By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton responds to Edge: Another home run promo from Orton, who has delivered the best verbal performances of his career since the program with Edge started. While the build to most of the WrestleMania matches seem to have suffered to some extent due to the unique circumstances, I can’t imagine how the build to Orton vs. Edge could have been better. That said, it’s an absolute shame that this match won’t take place in front of a stadium filled with fans.
Seth Rollins promo on Kevin Owens: Rollins came through with his best mic work in recent memory. The strength of the promo was him running through his long history of WrestleMania success before pointing out that Owens has yet to even have a Wrestlemania moment. Owens didn’t say much, but the contemplative look he gave after Rollins stopped talking said plenty. It showed that Rollins got to Owens, which is a lot more interesting than a babyface shrugging off the heel’s comments.
Shayna Baszler and Becky Lynch: Baszler was her usual intimidating self while being interviewed by Charly Caruso. I liked the dimmed lights approach because it gave the WWE PC a different look, though it’s certainly possible that it was only done to create a way for Lynch to attack Baszler from behind. Lynch got the better of her challenger this week, so hopefully the plan is to put heat on Baszler during the go-home show.
Paul Heyman promo: A good Heyman promo. McIntyre rattled Lesnar by hitting him with three Claymore Kicks on a recent Raw, but it was time for the champion and his advocate to get back to showing extreme confidence heading into the title match.
Angel Garza and Andrade vs. Ricochet and Cedric Alexander: We found out that WWE wasn’t fibbing about the show airing live when the botched finish took place. It’s too bad that the finish didn’t go as planned, but this was still an entertaining match. Garza and Andrade have major potential as a tag team and I’m looking forward to their match with the Street Profits even though there isn’t a good storyline reason for the new team getting a tag title shot at WrestleMania. I realize everything is rushed, but it’s still disappointing that they didn’t bother to come up with a storyline reason for this match taking place. Even something as simple as Vega negotiating this match for the duo in exchange for Andrade putting his U.S. Title on the line against someone else coming out of WrestleMania would have worked for me.
Aleister Black vs. Leon Ruff: A showcase win for Black. Ruff did a nice job of showing fear and apprehension before taking a quick Black Mass kick.
The Street Profits vs. Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink in a non-title match: A simple spotlight win for the Raw Tag Champions. There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about the match, but it feels like a treat to see actual first-run matches.
Overall show: WWE made a simple production change that went a long way by having the hard camera face the ring with the entrance ramp and stage behind it. Previous episodes from the WWE Performance Center had the hard camera facing the ring with empty rows of seats behind it, which made for a dreary atmosphere. The PC shows are obviously not on the level of a typical Raw held in a packed arena, but they did a nice job of filling the three hours with mostly WrestleMania build content along with a couple of classic WrestleMania matches. This was WWE’s best show from the fan-free Performance Center.
WWE Raw Misses
AJ Styles rips Undertaker: WWE really wanted to be timely by referencing the awesome Tiger King documentary in the promo, complete with the bizarre PSA footage of Taker, Michelle McCool, and a tiger in a swimming pool. But all of this felt forced and actually made Taker and McCool look really bad for associating with Doc Antle and his harem of wives. On a side note, the film’s star Joe Exotic cuts a hell of a promo and missed his calling as a territory days manager.
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...