Monday Night Raw – March 23, 2015: The Last Ditch Effort

Monday Night Raw
Date: March 23, 2015
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Commentators: Michael Cole, Booker T., John Bradshaw Layfield

We’re at the final show of a pretty short build to Wrestlemania and they’re already in California. This is the final show before Wrestlemania and it’s time for the big push for all the matches. On top of that we have Snoop Dogg and ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who has been feuding with JBL on Twitter, in the building as well. Because that makes me want to see Wrestlemania. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

We open with Sting. Well that’s a bit better. What isn’t a bit better is Cole babbling about fourteen years ago and all the WCW stuff. This is STING on Raw. We don’t need commentary right now. Sting says this is what it feels like to start Raw. Over the last fourteen years he’s watched HHH manipulate and undermine his way to the top of WWE. HHH must think he’s unstoppable and that there’s no consequence for his action. Even though Sting is the last soldier in some forgotten war. He’s not here to fight for WCW because that would be ridiculous at this point (REALLY good idea to drop that idea).

Instead he’s here to take HHH down…..and here’s freaking Stephanie. Are you kidding me? Sting got to talk for 90 seconds and she just has to interject herself now? Booker: “I don’t think Sting knows how to handle Stephanie.” Oh screw you too whoever told him to say that line. She goes into her usual schtick but Sting calls her a spoiled brat who buys her own hype and thinks she deserves this. Sting: “But it’s nice to meet you Steph!”

Stephanie recaps the end of the Monday Night Wars (about two minutes after Sting said this wasn’t about WCW) and says you can only paint a dog up so well. She doesn’t want to insult dogs by comparing them to Sting and ripping on WCW. So I guess her and Shane buying WCW and ECW is just forgotten. She loads up the slap but Sting grabs her arm and Stephanie is STUNNED. Cue HHH to thankfully save this segment and take off his jacket. Stephanie pulls out the sledgehammer but Sting of course has the bat ready. That’s still just a perfect visual. HHH leaves so Sting drops the bat and tells him to come on.

Well enough of that cool segment. Time to plug the App and show Divas standing in the back!

Dean Ambrose/R-Truth vs. Luke Harper/Stardust

Barrett is on commentary. Truth sends Stardust to the floor to start where the CODY chants annoy him. It’s off to Harper vs. Ambrose as the announcers talk about the betting odds for the ladder match. Everything breaks down and the good guys clear the ring as we take a break. Back with Stardust holding Ambrose in the chinlock before an Alabama Slam gets two near falls in a row.

Harper throws Dean down as well and sets him on the top before tagging Stardust back in. A superplex attempt doesn’t quite work and Dean falls to the floor for a clothesline to Harper. He follows it up with a tornado DDT as Stardust is running the apron. Truth comes in to clean house and gets two off his sitout gordbuster with Harper making the save. A superkick drops Truth but Harper eats the rebound clothesline and a suicide dive. The Little Jimmy puts Stardust away at 10:40.

Rating: C-. The match was fine and it’s nice to see Truth get a win for the a change. The ladder match has the potential to steal the show if they let these guys go nuts, but I’m going to roll my eyes if Barrett walks out with the title. At least they’ve cut back on the stupid title stealing, but it’s going to wind up being one of those moments that makes me roll my eyes, only to be harmless at the end of the day.

Barrett wisely runs off with the belt before anyone can steal it. Truth gets Dean to do a little dance post match.

Some Special Olympians are here.

Video on Reigns, centered around a sitdown interview. He talks about how Lesnar has built up a mystique but backed it up. Reigns says he can and he will defeat Brock. Believe that.

Miz and Mizdow interviewed Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart about their new movie earlier today and of course the actors like Mizdow.

Miz/Damien Mizdow/Ascension/Adam Rose vs. Prime Time Players/Ryback/Zack Ryder/Erick Rowan

Bill Simmons from ESPN is on commentary. The fans want Mizdow but get Titus giving Miz a backbreaker. Titus suplexes Young onto Miz as Simmons talks about Lesnar. Rose steals a tag that was meant for Mizdow but eats a discus forearm and atomic drop. Off to Rowan for a fall away slam of his own, followed by a Broski Boot from Ryder. This might be Ryder’s longest Raw match in at least a year.

