Much like the Daytona 500 has truly kicked off the NASCAR season yesterday, last night at Fastlane or tonight on Raw (depending on how you look at it), truly kicks off the “Road To WrestleMania.”
Who was able to walk out with Championships last night? What happened during the Triple H and Sting confrontation? And of course, is it Roman Reigns or Daniel Bryan main-eventing WrestleMania against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar?
To find out the answers to those burning questions, read on!
Monday Night Raw TV Report for February 23rd, 2015 – “The Drive Begins”
Introduction Segment: Welcoming
The regular Raw video plays and the pyro explodes in the arena. Michael Cole greets us from country music’s home, Nashville. He says we are just thirty-four days away from Wrestlemania!
Segment #2: Arena Promo
A superstar who has not been seen since November makes his return to Raw right off the bat! “The Viper” Randy Orton saunters out to a HUGE pop and loud “Randy” chants. Orton blames Seth Rollins for putting him “on the shelf” for the last few moths; he then displays the video footage where “Mr. Money In The Bank” Curb-Stomped him onto the steps.
Orton wants payback and demands that Rollins joins him in the ring. instead, he gets the rest of the clan as The Big Show, Kane, Stephanie, and Triple H walk to the ring. Stephanie starts first, sucking up to Randy by welcoming him back. He doesn’t buy it, and wants to “kick some ass instead of kiss some ass.”
Big Show tries to convince Orton to rejoin The Authority, saying it was “the best personal decision.” Orton still does not want to, and Steph tries again to persuade him by inviting him to a “business meeting” but Randy still appears resistant, standing tall and smirking. Unable to swerve him back into the fold, The Authority walks away, but Orton does take their offer and will meet them later tonight.
Cole, Booker T., and John “Bradshaw” Layfield, continue to recap Fastlane, which revealed that John Cena passed out to The Accolade and Rusev officially retains/won the U.S. Title match against him; also the main-event of Wrestlemania is set after Roman Reigns did defeat Daniel Bryan and will go against Lesnar for the Championship; we will here from Reigns later.
Wade Barrett paces to the ring, sans his Intercontinental Championship as it is shown that Dean Ambrose stole it after their Fastlane match!
Match #1: Single – Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett VS. “The Show-Off” Dolph Ziggler (Non-Title)
(Note: R Truth is on commentary.) Lockup and suplex by Bad News begins this bout; he then starts to wear down Ziggler with a grounding chinlock. Dolph gets out of it and hits a jumping elbow, but is taken down again. Barrett hammers away on the back of Dolph in the corner and covers for two. Dolph struggles out of another submission, but Wade slams him to the canvas and punches away again.
Wade misses a big-boot and crotches himself on the ropes, allowing Ziggler to follow up with a dropkick that sends the I.C. Champ tumbling to the floor.
Barrett is back in control with a rear chinlock, but Ziggler breaks out of it with a jawbreaker. He elbows Bad News out of the corner and splashes him in another. Barrett tries Wasteland, but Dolph reverses into a DDT. He covers, 1 – 2 – Bad News kicks out! He goes for the Zig-Zag, but Barrett fends him off and smacks him with a kick-to-the-gut, then plants Dolph with an awkward-looking powerbomb but only receives a two! Wade winds up for the Bullhammer but Ziggler ducks and rolls him up for a near-fall! He tries the Fameasser but Wade gets out of it; Ziggler ducks a follow-up a big-boot, but runs into the Winds Of Change. 1 – 2 – Dolph kicks out! Barrett stomps harshly on Dolph in the corner, and attempts another Wasteland, which Ziggler sunset-flips out of! Wade runs into the corner, but Dolph moves and Barrett nails the ring post. Dolph then brings him backwards with the Zig-Zag to get the hard-fought victory!
Winner via Pinfall: “The Show-Off” Dolph Ziggler
Post-match, Dean Ambrose walks out with Ambrose’s I.C. Championship. He faces off with Ziggler and shoves him on the way out of the ring, insinuating a potential match between the two as well.
Up next, we will see what happened between Sting and Triple H’s face-to-face at Fastlane!
Segment #3: Video Promo
Still-pictures of Triple H and Sting’s war of words that turned into a physical altercation is shown. It is then made official that the two will matchup at Wrestlemania!
Segment #4: Office Promo
In The Authority’s area, Seth Rollins and Kane are all giving their opinions while Randy Orton stands beside them all. Stephanie doesn’t want to hear them, and focuses on Randy, wanting him to forgive Rollins and “move forward.” She says The Authority will back him if he does this. He slowly shakes Rollins’ hand, then Steph books a tag-team match featuring Orton and Seth teaming up to take on Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.
Segment #5: Video Promo
Sometime soon, “The Celtic Warrior” Sheamus will be returning.
