Monday, March 21, 2016

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - March 21st, 2016

Stephanie McMahon starts Raw in typical fashion. Triple H isn't here tonight and just as that is said, Roman Reigns comes out. Thankfully they keep this short & sweet with Reigns shushing Stephanie before getting straight to the point about beating H's ass again at Mania and what not. Reigns leaves Stephanie in the ring with her jaw dropped.

1) Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles
Non title rematch from Smackdown. Ironically enough, I didn't get around to watching that match until today so it ended up being perfect time since this match is happening now. It starts off slow, similar to their first encounter, with Kev working over AJ viciously with a headlock as he attemps to ground him. Things soon pick up though and this thing shifts into a high gear. Before you know it, this has topped their first meeting and becomes arguably the best TV match so far this year. Hard hitting, back and forth action with multiple breath taking moments. They did a sick striking exchange that lead to a stalemate. Owens took the backfist sequence, nailed AJ with a superkick, Styles fired up and nailed Kev with a paylay before falling to the mat. That sends us to our second commercial break of the match. This one had to go 15 minutes or longer. Back from commercial, they struggle for position on the top rope, AJ hits a sunset flip powerbomb to KO for a nearfall. Styles hits his neckbreaker on the knee along with a torture rack into a blue thunder bomb, both only get him two, but garner a great reaction from the crowd. Chris Jericho ends up walking down with a mic in his hand as he repeats AJ's name over and over. AJ doesn't let it distract him this time like it did on Smackdown so he nails Owens with the springboard superman punch and goes for the calf killer. Y2J gets up on the apron and AJ goes to strike him which allows KO to roll him up for the three count. Awesome match.

Match rating - ****

After the match, AJ chases Jericho to the back as Owens celebrates. The Intercontinental Champion grabs his title along with the mic to talk about how he doesn't have a WrestleMania opponent yet. It's really good stuff per usual with Kev. Dolph Ziggler interrupts, followed by The Miz, and ultimately by Kevin's arch rival Sami Zayn who gets some good talking time in. Owens leaves and says none of them deserve a title match at Mania, but he'll give them the chance in a #1 Contender's Triple Threat Match later in the night.

Dean Ambrose is at a bar in a previously filmed segment earlier in the day. He talks about his street fight with Brock Lesnar at Mania. Last week, Mick Foley gave him the barbed wire bat and this week, Terry Funk is here. Funk builds up Ambrose and gives him a chainsaw which Ambrose puts to quick use by cutting up a table. Cool moment and it was great seeing the Funkster.

2) Big E vs. Rusev

The New Day and League of Nations trade verbal shots before breaking out into a brawl prior to this match getting underway. Things settle down and this singles contest begins. It's just as much of a slugfest as you'd expect although not quite on the next level like I had hoped. It's still a solid contest with a fiery final minute or two. Rusev blocks Big E's apron spear attempt but the leader of the New Day would hit it later on Sheamus who tried to interfere. This leads to Big E hitting Rusev with the big ending to pick up the win.

Match rating - **3/4

TONIGHT: Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman

Big Show comes out to plug the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The Social Outcasts interrupt him and get their asses kicked when Kane makes the save to somewhat even the odds. Show hugs Kane and gets on the second rope to pose, but Kane grabs him for a half way chokeslam off the second rope. It's that time of year, folks.

3) Chris Jericho vs. Fandango - WrestleMania Rewind Match
Pretty clever idea considering how pissed off Jericho has been lately. It's been his best run since 2012 against Punk, to be honest so I'm excited to see that aggression taken out on the guy who got a fluke victory over him years ago. AJ comes out to distract him by saying "Y2 Jackass" which the crowd joins in on chanting. Jericho is still able to hit Fandango with a codebreaker to win, though. Great stuff after the match with Jericho running away from Styles and trash talking fans as AJ poses in the ring and undoubtedly gets the last laugh, their match is now official for WrestleMania.

Match rating - **

4) Stardust vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara - #1 Contender's Match for the Intercontinental Championship
Big Kev trolled everyone. Instead of the three men who targeted him earlier, he picked these three guys for this match. Pretty hilarious. Sami Zayn, The Miz, & Dolph Ziggler make their way to ringside mid-match to confront KO about it which causes chaos, of course. Owens throws Ryder into Ziggler which causes a DQ finish. Owens escapes by the thin of his teeth amidst six challengers coming after him.

Match rating - **

Big Kev is furious after what happened with all six guys coming after him so he runs to Stephanie to complain. She shuts him up by making a seven man ladder match at WrestleMania for the Intercontinental title. Zack Ryder is in a championship match at WrestleMania. 2016. What a time to be a live.

5) Charlotte vs. Natalya
This was pretty decent despite me not having any expectations for it. Charlotte & Natalya clearly still have chemistry together from their NXT matches because this was really well executed and fun while it lasted. A good sequence or two before Charlotte hits the Natural Selection out of nowhere for the win. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were on commentary.

Match rating - **1/2

Stephanie is heading to she & Triple H's vehicle where she meets the World Champion & COO himself. They go to pull out and Roman Reigns is standing in the garage door. Wow. This is either gonna be really good or really bad. It turns out to be just in between. Not nearly as heated as the past two brawls, or maybe this Raw has become so bland that I'm half asleep. Anyway, H escapes, Reigns stares as they drive off.

6) Bubba Ray Dudley vs. R-Truth
The trash talking alone makes this a funny watch if you have some free time. Bubba was heeling it up here and basically just beats the hell out of Truth while running his mouth the entire time. The beating continues after the match by both Dudley Boys which leads to Goldust making the save for his wannabe partner. Dustman gets taken out as well, though, so The Usos run down and take control. They tease putting The Dudley's through a table, but are unable to do so. Guess this is setting up something for Mania between these two (or three) teams?

Match rating - **

Mr. McMahon comes out for his big announcement about the Cell Match at Mania. The crowd has been dead most of the night and it continues, even here when Vince directly calls The Undertaker his bitch. The announcement is that if Taker loses, he's fired. LAWD O' MERCY.

7) Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman
Random match for our main event tonight. Paul Heyman is on commentary. This is basically just to show how Ambrose will fare against a bigger man, I guess. Strowman controls him for most of the match aside from a few hope spots. In the end, Ambrose brings a chair into the match and nails Strowman with it multiple times which causes for the disqualification. Braun fights back and gets the chair out of Ambrose's hands, but when all is said and done, Ambrose nails him with Dirty Deeds on the chair thus getting the last laugh. Ambrose tells Heyman that Lesnar is next as the show goes off the air.

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