The Royal Rumble “Go Home” shows. Did they produce entertaining content, or limp towards the finish line since most will watch Rumble purely on name value. Let’s find out!
Now given that I enjoyed Raw so much last week, I’m tempering my expectations for this week. It’s been longer than I care to try and remember, that WWE has knocked it out of the park two weeks in a row.
With the low bar set, do we see a Fosbury Flop, or well…just a flop. Let’s see!
- Finn Balor vs Braun Strowman: Balor wins via DQ after Lesnar interferes – * 1/2
- Apollo Crews vs Bobby Lashley: Lashley wins via Spear – *
- Seth Rollins vs Drew McInture: Rollins wins via Cradle – ** 1/2
- Lucha House Party vs Jinder & The Singhs: Gran Metallik wins via Backbreaker – -* (yes it’s negative)
- Elias vs Baron Corbin: Corbin wins via End of Days – N/A
- The Ascension vs Heavy Machinery: Otis wins via Caterpillar – N/A (squash)
- Raw Tag Team Titles: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs The Revival: Gable retains via Rollup – ***
- Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Natalya & Ronda Rousey: Banks wins via Bank Statement on Natty – ***
- We kick off things with talking…well now, new changes right? Heyman does his played out thing by now, Vince comes out and tells his own variation of a Wikipedia edited David and Goliath story. Braun shows up to try and look menacing and speak words that don’t matter. Finn walks out after like 15 minutes of bickering, to point out that this is typical. He then tells a closer to correct David and Goliath story. Vince gets the bright idea that Brock should be at ringside for the real David and Goliath bout of Finn versus Braun.
- Now before this match started, we all knew how it was gonna end. Brock at ringside, Braun is a monster so he can’t lose clean and Finn is the challenger…so he can’t lose clean. So yeah, making matches that can’t logically have a winner is a waste of time, much like this match. The action was alright, the spot where Lesnar catches a falling Balor just to Overhead Suplex him to the floor was moronic since the referee saw it and didn’t throw out the match there. Finn fights back valiantly, then right after landing the Coup de Grace, Lesnar F5’s Balor and THAT’S a DQ apparently. Must’ve gotten NFL referees for this match.
- Lashley and Lio come out, and every bit of praise I gave them the last two weeks goes out the window here. Lio is worthless saying nothing of merit, and this somehow devolves into a pose off when Apollo Crews comes out to throw his hat in the ring. The pose off did showcase a little personality from Apollo, so that was a bright spot, but come on…this is dumb. Then Lashley attacks him and a match happens regardless of any previous words or stipulations to the pose off (yay wrestling).
- Lio apparently will now be a bigger player in the matches, which is fine. But when no one cares about either wrestler, we came off roughly 20 minutes of talking into a gimmicked finish, for another match without a clean finish. Short match with no story or reason to care.
- Rollins comes out, gives a speech we’re supposed to care about, but I really don’t. He brings Roman up AGAIN, and really seems to be going through the motions almost to a disingenuous point. McIntyre comes out to save the segment before it leads to a match, cause everyone in the Rumble needs to be showcased leading to it, yeah, that sounds right, sure.
- The match is standard fair for a Rollins match. Okay work rate, slightly predictable sequencing, but since the finish was a Cradle…that’s different. I don’t know, the match was fine, but McIntyre losing just signals that now he wins the Rumble or finds a way to at the very least, cost Rollins the win.
- The Revival discuss their position with Vince in the back, say they’d like an impartial special guest referee and Curt Hawkins walks up. Vince tells him he’s the special ref and Hawkins has the best line of the night with “Well, I have seen a lot of threes lately…”, and then the Revival start buttering him up before the match.
- Lucha House…Jinder and the Singhs…WHY!? This has no business being a thing beyond they are two groups of 3. Stupid, useless, worthless, I hate the Lucha House Party. Send them back to 205 Live, deport them, I don’t know…just stop. This is not good, they have no personality, and have been damaged from that dumb House Party rule gimmick from a few weeks back. Screw this team. And who wins with a Backbreaker not named Roderick Strong?!
- Dana Brooke is talking at EC3, I say talking at cause he doesn’t respond and she just hits him with a litany of questions as Elias walks to the ring.
- Elias tries to do his thing, Corbin interrupts, a forgettable match happens and Corbin wins cause he needs to look like he’s marginally competent going into Rumble.