Match #2: Tag-Team – The Primetime Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil) VS. The Ascension (Conor and Viktor)
Prior to the bout, Conor and Viktor rip on the new Hall Of Famers, The Bushwackers (Agreed with the ripping; I don’t think they’re worthy), and The Primetime Players.
Viktor begins with Darren and totally dominates. He tags in Conor, but Young starts to make a comeback, which doesn’t last long. Titus tries to help, but gets dumped to the outside. This allows Young to small-package Viktor and get the sudden 1 – 2 – 3!
Winners via Pinfall: The Primetime Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil)
Post-match, The Ascension are not pleased with their first loss, so they take out Primetime Players to make another point.
Up next, the lone #1 Contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be out!
Segment #6: Arena Promo
Roman Reigns walks through the fans, to a much-better pop tan he has been receiving lately. (Good!) still-pictures of his match with Daniel Bryan from Fastlane are shown, where he finished Daniel with a Spear to move on to ‘Mania.
In the ring, Roman recaps the last little while and is about to say something to his “doubters” when Daniel Bryan interrupts him. He faces Reigns in the squared circle and tells him straight-up that he is “the biggest ‘Roman Reigns doubter.’” Bryan berates Reigns and others who have all the size and strength, but not the heart that he does. Bryan bluntly states “that’s why I didn’t like you.” Daniel says he gave it his all and then some last night, but in the end, Reigns came out on top because he “had more heart than I thought you ever did.” Bryan graciously admits defeat, congratulates Roman, and shakes his hand. He is happy to partner with Roman for tonight’s main-event and tell shim to “go beat the crap out of Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.”
As he walks away, the advocate for Brock Lesnar walks to the ring. He also shakes Reigns’ hand and puts him over for the match at Fastlane. Paul E. sucks up to Roman, saying “my money would be on Roman Reigns.” Heyman lists a bunch of famous matches and wrestlers that Roman could’ve faced and beat, such as Bruno Sammartino, The Rock, Triple H, “Stone Cold,” Hulk Hogan and even the late-great Andre The Giant.
He moves on to WrestleMania, and says that Roman will not be able to beat Lesnar, because Lesnar not just a man, but a “beast.” He quotes what the announcer will say at the end of WrestleMania: “the winner and STILL reigning, defending, undisputed, WWE Heavyweight Champion of the world, BROCK LESNAR!”
Reigns reminds Heyman of his and Lesnar’s first quarrel, in which he will beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. “Respect goes out the window. It’s not about beating him, it’s the way I beat him; because when I’m done with him, he ain’t going to like me anyways. Believe that!” Heyman backs off as Reigns continues to yell at him.
Match #3: Tag-Team for the Tag-Team Championship – The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) (Challengers) (with Naomi) VS. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (Champions) (with Natalya)
Cesaro and Jimmy elbow/collar tie-up to begin, then both Usos double-team Cesaro on the outside. Kidd is now in and is chased to the outside, where he hides behind Natalya. Tyson hits Jimmy, then tags in Cesaro who stomps away on Jimmy. Both Jimmy and Cesaro tag-out, and Jey is all over Tyson. He runs into an upside-down-in-the-corner Tyson with a headbutt for a two, but is dumped to the floor. Both Usos chuck Tyson into the barricade, then Jey goes for a top-turnbuckle move. He soars off with a crossbody for a near-fall!
Cesaro is back in control but tags in Kidd, who gets hit with double-knees into his elbow. Cesaro back in again and works over Jey, swinging him around. Kidd and Cesaro double-team Jey, then Cesaro and Jey fight on the top turnbuckle. Jey counters and drops Cesaro back. He tags his brother, who flies off the top with a Superfly Splash. As he covers, Tyson breaks it up with a leaping elbow!
Kidd and Jimmy are now battling, with Tyson missing a slingshot-legdrop, allowing Jimmy to take control. He misses a corner rear-bump, and as Kidd uses the ropes to roll him up, Naomi moves Kidd’s feet. Natalya takes exception, pushing Naomi down, then Jimmy off the turnbuckle, causing the dq. Naomi yanks Natalya off the apron, and Natalya appears to be hurt in the left-leg/ankle area.
Winners via Disqualification: The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) (with Naomi)
Post-match, the Tag Champs help a hobbling Natalya while celebrating keeping the championships.
Segment #7: Backstage Promo
The Miz is lint-brushing his attire, promoting himself and making it known he will be in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, when Damien Mizdow announces that he has been hired to appear in a company commercial, and gives props to The Miz for helping him get started after firing him as his stunt-double. Miz orders Mizdow to start brushing him.
