By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Mr. McMahon Interrupted Shane McMahon
Shane's comments about Vince being out of touch had to be a shoot (or at least a worked shoot), a lot like how he talked about the ratings and stock plummeting when he returned two weeks ago. Vince's one-liners were entertaining as well (especially when he waited until the short-lived CM Punk chants were over with) and their back-and-forth was pretty good on the whole. Shane knocking out all four security guards was slightly silly, but there's no denying the hot Chicago crowd loved every moment of it, and admittedly, it was cool to see Shane throwing jabs again. One question, though: Why wouldn't Vince have destroyed that picture of him and Shane 15 years ago when their bad blood on its worst?
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Neville (Non-title)
Similar to Owens' various matches against Dolph Ziggler, these two work extremely well together and always have entertaining matches despite how many times they've faced off over the past year. Neville has beaten Owens in the past, so Owens winning wasn't a foregone conclusion. Neville went the extra mile by executed more amazing looking moves than usual (including that incredible Phoenix Splash off the second rope) and thus he looked credible in defeat. I didn't want to get my hopes up too high after the matchup in the case that Big Show came out and made the save, but I was beyond thrilled when Sami Zayn's music hit and the crowd went nuts. There have been rumblings for a while that they were on a collision course for WrestleMania 32 and that should be one hell of a match for the Intercontinental Championship.
Brie Bella def. Summer Rae
I was pleasantly surprised the Chicago crowd didn't crap all over Brie like I figured they would. Then again, her opponent was Summer Rae, so they probably went with the lesser of the two evils. The match barely lasted a few minutes before the inevitable Lana distraction, costing Brie the contest. I might have been in the minority, but I honestly didn't think Lana's facebuster on Brie looked half-bad. For someone who apparently doesn't have much wrestling experience, it was rather impressive. At any rate, I'm still not any more sold on a Brie vs. Lana match than I was one week ago. If that's the end-game, then I'm not looking forward to it.
Dean Ambrose Addressed WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H
With their WWE title match coming up this Saturday at WWE Roadblock, it was logical for Triple H and Ambrose to have one last verbal battle to hype up the championship clash. Both men performed well and I'm excited for the match they'll deliver at Roadblock. This segment also effectively hyped the main event between Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, not to mention I was glad it didn't run long or overstay its welcome.
League of Nations def. Dolph Ziggler in a 3-on-1 Handicap Elimination Match
It was encouraging to see Ziggler's previously deleted tweet directed toward The Authority a part of the storyline. Did it start out as a shoot and turn into a work, or was it a work the whole time? I'm leaning toward the latter. I was shocked they actually acknowledged his Survivor Series win from 2014 because they haven't mentioned it since it happened. This match was more enjoyable than I thought it would be, but only from an in-ring standpoint. I couldn't care less about Ziggler or League of Nations right now otherwise.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch def. Team B.A.D.
They built this bout up very well in the weeks leading up to WWE Fastlane, but Naomi and Tamina are just another two women on the roster coming off their latest loss. Tamina has never done anything for me, but Naomi is grossly underrated. They weren't given the time necessary to produce the type of match they were capable of, but Banks and Lynch winning to further their momentum was key as well as Charlotte getting the better of them afterward.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. Chris Jericho and AJ Styles
And I thought their match last week was a treat! This was one of the best bouts to take place on Raw in quite some time. Either as opponents or as partners, Jericho and Styles have fantastic chemistry together, and New Day shined here as well. Styles pulled out everything in his arsenal and it definitely gave the matchup a big fight feel. With Y2AJ shirts being released, I had a feeling they could win, but I was happy New Day went over in clean fashion followed by Jericho turning heel on Styles. They've had a phenomenal (no pun intended) feud over the past few months and I've psyched it's resuming through WrestleMania. Iron Man match, anyone?
United States Champion Kalisto def. Tyler Breeze (Non-title)
When was the last time Breeze received an entrance on Raw? I guess if there was any place to do it, it'd be in Chicago. He and Kalisto contested a nice match and they made good use of the small amount of time they were allotted. It was about time WWE started booking Kalisto on his own again and score a much-needed victory. He was getting over before Sin Cara came back, so they'll have to start all over again now that he's back to working one-on-one matches.
Ryback def. Curtis Axel
No mention of RybAxel? What's up with that?! All right, so I won't lose any sleep over that considering I didn't like their tandem to begin with. If his pre-match promo and his performance were any indication, Ryback is officially a full-fledged heel. I don't know how much heat he's going to garner from beating up on The Social Outcasts, but he certainly was extra aggressive here. A Ryback vs. Kalisto match screams WrestleMania Kickoff show, but it's far better than throwing them in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Dean Ambrose def. Bray Wyatt by Disqualification
This was almost an exact repeat from last week where fans were waiting for Triple H to come out and attack Ambrose and consequently the match itself was an afterthought. Luckily, Ambrose and Wyatt tend to have solid matches and this was no exception. The non-finish could be seen coming from a mile away, but it was a decent set-up to Ambrose getting the upper hand on HHH to close the show and give fans the impression he has a chance of capturing the championship on Saturday.
The first hour started out hot and the WWE Tag Team Championship match was remarkable, but the three hours dragged regardless. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode of Raw and thought the build for Roadblock and WrestleMania 32 was very well done, but the stuff in the opening segment felt like an eternity ago by the end of the night. Roadblock should be a blast, and beyond that, I'm interested to see how the rest of the 'Mania card fills out because as of now, it's shaping up to be strong.