Monday Night Raw – February 1, 2016: It Takes Talent To Be This Shortsighted
Date: February 1, 2016
Location: Legacy Arena, Birmingham, Alabama
Commentators: Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield, Michael Cole
We have a main event set for Fastlane and Brock Lesnar is back tonight to give us all three in the same building tonight. Other than that you can see most of the card from here, but the important questions are what happens between now and Wrestlemania and whether or not new stories will start after the February pay per view. Let’s get to it.
We open with Brock and Heyman with the former in a new red Suplex City shirt. Heyman immediately talks about the Wyatts, whose plot to get rid of Brock from the Royal Rumble worked, but it isn’t keeping him out of the main event of Wrestlemania. Now Lesnar is in a triple threat at Fastlane and that means it’s time for Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to go to Suplex City. After that, Lesnar will conquer the billion dollar trophy husband to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Heyman goes back to the triple threat so here’s Ambrose to interrupt.
Dean gets right in Brock’s face and asks Heyman (or Porky) who he’s calling a nutjob. Ambrose isn’t stupid, crazy or scared right now because he respects Lesnar. That’s why he wants to stand in front of Brock and tell him how much he wants the title. He’s willing to fight his brother and Lesnar at the same time, even though he knows the beating that’s coming for him at Fastlane. It better be the best beating Lesnar has ever given though because Dean is going to do whatever it takes to go to Fastlane and take the title from HHH. Dean actually leaves with no violence and Lesnar smiles.
Kalisto vs. Rusev
Non-title and Alberto Del Rio is on commentary because he gets another title shot at Fastlane. Rusev (with Lana in his corner) shoves him around to start but Kalisto starts firing off the kicks that almost every small guy uses against a bigger opponent. A hurricanrana is blocked though, only to have Kalisto stay with it and take Rusev out to the floor. The champ’s dive is countered by a kick to the head though and we take a break.
Back with Kalisto charging into a shot in the corner as some of the fans in the front rows are doing the Lucha Dragons dance. A tornado DDT sends Rusev down but he plants Kalisto with a release Rock Bottom for two of his own. As you might expect, Kalisto pops right back up with a dropkick to the knee and the hurricanrana driver.
Rusev obeys the referee’s command to kick out but gets kicked to the floor. Kalisto’s dive is caught but he escapes what looks like a fall away slam and dropkicks Rusev into the steps. Another hurricanrana sends Rusev into the barricade and Kalisto dives back in for the countout win at 10:11. That was one of the slowest ten counts I’ve ever seen.
Rating: D+. Yeah yeah we get the idea: Kalisto goes through the League before getting to face Del Rio again. This would be so much easier to watch if we didn’t have to see five matches between the two of them in about two months. I’m just tired of seeing the two of them fight, even though the matches are watchable enough.
Stephanie and Reigns are in the back with the new HHH World Title belt when Ambrose comes in. Both guys are willing to do whatever it takes to get that title at Wrestlemania but Stephanie implies that they might turn on each other. She even says Ambrose is Reigns’ sidekick but Dean thinks it’s the other way around. That earns them a match against New Day in the main event. Nothing we haven’t seen on Smackdown a half dozen times, but WWE doesn’t care about Smackdown either.
We look at Nikki Bella’s neck surgery.
Brie Bella says her sister is in bed watching the WWE Network. Cue Charlotte and Ric to brag about beating Nikki for the Divas Title. Charlotte would be concerned about Nikki’s injuries if she had any reason to. Brie is left looking sad and good night they’re actually wanting to make me care about BRIE BELLA feeling bad? That’s the point we’ve reached?
Usos vs. Curtis Axel/Adam Rose
The Usos are announced as the Grammy Award winning Tag Team of the Year. They even re-air it after the break to make fun of Lillian’s flub. There’s no Bo Dallas due to his dad being in the hospital, so Slater says he’s in the studio after his battle with Flo Rida last week. Axel kicks Jey in the ribs to start and it’s off to Rose, who comes in with a top rope knee to the chest. The announcers go on about Stephanie suggesting that absolute power corrupts absolutely because they exist to push her stupid lines.
Axel’s chinlock keeps things slow and Rose’s makes it even worse until Jimmy enziguris him down. Jey comes in with a bunch of superkicks (including one where Axel telegraphed it worse than anything I’ve seen in years). At least four superkicks in a row set up a double superkick and the Superfly Splash for the pin on Rose at 5:11.
Rating: O. For obnoxious. Yeah Lillian screwed up a line so let’s spend the whole match going on and on because NO ONE IN WWE HAS EVER SCREWED UP A LINE BECAUSE THEY’RE TOTALLY PERFECT AND THE GREATEST THING EVER. It’s stuff like that which makes the whole company seem so stuck up that it drives me insane. Get over yourselves already and call the match instead of making fun of Garcia (a woman that people like Kevin Dunn, who I would almost bet was behind that whole thing, could never get) or talking about how insightful Stephanie’s stuff was. The match sucked by the way.
