"Well, it's Groundhog Day...AGAIN..."
Andy PG and my friend, Jared Patterson both take credit for the notion that we're most likely gonna get the same show we've been seeing for the past few weeks -- DESPITE Triple H's "big announcement" that will shake everyone to pieces and kill every puppy on the face of the planet.
The speculation, of course, is that Triple H is gonna "fix" the main event at WrestleMania because, even with the brilliant Heyman/Lesnar/Reigns promo, it seems the majority of whatever's left of the fanbase of this heaping, flaming wreck doesn't really wanna see Fabio Cena take on The Incredible Hulk.
I'd like to think that after making the same mistake twice, WWE will put an upgrade patch on this thing -- and that they'll never repeat this ever again.
Then again, this is the company that continues to put Adam Rose out there in hopes that we'll somehow think he's cool because he's hanging with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro -- the latter character being one that they completely mishandled despite him being completely over since WrestleMania XXX.
Where will this all lead?
Well...it's Groundhog Day...AGAIN...
We are LIVE(!!!) from Denver, Colorado!!!
JBL, Cole and Booker are the guys manning the desk.
Triple H makes his way out to the ring with Steph next to him. Steph welcomes everyone to RAW. She wants to talk about the Super Bowl and hails the Patriots. They compare the ending of that game to the ending or the Royal Rumble because they're totally the same thing.
Triple H says that they really didn't want to upstage the Super Bowl, what with the #CanceltheNFLNetwork Movement. Steph says they listened to the fans about the Royal Rumble and they wanna do something about it.
We get clips of the mess from the Royal Rumble.
Triple H says that Reigns and The Rock were "unsportsmanlike" like the Seahawks. For some reason, the Denver crowd boos that notion. Triple H says that everyone can cheer The Rock because he's one of the best WWE Superstars that ever lived. Triple H says The Rock abused the rules. Triple H says The Rock got away with it and that he did it first at Survivor Series with Sting. He says he is calling Sting out at Fastlane. They will solve their issue there.
The crowd chants for Sting and Steph says they'll see Sting at Fastlane for $7.39. Triple H says that this brings us to Roman Reigns. Steph says there might have been a different outcome if The Rock wasn't involved. Steph says that Reigns won the Royal Rumble -- but they're not sure he should face Lesnar at the Rumble.
That brings out Reigns who comes down in the ring and gets right in Triple H's face. Reigns says that he won the right to face Lesnar at 'Mania...and they're not taking that from him. Triple H goads him into a fight and tells Reigns to make a move. Steph gets between the two and separates them. Steph mentions The Maivia Family Tree...
...and that brings out Daniel Bryan to a huge pop. Steph welcomes him back. Bryan apologizes to Reigns, saying that he had to deal with this last year. Daniel Bryan says that the real controversy: he was stripped of the title and wasn't given a re-match. He wants that match. Triple H says that there was nothing out of the ordinary, so fuck him. He says that Bryan would have gotten his re-match had he not been so cocky. Triple H says, however, that Bryan being in the main event is not out of the realm of possibility.
And that brings out Rollins at the 17-minute mark...and we're actually going to a commercial.
We're back and Rollins says that this is getting silly. He can't believe Bryan wants a match for the Championship. Rollins says that Lesnar would eat him alive. He got stripped of the belt because he got hurt. Rollins turns to Reigns and says that he wouldn't be here if it weren't for The Rock. He says the only person deserving of going to the big match is himself. Reigns tells Rollins to back off or he'll get knocked into next week.
Triple H tells everyone to calm down. They listen to the fans. Steph says they're listening now. Everyone's listening. Triple H says that, tonight, it will be Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins. The winner faces Reigns. The winner of that match will face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Reigns isn't happy. Triple H says that he should just accept this. Steph drops names on the Maivia Family Tree of Doom to make Roman feel better.
Daniel Bryan says he's gonna win and tells Reigns not to listen. He wants to get in the ring with Reigns and see who the better man is. Rollins says that Reigns has no guts. Triple H and Steph tell him that it's decision time. Reigns says he's ready to fight either guy.
Triple H declares that it's official, then tells Reigns not to leave -- because he has a match right now.
Big Show's music hits and it's Reigns and Show. Again.
