By Jason Powell
Check out Monday’s Prowrestling.net Live with Jonny Fairplay and I taking listener calls on WWE TLC, and discussing Impact Wrestling severing ties with Jeff Jarrett and Global Force Wrestling at PWAudio.net.
WWE Raw Hits
AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, and The Miz: A hot start to the show with Kurt Angle setting up the match and delivering the surprise news of Styles working another Raw match. The show peaked with this match and never came close to regaining the level enthusiasm the crowd showed during this match.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman: A minor Hit for Heyman taking the confident approach in responding to Jinder Mahal’s challenge. Heyman would have lost credibility if he went out there and sang the praises of Mahal and acted like he was a real threat to Lesnar. The problem is that the match still does nothing for me on paper and I’m not sure if even Heyman will be able to sell viewers on it. By the way, did Lesnar have a plane to catch? It looked like he couldn’t get out of the ring and to the back quickly enough.
Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Alicia Fox: I assumed Fox was put in the match to put over Sasha or Bayley and to save the person who wasn’t going to win from taking the loss. Instead, WWE went with the surprise finish by having Fox go over to become the Team Raw captain. The finish was unexpected and Fox as the team captain is far more interesting than either babyface in that role. I don’t mind Fox’s crazy gimmick, but hopefully creative can find the line when it comes to Fox playing the role believably and going too far over the top with it.
Kalisto, Rich Swann, Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, and Gran Metalik vs. Enzo Amore, Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, Noam Dar, and Tony Nese: A crowd pleasing 10-man tag match thanks in large part to the big dives from the babyface wrestlers. Kalisto pinning Enzo heading into their title rematch on 205 Live was logical. And while I understand why they didn’t show ten separate ring entrances, having the wrestlers come out to either Kalisto or Enzo’s entrance themes reenforced the feeling that the division is about the champion and his challenger of the month, and everybody else is just everybody else. On a positive note, Gulak reciting Enzo’s usual entrance schtick was laugh out loud funny.
Alexa Bliss and Mickie James: It was a nice surprise to see the feud continue even though Bliss beat her at TLC. With the women’s champions facing off at Survivor Series, I can’t help but wonder if they intend to give James a brief title reign soon so that the Survivor Series match will feature the traditional babyface vs. heel dynamic rather than the current heel vs. heel match that is advertised.
Elias vs. Jason Jordan: There’s still no sign of Jordan catching on as a mid-card babyface. However, I like the idea of him working with Elias, who draws good heat for his pre-match routine. That heat hasn’t quite carried over to all of his matches, but the idea of Elias getting intentionally disqualified by hitting Jordan with a guitar shot did intensify the feud. Elias may have a baseball future ahead of him if his guitar swinging is any indication. Keep in mind that he busted open Finn Balor previously and now he left a nasty welt on the arm of Jordan.
WWE Raw Misses
Smackdown invades Raw: The only positives I can find in this is that they created an issue between the brands and they were smart enough to leave Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn out of the Shane McMahon led group of Smackdown invaders. However, the negatives far outweigh the positives. The Smackdown babyfaces who were feuding with Smackdown heels apparently put aside their differences for the good of the brand in forced rivalry that lasts all of one month. Everyone on the Smackdown side who took part in this attack came off like heels. Shane McMahon looked like a heel for leading the attack. New Day and other babyfaces looked like heels for standing by as Baron Corbin attacked an innocent production crew member. And I’d be shocked if the Smackdown crew are cast as heels beyond this point. That would be idiotic in that WWE doesn’t really want fans to choose one brand over the other, as they obviously want fans to watch both shows. And while it’s possible that some of Shane’s actions will be explained away in a promo tonight, WWE is quickly making me dread the annual Survivor Series event because of the Raw vs. Smackdown theme. The show consists of a bunch of meaningless champion vs. champion non-title matches (though I am looking forward to Ambrose and Rollins vs. The Usos). The elimination matches tend to be well worked, but the fans basically react to certain wrestlers and moves because they have no rooting interest in this forced rivalry. WWE officials really need to ask themselves whether this annual Raw vs. Smackdown feud is worth the confusion it creates.
Kane vs. Finn Balor: What?!? A night after Balor was given one of the biggest wins of his main roster run, they turned around and fed him to Kane. Yes, I realize they are trying to build up Kane for a feud with Braun Strowman, but why cool off Balor when countless undercard wrestlers could have taken this beating? It’s starting to feel like they are sending the message that Balor should only be taken seriously if he’s using the Demon persona.
Asuka vs. Emma: I enjoyed their TLC match more than most. The biggest complaint from Dot Net’s Jake Barnett and others was that their TLC match was too competitive for Asuka’s debut match, but I felt like Asuka came away looking strong and that Emma even gained a little something in defeat. The Raw rematch went roughly half the time, yet I came away feeling like this was the match that was too competitive. If WWE officials are fearful of having their active roster members lose in squash style, then they would be wise to bring in some enhancement wrestlers to put over Asuka in dominant fashion during first weeks on television. Meanwhile, one of the broadcast team members stated that Emma could be so much more if she wasn’t so focussed on social media. I wish the creative team would come to the same conclusion and give up on this awful character trait.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ROH COO Joe Koff confirming plans for a weekly ROH online series, discussing his decision to call off ROH events due to the coronavirus outbreak, making Marty Scurll the head booker, ROH's partnerships with NJPW and the NWA, and much more...