By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship: The show peaked with the Rollins match once again this week. I mentioned in my live review that the presentation left a lot to be desired because they went right to the match and didn’t bother to have either man set it up with mic work. It became more understandable as the night went on given that Owens also worked the main event.
Sami Zayn promo: The idea of Bobby Lashley’s sisters showing up next week is oddly intriguing. There’s certainly a chance that it will be a disastrously campy segment, but I am genuinely curious to see where this goes. The Hit goes to Zayn’s work on the mic. I love that he didn’t play to the cheering crowd this week and was quick to shut them down with insults whenever they tried to cheer him. Zayn has become one of the more consistently strong heel promos and I look forward to his verbal segments the same way I look forward to seeing Miz’s mic work.
Braun Strowman and Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler: I still have no idea why WWE has paired McIntyre and Ziggler, but I enjoyed the match because it felt like something fresh. Strowman vs. McIntyre could be a big money match at some point, so the company was wise to limit their moments together.
The B-Team vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango: Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas have a chance to click as quirky underdogs. The London crowd was behind them and I could see the North American fans also getting a kick out of cheering the duo. It will be interesting to see if they are scripted in a way that gives fans cause to cheer them or if the company wants them to be heels since it appears they will be feuding with Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt.
Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Elias in a Money in the Bank qualifying match: A solid main event with the MITB qualifier stipulation providing a decent hook. WWE has already positioned Lashley poorly to the point that the London fans were chanting for his sisters. I’m actually fine with this because the best thing that could happen to Lashley is that the company continues to botch his babyface run if it means they will turn him heel soon. Lashley did tremendous work in Impact Wrestling as a heel and he’s never quite connected with fans a babyface. Raw is desperate for meaningful heels so what am I missing? It was strange to see Zayn interfere in the main event on behalf of Owens when last week’s story was that Owens never made good on his promise to have Zayn’s back in his MITB qualifier. Is this lazy booking? Is it just another pointless breakup swerve? Could it actually come back to haunt Owens when a bitter Zayn costs him the match at MITB?
Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James in a Money in the Bank qualifying match: A minor Hit for the MITB qualifier stipulation keeping the match interesting. It is ridiculous from a storyline standpoint to think that Bayley was booked against a heel duo in a Triple Threat match. It was lazy of WWE to not offer some explanation for how this occurred. Then again, they also had Kurt Angle say repeatedly tell Jinder Mahal that the MITB qualifier had to happen this week even though the show is over a month away.
Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Ember Moon vs. Riott Squad: A solid six-woman tag match even if it felt like filler. I hope the Jax vs. Rousey finish doesn’t involve a jealous Natalya turning on Rousey for getting a title shot prematurely. Take that finish and insert a bitter Banks in Natalya’s place and they might actually have something. Unfortunately, it appears the Banks and Bayley storyline is still in full effect and will result in the two of them reuniting to trade wins in a pointless feud with Riott Squad.
WWE Raw Misses
Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey angle: The announcement of the match on Monday afternoon left me intrigued. The actual angle that aired on Raw was so weak that I actually came away less excited about the match. There’s plenty of time to create some tension between Jax and Rousey and I really hope this results in Jax returning to the heel side where she belongs. Either way, the initial angle that resulted in Jax and Rousey walking off happily with Charlotte Flair was a real letdown.
Roman Reigns and Jinder Mahal: I feel bad for the broadcast team when they have to spew the seemingly endless excuses for why Reigns is being booed. Over the last five weeks, there was the Raw After WrestleMania excuse, the Montreal crowd excuse, and now there’s the UK crowd excuse. I guess we’re supposed to ignore the fact that Reigns receives more boos than cheers in most cities. The idea of the feud seems to be that Vince McMahon believes the masses will choose Reigns over the hated Mahal. And it’s possible that some crowds will, but it’s also possible that the hate for the Reigns character runs so deep that fans will side with Mahal or, worse yet, react to their match with apathy since they don’t like either guy. By the way, Kurt Angle was made to look bad again last night by reciting lines that the Stephanie McMahon character forced him to read. WWE fans disliked Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco back in the day because they played kiss ass stooges who put self preservation ahead of doing the right thing. These days, the babyface authority figures take the same approach and the company expects viewers to feel bad for them because they need the job. The Angle character would be a much better if he were cast as a man with integrity who doesn’t need the job and isn’t afraid to stand up for what he thinks is right.
Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode vs. No Way Jose in a Money in the Bank qualifier: The ring work was fine, but this match felt flat due to the lack of rooting interest when it came to wanting to see any of these guys in the MITB match. The one dimensional Roode character continues to be tiresome even though the guy playing the part is talented.
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. The Revival: A Miss from the perspective of The Revival. Hardy and Wyatt are decent together and it’s not like I had any reason to believe that The Revival were going to win. It’s just that my frustration has really kicked in when it comes the strong heel duo of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder have been wasted. It became obvious that Raw creative had no plans for the duo last year, so I was holding out hope that they would get a fresh start on the Smackdown side. Instead, they continue to serve as glorified enhancement wrestlers who receive no storyline attention.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Vice TV's "Dark Side of the Ring" executive producers Evan Husney and Jason Eisner discussing the March 24 second season premiere focusing on the Benoit family tragedy, plus their pro wrestling fandom, the show's name and origins, highlights of season two, Chris Jericho becoming the narrator, and much more...