Three weeks from WrestleMania and it's all hands on deck in time for the final push towards the biggest show of the year. After a two week absence to sell his broken nose, Roman Reigns will return tonight in Pittsburgh to resume the build for his main event against HHH. Shane McMahon and the Undertaker are also scheduled. The New Day are scheduled to defend the World Tag Team titles against Alberto Del Rio and Rusev. Plus, Sami Zayn made his return last week and is expected to build for his presumed match against Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship. Plus, Chris Jericho, A.J. Styles, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks.
Our coverage starts at 8 ET.
The Big News: Shane McMahon and Undertaker had their first face-to-face confrontation since the WrestleMania main event was announced. It ended with Undertaker chokeslamming Shane after Vince sacrificed his own son, but Undertaker gave Vince a mean stare afterwards. Dolph Ziggler became the latest on the long line of wrestlers that HHH buried. Stephanie buried him in an interview segment, and HHH buried him in a match. Other matches official for WrestleMania include the League of Nations vs. the New Day for the tag team titles and Kalisto vs. Ryback for the U.S. Championship.
The New Day started the show with a new box of Booty O's in Kofi Kingston's hands. No 20 minute promo tonight as Alberto Del Rio and Rusev came out for the tag team championship match.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day defeated Rusev and Alberto Del Rio to retain (13:37)
It was Big E. and Xavier Woods representing the New Day. Woods pinned Rusev with a schoolboy cradle. Rusev hit a superkick on Woods while Big E. was laid out with a double foot stomp by Alberto Del Rio, but Woods kicked out in a good near fall. Kingston distracted Rusev for the finish. The match tried to make New Day into total babyfaces. Big E. did a good comeback sequence with repeated belly-to-belly suplexes on Rusev, which is now called the Booty-to-Belly. Pretty good match, though you would think that since the fans have wanted to turn New Day for months, they would rally around them once they finally did. But they were dead for this one.
Postmatch, Sheamus and King Barrett joined in for a total beatdown of the New Day. Barrett even got to pull out the Bullhammer elbow on Kingston. Rusev delivered the Accolade on Woods, and Del Rio delievered the Double Foot Stomp off the top. Sheamus gave Big E. the Brogue Kick. Appears a rematch is coming at WrestleMania.
Dean Ambrose came out after losing to HHH at Road Block. Ambrose admitted he ade a mistake against HHH on Saturday night, but that's fine because he lives by his sword and he dies by his sword. He told anyone to ask how HHH how he's feeling right now because it ain't gonna be good. That would have made sense later in the show if HHH came out selling something. Instead, HHH came out 30 minutes later looking no worse for wear. Oh well, if he can't change after 15 years, why start now?
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came out.
Heyman said he was the voice of reason because that was the only thing that was saving Ambrose from a beating. Ambrose dared Heyman to let the beast off his leash. Heyman said any fight that features Lesnar is the main event, and he didn't want to ruin the main event of WrestleMania. He got on his knees and begged Ambrose not to provoke Lesnar because if he came down to the ring, Ambrose wouldn't make it to WrestleMania. Then there wouldn't be anyone left for Lesnar to wrestle because Ambrose was the only one crazy enough to want to fight Lesnar.
Ambrose again dared Lesnar to come to the ring, but Heyman held him back and put over Lesnar with his standard platitudes. Heyman went to the back, but Lesnar didn't. He walked down to the ring. Ambrose pulled out a crowbar. Lesnar didn't back down despite Heyman's objections and circled the ring. Lesnar charged the ring, but Ambrose went after him with the crowbar. Lesnar dropped down, looked menancingly at Ambrose and they cut to a break. Fans really don't seem to know how to approach this program because they want to cheer both men.
Ryabck defeated Sin Cara (4:12)
Ryback won after giving Sin Cara two shellshocks, the second of which he did staring at Kalisto at ringside. The new gimmick for Ryback is he's a good big guy who will always win over a good little guy. He challenged Kalisto to a U.S. Championship match at WrestleMania. It would help if the good little guy was over. Instead, when he tried to get a "Lucha" chant going, the fans started chanting "We want tables." Ryback's turn has also fallen on indifferent ears.
They have a new sponsorship with Burger King grilled dogs, so they showed past promos with Mad Dog Vachon, Junkyard Dog and Road Dog Jesse James.
Stephanie McMahon came out to shocking little reaction.
Like her father, she didn't look happy about it. She introduced HHH, who she said handily defeated Ambrose at Road Block. HHH came out selling nothing and said Ambrose failed because the Authority always wins. He said hope is not a strategy, but it's how fans relate to Ambrose and Roman Reigns, because they hope they're the ones who can end the reign of the Authority. HHH saved his boring 20-minute promo for the 9 o'clock hour, saying people hope they get a job once they get out of high school, hope they get a promotion, hope they get a raise, but it never comes.
HHH said the fans were all failures and they cut to a shot of fans at ringside. You could see their boredom. HHH went on and on forever in his worst promo in recent memory. He said Reigns will fail at WrestleMania. Reigns got a mixed reaction. He said the Authority always wins. Dolph Ziggler came out wearing a pink shirt and black blazer. Stephanie said "Speaking of failures."
