With Elimination Chamber looming, how did the past week of WWE perform? Tiffany gives us her take!
We’re a week out from the Royal Rumble and things are heating up in the WWE! As everyone prepares for the Elimination Chamber, how well did WWE build their matches?
Becky Lynch and Stephanie McMahon’s segment went about how I expected it to when it was announced that they would be doing a segment together. Becky definitely seems to be being built to be an Austin kind of character and she did a great job of that, even if Stephanie’s selling wasn’t as good as Vince’s.
The whole thing about Becky’s knee seems silly to me because she’s got two months to rest it, so it makes the whole point of her being ‘suspended’ kind of silly.
Ronda Rousey’s promos continue to make me cringe. She really needs a mouthpiece like Heyman is for Lesnar. Maybe make Paige Rousey’s new manager so she can just stand there and be a badass instead of opening her mouth or make her a Paul Heyman girl. I’d even settle for Lio Rush being her manager if it meant that I wouldn’t have to listen to another of her promos.
Open Challenge was a lot of fun. The look on Rousey’s face when Sarah Logan dead lifted her was hilarious. The problem with Morgan and Logan doing the challenge is that there was very little suspense, especially with Morgan. The challenge is a great idea, but it gets boring when there’s no suspense.
Ruby Riott’s interview did a great job of mixing the tropes of cowardly heel and friend who puts own ambitions aside to help her friends. I do think that Riott will be in line for the title after WrestleMania.
Boss-Hug Connection’s interview was more interesting because of the team of Nikki Cross and Alicia Fox. I like that they’re playing it more of Nikki allying with Fox just because she wants to rather than have her being a full-blown heel. Sasha still being upset about losing to Rousey was very in-character for her, as was Bayley playing the peacemaker.
The Fatal Four Way match was really good but really predictable at the same time. How many times does Revival get a title match before WWE puts the titles on them? It’s not like Glorious Alpha is setting the world on fire with tag matches. Heavy Machinery stood out as always, but I’m guessing that WWE’s going to decide which promotion they’ll go to before giving them a title run.
Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins segment was ‘eh’ for me. It would’ve been a cool segment back in the Edgehead days, but now I’m just like ‘Who cares?’. Still, I like that they’re going to try and end Hawkins’ losing streak, but I don’t really care either.
Kurt Angle’s segment was great…until Strowman, McIntyre, and Corbin showed up. I’m really over this feud. I get that WWE needs to give these guys something to do until the run up to WrestleMania, but I really don’t care and I hate them using Kurt to try and get it over.
Seth Rollins seems to be out with an injury, either in his back or his elbow. I’m a little confused as to why they’re pretending he didn’t make his decision last week.
Boss-Hug Connection vs Crazy Foxes was a very good match. RUMOR is that Sasha is injured and not cleared to wrestle, which explains why Bayley basically did the match herself, and why Fox/Cross got the jump on them. However, if Sasha was injured in her match with Ronda Rousey at Royal Rumble, WWE must be assuming that she’ll be fine in time for the Elimination Chamber match because she was at ringside and participated in the match.
Fox and Cross being annoyed with each other is interesting because this could be Nikki Crosses first ACTUAL main roster feud, but I’m not sure if crazy vs crazy is really going to be a compelling storyline for WWE.
Elias vs Jeff Jarrett. Let me preface this by saying that I’m a late-coming fan of Jeff Jarrett, mostly because of his TNA work. He’s a great competitor and has a great mind for the business. Having said that, I hated this match. I just really couldn’t get into it or into this feud, but I liked that Jarrett got some revenge on Elias and hopefully this feud is over.
Dana Brooke and Natalya’s segment was just odd. It was supposed to be funny and it just felt flat. I will admit that most of my problem is that I’m not feeling this feud and this segment didn’t help matters.
Finn Balor vs Bobby Lashley/Finn Balor vs Lio Rush was a reasonably good set of segments but what in the world was with the black bandage on Balor’s ribs? It looked like he was nursing a worse wound than hurt ribs. I find it interesting that even though Lashley is not involved in the Universal Title picture, WWE seems to be trying to build a rivalry between him and Lesnar. Lashley’s biggest problem remains his total lack of personality and charisma, which isn’t going to be cured by Balor or Rush.
