Andrew brings the WWE Raw and SmackDown after a pretty good Fastlane ratings!
Given how well Fastlane hit me, I’ll admit I was interested to see which direction we were going with things like The Shield members, Kofi Kingston and the looming AJ Styles vs Randy Orton match.
Let’s see if WWE paid off post-PPV intrigue with some real movement…or if they just splashed around the shallow end for a while.
- Seth Rollins vs Shelton Benjamin: Rollins wins via Stomp – *** ¼
- Intercontinental Championship Match: Finn Balor (c) vs Bobby Lashley: Lashley wins via Spear – ** ¾ – TITLE CHANGE!!
- Aleister Black & Ricochet vs Bobby Roode & Chad Gable: Black wins via Black Mass – ** ¼
- Natalya vs Nia Jax: No Contest – N/A
- Kurt Angle vs Apollo Crews: Angle wins via Angle Slam – **
- Falls Count Anywhere: Dean Ambrose vs Drew McIntyre: McIntyre wins via Claymore – *** ¼
Well the show started off luke warm for me personally. Yes the Shield got to kinda say goodbye, but I had no interest in the faction getting back together for the millionth time, but good for the people. Then the fact Dean and Roman walked off leaving Seth to continue pontificating about his Mania match. Paul Heyman comes out and admittedly the way Seth kinda cut him off changed Heyman’s usual promo shtick, so this was a decent back and forth – WILD SHELTON BENJAMIN APPEARS!
Even though Heyman framed the attack as a hired gun type thing, I hope this leads to Shelton being the new Paul Heyman guy. Shelton looks great, is an accomplished amateur wrestler and his only real weakness is promos…which Heyman can cover for easily. Solid match too with Seth.
Finn and Seth have a moment as Finn comes out for his match. Okay, so Lashley has looked better last month or so in the ring, and Lio’s interference worked for the match…but I don’t know. Aside from probably wedging and IC title match onto Mania or the Pre-Show (wouldn’t be the first time), I don’t really like the title changing hands here.
Corbin says douchey words running down Roman, the crowd goes to sleep, no one cares, Baron. Corbin. Sucks. (buy the shirt).
Ronda Rousey continues her tirade on running down the fact that she’s better than everyone and the fake scripted pro wrestling stuff. Dana Brooke comes out looking like she spent too much time in a tanning bed, and just weird. She cuts a decently impassioned promo about loving WWE even though she’s low woman on the totem pole and never on TV. Wants to accept the usual open challenge, Ronda kicks her away like trash and beats the hell out of Dana until refs show up to break it up.
This tag match is just academic after the finish from Fastlane. NXT guys go over, decent enough for the time allotted. Revival repay the post match beating the NXT stars gave them at Fastlane, so we’re leading to another match between Black-O’shea and The Revival I suppose.
Moment of Bliss announces Alexa is the host of Mania. It was obvious from the way it was hyped in the show, and who cares? What do hosts really do?
One of the unfunny SNL tried to give Braun a car as an apology, but it’s all a cheap ploy to sell a new Braun toy with a breakable car. SHILL!
Elias has some funny things, No Way Jose interrupts, Elias gets mad and beats him up and a few conga line peoples. I got nothing…this kinda was just there. Sadly they are missing the boat a little with Elias unless they turn around this dumb “tries to sing songs but gets interrupted by everything and anyone” thing. It feels like such a dumb filler spot just to keep him on TV in lieu of a real story.
Harlem Heat getting officially announced for the Hall of Fame is great. They were a WCW staple, had great feuds with the Steiner Brothers, Nasty Boys and many others. Plus we all know what Booker accomplished alone, and now he joins HBK and Ric Flair as the only 2x Hall of Fame inductees.
Nia and Nattie was short because Beth got involved. Thank god, Nia is painful to watch in the ring.
Triple H and Batista have a solid back and forth. A few cute barbs thrown, my favorite being the “Guardians of the Independent Scene” line from Triple H about Batista’s security team. But generally a solid promo. It doesn’t make me any more or less excited, but the match should be decent.
Angle announces his farewell match will be at WrestleMania. But he wants one more match in his home town and they feed him Apollo Crews. It was okay, didn’t really do anything for Apollo, but Kurt got to stand tall in Pittsburgh one more time. So it was nice.