MATCH #1: Roman Reigns vs. Big Show (w/ Seth Rollins & J&J Security)
Show has a bear hug on Reigns. Reigns breaks but Show headbutts him. Reigns rolls out of the ring. Show grabs him but Reigns slings Show's neck off the ropes, then hits two big clotheslines. Corner splashes by Reigns and then Reigns clotheslines him from the ring. Reigns hits the missile dropkick and goes for the Superman Punch but the J's distract the ref. Again. Show hits a huge Spear but Reigns kicks out. Show goes for the Chokeslam but Reigns breaks and hits a Superman Punch. He goes for a Spear but all three guys manage to annoy Reigns without the ref seeing one ounce of it and Reigns runs into a Chokeslam and loses at 2:43. Again.
WINNER: Big Show via Chokeslam
RATING: DUD. I'm tired of that match. I'm tired of the interference spot which wasn't remotely necessary.
Triple H is backstage with Steph and says that "nobody knows they can't take a match away from Roman". On camera. Again. They're confident that Rollins will beat Bryan tonight. Steph asks Triple H about his concerns with Austin on the Podcast after the show on WWE Network (ONLY $9.99!!!). Triple H says that he doesn't care one bit what Austin asks him.
And we go to our third break in 35 minutes.
TONIGHT, FOLLOWING RAW: The Stone Cold Podcast w/ Special Guest, Triple H.
Curtis Axel is out here with something to say: he was never eliminated in the Rumble match. He would have the match had he been in it. He wants justice. He gets up on the second buckle and points to the WrestleMania sign. He says he wants Lesnar. That brings out Ambrose who gets in the ring, beats him up, and tosses him from the ring. Ambrose: "Now, you're eliminated."
Ambrose says he's been reflecting on things. He says he looked at pics of past WWE Champions. And he thought his face would look great amongst all those pics. He says that he pinned Bad News Barrett and, now, he's on the Road to Fastlane -- and wants a title shot.
He drops the mic, Axel attacks but gets a Rebound Clothesline and Dirty Deeds. Nice spot.
Cole gives us the beginning of Black History Month: we honor Ernie "The Big Cat" Ladd. Again. Just like last year.
TONIGHT: Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins to determine who will face Roman Reigns at Fastlane.
February on WWE Network is FREE.
MATCH #2: The Ascension (Konor & Viktor) vs. Gold & Stardust
Stalemate to begin this with twin takedowns. Counters on the next salvo but Viktor hits a huge clothesline. Gold comes in, attacks Viktor and drags Star to his corner. He tags himself in and uppercuts Viktor. Konor tags in but Gold hits a Reverse Atomic Drop. Konor takes over again and the two heels gang up and hit Fall of Man at 1:49 for the win.
WINNERS: The Ascension via Fall of Man
JBL STILL says they suck while Cole and Booker say they don't. Post-match, Star chides Gold and says that Goldust is dragging them down. He leaves the ring.
NEXT: John Cena welcomes back the Fired Three for some reason, in a spot based on congratulatory Twitter entries.
Star is backstage, murmuring to himself. Gold grabs him and calls him by his real name. Star tells him never to call him "Cody" again.
Out to the ring is John Cena. He says he's beat up, blind, and half-broken but he wasn't missing RAW in Denver. He says that, tonight, Triple H has to answer to Steve Austin -- and Austin isn't afraid of him. He's gonna make Triple H answer some questions. He says that he has questions of his own. He says Triple H has a whole stable of guys ready to come to WWE from NXT and take his spot. He says the one thing Triple H can't do is fire him because then he'd have to answer to the shareholders and advertisers. He says, instead, that Triple H fired three guys he liked, just to lower Cena's spirit and make him quit. And, because of Sting, he got Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan to come back. None of this makes any sense, but let's bring them out.