- Alexa Bliss’ Moment of Bliss, is a train wreck again, multiple women just walk out, declare their piece for the Rumble, Alexa even makes note of all her shows have been awful and she’s sick of it. So she announces herself in the Rumble, the only highlight was Lacey Evans finally came out and said a few things for the first time. All you Nasties are gonna learn.
- The Ascension get to be fed to Heavy Machinery! Well I guess that proves they’re staying on Raw since Raw loves job matches. Only real note from this is Otis’ Worm, is not called the Caterpillar. You know, like the company that makes heavy machinery. The writers are true wordsmiths I tell you.
- This tag match was like a highlight real of heel wrestling 101 and a referee actually being attentive. Hawkins is by far the best referee of the night (and weekend probably too), so a decent match. Nice spots, these two teams have nice chemistry and we see a reuniting of Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins at the end. So maybe that’s where The Revival go next. Only odd take away is why would you make The Revival sympathetic for the last few weeks and then ruin it completely in 2 weeks. The direction just makes no sense.
- Ronda with a passionate, yet clumsy and weird biblical promo with the hair washing feet thing. What since David and Goliath was referenced now we’re quoting the bible for promos? Ugh…no more talking Ronda please.
- Yes we all know Sasha had a wardrobe malfunction during this match. But let’s not have that take away from a decent match and the fact that Bayley and Sasha did technically give Ronda her first loss in WWE. So building up the challenger for two weeks right before the PPV seems like the obvious set up, but be honest, 99% of us have Ronda winning anyway. Sasha could’ve defeated the whole women’s division and we’d still go, “yeah but”. It was nice to see Bayley and Sasha continue to work decently as a team, but they did sow some seeds for Bayley versus Sasha since Sasha tended to move out of the way a lot and let Bayley eat moves.
Overall Score: 5/10
There really seemed to be no passion or imagination in this show except for Ronda’s odd promo. As Tony Acero so nicely put on Raw Reaction, I was just saying “okay”, through most of this show. It didn’t surprise, intrigue or go outside of the box at all. Just a basic color by numbers Raw. Mediocrity encapsulated in a show, if you will. SmackDown has to be better…
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- Mandy Rose w/Sonya Deville vs Naomi: Rose wins via pinfall – **
- Miz w/Shane vs Cesaro w/Sheamus: Cesaro wins via Gotch Neutralizer – ***
- Mustafa Ali vs Samoa Joe: Joe wins via Coquina Clutch – ** 1/2
- 2 out of 3 Falls: Rey Mysterio vs Andrade Almas: Rey wins via DQ 2-1 – *** 3/4
- So since it’s WWE we start off with talking, but this one is Becky and Asuka, and we like them. Becky does the old school heel thing of listing Asuka’s accolades but making sure to mention that Asuka didn’t BEAT her and she’s still just better than Asuka. Charlotte saunters out, let’s out a Woo and Asuka tries to get in a cheap shot on Becky, thus creating a brawl for a few minutes. Becky gets the upperhand throwing Asuka into the announce desk, before the brawl heads backstage.
- Naomi has every right to try and kill Mandy. She tried to cause problems in her marriage and Naomi had the upperhand in most of the match. A flurry of kicks and elbows from Naomi give us hope she’ll get her revenge, but Sonya’s interference becomes too much, giving Mandy the opening to show Naomi into the ring post and cover her for the pinfall.
- Miz and Shane might be my favorite thing on SmackDown story wise. I mean I love Andrade & Rey Mysterio angle, but the sheer fun and enjoyment Miz and Shane seem to be having is infectious.
- The match had a lot of good resiliency from Miz. The Miz has been looking like a better wrestling ever since the World Cup tournament. Miz tried to get an early win with the Figure Four Leglock, but Cesaro got out of it. Sheamus eventually takes out Shane so they can get in a cheap shot, which leads to a Gotch Neutralizer and a win for Cesaro. Post match beatdown sees Shane eat a Brogue Kick, as well as getting driven through Miz and effectively through the announce table. Feels like a heavy signal that Miz and Shane will win at Rumble, but who knows.
- Mustafa points out an interesting aspect of Joe beating him down last week. That being, Joe looks down on him, like he doesn’t belong there and he wants to prove himself.
- Vince basically moderates the discussion between Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. Not much is really said except for AJ turning the FICKLE word against Bryan and it catching a little. Styles chases Daniel outside the ring, lays in a few shots, rolls him back in for the Phenomenal Forearm, Daniel uses Mr. McMahon as a shield to then lay out AJ with Knee Plus.
