Wednesday, 17 February 2016

TV REVIEW: WWE Monday Night RAW #1186 (Styles vs. Miz)

Broadcast on the 15th February 2016, the 1186th episode of WWE's Monday Night RAW aired from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, USA. The show featured AJ Styles taking on The Miz, Paul Heyman calling out Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose defending the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler, Tyler Breeze, Stardust and Kevin Owens in a Fatal Five-Way Match...but was it any good? Let's take a look.

match card

Match 1 - Fatal Five-Way for the WWE Intercontinental Championship - Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens vs. Stardust vs. Tyler Breeze

Match 2 - Singles - Big E w/The New Day vs. Mark Henry

Match 3 - Singles - AJ Styles vs. The Miz
Match 4 - Singles - Paige vs. Summer Rae

Match 5 - Singles - Heath Slater w/The Social Outcasts vs. Zack Ryder

Match 6 - Six Man Tag Team - League of Nations w/King Barrett vs. Neville & The Lucha Dragons

Match 7 - Singles - Becky Lynch vs. Naomi w/Tamina

Match 8 - Singles - Braun Strowman w/The Wyatt Family vs. The Big Show

wwe intercontinental champion dean ambrose and stephanie mcmahon open the show

A short and sweet opening, there was no messing about at the start of Monday Night RAW. The pace was spot on, as WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose kicked off the show by calling out Brock Lesnar, only for Stephanie McMahon to turn up and force him to defend his title against four other men. There was no long winded promo, there was no back and forth chat. It was this is what's going to happen, there's nothing you can do about it, here's your first match of the show and it's gonna be a fun one. With the added element that if Roman Reigns interfered that Ambrose would be removed from the Triple Threat main event at Fastlane, there was even more intrigued poured onto the opening match. More opening segments like these please, WWE. 

kevin owens defeats dean ambrose, dolph ziggler, stardust and tyler breeze to win the wwe intercontinental championship

This a sweet opening match, that was pretty much everything that you'd expect it to be. Lot's of big spots with all five guys pulling their weight in busy twelve minutes of action. It was easy to watch action that kept the good times rolling throughout as bodies flew everywhere. Kevin Owens hitting a Powerbomb on Tyler Breeze to the outside stands out as one of the particular highlights. The finish was cleverly done to involve all five men in the match, as whilst Ambrose seemed set to win the match with Dirty Deeds on Stardust, Dolph Ziggler caught The Lunatic Fringe with a Zig Zag (coincidentally causing Ambrose to hit his finish also) before Breeze sent Ziggler out of the ring and walked straight into a Pop-Up Powerbomb from Owens to allow the Prizefighter to pick up the win and begin his second run with the Intercontinental Championship. It was a shame that the match was filled with guys who have struggled for victories in 2016, with Stardust and Breeze without wins on either RAW or Smackdown this year, as having four strong competitors would have added more danger to the match for Ambrose and added to the titles recent re-build. Having Ambrose drop the title does give him a more realistic chance of winning the Triple Threat at Fastlane though.

fast-forward...Renee Young interviewed Dean Ambrose backstage, as the now former WWE Intercontinental Champion cut a passionate promo about how The Authority had just presented him with even more motivation heading into Fastlane...Straight back to Renee as she caught up with new WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens, who was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, with Ziggler laying dfown a challenge for Sunday's Fastlane PPV...

wwe tag team champion big e defeated mark henry

Following a boisterous promo from The New Day, that included Big E pretending to play the recorder (which was definitely not intending to look like the act of fellatio, at all) and the group referring to Mark Henry as "The World's Largest Booty Hole" we got a pretty typical big man bout. Pretty much here to tie up the loose ends from last week's random eight man tag team tables match, that saw Mark Henry walk out on The New Day, leaving them to ultimately lose to The Dudley Boyz and The Usos. Big E looked dominant throughout, and picked up the win with an impressive Big Ending, that leaves Big E currently unbeaten in his last four singles matches. With The New Day without an opponent at Fastlane, this was mostly used to hype their appearance on "The Cutting Edge Peep Show" talk segment with Edge & Christian, which was announced during this match to take part on PPV.

