WWE Monday Night RAW
March 28, 2016
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, New York

It’s Easter Monday, we get the return of a Deadman, the King of Kings, and in interesting juxtaposition – a crowd asking for a Roman to be crucified.

3 Things To Watch if You DVR

  1. Undertaker and Shane (0:00)
  2. Zack Ryder/Y2J/AJ Styles (0:27)
  3. Dolph Ziggler/Sami Zayn/Sin Cara vs. Kevin Owens/Stardust/The Miz (2:27)- I’m being very kind, you should probably just go back and watch Undertaker/Shane.

We are live from Brooklyn NY, in the house that Sasha and Bayley built.

DONG! The Undertaker’s stroll to the ring makes former relief pitcher Lee Smith’s entrances into games look like a sprint. Undertaker says that Shane McMahon’s blood is on Vince McMahon’s hands, and when it’s all said and done Vince’s blood may be on his. Shane will fight, but WrestleMania is Undertaker’s yard, Hell in The Cell is his house.

HERE COMES THE MONEY! Shane is much trimmer and tanned than mere days ago Also more gray which is slightly weird. The Barclays Center is absolutely hot. Shane says he’s fighting to win, but ‘Taker is fighting not to lose. Shane claims to be the instrument of change.

Undertaker calls Shane a rich boy, and cautions against talking about legacy. Shane comes down to step to Undertaker, saying “Your legacy died two years ago.” Undertaker’s comeback is “The very day you were born, you’ve been your daddy’s bitch.” MANHOOD CHALLENGED, and it is on…for 20 seconds, then Undertaker gets to destroying Shane.

Shane reverses a last ride, and hits Undertaker w/monitor, laying him out on the table. Shane’s going for the turnbuckle to tease…NO! He hits it! Crowd loses it, as do I. Shane stumbles off then ‘Taker pops up. He is displeased and gives a throat slash as Shane points to the WrestleMania sign. This was a very hot segment. I quietly hope I don’t watch a man cripple himself to please his father, because Shane is going to be asked to top this. Big fight build with actual animosity, you wish it was like this for all the programs.

Zack Ryder def. Chris Jericho

Ryder gets no entrance but I’m happy they showed us the set up for the match on the pre-show. We only have over three hours. After Jericho comes down to the ring, AJ Styles comes out, and he’s not leaving until he gets a match (which Y2J doesn’t want to give). AJ goes and puts his arm around Byron Saxton, signifying that someone does like Byron.

Jericho beats up the Hype Bro with mad fire. Jericho cuts off the Bro Kick into a Walls of Jericho attempt, but a “Y2Jackass” chant started by AJ distracts him. I await a shirt with a donkey. Ryder beats Jericho with a rollup but is immediately given a Code Breaker. AJ rolls in for the save, and Jericho is throwing a hissy fit. After calling AJ stupid and a rookie, shocker of shockers, AJ gets a match at WrestleMania that Jericho notes will be AJ’s first and last.

The man voted best wrestler in the world last year, and he’s in a feud revolving around a chant while he’s being built as a guy who doesn’t belong on the big stage. Am I an old man yelling at a cloud or does this legitimately get people excited? Or has everyone just said “turn off your brain” and accepts poorly reasoned angles as time fillers. I’m curious.

Charlotte def. Becky Lynch

Sasha Banks is out here to sit, no talking this week. I guess someone realized from last week that having five people talk over each other was a bad idea. I absolutely love the black trenchcoat look on Lynch.

Becky tries to rip Charlotte’s arm off to start. Match ends with Flair grabbing Becky’s leg, after being given chase, and Charlotte entering and hit Natural Selection.

This blew my mind. WWE Triple Threat Booking 101 is either everyone pins everyone else going into the match, the “bat .500 method” or the two challengers pin the champ in the two weeks leading up to the match. I kind of like things not being so obvious except Lynch has been left with nothing to show for it, despite being the best technical performer of the three.

