By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Edge promo: Another outstanding promo from Edge. His monologues continue to be better than the rest of the mic work on Raw. I suspect the reason is that he’s either coming up with his own material or has a big part in the process. Either way, this was the best segment of the night and the only thing that left me more excited about the Royal Rumble match and event than I was before Raw.
Drew McIntyre and Goldberg: Goldberg wasn’t asked to do much with a live mic, which is always the right approach to take with him. That said, it also felt like the bare minimum and it failed to get this viewer more excited about the WWE Championship match at the Rumble. There was a better story to tell with Goldberg, and it could have been accomplished via sit-down interviews that can be edited in post production. Instead, they went with the one-dimensional Goldberg and never made me think that this match will turn out to be being anything more than a respect building win for McIntyre. It’s fine for what it is, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have gotten more out of it.
Sheamus vs. John Morrison/The Miz: The Sheamus vs. Morrison singles match was entertaining. The handicap match that followed gave the heels a rare win, yet Sheamus looked good by putting up a strong fight despite facing both men at the same time. By the way, whatever happened to Keith Lee?
Riddle vs. Shelton Benjamin, MVP, and Cedric Alexander in a gauntlet match: I really could have done without the spot in the first part of the match that suggested that Benjamin would have pinned Riddle had it not been for Alexander distracting the referee. Otherwise, it was a good outing for Riddle, who earned a future U.S. Title match with the victory. Sadly, the low IQ Riddle character continues to be insufferable. Can someone explain why they dedicated so much time to this gauntlet match on the Rumble go-home show when the U.S. Title match won’t even take place at the Rumble?
AJ Styles vs. R-Truth: More of an in the middle. The right guy went over and all, but it was hard to care whether Truth would earn a spot in the Rumble match.
WWE Raw Misses
Royal Rumble go-home show: Edge’s promo was the only thing that really moved me when it came to the Rumble hype. And that makes it all the more baffling that WWE didn’t bother to advertise the segment prior to the show, and then gave it only minimal hype during the actual broadcast. Raw continues to be the worst pro wrestling television show. Thank goodness for NXT and Smackdown.
Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship: The Bliss storyline is like an unintentional PSA that indirectly encourages fans with good taste to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Once the company gets back in front of live fans, they won’t be able to do the nonsense with Bliss magically changing outfits or having a hobby horse appear out of nowhere thanks to the “magic” of editing. Why in the world did they feel the need to close the Royal Rumble go-home show with this nonsense?
Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler: It was absurd that they actually felt the need to show that Flair was on the verge of beating Baszler in one minute before Nia Jax interfered in the match. The misuse of Baszler on the main roster continues to be infuriating.
Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose, and Dana Brooke vs. Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, and Lacey Evans: It took two matches just to get to our weekly reminder that Rose and Brooke are no match for Baszler and Jax. On a positive note, Charlotte finally got to show some range when she delivered an emotional backstage promo, which is a big improvement over the usual cliche royalty promos.
Xavier Woods vs. Slapjack: The in-ring work was fine, but Retribution continues to be a terrible faction. If the creative forces refuse to throw in the towel on the bad concept, then I wish they would at least try a new approach by having the characters ditch their campy masks and cornball names.