Segment #8: Video Promo
Recap of Fastlane, where it appeared The Undertaker made a return, but it was really Bray Wyatt in the coffin! “There’s a wicked feeling in the air tonight. I will never forget the first time that I saw him. He made me tremble. His eyes were so cold. Behind them was nothing but darkness, and I feared him. Now he has become just like everyone else, weak, broken; just a shell of what he once was. His obsession with sympathy, has turned a monster into a mere mortal. Now his soul is lost, stuck in limbo. I think it’s time for him to go home. My mission is clear. I believe I found the answer. I don’t fear you anymore. Because I am pain, I am suffering; I am Bray Wyatt, the new ‘face of fear.’ At WrestleMania, I will claim the soul of The Undertaker.”
Segment #9: Video Promo
“Do you see what I see? Do you feel what I feel? Perhaps it’s just a constant reminder of a paradise lost that runs through your mind. Or maybe it’s a number, twenty-one-and-one. Now if our entire existence is truly defined by moments, then that moment signaled the end of yours. So sad. The mighty Undertaker reduced to a pile of broken bones and broken dreams on the grandest stage of them all. I’m sure in that moment when you could feel it’s breath on the back of your neck and it’s claws digging in your back, pulling you down where you belong, that you resist, and now you have to burn. Well guess what? That evil exists inside of me now; and at WrestleMania, I’m gonna finish the job. I know you’re afraid, ‘Deadman’ but there’s no reason to hide. It’s so much better down here. Find me.”
Stardust makes his way to the ring and will be in action, next!
Match #4: Single – Stardust VS. “The Real American” Stardust
Stardust is all over Swagger almost all the contest. Swagger does counter a Disaster Kick into a slam and the Patriot Ankle Lock. Stardust gets out of it but Goldust’s music plays and he walks out to the stage. This distracts Stardust enough to allow Jack to clamp on the Ankle Lock again and force Stardust to tap-out.
Winner via Submission: “The Real American” Jack Swagger
Segment #10: Arena Promo
John Cena is welcomed by Lillian Garcia. He runs out and talks about his loss to United States Champion Rusev at Fastlane. He says while he “had Rusev staring at the eyes of defeat,” he gives “respect where respect is due.” He called it a “true championship contest; both superstars going back-and-forth, giving it their all for one shot at championship gold.” Cena says that while he was trapped in The Accolade, he though “don’t you ever give up John, don’t you ever give up.” He wanted to be the only one to take down Rusev. Instead, the U.S. Champ gave John cheap kick-to-the-groin, and then made Cena pass-out to The Accolade. Cena does not believe Rusev is a “hero,” but instead a “coward.”
The United States Champions himself and Lana appear on the stage. “Billions of people believe in you, and you let them down. You let your country down. And just like all of Americans, you gave up. The ‘great’ John Cena, humiliated and humbled, by the superior athlete, the superior champion, and the superior human being, Rusev!”
Rusev also has his say, telling John he “broke” him. “It’s my time now, it’s Rusev’s time. I am United States Champion and nobody can beat me.” He wants John to cop that Rusev and Russia are finer than Cena and the U.S. Lana then shows stills of Cena out-cold on the canvas at Fastlane.
Cena retorts, defending himself, and informing Rusev that he will “beat your ass at WrestleMania.” Rusev has other plans, and does not agree that Cena should get it. “What makes you think you deserve, because you’re ‘the great’ John Cena? Well, you were ‘the great’ John Cena; now you’re just a ‘quitter’ John Cena. As far as a rematch goes, you don’t deserve it. My answer is ‘no.’”
Segment #11; Locker Room Promo
Seth Rollins and Randy Orton have chat in their locker room. Orton makes fun of J & J, and Rollins tells them to exit. Right away, Randy puts Seth at ease by wanting to go along with him. Rollins agrees, saying “let’s show them, let’s show Roman and Daniel, exactly what ‘the face’ and ‘the future’ are all about.”
Paige makes her way to the ring and will be in a tag-team match next!
A montage of Sting’s career, mixed with comments from wrestlers, is shown.
Match #5: Tag-Team – Paige and Emma VS. The Bella Twins (Divas Champion Nikki and Brie)
Brie and Emma begin, with Brie knocking Paige from the apron right away. She quickly plants Emma with the sit-down facebuster for the 1 – 2 – 3!
Winners via Pinfall: The Bella Twins (Divas Champion Nikki and Brie)
Post-match, Paige knocks down Brie, but Nikki returns the favor. The Bellas then walk to the back.
Segment #12: Video Promo
New Hall Of Famers Butch and Luke, The Bushwhackers, are depicted with a video recollection of their career.
Match #6: Single – Curtis Axel VS. Ryback
Prior to this contest, both Curtis and Ryback announce they will be in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. Ryback then quickly finishes Axel with the Shellshock!
Winner via Pinfall: Ryback
Up next, Reigns and Bryan team up against Orton and Rollins!
Rollins, Orton, Reigns, and Bryan all make their entrances.