Ascension comes in and stomps away on Ryder but Mizdow returns the favor to Rose by tagging himself in. He cleans house and takes off his glasses but Miz demands to be tagged back in. Ryder finally scores with a faceplant and dives over for the tag to Ryback. Everything breaks down and Miz charges into the Meat Hook, setting up Shell Shock for the pin at 5:48.

Rating: D. These are always hard to grade as there’s really nothing you can do with so many people out there. This was an easy way to help set up the battle royal, even though Ryback is probably the only guy in the ring that has a real chance of winning on Sunday. Decent enough match and a nice way to get all these guys on TV for a change. I still feel sorry for the Ascension though as they’ve fallen through the floor. Not as far as Ryder but that’s rare company. Simmons was fine but did almost nothing here.

The fans choose Randy Orton’s opponent.

Big Show: 11%

Kane: 12%

Seth Rollins/Joey Mercury/Jamie Noble: 77%

Seth Rollins/Jamie Noble/Joey Mercury vs. Randy Orton

Mercury starts but quickly tags out to Noble. That goes as well for Jamie as you would expect but Rollins gets in a cheap shot from behind to give Noble an opening. Orton comes back with a powerslam and double Elevated DDT, only to avoid a Curb Stomp attempt. Rollins runs so Jamie takes the RKO (which looks awkward since he’s so short) for the pin at 3:17.

Rating: D+. This was an angle instead of a match, though I have no idea why Rollins needed to officially be on the team. He could have done the same thing as a manager outside but at least he didn’t get beaten up or pinned. This was the best thing they’ve done in the disaster of a build up for these two and it continues to be a good use of the Stooges.

This week’s sitdown interview is with Cena, who talks about how important it is to bring the US Title back to America so he can represent it around the world, including in Russia.

Nikki Bella has offered either AJ or Paige a Divas Title match tonight but they have to pick who gets it. Neither girl wants to take it over the other but Paige says AJ is crazy if she doesn’t take it. You know what that does to AJ and tension is teased.

Divas Title: Nikki Bella vs. Paige

Nikki is defending but gets speared down and hammered with right hands to the face. The champ heads outside for a bit before taking Paige down with a clothesline. We stop for some unnecessary pushups, allowing Paige to take her back outside and regain control. Back in and a facebuster gets two for Nikki as we take a break. We come back with Paige fighting out of a chinlock but walking into something like a spinebuster for two. A double clothesline puts both girls down and it’s Paige up first with her three clotheslines and a running dropkick for two of her own.

Nikki comes back with a horribly missed spinning kick out of the corner for two, only to walk into a superkick for the same. Rampaige is countered into a small package for two before Nikki hits an Alabama Slam (that’s becoming a really popular move). The Rack Attack is countered but Rampaige only gets two. They fall to the floor and AJ knocks out Brie, only to hit Paige by mistake, allowing Nikki to hit the big forearm. AJ is stunned as Nikki hits the Rack Attack for the pin to retain at 10:42.

Rating: C. Storytelling here again but I’ll give them credit for a good surprise on the kickout of the Rampaige. I’m still not sure why the title isn’t on the line Sunday, as it’s not like belts have never been up for grabs in a tag match before. This was fine though and Nikki has improved exponentially in the last few months. She would still be overwhelmed if a match ever got above second gear, but she’s gone from a disaster to totally watchable and that’s a big upgrade.

Paige and AJ get into it post match.

Here’s tonight’s other guest star Snoop Dogg, wearing what looks to be pajamas and accompanied by a lot of dancing Divas. He talks about how awesome Wrestlemania is going to be, but Curtis Axel cuts him off. Curtis says Axelmania is running wild and here to stay. Axel calls him a clown that’s been popping up on Twitter. He’s been waiting for Axel to show up because he needs to see the real mania. Cue Hulk Hogan to talk about pressing Andre over his head in front of 94,000 fans. He’s a fan of Snoopmania, but he’s not sure about this Axelmania. “What’s this brother smoking over here?” Axel tears his shirt off but eats a right hand before Snoop throws him to the floor and reveals a Hulkamania shirt. Posing ensues.

For those of you that call wrestling predictable, I ask you this: if I had told you three months ago that on the go home show for Wrestlemania, Hulk Hogan would confront Curtis Axel, how insane would I have sounded?

We look back at the Brock interview from last week.

