A week after the most memorable single segment in recent wrestling history, Monday Night Raw will have its go-home show for Fast Lane in Anaheim, CA. Piggybacking off Daniel Bryan’s retirement, Brie Bella will appear to build up her Divas title shot against Charlotte at the PPV. Of course, the focus of the show will be to build the three-way main event between Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. After Ambrose got laid out twice last week by Lesnar and the paltry attempt to get his heat back, the company will likely try to get him strong again since he’s the only one involved in the main event that doesn’t have a clear direction for WrestleMania.
Also, the Dudley Boyz will appear after turning heel last week. Coming off another very good match on SmackDown, A.J. Styles and Chris Jericho will likely continue their program.
Our coverage starts at 8 ET.
Some updated notes for tonight from Dave Meltzer (6:30 PM EST):
The WWE is starting to push a Big Show vs. Braun Strowman match, which is likely to set up a Wyatt Family vs. Show & Kane & Ryback match or something approximating that for Fastlane on Sunday.
Locally they are advertising Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens & Rusev, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, because more often than not, the locally advertised match doesn’t end up happening.
As noted, there are no special non-wrestlers advertised for tonight’s show, with HHH the major name who isn’t usually touring, but he’s on almost every Raw.
The Big Takeaway: Kevin Owens recaptured the Intercontental Championship when he pinned Tyler Breeze in a Fatal Fiveway match, which was ordered by Stephanie McMahon in order to punish Dean Ambrose in the opening segment. Kane returned in the main event because he was a Vince McMahon creation in 1997 who is healthy enough to wrestle, and also because God hates us all.
Dean Ambrose came out and said sometimes when the biggest bully on the playground comes after you, sometime you got to get your fingernails dirty and you have to do what you have to do. He acted like he got the best of Brock Lesnar last week. That was so delusional, it was almost like a heel statement. He challenged Lesnar to come out. Stephanie McMahon showed up instead because…opening segment. Stephanie brought up valid points about Ambrose needing Roman Reigns in order to deliver a cheap shot on Lesnar. Ambrose wanted to skip the talking and get to the fighting. Stephanie said she would get to the fighting because this was Monday Night Raw. So she talked for another five minutes. Followed by another talking segment with the New Day, Owens an Ambrose. And Brie Bella opening the second hour with an interview.
Stephanie asked the fans if they wanted to see Ambrose get F-5’d tonight. Fans were supposed to boo. They cheered. Stephanie said Ambrose would get an F-5, but it meant a Fatal Fiveway match, with Ambrose defending his Intercontinental Championship. If Reigns interfered, then Ambrose would lose his spot in the Fast Lane main event.
The four challengers for Ambrose’s title were Kevin Owens, Stardust (who evidently earned the title shot by losing to Zack Ryder last week), Tyler Breeze (earning the title shot with a .230 winning percentage. Sort of like turning on the TV for the AFC Divisional Playoffs and seeing the Tennessee Titans), and Dolph Ziggler.
Kevin Owens won the Intercontental Championshp by pinning Tyler Breeze in a Fatal Fiveway that included Dean Ambrose (C), Stardust and Dolph Ziggler (12:35)
Owens won the championship by pinning Breeze with a Pop-Up Power Bomb. Very good match. Finishing sequence was Ambrose going for the Dirty Deeds on Stardust, but Ziggler ran in and gave Ambrose the Zig Zag, leaving Stardust laid out. Breeze threw Ziggler out of the ring, but Owens ran in and gave Breeze the finisher. So Ambrose lost the belt without getting pinned. At one point, Owens delivered cannonballs to Ambrose, Ziggler and Stardust, who were laid out in opposite corners. Owens attempted a cannonball on Breeze, who responded with a beauty shot. First half of the match was Ambrose working against a challenger one-on-one while three others rested outside. Owens power bombed Breeze outside the ring onto Ziggler and Stardust. Ambrose followed by teasing finishers with Owens, leading to a tope onto Breeze, Ziggler and Stardust.
