By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Becky Lynch and Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross in a non-title match: The Hit is all about the post match angle. The Bayley character grew up. It’s a shame that her main roster babyface run was a creative disaster. Vince McMahon took what felt like a can’t miss NXT character and completely ruined it. The saddest part is that he still probably doesn’t have a clue about how big the babyface version of her character could have been. But the damage was done and Bayley has been spinning her wheels despite holding the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Heel Bayley is fresh and intriguing, and perhaps McMahon will be more invested in the character since he’ll have a hand in creating it. It will be interesting to see what this means for the advertised Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair match given that WWE typically avoids heel vs. heel singles matches (see the King of the Ring tournament).
Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse: Another good, creative edition of Wyatt’s show. The announcement that Wyatt has challenged the winner of Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman to face him at Hell in a Cell for the WWE Universal Championship match was awkward in that it felt like the company assumed that everyone knew the word was out based only on the HIAC host arena advertising the match. Otherwise, this was a strong edition with some clever promo work from Wyatt.
Raw Tag Champions Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in a non-title match: A minor Hit for the post match beatdown. It’s sad that Gallows and Anderson had a brief run with the Raw Tag Titles and have already reverted to feeling like henchmen for Styles. The OC, Dolph Ziggler, and Bobby Roode working over Rollins and Strowman felt fairly ineffective given that both men seemed fine later in the show, but I’m all for creative attempting to put heat on their damaged heel wrestlers.
Baron Corbin vs. Cedric Alexander in King of the Ring match: A Hit for match quality. It’s encouraging that creative felt the need to give Alexander a storyline out for losing by having him enter the match nursing an arm injury caused by The OC. The issue with Alexander continues to be that while he’s a great wrestler, he hasn’t been given an actual character and his mic time is always kept short. Corbin is still paying the price for being overbooked in the past, but he’s doing a good job in the ring and he looks like more of a fighter in Dean Ambrose’s old attire than he did when he while dressed in the wedding bartender shirt.
Lacey Evans vs. Natalya A minor Hit for Evans getting a win. She is still a work in progress in the ring, but she plays her character well and has upside potential. Natalya calling Evans a nasty bitch was fine in the moment, but it took away from Sasha Banks saying that The Man would become The Boss’s bitch just a segment later.
The Viking Raiders squash: A minor Hit. The key to the segment was the enhancement tag team heeling on the crowd. So while the Viking Raiders made their usual funny faces while standing in front of the red light prior to the match and worked the same dominant squash they always do, it appears they have been turned babyface. And given how flat the live crowds have been during their past squash matches, I’m all for the company trying something new with the Viking Raiders.
WWE Raw Misses
Ricochet vs. Samoa Joe in a King of the Ring match: The ring work was a Hit and I really didn’t have a problem with a double pin finish, but everything that followed was ridiculous. We’ve seen that double pins, double count-outs, and double disqualifications in tournaments lead to both wrestlers being eliminated. So it was odd to see the referee hop on the headsets to talk to a mystery company official and even odder that he simply walked backstage without having the ring announcer explain the finish. It was all to set up a bad John Cone promo followed by a child-like response from Baron Corbin. By the way, anyone who now clams to be perfect in their KOTR bracket predictions is a damn liar.
Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder: The match was obviously designed to make Roode and Ziggler look good heading into their Raw Tag Title match at Clash of Champions. It’s just a shame that the company has done such a poor job of booking the tag team division that there isn’t a Raw team that Roode and Ziggler could have been elevated by beating. This meant nothing. Whatever happened to AOP?
Cesaro vs. The Miz: WWE needlessly tipped off the outcome of this match by announcing that Miz would challenge for the Intercontinental Championship at Clash of Champions. Why not wait until after this match to make that announcement? Why does this company continue to waste Cesaro?
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...