By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Lacey Evans vs. Natalya in a Last Woman Standing match: A surprisingly long match to open the show. Evans was dominant throughout the majority of the match until Natalya went over in the end. Both wrestlers worked hard and Evans is improving, thanks in part to working this program with Natalya. I was a bit surprised by the outcome. While I don’t know what creative has in mind for either wrestler, it does seem odd that Evans has had two big feuds on the main roster and has now lost them both.
“The Kabuki Warriors” Kairi Sane and Asuka vs. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in a non-title match: A solid match with better execution of the mist spot than we saw at the pay-per-view. Granted, it looked like Asuka was going to miss Lynch with the mist, but I like that the referee was shielded from seeing the faces of both women until after the pinfall. Bonus points to Lynch for mentioning in her promo that Asuka beat her in their last singles match. It gave this match a little more purpose and that combined with the mist finish seems to set up another singles match between the two.
Raw Tag Champions Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler vs. The Viking Raiders in a non-title match: The match went long, but it was entertaining. Unfortunately, WWE fans have been conditioned to expect tag champions and secondary title holders to lose the vast majority of their non-title matches on Raw and Smackdown. As a result, the Viking Raiders getting the win was expected from the opening bell and not a pleasant surprise.
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. Lucha House Party: The OC destroyed the LHP trio. While it may have been filler match, it still felt like it served a purpose in that it made a heel faction that has taken too many losses look strong for a night.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: This felt like a phoned in show coming off one of the biggest weeks in modern day WWE. I don’t know if they ran out of gas, if they were shellshocked by the rejection to their awful Hell in a Cell main event finish, if company officials just viewed this as a lame duck show going into the draft, or if it was some combination of those factors. Regardless, this was a slow and mostly uneventful edition of Raw. It was interesting that WWE waited until the last half-hour of the show to run the “highlight” footage of the WWE Universal Championship match from Hell in a Cell. It was a wise call to leave Seth Rollins off the show, and not just because his character bled from the mouth the night before. Rollins was booed loudly on Sunday and while there’s still a chance that carries over to next week, it’s less likely than if he had appeared the night after the train wreck non-finish.
Braun Strowman and Tyson Fury: It’s only fair to acknowledge that I lost interest in pro boxing years ago due primarily due to the sport’s borderline criminal judging. Thus, I didn’t know anything about Fury until he appeared in the front row on Friday’s Smackdown. I fully concede that someone who has followed his career may be enjoying this a lot more than I am. Even so, it felt like that pull apart brawl felt like it wouldn’t end. There were times when it seemed like both men could have taken shots at one another and they either didn’t do it or the punches missed. On the plus side, my concern that Strowman and Fury would end up teaming rather than facing one another appears to have been unfounded. This angle didn’t do much for me, but I am always curious to see how a non-wrestler will perform in an actual match.
Rusev, Lana, and Bobby Lashley: This feels like a bad throwback to the Attitude Era. Lana is boasting that she has taken everything from Rusev while flaunting her relationship with one of his co-workers. Meanwhile, Maria Kanellis is taunting her husband for being weak and claiming that he’s not the father of her child. WWE should hire a therapist to help the creative team members in charge of these storylines work through their obvious issues with women.
Jerry Lawler: Lawler touted Miz as a potential first overall pick at one point. He later claimed that sources told him that USA Network executives are high on Asuka and she’s at the top of their list. Why ruin Lawler’s credibility with claims that are so absurd? In a perfect world, they could give him a few nuggets that are based in reality in terms of what they intend to do with the draft, but chances are they haven’t even finalized their decisions yet.
Aleister Black vs. Samir Singh and Sunil Singh in a handicap match: A minor Miss. It was a decent showcase for Black, but it still felt like filler on a show that had way too much of it. Here’s hoping that the talented Black will finally get out of first gear coming out of the draft.
Ricochet vs. Apollo Crews: A four minute “draft showcase” match. Stop and think about how ridiculous this concept is. Aside from ego, what difference does it make to these wrestlers where they are selected in the draft? It’s not like the wrestlers are paid more based on where they are chosen. Will anyone remember who was selected where beyond the top two picks (and maybe the last pick) a week later? Also, why can’t Ricochet just be a really good pro wrestler who wants to win championships rather than a dork who wants to prove that superheroes are real? This might appeal to the nine and under crowd, but it sure is painful for anyone who has had ten or more candles on their birthday cake.
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...