Despite the fact that Roman Reigns is Batista 2.0, despite the fact that Daniel Bryan is beyond over with the fans, despite the fact that that Reigns has three moves to speak of and gets winded after 5 minutes, despite the fact that he's dull and has no marketability at ALL, and despite the fact that the main event at WrestleMania is, possibly, one of the least-anticipated main events in the history of that pay-per-view (with fans cheering for Brock Lesnar by default), Vince and WWE Creative don't give a shit what you think and they're gonna make Roman Reigns the next big star come hell or high water.
I'd like to think that WWE has a grand plan...but this company just doesn't seem to give a shit about much of anything and makes booking decisions just to run contrary to what people like to see. If I had to guess, I'm estimating that nobody will believe that Daniel Bryan could take out Lesnar and, so, Reigns and Lesnar battle it out which results in a Rollins cash-in at WrestleMania with Bryan eventually getting the belt back.
Of course, I don't know what direction this company is going anymore. I still can't explain a guest spot by "Grumpy Cat" or how Cole botched the name and called him "Grumpy the Cat".
Anyhow, my head hurts...let's move on...
We are LIVE(!!!) from Nashville, Tennessee!!!
JBL, Cole and Booker are the guys on the mics...
Randy Orton comes out to a nice pop which should tell you starved this crowd is for something. For anything. Last night, he returned and hit about 73 RKO's to every single Authority member in the ring. He says he's been out the last four months and he won't talk anyone's ear off. He says that he's pissed at Seth Rollins -- which brings us to clips of last November when Rollins hit the Curb Stomp on the steel steps.
He says that last night, he was just getting started. Rollins thinks he escaped last night on Fastlane -- but it was merely a stay of execution. He calls out Rollins -- and out comes Triple H, Steph, Big Show and Kane instead. Steph congratules him for returning against all odds. Steph says that, last night, she saw the killer instinct in Randy Orton that made him what he was. Orton's not having it. He wants to bash Rollins' brains in.
Steph says that him and Rollins can co-exist. She wants Orton to come home. Orton: "I'd rather kick some ass than kiss some ass." Show grabs a mic and says he knows how Orton feels. He says that he joined the Authority and it was the best decision he made. Face turn? What face turn? Show wants Orton on The Authority's team. Orton isn't selling out. Steph says he's not a good guy. He wants to reap the rewards of his behavior. He's done some awful things. She says she can't force him. She says she wants to have a "business conference" so that he can come back home. She asks him he's interested. Orton stands pat. Everyone leaves the ring except Triple H...but he leaves as well.
Orton tells them to stop...he'll meet with them. Triple H leaves to set up a WebEx or maybe a nice Skype. I can't even keep up with this bullshit.
TONIGHT: HAVE WE SEEN THE LAST OF JOHN CENA???
ALSO TONIGHT: We will hear from Roman Reigns.
Crowd sufficiently murdered, we now begin our slew of matches...
Bad News Barrett comes out while Cole takes us back in time to reminds us the Dean Ambrose was disqualified last night at Fastlane for wrestling when the ref didn't want him to. Then he took Barrett's belt anyhow, so he's pretty much champion because that's how it works now. Barrett isn't happy and wants the belt returned.
MATCH #1: WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler (non-title)
R-Truth is doing commentary because something, something, he beat Wade Barrett so he matters now. Can't wait for Sin Cara to sit in during the next Miz match. Ziggler tries an armbar and pays for it as Barrett beats on him and hits a snap suplex. Ziggler comes back with a neckbreaker and elbow for two. Barrett comes back with a kick to the mid-section and follows with a knee to the gut. Barrett puts on a Surfboard. Ziggler breaks but Barrett kicks at him and then snaps him hard into the corner, getting a two count. Barrett tries a boot to Ziggler's head, but Ziggler hits a dropkick and Barrett goes flying from the ring.
Barrett has Ziggler in a headlock when we get back from break. Ziggler breaks it and chops at Barrett. He punches away at Barrett in the corner and tries a DDT but Barrett catches him for Wasteland. Ziggler counters into the DDT anyhow and gets two. Ziggler tries the Zigg Zagg but Barrett kicks him in the stomach and hits a powerbomb. Two count. He sets up the Bullhammer but Ziggler dicks and rolls him up for two. Ziggler tries the Fame-Asser but Barrett counters into Winds of Change and NEARLY gets the pin. Barrett kicks at Ziggler and won't listen to the ref. Ziggler comes out of the corner and rolls him up for two. Barrett charges, Ziggler evades and hits the Zigg Zagg for the win at 11:07.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler via Zigg Zagg
RATING: **1/2. Not bad. Got better as it went along.
