By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Edge promo: The best promo on a show filled with strong mic work. Edge delivered a terrific final promo and has matched the excellent work done by his WrestleMania opponent Randy Orton. The build to Edge vs. Orton has been outstanding. The material has been consistently strong from the start and it’s hard to think of another recent WrestleMania match build that has exceeded the work that they have done. This has been a real treat to watch and I hope that the match can somehow live up to the build despite the unique circumstances. Either way, both men should be extremely proud of what they have accomplished thus far.
Kevin Owens, Montez Ford, and Angelo Dawkins vs. Seth Rollins, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory: A nice six-man tag match that spotlighted two WrestleMania matches with the major focus being on the Owens vs. Rollins match. Owens delivered an excellent promo afterward. While the feud isn’t as strong as Randy Orton vs. Edge, Owens and Rollins have done a very good job over the last two weeks of making their match feel important.
Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar: Heyman saved his best WrestleMania build promo for last. I questioned in my live review whether Heyman was too effective in terms of making Lesnar feel dominant with McIntyre coming off like just another formula challenger who will lose in short order. I don’t think the match will actually play out that way, but the circumstances have not allowed WWE to give McIntyre the full star making build. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the match and the outcome feels like a mystery, as a case could be made for McIntyre winning now in a viewer pleasing moment or holding off until it can happen in a more traditional setting.
Becky Lynch promo and Shayna Baszler attack: Lynch has gotten back to the basics in recent weeks with strong pro wrestling promos. Those promos are what endeared her to fans in the first place and straight forward Lynch is more appealing to this viewer than the over the top antics when the company leans into The Man persona. Lynch came through with a strong closing promo that served as a strong rebuttal to last week’s Baszler sit-down interview. Baszler’s attack was strong and put some heat on the heel while making the babyface vulnerable heading into their showdown match this weekend.
Undertaker promo: A soft Hit. The desperation continues with Taker and AJ Styles going for shock value to overcompensate for how lopsided the feud was booked early on when Taker dominated Styles on multiple occasions. I’m not a fan of this approach, but Taker’s promo was well delivered.
Aleister Black vs. Jason Cade: Another basic Black spotlight match. If Cade looked familiar, you may have seen him work in MLW, where he teamed and then feuded with Jimmy Yuta.
Asuka vs. Kayden Carter: If you didn’t see the show and only looked at the match time, then you’d probably assume that this was as lopsided as the Aleister Black squash match. Carter was actually given a couple of near falls before she did the honors. So while the focus was rightfully on Asuka, the match was still consistent with what we’ve seen from Carter in NXT in that she put up a good fight before losing the match.
WWE Raw Misses
Two full match replays: It was completely understandable when WWE ran classic matches to help fill the time on recent television shows, but this is WrestleMania week. WWE is still advertising matches that they know will not air. And even if there are angles shot for Smackdown or WrestleMania that will explain the changes, there’s still the issue of not informing viewers of which WrestleMania matches will air Saturday and which will air Sunday when some cable and satellite companies are selling the show on a per night basis. And how did they not find time for Drew McIntyre on the go-home show? Even if he was unavailable or they didn’t want him to deliver a go-home promo for some reason, surely they could have produced or even repurposed a video package to spotlight him and his story going into the biggest match of his career. So while I realize that these are strange times we live in and I respect that it can’t be easy to produce three hours of content, it felt like they could have and should have run more first-run material this week.