Sorry for things being short tonight. Got to save some brain cells for more important things this week. Next week I’ll rank my ten favorite WWE Royal Rumbles to make up for it.

The recap from last week does nothing more than to make clear that nothing Vince does makes any sense as an evil boss.

Ten Bells for Amiri Baraka?

I don’t think everyone is out to have a moment of silence for David Bowie so this can’t end well. Could they look more like goobers when the whole roster is called out to be a compliant audience for the McMahons and they comply?

I am so jealous of Ru Gunn for having the show with Mauro Ranallo calling the matches.

“When did Vince McMahon turn into Mr. Roper?” Thanks to Mrs. Spiffie for her contribution this week.

The only positive to these segments is seeing everyone who inspires a reaction of “hey, he’s still employed?”

Okay, this draws my attention momentarily, but then the tease of the Wyatts doing something meaningful is just a chance to make us remember the horrible feud Wyatt and Reigns had last year.

The crowd is making clear that the way to get Roman Reigns over is to beat Vince McMahon up every week.

Stephanie McMahon is just really grating this week. She is acting like a 5 year old showing off in front her daddy, trying to get his attention while he is talking on the phone. Normally she has a more composed presence, but everything about this segment just felt so forced and overbearing. Stephanie has her own thing, which while surely informed by Vince has its own pace and pitch. This was not it, and it dragged down an already awful segment.

Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus

The biggest heel in the company right now is a mohawk.

The announcers never stop talking. Maybe that’s why the show feels so long. Not only do the stories on the show range from mediocre to interminable, but there’s three people talking loudly in my ear the entire time, and rarely are they ever saying anything helpful. Look at this match. Dean and Sheamus are doing fine. This isn’t setting the world on fire, but it is mostly competently delivered pro wrestling. But the cacophony that accompanies the match makes it impossible to settle in and enjoy anything that is happening. Cole is explaining everything that is happening in front of us, while JBL and Saxton repeat the same talking points over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. I don’t know if any of this is how they want to call the match, nor do i care.

Just as I say this Sheamus is kneeling on the floor after being hit with the rebound clothesline. Cole’s commentary “Sheamus has been clotheslined to the floor.”

Biggest reaction of the night so far was to Ambrose bloodying Sheamus and preparing to put him through a table. Loudest boo of the night was to Kevin Owens coming out and stopping Ambrose. The loudest cheers Roman Reigns get are when he’s either threatening or inflicting violence on Vince McMahon. Brock Lesnar is the biggest star they have, and his entire gimmick is mindless violence. At some point people want to see other people fight in a show centered around fake fighting. There’s always a place for comedy, and for storyline, but the endless blathering in the main event angles not only make the show worse to watch, but they actively hobble any attempts to get someone over. Especially while John Cena is out, and there’s no one who really gets off on humor meant for five year olds.

I wish Dean Ambrose could be teleported to NWA circa 1987. He would be such an excellent babyface. Winner: Double Countout

For two of the most charismatic people in the history of wrestling, Vince and Paul Heyman don’t really have a lot of chemistry together.

Bowiedust vs. Titus O’Neil

JBL did a fine job of visiting the David Bowie Wikipedia page and finding random terms to spout. Well done.

I honestly have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. Best I can tell if Stardust becomes Cody Rhodes again then he will never be able to tell Major Tom that E=MC2.

Suffering attacks like that make it unlikely that Titus will be able to last another five yearsWinner: Titus O’Neil

The Highlight Reel / New Day vs. The Usos

That hobo stole Chris Jericho’s lite brite coat.

I want a t-shirt with Big E rendered like the Obama “Hope” poster with the caption “Flim Flam”

Chris Jericho knows how to make use of the fact that people love to chant easy to follow things, preferably if they rhyme. No one has ever been less over with the crowd by treating them like 10 year olds.

He has taught this lesson well to the Usos I see.

Only New Day could make not calling someone “Jimmy” an insult.

If this was in the main event scene, if Jericho was doing this to Kevin Owens I would hate everything here. But as it is, this is what I mean by there being a time and place for comedy and lightheartedness. This will be fine as a way to entertain people for a month or two and get the Usos and New Day to Mania. The crowds enjoy getting to yell stupid things, New Day get to be ricockulous with someone else who will encourage it, and Jericho keeps sliding down with each return to the point where he will almost certainly be the 2017 Wrestle Kingdom 11 Rambo.

Did JBL actually ever wrestle Umaga? I can’t see when that match might have happened, but I drank a lot in the mid 2000’s

It’s funny to think what Chris Jericho would be treated like if he arrived, looking like he does, as a new wrestler to WWE in 2016. I think we can safely assume no one would ever run in terror from him.

A mention of Twerking! Vintage JBL!

Big E seems to have a little extra pep in his step tonight. Just dashing about the ring and wreaking havoc on everyone. I really wish he’d save the apron splash for bigger occasions though.

All of the extracurriculars around the ring make it seem like everything is chaotic, yet these teams work old school tag wrestling very well together.

Screw it, I had a blast with this. A bunch of guys throwing each other around, some wonderful cheap heat heel tactics, hot tags, and outside the ring goofiness all coming together. Winners: Usos Rating: ***½

Hall of Fame Announcement

If you look closely, you can see Kevin Hart blinking “S.O.S.” while talking about Sting.

It is hard to get across to someone who wasn’t watching at the time just how over Sting got spending 18 months not wrestling or talking. It is truly Eric Bischoff’s crowning moment to have the patience to make the crowd wait that long for the payoff in an era of weekly television. Sadly we all know how it played out, and in a span of about 15 minutes the wound that would eventually fester and destroy WCW was inflicted. But that moment, just before Sting’s music hit at Starrcade 97, it would be impossible to imagine WCW would ever fall from those heights.

The Wyatt Family vs. #SocialOutcasts

The segment was over before I could get a intro take put down. So here’s a thought on the whole thing. I was waiting from beginning to end for the Outcasts to be made to look like jokes. Figured the Wyatts would squash them like bugs. Then when Ryback appeared I assumed they would bug out and the segment would end with them never even having been there. Then when they were left in the ring alone with Ryback I was waiting for them to try to celebrate with him, only for him to beat up all of them on his own. When none of these things came to pass, and the announce team didn’t mock them for their efforts I felt a little flutter of joy. Anytime WWE does something different and unexpected, even as small as this, it makes the show that much better to watch. Winner: Heath Slater. Two weeks in a row without being beat up.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto

After listening to Alberto Del Rio I am putting the odds at Cena making a surprise return at the Rumble at 6:1 and even money on him being on the card at Mania.

Wow, Alberto is mighty harsh there. Kalisto’s life is meaningless? I would enjoy Alberto Del Rio, all black wearing nihilist, but I doubt WWE is going to book for me.

It’s never a good sign when they zoom in on the ref appearing to check for a pulse. Moments like this put into perspective how utterly insane you have to be to do the professional wrestling. Think about right now going up on a three foot platform, get a running start, jump over a four foot hurdle, and flip onto a thin mat over a hard surface, while hitting your head on something.

That must have been a hell of a commercial break. Last we saw Kalisto he was dead. When we return he’s on the top rope and Del Rio is shaken up. And what do we see of this match-altering action? Nothing! A company that never goes more than a few minutes without telling us everything we have just seen now decides to banish the past to the land of wind and ghosts.

I bit on the ranadriver near-fall. In retrospect that would have been a much better finish. You want to get the guy over? Let him win with a wrestling move that definitively beats Del Rio. Instead it’s a banana peel that turns the win into a fluke instead of an underdog. I don’t get doing that ending so close to that spot. Still a really fun match though. Winner (new U.S. Champ): Kalisto Rating: ***¼

Charlotte vs. Brie Bella

Between Del Rio and Charlotte it is not a banner night for skin care.

At some point she has to say something “isn’t fair to Flair.”

Once again the crowd has a genuine reaction to something, as a “Becky” chant breaks out when she attacks Charlotte. Note what brought it about. Violence. Real conflict. Rather than complaining about who gets to be on a reality show or who is the prettiest girl in school. Charlotte is a privileged heel that uses the fact her father is a legend to get unfair treatment. Her dad has always been a dirty playing two-face who we all kind of forgot really was the baddest bad guy of all. But now Ric Flair is bossing around Charles Robinson and calling fans “fat boy” and it is such a nostalgia moment. Keep this up until Mania and the crowd wants Becky to pull off Charlotte’s arm and beat her to death with it.

Oh no. Oh god no. Becky’s talking about being all alone and a hall of fame father. Mick Foley is lingering around the periphery of the angle on Facebook. I have the trepidations. Winner: No Contest

Roman Reigns vs. Everyone in the World

What. A. Novel. Idea.

I understand that the Wyatts are a big part of the hell roster, but why have them hanging out all pally wally with the rest of the roster. Fine, say that they want the chance to get their hands on Reigns, but at least stand to the side or something, pretend that you’re not just four regular guys who like swamps and making homemade clothing to sell on Etsy.

This isn’t a bad match, but it has no intensity or hook right now. I don’t want to complain too much since the other option was Roman pinning a bunch of people really fast, but this is the definition of filler. It’s like the rehearsal for a much more intense match between Reigns and Owens.

Owens is slightly winning the “Boo/Yay” crowd battle when trading blows with Reigns. Surely that bodes well for the main event of Mania.

The crowd is chanting for Brock. It doesn’t speak highly of how they’ve built Reigns that the crowd wouldn’t cheer any less for Brock murdering the heels or Reigns.

Pop of the night goes to Brock Lesnar giving the F-5 to Roman Reigns. I feel bad for the poor guy. There’s always someone cooler than him around whenever he’s ready to try and be the guy. Winner: People who want to watch Reigns get booed at Mania. Again.

Final Thoughts:

The lesson from tonight is that people like people wanting to fight each other. People like Roman Reigns when he is threatening to beat up Vince McMahon. People like Becky Lynch when she wants to get revenge for being betrayed by Charlotte. People like Dean Ambrose trying to beat up Sheamus. And people really like Brock Lesnar because all he does is beat the hell out of people.

The John Cena era is beginning to fade at least somewhat. Between injuries, age, and the call of Hollywood, the time is drawing near where John Cena, even if he is a part of the show will not be the defining character of RAW. Hopefully this is the time when that shift can begin. The years and years of John Cena doing photoshop jokes and calling his opponents “poopy” have to wane. I hope that…the time is now!

Let John remain there for the kids. Keep him in the midcard pocket universe and let him gobble up disposable heels. But the people are speaking clearly every week. They want people to really not like each other. The kids are getting older and the world is getting darker. Let’s beat the hell out of someone as we fall.