WWE RAW Recap, 3/23/2015: Reigns & Lesnar face off

After this show, WWE departs for my neck of the woods as Santa Clara/San Jose is the final stop on The Road to WrestleMania.

Despite all my carrying on, I’m actually stoked to be going to this event, to WrestleMania — if Dougie hasn’t shown up yet to clue you all in that “I’m paying for WrestleMania” yet.

There. You can stop trolling the threads now, Dougie. Lol bro. Or whatever.

Anyhow, I love wrestling and WWE despite what everyone may or may not think. I love covering it. And, judging by the multitude of readers who read and comment across three blogs, you love clicking on the recap and seeing what the hell I care about watching some dude pretending to be Russian and representing Rusev.

I am excited about WrestleMania because I believe this stuff can be GREAT again.

THIS is the “going home” show before WrestleMania…let’s see if WWE can get some last-second buys…

We are LIVE(!!!) from Los Angeles, California for WWE RAW!!!

Cole, JBL and Booker are the guys on the mics.


  • Brock and Roman go face to face.
  • Bill Simmons and Snoop Dogg are here.

Sting starts us out. At least I think this is him. Michael Cole hasn’t freaked out about the arena suddenly going dark yet. Crowd loves him. He yells out loud for them. He says that, when he was with WCW, he watched Triple H rise and bury WCW. He’s not here to fight for WCW as that would be pointless. He’s here to take Triple H down.

Out comes Steph. She calls him “WCW’s last holdout”. Finally, he knows what it’s like to be in the “big time”. Sting calls her a spoiled little brat who thinks she earns what she’s gotten. Then he condescends to her: “But it’s nice to finally meet ya’, Steph.” She says that Sting was a minnow in a tiny pond when he was in WCW. She says he’s loyal…like a dog. Dogs are stupid. She doesn’t wanna call him a dog. She says that Sting lost everything. His integrity and pride are gone. And the rest of him will be gone when he loses to Triple H at WrestleMania. She calls him a “face-painted freak”.

Sting whoops at the audience. Steph tries to slap him. He blocks it. Triple H comes out to the ring, loosening his tie and tossing it away. He approaches the ring, asks Steph if she’s ok, then takes off his jacket and rolls his sleeves up. Crowd chants “THIS IS AWESOME” as Steph goes for a sledge from under the ring — but Sting has his baseball bat — and he invites Triple H into the ring. Sting, off-mic: “You got a sledgehammer. I’ve got a bat. C’mon, make a move!”

Instead, Triple H chickens out and walks back to the aisle. Sting removes his coat and drops the bat. He tells Triple H to get in the ring. Triple H starts to…but Steph eventually holds him back and the two heels back off and retreat.

PLEASE live up to what you guys just kicked the show off with.

TONIGHT: We get to choose Randy Orton’s opponent. Will it be Big Show, Kane or Seth Rollins & his Security Goofs?

Backstage, Paige and AJ yack.

MATCH #1: Dean Ambrose & R-Truth vs. Luke Harper & Stardust
Holy shit, a spot where Truth wrestles and doesn’t steal anything? I’m not used to this. Truth starts with Star as Barrett is on commentary. Star gets tossed from the ring, then yells at Barrett that the belt is “his”. Cole just can’t leave well enough alone and calls Star “Gollum-like”. Tag to Ambrose and a tag to Harper and the Battle of the Wife Beaters commences as Ambrose puts him in a wristlock. Harper breaks it but Ambrose hits a nice flying lariat off an Irish Whip. Ambrose hits a sitting dropkick and Crucifix Pin for two. He hits a bulldog and Star gets into the ring. Truth and Ambrose dump him, then toss Harper. We go to break.

