By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman: An interesting segment in that it included hype for the Madison Square Garden live event. WWE typically doesn’t do much to promote their house shows on television, but they did their best to sell the idea that the WrestleMania main event hinges on Lesnar’s title defense at MSG. Lesnar continues to be a blast as a babyface, and it’s fun to see him and Heyman verbally sparring after all the years they spent working together.
Randy Orton and Riddle vs. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens: A very good main event with the heel duo winning to earn a spot in the Triple Threat match for the Raw Tag Titles that will be held on the March 7 Raw. For those keeping score at home, Owens also worked in another jab at Texas during a backstage promo. On a side note, I’m down on all the talk about wrestlers not having a path to WrestleMania. Fans know it’s a two-day event and damn near every wrestler on the roster will get a spot on the card, so it just doesn’t ring true.
Edge promo: A terrific promo that set the nostalgic tone for WrestleMania. Edge dropped several teases within his promo for potential opponents. I hope the plan is for him to have a singles match rather than work some type of multi-person match for the U.S. Championship. Either way, Edge’s promo made it feel like WrestleMania season more than anything the company has done so far.
Bianca Belair vs. Doudrop: It’s a shame that they don’t give Doudrop (a name change!) more wins. She’s a believable in-ring powerhouse, but she loses too often for fans to view her as a realistic threat to beat the top babyfaces. Still, this was a good match, and it was impressive to see Belair perform her KOD finisher on Doudrop again.
Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Balor vs. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode: A good opening match that gave tonight’s NXT 2.0 television show some quality hype. For longtime NXT viewers, it was fun to see Ciampa and Balor team together. It was good to see Ciampa pick up the win in this match, as I assume he’ll end up taking the loss tonight to set up Ziggler challenging Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship during WrestleMania weekend.
Miz TV with the Mysterios and Logan Paul: I can’t say that Logan Paul wrestling does anything for me personally, but there’s no denying his box office success as a boxer. Obviously, WWE hopes to tap into that audience to bring in some Paul fans/haters for WrestleMania, while also getting some extra media attention. If nothing else, this tag match puts the deserving Rey Mysterio in a better than anticipated spot on the WrestleMania card.
Raw Tag Team Champions Chad Gable and Otis vs. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins in a non-title match: The in-ring work was a Hit and Alpha Academy has quickly become one of my favorite acts on the show. But it was disappointing to see the Street Profits take another needless loss on television. A match between these teams should mean more than this did. In fact, it was the second time in three weeks that Alpha Academy beat The Profits, who have also lost to RKBro and The Mysterios in high profile matches this year.
WWE Raw Misses
Rhea Ripley vs. Nikki ASH: ASH has yet to actually win a match since she turned on Ripley. As much as I’m looking forward to seeing Ripley move on to big things as a singles wrestler, they could have kept this feud interesting by having ASH steal a win at some point. I was actually looking forward to seeing ASH work as a demented wannabe superhero, but all the losses have taken the fun out of her act.
U.S. Champion Damian Priest vs. Shelton Benjamin in a non-title match: Priest has really cooled off. I get the feeling that the creative forces either are unsure where to go next with him or they called an audible before his oddly uneventful win over AJ Styles. The nice thing about this match is that it got South Carolina native Benjamin on the show, but that also led to Priest being booed by some. If that’s what the creative forces want, great, but the way Priest tried to win over the crowd by praising Benjamin during his post match promo seems to suggest that he’s still in babyface mode.
Reggie and Dana Brooke: The only enjoyable part about this segment was Tamina catching Tozawa, who then puckered up in anticipation of being kissed before she intentionally dropped him. I’m not sure whether Reggie looks worse for allowing himself to be pinned or if Brooke came off worse for making out with him to win the worthless WWE 24/7 Championship.