WWE learned two lessons last night. Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder, and too much of a good thing can eventually lead to it becoming a bad thing. And unfortunately, everything else during its three hour running time was completely forgettable as the show failed to build upon the momentum gained last week. With the show desperately struggling to fill out three hours with an excessive amount of replays, having one of the most underused Divas on their roster attempt to sell Subway sandwiches in the middle of the show, and long winded promos from every McMahon family member except the one fans actually want to see, this episode of Monday Night Raw suffered from quick and forgettable matches that did very little to move things along.
Let’s start off with the beginning of the show. Triple H kicked things off by discussing what took place last week. If you watched SmackDown (of course you didn’t), then you would have noticed that he received a huge amount of canned boos from the crowd. This was their attempt to keep him a heel leading up to Wrestlemania. Well, it seems like it worked considering he received more organic boos this time around. But that didn’t help get Reigns over with the crowd as his insults thrown at the number one contender was met with indifference. Triple H got over as a heel extremely well because he knows how to talk to the audience. He also has his history as a top heel to back it up. But he simply could not convince the crowd to join Reigns’ pity party as silence was the only reaction Hunter received while doing his best to get the crowd to consider his actions last week as despicable rather than entertaining. And just as things seemed to be going nowhere, Dean Ambrose showed up to save the day.
Ambrose and Triple H immediately proved to be far more entertaining than Hunter’s current feud with Reigns. Ambrose has become more popular than ever since his altercations with Brock Lesnar. His Scrappy-Doo “Let me at ’em” persona has paid off in a big way. It’s completely believable that he would walk up to Triple H and insult him to his face regardless of the outcome. And fans were completely behind him for it. The back and forward between the two was a perfect way to set up the main event, but even Ambrose couldn’t get the crowd to react to Reigns when name dropping him. So despite the opening and closing segments of the show serving as a way to set up Triple H beating Ambrose next week as a way to push his feud with Reigns along, it only made fans wish for Ambrose to win the title next week instead. But that means Triple H will have to step down from main eventing Wrestlemania, and we know that’s not going to happen.
Everything else, especially Stephanie McMahon’s promo, was forgettable or downright awful. The Undertaker’s entrance was longer than his time on the mic before leaving, Vince received an indifference reaction from the audience before telling us nothing new, the matches were mostly short and uninspired, and replays dominated the entire show. On the bright side, Ryback looked incredible. I’ve always been a fan of his, and felt he matched everything WWE looks for in a top star. His aggressive ending to the match was more shootfighter than professional wrestler. I think he might actually be on to something with his new gimmick. I just hope WWE doesn’t kill it off before it has time to grow. Because it was obvious this episode that WWE desperately needs to build new stars as soon as possible.
Overall, this episode of Monday Night Raw was more disappointing than bad. Without Ambrose, the show would have fell apart completely. But he’s only one man, and WWE is thankfully not willing to shove him down our throats excessively like they’ve done Reigns in the past. His segments felt organic, and the crowd reacted to them extremely well. But the appearances of Ambrose at the beginning and end of the show left the rest of the running time of the show feeling a little like filler. I understand that Shane O’Mac can’t make an appearance on every episode of Raw leading up to Wrestlemania. And to be honest, that’s probably for the better. But we didn’t need individual promos from both Vince and Stephanie about Shane. That could have easily been condensed to one segment, and The Undertaker could have had his own time to truly speak on his upcoming match against Shane. Instead, the show felt like it was in a frozen stasis while waiting for both Roman Reigns and Shane McMahon to return.
I can’t use this episode to judge WWE’s current product. After openly acknowledging some of their issues, I can’t imagine that they’re going to continue to ignore them afterwards. This was simply an awful followup to an incredible episode before. Hopefully, this was just an misstep and not a preview of the road to Wrestlemania. Because it would be a shame if Raw remained a show filled with quantity over quality leading up to the biggest show of the year.