By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Samoa Joe, Sheamus, and Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Jason Jordan: It was a good night for Joe overall as he was booked as a badass in this match and throughout the night. It was also a good match that served as part one of Ambrose injury angle. It’s interesting that the injury was scripted to occur when Rollins hit him and two of their opponents with a suicide dive. I came away wondering if the idea was to create another moment that Ambrose can point to when the time comes for him to justify a heel turn.
Seth Rollins vs. Jason Jordan: WWE took a creative way of getting to the match by having Jordan demand that he take Seth’s spot in a match against Joe. The actual match was well wrestled and held my interest despite some undeserved “boring” catcalls from some in the crowd. I was actually hoping that creative would have a little Kurt Angle-like fun with his storyline son by having Jordan mistakenly assume that he was an honorary Shield member for the night once he was booked to team with Rollins and Ambrose. Jordan showing up in Shield-like gear while Rollins and Ambrose wore their regular attire, and then being blown off by the duo while going for a Shield fist bump would have been fun.
Elias: I was really hoping he was actually going to sing the praises of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New England. Some of the Elias segments are better than others, but I continue to enjoy the high level of confidence he exudes, as he looks completely at ease while he toys with the crowd. Elias and Jordan have breakout star potential and I find myself looking forward to their segments and watching them progress each week.
Finn Balor and Hideo Itami vs. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel: Itami’s debut was a pleasant surprise. It was a long time coming for Itami, who had a rocky road filled with injuries and setbacks in NXT. I’m not sure whether to read something into Itami teaming with Balor or if this was simply a one-off. Meanwhile, it continues to feel like they are just filling time with Balor until The Miz returns.
Woken Matt Hardy: It was nice to see them move away from the back and forth videos. We were introduced to another one of Hardy’s quirky co-stars in the form of Napoleon the chess playing goldfish. Good times. I hope this is leading to a match between Hardy and Bray Wyatt that will be filmed Final Deletion style at the Hardy family compound. It’s interesting that Hardy continues to bring up Sister Abigail in his promos. As much as I hated the idea of The Demon facing Sister Abigail in a match at WWE TLC, Wyatt in drag as Sister Abigail might actually be fun in the Woken Universe. Either way, it was good to see that Michael Cole acted like he wasn’t in on the joke this week. There’s no better way to kill the fun of a quirky gimmick than showing Cole force laugher in response.
The Revival vs. Rhyno and Heath Slater: It was good to see the return of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. It was not so good to see Titus Worldwide keeping an eye on the match, as I have zero interest in seeing Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews be anything other than speed bumps for the Revival. Meanwhile, it should be fun to see what they have planned for Rhyno attempting to toughen up Slater. Did Vince McMahon finally see the Get Hard movie? Get your minds out of the gutter, it’s a comedy starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart.
WWE Raw Misses
Stephanie McMahon announces a women’s Royal Rumble match: I have mixed feelings on the actual women’s Royal Rumble match in that I question whether it will take away from the men’s version now that they will hold two Rumble matches on the same show. However, I’m all for finding out, so that’s not where the Miss comes from. Rather, it’s for the almighty Stephanie McMahon making her entrance and causing all of the women in the ring to immediately stop brawling and freeze due to the mere presence of the sports entertainment goddess. Absolution struck me as an anti-authority faction. The trio not only stopped fighting, but Paige even helped lead the Yes chant. This was McMahon family self-importance at its absolute worst. Stephanie should be embarrassed that she allows herself to be scripted in this manner and the negative effect it has on the actual stars of the division.
Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, and Kane: Fans view Kane as the weak link of the match and WWE doubled down on this by having Lesnar put him down quickly with an F5. Apparently, they thought Kane sitting up Undertaker style once Lesnar got to the stage was supposed to build up Kane. Great, so Lesnar can hit Kane with an F5, pin him, celebrate, and then about the time he gets to ringside they can have Kane sit up at the Royal Rumble. Ugh. Even Strowman was made to look weak by being clotheslined to ringside by Lesnar with ease. I wasn’t excited by this match on paper and somehow this angle left me feeling even less enthused.
Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak for a shot at the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Even Enzo Amore checked his phone and then got up and left during the match. Okay, so they’re trying to tell a story with Enzo and Nia Jax, but surely they could have gone about it another way. There was nothing really wrong with the match and I’m happy to see Alexander moved into the title picture, but it’s hard to be excited about his or anyone else’s title match with Enzo. The guy is a good personality, but he’s not a good fit as champion. That said, it was good to see they didn’t pull the trigger on the Gulak turn. He needs more time for his dorky charm to catch on with viewers.
Asuka vs. Alicia Fox: A minor Miss that has more to do with my lack of patience than anything that happened in the match. I’m anxious to see Asuka do more than beat Dana Brooke and Alicia Fox. I can’t blame WWE for showcasing Asuka in this manner, but I also can’t pretend that it’s not getting old in a hurry. On the bright side, at least Michael Cole finally spent more time putting over her striking ability than finding joy in watching her slam her ass into an opponent.