By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Edge promo: The show peaked with Edge’s opening promo. I have no idea how much Edge would have done differently if there had been a live crowd present, but this promo actually worked really well in the empty venue setting. Edge did a great job of coming off angry and intense while setting up the Last Man Standing match that he and Randy Orton will have at WrestleMania.
Becky Lynch promo: Another good, straight forward promo leading into the WrestleMania match with Shayna Baszler. I would like to see WWE shake up the show formula by having a tense sit-down style interview with both women. They did such a good job of creating intensity without ever raising their voices during the build to Survivor Series. I have no doubt that Lynch and Baszler could recreate that vibe, and it would provide the show with something that would stand out from all the empty venue promos.
Undertaker and AJ Styles: A solid segment given the circumstances. The shock value promo that Styles cut last week felt like an act of desperation to breathe some life into a feud that had been booked poorly with Taker destroying Styles with ease on multiple occasions. Nevertheless, it pulled Styles out of his funk of delivering hammy braggadocious promos that made him feel like a second tier player rather than the main event level star that he is. The Taker vs. Styles feud still isn’t in a great place, but it’s in a better place than it was before the Styles character made things personal.
U.S. Champion Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio in a non-title match: This was more of an in between than a Hit or a Miss. I assume the idea was to give Mysterio a feel good win and that’s understandable on a show like this, but Andrade is quickly falling victim to WWE’s usual formula of booking their heel secondary champions as weak heels who lose most of their non-title matches. Losing to Mysterio once isn’t a big deal, but when you throw it on top of all of the other recent non-title losses that Andrade has endured lately it adds to the feeling that he’s just another soft secondary heel champion.
WWE Raw Misses
Airing the entire men’s Royal Rumble match: While I understand the need to fill time, WWE should be doing a better job with the presentation of their pay-per-view matches. Make a big fuss over the fact that these matches are being shown on television for the first time. Basically, put a positive spin on things. Advertise them in advance and make viewers who haven’t seen them before feel like they are being treated to something special. This approach won’t change the fact that the hardcore fans have already seen the matches, but at least if they won’t feel disappointed when they watch the show expecting first-run programming and are instead given long blocks of past matches.
Steve Austin segment: What might have been. This segment suffered more than any other due to the lack of a live crowd. Austin always gets a great crowd reaction and he’s so good at playing off the fans. The 3:16 Day jokes were nearly as painful as Byron Saxton taking an Austin kick to the balls. It’s a shame that 3:16 Day doesn’t fall on a Monday next year because Austin and the company deserve a mulligan for this segment taking place under difficult circumstances.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Jake Barnett co-hosting the Boom and Dot Net Weekly combo show. Jason and Jake discuss Becky Lynch announcing her pregnancy, Alberto Del Rio being accused of sexual assault, WWE's IC Title tournament, Mike Tyson appearing at AEW Double Or Nothing, Undertaker's Last Ride documentary, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV thoughts, and more...