The Big Takeaway: The focus was building up the main event of Fast Lane. Brock Lesnar appeared at the start of the show and stood over the babyfaces at the end. Match of the night was Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler. Team BAD is caput after Sasha Banks did an interview saying she wanted to go on her own. It led to Naomi and Tamina turning on Banks during her match with Becky Lynch. Show was easy to watch and didn’t drag.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were out first. Heyman talked about Bray Wyatt and his family invoked the 11th Commandment, which was Thou Shall not Provoke Brock Lesnar. Heyman said Stephanie McMahon did what’s least for business when she put Lesnar in the triple threat main event at Fast Lane against Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Heyman said Lesnar would F-5 Reigns and Ambrose and pin both at the same time, then go on to WrestleMania and conquer the Billion Dollar Trophy Husband. Now that’s a great term for HHH. Heyman didn’t sell two-thirds of the Shield short and talked about how Ambrose rode the short bus to school because he’s a nut job.
Ambrose came out and called Heyman “Porky.” Ambrose said he had never been in the lair of the beast before, but it’s cozy. Ambrose said he didn’t want to fight Lesnar, but he would to get the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If he’s crazy, why doesn’t he want to fight him? Ambrose said he couldn’t wait to travel to Suplex City. Lesnar joked snickered through Ambrose’s promo. Ambrose cut his promo and left. These types of segments are just a big waste of Lesnar because it really meant nothing and anyone following Heyman on the mic might as well recite the alphabet. And Ambrose isn’t that bad a promo, he just didn’t have much to talk about here.
Kalisto defeated Rusev via countout (10:06)
Kalisto and Rusev fought outside the ring. Rusev tried to throw Kalisto onto the announcer’s table. Kalisto landed on his feet on top of the table, then gave Rusev a huracanrana to the barricade. After the longest ten count in recorded wrestling history, Kalisto was announced as the winner. Kalisto is the latest person to get the Vince McMahon Cruiserweight push, where he’s demeaned in commentary, gets fluke wins, then runs when the heavyweight heel is feuding with goes after him postmatch, which in this case was Alberto Del Rio, who was on commentary. His rematch with Kalisto for the U.S. Championship is a go for Fast Lane. Lesson for anyone in NXT: when you hear you’re getting the Vince McMahon Cruiserweight push, run.
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Ambrose and Reigns talked backstage while the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was framed and placed on a table. Stephanie McMahon walked up and said the championship was being held in her office. Somehow, I don’t doubt that. Stephanie tried to divide Reigns and Ambrose by comparing their partnerships to various factions that split over the years and how someone always wound up on the short end. She mentioned Marty Jannetty when Shawn Michaels turned on him, Randy Orton being dumped from Evolution (I’d say he landed on his feet) and even brought up Seth Rollins turning on Ambrose and Reigns. She said when presented with the opportunity, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Reigns and Ambrose realized what she was trying to do and said they were brothers. Stephanie said they would face the New Day later tonight to see how unified they truly are. Good promo by Stephanie and she has been a consistent heel throughout the first weeks of 2016.
They had a update on Nikki Bella neck surgery, showing an Instragram photo of her in the hospital. This led to Renee Young interviewing Brie Bella, who said he sister was looking forward to returning at some point this year. Charlotte and Ric Flair walked in. Charlotte told Brie to extend her sympathies to Nikki. Then Charlotte heeled on her saying she was on her way to becoming the new longest reigning Divas champion of all time, and she was the one who likely put Nikki in the hospital.
The Usos defeated Social Outcasts (5:11)
Lillian Garcia announced the Usos were a “Grammy award winning tag team.” They actually replayed that mistake and the announcers made fun of it. Then Michael Cole said Curtis Axel and Heath Slater would face the Usos. Slater never got in the ring and Adam Rose wrestled instead. That one said anything about that. Jey Uso pinned Rose after a double superkick and splash. Slater announced that Bo Dallas, now known as Bo Rida, wasn’t there this week because he was in a studio mixing his first album.
MizTv was with A.J. Styles. The Miz brought up Styles back story, saying Styles was the smallest of four boys and kept bringing up how people told him throughout his life that he was too small. I smell VKM cruiserweight push. Miz brought up the tired Michael Hayes line about the size of the fight in the dog. He recited Styles’ life story without bringing up TNA. Through all the years, Styles wondered what it would be like if he entered the big ship of the WWE. Styles stayed quiet throughout all this. Miz mentioned Styles survived 28:00 in the Royal Rumble and defeated Chris Jericho in his Raw debut. He asked Styles where would he go from here?
Before Styles could answer, Miz said Styles reminded him of his former protege, Daniel Bryan. (Code word for cruiserweight push). Miz said some called him the father of the Yes Movement. Crowd chanted “no.” Miz said he wanted to mentor Styles and navigate his career. Wasn’t Miz doing that for Neville? Miz got mad at the fans and said this was the WWE, and the “E” was just as big as the “W.” He said he main evented WrestleMania and who the hell is A.J. Styles? Miz said Styles may have been a big fish in a small pond, but this is an ocean full of sharks. He said Styles will drown if he listens to the fans. Miz called Styles a “rookie redneck” and said there was no chance in hell he could make it in the WWE. Styles belted Miz and threw him into a chair until Miz ran off. Miz really did a great job. He should be a manager at this point, but it’s another instance of the company not putting square pegs into square holes.
