By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan in a non-title match: A minor Hit for a match that was entertaining on its own and didn’t need the DQ finish and the restart. The match was entertaining for what it was, but these two are capable of so much more. Turn these two loose and let them work their magic. Baron Corbin attacking Rollins with a chair after the match didn’t pack much of a punch given that the audience was numb to chair shots after seeing Rollins deliver so many throughout the night.
Braun Strowman vs. The Miz vs. Ricochet vs. Cesaro vs. Bobby Lashley in a five-way elimination match: A minor Hit for Ricochet winning to set up an appealing match with Samoa Joe for the U.S. Championship at Stomping Grounds. I’m baffled as to why the creative forces felt the need to make this an elimination match when they could have had Ricochet pin Miz in a standard five-way while everyone else was at ringside. Instead, WWE continues to make a mockery of the No DQ rule for three-ways, four-ways, etc. by booking blatant outside interference or in this case by having eliminated wrestlers stick around and take out an active participant. It’s a lazy crutch that’s left me dreading these types of matches.
The Usos vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson: I like the story of AJ Styles trying to light a fire under Gallows and Anderson. They lost this match because Anderson got cocky, and it left me curious to see where things go next.
The IIconics vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: The best storytelling on the show involved Bliss continuing to manipulate Cross by including subtle jabs at Bayley and then telling Cross not to worry about it. Bayley knocking Bliss down and preventing her from making the save during this match was perfect in terms of giving Cross a reason to believe Bliss.
WWE Raw Misses
Seth Rollins: The babyface who won his championship by low-blowing Brock Lesnar is still bitter that Lesnar won’t tell him when he intends to cash in the Money in the Bank contract. This is the same Seth Rollins who waited to cash in his Money in the Bank contract during a WrestleMania main event to take the title from Lesnar. And now Rollins is so unnerved by Lesnar’s mind games that he is hitting heels from behind with chairs to stop them from being the special referee of his match at Stomping Grounds. Worse yet, he implied that he and Eric Young go way back and are friends and thus he wouldn’t attack him, but then Rollins waited until he was behind Young and then destroyed him with a chair. I enjoy the work of Rollins, but his character isn’t an edgy babyface, he’s a whiney, hypocritical a-hole.
Baron Corbin fails to name his special referee: After weeks of bait and switch moments involving Brock Lesnar and the Money in the Bank contract, last night’s show was built around the idea of Corbin revealing his special referee for his match with Seth Rollins at WWE Stomping Grounds. Three hours came and went and we still don’t know who the special referee will be. WWE has to stop advertising things they don’t intend to deliver. They are doing major damage to whatever trust viewers have left in them to make good on what they advertise.
The wild card rule: The brand split is all but dead. WWE told viewers that four wrestlers would be allowed to cross brands each week, but they have blown that off without explanation by exceeding their own limit repeatedly. What purpose does the brand split actually serve at this point? And why is Vince McMahon incapable of following the basic rules that he establishes?
New Day vs. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Baron Corbin in a best of three falls match: Was this a best of three falls match because they wanted to keep the streak of Zayn being pinned in television matches alive? And company officials know full well that Corbin challenging Rollins isn’t enough on its own or they would haven’t added the special referee stipulation. Viewers are having a hard enough time taking Corbin as a serious threat to the championship, so why in the world would they book him to be pinned on the go-home show?
Roman Reigns gets his revenge on Shane McMahon and his crew: The story is over. Reigns got his revenge on everyone in this segment. What about this was supposed to make me want to see Reigns vs. McIntyre at Stomping Grounds on Sunday?
Becky Lynch suplexes Lacey Evans: One of the strange themes of the night was the decision to have so many babyfaces get the better of their pay-per-view opponents on the go-home show. It’s an especially poor approach given that the pay-per-view is filled with babyface champions facing heel challengers they have already beaten, as is the case with Lynch and Evans. Was WWE more concerned with pleasing the television executives and other VIPs in attendance than delivering a good, final push to Stomping Grounds?
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Pat McNeill of the Wayback Playback podcast, who discusses how the more things change the more they stay the same with the return of the XFL and AEW coming to TNT, plus thoughts on WWE’s struggles, how wrestling from 20 years ago holds up through today’s eyes, and more.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...