A week after technical difficulties caused a skipped article, Andrew brings us his breakdown of WWE Raw and SmackDown Live!
Well last week there was no article because my TV and internet are both Verizon FiOS, and FiOS decided to blackout in my area from 1pm Monday until like 11am Wednesday. So that makes it hard to review things in a timely fashion with work and technical difficulties.
But we’re back this week, maybe the week off helped? Maybe it was like a pallet cleanser?
Same old crap?
Eh…let’s find out.
- Ronda Rousey vs Liv Morgan: Rousey wins via Arm Bar – * 1/2
- Ronda Rousey vs Sarah Logan: Rousey wins via Arm Bar – *
- Raw Tag Team Championship #1 Contenders Fatal 4 Way: Heavy Machinery vs Lucha House Party vs The Revival vs The B-Team: Revival win via Shatter Machine – ** 1/2
- Sasha Banks & Bayley vs Nikki Cross & Alicia Fox: Bayley wins via Roll Up – * 3/4
- Jeff Jarrett w/Road Dogg vs Elias: Elias wins via Drift Away – ** 1/2
- Finn Balor vs Lio Rush: Balor wins via Coup de Grace – ** 3/4
- EC3 vs Dean Ambrose: EC3 wins via Jacknife Cradle – *
- Braun Strowman & Kurt Angle vs Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin: McIntyre & Corbin win via DQ – **
Becky and Stephanie start the night out with a highly divisive promo. Many people seem confused at Becky’s actions, but it’s a beautiful wrinkle in her character. The Man is afraid of no tangible object; a fight, a Heavy Machinery concoction, man or woman…but intangible things cause fear. The way her voice wavered a little, and how quickly she was answering back to Stephanie, was all fear. Fear that the McMahon family are looking for an angle to screw her, and fear that Doctor Jail will force her out of yet ANOTHER opportunity. This is great, differentiates Becky from the other anti-corporation figures of the past and makes me love her even more. Everyone has fears of things they can’t control, even The Man.
Ronda has a forced promo next, sure “Ice Up and Pop Advil” or whatever she said was a good line, but the words felt rehearsed. It would’ve been a good promo from Heyman or Samoa Joe, but Ronda, it’s just odd.
Granted then she takes her frustrations out on two-thirds of the Riott Squad, and sure, they happened. Liv is a better character than she is wrestler, but there’s still something enjoyable about watching her work. Forgettable matches though.
Couple promos, only memorable thing was Nikki Cross making sense about her being judged and not accepted by anyone, except the other weird girl. Don’t Cross the Fox was a cute line as well.
The tag match…happened. Two joke teams, a worthless Lucha thing and the only legitimate tag time…and I was supposed to believe or care that someone not named The Revival were winning? Come on now.
Zack Ryder can’t spell his name and neither can WWE. Hooray lovable losers!
Kurt Angle heads to the ring to give an assumed retirement speech. Drives us down memory lane without falling asleep at the wheel, but Corbin and McIntyre interrupt, attempt to beat down Angle, but Braun Strowman shows up on Angle’s side. The Monster who was always in his face for competition, challenging him and fought against him…suddenly goes respectful babyface. Yeah no. The Braun character is dead to me, I don’t care.
Foxy and Cross jump Banks and Bayley before the match starts. So the match that we all thought was a slam dunk, became almost in doubt, if you were dumb. The beatdown lasted a while, but after the commercial break Bayley is in the ring and Sasha looks dead on the outside. Long and short, this is a Bayley handicap match, save for one save by mostly dead Sasha. So good for the Boss & Hug Connection?
Apollo says he’s got Angle’s back, but then gets stared down by Rezar and Drake Maverick, so he must’ve just left the building in fear of Rezar.
Jarrett and Road Dogg sing “With My Baby Tonight” again after a weird mish mash of Road Dogg era promos, but that’s fine since Jarrett is a weird reference of different versions too. Elias shows up, a nice verbal spar and a solid match afterwards. Jarrett and Elias was the highlight of the Men’s Rumble, and I’m alright with this for now. Dogg and Jarrett do get the best of Elias, even after Elias gets the win, so this ain’t over yet.
Dana Brooke is apparently not loud enough to break through Natalya’s magical ear buds. So hooray a miscommunication proving ground match next week. Noticeable thing to me was the Nattie did something different with her hair (to cover the ear buds before the punchline obviously) but it’s actually a better look for her, keep it.
Injured Balor is apparently not taken seriously by Lashley. So he changes the match to being against Lio Rush instead, beats on Finn pre-bell, interferes before being kicked out and then yea, Finn wins in an alright match. The one cool move Lio had was missed by the camera, so it was alright save for a few psychology nit picks. But I guess seeing Finn as the bigger guy was…different.
Paige shows up! *goes to the bathroom*
Moment of Bliss! Alexa is doing her flirty thing with EC3, sure. Before Ethan can talk, Nia interrupts, then Dean interrupts her interrupting. Alexa plays flabbergasted well. Dean gets in a few amusing questions, but it leads to EC3’s debut match (Where are EC1 &2 being the best line of the show). As for the match, the crowd was dead, in the moment when they were supposed to rally EC3 up from a hold, they chanted for Ambrose. EC3 gets a Jacknife Cradle, Ambrose doesn’t even try to kick out and EC3 acts like he just won the Super Bowl. This match was a boring waste of time…similar to the Super Bowl…so…okay maybe that comparison worked too well.
