Tuesday, 1 March 2016

TV Review: WWE Monday Night RAW #1188 (Ambrose vs. Del Rio)

Broadcast on the 29th February 2016, the 1188th episode of WWE's Monday Night RAW aired from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Dean Ambrose faced the League of Nations' Alberto Del Rio, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H decided whether or not he'd give Ambrose a future shot at his title and AJ Styles teamed with Chris Jericho to take on WWE Tag Team Champions, The New Day...but was it any good? Let's find out!



monday night raw #1188 match card


Match 1 – WWE Diva's Championship #1 Contender's – Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks

Match 2 – Singles – The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler

Match 3 – Tag Team – The Lucha Dragons vs. League Nations (Rusev & “The Celtic Warrior” Sheamus) w/King Barrett & Alberto Del Rio

Match 4 – Singles – Ryback vs. Adam Rose w/Social Outcasts

Match 5 – Tag Team – The New Day w/Xavier Woods vs. Chris Jericho & AJ Styles

Match 6 – Singles – Jey Uso w/Jimmy Uso vs. Bubba Ray Dudley w/D-Von Dudley

Match 7 – Singles – WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens vs. The Big Show 

Match 8 – Singles – Brie Bella vs. Naomi w/Tamina 


Match 9 – Singles – Dean Ambrose vs. Alberto Del Rio w/League of Nations


dean ambrose challenges triple h to a wwe world heavyweight championship match




So, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H kicks off this week's Monday Night RAW and I'm thinking "Oh shit, long-ass promo season again". After a few minutes of Trips rambling about "Authority" in a thinly veiled attempt to get #1 Contender Roman Reigns over as a babyface heading into their WrestleMania match on 3rd April, things picked up a little with the interruption from Dean Ambrose. I've got a lot of time for The Lunatic Fringe's character and style on the microphone, and I felt that it brought something fresh to whatever it was that Triple H was doing earlier. Once again, it felt like another push to get Reigns over for the upcoming match, but at the same time Ambrose was seemingly effortlessly entertaining. 



As for the content of the promo, it was pretty much a way to keep a storyline rolling and fill time until WrestleMania. The crowd was pretty into it, as Ambrose asked who The Game didn't want to face out of the Triple Threat Fastlane main event and went onto challenge the Champion to a title match before WrestleMania, but if you think this is anything other than something to fill TV time then you might be disappointed. After some comedy stuff from Trips, we got the "reason" to stick around for the rest of the show, which was to find out what Hunter's answer to Ambrose's challenge would be. Also the announcement that Ambrose would face the League of Nation's Alberto Del Rio in the main event. For me, this was a pretty weak premise for the show, I didn't feel like I'd been given enough of a reason to care about if Ambrose got his title shot or not, whilst I felt that they wouldn't have teased the match without it being confirmed. Plus Ambrose vs. Del Rio? After months and months of making the League of Nations look like chumps and Del Rio suffering losses to Kalisto, this wasn't the strongest main event booking. In fact, I was expecting the match to come directly after the promo!

fast-forward...The commentary team gave us a run-down of what to expect for the rest of the show, with appearances from The Undertaker, Mr. McMahon and Stephanie McMahon advertised and Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks coming up next...


becky lynch and sasha banks fight to a draw in a wwe diva's championship number one contender's match




This should have been a stand-out moment for the WWE's women, send Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks out there and let them have an absolute barn-burner. But it wasn't. For one reason and one reason only, the finish. As Sasha came over the top, with a Sunset Flip, The Bo$$ then fell back and both girls pinned each other. Now, the actual result doesn't bother me, a double pin doesn't both me, but the method used did bother me. It looked super contrived, I've never seen a Sunset Flip end up like that and it kind of made both girls look a bit shit. Now, had the two wrestled a match similar to their NXT Takeover: Unstoppable and really gone at each other for 15 minutes, then I might have just been able to by into it. But as it was, this ended feeling just a little flat to me. Let's hope the pair are given a much better finish and match in their rematch on Thursday Night Smackdown this week. 

fast-forward...A pretty aimless promo from Bray Wyatt here, as The Wyatt Family continue to tread water...The Miz got a flash win over Dolph Ziggler, which was nice...A recap from Monday Night RAW #1187's opening segment with Mr. McMahon, Stephanie McMahon & Shane McMahon...


stephanie mcmahon replies to her brother's comments from last week




Nothing says "We're struggling for content" in 2016 than an uninterrupted promo in the middle of the ring. Seriously, Stephanie McMahon spoke for six or seven minutes, but didn't say anything. Now, it's a testament to her character and performance that she kept me entertained for pretty much the duration, as she lost her cool with the fans and began to rip into her brother Shane. The content was perfectly fine and as a way of continuing a storyline for another week, without actually doing anything, I suppose it did what it was supposed to do. Not having Shane on this week's show felt like dropping the ball after hot return last week.


league of nations defeat the lucha dragons




A paint-by-numbers tag team match, as the League of Nation's Rusev and Sheamus battled the Lucha Dragons. Nothing out of the ordinary here, with The Celtic Warrior and The Bulgarian Brute taking turns to batter Sin Cara for a handful of minutes, before Kalisto put together an enjoyable come back sequence. The idea of the League using the numbers game to pick up the victory, with plenty of distractions throughout before Del Rio hit Kalisto with an Enziguiri on the outside to give his pals the victory, was an interesting addition to them as a group, as they seem to be transitioning into a feud with the New Day for WrestleMania. Kalisto taking the pin and then a Double Stomp from Del Rio was disappointing to see, after so much work had been put into the WWE United States Championship over the last year or so.

