By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, and Mick Foley: Jericho was the MVP of the show thanks to his performance in the shark cage. Jericho did a great job of putting over the gimmick by acting completely terrified of heights (which is hilarious considering he also boasts about inventing the Money in the Bank ladder match). The opening segment between the trio was a lot of fun, and that’s coming from someone who is beyond tired of all of the Jericho interferes to save the Universal Championship for Owens finishes.
Braun Strowman: A good night for the big man with him terrorizing crew members in the backstage area and then tossing Sin Cara off the stage and onto a Christmas tree before he tumbled onto a table filled with gifts. Bigger than all of that was when he attacked the main event babyface duo of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. This was a big step up for Strowman. The jury is still out in terms of whether he can hang at that level, and I cringe at the thought of a Reigns vs. Strowman match at WrestleMania, but this was clearly a big night for Braun. On a side note, Sami Zayn agreeing to leave the building per Mick Foley’s request goes against everything the Zayn character has been talking about in his recent promos.
Nia Jax and Sasha Banks: A minor Hit that was so close to being the best angle on the show. The humble Sasha promo was her finest mic work to date on the main roster. Jax coming out and toying with the hobbled Sasha was great. Jax kicked the crutch out from under Sasha and just when it was getting good the segment ended. This had all the makings of a great heel beatdown angle, but for some reason they stopped short of having Jax actually do anything beyond kicking the crutch. What a shame.
Neville, Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann, and TJ Perkins: A good segment to put heat on the heels heading into tonight’s 205 Live main event. I really wanted to like Neville’s promo, but he started in fourth gear by yelling and stayed there. A reader disagreed in the comments section and felt it was the best promo Neville has delivered in WWE. The reader is right about it being his best promo, but it’s also by default. Quick, name a memorable Neville promo from his babyface run. Good luck. Neville showed that he can deliver a promo with passion, but now he needs to fine tune his delivery rather than just screaming at viewers. I actually got more of a kick out of Kendrick being opportunistic by claiming that he was outraged that Neville wasn’t in the division to begin with and attempting to bond with the world’s angriest man.
WWE Raw Misses
Sensitivity training skits: How did this make the cut? Vince McMahon presumably had a chance to watch these skits before Raw, yet he actually found enough humor to find them worthy of airing on television? This was WWE at its variety show worst. I never even chuckled once. WWE has done some entertaining backstage skits over the years, but there was simply nothing funny about this three-part skit. Surely there had to be a better way to put Rusev and Jinder Mahal together for their tag feud with Enzo and Big Cass.
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns: The babyface challenger was screwed out of winning the WWE Universal Championship the night before, yet we never heard from him. Rollins and Reigns were bitter rivals, yet we never hear them discuss how they feel about teaming with one another. Their reunion should be compelling. Instead, they are just teaming without any explanation as if they never had even a bump in the road.
Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar: A five minute match that featured three minutes of commercials. Dar saying he’s going to steal Alexander’s girlfriend is straight out of the Henri from “Cheers” playbook. It should be easy heat, but there’s only so worked up you can get about Dar trying to steal Alicia Fox when she’s been made out to be the crazy, overbearing new girlfriend. Heck, he might be doing Alexander a favor.
Sheamus, Cesaro, Big E, and Kofi Kingston vs. Primo, Epico, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson: The Sheamus and Cesaro dynamic is far too similar to Daniel Bryan and Kane for my liking, but there’s no denying that it’s clicking with the live crowds. The eight-man tag match was flat because Gallows and Anderson have been creatively abused, and the Shining Stars act is comically bad. Was this the first time that new champions have teamed with the team they beat to win the title one night after the title change? Weird.
Charlotte vs. Bayley: A minor miss for a decent match that just didn’t leave me anxious to see more. I love the NXT version of Bayley, but they just haven’t tapped into it on the main roster. Having her defeat the elitist heel champion three times feels backwards to me. She’s supposed to be the underdog, and instead she’s going into the match having already proven that she can defeat the champion.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ODB discussing the fire that destroyed her food truck, the fundraising drive to help her buy a new truck, her appearance on the latest Impact Wrestling television show, Triple H telling her to go to TNA, and much more...