- Truth and Carmella are walking through the back discussing the Rumble. Truth toys with the idea of challenging Buddy Murphy for the Cruiserweight title, and when Carmella points out the weight limit, he takes it as her calling him fat and storms off a bit. Charlotte and Carmella have a few words, but nothing really noticeable here.
- Ali showed that he learned from last week and turns around some call back spots into flips and body presses. But Joe eventually proved to be too much and Ali taps out to the Coquina Clutch.
- New Day have a nice moment discussing Rumble plans, Kofi has a moment of doubt if he can’t come up with a cool spot, Kayla tries to ask the question everyone does about would they eliminate each other. After going through a list of people who asked, they say “Is Tony Chimmel gonna ask us too?”, and Chimmel shows up before they shoo him away asking if they look like Edge and to get going.
- YAY! 2 out of 3 falls match! Andrade and Rey all day! First fall comes after Andrade connects on an Avalanche Sitout Powerbomb. Rey hits a Code Red, doesn’t’ get him, but pulls out the Canadian Destroyer as a counter to what looks like a Powerbomb and evens it up at one a piece. Rey tried to get a quick win with the West Coast Pop, but Andrade kicks out. After Rey finally connects with a 619, Samoa Joe shows up to ruin the finish. In the middle of making his final decree, Randy Orton RKO’s Joe to a giant pop from the crowd.
Overall Score: 7/10
Well okay we’re back to the normal situation of SmackDown being the clearly superior show and Raw being mediocre at best. Andrade and Rey are just wonderful together, that match could’ve been something special if it were allowed to finish decisively. I look forward to a time when they get 20+ minutes on a PPV to just tear the roof down. SmackDown is such a treat coming off a Raw that left, not a sour taste in my mouth, but ashy disappointment.
The Ronda Rousey Situation
Can Ronda handle the WWE Universe?
Maria Elisa kicks off her Chairshot career with a look at the state of Ronda Rousey in WWE!
I am probably not the first to say this but when WWE signed Ronda Rousey, I was skeptical if this was a good idea for wrestling. Several questions went through my head
- Can she actually wrestle?
- Will the WWE be a good environment for her?
- Will her ego and personality get in the way of making her successful in this business?
- Is wrestling even a good move for her?
UFC and wrestling are two extremely different businesses. The norm is anyone can be a wrestler however, you need to put in the time, dedication and training. This is something I knew Ronda will be able to do however, one thing I am still not convinced is whether she can wrestle. The past year every single match she has been in has been in my opinion somewhat dry and lacking in technique.
Let’s be honest, the only reason she was getting by in this business is the fact when you speak the name Ronda Rousey, there still comes to mind the bad-ass, dominating persona that we all saw in UFC. To fans like myself, that still gives us an incentive to sit down and still watch her matches. She is still an imposing figure whether you like her or not. Another thing that I am not sure she could handle is the WWE Universe.
The WWE Universe
WWE Universe is not exactly like any other sport fans. They cheer who that like and they will boo who they do not like. If a wrestler has a slump or has a bad match, the crowd will eventually let them know “hey, you suck”. That is just the way this particular universe works. This is why character development, story line writing, gear change, entrance music change, or turning heel or even baby face keeps a wrestler marketable and in touch with the WWE Universe.
However, Ronda is somewhat different. She left the UFC after coming to terms with two things: 1) She cannot handle losing and 2) Her technique and fighting skills in the UFC just did not help her cut it with opponents like Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes. We all saw this when Holly Holm exposed her by simply fighting fist to fist with her and avoiding submission card Ronda always plays.
We are now seeing this emotional side in which she cannot handle certain outcomes or reactions from the crowd in the WWE. Ronda Rousey coming into the Staples Center for Survivor Series against Charlotte Flair, who was handpicked by ‘THE MAN” Becky Lynch to represent Smackdown, turned her into the automatic enemy to the WWE Universe. You can see the reaction on her face coming into the ring that being greeted her to boo’s was not a reaction she expected. Even through the acting, she could not phantom why the fans were booing her and you can tell, it bothered her on a personal level.
I do not feel that Ronda has completely learned from the devastating losses she experienced in the UFC.
It took Ronda a year to come back to UFC after the first loss and even then so, the results of her comeback weren’t any better as Amanda Nunes knocked her out in the first round.