Match #7: Tag-Team – “Mr. Money In The Bank” Seth Rollins and “The Viper” Randy Orton (with J & J Security [Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury], Kane, and The Big Show) VS. Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan
Rollins and Bryan begin, with Daniel taking control with a surfboard-stretch. Reigns now in, but quickly has to face Orton as Seth tagged out. Both are even until Reigns hits a big clothesline and Bryan comes in via a diving axe-handle off the top rope. He ties Orton in a wristlock, but Randy counters a second one into a neck/backbreaker combo. Orton drops Bryan on the top rope with a suplex, then tags in Rollins. Bryan fights back with punches, and tosses Rollins over the ropes. He goes to run, but Orton pulls Rollins out of the way and The Authority regroup in the corner barricade.
Orton is in control over Roman, stomping away. He clotheslines Roman to the canvas and then tags in Rollins, who mount-punches Reigns. He runs into a tilt-a-whirl slam from Reigns, then Roman gets the hot-tag to Bryan. He knocks Randy off the apron, then flips over Rollins and elbow-clotheslines him. Bryan delivers multiple kicks. He runs at Rollins, but Seth ducks and rolls him up until it is reversed into the Yes Lock Crossface. Orton breaks up the submission, but Reigns comes in and clotheslines “The Viper” to the floor. Rollins follows up and takes out Roman, then Bryan puts Seth to the floor and gives him a suicide dive! He goes to the top turnbuckle, but is distracted by Joey, allowing Rollins to crotch him.
Orton is back in and punches away at Bryan in the corner, then whips him hard into the opposite one. He sets Bryan atop the turnbuckle and attempts a suplex. Atop the turnbuckle, Bryan and Orton battle. Daniel headbutts Orton, then rockets for another one but Randy moves. Bryan manages the hot-tag to Reigns. He begins to demolish Rollins, and as he goes for the Superman Punch, he turns it into one on Joey. Rollins takes advantage and Enziguri’s Reigns, then switches with Orton.
They trade fists back-and-forth, and Orton powerslams Roman. He kicks him and sets up for the slingshot DDT, but Rollins tags himself in. Orton looks furious, and DDT’s Roman anyway, then walks away. Seth measures Roman for the Curb-Stomp, but misses and is nailed with both the Superman Punch and running-knee from Bryan after Daniel tagged himself in too! Bryan covers and takes the victory!
Winners via Pinfall: Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan
Post-match, Reigns and Bryan show more respect to each other, shaking hands and walking away together. Unfortunately, the feed goes out for a few seconds, but comes back to see Orton glaring at a crawling Rollins. He is contemplating, but then R.K.O.’s Noble. He picks Rollins up and slaps him on the shoulder, then exits the arena. Rollins and the rest of The Authority wonder what just happened to close the show.
End Of Raw.
Reporter’s Rumblings – By Moe Tapp
This was a pretty great Raw, both coming off a Pay-Per-View and setting up the “Grand-Daddy Of Them All!” while there was not as much wrestling, it was still jam-packed and provided clearance for the WrestleMania card. Onto the analysis:
Excellence: Promos by Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman, Bray Wyatt, John Cena, and Rusev. All were filled with passion and intrigue.
Roman Reigns being the #1 Contender. Honestly, I’m really glad WWE “stuck to their guns” with him as the next “it man” for WrestleMania, and didn’t cave to the fans wanting of Bryan for the second year-in-a-row. Last year, it was totally fine to do this, but since they are actually trying to build another new star (Reigns) and not rehash an older one (Batista), I’m very happy they went with him despite all the stupid backlash again. It was also very nice to hear Roman gets much more cheers this time around; hopefully those stay with him through and beyond WrestleMania.
Loving the potential 3 or 4-way for the I.C. Title. Even though Truth has very little chance of winning, he does have some charisma and great wrestling ability, so definitely think he fits with Ziggler, Ambrose, and Bad News. Was really cool to see Primetime Players get the W! I really liked them in their first go-round, so I hope they stick together and get a re-push.
Bray Wyatt VS. Undertaker will be awesome for their creepy promos, and now I would say, Wyatt’s ability to carry a match!
I’m happy the Andre The Giant Memorial is returning, but I really hope they invest in someone to win it this time who will be a long-term person and get that proverbial “rocket” strapped to their back for 2015 and beyond!
Looking greatly forward to more of Sting!
Bogus: not entirely sure if the turn Randy did make sense this quickly. I believe he should’ve stuck to wanting to beat up Rollins and they just have a match at ‘Mania right away.
Disappointed Paige is not the Divas Champion; I think she should’ve won it and then had A.J. return for another bout at ‘Mania.
Not entirely sure about the team of Cesaro and Kidd, and really hoping Natalya is not seriously injured. Do like her heel turn though!
All-in-all, a great Raw and start on the “Road To WrestleMania!” Let’s hope the next four paths (weeks) will be the same! Until next week, as always, Be Excellent Wrestling-Online Readers and Wrestling Fans!