Monday Night Raw – February 22, 2016: Here Comes The Wrestlemania Build

Monday Night Raw
Date: February 22, 2016
Location: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton

It’s a big night for Raw as we’re done with Fastlane and have less than six weeks before the biggest night of the year. In addition to that we also have the presentation of the first ever Vincent J. McMahon Award and the fallout from Brock Lesnar attacking Dean Ambrose before the show started tonight. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of the triple threat main event from last night with Reigns pinning Ambrose to earn the title shot.

Opening sequence.

Cole tells us about Brock attacking Dean as he got to the arena earlier today and we see the video. Ambrose was put in a neck brace and driven away in an ambulance.

Vince McMahon comes out to present the Vincent J. McMahon Sr. Legacy of Excellence Award (which seems to be the same trophy that was give to Hornswoggle for winning a video game tournament a few years back). McMahon talks about his family’s history of presenting sports entertainment for over 100 years and how it was all about a legacy. That’s the kind of person we’re honoring tonight so Vince brings out the first recipient: Stephanie McMahon.

Stephanie comes out to a chorus of boos as Vince tries to tell her how much she deserves this award. She didn’t expect to win but she happens to have a speech prepared. Stephanie starts talking about how much of an honor this is but hoe she couldn’t do this without her husband…..and here’s SHANE MCMAHON of all people to interrupt. The place goes NUTS at this and actually does a big old YES chant for the white haired Shane. Vince asks for a hug or a handshake but Shane isn’t interested.

Shane seems genuinely choked up as he thanks the fans. It’s quickly off to the reason he’s here though: this Award, which Stephanie doesn’t deserve. Stephanie rips into him a bit but Shane says she really doesn’t know. Apparently Stephanie and HHH have been running this company into the ground, such as the stock price, the ratings and all of the injuries. Stephanie calls Shane a quitter so Shane asks if Vince wants to tell her. Years ago, Vince screwed up big time and Shane was there to save things.

Shane was able to take some time off but he never lost his place in line. The reason Stephanie has gotten this far is because Shane let it happen. Stephanie doesn’t buy this but Vince looks….somewhere between annoyed and terrified. Stephanie offers Shane a spot at Wrestlemania this year but Vince cuts her off to talk to his son. Vince asks her to leave but Shane says it’s all true because at the time it was best for business. She finally leaves but not before saying she’ll never forgive Shane for screwing this up.

Vince offers to give Shane another big check to make this go away but this isn’t about money. Every morning, Shane wakes up and is so glad to have his freedom. This is about legacy though because the McMahon Family with Shane’s children now the fifth generation. Shane finally gets to the point: he wants control of Monday Night Raw. Vince says it’s not that easy because the company is in a different place now. Shane wants to make sure that there’s a generation for the future.

That just ticks Vince off but he has an idea. He’ll give Shane what he wants if Shane has one match on one night. However, if Shane loses, he loses possession of anything he has over Vince’s head. The deal is on so Vince says something that has to be censored. Shane goes to leave but Vince stops him to name the specifics. Naturally the match is at Wrestlemania and the opponent is……the Undertaker, inside the Cell.

Neville/Lucha Dragons vs. New Day

Kalisto and Woods get things going and Xavier is sent to the floor as we take a break. Back with Kalisto coming in to work on Woods’ arm before it’s off to Big E. for a belly to belly on Neville. The Unicorn Stampede keeps Neville in trouble and Kofi nails a running boot to the face. Kofi’s dropkick keeps Neville down and Woods gets two as we take another break.

Back again with Big E. staying on Neville and standing on his wrist to keep Neville away from making the tag. Woods gets backdropped face first onto the steps, allowing Neville to kick Kofi away and make the tag off to Sin Cara. Everything breaks down and Cara hits a springboard back elbow to drop Kofi.

A standing Lionsault gets two on Kofi with Big E. making the save, only to get kicked to the floor for a Neville 450 from the apron. Woods does a springboard off Neville’s back onto Woods, leaving Kofi to avoid a Swanton Bomb, tear at Cara’s mask and hit Trouble in Paradise for the pin on Cara at 15:30.