Post-match, Dean Ambrose hits the ring with the IC title and taunts Barrett with it. Ziggler looks at him and at no time does Barrett get up and grab the belt during the distraction. Mm-kay.
NEXT: A look at Sting FINALLY being called out at Fastlane.
LAST NIGHT AT FASTLANE: Triple H and Sting faced off. Now, they'll fight at WWE.
TONIGHT: We will take a look at THEMANCALLEDSTING.
Randy Orton is in his "business meeting" with the Authority. Rollins starts telling Triple H to take care of Orton. Kane says he suggests a "more direct approach" with Orton for everything he's done. Steph tells him to shut his Demon Whore Mouth. Rollins says they can't trust Orton. Steph says everyone can forgive Randy. She asks if he's on board with them. Orton shakes hands with Rollins. Yaaaaaay. Steph says that, tonight, it's Randy Orton and Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns.
Sheamus is back. Not right now, but he's back.
MATCH #2: The Prime-Time Players (Titus O'Neil & Darren Young) vs. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
OMG, Konnor and Viktor cut a promo, trash-talking the goddamn Bushwhackers. They beat on Young to start, hitting a double shoulderblock. Young tries to escape and make a tag but Konnor pulls him away and then attacks Titus. Finally Young tosses Konnor across the ring. The Ascension just slams Young to the mat and it's a two count as Titus makes the save. Konnor takes him out of the ring. Young rolls up Viktor for the win at 3:03.
WINNERS: The Prime-Time Players
RATING: DUD. Man...now The Ascension won't get their title shot against the Bushwhackers!
Post-match, the Ascension attacks Young. Then they cut a promo, trashing the Killer Bees. That last part was a joke. Really. I don't blame you for thinking I was telling the truth.
The Rock was a presenter at the Oscars with Zoe Saldana.
Roman Reigns heads to the ring and it's a Cena-type crowd. Reigns says that he had a Number 1 Contender's Match -- and he won. So he's going to WrestleMania. Crowd isn't happy. He says that he gets it. They were rooting for Bryan, but to all his doubters -- hold that thought. Here comes Daniel Bryan. He says that Roman won the Rumble and he deserves his shot at WrestleMania. He says, however, that he didn't feel good inside and he is the biggest Roman Reigns doubter there is. Crowd doesn't like that too much. He says that people like Daniel Bryan because he has heart -- which is why they don't like Reigns. He says that, last night, he had the opportunity to go to WrestleMania. He came up short despite giving it everything he had. He doesn't regret anything. They fought and he was beaten. All he has left to do is to congratulate Reigns. He says he's proud to team with Reigns tonight. He just wants Reigns to beat Lesnar. Crowd isn't buying this at all as Bryan leaves.
Paul Heyman shows up and he congratulates Reigns. He says that Reigns was impressive. He says that, usually, his money would be on Roman Reigns. He says that if it was Reigns vs. Andre in '87, Reigns vs. Austin or The Rock or pretty much anymore, his money would be on Roman Reigns. Crowd is REALLY not buying this. He continues to talk up Reigns but then says he's the right guy in the right place...but at the wrong time. He says he isn't fighting a man at WrestleMania, he's fighting a beast. He says that Lesnar is unbeatable. At the end of the main event at WrestleMania, the ref will call Lesnar the winner.
Reigns tells Heyman to stand in the middle of the ring. Heyman does so. Reigns wants Heyman to repeat what he said. Reigns says he already came face to face with Lesnar. He says when he's done with Lesnar, Lesnar won't like him anyways. Whatever that means.
Cole says that WWE Network is celebrating its one-year anniversary and they're having a marathon.
TONIGHT: Reigns & Bryan face Rollins & Orton
ALSO: The Usos are cashing in their re-match clause and will face the new champions.
LAST NIGHT AT FASTLANE: The Usos lost the Tag Titles.
