SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This week in WWE programming featured Raw delivering its final push towards Extreme Rules while Smackdown continued to build towards Money in the Bank. Lets take a closer look at who shined and who missed the mark.
RAW ALL STARS: SETH ROLLINS and ROMAN REIGNS
At the end of a very underwhelming Raw, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns put on a PPV-worthy main event match that was a pleasure to watch. What made the contest that much more special were the promos cut backstage by both participants.
Understanding Reigns doesn’t exactly get a positive reaction from live audiences, this was still a babyface vs. babyface match that is sometimes hard to pull off. The story being told about Rollins owning Roman and Reign’s response referencing how meaningless past encounters would be that evening set up the heat very nicely and translated in the arena. The battle lines were drawn between these two and gave both men a reason to take the gloves off and truly have a battle for pride and supremacy.
For those that think Rollins came out of this match unfavorably is sadly mistaken. Both Rollins and Reigns got a ton of offense in and this was just a case of Reigns being better that night. Leading into Extreme Rules, every competitor is looking for some sort of momentum and, while Seth did not pick up the victory, he looked awfully strong taking on WWE’s version of Superman. Reigns continued to show that he is developing a more consistent mean streak and did not let up when he had Rollins on the ropes.
Overall, both men shined Monday night and this match added another layer into the story that will be told at Extreme Rules. Well done.
RAW UNDER PERFORMER: ALEXA BLISS
From the moment I saw the graphic for the “Bayley, This is Your Life” segment I knew that Alexa Bliss was in trouble. After watching the whole thing, I can now say that was a gross understatement. Bliss has been one of the best promos in WWE since her emergence on the main roster last year, but even she could not save even a sliver of this catastrophe as it died a slow and painful death. What was worse than the content was how incredibly long it was which really took a toll on the live audience.
In a feud that is leading towards a “Kendo Stick on a Pole” match, which suggests that Vince Russo may have grabbed Vince’s ear behind closed doors, this entire segment did absolutely nothing to boost either participant and undercut so much of what Bliss has been building since joining the red brand. Further, Bayley comes out to finally stick up for herself only to be dismantled for a second week in a row. There is no dancing around it; this was by far the worst on-air segment in 2017, and possibly the last decade. Even that, folks, is putting it very mildly.
SMACKDOWN ALL STAR: DOLPH ZIGGLER
A clean victory over AJ Styles alone would warrant the “All Star” moniker for this week, but Dolph Ziggler did much more on Tuesday to earn this spot. I have been very critical of Dolph lately as he has done little to change up his appearance and overall attitude in quite some time. This may have been a small change, but Ziggler carried himself very differently backstage during the pre-match segment with Styles and donned a new jacket that did not remind everyone of ’80s metal bands. Dolph was much more direct and confident rather than talking up how much he has lost lately. This demeanor translated very nicely to his entrance and in-ring work that followed.
Previously when these two squared off the roles were reversed, and AJ supplied most of the offense. On this occasion however, Dolph was able to really establish dominance in the middle of this match and show that he is shill able to hang with Smackdown’s top stars. Announcers kept talking up the importance of heading into the Money in the Bank ladder match with as much momentum as possible and Ziggler most certainly gained some here. With the blue brand’s roster lacking credible heels at the top of the card, Dolph took some big steps forward with his performance on Tuesday.
SMACKDOWN UNDER PERFORMER: RANDY ORTON
Nothing to see here, just another ho-hum promo from an unenthusiastic Randy Orton reintroducing himself for what feels like the 1,000th time. Sure, Randy fired up a bit when talking about his frustration, but buried the newly crowned champion in the process. Orton’s promo was really the only miss throughout Smackdown’s two hours on Tuesday mostly because on a show that is providing fresh matchups and new stories, The Viper has started to just blend in. Randy has said on multiple occasions that he enjoys being a heel much more than a babyface and it shows when he tries to endear himself to the audience.
Something just doesn’t click. Sure, he gets a pop when he hits the curtain because he is a star in the wrestling business, but it was clear that the crowd wasn’t buying what he was selling this week. When he proclaimed that he would get his title back it was met with a very mediocre response and even some boos mixed in. Whether you like Jinder Mahal or not, it is clear that he is putting the work in to get this story with Randy over, he just needs his counterpart to step his game up and make it seem like this is actually something he is invested in.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: ALL-STARS & UNDERPERFORMERS: Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor, Jinder Mahal, Goldust, Smackdown Creative Team
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