So if the rumors are true that Ronda is leaving the WWE after WrestleMania 35, it only solidifies that Ronda cannot handle losing or the WWE universe for that matter. She is used to winning and having the crowd and when someone with her ego hasn’t had enough experience with being critique on a negative basis or most importantly, with losing in their respected sport, they can react emotionally and irrationally. In turn, it shows they cannot handle the situation. Take The Miz for example, who embraces his heel and uses it to his advantage. I mean look at where he is now and it is possible he might be going to WrestleMania as a baby face. I actually prefer seeing THE MIZ a heel than a baby face, but either one, he embraces it and it shows through his promos.
Can Ronda Be The Top Star?
Ronda is great but not enough to carry the company in my opinion. There is a lesson that should be taught to every child while growing up and that is “the great ones treat failure as a necessary part of their journey. It’s not win or lose. It’s always win or learn”. Quite frankly, I do not feel Ronda has fully learned from her failures. This is what separates her in this business from the Becky Lynch’s or Charlotte Flair’s or Sasha Bank’s.
It will be interesting to see after the heel turn last night on Monday Night Raw, where Ronda takes this change. However, by the look of the crowd last night, It looked like they were not convinced. Her promos were a little too shaky and one could even argue that some things were spoken out of truth to what she is really feeling about WWE from a business perspective. But again, it will still be interesting to see where this goes leading up to WrestleMania 35.
As far as where I would like to see her, I honestly would like to build Ronda’s character after WrestleMania. I would love for her to stay and have WWE put her in the “underdog” category and see where she can flourish. I have always said that for certain wrestlers, character building should start from the bottom and work their way up. Great example of this, Stone Cold Steve Austin. The way he began was terrible but him being able to stay true to self and basically not give a damn, developed a character that the WWE Universe could relate to. I would love for WWE to develop her into a great heel similar to what they did with Becky. I would love to see her develop more technique in her wrestling that could boost her confidence and see her in some solid one to one competition. One thing I can agree on is her leaving WWE after WrestleMania can only do damage to her character and perception of the WWE Universe.
Andrew’s WWE Raw & SmackDown Live Ratings & Analysis (3/18 & 3/19/19)
Andrew tries not to gauge his eyes out during WWE Raw. But that’s why Vince invented SmackDown right? Right? Please?
Andrew tries not to gauge his eyes out during WWE Raw. But that’s why Vince invented SmackDown right? Right? Please?
Batista told us what he wanted, what he really really wanted last week. McIntyre is on a mission to single-handedly break apart the Shield and Kofi is going to literally be put through the ringer. So there’s a couple big points to keep both shows interesting.
Or well, there should be.
Let’s just see.
- Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush vs Finn Balor & Braun Strowman: Strowman wins via Running Powerslam – ** ½
- Elias vs No Way Jose: Elias wins via Drift Away – * 1/2
- Kurt Angle vs Chad Gable: Angle wins via Ankle Lock – ** ¾
- Sasha Banks vs Natalya: No Contest – N/A
- Jinder Mahal vs Ricochet: Ricochet wins via 630 Senton – * ¼
- WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey vs Dana Brooke: Ronda retains via Armbar – N/A
- Baron Corbin vs Apollo Crews: Crews win via Roll Up – *
- Seth Rollins vs Drew McIntyre: McIntyre wins via Claymore – *** ½
Heyman says words, talks about how a match with McIntyre is stupid. So McIntyre comes out happy someone acknowledged his imposing force-ness…then the only slightly interesting part here was Seth holding a grudge and attacking McIntyre over and over again with a chair.
A tag match I don’t care about. I mean Braun threw around Lio. And much like I mentioned on Raw Reaction even though I dislike Lio and don’t mind seeing him get used like a chew toy…I equally don’t care about Braun. So when two bland forces of underwhelming meh collide, you can call me Captain Apathy.
Moment of Bliss with Elias. Alexa says this time they won’t get interrupted, they announce Elias as the musical guest and…then get interrupted. Apparently Heavy Machinery is leading Jose’s conga line, and it was a planned bit but they came out too early. So as Alexa scolds, the cheeseburger attacks Elias and reveals himself to be No Way Jose. WHY? It’s his music, his conga line, why did he have to go undercover as the Pentagon Burger, Cero Calories, but mucha mierda.