When we come back, Star has Ambrose locked in a cross armlock. Ambrose fights out but Star counters with an Alabama Slam for two. Tag to Harper and he works Ambrose’s eyes with a gouge. He slings Ambrose’s neck into the middle ring ropes and gets two. Ambrose tries a rush but Harper hits a Spinning Sidewalk Slam for two. Tag to Star. He tries a Superplex. Ambrose tosses him to the mat. Star quickly gets up and tags Harper. Harper nails Ambrose, then goes outside to taunt Ambrose. When he comes back, he runs into Ambrose who rolls him back in the ring.

Ambrose hits a Tornado DDT, then hits a hot tag to R-Truth. Truth takes out both men and hits a Sitting Suplex Bomb. Ambrose gets into the ring and hits a Comeback Clothesline on Harper who bails. Flying Psycho by Ambrose. Star freaks out and watches. He turns around and runs right into What’s Up? Truth gets the pin at 10:39.
WINNERS: Truth & Ambrose
RATING: **1/4. Not bad. As excited one can be for a match featuring three of the four weakest stars on the roster. At least Cole didn’t end every sentence in “izzle”.

Renee Young has this year’s Special Olympics candidates.

We get a response from Roman Reigns via TV interview backstage. Aren’t we supposed to have a Face-to-Face meet?

Apparently, JBL and Bill Simmons “don’t like each other” because of passive aggressive tweets.

Also, The Miz and Damien Miz-dow interviewed Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell where Miz acts like an arrogant jackass and Ferrell and Hart like Miz-dow better. They show a minute of it which is about a minute too long. Then they offer the rest “on the WWE App”.

MATCH #2: The Miz, Damien Miz-dow, The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor), & Adam Rose vs. Titus O’Neil, Darren Young, Ryback, Erick Rowan and Zack Ryder in a Ten-Man Tag Team Match
ESPN’s Bill Simmons joins the commentary team. Miz and Titus start off, Crowd doesn’t care and chants for Miz-dow. Titus hits backbreakers and tosses Miz backward. Tag to Young. Titus suplexes him on top of Miz. Miz hits a chinbreaker to gain momentum. He teases a Miz-dow tag but Rose gets it instead. Young hits an inverted Atomic Drop and swinging neckbreaker. Tag to Harper who beats Rose up in the corner. Harper puts Rose in the corner and tags Ryder. Rose hits a clothesline and it’s a tag to The Ascension so they can get their licks in. Young saves a pin. Miz-dow gets a tag. Miz tells him to stop it and tag him back in. Miz-dow does. Ryder drops Miz’s head on the mat. Ryder hits the hot tag to Ryback. Press to Miz and a Spinebuster. He goes for the Meathook. Rose comes in to interfere. Ryback drops him. Ascension in. They get dumped by Ryback. Miz boots Ryback and kicks at him bur Ryback hits a clothesline and Shell Shock and we’re done at 5:48.
WINNERS: The Faces
RATING: *. This was just a bunch of guys waiting for Ryback to outshine them. It’s weird to see a bunch of vets in singles matches — and the rest of the card relegated to “piles of bodies” matches. 

LAST MONDAY: Orton was gonna be attacked except Sting showed up.

Randy Orton comes to the ring. Booker says that Orton’s opponent is…

Seth Rollins with 77 percent of the vote. At this point, the remaining 23% who voted for Show and Kane have got to be trolling.

MATCH #3: Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins, Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury in a Handicap Match
Mercury starts this thing out. Orton drops him to the mat, face-first, then demands Rollins get in the ring. Mercury tags Noble instead. Orton just shoves him to the mat and stomps at his shins. He throws Noble out of the ring like a bag of meat and goes after Rollins. There’s a brief scuffle and Rollins kicks Orton in the head. Noble stomps at Orton and drops elbows. Orton retaliates with a clothesline, then takes out Mercury. He tosses Noble out and powerslams Mercury in stride. He hits a Double Rope Drop DDT on both men as Rollins just glares. He calls for an RKO. Rollins runs into the ring for a Curb Stomp but he misses. Orton nearly hits an RKO but Rollins counters and shoves him into Mercury, who gets clothes-lined outside. He turns back to Rollins, who bails. Noble tries to sneak up on Orton who just RKO’s him into next week and gets the pin at 3:19.
WINNER: Randy Orton via RKO
RATING: *1/2. Other than that, build-up was nice. I just expected more from a handicap match.