Brie Bella defeated Charlotte (C) in a nontitle match (4:35)
Brie won using the classic Flair-Ricky Steamboat finish where she turned Charlotte’s Figure Eight attempt into a small package. Flair jumped up on the apron trying to distract Brie, who had a sleeperhold on Charlotte, who broke it with a chinbreaker. Looks like they’re setting up a Divas title match between the two at Fast Lane.
The company sent out its best wishes to Bret Hart in his fight against prostate cancer. Various personalities including HHH, Nattie and Reigns tweeted their best thoughts.
The Big Show defeated Erick Rowan (1:18)
The Big Show won with a chokeslam. Postmatch, Erick Rowan, Braun Strowman and Luke Harper jumped Show, who turned face again on Smackdown. It led to Show being slammed outside the ring onto ring steps. Wyatt was absent during all of this. Looks like Show will face Strowman, or some variation of the Wyatt Family at Fast Lane. The beatdown got a surprising amount of heat.
Titus O’Neal defeated Tyler Breeze (2:38)
The weekly squash match with Titus O’Neal, ending with a pin following Clash of the Titus. It’s booking straight from the 80s trying to get O’Neal over, and that’s not a criticism because it’s smart. Speaking of the 80s, Breeze was announced as having his “winter residence in Monaco,” like he was Ted DiBiase. That jobber pay must be pretty good nowadays. At least Breeze got an entrance and an inset promo.
Heyman and Lesnar were backstage when HHH walked up. HHH ordered Heyman to leave, and wondered if Lesnar was getting soft because Ambrose got in his face earlier and lived to tell about it. Lesnar said HHH would find out at WrestleMania.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Kevin Owens (11:28)
Best match on the show so far, and likely the match of the night. Kevin Owens hit two cannonballs, including one after he crotched Dolph Ziggler. He went for the Pop Up Power Bomb, but Zigger got over Owens and hit the ZIg Zag for the pin. Ziggler is a total Ricky Morton-style selling babyface now. Earlier in the match, Ziggler hit a Famouser on the floor. Owens tossed JBL’s cowboy hat to the floor afterwards.
Nice segment for Black History Month paying tribute to Mark Henry, which included various highlights from his weightlifting career as a youth. His victory over Orton to win the World Heavyweight Championship was also shown, along with his superplex on Big Show that destroyed a ring. The Rock, Kofi Kingston and Big Show all did interviews putting him over. They all but said Henry would be in the WWE Hall of Fame someday.
Sasha Banks came out and said she was on her own now, and nothing was going to stop her fro becoming Divas Champion. She didn’t say so, but basically implied Team BAD was dead. Naomi and Tamina came out and said they could be competitors and still be sisters. Banks asked Naomi if they were still going to have her back. They did the “Unity” handshake as Becky Lynch came out.
Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks went to a no contest (3:38)
Naomi and Tamina predictably turned on Banks. At first, Naomi and Tamina went after Lynch, but Banks stopped them saying she wanted to do it herself. Banks and Naomi traded words, then shoves, and then came the turn. It led to Banks and Lynch teaming up to send Naomi and Tamina away. Banks and Lynch didn’t have time to get anything going to even remotely resemble some of their great NXT matches.
Jericho was interviewed by Young about his loss to Styles. Another good promo. Two on this show. Can’t remember the last time Raw had two good promos. Jericho compared Styles to the Eagles’ song “New Kid in Town,” saying Styles has lived up to the hype. He compared Styles to a pitbull who struck again tonight against the Miz. Styles and Miz will wrestle on Smackdown on Thursday, and Jericho said he’ll be watching that with great interest.
R-Truth wondered into a bathroom, where Goldust was waiting on him inside a stall. Goldust, who stepped in the toilet, dropped the Tourette’s gimmick. He again asked Truth to be his tag team partner for a team called “The Golden Truth.” Truth said he didn’t want to tag with Goldust because he was too weird and had do-do on his little toe. Goldust reminded Truth about his previous tag team partner. I was hoping he was going to say Pacman Jones, but no such luck. Instead, Goldust said Little Jimmy, who was imaginary. He still had more in-ring ability than Jones. Truth stormed out. Goldust said he didn’t mean imaginary, he meant interplanatary, but admitted that was really his weirder brother.
The New Day came out and mentioned “Bootie-Gate,” based on comments Rock made last week. Kingston mentioned they love children and pointed out a child at ringside. They actually gave a lengthy closeup to a child wearing a “Bullet Club” t-shirt.
Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns defeated Kofi Kingston and Big E. (17:19)
Finish was Reigns giving Kingston a Superman’s punch while Ambrose pinned Big E. following Dirty Deeds. Moments earlier, Big E. gave Reigns a belly-to-belly suplex on the table, which tookforever to set up. Pretty good much with several hot tags by the babyfaces. Xavier Woods interfered several times. Heyman was on commentary.
Postmatch, Lesnar came out. As Reigns and Ambrose waited, Kingston and Woods jumped them. Ambrose fended off Woods, but Lesnar gave Ambrose an F-5. While this was going on, Reigns couldn’t get in the ring because Kingston gave him a DDT on the floor.
SUMMARY: A fine show. Good matches. Some good promos and smart booking of the main event at Fast Lane. Trying to get Reigns over with the shadow of Lesnar looming over him in the main event will be challenging. The fans clearly see Lesnar as the top face. He’s also the only larger-than-life figure the company still has remaining that isn’t from the 90s. Clearly Reigns will have to go over at Fast Lane. The question is will the WrestleMania fans’ resentment of HHH be strong enough for them to cheer Reigns?