Cena starts the back-patting. Steph interrupts and says she's sorry for doing so. Ziggler says she's always happy to interrupt. Steph says that she's putting all three of them in matches:
- Ziggler faces Bray Wyatt
- Erick Rowan faces Rusev
- Ryback faces Luke Harper
MATCH #3: Ryback vs. Luke Harper
The announcers act like this is the most anticipated match of the year. Suplex and splash by Ryback. Splash by Ryback but Harper counters the next one, then boots Ryback from the ring. Harper brings him back in and slaps at Ryback's chest. Ryback breaks free and charges and gets a boot to his head. Two count. Harper hits a headlock but Ryback breaks the hold and moves away from a corner charge. He rolls up Harper for two. Ryback hits a press off a run and another Warrior Splash. Two count. Harper comes back with Winds of Change or whatever for two. Ryback ejects him from the ring but Harper gets back into the ring. Ryback trips him up and lays him out on the mat. Ryback goes for the Meathook but Harper greets him with a Superkick. Two count. Harper hits a front facelock but Ryback counters with Shell Shock. Harper counters with a Sunset Flip fro two. Ryback comes back with a Meathook and Shell Shock and we're done at 5:58.
WINNER: Ryback via Shell Shock
RATING: **1/4. Not a bad match at all.
TONIGHT: Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt
MATCH #4: Cesaro (w/ Tyson Kidd & Natalya) vs. Jimmy Uso (w/ Jey Uso & Naomi)
During the commercial break, there was some sort of "double date" set up by Natalya. And now Cesaro is mad. Even though Nattie and Tyson are "separated". Or something. Cesaro chops at Jimmy after breaking an arm lock. Jimmy slides across the ring on an Irish Whip counter. Jimmy starts hitting chops of his own. Jimmy hits a back elbow and arm bar. Cesaro breaks it but gets hit by an Enzuguri. Flying Uso at Cesaro but Cesaro moves out of the way and starts yacking at Jey. Jimmy hits the Flying Uso this time and tosses Cesaro back into the ring. Cesaro escapes out the other end, then drops Jimmy's neck on the ropes when Jimmy chases. Cesaro hits a double axehandle off the ropes and hammers away on Jimmy. The two counter each others moves after that and Jimmy goes flying into the top buckle on a charge. Cesaro hits the Spin, then hits a weak Half Crab to finish that off. Cesaro breaks and stomps on Jimmy's chest, getting two. Cesaro hits a nice powerbomb and gets two. Cesaro tries to club Jimmy in the face but misses. Jimmy hits a Corkscrew Splash and he gets two. Jimmy starts hitting clotheslines but Cesaro catches his Superkick and flings him out of the ring. Tyson threatens to attack Jimmy but the ref sees that. Cesaro goes outside and runs Jimmy's head into the announce table. He rolls Jimmy back in the ring and goes top rope. He leaps but Jimmy catches him with a Superkick. Rikish Splash time and the Superfly Splash -- but Cesaro jumps up and hits the Uppercut for the win at 6:21.
RATING: ***. Pretty good match here. What's with the decent booking?
Post-match, Tyson jumps the Usos inside the ring and then runs like a chicken. The heels celebrate on the ramp.
Cole plugs the February deal for WWE Network.
TONIGHT: Daniel Bryan faces Seth Rollins
The Miz's are backstage, hitting the craft table for fruit. Miz tells Miz-dow what to scoop onto the plate. A producer wants an autograph. Miz sends him away. He says he wants Miz-dow's autograph and Miz-dow signs it. Miz rips the guy's paper up and tosses it away. Miz tells Miz-dow that he doesn't get it anymore. He made Miz-dow what he is today. Miz says that he's throwing everything away. He calls Miz-dow the worst stunt double he's ever seen. He fires Miz-dow and Miz-dow looks hurt. Miz says he will give Miz-dow a NEW job: personal assistant. Miz says he's facing Sin Cara. Miz yells at Miz-dow to stop mimicking him.
Cena sits in the dressing room, looking like somebody ran over his cat. Rowan stops by and says he's been treated like an animal and outcast. Nobody's stood up for him before. He thanks Cena. Rowan says he's gonna do Cena a favor tonight. Tonight, he takes on Rusev. Cena warns Rowan about Rusev being dangerous and tells Rowan not to take him lightly. Rowan nods and shakes Cena's hand.
MATCH #5: Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt
The two are at each other's throats, punching away at one another. Bray gets the better of it and clubs Ziggler in the back. Ziggler comes back but runs into a Wyatt lariat. Ziggler gets up and punches away at Wyatt but Wyatt gets to the ropes. He hits a quick cheap shot on Wyatt, then chokes Ziggler on the middle rope a couple times. Ziggler comes back with a drop kick, then goes for the Fame-Asser but misses and Bray bails from the ring. Ziggler applies a side headlock when Wyatt gets back in the ring but Wyatt breaks and just slaps Ziggler, hitting the Reverse Senton for two. Wyatt puts Ziggler in a nerve hold. Ziggler breaks but Bray nails him in the back. He rushes Ziggler who hits an elbow and drop kick. Wyatt rolls out of the ring so Ziggler chases him. Bray hits him, grabs him and suplexes Ziggler out of the ring as we go to break.
