It is so fitting that after nearly two years of trying to get Roman Reigns over, the final trump card in the mind of WWE is to give HHH the title and have him be Roman’s final challenge. This is what WWE thinks is going to turn things around and get 100,000 (they hope) people to cheer for Reigns. This is the most damning indictment of the company I can possibly think of. They’ve decided that HHH needs to be in the main event of a show in front of what they believe will be the largest crowd in the company’s history. I don’t know who makes this decision in the end. For all I know HHH fought the idea to the bitter end. I doubt it, but there is enough to hate about this idea without bringing backstage scuttlebutt into it. But at the end of the story, WWE feels this is the best possible capstone they can find for this angle.

Seeing the summary at the beginning of the show reminds me that the final three in the match were HHH, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose. HHH beat ⅔ of the Shield by himself to win the Rumble. Surely coincidental.

“We could care less about how you’re feeling.” “I enjoy the misery of others. That’s why I love coming out each week, because you’re all miserable and broken.” “You’ll end up at the bottom of our shoes.” The McMahon family has finally given up all pretense of trying to hide their opinions of the dumbass marks who follow this product.

The endless praise of HHH is surely just everyone playing their characters and not at all a reason why this decision was made.

A brief Roman Reigns chant happened during HHH’s speech, but it was not as loud as the spontaneous AJ Styles chant. But to be fair AJ has been in the company a whole day, and has a wonderful head of hair. Totally makes sense.

I’m going to start writing the part of the review where once again I talk about how none of the Authority’s actions make sense when they come up with another opportunity for Roman Reigns to win the title. The only positive to it is going to be when the crowd in Dallas turns on that main event like it owes them all money.

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler

The show would have felt meaningless if there wasn’t a reason for the announcers to talk about the Authority during every match. I really hope that the most impressive people tonight in their opinion are Titus O’Neil and Alicia Fox.

This is quite the pro-Owens crowd. I would like to see the Owens character playing more of a neutral character. Don’t make him any different, don’t have him do anything to play to the crowd. Just have him perfectly content to chase after and attack bad guys as well as good guys.

There’s a lot of counters and dodging taking place in this match. Given that this is far from the first time we’ve seen these two together it makes sense. The only thing that worked from beginning to end was Owens going for, and hitting, the pop-up powerbomb. That is the kind of thing that makes even an average match extra entertaining. Winner: Kevin Owens

#SocialOutcasts vs. The Dudley Boyz

Take that Bobby Fish!

Dear God Flo Rida is going to beat up Heath Slater again?!

Bo Rida. World’s greatest battle rapper. That mic drop shook the very foundations of the universe.

Watching the rest of the outcasts reacting to Bo’s rap makes me want, just once before this show finally breaks me for good, Outcasts vs. New Day.

Having a wrestling match at this point is all the disappointments.

People of the world, join hands, start a Bo Train, Bo Train!

What the hell did JBL mean when he said “Arn’s probably still at the zoo”? This confuses me. I mean, I bet Arn likes zoos, but I don’t know the significance of this.

Hilariously petty WWE is sometimes the funniest WWE. I hope they run with Heath Slater as the Red Dragon until Kyle O’Reilly doesn’t appear until page 30 of a Google search for the term. Winners: Dudleyz

AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho

I really hope that Jericho spent the entire Rumble laying in the corner last night so he had plenty of energy for this match. I’m really curious to see what Jericho still has in the tank. If he can’t deliver here, against AJ, in a spot designed (I really hope at least) to steal the show. 

Two “this is awesome” chants within the first minute of the match.

So glad that JBL is having a long discourse about the opportunity to face HHH and how great HHH is during the match. Somewhere Tony Schiavone is nodding his head in agreement.

Jesus, that dropkick Styles ate on the apron just looked like death.

Speaking of painful looking things, the simultaneous crossbody spot always looks and sounds like someone’s going to break some ribs.

AJ is throwing some solid strikes. Every time he throws a clothesline he has some Stan Hansen in it. And the springboard forearm was the best kind of violent.

The crowd is into this judging by the sound when things happen, but there’s no real desire to root for one or the other.

Great spot with Styles in the Liontamer. Probably more effective for the people at home who could see his face and the small movements.

The Styles Clash is freaking over. Assuming AJ is going to be a face for a while, when he finally hits that on someone, the crowd will explode.

Really fun match. A bit sloppy at points, and Jericho seemed to lack fluidity at a lot of points. That said, two more months of in-ring time for Jericho and maybe this could be a show-stealer at Mania if they go that route. Winner: AJ Styles Rating: ***¼

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

The crowd last night really liked Sasha attacking Charlotte.

Becky Lynch has evolved her character and grown it so much in the last month it is amazing. The dispirited look and perfunctory treatment of her entrance made clear that the events of last night, both the loss and the sneak attack, was just more than her smile could stand.

JBL is now discussing the hair color of Becky and Sasha and comparing them to Muppets. Fuck you Layfield.

One of the highlights of last night’s show was the very prominently placed sign encouraging WWE to #SignEvie. I’ve been driving that bandwagon for a while now.

The ending bit with Charlotte attacking everyone actually got her some heat. Amazing how wrestlers with clear motivations and characters fighting each other over titles makes people cheer and boo, regardless of the gender of the people involved. But hey, let’s talk about Muppets some more. Winner: No Contest

The less said about that oddly homophobic segment with Goldust and Truth the better.

It’s 2016, HHH is WWE champion, Kane is about to wrestle, and gay panic is still funny to WWE. I wish they’d stop having good things on this show because that would let me just leave these creatively bankrupt, onanistic, racist/sexist/homophobic/ turds in the toilet bowl of my life. But then they give me Jericho vs. Styles and I forget these awful things. But every week the balance feels like it slips a little more to the negative.

“Demon” Kane vs. Bray Wyatt

They really are going to try this Brock vs. Bray at Mania thing aren’t they? I’m sure Bray will enjoy these few weeks of relevance.

So far the most over people on the show are the Macho Man, Hogan, and Undertaker impersonators in the front row.

This crowd cares about this match as much as this match deserves to be cared about.

The one thing this match needed was more talk about the Authority. Thankfully JBL was there to fill that hole in my heart.

Does Brock work two shows, Fast Lane against Bray, and Mania against Strowman, or vice versa? More importantly, does Brock actually count his money on the way to the ring to have these awful matches? Winner: Bray Wyatt

In case of emergency, activate the Rock Protocol

I’m going to be honest with everyone here. When that black truck pulled up and I saw a bald head in the driver’s seat, I really was hoping for Steve Austin. Instead I get the Rock being the worst frat boy coming back to his old high school to laugh at the new freshmen. Still, to hear an actual superstar reaction is such a rare thing now. When the Rock comes into the company it is like Jeff Daniels seeing the book on modern art in Pleasantville. I mean, he’s no HHH in terms of really getting the crowd going, but then who could be?

Oh. My. God. This had to happen. The hell with the rest of the show. The hell with everything else. Just let me have three hours of New Day riffing on Dwayne.

The sad thing is how much funnier New Day is than Rocky, but his sheer overwhelming charisma carries him over. His humor is the absolute dirt worst. It’s like watching Andrew Dice Clay doing nursery rhymes in 2016. But he knows how to control a crowd like few ever have. But he’s still a giant asshole as a character.

Far be it from me to ever cast aspersions on the character of Paul Levesque, but one might question why Dwayne Johnson is playing around with midcarders upon his return. I certainly wouldn’t dare ask such a thing. It is important to know who the real stars are after all.

Alicia Fox/Brie Bella v. Natalya/Paige

Everyone in this match knows they’re floundering in midcard hell because the Total Divas world becomes meaningless without Nikki Bella around as the reason for any of this to be happening. So they’re making up for it by kicking each other really hard. That’s the kind of response to an unpleasant situation that I can get behind.

I miss Daniel Bryan. So does Miami. Winners: Natalya/Paige

Miz vs. Kalisto

I feel bad for Miz. He never gets to talk.

The saga of Kalisto/Del Rio for the United States Belt I think ends up helping Kalisto. Sure, it would have been better to have Kalisto just win two in a row over Del Rio, but that was never going to happen because reasons. But doing it this way forces even the voice of the skeptic, JBL, to take Kalisto seriously. He had his moment, was robbed of it, but then reclaimed the title on a huge stage. He showed that he was the better man in the feud, only losing when four guys were involved.

That DDT by Miz was wicked.

I really enjoyed that match. The crowd bought into it, and is buying into Kalisto. That’s a good sign. I’m sure he’ll get buried in time. Everyone does. Especially once someone realizes he’s short.

The important question from that match was “what did HHH think of Kalisto?” The opinion of HHH hangs over the heads of all like a gaudy Sword of Damocles with sketchy Latin phrases on the blade. Winner: Kalisto

Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns vs. Rusev/Sheamus

Who gives a damn? This match is the dumbest ass thing possible. Not only is the match as pointless as possible, but Ambrose looks like he might fall apart after last night. If the match was spun as punishment for Reigns/Ambrose I could see it. But in that case make that the point of the match. Instead of just being the same old lazy booking that always infects the main event scene.

Dean Ambrose is the closest we will ever get to seeing Curly Howard wrestle in WWE.

I am finding it very difficult to pay attention to this match. I keep finding myself checking out and having to force myself back into even kind of sort of paying attention.

Oh wow, Roman Reigns won with a spear how impressive was that?

The worst part of Rusev going through the table had to be his head bonking on the piece of equipment still sitting there. Winners: Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns

Final Thoughts:

I wish anything in the main event made a damn bit of sense. HHH has the title, has control of the company, and can do whatever he wants to punish his enemies and reward his friends. So he makes a match with three people he hates in order to determine which of his enemies gets to wrestle him in the main event of Wrestlemania for the title he is so protective of. This whole thing makes no sense. Absolutely no sense at all. It’s not being set up as HHH being egotistical and making a bad decision due to his own hubris. The whole family is excited about this plan. They are fully invested in the idea that HHH should face one of these three at Wrestlemania.

Last night, the reclusive (Ed. Note: Gee, thanks… -r) co-founder of Voices of Wrestling, Rich Kraetsch, said WWE is much easier to watch when you realize the main event scene isn’t made for you. Maybe he’s right. I should just start the show review after the first segment, and call it a night when the last segment begins. It could only help my mental wellbeing.

Because the show was pretty good otherwise. From the end of the first half hour to the beginning of the last segment the show kept going at a nice pace and had very little clunkers. The Styles vs. Jericho match was really good, and the Charlotte/Becky/Sasha angle might actually be getting traction.

The phrase “shit sandwich” gets thrown around, and I have no doubt I’ve called Raw that on more than one occasion. This show was not a shit sandwich. It was a quality burger of a show. But the nice juicy burger was swaddled by two wads of crap-covered toilet paper. Because as long as Vince McMahon is in charge, and feels about the fans the way he does, you’ll always have to eat a little shit to get the things you want. And homophobia. You’ll always get a little homophobia in your WWE.