Rating: C+. Fun match here, though it’s a bit overly long with the extra break not really adding anything. You had to know that was coming after the long opening segment though so there really wasn’t a big surprise. New Day certainly wasn’t face here and that’s probably better for them at this point. Let them drop the belts to someone (new hopefully) and then let them turn face after Wrestlemania.

Roman Reigns doesn’t have an update on Dean Ambrose but is ready for his one on one fight at Wrestlemania against HHH. That night, it’s all about his fist and his heart. Reigns likes his odds.

Here are Heyman and Lesnar with something to say. Heyman says this will be the main event of the evening even though Brock isn’t even in his wrestling gear. It doesn’t matter what Lesnar is doing because he’s the main event. Last night Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns got beaten up by Brock Lesnar. If the Undertaker tapped out to Brock Lesnar, Roman certainly was going to as well.

However, Dean Ambrose saved his buddy and turned a wrestling match into a street fight. This ticked off Brock Lesnar so earlier today, Brock attacked Dean as he arrived at the arena. After looking at the clip from earlier, Heyman says there is no shield that can protect Dean from Brock Lesnar. HHH and Roman Reigns can kid themselves all they want by saying they’re the main event when Brock is on the card. Brock needs a new Wrestlemania opponent so Heyman issues a warning to anyone in the locker room.

Go to the hospital tonight and visit Dean to ask what happens when you invoke the wrath of Brock Lesnar. They go to leave and of course, RIGHT ON TIME, here’s the ambulance with Dean inside. Cole: “What is going on?” Man you called the 1999 Royal Rumble. I’m thinking you should know this.

Dean rips the neck brace off as he crawls down the ramp towards the ring. Brock runs him over with a single shot and keeps walking to the back. Makes sense. Dean grabs a mic and says he’s indestructible, which Brock is going to find out the hard way. We get the challenge for Wrestlemania in a no holds barred street fight. Brock comes back to ringside for an F5 on the floor, which Heyman means is a yes.

Usos vs. Ascension

Before the match, here are the Dudley Boyz to interrupt. Bubba apologizes for what they did a few weeks back, even though they’re the most decorated team in wrestling history. Their legacy won’t be defined by a piece of furniture but rather by their accomplishments. That’s why you’ll never see a table again. Speaking of accomplishments, maybe the Usos’ daddy (Rikishi) should have spent more time around them instead of going all over the place.

That’s not much of an insult but it allows Ascension to jump them from behind to start. Konor kicks Jimmy in the face and Viktor drops a fist for two. Jey gets the hot tag a few seconds later as house is cleaned. Viktor dives into a double superkick and the Superfly Splash is good for the pin at 1:57.

Here’s Chris Jericho with something to say. He’s heard about AJ Styles for years and then last night he was defeated by Styles for the second time. He’d like AJ to come out and see him face to face. Cue Styles, who Jericho thanks for proving something last night. AJ has proven that he belongs here in the WWE and he has everything it takes to go to the top and become a champion. Jericho knows that AJ is phenomenal…..and here are the Social Outcasts.

Slater thinks this is pathetic but Bo finds it really beautiful. Slater: “Bo, I was being sarcastic.” Dallas: “Oh yeah. Me too.” The Outcasts don’t buy Y2AJ as a thing but Jericho tells Slater to shut up. They weren’t going to be a team but they’d be glad to if it means getting the Outcasts out of here.

Chris Jericho/AJ Styles vs. Heath Slater/Curtis Axel

This is joined in progress with AJ dropkicking Slater and hitting the basement forearm. Slater powers out of the Clash by sending Heath to the apron, only to have the other Outcasts interfere to take over. Axel stomps him down in the corner and it’s back to Slater for a chinlock. That goes nowhere and it’s the hot tag off to Jericho as everything breaks down. AJ springboard forearms onto Slater, leaving Jericho to make Axel tap to the Walls at 4:02.

Rating: C-. Maybe New Day vs. AJ/Jericho for the Tag Team Titles at Wrestlemania? I’ve certainly heard worse ideas so why not get them on there and give AJ a quick title? I mean, it’s not like there’s a long line to get to the top of the tag division. If nothing else, Kofi vs. AJ could be quite the entertaining segment.

We recap the long opening segment.

HHH tells Stephanie to shake off what happened earlier. Stephanie gets to go tell Roman something to make herself feel better.