wwe diva's champion charlotte and ric flair interrupt byron saxton's interview with brie bella

Somehow, despite Charlotte laying it on thick about Brie's husband Daniel Bryan having to retire from pro wrestling last week on Monday Night RAW and gloating about being the reason for Brie's sister Nikki being on the injury list, Brie's reply still felt insincere. In a moment, where her real emotion about the situation involving her husband should have came boiling through, it just didn't. I didn't feel like Brie was upset by what Charlotte had to say or even pissed off. This was Brie trying to act her emotion, instead of just showing it for real. Charlotte carried this segment by coming across like a real dick, whilst Ric Flair just standing behind her and smiling away was the highlight for me. The sooner was can move past Fastlane and back into Charlotte's feud with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch the better. 

aj styles defeats the miz via submission

In the words of John "Bradshaw" Layfield, "AJ Styles looks like a Hogwarts" Powerful words by the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion. That being said, whilst whether Styles does or does not look like "a Hogwarts" The Miz certainly allowed him to look like a star in their 2nd televised encounter. Miz was bumping all over the place for the former 2 time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, making numerous elements of Styles arsenal look devasting. The build up to Styles' hitting the Pele Kick in particular stands out. It's clear that the two have been working a number of house show matches opposite each other. Then there was Styles kicking out of the Skull Crushing Finale, which the commentary team put over strong, aided by a strong facial performance from The Miz. Whilst Styles is clearly one of the best wrestlers in the world, he was put over huge as a competitor to fear, whilst having a pretty decent bout of a good length against someone who is recognisable to the WWE fanbase. Picking up the win with Calf Crusher, Styles has quickly been positioned as one of WWE's premier competitors. Miz on the other hand has had a TV win in 2016.

With Chris Jericho putting in a satisfying performance on commentary, it was clear that we'd see him get involved with Styles at some point, but we had to wait until the match was over to see exactly where things would be heading. It was good to see Styles get an opportunity to talk on the mic and whilst it wasn't the home run that he could've done with, The Phenomenal One got over what he needed to do and set the stage for an upcoming match was Fastlane. An interesting side-step however saw Jericho tell Styles that he'd have to wait until this week's Thursday Night Smackdown to find out his answer. Now, I'm pretty sure we're all expecting Jericho to agree to the match, but to hold it off until Thursday then you'd have to think that WWE has something up it's sleeve for the PPV match. Maybe an extra gimmick for the third match between the two? 

the dudley boyz explain their attack on the usos last week

The Dudley Boyz had a five minute promo segment to explain their attack on The Usos last week. Basically, the 2 time IWGP Tag Team Champions don't want to be a nostalgia act and are therefore dropping their Tables gimmick. Both men put in strong performances on the microphone as they worked the Anaheim crowd well, reminding them to check out the WWE Network if they want to see them put people through tables. With The Usos supposedly still out selling the attack from last week, the promo didn't really have anywhere to go, but this performance was certainly the strongest work Bubba Ray and D-Von have put in since they returned to WWE in late-August 2015. I'm actually looking forward to seeing where this heel run can take them over the next six months.

summer rae defeats paige

This was a strange one, as Summer Rae had her first TV match since June 2015 (a loss to Naomi on Main Event), won her first TV match since April 2015 (a victory over Emma on Main Event) and won her first match on Monday Night RAW since June 2014 (a mixed tag team win with Adam Rose over Fandango and Layla). The contest was moving along just fine, with nothing much going on, when Summer nicked a roll-up victory. Neither girl has been doing much of late, beyond Paige working a handful of tag bouts with Natalya, so this one came really out of left field. Nothing bad about it, nothing for anyone to crazy about. Who the fuck knows where this is going. Hopefully somewhere that doesn't involve Paige shouting each of her spots.

