By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens: The opening segment build to the match was well done. It wasn’t as hot as Orton’s recent segments, but it did its job in terms of providing an easy to follow story that set up the main event. The actual match was decent. The Seth Rollins distractions created a couple of awkward moments when it felt like Orton could have hit the RKO and finished the match rather than perform non-finishing moves. The referee angle was fine as long as it’s just a one-off, which it presumably is given that they skipped the usual heel referee storyline approach of starting with the referee having plausible deniability for his actions.
Angel Garza vs. Humberto Carrillo: The usual strong match from the cousins. I’m already looking forward to next week’s Garza and Andrade vs. Carrillo and Rey Mysterio tag match. Garza and Andrade have real potential as a tag team so it will be interesting to see if creative moves in that direction or has something else in mind.
Drew McIntyre sit-down interview: McIntyre came off well and they covered a lot of ground. Unfortunately, they skipped the most critical part. Why wouldn’t they have McIntyre attempt to explain away the heel run that preceded his Royal Rumble win? He easily could have stuck with the theme that his frustration got the better of him and even said that he was desperate to jump start his career when he aligned with Shane McMahon. McIntyre never had an actual babyface turn moment and this felt like an obvious place for him to explain why he changed course. So while this segment was good, it should have been better.
Elimination Chamber contract signing: The segment was solid in that it established the roles of the wrestlers involved in the match. Asuka and Natalya’s issues continued. Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan’s feud was spotlighted, and their former Riott Squad stable mate Sarah Logan didn’t show her where she stands. The new development was Asuka standing up to Baszler, which likely foreshadows that they will be the last two women in the Chamber match. The pull apart brawl involving Baszler and Becky Lynch was fairly ordinary, but it was well received by the live crowd and left viewers wanting more.
Erick Rowan vs. Aleister Black: The OC attacking Black backstage felt a little soft given the way he had to stumble around as much as he did. I still enjoyed the match and the way they got to Black hitting Rowan with two more Black Mass kicks before taking the win. Next week’s Black vs. AJ Styles match looks really good on paper. Hopefully Rowan can move away from Black and quickly regain whatever he lost by dropping two straight matches to him.
Seth Rollins vs. Montez Ford: A good match with Ford displaying long term singles upside. In the meantime, WWE has to get the Street Profits on track. They’ve lost whatever edge they had in NXT and awful insult lines such as “The Monday Night Pariah and Murph the Smurf” are not doing them any favors.
WWE Raw Misses
Ricochet vs. Luke Gallows: It was a match that had to happen in order to make Ricochet look strong going into his title shot against Brock Lesnar, but nothing they’ve done has changed the perception that he’s a anything but a sacrificial lamb for Brock Lesnar. Sure, they could have Ricochet pull off the upset and then have Lesnar regain the title before WrestleMania, but what would that really accomplish beyond creating a one day surprise?
Charly Caruso: I cringed when she acted smitten after Angel Garza kissed her hand following their backstage interview. The way they got to this was way too convenient in that we’ve never see the backstage interviewers shake hands with the wrestlers they interview. I wouldn’t wish this on any backstage interviewer, but Caruso is right behind Renee Young on the list of the last backstage interviewers who should never be featured in this light. With Young playing other roles in the company, Caruso feels like the most credible of WWE’s backstage personalities. So why put her in a position that undercuts that credibility?
Bobby Lashley vs. R-Truth: There are weeks when Truth’s comedy really clicks with me and weeks like this where it just doesn’t register. Lashley needed a boost, but there’s not much to gain from beating WWE’s clown prince of comedy.
Final hype for WWE Super ShowDown: Nothing on this show made me feel even slightly more enthused about Thursday’s event. I’m in the mode where I just want the show to be over so that we can turn the page to Elimination Chamber and get to the real WrestleMania build.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Brian Fritz of Sporting News and Between The Ropes discussing WrestleMania 36, WWE television from the empty WWE Performance Center, his own travel woes, NFL free agency, and more...