Post break Roman goes to check on Dean but Stephanie stops him to make Reigns vs. Sheamus for later. The League isn’t happy with the way Reigns is getting all this attention for Wrestlemania and it would be a shame if they hurt Reigns and took him out of Wrestlemania.

Goldust brings R-Truth a cake to make up for what happened last night. R-Truth doesn’t think much of it but the cake has yellow frosting on chocolate, just like them. Goldust knew Truth would turn him down and that’s exactly why they would be great partners. That fascinates Truth, but he’s not going to smash the cake in Goldust’s face. Actually he does just that, again much like a heel would. Goldust eats some of the cake.

Ryback/Big Show/Kane vs. Wyatt Family

Bray is swapped in for Strowman this time. Harper puts his mask on Byron before the match and for some reason Saxton can’t speak. This is joined in progress with Kane and Bray trading big shots before it’s off to Ryback vs. Harper. Ryback slugs away in the corner and brings in Kane, who eats a quick dropkick. JBL goes on about Hansen and Brody before Cole brings up JBL vs. Austin in a beer drinking contest at the first modern Saturday Night’s Main Event.

Ryback cross bodies Rowan and hits two running knees in the corner. A clothesline sends Rowan to the floor and we take a break. Back with Harper getting two off a Michinoku Driver before Rowan drops an elbow on Ryback. The missile dropkick puts Rowan down and a hot tag brings in Big Show to clean house. Rowan gets chokeslammed but Strowman low bridges Show to the floor. Harper kicks away at the face but his sleeper is broken up, allowing the hot tag to bring in Kane. Everything breaks down and Ryback walks out, leaving Bray to hit Sister Abigail for the pin on Kane at 12:27.

Rating: C-. So the big goal of that whole thing was to turn Ryback heel? Thank goodness they jobbed the Wyatts out for the sake of that because they couldn’t have done anything like this otherwise. It’s a nice enough story, but Ryback needs to not look like a loser who can’t win the big one before I’m going to care about him turning heel.

After a break, Ryback says he’s tired of being in tag teams because it’s about him. This isn’t anything personal with Big Show or Kane. He’s just tired of not getting the spotlight, especially after he won the match last night. It’s time to grab the brass ring and break the glass ceiling.

Sasha Banks vs. Naomi

It’s still a thing. Sasha works on the arm to start and blocks a backslide attempt, only to get kicked in the ribs. Tamina pulls Sasha to the floor and we take a break. Back with Naomi still in control until Becky Lynch comes out to deal with Tamina. A quick Bank Statement makes Naomi tap at 6:45. No rating due to the break in the middle but it was fine.

Post match, here’s Charlotte dressed like a Bella. Charlotte is still emotional after beating Brie Bella last night, even though there needs to be a #1 contender. She loves to see the two of them getting so close. “BECKY WATCH OUT!” Becky believes that Sasha is going to attack her and Charlotte laughs because it’s clear that they don’t trust each other. The next few weeks are going to be fun.

After another recap of the opening, Stephanie tells Vince that she refuses to work for Shane. Vince calls it a calculated risk and Stephanie seems a bit calmer.

We get the Godfather Hall of Fame announcement.

Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus

Sheamus goes after the arm that Brock had in the Kimura last night and Roman is in early trouble. Roman comes back with a headbutt and some right hands in the corner as the fans boo loudly. It’s back to a regular armbar until Roman fires off right hands to the head. A big clothesline puts Sheamus on the floor and one from the steps drops him again.

Rusev gets in a kick to the head though and we take a break. Back with both guys down and the League having been ejected. Roman sends him to the floor for another running clothesline before diving into the ring at seven. Cue HHH in fighting clothes and the fight is on so we’ll say the match is a DQ at 10:45.

Rating: D. These two really don’t have good matches together but that’s the perfect way for WWE to push them harder and harder every single time. Sheamus is right back where he belongs: as a midcarder who might win a title every now and then but is really just a guy that can be shuffled around as necessary.

A brawl breaks out as Sheamus has just disappeared. HHH hits him in the face/throat with the bell and then drives Reigns’ face into the table about 25 times. Reigns is badly busted open as the fans are LOUDLY cheering for HHH. A Pedigree onto the steps ends the show.