Cesaro/Tyson Kidd/Natalya vs. Los Matadores/El Torito

Rematch of the interspecies match from Thursday. In case you love this moronic comedy you see. The Usos and Naomi are on commentary as Cesaro throws Fernando down to start. Torito comes in to face Natalya but it’s just a tease as Kidd and Diego come in. Cesaro offers a cheap shot so his partner can take over with a chinlock. Back up and Kidd dives into a dropkick and the double tag brings in Cesaro and Fernando as the fans do not seem interested. Everything breaks down and Torito sunset flips Natalya for the pin at 4:15.

Rating: D. Six days before Wrestlemania. Six days.

Barrett has to give Kane the Intercontinental Title and doesn’t want to let it go again. Then he just gives it up after wasting thirty seconds of our time.

Rusev vs. Jack Swagger

Non-title. Rusev elbows him in the face to start and hammers away in the corner. Just Accolade him now and stop wasting our time. The fans want Lana as Rusev stomps away and we hit a chinlock. Jack fights up for a big boot and a quickly broken Patriot Lock. Swagger gets caught on the middle rope and clotheslined back onto the mat. The superkick and Accolade end Swagger at 4:37.

Rating: D+. My goodness I’m over seeing these two fight. Bring back the nameless jobbers instead of just having him destroy Swagger over and over again. We know what’s coming anyway, so why bother crushing Rusev like this? It’s such a waste of time and the little crowd reaction he gets at this point, so stop hurting him.

Rusev won’t let go so Cena comes out for the save. The brawl is on but Rusev takes him to the floor and posts Cena and throws him over the table. Rusev goes to leave but comes back for a running superkick. The announcers’ table is loaded up and Cena is thrown on top, setting up the Accolade on the table. Cena blacks out again.

Here’s Bray Wyatt with something to say. He wants to know why people hide from the truth. Is it because you’re afraid for them to know who you are? Each and every single one of us are guilty of hating the people that looks at them in the mirror every morning. That’s why you put on makeup to cover all the inconsistencies inside of yourself. It doesn’t change the fact that every one of you is a liar.

Bray isn’t a liar though. His tongue is a sword of truth and cuts through the lies of this world. The Undertaker lies as well, but the angle with the burned wings has been sent to take him back to the other side. Thunder starts to rumble but Bray says this belongs to him now. He judges the living and the dead and he has judged Undertaker as guilty. Undertaker will feel Sister Abigail’s kiss on Sunday and Bray will be the new face of fear. AWESOME promo here and maybe Bray’s best ever.

Kevin Nash Hall of Fame video.

Natalya overhears Tyson Kidd talking to his Burger King and gets a bit jealous until she has a fry.

Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler

The belt is above the ring. The other five participants in the ladder match are in a fan voted poll to be guest referee. Ambrose wins with 57% of the votes. They hit the mat to start with Bryan sitting out for a standoff. We hit a test of strength until Bryan suplexes him down and starts on the arm. Dolph reverses into a headlock and takes Bryan into the corner but it turns into a slugout. Bryan backflips out of the corner but Ziggler throws him over, only to have Bryan skin the cat and headscissor him outside. They fly at the timekeeper’s area as we take a break.

Back with Bryan fighting out of a sleeper and getting two off a German suplex. He heads up top but gets crotched down, setting up a running top rope faceplant for two for Dolph. Bryan can’t backslide him so he just kicks Dolph in the face for two. We get dueling chants but the YES chants for some kicks in the corner drown them out. Bryan charges into a superkick and the Zig Zag is good for the completely clean pin at 10:55.

Rating: B-. Good but not great match here. It’s still weird to see Bryan getting pinned clean, especially around Wrestlemania time. I’d love to see these two get the time for a real program instead of just being in there with all the other people for a big messy title match. Good stuff here though and the best match of the night.

Dirty Deeds plants Ziggler post match and it’s ladder time. Everyone comes out for the big climbing war and the ladder falls down onto Harper’s leg, leaving everyone down on the mat. Harper might be hurt as that didn’t look planned.

Here are Lesnar and Heyman for the big showdown with Reigns. Heyman does his usual and says if he hasn’t sold us on the main event beating yet, there’s nothing he can do now. If you want to see Roman Reigns take a beating, you’ll get your money’s worth. Last year, the fans said Lesnar couldn’t beat Undertaker, but he could and did. People said he couldn’t beat John Cena, but he could and did.

