By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky vs. Becky Lynch and Lita for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: The company did a much better job of presenting this main event by pushing it early and often after doing a poor job with last week’s Austin Theory vs. Edge match for the U.S. Title. The babyface duo winning the titles with a little help from Trish Stratus closed the show on a high note. I’m not sure what this is leading to for WrestleMania, but it’s interesting that Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler are being simultaneously pushed as a tag team on Smackdown. This has made me second guess my assumption that this is leading to Lynch, Lita, and Stratus facing Damage CTRL in a six-woman tag team match.
Cody Rhodes vs. Chad Gable: A competitive television match with a strong finishing sequence. I also got a kick out of Cody putting his arm around Otis at ringside while helping him search for Maxxine Dupri. The show also did a really good job of pushing that Rhodes and Roman Reigns will make their first appearance on the same show together for Friday’s Smackdown. For that matter, they also got the hype for John Cena’s return to Raw right after awkwardly having Austin Theory mention it last week as if that was common knowledge.
Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins: A good television match that felt less predictable with Jimmy teaming with Sikoa rather than this being a non-title match with Jimmy teaming with Jey. The Profits continue to trade wins and losses and one can only assume that the split is coming fairly soon, especially given the way they showcased Ford’s memorable Elimination Chamber performance.
Brock Lesnar and MVP: The segment was fine even if the end result of Lesnar facing Omos at WrestleMania does nothing for me. It’s possible that they can get casual viewers and kids more excited about this spectacle match, but they really have their work cut out for them. While Omos has shown some in-ring improvement, his losses to Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley have erased the aura of him being an unbeatable giant.
Asuka vs. Carmella: A more competitive match than I anticipated with Asuka still going over strong in the end. Asuka screaming her lines after the match felt like a premature callback to her previous character even though she’s done little more than change her face paint to establish her new persona. Bianca Belair’s post match promo felt as formula as ever. On the bright side, Carmella being the first person in WWE to get along with Chelsea Green was comical and feels right for both characters.
The Miz and Seth Rollins: A decent segment with Miz announcing that he will host WrestleMania. I don’t know what Mania needs a host, but wannabe A-List celebrity Miz is a fine choice to host in Hollywood if they really feel the need to have one. Rollins interrupting to set up the brief angle that resulted in him calling Logan Paul on Miz’s phone and then challenging him to appear next week was silly fun.
Bobby Lashley vs. Elias: A no nonsense win for Lashley over the ice cold Elias. I wonder if Rick Boogs’s notes all pertain to him praying that he’ll be sent back to Smackdown to play Shinsuke Nakamura to the ring while Pat McAfee rocks out on the broadcast table.
WWE Raw Misses
Bray Wyatt video: Wyatt’s “Muscle Man” video was a groaner and his expected WrestleMania match with Lashley feels completely random.
Johnny Gargano vs. Otis: Gargano’s main roster run continues to be a disappointment. Sure, he picked up a win in this match, but Gargano’s character is a turnoff. Rather than push him as an undersized underdog with a lot of heart, he’s been just plain unlikable due to bad comedy and being cast as the mouthpiece for Dexter Lumis. There has been a lot more good than bad since Paul Levesque took over creative, but his use of Gargano is baffling and disappointing. On a side note, I do get a kick out of the light comedy of Maximum Male Models recruiting Otis.
Candice LeRae vs. Piper Niven: LeRae’s matches continue to play to the sound of silence from the live crowds. I was surprised to see Niven take this loss even if it was a twist on the overused distraction finish, though I’m not really sure that it was worth it. I suppose it’s nothing they can’t erase by having Niven get her win back soon. If nothing else, Niven attacking Nikki Cross at ringside seems to eliminate the idea that the former tag team partners are still aligned.
I really didn’t like a lot of this show. The “road to WM” feels kinda vanilla. As you mentioned about the Brock stuff maybe WM is targeting the casual fans as an annual event rather than being groundbreaking for us hard core fans.