Ziggler said he knows his place, and it's in the ring busting his ass for the fans. Stephanie treated him like a joke, saying he was pandering "Cena-esque." Stephanie said he wasn't that good. Ziggler wondered if Stephanie was going to threaten to fire him. He realized he has nothing left to lose. He vowed never to quit. Ziggler said he and Ambrose were screwed by the system, the Authority's system. But they weren't failures. Ziggler dared Stephanie to fire him. HHH stepped in and said firing him wouldn't be good for business. The fans loved Ziggler because he was a loveable loser, just like the fans. HHH said Ziggler didn't have to be a loser, he could be great, but he didn't have the right people backing him up. Maybe he could get everything he wanted out of life if he got the right advice.
Ziggler said he wouldn't side with HHH and Stephanie if they were the last two people on Earth. Ziggler called Stephanie "egomanical, tyranical." Stephanie slapped him and offered him any match at WrestleMania if he could win his match tonight. Stephanie said Ziggler wouldn't win the match and she would break his spirit tonight. Stephanie said Ziggler would face HHH, who looked a little surprised at that announcement, but not hesistant to wrestle. On the bright side, I didn't think I would watch anything this week more interminable and less entertaining that yesterday's Selection Sunday show, but this segment proved me wrong. In less than 24 hours, to boot. I really miss the days when wrestling was fun.
Sami Zayn defeated The Miz (7:13)
Kevin Owens was on commentary. Sami Zayn did a Somersault tope on the Miz. Owens got up and started jawing with him. Miz jumped Owens from behind. Michael Cole explained that was because Owens walked out on the Miz during a tag team match on SmackDown. Owens distracted Miz, oddly enough, which led to Zayn pinning Miz with the Helluva Kick.
Renee Young did a promo with the League of Nations. Del Rio said they sent a message to the New Day. Rusev said no one was laughing now. Sheamus challenged New Day to a match at WrestleMania.
They announced Connor's Cure would partner with the Jimmy V Foundation t fight cancer. Daniel Bryan, Brie Bella and that dasterdly heel Stephanie were all shown.
Naomi and Tamina defeated Brie Bella and Alicia Fox (2:39)
Our third distraction finish in four matches. Bella hit the Bella Buster on Naomi, but Tamina made the save. Lana (who came out just before the opening bell) distracted the referee while Naomi ran in and did a double team stuffed Michinoku Driver on Bella, and Tamina got the pin. Alicia Fox took a double superkick from Naomi and Tamina afterwards.
Social Outcasts did a product placement skit for Burger King.
Paige did an interview with Jojo when Lana walked in. Lana said Paige was a fool if she thought she was a successful diva. Lana said Paige was hanging around a lot of weak American friends. Paige said if Lana wanted to know what a real Diva does, she would show her. Naomi and Tamina backed up Lana and told Paige to watch her words more carefully. So it appears Lana, Naomi and Tamina have formed a group.
Charlotte and Ric Flair did a promo with Young. Charlotte said she knew Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch before they made the main roster. Charlotte said before Banks' first match, she was holding her hair because she was throwing up in nervousness. Now, she walks around like she owns the place, but Charlotte still sees a scared little girl. Charlotte said Lynch was always the third wheel. Flair said Charlotte called him after two weeks at NXT and told him there were two girls here who are going to be great, and Charlotte said she had to be better. Charlotte said she was better, and she had the Divas Championship to prove it. Charlotte, Lynch and Banks will have a sit-down conversation at SmackDown, and Charlotte said they would learn on Thursday they couldn't run from their past.
The Usos defeated Bo Dallas and Adam Rose (1:54)
The Dudley Boyz were at ringside. Jey Uso pinned Bo Dallas after a splash. They continue the Usos-Dudleys program.
Ambrose was in the back when Mick Foley showed up. This was the highlight of the show. Foley wanted to know why Ambrose wanted to fight Lesnar at WrestleMania. Ambrose asked Foley if he was scared when he was on top of the Hell in a Cell (right there, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) in 1998 against the Undertaker? Foley said he was. Ambrose asked him why did he keep going? Foley said because he was Mick Foley, and that's what he does. Ambrose said he's Dean Ambrose, and this is what he does. Foley then took the crowbar out of Ambrose's hands and gave him a gift box, which was to symbolize a passing of the torch. Ambrose pulled out a barbed-wire baseball bat. Foley is one of the greatest talkers and actors of all time. With Foley, Steve Austin, Rock Shawn Michaels and HHH in 1998, it's easy to see why Vince Russo could look successful. It's hard to lose when you're dealt a royal flush.
WWE Champion HHH defeated Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match (17:28)
Good match where Ziggler got lots of near falls after a Famouser and various superkicks. HHH finally won clean as a sheet with the Pedigree because...of course he did. Largely buried Ziggler. Since it was Pittsburgh and Kurt Angle rumors were flying, the fans seemed disappointed with the finish.
