On a rather lackluster Raw, one thing that stuck out was Dean Ambrose as he managed to get Brock Lesnar's attention in a big way.
One problem they've had with Ambrose over the past year is while trying to build up his "crazy" side, they've turned him into a goofball. It seemed like they might be heading down that path again at the beginning of the night.
Ambrose came out to confront Lesnar, who opened the show. His early dialogue seemed to illustrate his crazy side, talking about being in the lair of the beast and how cozy it was. However, he quickly shifted gears. He talked about how he respected Lesnar. He said he knew the beatings that Lesnar could put on him. But he didn't care. Not because he was crazy, or that he was a masochist. Instead, he wanted the title. He wanted to beat Lensar. He even wanted to beat Roman Reigns, because he wanted the title.
It's a subtle point, but an important one. Ambrose isn't fighting just to fight. He isn't trying to be the crazy guy with the goofy rebound clothesline, who doesn't care about anything besides inflicting pain and getting pain inflicted on him. He cares about the title, and he cares about proving himself. It gives him direction, and gives him a reason to fight not just Lesnar but Reigns. A crazy guy who is crazy for the sake of being crazy will never be a top guy in the company. A crazy guy who can be serious long enough to make the top guys in the company stand up and take notice? Now that's a guy who could be champion.
At the end of the night, his speech just gave Lesnar a reason to nail him with an F5. But for the night, it made him an equal to Lesnar. Lesnar didn't go after Reigns; he went after the man who stood up to him. On Monday night, that was Ambrose. And for one night at least, he showed the ability to stand at the top of the card.
The rest of Raw:
* A big concern was how WWE would get the divas storyline to WrestleMania without it going stale. It seemed like it would be hard to get through Fastlane and Mania without repeating matches. WWE figured out how to do that Monday. Brie Bella, after showing an emotional video of Nikki Bella's surgery, beat Charlotte in a nontitle match. While it was somewhat random, it provides an easy opponent for Charlotte while putting the feud with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch on hold temporarily. Meanwhile, Sasha and Becky seem to be in a feud with Naomi and Tamina, after Team B.A.D. imploded. Naomi and Tamina attacked Sasha during a match with Becky, and then Becky backed up Sasha. So we have a Team BAE reunion, while also possibly getting two divas matches on a PPV.
* The best segment of the night might have came from a segment involving AJ Styles, though the star of the segment was The Miz. Miz, on MizTV, ran down Styles' accomplishments, playing up how good Styles has been before coming to WWE. He then started to turn it, saying it was similar to Daniel Bryan, and how Bryan wouldn't have been anything without him. Eventually, Styles got fed up and attacked Miz. Miz, when he was in the zone like he was Monday, might be the best heel in the company. He did a great job of building up Styles, and then turning it on him to get the crowd to react exactly the way he wanted. It's a bit disappointing that the WWE doesn't seem to be comfortable with Styles talking yet, but putting him in a segment like this, with a pro like The Miz, was a great idea.
* They keep teasing a tag team between R-Truth and Goldust. When this eventually does happen, it's going to be incredible, just based on these short segments between the two. Obviously this is going to be a rehash of the Goldust/Booker T tag team, but there are far worse teams to try to re-enact. Goldust still has his comedic timing down, and paired with R-Truth, it could be gold. Not a huge fan of the Golden Truth name though.
* Dolph Ziggler picked up a surprise win over Kevin Owens. I don't necessarily expect this to go anywhere. However, just like last year, it does seem like a lot of the midcarders are starting to band together in various feuds. Could we see another multiman match for the IC title at WrestleMania?
* Kalisto successfully defended his title by beating Rusev via countout. Del Rio was on commentary during the match, and they announced that Kalisto and Del Rio would have another match at Fastlane.
* The Usos beat Curtis Axel and Adam Rose. This match was only notable because Lilian accidentally said that The Usos were a "Grammy Award" winning team. What category do you think they would win in?
* Big Show beat Erick Rowan in a match, with a chokeslam. After the match, the Wyatt Family beat down Big Show, and left him lying after a slam on the steel stairs. Interestingly, the crowd was really behind Big Show during and after the match, even chanting his name. I will say, this isn't a bad way to use the remaining Wyatt Family members, and if it gets Big Show over, why not roll with it?
* Titus O'Neil beat Tyler Breeze. It's so frustrating to see both of these guys used this way. Titus is getting wins, but they're meaningless wins. They need to do something with him. And Tyler Breeze needs any direction.
Thoughts? Questions? Leave them in the comment section, email me or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also find my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jobbing-out/id998790026?mt=2