Overall Rating: C+. This was a show almost entirely built around storylines and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when we’ve got less than six weeks before Wrestlemania. The Shane thing is big and sets up one of the main events, assuming that match actually takes place. I know Shane was awesome at one point, but it’s really a stretch to imagine him as a credible threat to Undertaker inside the Cell.

Other than that though, the wrestling was barely around tonight as everything was focused on getting to Wrestlemania in a hurry. The card is looking stronger now but they still have a long way to go to get out of the funk that Fastlane and its build put them in. Tonight was at least a big step in the right direction though.

Results

New Day b. Lucha Dragons/Neville – Trouble in Paradise to Cara

Usos b. Ascension – Superfly Splash to Viktor

Chris Jericho/AJ Styles b. Heath Slater/Curtis Axel – Walls of Jericho to Axel

Wyatt Family b. Kane/Big Show/Ryback – Sister Abigail to Kane

Sasha Banks b. Naomi – Bank Statement

Roman Reigns b. Sheamus via DQ when HHH interfered

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36 comments

  1. Your Eternal Reward says:

    and you know what Vince its only going to get worse. No matter what dastardly thing Triple H were to do to Roman over the next six weeks people are going to cheer him for it because after a year of people clearly showing that they don’t want Roman you still insist on Roman.

  2. M says:

    All things considered, I honestly think Shane at this point will be the better worker in the match against Undertaker. If he’s ANYTHING like the suicidal Shane McCrazypants of the past then it’ll be a ride and a half. Can’t say much about Undertaker, but from the last few years I’ve only seen sad stuff, if he can actually lift Shane then he might be able to pull off one last tombstone, but he looks like he’d barely be able to weakily choke push Shane off the top.

    beckett929 Reply:

    UNDERTAKER TOMBSTONED FUCKING BROCK LESNAR!

    M Reply:

    He also dropped Luke Harper and waddled his way through that match with assistance. There’s not many good days left in him.

  3. ted says:

    They really don’t care do they? They really are this tone deaf. This determined to tell their story, their way. Common sense and fan enjoyment be damned.

  4. M.R. says:

    Is it that big a deal if Roman gets booed out of the building at Mania? It happened to Cena at WrestleMania 22 against the same guy and his career’s turned out ok.

    Bizarre choice for what I originally thought would be Taker’s last match, though. Even if Shane won’t win my guess is it’ll still be entertaining as hell.

    ted Reply:

    It’s incredibly stupid and petty on the company’s part. If you don’t mind having your intelligence insulted. Than no it’s not so bad.

    M.R. Reply:

    To mention the word ‘intelligence’ and to then proceed to use the wrong form of ‘Then’…..

    ted Reply:

    Which makes the other points less valid somehow right? Good try though. If you don’t have a counter argument and think spelling mistakes makes you superior. Next time you might consider staying out of it.

    ted Reply:

    What i’m saying is I could explain to you why having entire arenas constantly booing the so called “hero” of the story is a bad thing. Or why ignoring the fan base is extraordinarily arrogant and stupid. But I won’t. Why? because your not going to listen anyway. So I’ll say good day to you.

    M.R. Reply:

    So the current top babyface of the company shouldn’t be getting booed? Oh, thanks. Good thing you’re here.

  5. Jay H (the real one) says:

    What a bonkers episode this was but in a good way. I did not even imagine Shane Mcmahon returning but that was a great surprise. That’s going to be interesting to see how he and Taker pull it off at WM 32.

    ted Reply:

    Why the hell is the undertaker Vince’s heavy? Is taker a heel now? It makes no sense.

    Jerichoholic94 Reply:

    Taker is my favorite and I like Shane but the only way is to bring back the Corporate Ministry or else how else would this make sense? Of course the Authority is disassembled more or less so I just don’t get it.. Why the cell? Where’s the connection? I don’t know what the hell these guys are thinking anymore

    Wim Reply:

    Except that he isn’t, is he? Has Undertaker responded yet? This match is never going to happen.

  6. SamualDude says:

    So I’m not convinced that Shane will be the one to face Taker. I think they may change it up but not sure.