Now we get a match between Elias, who people used to care about, and Jose who really doesn’t matter. He’s a waste of space with dancers. Apathetic to this match too.
Kurt Angle makes the announcement no one wants to hear. I’m still hoping there’s a swerve at Mania where Angle squashes Corbin and then we get a real match that doesn’t suck. But Chad Gable getting a dream match on Raw is a nice moment.
The match was perfectly fine, would’ve been better with some more time to put together a bigger story and if Angle was 5 years younger, but for what we have to work with, I’m not mad.
This whole Sasha/Bayley/Divas of Doom/Samoan Slaughterhouse…I don’t care. Sasha and Bayley are great, but I have no nostalgic love for Beth Phoenix, Nattie is a charisma vacuum and the Samoans…ugh. Though I agree Nia is prettier than Beth, everything involving these women was painful.
Is it sad I look forward to Mojo screaming at a mirror? He’s one of the more consistent moments that haven’t sucked last few weeks.
Ricochet and Jinder are a prime example of the problem with WWE lately. Jinder has done nothing and most people don’t like or care about him, so fans disengage. Ricochet has no personality. All people know is he can do cool flippy stuff, but you know nothing else…unless you count not being able to cut a promo. So yeah, the crowd was so quiet I thought it was a Japanese show.
Another announcement of a largely worthless but WWE specific award we are supposed to care about. Neat.
Dana died, that’s the summation. Then we got Ronda’s husband laying out security and scooping her up with one arm cause he’s mammoth.
God even Batista’s promo was hard to watch cause Cole was so lame. Batista tried to carry it with tone changes and generally bad ass comments, but it just came off as not saying much.
Hey this was a solid match, and a rather meh episode at least rewarded people who didn’t click away or fall asleep. Rollins falls for the old wrestling trope of faces are weak to entrance music. It’s basically a Pokemon game. *Heel used Rival’s Entrance Music* *Super Effective! Face is confused!* *Heel uses Finisher* *Face Fainted*
Overall Score: 5.5/10
Average, meh, whatever you really want to call it. A few storylines moved forward, a lot of wheel spinning happened but at least Drew went over in the main event. So nothing was awful, but it was just a ton of apathetic…and just pathetic moments.
Expected a little more from a show 20 days out from WrestleMania.
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- IIconics vs Bayley & Sasha Banks: Peyton wins via Dirty Pin – * ¾
- Gauntlet Match: **** 1/4
- Kofi Kingston vs Sheamus: Kingston wins via Trouble in Paradise
- Kofi Kingston vs Cesaro: Kofi wins via S.O.S.
- Kofi Kingston vs Rowan: Kofi wins via DQ
- Kofi Kingston vs Samoa Joe: Kofi wins via Cradle
- Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton: Kofi wins via Roll-Up
- Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan: Bryan wins via Knee Plus
Miz is tremendous. This was one of the most impassioned promos he’s ever given and the crowd reacted correctly. Face Miz could really be where the money is at. Great way to start off the show.
Boss and Hug show up to actually answer the IIconics, go figure. The match is non-title and the IIconics pick up a cheeky win, so I guess we’re on the road for a 4 way…or maybe even more…ugh. We’re on the way towards a mess, that’s what we have to look forward to.
Dominick is so much taller than Rey…maybe Eddie really was his father.
KO Show was actually funny. Owens is great and playing them against each other to egg on the brawl, while being mindful of his position so he moves stuff and gets out of the ring. It was all great.
Kofi and Sheamus would’ve been a damn solid match alone, let alone kicking off the gauntlet. The sight gag of more and more faces crowding around the TV to watch was actually cool. The gauntlet played out really well, Rowan purposely getting DQ’d to inflict more damage with weapons made perfect sense as well. Just really really great stuff. Kofi beat the original 5 and then Vince continues to screw Kofi by adding Daniel Bryan at the end. So it’s all good story telling, a really good gauntlet and generally just great way to cap off the show. It was a gut punch to people rooting for Kofi, but also another wrinkle to overcome with a few more weeks til Mania.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Great show. SmackDown is the shining light of hope for WWE main roster. The promos, the stories, the wrestling, just everything flows better and feels more organic. It really does baffle me that there have to be similar people shared on the production teams between shows…and SmackDown feels like a completely foreign animal sometimes.
So even though I think Raw did beat SmackDown twice this year, when SmackDown isn’t slacking for a week it tends to blow Raw out of the water.
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