Notes In Observance – WWE Raw 3/21/16: “This Is Boring”
Posted by Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.
“This Is Boring”
– So far, this year’s WrestleMania has been immensely lackluster. Blame a lack of star power, but whatever storylines we’ve been given feature glaring logic gaps and all-around foolishness. WWE still boasts the biggest pro wrestling roster and nothing to show for it. You can call this year Wrestle-MEH-nia. You know they’re out of ideas for Raw when they take the majority of what happened on the previous week’s SmackDown, like the exact same opening video, that focused on Roman Reigns’ vicious attack on WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H three weeks after Hunter did the same to him.
– Sometimes, Philadelphia hates Reigns. Sometimes, they love him. This show was more along the negative side, but his exposure on the show was kept short, but had the full spotlight in the opening in-ring segment with Stephanie McMahon, where he basically interrupted her and confidently talked about how he’d beat her husband and “was the authority around here.” He even stopped her from slapping him. Not sure how we’re supposed to react to Reigns, but he came off more heelish here than a redeemable babyface. It was also established that Hunter wasn’t at the show by Steph and she talked down to the crowd.
– Many probably assumed the show’s best part wouldn’t be the first match, but they were wrong. Of course, this was another case of taking something from the last week’s SmackDown, but this was a smart way to do it. WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens and AJ Styles literally tore the house down with their near-20-minute encounter – a practical stalemate with relentless physicality and aerial maneuvers. Some highlights included Styles’ pele kick and Owens’ frog splash. They have excellent in-ring chemistry, so the match got better as it went along, though we expected Chris Jericho to come out and interrupt like he did on SmackDown and sure enough, they even took the same finish, as he mocked the Styles chants and again cost him the match. The post-match angle with Owens, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Sami Zayn was setting things up for later in the show and in general for the IC Title match at Mania, as the three guys who’ve been haunting Owens for a Title shot made their claims at his gold and he coined an idea for going to The Authority to set up a triple-threat #1 Contender’s match.
– The segment with Dean Ambrose and Terry Funk from a local Philly tavern continued the recent tradition of legends “passing down” their weapons to Ambrose, as Funk likened Ambrose to someone he understood and would like his son to be like, if he had one. The actual image of Ambrose cutting a chainsaw loose in a public dining setting was funny, but you’d think the people in the background would’ve immediately jetted out of the room. So, is Ambrose bringing both the barbed wire baseball bat and the chainsaw to Mania?
– The Owens-Steph backstage segment was short and sweet, as the Champ played “corporate suck-up” as he offered to arrange the triple-threat from earlier in the show and having her permission, though he never mentioned who’d compete. That was key.
– One of the show’s positives were the well-crafted video packages hyping the Shane McMahon-Undertaker Hell In A Cell, with WWE legends and superstars alike reacting to Shane’s intentions and putting over how dominant Taker can be in the HIAC structure, particularly coming from Edge and Mick Foley. There was also another package later in the show that put over how crazy Shane can be in the ring and gave us footage of him training at the Renzo Gracie Fighting Academy, which showed us “oh, he could fight a mixed martial arts style if needed.” Smart.
– The WWE World Tag Team Champions, The New Day have since turned over a new leaf without doing much, but now “New Day Rocks” echoes arena walls and they’ve been going for pops more than heat. The only problem is that when their comedy is on, they can be hilarious. When it’s not, it can bomb and this wasn’t one of their funnier bits, though it seemed to be an attempt to re-do their “garbage” bit from the previous week’s SmackDown, again referring to all the League Of Nations members as hot garbage. The Big E-Rusev match that followed was okay for what it was, as LON took out Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston on the outside before Woods made a theatrical recovery and Big E took a nasty spill on an outside spear, but was alright enough to deliver the Big Ending for the pinfall, giving New Day the momentum swing.
– You can only hype the apocalypse for so long before people begin to laugh at you. The latest Wyatt Family fog promo hyped the Braun Strowman-Ambrose main event (sure that match will fly in Philly) and they all said something creepy about the spring solstice. You know how it goes.
– The Big Show has been the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale mascot ever since its inception, but this year, he’s a smiling babyface, so despite him standing next to the Andre trophy looking menacingly, he was humbled and inspired by Andre. Show wasn’t set up to look so clever, as he was approached by Social Outcasts, who bragged they’d eliminate him and got the upper hand after first getting manhandled, ending with Kane cleaning house and then chokeslamming Show off the top rope, as he believed Kane was out there to help him. Oh boy. For real though, what does winning this award do for anybody’s career?
– When you think of riveting WrestleMania classic rematches, Jericho-Fandango doesn’t exactly come to mind, especially in 2016, but Jericho’s new heel persona made it worthwhile. This was a short-lived squash in the making with the new twist of Styles coming out to try to distract Jericho with “Y-2-Jackass” chants, but wasn’t enough to deter him from winning. We liked how they established that Styles wanted Jericho at Mania, yet Jericho avoided getting assaulted and walked out of there without agreeing to it, shaking his head at the idea.