Ambrose walked around pissed backstage when Renee Young asked him how frustrated he was. Ambrose said he had nothing left to lose and he would face HHH at WrestleMania, who had everything to lose. Owens asked Young “does that give your goose bumps?”
Owens did an interview with Young. Ziggler walked in and sarcastically congratulated him. Ziggler said there wasn’t a spotlight in the world big enough for the both of them. Ziggler said he had beaten Owens the last two weeks, and said Owens should tell the world he deserved to face him at Fast Lane. Owens declined. Later, it was announced Owens would face Ziggler for the championship.
The New Day came out. They promoted an appearance by Edge and Christian by reviewing the segment they had on Raw last September. There will be an episode of the “Cutting Edge Peep Show” at Fast Lane. Kofi Kingston said you never bring a kazoo to a trombone fight. Big E. said Edge and Christian’s appearance was the worst thing since Coldplay played the halftime of, and Xavier Woods stopped him from saying the Super Bowl. There’s some sort of inside joke at work there because the NFL is very sensitive about it’s copywright of the Super Bowl. They ran down Mark Henry, who walked out on them last week during the main event tables match. Henry came out to face Big E.
Some fans rememberd the Chris Jericho chant of “Rootie, Tootie, Bootie,” but many more chanted “New Day rocks.”
Big E. defeated Mark Henry (4:41)
Weird finish. Big E. got Henry up for the Big Ending, but Henry looked like he was supposed to escape over top of him. Instead, Henry escaped and collapsed, and Big E. simply pinned him. It looked like Henry got hurt legit. Big E. told the referee to check on Henry and looked concerned while Kingston and Woods stayed in character.
Brie Bella was interviewed by Byron Saxton. Fans chanted “Daniel Bryan” since it was only the “Yes” chant that was over two years ago and not Bryan himself. Brie started to answer when Charlotte and Ric Flair came out. More fans were interested in chanting “Whoo” than listening to Charlotte, who said Bryan was in a league of his own. Brie corrected her and said he still is in a league of his own. Charlotte said she would understand if Brie wanted to forfeit her match with Charlotte at Fast Lane to be with her husband. She said Bryan lost everything, his dream, his career. Brie said she didn’t owe Charlotte any explanations, but Bryan supports her 100%. Charlotte said Brie means she supports her and Daniel 100%. She said Brie also took the match because they needed the money. Charlotte asked the crowd if she attacked Bryan personally? Crowd started chanting “Yes.” Charlotte said Brie needed to go home and be with Brie Bella and Bryan. Charlotte said she didn’t need Brie, and neither do the fans. But Nikki and Bryan did.
Brie accused Charlotte of trying to mess with her head. She said Charlotte knew she wasn’t an easy beat. All Charlotte has done is added fuel to her fire and she’s disgusted seeing the champion Charlotte has become. Charlotte told Brie she could only imagine what Brie’s goat-faced vegan babies were going to become. Brie slapped Charlotte over that one, laid in a few Yes kicks and sent Charlotte packing. Charlotte is a good heel promo.
A.J. Styles defeated The Miz via submission (11:49)
A.J. Styles won with the calf crusher. Good, competitive match that Styles did a solid job in carrying the Miz in. Chris Jericho was on commentary, and it was scary how much better he is on color than anyone else in the company. He goes Styles more over in this match than Jerry Lawler, Saxton, JBL put together. Not to be outdone, JBL even brought up Kenta Kobashi in relating how Styles is going from being star in Japan to a star in WWE.
Postmatch, Jericho got in the ring and congratulated Styles, who interrupted him and challenged him to third match at Fast Lane. Jericho said he would give his answer on SmackDown.