MATCH #3: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) (challengers) (w/ Naomi) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (champions) (w/ Natalya) for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Jimmy and Cesaro start and the action spills out of the ring. It's a bit of a brawl with Jey helping his brother. Tyson gets into trouble and hides behind Nattie, which doesn't make her happy at all. Back in the ring, Cesaro puts Jimmy in a headlock but Jimmy breaks and it's tags on each side. Jey hangs Tyson in the Tree of Woe and a flying headbutt for two. Jey tries to follow up and Tyson sends him out of the ring. Jimmy helps Jey up. Tyson tries to fly at the two of them but the the Usos catch him and throw him into the crowd barrier. Back in the ring, Jey hits a crossbody on Tyson. Two count. After break, Cesaro has Jey in a headlock. Tyson tags in after Jey breaks but misses the flying springboard elbow. Jimmy tags in and it's the Sudden Stop for two by Cesaro and Kidd. They destroy Jimmy with some nice double-teaming. Cesaro can't hit the Superplex and Jimmy falls backwards. Tag to Jey who hits a Superfly Splash but Kidd interferes with an elbow off the top rope. Kidd gets rolled up for two. Jey hits an Enzuguri but misses the Rikishi Splash. Kidd puts his feet on the ropes for a two count. Naomi's had enough and pulls Kidd's feet off the ropes. Nattie is furious and shoves Naomi, which causes a big pop. Jimmy goes for the Superfly but Nattie channels her inner Elizabeth and pulls him off the rope for the DQ at 10:27.
WINNERS: The Usos via DQ
RATING: **. Never took off.
STILL CHAMPIONS: Cesaro and Tyson Kidd
Mr. McMahon is the feature cover story of Muscle & Fitness.
Backstage, Miz is using a lint roller to clean his jacket. He berates Miz-dow, then says he'll win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania, which is happening, I guess. Miz-dow is pleased to announce that he's getting calls left and right to star in stuff. He thanks Miz for all his inspiration. Miz can't believe it...then tells him to use the lint roll.
LAST NIGHT: Bray Wyatt called out The Undertaker.
Bray is backstage with a coffin. He wants to know what the Undertaker thinks and feels when he closes his eyes. He says that Undertaker's end started last year when he lost to Brock. He tells Undertaker to find him.
Stardust is out for action and Cole "reminds us" what happened last night as Dusty Hill of ZZ Top is show in the stands.
MATCH #4: Stardust vs. Jack Swagger
Swagger isn't happy Stardust and tweeted that Stardust is un-American because he has no family or something. So, that's why he's here. Wrestling. Right now. Like R-Truth. Star gets the early advantage as the crowd chants "CODY". This drives Star nuts and he stomps Swagger. Swagger spears Star in the knee but misses the Swagger Bomb. Star tries the Disaster Kick but Swagger locks in the Patriot Lock on a counter. Cody quickly breaks. Goldust shows up. Swagger wins with the Patriot Lock on the distraction.
WINNER: Jack Swagger via Patriot Lock
Post-match, the crowd chants for Cody as Goldust just shrugs at Star and points, which I thought was illegal this month, unless it was at a WrestleMania sign.
LAST NIGHT: Cena lost to Rusev.
NEXT: Cena tells us what's up.
WrestleMania hits my 'hood in 34 days...
Out comes Cena. He says that Music City is riled up. Last night, he has to give Rusev props: he took Cena to his limit. He got stuck in the Accolade. He didn't give up and he was "the first" to break that move. Riiiiiiight. He says that he has no issue with losing. His issue is with Rusev. Huh? He says that Rusev is a coward. Just to recap: Rusev's awesome and he won fair and square, which makes him a coward. Also, Cena was the first to break the Accolade and he has no problem with Rusev beating him and has a problem with Rusev.
Out comes Rusev and Lana. Lana says that they told Cena he'd lose. Lana says "we told you so" is her favorite American phrase because no other country uses common phrasing. Lana says Cena let his country down. He gave up. He was beaten by a superior athlete. Rusev shoots his mouth off and Cena tell him to watch his mouth. Lana says that Cena gave up. Cena says that he always gets up when he gets knocked down. He says that he will beat Rusev and bring the U.S. Championship back to the States. He wants Rusev at WrestleMania. Rusev sneers and says Cena doesn't deserve a re-match and says that's not happening. They walk off.
EARLIER TONIGHT: Randy Orton turned heel again. He just needs about a dozen more turns for the record held by Big Show.
Orton's backstage. Rollins shows up with Security. Orton tells them he doesn't want J&J there. Rollins tells them to leave. Orton says that he doesn't hate Rollins. They're on the same page because that's what's Best for Business™. Orton and Rollins shake hands.
