & Shane McMahon of course).

I’ll give this match & aftermath a 8/10.

  • Natalya vs Charlotte

Here we see a WWE Roadblock rematch. Both women are fantastic competitors but I have to say, Natalya is my favourite. She pulls off some impressive submission moves and is just generally a great in-ring competitor. Charlotte displays a lot talent here in this brief but enjoyable match.

I’ll give it 6/10.

  • Bubba Ray Dudley vs R-Truth

It was really annoying listening to Bubba Ray trash talking throughout the match. It wasn’t really a match so much as a beatdown with insults thrown in the mix throughout. A very short match, R-truth was pretty fun to watch, but otherwise – a disappointing match.

The segment afterwards with Goldust and the Usos coming out was enjoyable, but still ended in a disappointing way. Their match at Wrestlemania should be good though (Dudley Boyz vs The Usos).

I’ll give it 3/10.

  • Hell In A Cell Announcement

Vince McMahon recaps the events recently regarding the upcoming match, together with, announcing that if The Undertaker does not win at Wrestlemania, it will be his last. Perhaps hinting at it being a retirement match?

6/10 for this one.

  • Dean Ambrose vs Braun Strowman

Our main event is a dull match sprinkled with a few interesting moves, however the Philadelphia crowd chant ‘This is boring’ – a statement I cannot disagree with. The match ends by disqualification, and we get a preview of what Ambrose vs Lesnar might look like at Wrestlemania, with Ambrose attacking Strowman with a steel chair.

I’ll give it a 5/10.

Professionalism

Professionalism Score Overall: 6 /10

Discussion:

I believe there was a brief mistake in Stephanie’s dialogue when she was discussing Triple H’s match with Dolph Ziggler whereby she states that his loss demonstrates why he won’t become WWE World Heavyweight Champion, she then immediately starts talking about Roman Reigns again, however it doesn’t quite follow what she immediately said. Either I’ve misunderstood that one or Stephanie covered it very well.

The dialogue between Michael Cole & John Bradshaw Layfield in this segment is a little bit awkward to listen to. Michael Cole refers to Stephanie McMahon as ‘Triple H’s wife’ which makes sense given what they are discussing as Roman Reigns makes his entrance to the ring, however JBL makes the very important point that ‘she is the owner of this company, a very powerful woman’.

Whilst this is Kayfabe commentary, JBL does touch on an important point here. It seems like Michael Cole was undermining Stephanie a little bit by saying that. In my opinion, her marriage to Paul Levesque is besides the point. I regarded that comment as a little condescending and whilst it’s obvious that Michael Cole would never intentionally infer something like that, his commentary does need to be a little more professional in this capacity.

During the AJ Styles Vs Kevin Owens match JBL appears to say ‘I don’t like your commentary very much Bryon’ to which he replies ‘huh?’ and there is silence thereafter. This doesn’t sound Kayfabe, it sounds like a genuine opinion from JBL and this is quite unprofessional to be honest. I would love to be corrected here, but if this is the case, JBL should save these sorts of criticisms for off-air conversations.

Rusev wasn’t selling very well in his match against Big E. It was a little poor at times. He more than made up for that however, through his athleticism throughout the rest of the match.

– Christian Reeve

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