By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Matt Hardy and Randy Orton: Hardy has done strong promo work while in “Broken Matt” mode, but this was the best straight forward babyface promo that I recall Hardy delivering during his long career. He worked in his own unique history with Edge and had a good explanation for why and when he forgave him. It was nice for Hardy to give public closure to that matter even all these years later. This all served as a good distraction that allowed Orton to put off explaining why he attacked Edge for another week. If this turns out to be Hardy’s final WWE appearance, he can hold his head high on his way out the door.
Becky Lynch vs. Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship: A very good television title match that drew me in the deeper the match went. I felt a bit numb going into the match because the outcome seemed predictable, but I ended up enjoying this match even more than their Royal Rumble match. On a side note, my favorite moment of the night was the ridiculously silly dance that Kairi Sane did on the ring apron to distract Lynch. Oh, and we’ll talk about the big bite later.
VIP Lounge with Drew McIntyre: MVP played his part well and I would welcome the idea of him stirring the pot for the full-time wrestlers while hosting this talkshow segment on a regular basis. He’s a good talker and if they could find the right person, he would be a fun heel agent type for a contending wrestler. McIntyre continues to build momentum heading into the WrestleMania main event. More importantly, his push has been slow and steady, meaning he’s not being shoved down the throats of viewers, which is a mistake that WWE has made with other wrestlers in a similar position (see Roman Reigns).
Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley: Flair’s act continues to feel reinvigorated now that she’s involved in something that feels meaningful for the first time since WrestleMania. And even then she felt shoehorned into what many of us feel should have been a singles match between Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. Ripley continues to click as the confident new champion who isn’t showing any fear of facing a more established star.
Angel Garza vs. Cedric Alexander: A soft Hit for a showcase win for Garza. I also liked the fire that Humberto Carrillo showed while attacking his cousin prior to the match.
Ricochet vs. Bobby Lashley: A soft Hit. The idea was clearly for Ricochet to beat someone comparable to Brock Lesnar. Unfortunately, Lashley is damaged that beating him doesn’t mean what it should. Is anyone buying into the idea of Ricochet beating Brock Lesnar when everything points to Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania?
WWE Raw Misses
Shayna Baszler bites Becky Lynch: This ran counter to the dynamic that made Baszler and Lynch instantly stand out heading into their Survivor Series match. Baszler and Lynch’s calm yet super intense verbal exchange felt more real than anything else WWE was doing at the time. Conversely, the bite angle felt as fake as the blood that was used. Lynch hijacking the ambulance to drive herself to the hospital and then returning later in the night felt like the beginning and near end of a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin segment from back in the day, but it felt like they forgot to air the fun stuff in between and the big payoff at the end.
Seth Rollins, Murphy, Akam, and Rezar vs. Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, Erick, and Ivar: A soft Miss for a good match that felt inconsequential and repetitive compared to all the other big tag matches that involved a number of these players. The opening segment that set up the match was concerning in that it didn’t feel like Rollins or Owens had anything new to say. I really like the Rollins faction as well as the babyface opposition, but it feels like this feud is running out of juice.
Riddick Moss beats Mojo Rawley for the WWE 24/7 Title: It seemed like creative was going to make Rawley a different type of 24/7 Champion when Moss was introduced as his “offensive lineman” and Rawley didn’t run away from potential challengers. But he lost and regained the title on Moss’s first night, and now he dropped the title to Moss, who has yet to say a word on main roster television. How about just pulling the plug on this worthless title or ship it over to Smackdown where the campiness would fit right in on family friendly Friday night?
Aleister Black: The “Deep Thoughts with Aleister Black” post match ramblings continue to feel devoid of any real substance or meaning. Hopefully Black’s promos improve once he’s in an actual program and he can focus on one particular opponent.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Vice TV's "Dark Side of the Ring" executive producers Evan Husney and Jason Eisner discussing the March 24 second season premiere focusing on the Benoit family tragedy, plus their pro wrestling fandom, the show's name and origins, highlights of season two, Chris Jericho becoming the narrator, and much more...