Paige’s return should’ve been about more than promoting her movie. She’s a great talent and should be used for more than just promoting a moving.
Moment of Bliss continues to be a mess. I can’t think of a single episode that hasn’t been cringe-inducing. EC3’s debut on the show was a big ‘F’ for me. I’ve watched EC3 in TNA and NXT and he’s got the personality of a mop and average ring skills. He’s one of those guys that’s good to look at, if you ignore the fact that he constantly looks constipated.
I did love the return of funny!Dean Ambrose, it was a refreshing breath of fresh air after months of WWE’s confusing heel turn with Ambrose. Plus, it was a nice contrast to the human yawn that is EC3.
Dean Ambrose vs EC3: I have avoided talking about the rumors that Ambrose is leaving after WrestleMania because I’m firmly up the River Denial and think it’s a work. If Ambrose is leaving, him losing to EC3 makes sense, except for the fact that the way Ambrose lost did more for him than it did for EC3. 3, the debuting superstar got a cheap win over an established, top tier, star, which protects Ambrose and leaves open a couple of storyline possibilities for Ambrose.
Kurt and Braun Strowman’s segment was interesting. If Angle is retiring, him becoming Strowman’s manager makes sense since Strowman’s mic skills aren’t the best.
Mojo Rawley’s segment would be good with a higher tier star.
Braun Strowman and Kurt Angle vs Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre’s match was interesting but I’m still not interested in the feud. It was a mediocre main event for the most part, which was disappointing given how good Angle was.
Thoughts: This was an underwhelming RAW. The lack of Shield members, except for Ambrose, was very telling. Thankfully, WWE still has plenty of time to build up the WrestleMania card because the card isn’t looking great right now.
Charlotte/Beck Lynch/Triple H segment was interesting and sets Lynch up as a Stone Cold Steve Austin type character for the Women’s Division, but I don’t like how they seemed to be finding a way to shoehorn Charlotte into a match that doesn’t need her. Also the whole thing about Lynch’s knee shows WWE’s ‘hand’ a little too much, but we’ll see what transpires between now and March.
Rusev and Nakamura vs Good Brothers match was okay. I’m hoping that WWE has bigger plans for this team and will give them time to gel because this first outing was kind of rough. Plus, the inclusion of Lana in the match, with a walking cast on her leg stinks of hypocrisy given that Lynch was suspended for not getting a tweaked knee looked at. I feel bad that the Good Brothers have been excluded from the title picture and are putting teams over so much because they were definitely the better team in this match.
Mustafa Ali is a STAR and his promo segment proved it to me. He’s got a ton of charisma and is a great underdog for the WWE Universe to get behind.
Paige’s return to SmackDown just to promote her movie just felt lousy. I wish WWE would find something else for her.
The Usos are proof of what a heel turn done right can do for Superstars, and they’ll have a good match with Shane and Miz, but I’m just not feeling it right now, it just feels like more of the same old stuff.
Mustafa Ali vs Randy Orton was a great match! Ali continues to wow in his matches, just like Rey Mysterio used to in his prime. Ali also proved that he can hang with any superstar and look great even in defeat, but I’m going to make a bold prediction: Samoa Joe is going to be the first person eliminated from Elimination Chamber because he’s been getting the jump on everyone with the Coquina Clutch. I did find Joe being put off by Rowan interesting.
Samoa Joe’s segment proved something: Joe’s not a physics major, but the segment was interesting and makes him seem like a viable threat for the WWE Championship.
Daniel Bryan’s segment was boring, to be honest. I’m over the whole ‘New Daniel Bryan’ thing. His whole shtick of being an outsider is pretty much nonsense that it’s amazing that they keep it going. It was funny to see people making their own Hempionship belts, but that was about the only really standout thing about this segment.
Jeff Hardy’s promo response to Bryan was very good and typical of Hardy’s underrated promo skills, and the hint of a feud between him and Styles is a dream that I hope we get to see.
Triple Threat Tag Match: Let me preface this by saying that I LOVE Feel the Fabulous, but why have them lose the tag match if you’re going to put them in the Elimination Chamber match for the Tag Titles? Also, can we scrap the Naomi/Mandy Rose feud, please? It’s not doing anything for either of them.
Andrade Almas’ promo against Mysterio was great and keeps their feud going without either of them competing on Tuesday, which is always good, but I hope we’ll get a definitive match for this feud sooner or later.