Wyatt has Ziggler in a headlock when we come back. Ziggler breaks but Wyatt hits a hard running elbow and Ziggler's down again. Two count. Another long headlock and Ziggler breaks free again. Ziggler gets to his feet but Wyatt hits the post on a corner rush. Ziggler tries to get to his feet and does so, getting to the second buckle. Ziggler leaps but Wyatt nails him in the jaw, coming down. Reverse Senton misses but Ziggler can't get up. Both men get up at the same time and Ziggler hits running clotheslines, corner splash and neckbreaker. Big elbow drop gets two. Ziggler rushes Wyatt again and Wyatt just knocks his head off with a clothesline. Wyatt sets up for Sister Abigail but Ziggler counters into the DDT for a two count. Ziggler misses a corner splash and Wyatt hits one instead. He does the Hanging Spider, then sets up for Sister Abigail but Ziggler counters. Kick to Wyatt's stomach on a rush and it's another two count. Both men are down as the crowd chants that this is awesome. Both men begin exchanging blows. Wyatt absolutely jacks Ziggler's jaw but Dolph hits the Fame-Asser. He goes for the Zigg Zagg but Wyatt grabs him and hits Sister Abigail out of nowhere for the win at 14:51.
WINNER: Bray Wyatt via Sister Abigail
RATING: ***1/2. Really good stuff here. Booking staff is pulling out their non-bullshit show tonight.
EARLIER TONIGHT: Triple H sets up tonight's big match.
Backstage, Rollins is with Triple H and Steph. He wants to make sure that Daniel Bryan isn't going to Fastlane or WrestleMania. Steph says they were playing to the crowd. Rollins says he's gonna use tonight to prove that he's the better competitor. He will stomp out the YES Movement.
ON SMACKDOWN: The Bellas beat up Paige because she was a pale-looking vampire chick. And, so kids, don't be bullies.
Nikki and Brie are at ringside. Cole announces that Nikki will defend the Divas title against Paige at Fastlane.
MATCH #6: Alicia Fox vs. Paige
Nikki says if she called the last play, the Seahawks would have won. This, coming from a woman who "doesn't know big words". Alicia beats on Paige and hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Chinlock by Fox and then a headlock. Paige breaks and Fox grabs her, hitting a backbreaker. Paige just rolls her over and gets an arbitrary pin at 2:43.
RATING: DUD. Yes, the woman who got her ass kicked all match, then simply pinned Fox out of nowhere, is looking so strong.
Post-match, Fox puts Paige in a Surfboard, which is totally unbelievable considering Fox was as subtle as a Mack Truck doing it. The Bella Twins spray Paige with tanning spray. Because she's a goth chick.
Miz is on USA's Sirens, playing a trainer. The director stiffly says, "Wow! Miz is funny! Ha ha!"
MATCH #7: The Miz (w/ Damien Miz-dow) vs. Sin Cara
Miz removes his sunglasses. Miz-dow imitates Miz but Miz tells him to knock it off. Miz puts Sin Cara in a headlock. Sin Cara reverses it, runs around the ring and hits a diving body splash and Fallaway Slam. Cara goes top rope but misses the flipping dive. Miz gets to his feet and goes top rope. Miz-dow imitates Miz. Miz tells him to get down again. Sin Cara attacks but Miz counters, dropping his neck on the ropes. He runs back into the ring and just boots Cara in the head. Two count and this match is already 2 minutes too long. Another boot. Two count. Cara breaks and counters a side suplex. Miz hits a clothesline. One count. Miz taunts Cara, kicking at him and then putting him in a chinlock. Miz-dow just stands there, staring off into space. Miz converts to a side headlock. Cara fights out and Miz hits the back/neckbreaker combo. He celebrates and plays to the crowd. Miz-dow jumps on the mat and the crowd cheers. Miz angrily tells Miz-dow to get down. Sin Cara grabs Miz and rolls him up for his first win in months at 5:38.