NEXT: A look at Sting.
But, also next: Paige in action.
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt is here and gets more heat than Roman Reigns, so there's that.
And, now, a look at Sting.
MATCH #5: Paige & Emma vs. WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella & Brie Bella
You mean Emma and Paige just stood in the middle of the ring this entire time?! Brie and Emma start. Brie cheap shots Paige, knocking her off the mat. Brie hits the Bella Buster for the win at 30 seconds. Wasn't it worth the wait?
WINNERS: The Bella Twins
Post-match, Paige attacks Brie. Nikki gets Paige off of Brie and the two leave. We also get to hear the Bella theme three times. Ugh.
NEXT: Cole reveals the next Hall of Fame entrant who we already know are the goddamn Bushwhackers thanks to the 50 texts, Tweets and Cole, himself, already telling us who it is.
Anyhow, we get that reveal which Cole claims is "from a report from a magazine" as if he had NO idea.
Curtis Axel is in the middle of the ring to continue his AxelMania gimmick. Ryback interrupts for a squash. But, first, he needs to yell into a mic. Ryback says him and Curtis go way back. RybAxel was one of "the greatest tag teams of all-time". He's gonna take Axel to Smashville after "turning his upper lip south". What in the holy hell is with the monologues tonight?
MATCH #6: Curtis Axel vs. Ryback
Beating. Shellshock. Done at 0:46.
WINNER: Ryback via Shellshock
NEXT: Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton & Seth Rollins
AT SMACKDOWN: The Fired Three vs. The Authority (Rollins, Kane, Show) because the three newbz haven't been embarrassed enough.
Seth Rollins is out to fight and we get clips of his feud with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. He introduces Randy Orton.
MATCH #7: Seth Rollins (w/ J&J Security - Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury, Kane, & Big Show) & Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan
Bryan and Rollins start. Series of counters and Bryan knees Rollins in the gut on a whip. Bryan sets up for a Surfboard and Reigns tags himself in. Rollins manages to tag Orton but Reigns hits a running clothesline and tags Bryan. Orton drops Bryan, stomach-first, on the top rope while Show, Kane and J&J applaud every few seconds like they're on Family Feud. Rollins gets into the ring and Bryan dumps Rollins from the ring. He goes for a Flying Goat but Orton pulls Rollins away. Orton pulls everyone in for a huddle and we go to break.
We're back and, despite the Authority totally telegraphing that they had a plan, Reigns fell into it anyhow. Orton beats up Reigns, then tags Rollins who punches away at Reigns. Reigns overcomes Rollins assault and its a hot tag to Bryan who is all over Rollins. He hits a running clothesline and some YES Kicks, but misses the Roundhouse. Bryan manages to hit the YES Lock but Orton interferes. Orton and Reigns battle and both men fall out of the ring. Bryan ejects Rollins from the ring and hits a Flying Goat. Bryan goes top rope but Rollins stands up and knocks him off.
Rollins tags Orton who throws Bryan into the corner. Orton props Bryan up on the buckle. Bryan knocks Orton off but misses the Flying Headbutt. Both men go for tags and both hit them. Reigns knocks Rollins over with a clothesline as a fan starts a YOU CAN'T WRESTLE CHANT. Reigns beats Rollins the corner and hits a Samoan Drop. He sets up for the Superman Punch, hitting Joey Mercury who goes for the distraction. Rollins hits an Enzuguri. Reigns and Orton trade blows and Orton hits a powerslam in stride. Orton goes for a Rope DDT but Rollins tags himself in. Orton hits the DDT anyhow, then leaves, saying he's done. Rollins set for the Curb Stomp but misses and Reigns hits a Superman Punch. He sets up for the Spear but Bryan tags himself in. Running Knee wins it at 16:12.
WINNERS: Bryan & Reigns
RATING: **. More of the same.
Post-match, Bryan and Reigns celebrate. Orton is outside, pissed as hell. Orton gets into the ring and stalks Rollins. He lunges at Rollins and Noble interferes, then eats an RKO. Orton helps Rollins up and nobody knows what the fuck is going on. Orton just leaves.
Crowd is just dead as we go off the air.
OVERALL: **. A dull show. This show could have been so much more. WrestleMania SHOULD be more than what it already is. The card is a massive fixer-upper.
Before we go, these were the best quotes from the RAW Open Mic: