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WWE RAW is Tug of WAR TV Report: Ziggler gets his big win, Diva's Title, Simmons shines

By Rob McCarron | Wrestling Observer

Welcome to F4WOnline & Wrestling Observer's live coverage of tonight's big WWE Raw from Los Angeles, California!

Sting Opens WWE Raw

In what was billed as a historic moment in Raw history, Sting opened Raw with a rather intense promo about how he plans on taking HHH down at WrestleMania. He says he isn’t fighting for WCW, because that’d be silly, but rather just to knock HHH down a peg. Stephanie McMahon came out to fight her husband’s battle, knocking Sting for being a big fish in a small pond during his WCW days. JBL on commentary called Sting the “biggest star in a promotion full of stars,” which can only be taken as an endorsement of Sting for the Observer Hall of Fame. Stephanie went to slap Sting, but Sting stopped it, which lead to HHH making his own entrance. Hunter was silent, going for a sledgehammer before entering the ring. Sting, however, came prepared with his bat, so we had a classic standoff. Hunter retreated with his wife, thus ending the best opening segment possibly this year on Raw.

Ambrose & Truth vs Harper & Stardust

Bad News Barrett performed commentary this week, which was quite great. Truth won, pinning Stardust after the What’s Up. Fine match, but most of the focus was on Barrett on commentary. Luke Harper and Dean Ambrose were wearing the exact same thing, a grey tanktop with blue jeans.

Renee Young introduced some of the participants and executives from the upcoming Special Olympics.

A funny portion of a WWE.com video package featuring Miz, Mizdow, Will Ferrell, and Kevin Hart aired.

The Miz & Mizdow & Rose & Ascension vs Prime Time Players & The Ryback & Zack Ryder & Rowan w/ Bill Simmons on commentary

Bill Simmons was excellent on commentary, at first continuing his Twitter battle with JBL, and then making the storylines and actions in the ring actually mean something. He was asking JBL and Booker about their history in such matches, bringing up notes about the players, and so forth. He showed that you can take wrestling seriously while still having fun with it. It was excellent. The match was also the best Ascension match of all time. Ryback got the pin on Miz after a shellshock.

Who will announce Mania? JBL, Cole and Lawler? Four man booth?

Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins & Noble & Mercury

This was WWE App voted, with Rollins and J&J Security getting 77% of the vote. Randy pinned Noble after an RKO in a quick match. Rollins was basically left out of it.

AJ Lee and Paige, backstage, passively argued about who should get the Diva’s Title shot tonight against Nikki Bella. Each one told the other they should take it, eventually leading Paige to call AJ crazy if she didn’t. AJ was upset that that, so Paige walked it back before leaving. Normally I’d ask why they’re building dissension between these two before the Mania tag, but it isn’t like it is out of place. These two are only together because of a common enemy already, not for any sense of friendship or mutual aspirations.

Nikki Bella vs Paige

Nikki retained the Diva’s Championship via pinfall after the Rack Attack in a lengthy match by recent Raw women’s standards. AJ basically cost Paige the title, by accident, when AJ decked Paige outside the ring right before the finish. AJ had been fighting off the Bellas at the time. After the loss, Paige was furious with AJ, unloading punches on AJ before leaving in tears. The Bellas loved it all, as their plan had worked. It’s the Bellas vs Pale & Stale at WrestleMania.

Another WWE App poll allows us to pick the referee for tonight’s Ziggler vs Bryan match, with the five choices being the remaining members of the IC Title ladder match at Mania.

Snoop & Hulk Take Down Axelmania

Snoop Dogg popped the crowd a bit with hype for WrestleMania, before Curtis Axel made an appearance to hype Axelmania. He said Axelmania would never die, to which Snoop responded with the introduction of Hulk Hogan. The fans went nuts with Hogan’s surprise appearance. Axel stood up to Hulk, ripping his shirt off in front of the legend before going after Hulk. Hulk gave him a punch, then Snoop threw Axel out of the ring. Hogan and Snoop celebrated as WWE cut to a video package of Brock Lesnar.