Vince McMahon is “interviewed” by Renee Young and relays that while WrestleMania is Undertaker’s backyard, Shane wants the WWE Universe. Shane comes out and says Vince stole the company, but Shane is going to take the company! No one bothers to tell Shane this is exactly the same thing. Maybe “win” or “earn” would have been better here?

Big Show and Kane def. The Social Outcasts (Curtis Axel/ Bo Dallas)

So that animosity lasted a week. Nice touch that Curtis Axel/Hennig gets to wish happy birthday to his dad. Match breaks down immediately into #SocialOutcasts hitting the ring, then all the other geeks in the Battle Royale join in. I hate this style of build, and I hate that the prize means so very little when you could use it to elevate someone out of being inconsequential. Kane and Big Show chokeslam Mark Henry, then all the Social Outcasts simultaneously. Kane and Big Show give each other a once over.

The Authority are here to remind us we should be self-loathing. Upon further review, Stephanie and Shane are seeing the same nutritionist as Stephanie appears to have lost 15 pounds in a week. She tells us to stand up then get on your knees as this is the only way to pay homage. She’s never been in those aisles, there’s no room for that kind of crap.

HHH tells us it’s the dream of every athlete and everyone here and watching at home to hold the title at WrestleMania. I think Tom Brady’s content, but I appreciate the oversell. Oh, and we’re losers. Roman Reigns is so good he can turn his dreams into a reality and did for 5:15. HHH is obsessed with the money, power, and the word “obsessed” which must be from Vince’s Word of the Day calendar. When he calls himself the “greatest WWE Superstar in history” I scoff because in a different era, here comes Undertaker back to take exception. HHH tells us Roman Reigns brought him back from the boardroom. Roman made a mistake lighting that fire again.

For all his faults, HHH knows how to do “this kind” of promo and does the Ric Flair thing of talking up his opponent, which indicates to me there is an edict that Roman is “the guy.” Ordinarily if faith were lost, HHH would take to giving snarky underhanded comments. As Stephanie tries to add a coda, here comes Roman, walking…with purpose…until he slides into the ring and gets stomped on 200 times much to the delight of the crowd. One Roman punch brings boos and HHH running for the hills ending with a hot “Roman Sucks” chant from the Brooklyn faithful.

Kofi Kingston def. Albertoooooo Del Riooooooo

Awwww Brooklyn. The New Day have lost their edge with the face turn, turning their promos into thrown out catchphrases, blatant shilling of merchandise (voicesofwrestling.com/wweshop for said merchandise, of course) and obvious pandering with local and pop culture references: in this case, New York pizza, cereal related humor and a shout out to the late Phife Dawg. Xavier Woods has learned “La Cucaracha” on the trombone. WWE, marketing for that Hispanic audience. ADR shows a bit of viciousness in his offense in this short fun match where ADR attempts a cross armbreaker that gets reversed into a schoolboy for the pin.

Jonathan Coachman is here to dance poorly and say SportsCenter is coming to WrestleMania. Take that, sports purists.

The Warrior Award, which goes against Jim Hellwig’s intentions for the sake of “Philanthropy is the new marketing” by giving the award to (WWE Partner) Susan G Komen Foundation spokeswoman Joan Lunden. Break out the cynically marketed pink gear and raise awareness. But Dana Warrior is on board, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh on them. Lunden’s gone through a lot, and I’m sure she cares about the cause and as a former morning show host (Good Morning America, not the Today Show, Cena, get it right) realizes you sometimes have to suffer through the banal.

That said, how about an award for “behind the scenes” guys and not those in Vince’s inner circle.

Renee doing light duty tonight as her Roman interview lasts three seconds before Bubba Ray Dudley starts to heckle to keep the fight from Smackdown going. Bubba suckers Roman in, and in something no one saw coming, his tag team partner and brother, D-Von is there. HHH joins in and it’s a three-on-one beatdown. People cheer. This is not the response they want nor does it feel like there’s any real heat here. I tend to think we needed Roman cutting a passionate rage filled promo to “get us in the building.”

Kalisto def. Konnor

Kaisto comes out to “…and his opponent.” Wait? What? Oh the Ascension are here. Great. The apathy from the crowd is obvious, to the point where you can hear fans flushing on their bathroom break. This crowd has checked out. Kalisto “plays the hits” and wins with the Salido Del Sol and runs off Viktor. Ryback is here to stare down Kalisto and yell “Feed Me More” in the smaller man’s face. Okay.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are in the ring, as Heyman admits he’s here to hype WrestleMania. Heyman does the usual “I’m saying something I shouldn’t be right now” schtick he’s known for to build fights, and here the rule he breaks is saying the word “weapon.” Edgy. Prop Comic Dean Ambrose brings a wagon down to fill things from under the ring: barbed wire baseball bat, fire extinguisher, chainsaw, nunchucks…all things used in the day to day construction of a wrestling ring that belong under there. Shane should have done his due diligence and used some of that. Oh, and Dean adds stairs. This is considered “vicious” in Sports Entertainment, but he’s not coming off as a main eventer. Brock is more bemused than concerned.

Emma def. Paige

A fun short match that I liked better than Lynch/Charlotte. Emma really is great in this character of wanting redemption with a chip on her shoulder. “Bad and Blonde” has to be a rib on Lana. Distractions abound long enough for Emma to get a jawjacker on Paige leading to a jumping kick by Lana, which in a tight miniskirt seems like more of an athletic accomplishment than I can comprehend. The two teams start to brawl, and it sides are uneven until we get the hero we want, the hero we need…

EVA MARIE IS HERE! (To boos from the crowd and a lukewarm response from the Divas). I guess I should have expected this given the television show, but I was thinking a legend, maybe Lita here.

I like Eva Marie as much as one can by not judging her purely on her in-ring. She seems to be fairly self-aware, but she works for a boss who isn’t. On paper, this screams “Well, the Total Divas audience is different than the RAW one, so we can use this as a crossover hook for people to tune in.” The problem is, it’s being presented in front of one of the more caustic RAW crowds they still have.

R Truth blew his nose with Goldust’s shirt.

Sin Cara, Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler def. Kevin Owens, the Miz and Stardust

Everything about this match was meant to frustrate and swerve the audience to the point where the audience was already at the end before they could finish the story. Sami’s cheers and music get cut off by Dolph’s music. Dolph gets the first hot tag. The story is Kevin Owens doesn’t want to fight Zayn so Stardust and Miz keep getting the tags. The match goes three segments.

By the time the big dive by Zayn onto Owens came, no one cared. Just save it for WrestleMania. Chants abounded: JBL, CM Punk, Cena, RVD, “This is booty” New Day Rocks, Derek Jeter, “Red Sox suck” and “Take it home.”

Everyone hits signature moves or finishers until Owens is the last one standing. Owens tags himself in but the Pop Up Powerbomb yields a Zayn dropkick instead. Owens goes for a tag but Miz and Stardust walk out. Zayn pins Owens with the Helluva Kick.

Hey, the Authority is back to cut the SAME PROMO! We’re losers. Yes, but I’m illegal drug free. HHH doesn’t care about the rules. Roman’s also back to say nothing and get beat down. More fighting as Stephanie calls the heels down to help. You know, the same talent she regularly dresses down and emasculates week after week. The faces are here to help Roman, the superstar who has regular said he doesn’t need any help but continually needs people to step in and help. Continuity is for suckers and nerds, I guess. Roman eventually dives to the outside on a sea of heels. Commentary pushes that this is personal, but it doesn’t feel like the build was ever personal but rather “best for business.”

Final Thoughts:

Not a great “Go Home Show” save for the first segment, but not a “Stay at Home” show either. Next week, Sean Flynn is back in the big boy chair as I will be at RAW live.