By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins, Cody Rhodes, and Drew McIntyre: A truly compelling segment with everyone waiting to hear what Cody had to say only to be left waiting. Drew McIntyre interrupting Cody and then cutting him off again to tell him that he wasn’t finished speaking was hilarious. It was disappointing that we didn’t hear anything else from Cody throughout the night, but those McIntyre interruptions were really fun in the moment. I love the way that McIntyre is lobbying for Cody to take the match with Reigns because he wants to challenge Rollins for his title at WrestleMania. So what comes next? Beats me, but I’m definitely along for the ride and I’m anxious to see how they handle all of this at Thursday’s WrestleMania XL press conference.
Cody Rhodes vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a Bull Rope match: A well worked main event that suffered from predictability. It felt like they had already gotten everything there was to get out of the Cody vs. Nakamura feud and then decided to bring it back one more time because they needed a television main event. It was a cool touch that Michael Cole said the bull rope used in the match was the same one that Dusty Rhodes and Superstar Graham used in 1977.
Nia Jax leaves Rhea Ripley lying: A good repeat angle that doubled down on Jax getting the better of Ripley. It a simple yet effective build to their match at Elimination Chamber. Jax is going to have mega heat while challenging for the Women’s World Championship in Ripley’s home country.
Gunther celebration: The smugness that Gunther displays as the dominant champion is perfect. Jey Uso issuing a challenge was a welcome development. Jey didn’t add much to the promo exchange, but Gunther was great when he praised Jey’s tag team accomplishments only to mock him for only doing 50 percent of the work. I assume Gunther vs. Jey will be an Elimination Chamber match and that we’ll get Jey vs. Jimmy Uso at WrestleMania. If that’s the case, how about Gunther defends against the ultimate underdog Sami Zayn on the big stage?
The Miz vs. JD McDonagh: Miz summed up R-Truth really well by saying that he finds a line between crazy and genius and that’s why we love him. The Truth character taking a beating last week only to assume that it was a “re-initiation” was good fun. The actual match was fine with Truth’s antics helping Miz get a win over the low man on the Judgment Day totem pole.
Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match: A soft Hit for Lynch picking up a predictable win to qualify for her first Elimination Chamber match. I was just as surprised as Michael Cole sounded when he said this would be Lynch’s first Chamber match appearance. Baszler continues to suffer due to the terrible way she was booked once she arrived on the main roster. She’s one of those great acts that felt can’t miss in NXT only to completely miss on the main roster due to booking incompetence. I’d love to see the current creative team give her the same type of rebuild that they gave Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura, but they just don’t seem to be dedicating as much time and effort to the women’s undercard wrestlers.
WWE Raw Misses
Ivar and Valhalla vs. Akira Tozawa and Maxxine Durpi: Another rough outing for Dupri. She is at such an early stage as a wrestler that I’m surprised that they continue to put her out there on Raw when they could send her back to NXT for the seasoning that she needs. It’s not like she’s over enough despite her in-ring flaws to justify keeping her on the main roster, nor is Alpha Academy involved in anything meaningful.
“The Kabuki Warriors” Asuka and Kairi Sane vs. Kayden Carter and Katana Chance for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: The actual match was fine, but the live crowd sat on their hands for what is one of the better matches that the women’s tag team division has to offer. The company has played hot potato with the tag team titles and featured far too many random women’s tag team matches on Raw that have come off like time fillers. I wonder where things would be had they simply stayed with Piper Niven and Chelsea Green as champions to at least establish one team as being dominant in an effort to make the tag team titles feel like they actually matter. Perhaps they can take that approach with Asuka and Sane, but they need to come up with a real plan of attack for the division because the approach they are taking now is a bust.