PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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Opening Segment: This was a good way to start the show and hype the main event Women’s Money in the Bank match. Everyone played their parts well. Carmella was good in complaining about Daniel Bryan stripping her of the MITB briefcase last week. Bryan was good in kicking James Ellsworth out of the arena. Ellsworth was good too. It should have built anticipation for a main event where Ellsworth wouldn’t get involved. Unfortunately, that ended up not being the case.
Corbin vs. Zayn: This was a pretty good match between Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin. I am giving it a Hit largely for the strong win for Mr. Money in the Bank. All too often in the past, WWE has not built up Mr. Money in the Bank as a strong act. He has not been shown to be a legit WWE Title contender. When someone like that ultimately wins the Title on a flukey cash in, he doesn’t appear to be a deserving Champion. It doesn’t seem like he will be the Champion past one Title defense. So, I am glad to see Corbin actually win his first match after winning the briefcase. I am concerned however with the prospects of his feud against Shinsuke Nakamura. Both of them have to come out on top of the feud and that is difficult to do.
Money in the Bank: This is a minor Hit. Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Natalya all gave very good performances in this match. Tamina also looked good. She isn’t as good as the others, but she stepped up her game here. Carmella has been strong on the mic lately, but she isn’t good in the ring. She didn’t do much here. Overall, they worked hard. There were some memorable spots, some with the ladder, some without. They aren’t taking the chances that the men often do in these matches which is smart. You can do cool things with the ladders that aren’t dangerous. Becky throwing the ladder out of the ring at her opponents was a good safe spot. Having two women on top of the ladder just beating on each other is good. Becky running up the ladder that’s being held vertically by two opponents was great. I know we’ve seen it before, maybe from Kofi Kingston? But, the problem is that after Lynch was up there, the other two just sort of set the ladder across the top rope, instead of dumping Becky off. When Carmella was up top and the other four picked up the ladder, they just moved it out of the way instead of dumping her off. Those are safe choices, but look wrong in these matches. The spot with Charlotte trapping Tamina under the ladder, only to realize she should have the ladder going the other way to look good on camera was terrible. That took what could have been a very cool spot and made it look ridiculous and scripted. So, the execution was off at times. But overall, the action was better than the first one and it was a good match other than Ellsworth getting involved (more later).
Usos – New Day: After a very forgettable Hype Bros vs. Usos match (forgettable since most of it took place in a small box at the side of the screen without announcers during the commercial break), we got a verbal confrontation between The Usos and The New Day which was just as forgettable. This did nothing for me. And the announcement that it is leading to a rap battle next week does not make me want to go out of my way to skip the fireworks and watch Smackdown on the Fourth of July.
Naomi vs. Lana: I don’t know what the purpose of this match was. The point of their match at the PPV seemed to be that Lana was a better wrestler than everyone assumed she would be. She had a much stronger showing against Naomi than expected and the announcers played up that aspect of it. She lost. She didn’t deserve the Title match in the first place. She didn’t do anything to deserve a rematch, but she got one anyway. Then she lost in a minute. So, if the first match was supposed to show that Lana is a good wrestler, this match undid that entirely as she was squashed by Naomi. So, that’s why I’m not sure what the purpose of this was. It put Lana back to where she was before. But why? This match shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
Punjabi Prison Announcement: I hated this. I hate Jinder Mahal as the WWE Champ. I am sick of seeing him against Randy Orton. I don’t understand why Mahal is given preferential treatment by Shane McMahon to pick the stipulation for their rematch given the fact that he has the Singh Brothers cheat for him in all of his matches. The Punjabi Prison is a gimmick that never worked and never got over and has zero nostalgia. I don’t recall ever hearing a fan asking for the return of the Punjabi Prison. Let’s all remember those classic Great Khali matches. It is better to not bring him up than to make us remember when he was actually the World Champion. And if Shane just decided on the spot to give Orton the rematch while allowing Mahal to pick the stipulation, how did the production truck know that Mahal would pick Punjabi Prison so that they would have video of the structure ready to go? Don’t insult my intelligence like that.
Styles, Bryan, Owens: WWE has too much talent to have such bad segments. A.J. Styles came across like a whinny little punk in complaining about Kevin Owen’s rules for his US Open Challenge. There was a forced Anchor Man reference. I don’t get the connection between a possible open challenge and a battle royal to determine a #1 contender for the United States Title. Bryan acted like the idea of an open challenge gave him the idea for the battle royal which doesn’t make sense. Bryan was not believable at in his fake excitement over that announcement. They are trying to get people to tune in on July 4th with this announcement, the rap battle and the return of John Cena. That’s a good idea, but I’m not convinced that it will work.
Ellsworth Returns: In the first MITB match, there was no DQ so what happened was ultimately in the rules. In the rematch, Bryan made it clear that Ellsworth was not only banned from ringside, but also banned from the entire arena. So, why would the referees not stop him from interfering when he came out through the crowd? He was banned. It was now against the rules for him to be there. So, why didn’t they grab him and pull him away as soon as he arrived? That made the whole ending of the match ridiculous. If this had been basically what happened in the first match, I don’t think people would have been upset at WWE. This was a terrible plan from the start. They gave us the ultimate crap ending the first time around, and we deserved a non-crap ending the second time around. Just because this wasn’t as big a crap ending, doesn’t mean that it is ok. It wasn’t ok. And while Carmella as Ms. Money in the Bank makes some sense, she isn’t a good wrestler. She doesn’t deserve to be the Women’s Champion at this point in her career. It might be fun to have her walking around with the briefcase, but it won’t be fun to have her as the Champion. But, you don’t want her to fail in her cash in on the first time for the women. Natalya would have made more sense to me.
For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell’s views to mine by visiting ProWrestling.net’s “Hitlist” section HERE.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Act now and become my 68th Twitter follower@JonMezzera (pretty clever handle right?). Just be aware that I don’t live tweet Raw, I don’t tweet much about wrestling, and I don’t tweet much at all.