John Cena was interviewed in the Barbara Walters Room of Doom.

TONIGHT: Swagger takes on Rusev.

AJ approaches Paige about the Divas Title match tonight. They argue over who should fight against Nikki — only they offer each other the title shot. Paige calls her “crazy” for passing up on the opportunity. This doesn’t sit well with AJ.

We go to break.

MATCH #4: Paige (challenger) (w/ AJ Lee) vs. Nikki Bella (champion) (w/ Brie Bella) for the WWE Divas Championship
Initial lock-up goes nowhere. Paige charges Nikki, then headbutts her. She knees Nikki in the chin/neck/boobs/not sure because of the editing, then says this is her house. Nikki gets back in the ring tosses Paige to the mat and does push-ups. Paige attacks her and Nikki rolls out of the ring. Paige isn’t through with her and flies at her with a knee. She rolls Nikki back into the ring but Nikki comes back, smashing Paige’s face with her knee. When we come back from a break, Nikki has Paige in a headlock. Paige breaks but Nikki puts Paige down with a Spinebuster. Two count. She taunts Paige with slaps to the head, so Paige kicks her and the two women rush at each other. They both eat a clothesline and hit the mat. Paige hits clotheslines and a dropkick. Two count. Paige rushes Nikki who elbows her and dropkicks her. Two count. Nikki sets up the Forearm but misses. Paige hits a Crescent Kick for two. Paige gets up and goes for the Ram-Paige but Nikki counters with a Small Package cradle for two. A series of counters and Nikki hits an Alabama Slam for a CLOSE fall. Nikki goes for the Rack Attack but Paige fights out and hits the Ram-Paige. TWO COUNT. Paige can’t believe it. Crowd is big-time into this. Paige tries to pull Nikki to the center of the ring. Paige flies out of the ring with her. Brie tries to get involved, so AJ takes her out. Paige goes to thank her and eats an AJ elbow for her troubles. Nikki rolls Paige into the ring. Rack Attack and Nikki retains at 10:41.
RATING: **1/2. At this point, I’m convinced Nikki’s not just sucking Cena off.

Post-match, Paige attacks AJ. And we’re going back down this route, I guess.

ON SMACKDOWN: Bryan jobbed to Dolph Ziggler. Tune in next week, when he jobs to Zack Ryder.

TONIGHT: You get to help overbook tonight’s match choose the special guest referee in the match between Ziggler and Bryan by voting on the WWE App.

NEXT: Snoop Dogg.

Lilian Garcia introduces Snoop Dogg. This oughta give me time to scope out the Best of Monday Night Open Mic. Oh wait. Curtis Axel has a problem with Snoop Dogg. He says that he doesn’t like “SnoopMania.” Snoop doesn’t care. The only important “Mania” is this one:

Hulk Hogan appears for, like, the sixth time in a year, which is like five more times than The Undertaker. He doesn’t know about AxelMania. He asks what Axel’s been smoking. Axel tears off his shirt and attacks Hogan. Hogan hits him and Snoop tosses him out of the ring. They pose for about 80 minutes.

We get the Brock Lesnar video interview from last week.

ON THE WRESTLEMANIA KICK-OFF SHOW: The Fatal Four-Way Tag Team Championship between The Usos, Tyson & Cesaro, The New Day and Los Matadores.

