By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley for the Intercontinental Championship: A good match with a pleasantly surprising finish. Rollins is believed to be moving into the WWE Universal Championship picture, and Ambrose is who he is with or without the Intercontinental Championship. Meanwhile, creative finally seems to have figured out the simple formula for Lashley. He doesn’t need to smile or talk about his sisters or point at his ass. Lashley is suddenly playing something similar to the Destroyer role he played so well in Impact Wrestling. Meanwhile, Lio Rush toned down the obnoxious laughing and delivered a good, straight forward promo. WWE needs to create stars out of their damaged mid-card acts and they took a step in that direction by putting the the title on the guy who needed it most out of the three men in the match. By the way, for my own sanity, I must believe that Rollins was supposed to land on his feet when he took the Doomsday Device. I just can’t can wrap my mind around the idea of Rollins no-selling that move.
Finn Balor vs. John Cena vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin in a four-way for a WWE Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble: It was a good weekend for Balor, who had a surprise match with his protege Jordan Devlin at the NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool event on Saturday and then won this match to replace Braun Strowman as the challenger for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. I was initially concerned that WWE wasted a John Cena loss when he took the pin, but it all made sense once Cena stood up and endorsed Balor. It’s hard to have much hope for Balor winning at the Royal Rumble, but hopefully he will gain something in defeat and go on to becoming a regular in WWE’s main event mix. Meanwhile, I sure hope there was a storyline reason for showing that McIntyre would have been pinned after taking the five knuckle shuffle and Attitude Adjustment had it not been for the pin being broken up. McIntyre stood in the ring last week and boasted that he was going to be the guy to take down Cena, and this week he was made to look like another guy who talked big and couldn’t back it up.
Bayley, Natalya, and Nikki Cross vs. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan: A quality Raw debut for Cross. As much as I like Ember Moon, I was thrilled that this wasn’t another case of her serving as the mystery partner. Cross was spotlighted nicely and her manic persona came off well. A good debut.
WWE Raw Misses
Braun Strowman and Vince McMahon: Another lousy week for Strowman. The big limo tipping stunt felt like a repeat and the crowd reacted accordingly. Worse yet, the same monster who used to plow through security guards, wrestlers, and anyone who got in his way when he went on a rampage simply left the building quietly after being told that he wouldn’t be getting his title shot. Strowman is no longer a monster, he’s just another wrestler who bows to the mighty Vince McMahon.
Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks: Their match with Nia Jax and Tamina was fine. And while I liked that the post match angle added a little tension, the Miss goes to Rousey’s nice girl routine going a bit too far. I get the idea of having Rousey show respect to her fellow babyface, but this reached a point where she felt a little too perfect. It came off like the creative forces are fearful of fans turning on Rousey and thus they attempted to make her overly nice. It’s okay to have Rousey fire back once it’s established that Sasha’s reaction is over the top. Hopefully we’ll get that next week.
The Revival vs. Lucha House Party: The Revival’s conspiracy talk is straight out of ROH’s playbook with The Kingdom. It’s a playbook page that I wish ROH officials would tear out and set on fire, and I’m somehow even less enthused about The Revival using it on WWE television. Putting that aside, the Revival have been on the wrong side of some bad calls by referees lately, and last night they essentially turned the tables by getting a pin that the referee should not have counted. Where is the heat in any of this? Creative would be wise to put the titles on these two, find a quality team to chase them, and then get out of the way as much as possible by delivering a simple and effective tag team feud minus all of this nonsense they are doing.
Jinder Mahal vs. Finn Balor: WWE felt the need to lay it on thick for Balor by having him work a match before he entered the four-way main event. It feels like Balor beats Mahal every other week and thus there was zero sense of suspense regarding the outcome.
Moment of Bliss with Paul Heyman: A strange debut for Otis Dozovic. Meanwhile, Alexa Bliss asking Paul Heyman about his emotions regarding the main event was an eye rolling moment. I like the idea of Bliss hosting a talkshow while she is sidelined, but I assumed she’d be stirring the pot Roddy Piper style, not asking the type of moronic questions that the backstage interviewers are scripted to ask. By the way, what was up with that tacky scene with the crew member walking in on a topless Bliss? Is that going somewhere or is WWE simply getting desperate to improve their television ratings?
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Brian Fritz discussing the formation of All Elite Wrestling and their launch rally.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Allysin Kay discussing Friday's NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, Melina dropping an unexpected f-bomb on NWA Powerrr, the WWE Mae Young Classic experience, her time as Sienna in Impact Wrestling, working in Japan, the Tessa Blanchard controversy, and more...