fast-forward...Renee Young interviewed Natalya in a horrible advert for Subway...A recap of the opening segment between Triple H and Dean Ambrose...Ryback squashed Adam Rose (with the Social Outcasts) with the commentary team pushing how much Ryback didn't give a shit...Recap of Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman and Dean Ambrose segments from Monday Night RAW #1187...


chris jericho and aj styles defeat the new day




For me, this was the best action on offer on this episode, with the two teams gelling nicely and putting together some slick action that furthered the storyline. Whilst AJ Styles and Chris Jericho clearly haven't had a lot of time working together as a tag team, Styles did look comfortable and produced some decent stuff in the face in peril role, with both Kofi Kingston and Big E of the New Day. The match felt a little too short for what it was trying to do, and could have done with an extra five or maybe even ten minutes to really reach what these four men could do together inside the squared circle, but we did get one quality near fall, as Jericho leaped to knock an interfering Xavier Woods off the apron and got caught by a Kingston roll-up. After Jericho got the submission victory over Kingston with the Walls of Jericho, a rematch with the WWE Tag Team Championships on the line was made. Despite Y2J butchering his promo, I'm more than behind these two teams getting the chance to mix it up again, hopefully they'll be given more time than they got this week.


the undertaker confronts mr. mcmahon 




The Undertaker was back! THE UNDERTAKER! Oh, you blinked? Then you'd probably have missed it. Yeah, The Undertaker's heavily hyped return throughout the show, turned out to be a long ass entrance, followed by him growling a few words at Mr. McMahon and then buggering off back to Death Valley. Had this not been so heavily hyped, say Undertaker just turned up unannounced like Shane O'Mac did last week, I feel it would have been a much more satisfying experience. At least for now we know that WWE isn't gonna swerve and have Taker refuse to do the work of Vinny Mac, I suppose. I'm going to break form here and compliment John "Bradshaw" Layfield who was on fire on the commentary desk for the segment and made the face-off between Undertaker and McMahon just that little bit more special, top work John.


bubba ray dudley defeats jey uso




Another case of a storyline not getting enough time to breath, as Bubba Ray Dudley and Jey Uso started off by putting together some decent hard-hitting action, before the match quickly descended into an over-booked mess. The two guys in the match bought the heat and looked like two guys that hated each other, had they been given more than a minute and a half of action, I think they'd have actually pulled off a pretty sweet match. However, we got D-Von Dudley pulling out a table on the outside and Jimmy Uso randomly running into it, before Jey hit a Superkick on D-Von and Bubba Ray picked up the victory with a Bubba Bomb. Personally, I'd have preferred to have kept the Dudleyz away from tables until, at least, WrestleMania, have the heat build from them continually refuse to give the fans what they want. Turning them into hypocrites is seems like a complete misjudgment of the core audiences current realtionships with both The Dudley Boyz and The Usos.

fast-forward...R-Truth had seemingly had enough of Goldust, but then seemed upset when the 3 time WWE Intercontinental Champion left in a huff...The Big Show defeated WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens by countout, after Owens had repeatedly tried to get the win that way, who the fuck knows what's going on here...Lana interrupted Renee Young's interview with Brie Bella, in which a brick might have shown more emotion than Brie did...


naomi defeats brie bella




If there was one segment that stands out as time that could have been used to improve other storylines on the show, then it's this. As we headed towards the end of the show, I was really lagging at this point and considering switching the show off and having a relatively, early Monday night. I had zero reason to care about Brie Bella or Naomi by this point and the two put on a genuine stinker of a match. Whilst the finish bought some relief as Naomi got a submission victory, it was awkward as fuck, with Brie waiting in position for a few seconds so that Naomi could go for a crucifix pin, before blundering their way into Naomi's weird new submission. Lana came out and laughed at Brie on the entrance ramp, in a real "Who the fuck thought anyone would ever want to see this?" moment.

fast-forward...The Fabulous Freebirds will join Sting and The Godfather in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016...In a backstage segment, Charlotte revealed that Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks would face off against each other again on this week's Thursday Night Smackdown...A recap of the Mr. McMahon and The Undertaker segment from earlier tonight... 


dean ambrose vs. alberto del rio ends in a no contest




This was pretty much a carbon copy of last week's show closer, but with less violence. First off we got some solid action between Dean Ambrose and Alberto Del Rio, nothing that re-invented the wheel, but watchable contest, that was telling a story. Even if Del Rio and the League of Nations have looked pretty shitty since their formation, we at least had a likeable and exciting babyface to watch fight from underneath. This worked well alongside an aggressive Del Rio focusing on The Lunatic Fringe's injured shoulder and created some fun action as the match went all over ringside. The highlight of the bout was Ambrose diving onto the entire League of Nations after the group had interfered multiple times throughout the match.



Just like last week, Triple H's music signaled a change in pace, as the match quickly descended into chaos when the League of Nations all entered the ring and jumped Ambrose. With Trip's eventually holding back the Lunatic Fringe and delivering a Pedigree, things felt all to similar to last week. Except, this week we'd seen last week, and I felt that because of that this week had a lot less impact. The Game accepted Ambrose challenge for a title match, seemingly because he was wound up enough by the former WWE Intercontinental Champion and wants to do even more damage to him. The storyline felt needlessly dragged out across the show, especially when the pay-off for sticking around was a watered down version of last week's happenings.


finally...atpw scale rating - 4.16/10




After I heaped praise on Monday Night RAW #1187 and called it the best episode of WWE's flagship show of 2016 so far, WWE may have followed it up with their weakest effort of the year. With Shane McMahon, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman all absent, the show felt like it was struggling to fill time and just move closer to WrestleMania. The only thing that actually happened here, was Dean Ambrose getting a future WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Triple H, but even then we didn't get a date for said match. The New Day's bout with AJ Styles and Chris Jericho just about managed to keep it's head above water, A LOT of the show and especially the last hour sunk straight to the bottom!

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