paul heyman calls out roman reigns

I wish I could've looked past the inaccuracies in Paul Heyman's promo, because it was the type of passionate, story-telling that we've come to expect from The Advocate, but it was bugging me throughout. Heyman told Reigns that one Sunday at Fastlane, he'll have to choose between winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for his family or keeping his friendship with Dean Ambrose. Which is fine on paper, it's cool way to add even more drama to the main event of the PPV that's just six days away. But here's the problem, Ambrose and Reigns main-evented a PPV together in November and fought over the title, and they're still pals. They were also both in the final three of the Royal Rumble match and our still pals. If you hadn't really been keeping up with WWE's product you might have bought into it, but even Reigns' promo ended up cutting this level of intrigue out straight away. We did however get to see Ambrose attempt to jump Reigns with Dirty Deeds, after initially fighting off an attack from The Dudley Boyz, only for the two to fist bump to close the segment.

fast-forward...Zack Ryder jobbed to Heath Slater in 2 minutes, leaving Slater with a 3-1 singles record for 2016 so far...Goldust interrupted R-Truth's Valentine's Meal as their wacky segments continued...

the league of nations defeat neville and the lucha dragons

Another entirely watchable, but throwaway bout. For me, there was no feel that this match was being used to push a lengthy feud between Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio over the WWE United States Championship, and could just have easily slotted into a space on Main Event. That isn't to say the match was without it's high points, as the babyfaces trio of dives to the outside looked superb and deserved more of a spotlight than it was given here. The finish continued to see Del Rio given the push heading into his rematch at Fastlane Kick-Off as he pinned Sin Cara. I'm unsure as to why Del Rio was playing up to the crowd as he hit his double stomp finish half way across the ring, as if he was babyface. Giving him such a spectacular finish to the match was also another bizarre decision. King Barrett looked weird in his ring gear in a managerial role at ringside.

fast-forward...As part of their Black History Month coverage, WWE showcased the life and career of World Heavyweight Champion, Booker T...Alberto Del Rio cut another short promo about mosquitos, when interview by Renee Young...

becky lynch defeats naomi via submission

This was pretty much a straight-up squash for Becky Lynch as she dominated Naomi at every turn. Despite that, I thought the two worked well together and created a nice little finishing sequence that saw Becky manage to kick out of roll-up attempt by Naomi and simultaneously lock on his Disarmer submission hold to pick up the victory. Sasha Banks making the save following Team B.A.D.'s post-match beat down was the little bit of extra fuel needed for their tag team clash in 6 days on PPV. It's clearly a stop gap before bigger things at WrestleMania for Sasha and Becky, but all four have taken their chances and performed well when given the opportunity. A bit more time wouldn't have gone a miss her though, perhaps giving them the time that was given Summer and Paige's seemingly pointless bout earlier in the night would've allowed the match to really kick into the next gear.

the big show defeats braun strowman via disqualification

An interesting choice for a main event match that's for sure. I guess WWE was hoping that a bout between two big men would pop a rating or at least they were experimenting with the idea. Maybe, they don't even feel that the final segment is necessarily as important as it used to be? Because with no disrespect to anyone involved, but this is a mid-card feud. The segment we got was actually an enjoyable watch as after a few minutes of pushing each other about, The Wyatt Family pounced to take out Big Show before Ryback and Kane made the save to close the show. Kane coming up through the ring was a nice touch and the former Tag Team Championship duo of Show and Kane hitting a Double Chokeslam on Luke Harper was also pretty cool. Ryback being referenced to as part of the "old guard" was also a bizarre piece of commentary. It feels like The Wyatt's feud is to give them something to do until a collision with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, however, a well-booked match at Fastlane could not only position them for such a clash, but also be a damn good bout in the process.


atpw scale rating - 5.44/10

A solid outing from WWE here, even if it wasn't quite the bigger hitter it needed to be with Fastlane just six days away. The opening segment with Stephanie McMahon and Dean Ambrose and the title defense that followed, as well as AJ Styles' rematch with the Miz stand out as particular highlights of the show. Apart from the random Paige vs. Summer Rae match, everything felt like it had some kind of purpose and had a reason to continue watching, even if the in-ring quality wasn't particularly outstanding. There was nothing that stands out as bad, just a couple of moments of booking that seemed to have not been thought through as much as they could have been (Tyler Breeze and Stardust being placed in the Intercontinental Championship match felt like lazy, making-up-the-numbers booking), but for the most-part this was an entirely watchable Monday Night RAW, that added a little extra to a handful of matches at the upcoming Fastlane PPV on Sunday.

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