By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Day 1 Hits
Big E vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Lashley in a five-way for the WWE Championship: A really good main event. I wish it had gone on longer, but it was top notch from bell to bell. Lesnar winning the championship is an interesting development and they clearly focused on him and Lashley afterward to set up a future match. The big disappointment was Lesnar pinning Big E clean when Big E could have been protected by having Rollins or Owens take the loss. If there’s a storyline reason that will somehow lead to bigger and better things for Big E then great, but it sure felt like this was done to have him drop the title in a way that eliminates the need for a rematch.
Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan for the Raw Women’s Championship: A solid match. Neither the build to the match nor the actual match sold me on Morgan being a threat to win the championship. And I’m still waiting for the company to do something to justify the idea that turning Lynch heel was the right move for business. She does really good work as a heel, but she was so over as a babyface and there’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to help elevate anyone to the point that they end up being as over as she was.
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Kofi Kingston and King Woods for the Smackdown Tag Titles: The usual strong match from these teams. I just wish it felt bigger than it did. It’s hard to take the royalty version of New Day seriously, but the real issue is that WWE gave the match away on television along with both teams in a recent Triple Threat tag match that included both teams and it overexposed the feud. This rivalry should be protected so that it feels special when these teams meet in the ring.
“RKBro” Randy Orton and Riddle vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins for the Raw Tag Titles: A well worked match with a cool finish. Orton and Riddle have plowed through the entire Raw tag team division. Creative can always pull the trigger on Orton and Riddle splitting up, but at some point they need to build up the actual long term tag teams that have been fed to RKBro and, in some cases, to AJ Styles and Omos. Will Orton and Riddle feud with Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens?
Sheamus and Ridge Holland vs. Ricochet and Cesaro: A soft Hit. Ricochet landing on the face of Holland was an unfortunate accident and hopefully Holland will make a quick recovery. Sheamus winning the match after it became a glorified handicap match made the babyfaces look really bad, but it also made him looking like a badass. The creative forces clearly have more plans for Sheamus than they do for Ricochet or Cesaro, so it is what it is. More than anything, I give the remaining three wrestlers credit for holding it together and making things work on the fly after Holland was forced to make an early exit with his broken nose.
WWE Day 1 Misses
Overall Show: While there were some good performances throughout the night, the show was largely built around Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar. And while it’s obviously out of his and the company’s control that Reigns tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to appear, it doesn’t change the fact that it was deflating to have the biggest match of the night pulled from the show. And while there were more Hits than Misses in terms of match quality, some of those matches felt like they belonged on Raw or Smackdown rather than a pay-per-view. In fact, there were times when this show felt like a live event with longer matches (no, I don’t think that’s what they mean by premium live event). Unfortunately, this just didn’t feel like the major event that it seemed like WWE officials genuinely wanted it to be. Thanks for nothing, COVID.
Edge vs. The Miz: The match going twenty minutes brought down Edge more than it elevated Miz. The mixed tag match that was set up is only appealing in terms of seeing the husband and wife duo of Edge and Beth Phoenix team together. Just as Miz was a soft opponent for Edge, and Miz and Maryse are soft opponents for Edge and Phoenix. Hell, Miz has been so damaged that he might feel like a soft opponent for Phoenix in a singles match. By the way, Phoenix claimed she left the NXT broadcast team to spend more time at home, but her new look left me wondering if she’s been hanging out on Fury Road.
Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss: The ring work was fine, but the Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin act is dreadful. The creative forces need to pull the plug on the laughing hyenas gimmick and let them act like real human beings rather than idiotic characters. It’s harmful to McIntyre to be stuck in this dead end feud.