MATCH #5: WWE Tag Team Champions Tyson Kidd & Cesaro & Natalya vs. Los Matadores (Fernando & Diego) & El Torito in a Six-Being Interspecies Tag Team Match
Fucking hell. I skip this shit on Smackdown, so WHY am I seeing it on RAW? Cesaro shoulderblocks Matador I Don’t Care About #1. Matador #1 comes back with a body splash for a one-count. Torito is in with Nattie who smiles because I’m convince that the Botox has reduced her to that and “pissed off”. Tyson tags himself in and evades Matador #2 or #1. Cesaro comes in for a short cover. Meanwhile, the Usos and Naomi’s boobs join the commentary team. Cesaro hits the Swing Kick. Tyson locks in a headlock. Matador breaks and Tyson goes top rope, only to eat a dropkick. Hot tags on both sides. Matador beats up Cesaro and tags in Torito who nearly pins Cesaro. Matador dumps Cesaro from the ring. This leaves Torito, who pins Nattie with a Sunset Flip. JBL just highlights how far Nattie’s fallen in WWE by asking, “Has Bret Hart ever been pinned by a bull?”
WINNER: Matadors and El Torito

Barrett is backstage. Kane approaches him and says that he needs to collect Barrett’s IC Title, so he can “dangle it above the ring”. Barrett is reluctant, but gives him the belt.

NEXT: Rusev vs. Swagger

ON SMACKDOWN: 8-MAN TAG MATCH featuring Roman Reigns, John Cena, Mark Henry & Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show

MATCH #6: WWE United States Champion Rusev vs. Jack Swagger (non-title)
JBL reminds us that Rusev’s the reason we haven’t seen Zeb Colter. Continuity! Rusev kicks at Swagger in the corner, then beats on him. Swagger fights back but Rusev clotheslines him. He kicks Swagger repeatedly, then puts on a clutch. Swagger finally fights out and hits a Big Boot. He hits a huge clothesline, which knocks Rusev down. He rushes Rusev but Rusev goes for a kick. Swagger catches him and tries the Patriot Lock. Rusev kicks out. Rusev beats Swagger in the corner again, then clotheslines him. Rusev hits a HUGE Superkick and the Accolade for the win at 4:36.
WINNER: Rusev via Accolade
RATING: More of the same from Rusev.

Rusev won’t break The Accolade, so here comes Cena to break his face. They battle in the ring, then fight outside. Rusev gets the upper hand and tosses Cena into the crowd barrier. He picks Cena up and shoves him into the ringpost. He picks Cena up again and tosses him into the announce table. Rusev picks up the Russian flag and waves it. A ref tends to Cena who looks hurt. Rusev sees this and puts the flag down. He takes Cena out with a Flying Superkick, then starts stripping the announce table. He picks Cena up and slams him, face-first, into the table. He climbs the table and locks in The Accolade until Cena passes out, while six refs tug lightly at Rusev’s arms, saying “Stop it.”

MOMENTS AGO: Rusev kicks the shit out of John Cena.

Cole, JBL and Booker assess what just happened. Cole surmises that Cena “is no longer 100 percent”.

Bray Time. He comes to the ring and says that everyone hates. That’s all they do. They care only about money and hate who they are in life. They lie to themselves. He’ll give them all the truth: The Undertaker is a liar. He’s just like everyone else. He’s hiding the fact that he lost. He says that angel wings are here to take him back to the other side.

We hear rumbling and see lights flashing as the arena lights up like the Tiki Room at Disneyland. He says that The Undertaker’s spirits are all in Bray Wyatt’s control now, not The Undertaker’s. He says there will be no redemption or shield. Sister Abigail’s Kiss will end him. Then, he will take his rightful place amongst the gods as the new face of fear. He says that once WrestleMania is over, The Undertaker will finally rest in peace. Aaaaaand, still no ‘Taker. Even on the Raw before ‘Mania. Sigh…

Diesel/Kevin Nash is the final inductee into the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame.

Nattie is backstage, doing her make-up. Tyson is eating Burger King. He talks to his food like he talks to her. Nattie smile-frowns through it, then pretends to like what she’s eating.

Oh, look. Daniel Bryan’s out here and he’s more over than Reigns. Funny that. So’s Ziggler. Booker gives us our Special Guest Referee and it’s…

Dean Ambrose. Wonder how many people tried voting for Kane and Big Show.

