By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins turns heel: Progress. After going against the grain for years by stubbornly keeping Roman Reigns in the top babyface position despite overwhelming fan rejection, WWE didn’t make the same mistake with Rollins once fans started turning on him. There is part of me that wishes they had set up a more shocking moment with Rollins actually turning on someone in particular rather than having the crew walk out on him, but they did the right thing and this should breathe new life in what had been a cold show. The question now is who emerges as the top babyfaces, as Raw is heel heavy on top with Rollins and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. Kevin Owens appears to be Rollins’ first rival, and feuding with a newly turned top star is typically a no-win situation. The Rollins turn sets the table perfectly for the return of CM Punk, but there’s no indication that Punk is actually interested in returning to the ring.
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens with AOP interference: A good main event with a finish that pissed off the live crowd and not in a good heat way. While I can understand why the live crowd was disappointed by the no-contest finish, it made for compelling television, as all signs now point to AOP aligning with Rollins in what could be a really good faction.
Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Ricochet in a four-way for a shot at the U.S. Championship: The three babyfaces looked like a-holes for not rushing out to help Humberto Carrillo when he was attacked by The OC, yet being quick to jump in line to take his title shot after the attack left him unable to wrestle. That said, this was a quality four-way match and it was nice to see Mysterio go over. Styles was also fun while coming up with excuses to avoid putting his title on the line.
AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio for the U.S. Title: A nice consolation prize for Mysterio after he lost to Brock Lesnar on Sunday. With Rollins turning heel, I’m surprised they didn’t have Mysterio pull off the upset at Survivor Series with the plan of making him a transitional champion to eventually move the strap to Rollins. Ultimately, this match gave the Mysterio and Dominick story a feel good moment.
Rusev attacks Bobby Lashley: A minor Hit. As ridiculously over the top as this feud has been, this was a little more straight forward. Rusev got a taste of revenge before being arrested by what appeared to be real police officers rather than the usual independent wrestlers dressed in tacky cop costumes.
Andrade vs. Akira Tozawa: More of an in the middle. It’s nice that Andrade is winning matches, but it’s time to move him into something meaningful.
WWE Raw Misses
Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka: The match quality was Hit worthy, but that finish made the referee look like a dope for counting the pin even though he clearly saw Flair covered in green mist. Worse yet, WWE production felt the need to air a slow motion replay for anyone who may have missed it live when Flair pulled her hair back so that the mist could cover her face. Do they actually watch the footage before they replay it?
Buddy Murphy vs. Matt Hardy: A minor Miss. It was nice to see Hardy again, but I don’t like the idea of beating him on his first night back. I assume he’ll be doing a lot of singles jobs until his brother returns, but he’d mean more if they gave him some undercard wins before using him in key situations to elevate others. The post match appearance by Aleister Black was encouraging in that it hopefully marks the end of his tired “knock on my door” routine.
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...