By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H Addressed Roman Reigns
As I've noted time and time again, I'm never a fan of long Authority promos opening Raw, and while I would have cut this short by a few minutes, everyone that was a part of this segment played their roles extremely well. The McMahons really heeled it up for the first time in a while instead of blurring the lines with their characters. Say what you will about Triple H being champion, but even his promo was very good. They set the stage nicely for his rematch with Roman Reigns, which will obviously be taking place at WrestleMania. The outcome of their match isn't in doubt whatsoever, but they've built it up so well in recent months that I'm actually looking forward to it.
Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler
Yes, we've seen Owens vs. Ziggler more times than I can count, but at the very least, they can always be counted on for a quality performance. They have great in-ring chemistry and this was another fun outing from them. Ziggler has never meant less, but this was all about Owens getting his win back coming off his Last Man Standing loss at the Royal Rumble. I was hoping for an appearance from Sami Zayn afterward, but no such luck. Perhaps they're saving that feud for later down the line.
The Dudley Boyz def. The Social Outcasts
Flo Rida's interaction with The Social Outcasts was, er, all right, but hearing Bo Dallas rap was worth it. There was plenty of storyline consistency on this show (surprisingly enough), so I appreciated how Flo Rida's brief altercation with Heath Slater from WrestleMania 28 wasn't forgotten. The match was fine for what it was, but The Dudley Boyz continue to flounder. Hopefully a heel turn is in their future as a feud with The Usos would be money.
AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho
I can't believe I just typed that! WWE is already pulling out all the stops for Styles from the get-go and it's super cool they're giving him the star treatment. He had a memorable Raw debut match against Jericho and the two worked very well together as expected. The subtle teases for heel Jericho were excellently executed and I'm assuming it's only a matter of time before we get the full-blown turn. I'm highly anticipating the rematch and incorporating Dean Ambrose into the mix would make for a fun feud.
Sasha Banks def. Becky Lynch by Disqualification
I feared Lynch would be booked like an afterthought based off how easily she was disposed of at the pay-per-view, but I'm glad that wasn't the case. Banks and Lynch made good use of the time they were allotted and didn't give too much away before Charlotte interfered. All signs point to a Triple Threat match at Fastlane, which has the potential to be amazing. My only gripe with this is that fans don't know whether to cheer Banks given she has attacked both Charlotte and Lynch. Is she a borderline tweener?
Bray Wyatt def. Kane
Unlike with Owens vs. Ziggler, similar to how we've also seen this match countless times in the past, I could live without seeing them face each other ever again. I couldn't refer you to one decent match they've had. Don't get me wrong, it's encouraging to see Wyatt's momentum still going strong, but I don't blame the crowd whatsoever for paying little attention to the matchup given how boring it was. They're likely killing time until after Fastlane where they'll engage in a rivalry with Lesnar.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day Interrupted The Rock
Given that this show emanated from Miami, it was fairly obvious The Rock was the mystery man that was being hyped for Raw, but it was still great to see him and he knocked his segment out of the park. Even when the crowd tried to hijack the segment by chanting for the fan dressed as Randy Savage at ringside, Rock went off script and acknowledged them. Awesome. His back-and-forth with New Day was every bit as hilarious as I figured it would be and then some. The hometown crowd was in for a real treat with Rock hitting all of his signature spots on New Day and now we wonder whether we'll see him on TV again before he appears at WrestleMania.
Paige and Natalya def. Brie Bella and Alicia Fox
This was the obligatory hype for Total Divas, but if nothing else, it wasn't nearly as bad as last week. The roles were slightly better defined this time around with Team Bella working as heels and Paige and Natalya getting along as a cohesive unit. It still makes little sense since Paige and Natalya were rivals the last time the latter was on TV, but I digress. I'm not sure how WWE expects casual fans (let alone anyone) to care about a feud that's over someone unfollowing their former friend on Twitter.
United States Champion Kalisto def. The Miz (Non-title)
Kalisto is great in the underdog role, so I was content with him giving up most of the offense to Miz in this match. They found a nice pace and built toward a fun final few minutes. No one expected Miz to win, mind you, but he had a good showing and they contested a decent little match. It will be interesting to see if Kalisto feuds with another member of League of Nations over the title or if he'll find a new challenger in time for Fastlane.
Roman Reigns and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. League of Nations
Although it was logical from a storyline standpoint, the announcement of this match did nothing for me because League of Nations have zero credibility right now. It was a formulaic tag team match at best, but at least the effort was there. The babyfaces winning didn't come as a surprise. I love the idea of a Reigns vs. Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar match at Fastlane solely because it should be stellar. It raises the obvious questions of why would The Authority put Reigns in that position and wouldn't Reigns have invoked his automatic rematch clause, but maybe they'll offer an explanation next week (though I highly doubt it).
Coming off a hot Rumble pay-per-view, this was a great aftermath edition of Raw. The crowd was electric for most of the night, we had a few notable happenings with Styles making his in-ring debut and Rock showing up, and there was an ample amount of build for Fastlane in a few weeks. This kicked off the road to WrestleMania on a high note and I'm excited to see what else is in store going forward.
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