MATCH #7: Daniel Bryam vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Special Guest Referee Dean Ambrose
Initial lock-ups and quick back and forth to start. Then an actual Test of Strength. Ziggler puts Bryan in a corner and beats on him. Big elbow by Ziggler. One count. Ziggler puts Bryan in the corner and it’s a slap and punch fight. Bryan flips over Ziggler in the corner, then ends up outside. Ziggler chases and Bryan uses his legs to pull Ziggler outside as well. Bryan misses a flying knee outside. Ziggler runs at Bryan and takes him out. When we get back from break, Ziggler has a Sleeper on Bryan. Bryan breaks it and goes for a Fame-Asser but Bryan rolls Ziggler up fro two. Ziggler attacks and Bryan hits a German Suplex for two. Bryan goes top rope but Ziggler knocks him off. He goes for a Superplex but Bryan blocks it and punches at Ziggler. Ziggler falls to the mat, then leaps up, grabbing Bryan by the head, and pulls him down into the mat for a close fall. Ziggler goes for a Zigg Zagg but Bryan fights him off and tries a Backslide pin. Ziggler reverses for two. Bryan kicks Ziggler in the corner and then hits a rushing dropkick. Ziggler hits a Superkick when Bryan comes rushing in and hits the Superkick for the win at 10:54. Boy, that “special guest referee” gimmick really added to the match, didn’t it?
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler via Zigg Zagg
RATING: **3/4. Got going late and never really got to the level of the match on Smackdown.

Post-match, Dean predictably hits Ziggler with Dirty Deeds, goes under the mat for a ladder and goes for the IC Title which is hanging above the ring CUZ REMEMBER KANE PUT IT UP THERE HIMSELF. Barrett stops him and the rest of the IC Title fighters come out to join the fight. Bodies fly everywhere. Barrett hits a Bullhammer on Bryan because he hasn’t been buried enough in two shows. Ziggler hits a Superkick on Barrett. More fighting and the ladder gets knocked over. Everyone’s down and…that’s that. Everyone’s down and not getting up.

Backstage, Heyman knocks on the dressing room door of Brock Lesnar and tells him that “it’s time”.

Finally, at 11 PM PST / 2 AM EST, out comes Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Heyman plugs Lesnar vs. Reigns. He says that either Lesnar is great like he’s been saying — or he isn’t. The same goes for Reigns. He says that Lesnar makes failures out of everyone who has stepped in front of him. He says that everyone doubted Lesnar’s ability to beat The Undertaker and John Cena. Both men were beaten. He says that people call Lesnar a “mercenary”. The problem is that Lesnar actually enjoys beating people up. He says Lesnar’s the type who will fuck wives and eat kid’s food. Sheesh. Paul Heyman says that Reigns keeps saying “he will” beat Lesnar. But Lesnar says he CAN’T…and he WON’T.

Out comes Reigns. The two men face off, as promised. Lesnar holds the belt in Reigns’ face. Reigns grabs it. Lesnar grabs back…and we go off the air?! Ok.

OVERALL: **1/2. Not a bad “going home” show…it’s gonna be an interesting WrestleMania. It’s time for WWE to reap what they’ve sewn. 

That’s it for me for this week.

I will probably be posting the WrestleMania Trip Report starting on Thursday with Axxess. If you’re going to WrestleMania, feel free to find me and talk me up. I’m not that much of an asshole in real life. 🙂

And, of course…the best of the internet water cooler on this week’s action:

Er…that’s it.

Matt Perri
Matt Perrihttp://mattperri.wordpress.com
Matt Perri is one of those literary Ronin you’ve never heard of until he shows up and tells you he’s a literary Ronin. He’s a native Californian, a film buff, old school gamer geek, and a sports/entertainment fan. A lifelong Giants, 49ers and Sharks fan, he also covers the world of pro-wrestling, writing recaps for WWE Monday Night RAW and Total Divas at Scott’s Blog of Doom. You can follow the guy on Twitter via @PerriTheSmark as well as here at The Workprint and his own blog, Matt's Entertainment.

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