WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Mar. 28, 2016) from Brooklyn, New York, and it was the last stop before WrestleMania 32, the biggest even in the history of the company. That meant all hands were on deck, every big star available to give us the best possible product heading into this weekend's big money show.
It's just too bad it didn't work out that way.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Triple H talked a lot. He didn't get much heat. Stephanie McMahon talked a little and got a lot of heat. If only that Ronda Rousey deal had worked out the way WWE originally wanted it to, right?
Roman Reigns interrupted and there was a skirmish. The good guy -- in the story, not in the reaction to him -- ran off the bad guy -- again, in the story, not in the reaction to him.
Pretty standard stuff. Nothing special, but whatever. They probably weren't going to be able to win here no matter what they did, so this felt like an appropriately mediocre go home angle.
But it wasn't over yet!
Okay, so Trips recruited The Dudley Boyz to help him launch a sneak attack. That's more standard heel behavior designed to get some sympathy on the babyface while setting him up to overcome at the much bigger show. Makes sense.
Again, a solid if unspectacular way to get to the match at WrestleMania.
But it wasn't over yet!
They literally promoted the main event segment by saying "The Authority will finish what they have to say later tonight." The earlier promo that went way too long wasn't enough, we needed a little bit more. When Stephanie and Triple H were in the ring cutting the second promo, it 100-percent felt like they realized halfway through the show they didn't have a main event segment and threw together a plan in the back before rushing it to TV.
It was the exact same thing they did earlier in the night, only this time a bunch of other wrestlers got involved and Reigns did a big dive onto a large group.
That was it.
A go home show is supposed to whet your appetite, make you thirsty for more. At one point Triple H stole a line from a Reigns promo -- "this is real life" -- and there is no sense of excitement. Just foreboding.
Choke on my name
All that mixed martial arts training, all those videos showing Shane McMahon working on his all around game, turning himself into a weapon, and he still can't throw even one believable punch.
There's really nothing to say about this program anymore, is there? Did you honestly buy into Shane trying to look tough walking down the ramp toward a waiting Undertaker? Did they do anything to explain this poorly written story in such a way that any outcome will be satisfying? They just called each other bitches, had an incredibly weak brawl, and then Shane threw himself off something and through a table.
Vintage Shane O'Mac!
It's just lame. There's no substance here. You can read between every line, that WWE is doing this because every other option was exhausted and they were desperate for something they believed they could make feel "big." To be fair to them, Brooklyn was completely taken in by it, showering the segment with "holy shit" and "this is awesome" chants.
I don't get it.
Sure, it's fun to watch those flying elbows through the table but, again, they haven't bothered to make it mean anything.
I suppose the fans at the arena last night did nothing but reinforce their belief that it doesn't really matter. They loved it. So maybe I'm off here, but this just isn't doing it for me.
I'd love to love ya baby
The best feud heading into WrestleMania even took a bit of a hit with what creative came up with last night.
Dean Ambrose bringing a red wagon out and playing comedy isn't necessarily the worst idea in the world, but as a go home angle to WrestleMania, it feels a bit like betraying what they've already established.
Plus, how does it make sense to have all of the weapons Ambrose has accrued sitting under the ring instead of already with him in the wagon he was pulling? They thought it would be a grand idea to have him continue his search for artillery DURING a Paul Heyman promo right in front of Brock Lesnar and, again, this would be fine under normal circumstances. Comedy is good in the right situation and Dean is a guy you can pull it off with but this needed something more just days before the match.
It needed gravity. This is one of the few matches on the show that has felt important and it's not because of lame attempts at comedy like this. It's because we know Ambrose is willing to die trying to defeat the monster no one else has been able to in a one-on-one encounter.
They failed miserably to get that across here, instead just toying around with props.
It didn't completely kill enthusiasm in the match, certainly, it just didn't add anything to it. It was, more or less, a waste of time.
All the best to all the rest
Georgia style: AJ Styles wore a hat with no shirt on this show. He's just a country boy with the farmer's strength, after all. They ran the same angle they ran last week with Chris Jericho, only this time he actually accepted the match. It felt like everything they've ever done, as was the case with most of this show.
Charlotte def. Becky Lynch: Yet again, Lynch loses because Ric Flair gets involved. I can no longer defend this. There is no excuse for her character to find herself in these situations anymore. She's just dumb for continually falling for the same trap, over and over and over. Meanwhile, Sasha Banks sat ringside and they didn't let her sit in on commentary, which raises questions. Either way, it was standard, uninspired booking.
The Andre preview: Speaking of standard, uninspired booking, they did a preview of a battle royal by having participants all get in the ring and fight each other. Surely you're interested now!
Kofi Kingston def. Alberto Del Rio: New Day's pre-match promo wasn't much more than they said last week, or the week before, but they paid tribute to Phife Dawg again and the crowd was behind them. It makes a world of difference when the audience is going with the act instead of against it, which should be the nudge WWE needs to push them harder as babyfaces. The League of Nations, meanwhile, are still incompetent boobs. Jonathan Coachman returned, by the way, but The Rock didn't show up to humiliate him in any way so we're just going to ignore it ever happened.
Kalisto def. Konnor: Yes, Ryback vs. Kalisto for the US title is really happening at WrestleMania 32, deal with it.
Eva Marie returns: Team Total Divas needed a fifth member against Team BAD and Blonde and everyone is shocked when that fifth member is from the cast of Total Divas? Am I missing something? The good news is literally no one on her team wanted anything to do with her, so a heel turn, if you can call it that, is surely incoming at WrestleMania (or the night after on Raw). The Red reign of terror is here (hopefully). Deal with that too, you little dorks.
Six-man tag: The good guys in the Intercontinental title ladder match took on the bad guys and the crowd turned on it completely because, well, I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps it was an act of defiance aimed at voicing displeasure toward the booking of this particular title for this particular show considering who is holding it (Owens) and who could be challenging for it on his own (Zayn) but has to share the stage with a bunch of mid-carders who should be nowhere near it (Ziggler, Miz, Stardust, Cara). This didn't even include Zack Ryder, who is so unimportant he was used to set up the Jericho-Styles match earlier in the night. This was actually a fun match that had a nice finish, what with Owens' teammates bailing on him and leaving him to get beat by his most hated rival. But the crowd didn't care and when they're doing the wave -- even if KO shut it down like the expert he is -- it's hard to get into here at home.
Under normal circumstances, this show wouldn't be all that bad. But this was a go home to WrestleMania and not just any WrestleMania but the biggest event in the history of the company. To that end, this was a massive failure.