The Dudley Boyz came out and teased getting the table, but only did so to tease the fans as part of their heel turn. Bubba Ray Dudley called out the Usos, but said they wouldn’t show up after he and Devon put them through tables last week. Devon Dudley said the Dudleys weren’t some Guns n’ Roses farewell tour or a retro act from the past. They were the baddest tag team on the planet. Bubba said the tables were done forever, and if the fans wanted to see that, go to the WWE Network. Bubba said their legacy would be defined by being 9-time WWE Tag Team champions, not by a piece of furniture. All the chants of “We want tables” would now fall on deaf ears. Well, at least Les Thatcher will cheer them. Bubba said they no longer cared what the fans chanted.
Summer Rae defeated Paige (3:40)
Not many matches on Raw nowadays qualify as really bad, but this one does. Summer Rae mainly did chokes with her legs. She pinned Paige after reversing an attempt at the PTO into a small package. Crowd was asleep.
Paul Heyman did an in-ring promo. Heyman said he wanted to lay down a message on behalf of Lesnar face-to-face to Reigns, who came out to a mixed reaction. Surprising since the last time they win in southern California, he was as over as a top guy as he’s ever been. Heyman said he has the utmost respect for Reigns, but he feels that he can’t get past Lesnar. Heyman said Reigns’ goal is to win at Fast Lane and fight HHH for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, so he could go to his wife and child with the championship. But Reigns has a huge challenge because not only does Lesnar stand in Reigns’ way, but so does Ambrose. So Reigns has a choice: his daughter or his best friend, a man so close to Reigns, he’s like a brother. There are those who choose friends over family, and those are the ones who wind up in divorce court. There are others who choose family over friendship, and those are the ones who sit alone in the locker room and potentially stand alone as the champion of the world at WrestleMania with fireworks going off over their heads. But that’s the sacrifice you have to make in order to have a chance at the championship Reigns’ want. Heyman said Reigns’s enemy is Lesnar on Sunday night, but so is Ambrose.
Reigns started to speak and got noticeable boos. Reigns thanked Heyman for saying what was on his mind. Reigns said he was willing to pay the price for what he wants. He doesn’t have a problem fighting Ambrose, who he defeated. Reigns said he’s never beaten Lesnar, but he did beat he ass. Reigns said Heyman was right, he had everything on the line. But he was going to win at Fast Lane and then beat HHH at WrestleMania. They shook hands. Heyman had a blowaway promo.
Then the Dudleys came out and jumped Reigns from behind. Reigns tried to make his own comeback, but Bubba Ray hit him with a big boot. Ambrose came out for the save, sending Bubba packing. Reigns hit Devon with a Superman’s punch. Michael Cole broached the subject of Heyman perhaps setting up Reigns for the Dudleys to jump him.
Suddenly, as Ambrose and Reigns shook hands, Ambrose tried to give him Dirty Deeds. Regins escaped. Ambrose told Reigns if he wanted to make it to WrestleMania, he needed to be quicker than that. Reigns smiled at Ambrose and they shook hands again. Crowd booed because they wanted to see the two go at it.
They announced the creation of the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award, which Cole said “would be the most prestigous award the WWE has ever presented.” The recipient would be announced next week.
Social Outcasts did an inset promo comparing themselves to various NBA stars who were members of the Dream Team. Adam Rose said he was Robert Shapiro, which shows somebody on the writing staff watches FX.
Heath Slater defeated Zack Ryder (2:07)
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Ryder did a somersault tope onto all members of Social Outcasts. Bo Dallas distracted Ryder, leading to Heath Slater getting the pin with an Implant DDT. I kept waiting for Vince McMahon to show up and interrupt this match.
This week’s horrible R-Truth-Goldust segment took place was set at a restaurant, where Truth was on a date with a woman. Truth told her he would walk through hell in gasoline-dipped underwear for her. Goldust showed up as a waiter. Truth said this wasn’t Table for 3 on the WWE Network. Goldust brought champaign, which Truth said he didn’t order. Goldust said it was on the house. Truth said they weren’t In His House. Goldust said of course not, it wasn’t 1996. Of course, the champaignewound up being spilled on the woman and that was that.