Back from a break with WWE bragging about being on American Airlines in-flight magazine. Yeah that gets ten seconds but Lillian’s flub gets a full match.
It’s time for MizTV with special guest AJ Styles. Miz gets right to the point by cutting off AJ before he can say a word to every question. He lists off AJ’s accomplishments such as being the smallest guy on the football team and coming from rural Georgia. AJ has gone all over the world and finally got to the WWE where he lasted nearly half an hour in the Royal Rumble. Then he defeated Chris Jericho in his debut match, which is a big reason why Miz sees a lot of Daniel Bryan in AJ.
Miz goes on another rant about how he fathered the YES Movement before telling the fans to be quiet. The fans think AJ (who hasn’t said a word yet) can make it in the WWE without Miz’s guidance but there’s no chance of that happening. That’s enough for AJ as he goes off on Miz in the corner and chases him off for the big hero moment. I get the idea here, but Miz actually gave AJ quite the introduction, which was probably the other intended purpose.
Brie Bella vs. Charlotte
Non-title, mainly because Brie never wins anything and therefore probably shouldn’t be in this story. Brie starts fast but the BRIE MODE knee is countered with Charlotte sending her to the floor. The figure four neck lock keeps Brie in trouble but she makes the required clothesline comeback. Now the BRIE MODE knee (minus the shouting of BRIE MODE) connects and it’s off to a sleeper, only to have Ric get up on the apron. Amazingly enough the powers of Alicia Fox aren’t enough to do anything, allowing Charlotte to use something like a Stunner to escape. Charlotte slaps on the Figure Four but gets rolled up for the pin at 4:45.
Rating: F. GAH THIS STUPID FREAKING COMPANY!!! So we already have the triple threat set up at Fastlane with the three NXT women but now we get the addition of BRIE BELLA so the spirit of Nikki can be upon us. I’m sure Brie will be fighting for her sister’s honor or some nonsense like that because Brie and Nikki are now faces after being heels for like ever because of reasons that aren’t important enough to explain. Didn’t they learn anything in the Divas Revolution when Brie was dragging down every freaking match she was in with the NXT women? And it was a clean pin. On the champion. Live on Raw. Just so much dumb.
We look back at Big Show saving Reigns and Ambrose from the Wyatts on Smackdown.
Erick Rowan vs. Big Show
Show grabs the stairs to hold off Strowman and the announcers somehow don’t bring up the stairs match these two had a few years back. Rowan can’t suplex Show (because he’s a big bad show tonight) and after spearing Strowman off the apron, the chokeslam puts Rowan away at 1:20.
Post match the Wyatts (minus Bray who is in Florida with his dad as well) beat Show down and slam him onto the steps.
Titus O’Neil vs. Tyler Breeze
At least Breeze has his full entrance back. Titus throws him into the corner to start but Breeze is smart enough to take out the knee, which is quickly wrapped around the post. We hit the half crab on Titus before he throws Tyler across the ring all the way from his back. A HUGE clothesline drops Breeze and the Clash of the Titus is good for the pin at 2:49.
HHH comes in to see Brock and asks why Dean was allowed to live. Brock says he’ll see HHH at Wrestlemania.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
Owens won last week and that’s got me very worried here. It’s a brawl to start with Owens naturally getting the better of it. Ziggler gets thrown over the top and into the timekeeper’s area as we take a break. Back with Ziggler jawbreaking his way out of a chinlock but getting crushed by the Cannonball for two. A hard elbow drops Ziggler again but he avoids a charge in the corner and hits three straight Stinger Splashes.
Thankfully Kevin will have none of that and clotheslines Dolph’s head off, only to get dumped out to the floor. Back in and Owens superkicks Dolph’s head off for two but takes too long going up. Ziggler’s superplex is blocked though, allowing Owens to get him into the Tree of Woe. Another Cannonball connects (that looked great) and now the Pop Up Powerbomb is….countered into the Zig Zag for the pin at 10:35.
Rating: D+. That’s mostly for the ending because WWE is going out of their way to screw themselves over. Kevin Owens has the potential to be something fun and fresh as a heel but we need the 50/50 booking with DOLPH ZIGGLER. Owens could be a World Champion (and if there has EVER been a time when they need someone to step up and be a big deal, it might be before Wrestlemania with Rollins and Cena both hurt) by the end of the year but he’s losing here because of whatever stupid philosophy they have. This actually made me mad and what makes it even worse is that you knew it was coming the whole way.
Video on Mark Henry for Black History Month.
Here’s Sasha Banks for a match but first she has something to say. Sasha says she’s on her own and no one is going to stop her from winning the title. This brings out Naomi and Tamina because the world was waiting for the Team BAD blowoff. Naomi says she knew this was coming but Sasha wants them to still be friends. They do the UNITY pose and everything seems cool. Of course.
Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
They trade rollups to start with Sasha getting the better of it and hitting the double knees in the corner. Becky gets knocked to the floor but Sasha doesn’t want Tamina and Naomi to help. She says she doesn’t need the help so Tamina and Naomi pull her to the floor for the DQ 3:40.
Rating: D+. No time of course because the NXT women never get a chance to do anything. I’d like to repeat though: no one cares about Tamina and Naomi and they’re clearly just doing this (possibly a tag feud for Fastlane) so we can get BRIE BELLA as a title contender. Yeah it’s a fill in challenger, but why not spend the extra time setting up your big Wrestlemania match instead of wasting your time on a nothing feud with no drama?
Post match Becky saves Sasha from the beatdown.
We get a clip of JBL interviewing Ron Simmons on the Network.
Chris Jericho says everyone has been talking about AJ Styles….except for him. Everything about their match last week was tremendous except for the outcome. AJ showed that he’s a tenacious pitbull and Jericho is going to be watching AJ’s match with Miz on Smackdown.
R-Truth goes into the bathroom and finds Goldust crouching on the toilet. Goldust still won’t take no for an answer on the team but Truth thinks Goldust is a weirdo. That means it’s time to bring up Little Jimmy, which seems to get to Truth a bit. Remember like eight days ago when Truth was still crazy and not the straight man in these vignettes?
New Day vs. Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose
Non-title because the champions need to lose again and Heyman is on commentary. Before the match, Woods talks about how the comments from Rock have Francesca so upset that she can’t sleep at night. Rocky needs to think of the children, like the one they point at in the front row doing the New Day dance. Tonight they’re taking care of Rock’s cousin and they’ll throw in Dean too.
Reigns and Kofi get things going with Kingston having to get out of a Samoan Drop, earning himself a right hand to the head. It’s off to Dean for a basement clothesline as Heyman is already frustrated with Cole’s talk about Ambrose staring Lesnar down earlier. The threat of the Superman Punch causes Woods and Big E. to pull Kofi to the floor as we take a break.
Back with Big E. missing the Apron Splash but Ambrose is kept in trouble with a whip into the steps. Kofi kicks him in the head for two as Woods jumps in on commentary to yell about how awesome they are. Ambrose stays in trouble and Big E. gets two off a splash. Heyman is trying to get in on this but there’s only so much you can do with Woods blasting that trombone.
We hit the abdominal stretch (Woods: “Stretch the abs!”) but Dean doesn’t like the spanking and bites Big E.’s nose. A suplex allows the hot tag to Reigns and it’s time for some corner clotheslines. The other hot tag brings in Ambrose as everything breaks down. The Superman Punch sets up Dirty Deeds on Big E. for the pin at 17:22.
Rating: D+. Hey look: champions lose again clean. This is how things work in WWE this time of year and they really don’t care how obvious they make it coming in. The match was fine but they made it clear that New Day was losing here for the sake of pushing Reigns and Ambrose. Pushing the two of them is fine, but it’s really sad that they had no one else to lose to Reigns and Ambrose. Can you imagine sitting through another League “showdown”?
Post match Brock comes out for the showdown but New Day attacks Reigns, allowing Brock to F5 Ambrose to end the show.
Overall Rating: D-. Oh man this one was rough. This was a show where they made it clear that they don’t care what’s going on until the night after Fastlane, which makes me wonder why I’m going to watch until then. We’re getting stuff like Brie Bella fighting for the spirit of her sister, whose goal in life is to get John Cena to marry and impregnate her. That’s my hero in the Divas division.
On top of that, there’s the nonsense with the 50/50 booking. Again: the roster is so depleted right now and tonight we saw Dolph Ziggler, the definition of career midcarder, is beating Kevin Owens clean. Why? Just because Owens won last week and we need to set up something at Fastlane. Instead of having Owens look like a killer and setting up something big at Wrestlemania, we need to see this nothing feud and story that is only taking place to fill in time before we get to Wrestlemania.
Then why have Fastlane? Why not just give us a ten week build to Wrestlemania? That’s where WWE loses me. It’s clear that they’re just having a filler show at Fastlane, so why should I bother paying attention for the next three weeks? They’re resetting again after the show and we’ve got a month before the biggest show of all time. Well done on making it feel special WWE. Really, it takes talent to be this shortsighted.
Kalisto b. Rusev via countout
Usos b. Curtis Axel/Adam Rose – Superfly Splash to Rose
Brie Bella b. Charlotte – Small package
Big Show b. Erick Rowan – Chokeslam
Titus O’Neil b. Tyler Breeze – Clash of the Titus
Dolph Ziggler b. Kevin Owens – Zig Zag
Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose b. New Day – Dirty Deeds to Big E.
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