Now people say he’s a mercenary, but Lesnar is a man who loves to hurt people trying to take the title away from him. Reigns might as well take Brock’s wife, take his house, the food off his children’s plates and rename them Reigns if he wants to take that title from Lesnar. This man is a beast who will take Reigns’ wife, his house, the food off his children’s plates and rename them Lesnar, so come for a fight. This Sunday Brock conquers the main event of Wrestlemania. Reigns says he can and he will, but this Sunday the champ says you can’t and you won’t.

Here’s Reigns himself at 11:08pm for the big staredown. Brock holds up the title but Reigns grabs it from his hand and holds it in Brock’s face. Lesnar tries to take it back and they struggle over the belt to end the show. THAT’S IT??? We waited two months for THAT?

Overall Rating: C-. I didn’t hate this show but my goodness it’s really hard to care about most of this. At the end of the day, they haven’t made me interested in most of what they’re presenting on Sunday. Bray’s promo was awesome and there were some other good things going on, but then we had a bull pinning Natalya as the Tag Team Champions literally looked on and a Burger King ad (which to be fair made me laugh).

Wrestlemania will have the potential to knock it out of the park on Sunday if they get the wrestling right, but at the same time, it has the potential to absolutely bomb. It doesn’t seem to have much higher to go than “pleasant surprise”, but it could be more along the lines of Wrestlemania 27: one or two good things, but overall a show where you look back and ask “what were they thinking?”

Results

R-Truth/Dean Ambrose b. Stardust/Luke Harper – Little Jimmy to Stardust

Ryback/Zack Ryder/Prime Time Players/Erick Rowan b. Miz/Damien Mizdow/Ascension/Adam Rose – Shell Shock to Miz

Randy Orton b. Jamie Noble/Joey Mercury/Seth Rollins – RKO to Noble

Los Matadores/El Torito b. Cesaro/Tyson Kidd/Natalya – Sunset flip to Natalya

Rusev b. Jack Swagger – Accolade

Dolph Ziggler b. Daniel Bryan – Zig Zag

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book of 1998 Pay Per View reviews at Amazon for just $3.99 at:

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20 comments

  1. Dave says:

    More like “Last ditch no effort”

  2. Davey says:

    TNA Impact has been better during this so called WWE road to Wrestlemania….

  3. Steven says:

    What about that epic confrontation at the end, though? It totally didn’t suck. lol

    larisano Reply:

    I legit think Vince is trolling us all. I doubt there is anyone on the face of the earth besides Vince himself who actually saw that segment as anything but pure rubbish/shit/crap…

    Steven Reply:

    Yeah, this was WWE’s “finger poke of doom”. lol

  4. Gunther_224 says:

    I figured Bryan would be back in the world title scene by summer but with the way he’s been booked the past few weeks I’m starting to doubt that. What say you KB?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    It’s going to depend on how Reigns holds up. If he bombs, they’re going to look for a change. Bryan might be that guy, if nothing else to give Reigns another potential rub.

  5. Heyo says:

    I’m kinda curious what happens here. I could see Lesnar legit losing his shit and threatening to take the belt with him as his contract expires, meaning we might repeat Montreal. Or maybe they spoil Reigns’ moment and have Rollins cash in on him.

    Unforunately for WWE, that would actually make Reigns the top heel and Rollins the new top face for fans.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I really can’t see that happening. Brock is a businessman at the end of the day, and if he wants to go fight in UFC, he can come back to WWE later. People forget that he’s actually younger than Cena and it’s not a stretch that Cena will still be around in five years. Brock in his early to mid 40s would still be a major force. He’s too smart to do something like that.

  6. M.R. says:

    I’m excited for Mania because it’s Mania, but they’ve sure done a shitty job of building this one. I’m not as concerned for the main event as others seem to be though, Brock’s physical style makes pretty much any match interesting, him and Reigns are gonna have an all out war. The rest of the card leaves alot to be desired for me.

  7. Killjoy says:

    No Perro Aguayo graphic? That’s pretty sad. I heard Triple H was high for it, but Dunn and Vince played the PR card and whatever other excuse to associate themselves with that wrestling thing other people do.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Yeah it is. I mean…..just throw his face up there and say “in Memory”. That’s not the worst thing in the world.

  8. Hubcap Dave says:

    I pretty much enjoyed the show (KB, just think of Swagger as that ant in the song “High Hopes”!), right up to the end….

    Then Reigns and Lesnar had their little tug-of-war with the title……and they fade to black…….

    Of all the ways they could have gone, they choose THAT to end the go-home show?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I’m not even going to bother listing the better options because there are about 18,000 of them.