Roman comes out for his match but Drew McIntyre jumps him from behind. Roughs him up, one normal Claymore dazes the big dog and then a Claymore into the ring post ‘concussed’ him. Because once doctors and refs get Drew off of him, the doctor says he needs to pass the screening, Seth comes out to walk Roman back to the doctor’s office, Triple H comes around the corner and Dean cuts him off wanting a Falls Count Anywhere match. Stupid, stupid man. Dean has had no luck against Drew and it doesn’t start tonight. The match was solid but a typical WWE style Falls Count Anywhere match with some cool spots and some dumb goofy spots. Ending the match with a Claymore whilst Dean’s head was in a guardrail was cool.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Not a bad show, a few beats annoyed me but generally an above average show. McIntyre looks like a monster, Shelton returning and not looking like a scrub is nice, not being subjected to much of Nia and the feel good moment for Kurt were all nice enough. So aside from the things I already stated I didn’t really enjoy, it wasn’t a bad show. Good follow up to a good PPV.
- Aleister Black & Ricochet & The Hardy Boyz vs The Bar & Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev: No Contest? – ***
- Asuka vs Sonya Deville: Asuka wins via Asuka Lock – *
- Andrade & Samoa Joe vs Rey Mysterio & R-Truth: Rey wins via Cradle – ** ¾
- Daniel Bryan & Rowan vs Mustafa Ali & Kevin Owens: Rowan wins via Iron Claw – **
Shane is out first with the Best in the World trophy in the middle of the ring. He demands to be introduced as such, and just plays up the dickishness. Plays the rich and entitled angle well, and just tells Miz flat out that they can resolve things at Mania. No dancing around or anything, just straight up declaration since he’s the boss.
8 man tag was fine. Everyone got their stuff in, it was pretty fun, but the highlight was New Day just not caring anymore and going after the heel team. So I don’t know if this was officially a No Contest or Heels win, but a more serious New Day is kinda neat.
Usos promo buried everyone except the Hardyz, so that’s a match that could be really good.
Randy Orton and AJ have a little promo battle and it was glorious. Orton runs down the charade that AJ built the SmackDown house when Orton was dominating while AJ was elsewhere. Yes Orton flubbed one line, but the recovery was fine. AJ tried to call the RKO a bootleg Diamond Cutter and Randy just smirks and says “Oh like you and your Indy friends don’t steal things?” – and he just holds up the Too Sweet hand gesture. That was the nail in the coffin there, Randy won that promo battle and seems motivated. So this could be special.
Mandy costs Sonya the match with apron shenanigans. So I guess we’re gonna see them break up soon, since the dissension angle is a little obvious after Mandy being petty tonight.
IIconics are treasures, love them.
Becky throws the crutch to the side and walks down to give her promo. No surprisingly, Charlotte comes out and even though I usually hate her talking, she did well here. Basically quoted Greg Demarco saying Becky lucked into HER main event and she’s only been hot 6 months as opposed to 4 years. Granted I liked Becky’s whole spin that she’s in Ronnie’s head and planned the Ronda interference. But Charlotte did take the spotlight back by the end of this little exchange.
This match felt like a pivot. Since many people started thinking Samoa Joe vs John Cena was the Mania match, but with Kurt Angle’s announcement…Rey winning could just be the back up plan. It works well enough and Rey is definitely a big name worthy of the Mania match. But that’s just how I saw this, pure speculation.
Our main event wrestling match was kind of flat. The action was okay, the finish was just abrupt and I didn’t expect like 15 minutes to be left for the New Day/Vince segment. I like the Claw Hold being back in some rotation, but I’m just not a huge fan of Rowan.
This final segment was great. Good emotion and energy from each member of the New Day and Kofi definitely hit relatable notes for people who work long hours, don’t complain at their jobs or just generally feel overlooked. Vince tells Kofi he has to run the gauntlet against Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Cesaro, Sheamus and Rowan. So all the beef might get in the way of Kofi’s dream.
Overall Score: 6 /10
Show was okay, but the fact that Shane and AJ Styles both just pointed at the sign, cut out the story aspect and just went ‘Let’s finish this at WrestleMania’. We all knew that’s where it was headed, but maybe trying to tell a story to get there instead of 3 weeks of treading water, possible tag matches and just pointless stuff to fill time, would’ve been appreciated. Granted it’s not awful since next week has a gauntlet that will be most of the show and allows for the US title and Tag Titles to get fleshed out.
The show still fell a little flat since nothing new was really learned. Orton being motivated was cool and Kofi getting screwed YET AGAIN adds to what we’ve already seen. So not bad, just really not an episode you need to watch. If you missed this week and watch next week, you won’t be confused.