The Road to Wrestlemania, Episode Fifteen

This is the fifteenth episode in a series, retelling the Road to Wrestlemania 2016. This episode covers Monday Night Raw, originally televised on March 7, 2016.

The show opens with Vince McMahon strutting his way to the ring, confidence back after regaining the upper hand in episode thirteen. He tells the crowd that he hoped they enjoyed the brief return of his soon to be former son, Shane, but that they had better get something through their heads: The Authority was here to stay. Their legacy was built upon more than blood. And Stephanie McMahon and Triple H will take the company to places Shane isn’t even worthy of thinking about. And to ensure that, well. Vince has chosen his own personal champion to face the challenger. A champion he created, and who serves-

Unsurprisingly, this is where the Undertaker’s Bell rings once. And the lights go dark.

Lightning hits all four turnbuckles.

The lights come up, and Undertaker is standing in the ring, holding Vince by his throat. He leans in close, and says “I am not your lapdog, Vincent.”

The Deadman walks Vince back into the corner, until he is all but crushed against the ropes. “I will not fight your battles for you, old man. Find another. Make your lap dog give up the title so he can fight for you. He can always steal it back later. That’s what you do best.”

Vince shoves Undertaker back a little, clearing some space for himself and trying to regain some composure. “You’ll do what I tell you to do, Taker.”

Lightning hits the turnbuckle to Vince’s left.

“I am not yours to command.”

Vince takes a moment to settle himself, and then squares up to the Undertaker. The two men stare each other down for several quiet moments, and it almost seems as if they may come to blows. Finally, Vince raises the microphone. “You’ll fight for me Undertaker, and I’ll tell you why. I know what you want.”

The Undertaker’s eyes darken, but he says nothing.

“You’ll be my champion, Deadman. And you will win. Or you will never set foot in a Wrestlemania ring again.”

Vince waits for the boos to ease. “And you don’t want that, do you, Undertaker. No, you want John.”

Undertaker scowls, but Vince keeps pushing. “I promise you, Undertaker, that if you champion me at Wrestlemania, and end Shane McMahon for good, I will give you that match. Undertaker vs John Cena, main eventing Wrestlemania 33. But if you fail me, or if you don’t fight at all, I guaran-damn-tee that while the champ may be here… you won’t be.”

There are a number of things this promo corrects from the originally televised version. Firstly, we now understand Undertaker’s reasoning for fighting Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania. Whereas before, there was no logical reason until very late in the process, now it has been laid out. Undertaker has no interest in doing it, until Vince forces him with an ultimatum - fight and win, or lose the chance to face John Cena in a year. Secondly, it clarifies that this is not a loyalty decision. Vince is choosing Undertaker because it is Wrestlemania, and Shane McMahon can’t beat him. Undertaker is fighting because he has no choice. And finally, it adds a little more heat where there should have been plenty, but there was none - Triple H. Undertaker referring to The Game as Vince’s lap dog won’t go over well at all, yet Triple H will want Undertaker to win…

Match #1: AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens

AJ Styles returns to the ring to face the on-fire Kevin Owens in the first match of the night. The Prizefighter has been on a tear, but his close call victories against Chris Jericho and The Miz have inflated his ego, and his desire to continue beating Styles out of the WWE costs him. A little too much taunting gives Styles time to revover, and when KO goes for a Pop Up Powerbomb, Styles rolls him up for the victory.

KO is enraged, all but trashing the ring as Styles celebrates up the ramp.

Kevin Owens’ run comes to a crashing halt against The Phenomenal One. Pissed off and seeking retribution, word spreads soon after the match that KO has demanded a rematch on Smackdown…

Match #2: Adam Rose vs Rusev

Rusev comes to the ring alone, demanding the Social Outcasts send someone to face him. All four emerge, though while the others are eager to run down, Bo Dallas is wary of the missing League of Nations members. Eventually though, Heath Slater wins out, encouraging Adam Rose to take on the Bulgarian. The rest of the Outcasts head to ringside, though Dallas is far more hesitant than the rest.

The match progresses quickly, with Rusev re-establishing himself as a monster. But every time he builds momentum, the Outcasts cut him off.

But they never see the rest of the League arrive through the crowd.

