By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Edge and AJ Styles: Going into the show, all signs pointed to this being a friendly babyface vs. babyface match at WrestleMania. Styles recently drifted over to the babyface side (there was no actual turn), and Edge has had a feel-good comeback. So it was a true surprise when Edge viciously attacked Styles and left him lying at the end of the show. It’s an interesting development that took a friendly rivalry and turned it into a heated feud going into WrestleMania. Edge’s explanation promo is must see television for this viewer.
Damian Priest vs. Finn Balor for the U.S. Championship: One of the reasons my guard was down for the Edge turn is that they had just turned Priest in the previous segment. Normally, I’d say there should have been some distance between the two turns, but I don’t feel like the Edge completely overshadowed the Priest turn. The title change and the Priest turning were both logical in terms of giving this WrestleMania match some purpose. I could have done without Priest blaming the fans because it’s been done so many times before. Ideally, there would have been an actual story between the two that set up the Priest turn. But this WrestleMania match needed something more than hugs, handshakes, and the U.S. Championship. There’s legit conflict between the two, and this may lead to The Demon returning at WrestleMania.
Raw Tag Champions “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis vs. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens in a non-title match: A strong match with the team of Rollins and Owens beating the champions clean. As much as I’ve grumbled over the years about WWE having its champions lose too many non-title matches, it didn’t bother me in this case because they’ve done a nice job in recent weeks of putting Gable and Otis in a place where they can absorb a loss like this and still maintain their in-ring credibility with viewers.
Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan vs. Becky Lynch, Nikki ASH, and Doudrop: A fun six-woman tag match. The booking of the women’s division often leaves a lot to be desired. And while I still hope they will do a better job with Ripley coming out of WrestleMania, the other wrestlers in this match have well defined characters. The match gave us a taste of Lynch vs. Belair without giving too much away. Lynch was a trooper for taking those wicked braid shots, and I’m curious to see if there was a storyline purpose for it or if it was just a reminder that Belair can use the braid as a weapon.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Robert Roode: A soft Hit. The match featured very basic storytelling with Ciampa getting the win, followed by Roode and Dolph Ziggler getting some post match heat heading into their tag team match against Ciampa and Bron Breakker on tonight’s NXT 2.0 television show.
WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke and Reggie vs. Akira Tozawa and Tamina: The Brooke and Reggie romance doesn’t do anything for me, but the Tozawa and Tamina romance has quickly become a guilty pleasure. Tozawa acting lovestruck for the perennially angry Tamina character is good dumb fun.
WWE Raw Misses
“RK-Bro” Randy Orton and Riddle vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins: I’m still not sure what happened at the end of this match. It looked like Orton was injured after the top rope splash from Ford, and they somehow weren’t in the right position given the way that he moved closer to the ropes. And he still wasn’t in the right position, as it looked like he wanted to reach the ropes with his foot only to have Angelo Dawkins shove the foot away. However, Orton’s foot never actually reached the ropes, so Dawkins didn’t have to do anything while Ford picked up the win. There was a lot of post match communication between Orton, Ford, Dawkins, and the referee, so clearly something was off, and hopefully Orton just had the wind knocked out of him. On a lighter note, Orton no longer seems annoyed by Riddle’s antics, which actually makes me wonder if we are getting close to the RK-Bro split.
The Miz and The Mysterios: It was surprising to see Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin pick up a rare Raw win, which I assume the Mysterios will avenge next week. But the actual verbal exchange that preceded the match was a groaner. Rey Mysterio seemed lost when it was time for him to deliver his lines, and Miz’s promo felt tired and repetitive. I get that Miz running through his accolades is good for easy heat in the building, but it’s channel changing material when you watch the show at home and see him do it on a near weekly basis. Miz is a talented guy and I really hope he does something to shake up his act coming out of WrestleMania.
Omos vs. T-Bar: More of the same for Omos, who has to be the favorite to win the Andre the Giant battle royal even though the match has yet to be announced. It’s frustrating to see Dominik Dijakovic still going by the bad T-Bar name while never getting a real chance to get over.