Asuka: Part of the reason I don’t want Charlotte involved in the RAW Women’s Match is because of Asuka. I don’t really see anyone in the SmackDown Women’s Division that could really go toe-to-toe with Asuka in a believable way at WrestleMania other than Charlotte.
Jeff Hardy vs Daniel Bryan was a fantastic match and a much better main event than the one RAW put on. Even the DQ finish didn’t hurt anything because it protected Bryan and Hardy. The run-in by the Chamber participants was expected since we’re about a week out from Elimination Chamber. Styles being the last man standing was interesting and raises doubts about Bryan walking out as Champion.
Bryan’s Promo after the show was stereotypical crybaby heel stuff and him trying to say that the other competitors running AFTER the match was interference but Rowan causing an ACTUAL DQ wasn’t, is a level of mental gymnastics I didn’t know existed in the human mind. It was Right Wing radio level and was very funny, though I’m not sure it was supposed to be.
Thoughts: A better, if not exactly awe-inspiring, SmackDown. They put on a more interesting show than RAW, but the long build toward WrestleMania is already starting to show.
The Opener of 205 is always good and gets people excited…ish for the show and I kind of wish they’d do something like this for RAW and SmackDown.
Mike Kanellis vs Brian Kendrick: What in the heck is WWE doing with Mike Kanellis? He’s a great talent, Maria is a great heel manager, and their gimmick is nauseating enough to work in a heel capacity. Why is he on 205 and looking out of his depth? The match was really good, but it just feels like WWE has no idea what they’re doing with the Kanellises and it’s frustrating.
Ariya Daivari’s promo on Hideo Itami is baffling since rumor is that Itami was granted his release last week. Is WWE working everyone to have an actually shocking departure?
The promos for the main event were pretty standard ‘I’m going to win because I’m the best and everyone else is a loser’ stuff, but it’s always fun to watch the heels have selective memory loss when one of the faces have gotten the better of them, i.e Lio Rush about Cedric Alexander, who beat Rush fair and square.
Drake Maverick’s Office was an interesting segment. Gulak and Gallagher have had very little direction since the end of their feud with Kendrick and Tozawa. I did find it a little cringe inducing to hear to white guys talk about keeping a POC performer on the right path and thinking they need to accompany him. It’s just…ugh.
I love that Noam Dar has bounced back so quickly from the attack last week and I’m glad we’re getting a No DQ match out of this feud, even if the build has been a little lacking
The #1 Contendership Match was a lot of fun and pretty much what I expected from a 205 main event. I love that it came down to Alexander and Tozawa, no offense to Rush or Carrilllo, but these two could have a MONEY feud if WWE plays the cards right. I am stoked for Tozawa vs Murphy. I don’t think Tozawa will win, but it promises to be a great match.
Thought: GREAT 205, good matches and a great main event, but the lack of Mustafa Ali is still telling. His amazing skills aside, Ali was truly the heart of 205 and was easy for the audience to get behind and there really isn’t someone to fill that hole. Alexander is close, but he’s been champion, so has Tozawa, and Kendrick. Noam Dar could do the job, but it wouldn’t be a good. If they revamped Mike Kanellis and made the gimmick less gag-inducing, he would do a pretty good job.
Mark Andrews vs El Ligero was a fabulous match and could easily have main evented the show. It’s really hard to do face vs face matches, especially when the faces have very similar styles, but Andrews and Ligero did a really great job. This was a match where it didn’t really matter who won because the match was so good.
Oney Lorcan’s promo was really good, but Lorcan and Burch are better as the silent, beat-the-holy-hell out of someone type of team. I’m assuming that NXT UK shot a couple of episodes or another TakeOver in Phoenix because it keeps being referred to, so hopefully we’ll see those soon.
Pete Dunne’s promo about Walter was really good and sets the stage for Dunne vs Walter and Walter vs Mark Coffey.
Xia Brookside vs Candy Floss was another face vs face match that you had to watch carefully because both women had similar hair colors. That said, it was a really good match and I hope Candy gets signed to NXT UK soon because she’s a heck of a talent. It was nice to see Xia get a singles win, finally, since I predict that she’ll be a STAR in a few years. The addition of Rhea and Toni honestly didn’t make sense to me. Why would Rhea attack two women who weren’t even involved in her feud with Toni? Why not just attack Toni in the backstage area. Ripley standing tall wasn’t a total surprise, but the rest of it was just…why?