WINNER: Sin Cara
RATING: *. This was a long way to go, in order to get to no place at all. Creative needs Sandow to turn face immediately. This act is long since DOA.
Bray does another goofy promo and tells people to find him.
Rusev attacks Rowan before he can get into the ring, then tosses him into the ringpost. Finally, he tosses Rowan back in and hits a kneelift...so, this match ain't happening because the ref is waving it off. Rusev stomps Rowan and chokes him with a boot. Rusev hangs Rowan off the bottom rope, headbutts him and hits a Superkick. Elbow drop, stomp, Accolade. Cole calls this a "message to Cena" and it's a good thing Cena's out here to save his new bestie, isn't it???
Rusev breaks the hold and Lana grabs a mic. She invites everyone to a special movie premiere. She says the movie will not only show the destruction of Cena, but of UH-MEDI-KUH!!! We get a pretty swell movie trailer/promo for Rusev.
Rusev celebrates with the Russian flag.
Backstage, Reigns is hanging out with Daniel Bryan. Bryan says he doesn't approve of what Rollins did. Reigns says he saw it, too. He wants his revenge. Bryan says that Reigns won't get that chance, because he'll be facing Bryan, not Rollins, at Fastlane. Reigns asks if that's a threat. Bryan says it isn't. Reigns says ITDOESN'TMATTERWHATITWAS!!! Only, kinda quieter and far more reserved. He wants Bryan out of the locker room. Bryan does.
MATCH #8: Seth Rollins (w/ Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury) vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan works on the left arm of Rollins after an initial back and forth. Bryan hits a forearm and then hits a beautiful Cross Arm Breaker. Rollins manages to get to the ropes. Rollins gets a hold of Bryan and flings him out of the ring. Security jumps Bryan and Rollins hits a Suicide Dive. Big Show comes to ringside during break and Rollins hits a neckbreaker. Two count. Rollins beats on Bryan in the corner and then backs off. Show makes for Bryan but the ref sees it and backs Show off. Rollins misses a corner splash. Bryan starts hitting punches and uppercuts. He goes for a rush but Rollins trips and Bryan hits his head on the middle buckle. Rollins stomps Bryan in the corner and Security attacks Bryan when the ref's back is turned. Rollins climbs on Bryan and yells that it's HIS WrestleMania. Bryan escapes the corner and hits a running clothesline. YES Kicks by Bryan and a nice running kick to finish it off. Two count.
Bryan hits an uppercut and knees Rollins, then hits a sitting dropkick. He sets Rollins up for a Frankensteiner but Rollins reverses it and rolls Bryan up for two. Wow. The two men get up and hit shots at the same time. Bryan locks the arm. Security climbs the mat and Bryan dropkicks them both, then sends Rollins into them. Then he hits a Flying Goat on Rollins, sending Rollins and the boys over the announce table. Bryan rolls Rollins into the ring and goes top rope but Rollins knocks Bryan off the top buckle. Rollins sets for a Superplex but Bryan wriggles out of the corner and sets up for the Side Superplex, hitting it perfectly. CLOSE two count. Bryan gets to his feet and goes for the Flying Knee but Rollins hits the Buckle Bomb and Superkick. CLOSE FALL.
Crowd is loving the match as Show yells at Rollins to finish Bryan. Rollins picks Bryan up. Bryan grabs him for the YES Lock. He finally gets his feet to the ropes and Bryan is forced to break the hold. Rollins rolls out of the ring and Show consoles him. Reigns comes out of nowhere and nails Show with a Spear. He tries to Spear Rollins but misses and hits Mercury instead. Reigns distracts Rollins who gets back inside the ring. Noble enters the ring with the MITB case but the ref sees it. With the ref's back turned, Reigns nails Rollins with a Superman Punch while Bryan hits a Superkick on Noble. Flying Knee to Rollins wins the match at 17:11.
WINNER: Daniel Bryan via Flying Knee
RATING: ***. The over-booking and screwball end ruined an otherwise spectacular match.
Backstage, Triple H says he won't comment on the match right now. He'll only talk about it on Steve Austin's podcast.
Cole runs in to congratulate Bryan who says he'll beat Reigns at Fastlane.
Bryan stands tall as we go off the air.
OVERALL: **3/4. This was a decent show, though that third hour continues to kill the momentum.