Post-Fastlane: Raw Preview 2/22/16
Photo: WWE.com

Post-Fastlane: Raw Preview 2/22/16

Let's take a look at what is going to go down on Monday Night Raw.

cdrisenhoover
Connor Risenhoover

After a rather lackluster pay-per-view, the WWE has six weeks of television to tell its viewers why the should be interested in its marquee event, WrestleMania. That task will begin tonight in Detroit with Monday Night Raw.To get a clear understanding of where the WWE will take tonight's show, it is important to take a quick look back at last night's Fastlane pay-per-view. 

Fastlane Recap:

  • Kalisto defeated Alberto del Rio in a 2-out-of-3 falls match to retain his United States Championship.
  • Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks defeated Naomi and Tamina in a tag team match.
  • Kevin Owens defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain his Intercontinental Championship by .
  • Ryback, Kane, and Big Show defeated the Wyatts minus their leader Bray.
  • Charlotte defeated Brie Bella to hold on to her Divas Championship.
  • AJ Styles defeated Chris Jericho.
  • Curtis Axel defeated R-Truth.
  • Roman Reigns defeated Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar to become the Number One Contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. (WWEWHC)

Looking Toward WrestleMania:

As the results show, most of Fast Lane was a way of breaking up feuds that carried over from last year so that the focus can be on all of the huge matches that will be had during WrestleMania. Unfortunately for the fans, right now with so many injuries and unknowns, there isn't much to get that excited about for Mania, and Fast Lane did little, if any, to get viewers excited for what should be the biggest pay-per-view of the year.

Fast Lane felt like an event that didn't need to happen because, honestly there were very few storylines that progressed or felt like they are going to carry over to WrestleMania. It felt like a way for the company to kill time while they scramble to rearrange plans for many of their top guys.

This is the position that tonight's Raw finds itself in, it must make up for Fast Lane's lack of build for WrestleMania, it really has to start putting the pieces together for an audience that, right now, has very little idea of what is going to happen. That isn't a good thing in terms of, oh my goodness, anything can happen. Instead, this situation is more about ineffectual writing that has consistently been unable to get the audience to be interested in its story. 

There are six weeks until WrestleMania and there is still an incredible amount of work to do since Fast Lane did not give WWE a head start, and if anything set them back with confusing decisions and a poorly thought out show. Raw tonight is going to have to bring the audience back and get them to buy into the vision that they have for Mania.

Storyline Check:

With the Roman Reigns win last night, he will now be headlining WrestleMania once again to challenge the establishment by taking on Triple H for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. Raw will have to be able to get the audience to buy into Reigns which they have so far been unwilling to do.

Reigns has been getting a mixed reaction, but, unlike John Cena, there isn't an audible faction of fans to drown out the boos. Raw will have to begin to give the audience a reason to cheer Reigns or the WrestleMania main event may get hijacked by unwanted chanting.

The Wyatt's are without a program after losing last night to Kane, Ryback, and Big Show. With no interaction after the loss with another wrestler or faction, it will be up to Raw to make sure that these guys, especially Bray, have some sort of role at Mania other than warm bodies.

With Charlotte retaining her Divas championship, she can now move on to a feud which might allow her to showcase her talent in more obvious ways. Similar to their former-NXT pal, Becky and Sasha have been freed up for some sort of title shot with a win over Tamina and Naomi. The feud between the three girls might be able to recapture some of the NXT magic and have that standout women's match on the main roster.

Having Owens and Kalisto retain effectively ends the small feuds that they had been having with former champions, which allows them the freedom to get a totally new opponent or opponents for WrestleMania. Both need some time with the belt to establish themselves as champions, so the six week build should do both very well and culminate in excellent matches. Raw should be a place where they are winning and begin to set a storyline that should have a huge match to pack the seats at Mania.

Finally, the last notably absent name from the WrestleMania card is the man who has delivered Mania after Mania, the Undertaker. Being a Texas boy and the phenom, look for the Deadman to make his return to Raw to begin his storyline. It could very well be tonight that a gong is sounded and a challenge made by the legend himself. If not tonight, look for that very soon.

Because it's Raw, look for the New Day to have something funny up their sleeves to make the three hours more easily digestible. Either way, there is a lot that six Raws must accomplish as they make up for Fast Lane and build to Texas-sized expectations for WrestleMania in Dallas.

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