The League crush Dallas and Curtis Axel before they know what is happening, before swarming Slater and Rose. The match ends immediately in disqualification, but the beating doesn’t end until all four Outcasts are slumped on the floor with the League of Nations standing arms raised in the centre of the ring.

This rivalry has now started to peak, but we haven’t gotten to the climax quite yet. The attack provides the League with a moment of unity, reminding the Outcasts that the former champions are not to be trifled with, while shaking the structure of the Outcasts just a little…

Backstage, Dean Ambrose finds himself contemplating a crow bar, when Mick Foley arrives to talk to him. The two discuss the upcoming Street Fight against Brock Lesnar, and why Ambrose is doing something so insane as to take on Lesnar in a Street Fight. Ambrose, smiling, asks Foley if he was scared before the Undertaker/Mankind match. Foley says he was, but that is what he did.

“I’m Dean Ambrose. And this is what I do.”

With a grin, Foley takes the crowbar, and offers him something better - Barbie, Foley’s barbed wire baseball bat.

This is exactly the same promo that occured on the televised Monday Night Raw, because it was brilliant. There will be changes to how it pays off in the actual match, but this promo was everything needed to build up Ambrose as Foley’s natural successor, and to enforce Ambrose’s gimmick.

Match #3: Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks

With a shot at Charlotte’s title on the line, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch put aside their recent alliance and throw down in the centre of the ring.

After as even a match as Monday Night Raw has ever seen, with each wrestler having an answer for everything her opponent tried, Banks manages to hit a sunset flip off the turnbuckle for the pin… except she slumps to the ground, shoulders on the mat; leading to a double pin, a draw, and a scheduled rematch in the next episode…

The build up to the Women’s championship match at Wrestlemania was almost perfect, so this match remains exactly the same as the televised version, down to the double pin draw from a sunset flip. Banks and Lynch sold it very well, so no need to change anything.

Match #4: The Ascension vs The Lucha Dragons

A rivalry that reaches back to WWE NXT explodes onto Monday Night Raw, as the two teams reach back into their history to steal the show. Sin Cara and Kalisto fly high, despite Viktor and Konnor’s attempts to ground them.

As Kalisto charges in, building momentum towards a Salida Del Sol, Sin Cara tags himself in, only to run into a devastating boot to the face from Konnor. Kalisto is taken out by a sneak attack from Viktor, and one Fall of Man later and the Ascension are back.

Sin Cara cannot get a break. And no matter what he does, Kalisto still has the US Championship…

Stephanie McMahon comes to the ring to brag about the Undertaker being her father’s champion, how her brother will be rightfully destroyed at Wrestlemania, and to discuss what the card would look like for Roadblock (since it is now less than a week away, and most of the card has yet to be filled). Before she can really get going about Roadblock though, she gets interrupted.

S.A.W.F.T. Enzo and Cass have returned.

The two wrestlers make their way to the ring, clearly in no mood to joke around. Enzo rips into The Authority for gifting the Wyatt Family the #1 Contender shot, when they had all but sewn it up, and when the Wyatts hadn’t even been included in the tournament. Ain’t nobody better than Enzo and Cass.

Stephanie, put off that she’s been interrupted, and still fuming about the continuing run of matches and promos ending without a clean finish, decides to give them what they clearly want: a match at Roadblock. Against The Wyatts for the #1 Contender slot. And since they are so confident, and given the burgeoning theme of the evening, and hell, just because they interrupted her, it will be No. Holds. Barred.

Stephanie McMahon is losing control of the talent, and Enzo and Cass returning hasn’t helped matters. She has started to spitefully lash out, which will carry on into Roadblock and beyond, severely impacting the cards. Meanwhile, with the return of Enzo and Cass, the tag team division suddenly looks a little less clear all of a sudden…

Stephanie storms backstage after being interrupted, brushing off a backstage interviewer and several others; as she reaches her office, she is confronted by The Usos. Jimmy is furious that Enzo and Cass get a contender shot just like that, yet The Usos don’t get a title shot.

Stephanie glares them down, pointing out that they got their asses handed to them by the Wyatt Family. “But fine. You want a title shot?” She nods to herself. “Well then fine.”

