By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Ronda Rousey promo on The Bella Twins: Rousey verbally destroyed Nikki Bella and Brie Bella and it was one of my favorite promos of 2018. Sure, I could have done without some of the oddball lines such as eradicating smallpox (maybe Vince McMahon can work in a polio reference next week). Still, she hit on all of the major Bella hater criticisms and did so in a believable manner. I’m not sure if the twins had any say in the matter, but I give Nikki and Brie a lot of credit for being good sports and holding up their end well. Nikki busting out the pole dance was perfect. The Bellas’ heel turn made this WWE’s Modern Woman versus WWE Divas at Evolution, and this promo completely sold me on their match.
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, and Dolph Ziggler: The matches between these teams are too good to belong anywhere but the Hit section, but the feud has quickly become overexposed. I hope it’s because creative knows they are moving in a new direction soon. There are only so many six-man tag matches and various singles match combinations that fans can take before this completely runs its course. The latest development with McIntyre intentionally giving Strowman a Claymore Kick after the match was interesting, but something tells me that we haven’t seen the last of this heel alliance or friction between the Shield members. How many more weeks can WWE get out of these repetitive stories?
Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins in a World Cup tournament qualifier: A very good match with a finish that protected McIntyre by having him lose via count-out. It also kept another one of those pesky foreigners out of the tournament, because who wants a World Cup tournament with anything other than American wrestlers? Ugh.
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler in a World Cup qualifier: Another quality match. In this case, the finish helped establish the now weekly friction between Ambrose and his Shield teammates.
Undertaker and Kane video: A quality promo to set up their match with Triple H and Shawn Michaels for the Crown Jewel event in SAUDI ARABIA. WWE won’t say the name of the country, so I feel it’s my civic duty to remind you where they intend to hold this event.
Bobby Lashley vs. Tyler Breeze: A minor Hit for Lashley and Rush working as heels. I’m not sold on Lashley posing like a modern day Lex Luger, but it’s still better than having him smile awkwardly as a miscast babyface. I continue to wonder whether Rush’s live mic gimmick is good heat or go away heat. Either way, I sure hope they tone it down once Lashley starts working longer matches.
Elias and Apollo Crews: Elias’s weekly insult of the local sports team has become a fun gimmick. I’m not always a fan of the regional sports cheap heat shortcut, but in his case it’s become something that fans seem to look forward to. Crews standing up to Elias came out of nowhere, but it was fine and I assume it sets up a match for next week.
WWE Raw Misses
Trish Stratus and Lita: WWE is paying the price for failing to treat their female legends as major stars over the years. Trish was reintroduced in a forgettable manner and they have failed to get the fans excited about her since then. Granted, it doesn’t help that Trish is rough on the mic, but I can’t help but feel like her and Lita returning to the ring after all these years would feel more important if the presentation had been stronger from the start.
Ember Moon and Nia Jax vs. Dana Brooke and Tamina: It was nice to see Tamina for the first time since she underwent surgery earlier this year. Aside from that, this match served as formula hype for the women’s battle royal at Evolution with Moon helping Tamina toss Jax over the top rope only to then fail to throw Tamina over the top rope and then have Brooke dump both women over. The live crowd seemed confused or disinterested by Moon’s actions, and I saw it as an eye rolling moment in that Moon looks like a dope for not just waiting until it actually counted.
Finn Balor vs. Jinder Mahal: A channel changing feud. Fortunately, they kept the match brief. It’s a shame that creative can’t come up with anything meaningful for Balor. If the post match angle is any indication, he’ll be putting over heel Lashley soon in yet another program with the heels mocking his size.
AOP vs. The Conquistador: When I think of Kurt Angle returning to the ring for a tournament, I envision training videos and a legitimate athlete taking this late career opportunity seriously. Meanwhile, WWE presents him as a vacationing goofball.
Natalya vs. Ruby Riott: WWE creative wants viewers to think of Riott Squad as being rebellious, anti-authority heels, yet they continue to script the trio committing acts of third grader level vandalism. Worse yet, this match served as a horrible reintroduction for Sasha Banks from her injury layoff. The live crowd barely reacted to Sasha. At some point, you’d think creative would give in and turn her heel since she has been spinning her wheels as a babyface for so long.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Chris Harrington.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features the WWE Survivor Series audio review co-hosted by Jake Barnett. Normally exclusive to ProWrestling.net Members, Jason and Jake discuss the full show including Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Bayley in a non-title match, Brock Lesnar vs. Rey Mysterio in a No Holds Barred match for the WWE Championship, "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Universal Title, and more...