Alberto Del Rio is facing Kalisto in the non-PPV portion of Fast Lane for the U.S. Championship. At this point, I’m firmly convinced Dorian Roldan has been in charge of Del Rio’s booking since he returned to WWE. It’s the biggest waste of money since the Cleveland Browns signed Dwayne Bowe.
Alberto Dio Rio, Sheamus and Rusev defeated Lucha Dragons and Neville (8:49)
Del Rio won with the double stomp off the top rope onto Sin Cara. The League of Nations now firmly in the hunt with the New Blood and Aces and Eights for the “Least Over Top Heel Group in History.” Sheamus is supposed to be the top heel in the company, at least in regards to regular wrestlers, and no one cared about him at all. Not to mention Neville was just an afterthought in this match. As was Rusev. This was a textbook lesson of how not to use what is developed in NXT.
Excellent feature for Black History Month on Booker T, which showed him being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It’s sad that someone so talented had the top push of his career during WCW in 2000, when the company was the most unwatchable product off all time.
Video posted earlier today showed Tamina and Naomi jumping Becky Lynch, with Naomi giving Lynch a Superkick.
Michelle Beadle was shown at ringside.
League of Nations celebrated in the back when Young interviewed Del Rio, who said Kalisto’s victory was a fluke. Del Rio said Kalisto was lucky and nothing more than a little mosquito. he said he let Kalisto beat him. That’s really putting him over. He challenged Kalisto to a best-of-three falls match at Fast Lane.
Becky Lynch defeated Naomi via submission (2:08)
Lynch won with the Disarm-her. Then came a preposterous moment. Tamina and Naomi jumped Lynch. Naturally, that was built for Sasha Banks to make the save. The only problem was, she came out and walked to the ring. And she stopped to take off her earrings. During the time it took Banks to get in the ring, Lynch had her ass handed to her, complete with Tamina delivering a Samoan Drop. It was like watching the Sandman in ECW make his full ring entrance while Tommy Dreamer needed to be saved. Finally Banks got in there and the ring was cleared.
The Wyatt Family came out. Bray Wyatt said freedom awaits all of you inside his embrace. Freedom from a dying world, because this world was a slave shackled in pretty colors. Wyatt said his followers would walk with him inside the fires of the apocolypse. He offers everyone paradise, and all he asks in return is for everyone to bow to him. Wyatt said the fans have to make a decision, or he will have to make a choice for them. Just like he made a choice for Kane, for Ryback and just like the choice the Big Show will have to make against the Big Show right now.
The Big Show defeated Braun Strowman by DQ (2:29)
Erick Rowan and Luke Harper ran in for the DQ. If you’re trying to make Strowman the next monster heel, I don’t think having him take a vertical suplex from the Big Show is the way to do it. He shouldn’t leave his feet until WrestleMania. But there he was, taking the suplex before the run-in.
Postmatch, Ryback ran down for the save and speared Harper. The numbers quickly caught up to him. Then, of course, Kane came up through the ring for the save. He and Show gave Harper a double choke slam.
SUMMARY: Where are the heels? People were asking that question in November when Seth Rollins went down. Now it’s mid-February, and there’s still no answer. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. They’ve tried Sheamus. No one cares. They’ve tried Del Rio, who would have been better off as a babyface coming in. Instead, they stuck him with Zeb Coulter in a pairing that went nowhere, now they’ve shifted him to a heel group that’s going nowhere. It doesn’t help the pattern of sameness this company has fallen into that they keep resorting to Kane as a savior when his act grew tiresome years ago. The best program in the company right now is Jericho-Styles, with Jericho doing a great job of playing a Bret Hart-style subtle heel. On the bright side, the two segments building up the main event for Fast Lane were very good tonight.