Cesaro & Kidd & Natalya vs Matadores & Torito

Torito pinned Natalya with a sunset flip. Tyson and Nattie showed massive dissension during the match. Mentally prepare yourselves for new champs possibly at Mania. Usos vs Matadores vs Kidd & Cesaro vs New Day was confirmed for the Kick Off Show on WWE Network in a Fatal Four Way.

Backstage, Kane took hold of Barrett’s Intercontinental Championship in order to hang it above the ring at WrestleMania 31.

Rusev vs Jack Swagger for WWE Linear Championship

Rusev tapped Swagger to the Accolade in a short match, but one with some Swagger offense which always looks impressive when doing it to Rusev. Rusev locked in the Accolade to win, but wouldn’t break the hold as Cole explained that Lana is the one who gets Rusev to break it, and Lana wasn’t there tonight. Cole spoke of a possible rift between Lana and Rusev after Lana accepted the Cena rematch on Rusev’s behalf. John Cena ran down to get Rusev to break, which began a short brawl between the two that Rusev won. Rusev stood tall, waving the Russian flag, as Cena was down and out. With Cena slowly getting up, Rusev noticed his recovery and went back for more. Rusev delivered another shifting side kick to Cena, and finished him off with the Accolade on top of the commentary table.

RAW is WYATT

Bray Wyatt, in the ring, spoke about his upcoming match with The Undertaker. The promo was accompanied by sound effects and special lighting, all of which together made this seem like a big deal. Like, it really wasn’t goofy like when Kane used to have promos with weird sound. It all worked. Bray’s done about the best job one guy could do in limited time to make a match feel important when the other guy is completely absent.

Kevin Nash was announced as the final inductee for the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.

Backstage, Tyson Kidd was eating Burger King and professing his love for Chicken Fries. The crowd popped for it. Like, really. They even chanted chicken fries, so they had to be muted.

Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler

Ambrose won the Special ref voting with 57%. Ziggler won the match with 100%. Ziggler pinned Bryan after a strong match with the ZigZag. For years and years many have been hoping for a Ziggler push, or at least, a strong TV win against a credible opponent. Somehow I have the feeling that Bryan losing will be a bigger talking point, even though basically the same fans just got what they wanted. Vince knows what he’s doing. After the match, Dean Ambrose took off the ref shirt and laid out Ziggler with a Dirty Deeds. All of the other participants then ran out, a ladder was involved, and a minute later the segment ended with everyone laid out. Everyone. All of them. Knocked out everywhere. Fun times.

JBL, for the third time in the night, made fun of anyone who would pay $65 for WrestleMania on Sunday.

Backstage, Paul Heyman woke up Brock Lesnar for the main event segment.

RAW is BRAWK & RAWMAN

If you’re looking to see a fight, buy WrestleMania. If you’re looking to see Brock beat another human being, buy WrestleMania. If you’re looking to see the beast mangle another human, buy WrestleMania. Either Brock is everything that Paul says he is, or he isn’t. On Sunday, we find out. These were the words of Paul Heyman. Period. Exclamation Point. The crowd got less interested in Heyman the longer he spoke, except for a brief spot when Heyman referenced that Cena wasn’t in the main event of WrestleMania this year. They cheered that, of course. Basically the start of Heyman’s promo was telling us that he already sold the PPV, and didn’t need to say anything else. Of course, he kept speaking for five more minutes. I imagine Paul never got ECW a good TV deal because once the network would say yes, he’d never shut up and actually close the sale.

At 11:10 PM EDT, Roman Reigns cut Heyman off and made his way to the ring. He and Lesnar faced off. There was no violence. No brawl. Nothing like that. Instead, Brock held the title up in Roman’s face. Roman went to grab it, but Brock didn’t let go. Raw then faded to black with Roman and Brock playing tug-o-war with the WWE Championship.

Get Hard.