What you need to know
You knew this was not going to be the elusive smooth running in-show talk show segment when Miz and Mizdow were bickering before the host had said a word. The stunt double turned personal assistant was banished to commentary, and the Awesome One hadn't even finished introducting Daniel Bryan when Roman Reigns came down and Superman Punched him right in the face. That's one way to pop a crowd.
Reigns swore that he wouldn't let Bryan take his hard-earned WrestleMania title shot, but before things could get to heated between the babyface Fast Lane opponents, Seth Rollins and J & J Security hit the scene. With real heels in the house, The Authority-backed Money in the Bank winner could book himself in any evil match he wanted. Even though Rollins was pissed at his former Shield brother for interfering in his match on Raw, he made himself a three-on-one handicap match with his boys Mercury and Noble against The Beard.
Probably because Seth was leaving the way clear for a former WWE champ to have a shot at Roman. Miz did last longer than most thought, not getting pinned by the Big Dog until after surviving five minutes with him.
Which is better than former Intercontinental champ Curtis Axel can saw for his match with the other former Hound of Justice. Dean Ambrose again disrespected the #AxelMania movement, pinning Perfect Jr. after a Dirty Deeds. But the current IC champ doesn't think much of the Lunatic Fringe's quest to get his picture on the wall in Titan Towers - and Bad News Barrett even got himself a new gimmick logo to prove it.
Team Fired, a.k.a. the newest "sure, why not?" tag sensation (SWNTS) Dolph Ziggler & Ryback, got a win over the still disintegrating Rhodes Brothers when Stardust walked out on Goldust because he called him "Cody" again. Ashes to ashes...
In what looks like the new tag title feud, another SWNTS keeps collecting victories over The Usos if not brass rings. Their story was driven forward on Friday night when Tyson Kidd brought Cesaro to a double date Natalya had set up with Jimmy & Naomi. It may be Total Divas sounding, but the FACT and the Swiss Super Men are incapable of not being entertaining right now.
Paige is going to take the Divas title off of Nikki Bella, and then we'll see who's laughing about her fair skin. She warmed up for their match at Fast Lane by submitting her old foe Alicia Fox. In a mirror image of that angle, U.S. champ Rusev promised to keep his belt away from Nikki's boyfriend John Cena at the next pay-per-view (PPV), and then beat up a ginger in Erick Rowan.
Is Fandango a babyface now? Is Adam Rose a heel? How could the Rosebuds forget how to execute a trust fall? None of that matters, but the dancing machine did leg drop his way to victory over Rose on Thursday night. In only slightly more important news, Bray Wyatt continues to do everything but name names in his promos calling out a Dead Man for Santa Clara.
In the main event, D-Bry was able to stay one step ahead of the trio he was facing, and Creative was able to protect Mr. Money in the Bank by having Joey Mercury tap to a YES Lock. The YES man didn't make it out of the arena unscathed though, as his recurring nemesis Kane attacked him from beind and chokeslammed him twice to set up a Curb Stomp from Rollins.
And this isn't really appropriate at all, since The Corporate Demon's attack came after the match, but I've been chuckling since I saw it and wanted to share...
What to look out for
WWE is in the capital of the Buckeye State tonight, as Raw comes our way from Columbus, Ohio!
I'm still not entirely clear on why The Authority - a faction that doesn't want either Daniel Bryan or Roman Reigns as their champion - would set it up so their favorite son had to beat both men to get another shot at Brock Lesnar. I guess even Triple H couldn't heelsplain a way to hand Mr. Money in the Bank another title opportunity. Regardless, Hunter, Steph and the whole gang will undoubtedly focus on hassling both the Fast Lane main eventers tonight - and possibly setting up Rollins and DB's Mania feuds in the process.
Maybe tonight will be the night the U.S. and Intercontinental title feuds involved some physicality. Since the last pay-per-view (PPV), violence between the pairs has been limited to a post-Rumble brawl between John Cena and Rusev. With only two weeks to go until the next Sunday show, it's probably time for more face-to-face, if not fist-to-face, for Ambrose and BNB, too.
Paige and Nikki will continue their old school Divas title program (heels being mean to faces - what a concept!), while the Dusts split is a traditional brother split booked by someone who dropped some acid and read a few Jim Starlin comics before heading to the writer's room.
If we're lucky, the two SWNTSs will get a match with one another. Who doesn't want to see the Swinging Cats fed to the Big Guy & the Little Guy?
What they should do
You'll excuse me, but I'm having a hard time concentrating on Raw with a new NXT live special set to debut Wednesday night.
I've long been of the opinion that the Developmental Program's flagship show should be a central piece of the marketing plan for WWE Network. Their last live show, Takeover: R Evolution, fell outside of a free month. The February 11th one has another great card, with two dream matches and a women's Fatal 4Way that may not be a five star classic, but shows that you can write more than two female characters at time and book feuds for the ladies that aren't soley about catty bullying or their men.
Vince McMahon needs to give the Florida promotion a solid quarter hour to show the many who watch but don't subscribe to Network what they're missing. To avoid jobbing out a NXT star to a main roster mid-carder, or giving too much of what fans will see on Wednesday away, trot out an all-star exhibition...say Sami Zayn & Hideo Itami against Adrian Neville & Finn Bálor. And give JBL & Booker a segment off while NXT General Manager William Regal tells Michael Cole and the fans at home why what they're watching is special. Then roll tape on the video hyping Rival's main event and see if you don't just pick up a few extra thousand email addresses for the 11th.
If their interest isn't piqued by that, you can always give them sports entertainment for the other two and three-quarter hours.
What we're afraid they will do
We were supposed to be done with Bryan vs. Kane. The casket match was it.
We're totally getting more Bryan vs. Kane, aren't we?
Can they keep the momentum on the Reigns rebuild going while selling the Network and filling out the next PPV card?
We'll know more tonight. You should find out with the best pro wrestling community online in our live blog!