At Roadblock, the Usos will face the Dudley Boyz and The Ascension in a triple threat tag team match. And if they win, they’ll get a title shot. But if they lose, they are out of Wrestlemania…

Stephanie is on a rampage, lashing out at anyone and anything that impedes her. In doing so though, the Roadblock card is starting to take shape as a real pay-per-view; where you have to get through this event to go to Wrestlemania. And there are still a couple more spots left…

Match #5: D-Von Dudley vs Jack Swagger

On a serious run of late, Jack Swagger finds himself once again in the main event, this time against D-Von Dudley. By all appearances, payment for their assault of Dean Ambrose, D-Von looks to insert himself into the title conversation by knocking off the in form Swagger. It doesn’t go to plan at all though, as Swagger hits a powerful running clothesline to pick up the victory.

Bubba Ray Dudley rushes the ring, and attacks a celebrating Swagger from behind. Swagger counters, almost hitting a Gutwrench Powerbomb, only for D-Von to recover and take him out.

The beatdown barely gets going though, as Ambrose charges the ring, music playing, Barbie in hand. The Dudley Boyz scatter, unwilling to tangle with the Lunatic Fringe now that he has Mick Foley’s equalizer.

Ambrose gestures to them and tosses Barbie to the side, beckoning for them to join him and Swagger in the ring.

Word comes down from management: the show will be extended, and a new main event will occur…

Match #6: Dean Ambrose and Jack Swagger vs The Dudley Boyz

At the height of the new main event, Dean Ambrose dives out of the ring to take out Bubba Ray Dudley, before scrambling back in, tagging in Jack Swagger and executing a Gutwrench Powerbomb / Diving Elbow tag team finisher.

Just as Brock Lesnar’s music hits.

The Beast paces to the ring, as Swagger and Ambrose stand side by side, raring to try their luck.

Bubba Ray returns to the ring with a chair and cracks both Ambrose and Swagger in the back multiple times.

And then Triple H’s music hits, and the trap is sprung.

The Dudley Boyz roll out of the ring as Lesnar attacks Ambrose, hitting him with a pair of German Suplexes. Swagger gets to his feet, and the Wrestlemania opponents come face to face.

The Game slides into the ring and, almost gloatingly, stands over Ambrose, before laying into him with punch after punch. Lesnar turns as if to reclaim his prize. Swagger swings. Lesnar ducks beneath it, coming up behind him and crushing him with a German Suplex. Drags him up and hits him again. And again.

The Dudleys toss a couple of tables into the ring, as The Game pedigrees Ambrose, and Lesnar hits both Swagger and Ambrose with crushing F5s through the tables.

The show ends with Triple H and Brock Lesnar standing tall, Triple H with his arms raised, Lesnar simply walking away. Statement made. Job done.

Two episodes in a row, and less than a week from Roadblock, Dean Ambrose has been left a beaten pile by the Dudleys, and now Triple H and Brock Lesnar. With Jack Swagger in a heap beside him, any momentum they had been carrying into their respective matches with Lesnar is gone. Time to start again…

Summary

Jack Swagger has been dragged down with Dean Ambrose, but now they both now what it is to play The Game. Will they get through? Will they find the answers? Or will they fall to The Beast and the Cerebral Assassin. Time will tell.

In the next episode, the Roadblock card will be finalised. Who else will feel Stephanie’s wrath?

Let me know what you think in the comments down below.

Episode Card
Original Schedule Revised Schedule
Vince McMahon Promo Vince McMahon Promo
Kevin Owens def. Neville AJ Styles def. Kevin Owens
Summer Rae def. Brie Bella Adam Rose def. Rusev by DQ
Triple H Promo Dean Ambrose Promo
The League of Nations def. Dolph Ziggler Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks
Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks def. Naomi and Tamina The Ascension def. The Lucha Dragons
The New Day def. Y2AJ Enzo and Cass Promo
Kalisto def. Tyler Breeze The Usos Promo
Ryback def. Curtis Axel Jack Swagger def. D-Von Dudley
Dean Ambrose def. Bray Wyatt by DQ Dean Ambrose and Jack Swagger def. The Dudley Boyz by DQ