  7. chad says:

    I hope Shane is back with some sort of real life authority because the WWE really need a fish pair of eyes manning the ship. Shane is the one who went off and actually made something of himself in the business world so I hope he comes back in a top position in the company

  8. ted says:

    Here’s a question. Putting aside the fact that the audience was cheering with glee that the top babyface was being punked AGAIN. Why was it booked like Reigns was simply outclassed and a putz? If you were going to say he was beat up from the night before? why wouldn’t you stress that on commentary? It just makes Reigns look outmatched to a guy he easily destroyed not even a month ago.

    Jerichoholic94 Reply:

    All we can do is wait and see what their excuse is. The only reasonable match thus far is the Lesnar-Ambrose match but still it isn’t enough for a Wrestlemania. Injuries or not there’s better options they could’ve went with

    IC Reply:

    I don’t even think that is a reasonable match because there is no reason to buy Ambrose as a threat to beat Lesnar based on the booking.
    I hate to say it, but Reigns would be a better opponent just because he’s been booked way better against Brock than his buddy has.

    Dorian Reply:

    Umm, I think that is the POINT of this match up – an ultimate underdog vs the beast.

    Greg Reply:

    Well Reigns was also just in a match. Not from last night but from the last 10 minutes before HHH came out.

    ted Reply:

    That renders him virtually helpless? It’s not like Triple H blindsided him. Reigns say him coming and got beat down. Also didn’t Reigns annihilate Triple H after just having a match?

    Greg Reply:

    Didn’t Roman have a chair during that? Also HHH was prepared this time.

    ted Reply:

    I don’t believe he did have a chair. It’s a really poor story to tell. Reigns got destroyed by a guy at least 12 years older. While the audience cheered his death. Despite the fact that the biggest heel on the roster was the one doing the beating. Never mind he destroyed H with no issue a month before. Both times were not surprise attacks. You can’t even say he gets booed every so often. It’s almost every week at this point. Why do they treat Reigns like a chump and then act surprised when he isn’t over?

    Greg Reply:

    I went back and looked, he had a chair. The age thing doesn’t really matter in wrestling. Most people won’t think wow Roman got beat up by a grandpa. Detroit was a heel crowd. I get what you mean though. Roman still gets cheered but it is getting less frequent.

    Honestly, this is the one time I’d accept a squash for the title. Give Roman a 4 month reign and then keep him away from the title (if they stick with face Roman). You just can’t have Roman lose the title so quickly again. Maybe even do a turn where HHH proclaims Roman proved he is the future by beating him, setting up Rollins vs Reigns eventually.

    I think current face Roman is still salvageable but I have no confidence that WWE can figure it out. They have to do a heel turn and try again down the line.

  9. Greg says:

    I hate Shane vs Taker. I also love it. It’s like that Sting vs HHH match. Throw logic out the window and it’s awesome. Think about it for 2 seconds and it completely falls apart.

    At least we get to see Shane do a ridiculous jump.

    The reaction to Roman is going to be fun. He might drown in boos.

  10. IC says:

    Speaking of accomplishments, maybe the Usos’ daddy (Rikishi) should have spent more time around them instead of going all over the place.

    They actually said maybe he should have spent less time buying thongs, so that was the insult part there.

    Also in the main event, Reigns speared Sheamus on the floor, so that’s the old “guy gets finisher on floor” standby to explain his disappearance.

  11. the fanatic says:

    Haha james gracie – you forgot to comment this week! You lose.

    james gracie Reply:

    Did I really need to? I think the show spoke for itself.

    The Show Reply:

    I’VE BECOME SENTIENT.

  12. Dragon says:

    I know a lot of 50 yr olds that can kick a 30 yr old’s ass

    Dookie Blaster 4.0 Reply:

    and i know way more 30 year olds that can literally obliterate 50 year old’s

    Dragon Reply:

    lol I’m just pointing out it is not far fetched or unrealistic

  13. Naitch1979 says:

    Aren’t these more of a recap than reviews? Aside from the ratings of the matches there seems to be very little analysis or any thoughts given. I enjoy reading your opinion pieces but these reviews seem to just be a recap of what I’ve just watched, which is one of the main criticisms of RAW!

    Don’t mean to slag the work off but I’d enjoy more ‘critique’, positive or negative than just a repetition of the events.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    There really isn’t much else I can do besides talk about what’s going on. Most of these are for the sake of faster recaps than a full on critique.