Fastlane Contract Signing
I’m a fan of this new Stephanie McMahon. She makes witty jokes that get at the fundamental character traits of wrestlers.
The segment was on the short side, but it was a nice change of pace from the usual drag of an opener. Ambrose made an impromptu entrance and Steph hated it. Reigns came to the ring and Steph hated it. Lesnar and Heyman came when called and, after papers were signed and McMahons had departed, we got Lesnar throwing a table at Reigns and slamming Ambrose.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
Ziggler and Owens are great, but running the same match three weeks in a row without any sort of emotional investment behind it isn’t. It’s a testament to these performers; they keep it interesting and the ending to this week’s contest saw Ziggler pin Owens while using the ropes for leverage. I wish these guys had some mic time to elaborate on why they hate each other so much; that would help add some emotional weight in a feud.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Charlotte vs. Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox was impressive. The champ won out in the end, but Fox definitely made a case for herself. I wish they’d stop parading Ric Flair with his daughter. We get it, they’re related. At this point he’s stealing attention away from his more-than-capable daughter.
Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback
Something should really be done about mid-match commercial breaks. I’m sure this was one of Ryback’s stronger efforts in recent memory, but it was interrupted by a break and just as quickly as we re-joined the action in progress, the in-ring action was over. Out of the ring, Ryback and his new tiny pants were put on the ground by a coordinated Wyatt Family assault, which culminated in the Eater of Worlds spouting off some brilliant rhetoric.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Titus O’Neil vs. Adam Rose
The Social Outcasts won one! I think this stable is doing wonders for Axel, Rose, Dallas and Slater, the latter three in particular (Axel please find your ‘thing’ soon). These performers are comfortable in their gimmicks, take on the personas and use them to interact with each other in an entertaining way. In the ring, Rose pinned O’Neil and got the big man to show a mean streak that we can only hope to see more often.
Winner: Adam Rose
Ambrose Challenges Lesnar
Ambrose hit the ring without his backup and, after aiming a few choice words at Lesnar, got what he asked for. When Lesnar decided to return to the ring and punish the Intercontinental champion further, Reigns interjected himself (only barely), giving Ambrose the distraction he needed to low-blow Lesnar (why does Lesnar’s mid-section receive so much attention?) and escape further harm. Ambrose is being booked strongly going into Fastlane. It’s making things interesting.
Winner: Not Lesnar’s mid-section
The Lucha Dragons vs. Rusev and Alberto Del Rio
Sin Cara is back! He and his partner (and United States champion) Kalisto were defeated by Rusev and Alberto Del Rio (Kalisto’s opponent at Fastlane), which was a great way to make the League of Nations members still seem imposing without hurting Kalisto too badly. I’m all in favor of a Lucha Dragons feud over the title post-Fastlane if Kalisto retains.
Winners: Rusev and Alberto Del Rio
Tamina vs. Becky Lynch
As far as matches go, this contest was largely forgettable. Its lasting effect was to solidify Lynch and Sasha Banks’ partnership at Fastlane and make Team BAD legitimate heels, and it succeeded in doing both. The women of WWE are now trusted to fill two segments of RAW and neither is a “bathroom break” moment. Expect this trend to continue when further NXT talents begin to enter the main roster.
The New Day and Mark Henry vs. The Dudley Boyz and The Usos in a table match
Honorary unicorn Mark Henry walked out on his team after The New Day tried to direct his in-ring actions. The Dudleyz and The Usos made short work of the now-handicapped team and after the match The Dudleyz made short work of The Usos. WWE’s tag division is a strange place. The New Day are one of the most affable heel stables in recent memory, The Usos are good guys who get booed and The Dudleyz are the likeable vets who just did a bad thing (besides still spelling their name with a “z”). I’m intrigued.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz and The Usos
Daniel Bryan Retires
Daniel Bryan’s career has been in limbo since this time last year, and on the Feb. 8 edition of RAW the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion stepped in the ring and said his goodbyes. It’s unlikely that this is the final time we’ll see Bryan on WWE television, but it’s certain we’ll never see him wrestle again. Bryan thanked the WWE fans, his fellow WWE superstars and the world of professional wrestling before being YES! chanted into the sunset by his hometown Seattle crowd.
Gene’s favorite Daniel Bryan moment: I attended a watch party for Wrestlemania XXVIII at an avid Daniel Bryan fan’s home and the first match of the event featured the then-World Heavyweight Champion defending his title. Bryan’s opponent, Sheamus, managed to win the match in 18 seconds, making it one of the shortest title matches in WWE history. This outcome inspired hours of good-natured ribbing between friends and one of my fondest memories as a wrestling fan. It also made watching his WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory at Wrestlemania XXX with the same group of people that much sweeter.