Mojo is the man in the mirror. The promo had some passion, he’s shown glimpses of something…just can’t ever seem to hold it.
Main event time, it was…fine. Corbin and McIntyre tried to control Angle so Braun couldn’t get in, when he finally did, they held their own. Braun actually needed to tag out, but then we get the most moronic application of the tag team rules ever. Braun is told if he hits McIntyre while not the legal man, he’ll be disqualified. DISQUALIFIED FOR HITTING THE OTHER PERSON JUST BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T TAGGED?! Next week tags aren’t legal unless you hold the rope, then to follow that, if you throw your opponent over the top rope, that’s a disqualification too. WELCOME TO ASININE BULLSHIT BOOKING!
Overall Score: 4.5/10
The wrestling wasn’t inspired, the main event ending ruined what could’ve been an alright match. Hell the only real bright spot was Becky’s opening promo cause it gave the character depth and a chance to give Ronda space to breath and not be so overshadowed by The Man. I also shouldn’t understate Elias/Jarrett, but that wasn’t so much a bright spot, as much as, I just enjoyed the whole thing for personal reasons.
So this episode was close to average purely because only the ending of the main event really bothered me, the rest put me to sleep.
- Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev vs Gallows & Anderson: Rusev wins via Machka Kick – ** 1/4
- Randy Orton vs Mustafa Ali: Ortion wins via RKO – ***
- Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville vs The IIconics vs Carmella & Naomi: Rose wins via Moneymaker – * 1/2
- Daniel Bryan vs Jeff Hardy: Hardy wins via DQ due to Rowan interference – **
Charlotte opens up the show, showing us Becky’s Monday promo and then chiding her afterwards. Becky shows up under the Wrestlemania sign in the crowd and walks down. Charlotte tries to get in a dig with the “First you took my dad’s saying and now Roman Reign’s entrance”, but no one cared about her and all popped for Becky. Becky was allowed into the ring, stared down Charlotte before HHH came out and basically reiterated what Stephanie said. Becky lent a little more credence to her actions by stating she doesn’t trust them, Trips basically said it doesn’t matter how she feels, she has to get cleared. Becky takes the “How’s Stephanie” jab, so Hunter starts going off about he thinks the injury is fake and she just wants an excuse to get out of the fight and play martyr cause she’s scared of Ronda. Becky slaps Hunter and they stare off for a bit before Becky smirks and walks off. Becky is still the best thing the WWE Main Roster has going for it.
The odd pairing of Rusev and Nakamura, faces off against The Good Brothers, because, well they’re friends with R-Truth. The match was alright, but Lana screaming at Shinsuke to get up and get back into the ring, and physically helping him back to his feet was interesting. Not sure if Lana will piss off Shinsuke eventually and cause him to lay out Rusev (or Lana for that), or if she’ll somehow push him and maybe Shinsuke tries to get her to manage him too, so then Rusev versus Shinsuke for Lana’s services could be a thing. I don’t love the last idea, but it just popped into my head as I’m writing this, so…hooray stream of consciousness.
Now I’m marginally biased when it comes to Randy Orton. Yes he’s very calculated, some of his matches are slow or boring, but generally he’s always a solid hand. This match with Ali was a great storytelling match. Ali looked like a real threat, got around a few Orton classic moves, including his Back Body Drop through an announce table that usually happens whilst playing Fling the Singh. Ali also avoided one RKO, just to fall victim to another when he was setting up for the 054. Solid match, plus Samoa Joe running in to choke out Randy was good to lead to Elimination Chamber.
Daniel Bryan is a face in Washington state, cause they’re a bunch of west coast hippie vegans weirdos too. So he panders, they pop, hemp belts and whatever. Don’t get me wrong, this evil Captain Planet, Vegan Christ Superstar, whatever you want to call it, is a great character. I just can’t really say he said anything with weight or merit, so it all blended in as white noise to me.
A tag match that no one really cares about, at least finishes correctly since Mandy & Sonya are probably the least credible team in the eyes of the public. Yes the IIconics aren’t much more successful, but at least they’re protected by that aura of bestie power that gives them enough reason to have an edge as a tag team. Yes, I’m also a sucker for an Australian accent, but that doesn’t sway anything here really.
Andrade and Zelina talk smack about Rey, so I’m very happy that’s not dead in the water. More Andrade vs Rey! We still have 25 matches to go!
Daniel and Hardy never really get to the next gear. The action was solid, they both had moments to shine. Jeff hits the Swanton, but before we see if Daniel kicks out or not, Rowan pulls him out and Bryan gets DQ’d for interference. So both main shows have DQ finishes for the main events, but SmackDown decides to have Joe and the rest of the Elimination Chamber participants show up for a big donnybrook. That doesn’t make it better, but the crowd pops for Styles and what not, so they prolly went home happier.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Well, WWE added to the Becky story which I love, so hopefully that helped to smooth over any odd interpretations of her character. SmackDown, even with a slightly below their average show, was still quite enjoyable and easy to digest. The Nakamura and Rusev angle is probably the most interesting new thing with the Lana aspect. So aside from us all knowing Elimination Chamber will be fun with everyone involved, it’s nice to have a lower card story that has some intrigue. Plus Andrade/Rey got furthered and it was mentioned the McMiz TV will have the Usos on next week. So even if they weren’t on, SmackDown does a solid job at keeping all the players visible somehow. Hell even Asuka had a video package.
So yea, WWE has a slightly below average week, but nothing terrible.
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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