    Hubcap Dave Reply:

    They really only needed one: Reigns and Lesnar get in a slobberknocker!

  9. james gracie says:

    Oh man how bad was that? So when is WWE gonna get better and “pick things up” for Mania season like you all said they would? LOL that’s how they end the RAW before Mania? Compare that to last year’s final moment of RAW before Mania. That awesome brawl where Bryan kicked Triple H’s ass from one side of the ring to the other. Yeah Vince, you sure made the right call in going with Reigns over Bryan LOL.

    I knew it was a matter of time before Stephanie stuck her nose in this Sting/H feud. I actually groaned when her music hit. Can’t wait for Mania when 50% of the match will be reaction shots of her standing at ringside.

    I can’t even watch Daniel Bryan matches anymore. They just piss me off. So much wasted potential. And kayfabe wise, why would all the participants climb the latter and try to get the belt risking injury? So what if they got the belt…..IT DOESN’T COUNT! Why book all these guys like idiots?

    And why is the tag title match on the pre show but the Jobber Battle Royals isn’t? And why the fuck aren’t they doing Miz vs Mizdow at Mania? THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS COMPANY?!

    You know whats more of a joke than the WWE Hall of Fame? A few years from now when they have no one left to induct cause they insist on inducting 10 guys a year. “Do you think so and so will ever get into the WWE Hall of Fame?” Yes, everyone will eventually get in cause this hall of fame is a joke.

    Awful show tonight. And I know you’re trying to sell the fact that the Network is a bargain but if there are people still willing to order your shows on PPV, why the fuck would you discourage that? It amazes me how dumb this company is. Actually the Network subscription numbers after Mania will be more of a joke than the Hall of Fame. A wrestling company where someone died in the ring is better than the WWE right now. A wrestling company that was on the verge of bankruptcy is better than the WWE right now. This company FUCKING SUCKS! And this is easily the worst build to a Wrestlemania in WWE HISTORY! FUCK IT! #VinceIsSoftAndOutOfTouch #FireStephanie #GiveBryanAChance #OhManHowBadWasThat

  10. CrazySole says:

    A poor end to a decent raw.

    Why not have Reigns nail Lesnar with a “superman punch” or something. Or even just get in his face and say his whole, “I can…I will” stuff.

    To be honest I’m really looking forward to Wrestlemania, there will be some pretty cool moments from Undertaker returning to Stings first match in the WWE. The ladder match should steal the show, Reigns and Lesnar should be a really physical match. The possiblity of the top three stars (Lesnar, Cena and Bryan) all ending the night with singles titles is very promising.

  11. Steve says:

    This might be the worst Wrestlemania build that I can remember since I started watching WWF/E, I think the reliance of the part timers has finally caught up with them. This has been basically a 3 and a half person build (Heyman, HHH, sometimes Sting, and Wyatt) for the top three matches. If you just watched the shows and knew nothing else you may think the top two matches on the card or Rollins Orton, and Cena Rusev.

    I think another part of the problem is that WM has almost become a “cookie cutter” type of event. By that I mean you can almost predict what’s going to be on the card. You’ll have 3 or 4 “Main Events” which will include The WWE title, The Undertaker’s match, HHH’s match, and if feel like it’s become a succession of Vince/Shawn/Cena’s match for the fourth Main Event. Of course there has been exceptions, but In my mind this has been the line up for a while now. Then you can add in the one or two other singles feud that is kind of being built, a few multi-man matches (MITB, Battle Royals, and now the IC ladder match) to get everyone on the show, the divas matches, A celebrity appearance, some sort of big segment to open the show, a couple huge epic entrances for HHH, Taker, and a few others, the HOF inductees and there’s the show in a nutshell.

    It almost feels like the show formula need a bit of an update, and WM moments are being forced to happen rather than happen naturally.

    For example how much better would the card look if you had a Bryan Ziggler match and a Gold Dust and Star Dust match. You have two more feuds to build, and you marginally take away from the two matches they are in plus you can let the ladder match breathe a little more.

  12. M.R. says:

    Speaking of Simmons, Hogan’s on his podcast today and gives a great interview.

  13. Jay H (the real one) says:

    Flat ending aside this was a good go-home RAW. Knowing now that Brock Lesnar has re-signed I think the Match has a little more intrigue than it did before this week. Given there’s not much hype going into it I think WM 31 will turn out to be a good Show.