WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Mar. 14, 2016) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it was all about bringing all the big guns back for the run up to WrestleMania 32 early next month in Arlington, Texas. None of those guns were loaded, though.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Take a look to the sky
When Shane McMahon first returned to WWE, we all got caught up in what was arguably the biggest return possible for this company outside of CM Punk. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, but nostalgia is a dangerous emotion.
It clouds your judgement.
That's why we were all so excited at the idea of Shane O'Mac, here comes the money, doing what he does best. He's a madman, willing to do whatever is necessary to make his matches memorable, and he's a generally fun presence who makes for compelling television.
But let's just say it: this sucks.
Shane McMahon did his best Roman Reigns impression last night, stumbling over his lines, fumbling with his words, and giving us great fodder for comedy on Twitter.
It's not good for a big money angle leading to an even bigger money match at WrestleMania. Shane died a horrible death out there, and this time there was no saving him.
They also seemed to confirm they're going to attempt some weird striking match because they're both into combat sports. The problem, of course, is it's nearly impossible to watch Shane McMahon punch Undertaker through the tears your laughter will undoubtedly create as he fires weak shot after weak shot that comes nowhere close to connecting.
What's worse is there is no story here without Undertaker explaining his motivations, and he STILL hasn't done that. All of this is literally dependent on his decision to play ball, and there's no clear reason for him to make a decision in either direction. That's a failure on WWE's part, one they don't appear to be in any hurry to correct.
Just before you die
Well, Roman Reigns made his big return to get revenge on Triple H for busting up his pretty face.
He was booed.
There were cheers, sure, but they were few and far between. Those who cared enough to make noise were there to voice their displeasure with the fact that WWE is absolutely going through with this and there's no stopping it.
To WWE's credit, they went back to the playbook they used at TLC in an attempt to get Reigns over. He snapped, and was righteous for doing so considering the circumstances surrounding his forced vacation.
It just didn't work.
Pushing referees, casting aside security guards, using television monitors as weapons, making Triple H bleed his own blood -- Reigns did it all and at no point did he get the crowd behind him.
It didn't stop until Jack Swagger came running in wearing a chain wallet with The Usos and Mark Henry to appeal to BIG UCE. Save it for WrestleMania and all that.
Where he'll still get booed.
It's the last time you will
WWE had a great story in Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose. It lost some luster when the latter did the job for Triple H at Roadblock, because that's just the way these things go in wrestling.
But it was still interesting. Ambrose is climbing in the cage with a beast and he's willing to die to prove he can win that fight. Lesnar is anxiously awaiting some fresh meat, always meeting his challenger with a mix of cold contempt and mild amusement.
That all changed here.
Instead of a story of a man, just a man and his will to win, overcoming a monster, they made it about a man and his access to superior weaponry. Ambrose snuck a crowbar into the ring in an attempt to use it on Lesnar, who backed away from that fight.
That's not a good look for either guy before they get to the getting.
Later, Mick Foley showed up for a great spot where they explained Ambrose's motivations but also provide further reinforcements in the form of a barbed wire baseball bat. There's certainly nothing wrong with going this route, especially considering the stipulation for the match itself, but it absolutely takes something away from it when the initial build was all about the punishment Ambrose was willing to endure to outlast the beast.
Perhaps they can still tell that story while also getting across how much artillery is necessary to take Brock down. Having him back down at the mere sight of a crowbar doesn't inspire much hope, though.
All the best to all the rest
New Day def. League of Nations: Exactly the match you would expect with none of the heat you would assume either squad would get in a city like Pittsburgh. New Day retained, because of course they would, and it led to an extended beatdown that should not have taken as long as it did. The only real explanation here is that WWE wanted to keep League of Nations with New Day so they can get another couple of matches out of this. The problem is we've already seen them beat multiple times in multiple title matches on multiple shows and no one ever really cared to begin with. This was bad.
Sami Zayn def. The Miz: At this point, seeing Miz working opposite a babyface is the most welcome sight. After that strange match with Stardust at Roadblock, Sami needed to show he can entertain in short burts with lower card guys. He did that here, all while Kevin Owens entertained on commentary. Nothing groundbreaking, but it was fine.
Ryback def. Sin Cara: Digging the ninja look for Sin Cara but I can't figure out how to get into Kalisto vs. THE BIG GUY. It's simple enough -- big guy thinks size is everything, little guy battles his way to honor as champion -- but they've done too little to make us care about either participant, especially the champion in the program, and that's enough to kill it dead.
Dolph Ziggler buried: I mean, that's what this was, right? A long Triple H promo was interrupted by a guy constantly fighting authority and losing, and instead of finding a way to emerge victorious -- to earn a match at WrestleMania, no less -- he lost again. This after he was smacked down, verbally as well as literally. To top it off, he was big leagued by Roman Reigns, who totally could have come out to give the guy a hand and chose to wait until he already lost to confront Triple H. There is no better show to clearly demonstrate Ziggler's place in WWE than this one.
Team BAD def. Team Bella: For some reason they're still going with these teams, despite the leaders of said teams either being gone or branching off to do their own thing. And it's really just a way to get to Lana coming out and interfering to cost Brie yet another match, only this time she also talked some trash to Paige, with the backing of Naomi and Tamina, probably to set up a six-woman tag at WrestleMania. Meanwhile, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were nowhere to be found. This was all bad and we should all feel bad about it.
The Usos def. Social Outcasts: This happened. I barely remember it.
Jokes: Goldust doesn't want to be R-Truth's partner now, even though Truth dressed up like a penguin to tell a cute story about penguins mating for life or whatever. Truth also didn't realize they were in Pittsburgh. This was fun at first but these things have a shelf life and they look particularly out of place on really bad episodes of Raw like this one.
Neville def. Chris Jericho: This had a really wacky finish but it may have been forced by injury. Either way, it felt strange for Jericho to cut a strong heel promo on AJ Styles only for Neville's music to hit and a match to commence before the weird finish and THEN Styles showing up. Also bad: We learned the springboard forearm is now called THE PHENOMENAL FOREARM. I am disappoint.
I had more fun laughing with my girlfriend at her beer farts than watching this show.