Jordan Devlin is definitely establishing himself as a top tier heel and it seems like his feud with Travis Banks is on the backburner for now, but the upcoming match with Noam Dar seem like it’ll be a really great one to watch and see if Dar will hang his hat in NXT UK.
Mike Hitchman vs Joseph Conners was a really good, if random and rough, match. It was enjoyable, the guys worked really well together, but I had no real investment in the match, which I’m actually okay with for now. Conners winning was a big surprise, but it seems like he might be getting groomed for bigger things, for some reason, so we’ll see what the future holds.
Jinny is a superstar I don’t get and the more I see her the less I like her. Her gimmick might not be so bad if she didn’t seem so average in the ring, but that’s me.
Ashton Smith vs Joe Coffey was a fantastic, if short match, and the outcome wasn’t a surprise, but I’m glad WWE’s continuing to book Joe strong even after losing to Dunne and Walter. Gallus is a great heel faction, so I’m hoping Wolfgang and Mark will get similar booking.
Walter vs Mark Coffey. I’ve said before that I don’t get Walter or his appeal, but he’s a good wrestler, even if he’s not my cup of tea. I just…I don’t get it. It was still a good match, but I’m not getting into Walter or his hype.
Thought: That was an okay NXT UK. There were lots of great matches, but some of the pairings seemed a little random. We haven’t seen the Tag Champs defend the titles yet, and Storm hasn’t defended her Women’s Championship since winning it in Blackpool. It just felt a little underwhelming.
Johnny Gargano/Velveteen Dream/Tommaso Ciampa was a really interesting segment. Since Dream seems to be getting handed the rocket, him choosing to face Gargano over Ciampa was a weird choice. Unless he views Gargano as a weak link. Also, the whole ‘will they, won’t they’ with the DIY reunion looks a lot like the Rollins/Ambrose reunion from 2017, without the extra drama. Given some of the ‘spoilers’ coming out about the upcoming Gargano/Dream match, it’ll be interesting to see what the future will hold for DIY.
Jaxon Ryker vs Mansoor that was a great match. Mansoor, or ‘Manny’, competed in the Greatest Royal Rumble last year and has finally made it to WWE TV. I was a little disappointed that Manny didn’t get a better showing, but WWE is clearly grooming Forgotten Sons to be contenders and possible rivals for Undisputed Era. Hopefully, Manny will get a better showing next time.
Ricochet’s promo with Cathy Kelly was really good and kept his feud with Adam Cole going, though I wonder if there will be as much interest in it without titles being attached since Undisputed Era is beltless right now.
Drew Gulak vs Eric Bugenhagen was a big ‘WTF’ for me. I’m not a fan of Gulak’s gimmick, it reminds me too much of RL politics, but the guy’s a heck of a talent, so to watch him deal with Bugenhagen was just ‘What?’.
I was actually cheering for Gulak when he won, to give you my opinion of Bugenhagen. Matt Riddle coming out made me roll my eyes SO hard, but the prospect of Riddle/Gulak was interesting enough to keep me watching.
Drew Gulak vs Matt Riddle: I have been quite vocal about the fact that I don’t like Matt Riddle, but I’ll give him his due, he and Gulak put on a great match and the show of respect after Riddle’s victory was nice. Riddle still annoys the hell out of me though.
Six Woman Tag was a really good main event. Even though I don’t care for Belair, she makes a good addition to Team Sky Pirates against the Horsewomen. Shafir and Duke are making good progress in their transition from the Octagon to WWE but they still have a ways to go, and that’s fine. I love that Io Shirai got the pin on Baszler, putting her in line for a title short, but it also sets up conflict with Belair which will be interesting.
Thoughts: Another solid, but largely uneventful episode. The matches were good and there was storyline progress, but nothing earthshaking.
Overall Thoughts: Other than RAW, WWE put on a very solid week of programming. Every show, including RAW had good matches and moved their stories forward, but it’s clear that WWE is playing it safe until March when the real ramp up to WrestleMania will start. Until then, I’m guessing that we’ll have more weeks of uneventful shows to watch, but as long as the storylines go forward, it should be fine.