– The IC Title #1 Contender’s match with Stardust, Zack Ryder and Sin Cara wasn’t the most endearing to the participants (which was the point) but was basically a ploy by Owens to get an easy match for Mania without directly taking on Zayn, Miz and Ziggler, but it didn’t last long. Owens sat in on commentary after playing his own ring announcer and gave us some witty one-liners before getting approached by his pissed-off rivals. Owens then threw Ryder at Miz to end it in a no-contest (in a triple-threat match?) and everybody ended up attacking Owens, as he barely squirmed away.
– The backstage segment with Steph-Owens was basically Owens getting emasculated and giving us a predictable outcome – a seven-man ladder match for the IC Title where Owens would defend against his three rivals and the three guys he put out there for laughs. A triple-threat ladder match would’ve been a cooler idea by itself. Adding those jobbers doesn’t raise the profile per se, but maybe they’ll be spot goats.
– The backstage segment with Triple H, Steph and Reigns was more of Reigns getting his hands on the Champ via relentless assault, this time standing in the way of their van as they tried to flee the arena and threw Trips out of the car and beat him up for a few moments before Hunter sucker-punched him and flew back in the car as it sped away. The crowd booed, so you know this went over well.
– We never thought we’d see so many WWE Divas Champion Charlotte-Natalya matches, but that’s what we got again on Raw, as Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch sat on commentary to hype the triple-threat WWE Divas Championship Mania match. The match wasn’t much to savor and Banks-Lynch argued on commentary rather than each push their case for being Champ, so this didn’t do much to advance things at all. Hell, not even any physicality after Charlotte won with Natural Selection. Sort of tame and lame.
– The Bubba Ray Dudley-R-Truth match went more along the lines of Bubba’s match with Goldust on SmackDown, just subbing out Goldust with Truth. It was almost the exact same thing, right down to the finish (Bubba winning via outside interference) and post-match angle (Dudleys beat down opponent, his run-in partner and then get run out by The Usos) and the only new twist here was The Usos trying to perform a table spot on D-Von before Bubba bailed him out. Will they turn this into a tables match? Can they make it a #1 Contender’s match? Can they give it some form of meaning?
– What the hell was that in-ring Vince McMahon in-ring promo? This was him trying to spice up the Taker-Shane match by saying if Taker didn’t win, this would be his last Mania, but that didn’t mean it’d be his last match ever. The stakes would be raised if that was the case, but if they’re fighting for creative control of WWE, what’s to stop Shane from reinstating Taker if he chose? Such a logic gap.
– In one of this year’s most underperforming Raw main events, Ambrose and Strowman was incredibly monotone. Ambrose tried his best to get the people excited, but they simply rejected it when he sold for Strowman with “this is boring” chants and we couldn’t have agreed more. Paul Heyman was on commentary to hype Brock Lesnar’s appearance on SmackDown and he gave his usual lines, but offered nothing new here. This was basically seeing Ambrose battle a beast, but Lesnar can sell. This guy can’t. That’s what hurt here, but luckily it was soon over, as Ambrose ended things with a steel chair, hit Strowman with Dirty Deeds on it and then confronted Heyman at the announce table. Well, that was underwhelming.
- Kevin Owens def. AJ Styles via pinfall
- Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods) def. Rusev (w/Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, King Barrett) via pinfall
- Chris Jericho def. Fandango via pinfall
- WWE Intercontinental Championship #1 Contender’s Match – Sin Cara, Stardust and Zack Ryder to an apparent no-contest via outside interference
- Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) def. Natalya via pinfall
- Bubba Ray Dudley (w/D-Von Dudley) def. Goldust via pinfall
- Braun Strowman (w/Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper) def. Dean Ambrose via DQ
About Nicholas Jason LopezJust a 29-year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently a freelance journalist with two websites - Pro Wrestling Opinion and The Music Bugle - he has also been published on sites such as The Bensonhurst Bean, Sheepshead Bites, Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, BrooklynFans.com and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.
Posted on March 30, 2016, in WWE and tagged AJ Styles, Alberto Del Rio, Becky Lynch, Big E, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Bubba Ray Dudley, Byron Saxton, Charlotte, Chris Jericho, D-Von Dudley, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Fandango, Goldust, JBL, Kane, Kevin Owens, King Barrett, Kofi Kingston, Luke Harper, Michael Cole, Natalya, Paul Heyman, R-Truth, Ric Flair, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Sheamus, Sin Cara, Stardust, Stephanie McMahon, Terry Funk, The Big Show, The Miz, The Social Outcasts, The Usos, The Wyatt Family, Triple H, Vince McMahon, WrestleMania, Xavier Woods, Zack Ryder. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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