Reigns came out afterwards. It was supposed to be his be revenge spot, but he got booed loudly. They still had one hell of a brawl, though. It started at the announcer's table, where Reigns did the spot that HHH did to him three weeks ago of repeatedly ramming HHH's head into the table. Charles Robinson and other referees came out to stop him, but Reigns shoved him down. HHH hit Reigns with a can of soda, which fizzed everywhere. Reigns sold it for a moment, then came right back with a right hand.
They brawled to the pyrotechnic area, where Reigns threw a huge toolbox and HHH that resulted in hardway blood. It ended up backstage, where Jamie Noble, Jack Swagger, the Usos and Mark Henry tried to break it up. Reigns hit HHH with a HDTV. HHH threw a trashcan at Reigns, who came back with a bigger trashcan. It finally ended when HHH and the Usos stepped in. Good brawl, but the fans still aren't warming up to Reigns.
Jacqueline was announced as the newest member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
Goldust walked around backstage when he stumbled upon someone dressed in a penguin mascot. It was R-Truth, who explained that when he grew up in the hood, the closest thing they had to a penguin as a 17-year-old pigeon with a limp. Truth heard that when penguins mate, they stay together forever. He asked Goldust to be his penguin, or his tag partner. Goldust smiled and said no. Truth said that was cold, then put the costume back on and wiggled around.
Chris Jericho came out and did a heel interview saying the fans chose A.J. Styles over him. Jericho said Styles wasn't as good as fans thought he was, he was a hack, arrogant, in over his head, and last week he put Styles in his place. He had to show Styles who his daddy is, which is Jericho, who is the best in the world at what he does. Neville came out.
Neville defeated Chris Jericho by DQ (4:52)
Neville injured his left leg/ankle attempting a baseball slide through Jericho's legs coming back from break. Jericho and Robinson very vocally audibled on how to get to the finish. Jericho put Neville in a schoolboy cradle, but Robinson stopped counting for no reason since Neville's shoulders were still down. Robinson disqualified Jericho for pushing him. It appeared Jericho didn't look happy with Robinson at all. Afterwards, Jericho got on the mic, ran down the crowd and Styles. This led to Styles coming out and giving Jericho a punch, followed by the springboard forearm, now called the Phenomenal Firearm, which will likely be his finisher.
Undertaker, Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon segment
Vince McMahon came out for the main event segment. Again, not much of a reaction. Seems that's becoming a pattern. He even had Lillian Garcia introduce him again to get the pop he was looking for. He did the same promo he did last week about what would happen if Shane McMahon wins the Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker. He said Shane will no longer want to be seen in public after he loses to Undertaker. The nice part is Vince won't have to lay a glove on Shane to do his dirty work, the Undertaker will.
Undertaker came out. Vince told him not to put his hands on him ever again, referring to two weeks ago when Undertaker grabbed Vince by the throat. Undertaker took his jacket and hat off to big pops. Vince said Undertaker had a lapse of judgement, and Vince himself had a lapse of judgement for even bringing up the subject again so he apologized. Vince knew the Undertaker wouldn't mind getting his hands dirty in leaving Shane in a pool of blood. Vince said some might call this an unholy alliance, but he calls it what's best for business.
Shane came out to, by far and away, the most tepid reaction since his return. Shane said his father was definitely not what's best for business anymore. Shane said he finds himself in match of a lifetime against the Undertaker. He's figured out a way to beat the Undertaker. He basically said he was going to stick and move, turn his body into a 230-pound weapon, and use his heart because he's fighting for his children, the fans' children and the legacy of the WWE.
Undertaker said it still wouldn't be enough. Undertaker said he has these, holding up his fists. It's his legacy. Shane said for the last 25 years, Undertaker has carried the company on his back. That's why he was surprised that Undertaker is dancing around like a puppet while his father controls the puppet's strings. Undertaker said no one controls him. Shane says he sees it differently. Shane said he had the misfortune of being Vince's son, but Undertaker was now Vince's bitch.
Undertaker grabbed Shane by the throat, but Shane skipped out the backdoor and threw punches that Taker really didn't sell at all. Shane did the Shane O'Mac shuffle, but Vince threw Shane into the Undertaker, who gave him a choke slam. Vince taunted Shane as he was laid out on the canvas, but then Undertaker looked at Vince. It's amazing how little body movement it takes by Undertaker and Vince to get a reaction. Undertaker just turned his head at Vince. Vince moved his eyes three times realizing the Undertaker was glaring at him with bad intentions, and it got more of a reaction than anything on the show. Vince rolled out of the ring as Undertaker walked towards him. Vince smiled in delight as Shane writhed in pain, but Undertaker was engaged in a staredown with Vince.
Behind the scenes, Vince is playing Shane against HHH and Stephanie. Vince is trying to prove he's not out of touch, even though he's lost 75% of his audience in the last 17 years. HHH is running NXT, which has garnered the following of hardcore fans, but Vince doesn't think he can make any of the NXT wrestlers stars. There's internal heat on HHH for not selling the Reigns injury, and tonight he did one of his classic HHH burial jobs on Ziggler. And I'm supposed to care about WrestleMania when all this is going on behind the scenes? You tell me, which sounds like more intriguing developments to follow? As for this show, Pittsburgh has long had the reputation of being a city of dead crowds, and tonight continued that reputation. Closing hour was interesting.