TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW: The Women’s Royal Rumble, Universal Title Triple Threat, Hideo Itami debuts

By Jeff Vandrew Jr., PWTorch contributor

Braun Strowman undergoes major surgery
Braun Strowman (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)


The Women’s Rumble is Announced…

Recap: The main event was a six woman tag match featuring Sasha Banks, Mickie James, and Bayley against Absolution. Absolution was disqualified when Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville double-teamed for too long in the ring.

After the match, Nia Jax came down the ramp to take on Absolution. She eventually succumbed to the three on one odds, at which point the entire women’s locker room came down to rescue her. The melee ceased when Stephanie McMahon’s music hit. Stephanie approached the ring. She gave a speech hyping the women’s revolution, particularly the recent “first ever women’s match in the Middle East” that inspired so many young girls in that part of the world. She then announced a women’s Royal Rumble match at the next pay per view.

Evaluation: I disliked a lot about this segment. First, it was disappointing to see Stephanie McMahon put herself over the entire women’s division as she so often does. All it took to immediately stop a brutal frenzy in the ring was the first note of her music. Then, upon Stephanie entering the ring, all of the women obediently stood aside and listened intently to her sweeping speech. In her heels, Stephanie even physically towered over all of the competitors other than Nia Jax. She was clearly portrayed as the female alpha over the actual wrestlers.

After the match, Stephanie even instructed the crowd to start a “Yes!” chant. The “Yes!” chant is cool because it comes across as an organic fan driven thing, as opposed to something rammed down our throats by the suits (like Roman Reigns’ “big dog” moniker). Stephanie telling the crowd to do it makes it distinctly uncool.  Further, it’s associated with the General Manager of the competing show, so it would be illogical for the Raw Commissioner to encourage it.

Stephanie also heavily hyped the inspiration factor of the recent women’s match in the Mideast between Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss. Aside from the fact that her speech came across as corporate-style platitudes, the bigger issue is that the “first ever women’s match in the Mideast” framing is blatantly untrue. Natalya fought Kaitlyn in Egypt in 2012. The match is readily viewable on YouTube.

Forecast: I’ve read concerns spread on the internet that many of the female competitors have arms too short to safely take over-the-top-rope bumps. I personally have no idea whether or not that is true, but assuming there is a way to safely structure this match that still looks good, it could be at least as fun as the men’s rumble match.

Hideo Itami Debuts…

Recap: After fighting Miztourage members individually the past two weeks, tonight Finn Balor was matched against both Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel in a handicap match. After the match ended in a DQ Hideo Itami ran down the ramp to help Finn, and after the commercial break the match was recast as a tag match. Itami landed the pin after hitting Axel with the GTS.

Evaluation: This was Itami’s debut on Raw. The announcers made clear that he’ll be competing on 205 Live rather than the true “main” Raw roster.

Unfortunately, right now, moving from NXT to 205 Live actually comes across as a demotion. I’m not opposed to having a Cruiserweight Title, but I’d like to see it more integrated into Raw rather than being isolated. Currently cruiserweights don’t appear at all in the main Raw storylines. They have their own separate show, and their appearances on Raw are completely segregated from all other Raw storylines. They even have different chryon graphics.

The cruiserweights would feel less “second rate” if in addition to their angles involving the title, they were also involved with the main roster. I see no reason why cruiserweights can’t sometimes have angles with at least midcard guys on the main roster. For instance, there is no reason that a guy like Hideo Itami can’t have a Raw angle with a guy like Bray Wyatt if neither are tied up in other feuds. An example of this non-segregated approach can be found outside of WWE; Marty Scurll’s status as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion didn’t stop him from having a great match at Final Battle with non-cruiserweight Jay Lethal.

Forecast: Hopefully tonight was the beginning of better integrating cruiserweights into Raw. I hope it isn’t the beginning of Finn Balor in the cruiserweight division without a format change, as in its current format being sent to that division is basically a burial.

The Universal Title will be Defended in a Triple Threat…

Recap: At the top of the show, Kurt Angle was interrupted in the ring by Braun Strowman and Kane. Both proclaimed themselves to rightfully have the title shot against Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble. Paul Heyman then entered with Brock Lesnar, demanding the champion have a say. Angle announced that the match would be a triple threat as he scurried out of the ring.

Evaluation: WWE is using this match to advance Priority #1, getting over Roman Reigns. Brock Lesnar will win, as the goal is to have Brock as strong as possible to give Roman maximum rub when Roman defeats him at WrestleMania. I can’t imagine many fans caring about having Kane in this match, so I hope the idea behind making this a triple threat is having Kane present to absorb the pin, allowing both Brock and Braun to be protected.

Forecast: At Royal Rumble, Brock and Braun will beat each other up and do a bunch of cool spots, followed by Brock pinning Kane.

Random Thoughts…

Apparently adding “Burn it Down!” at the beginning of Seth Rollins’ theme is working, as it seemed like the whole arena shouted it in unison as he came out tonight….

I like that Michael Cole went out of his way to say that Jason Jordan’s good matches only mean so much if he’s not winning. Wins and losses should matter more in WWE…

I thought Jordan looked good again as a heel tonight, consistently not being on the same page with his Shield teammates in the tag match against Samoa Joe and the Bar….

Having Bray Wyatt and Woken Matt’s video packages separate from each other instead of alternating line by line was a huge improvement over the last two weeks…

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW: The Intercontinental Title takes center stage, Absolution attacks Asuka, Jason Jordan turn continues, plus random thoughts


1 Comment on TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW: The Women’s Royal Rumble, Universal Title Triple Threat, Hideo Itami debuts

  1. I have an issue with not just yours but from the looks of it most of the the Torch’s disdain for how the wrestlers react to Stephanie. Guys, she is their BOSS!!! Of course they are going to show her respect when she shows up. Just because they are wrestlers doesn’t put them in some bubble where they don’t have to respect authority. No matter what your occupation when the boss puts in an appearance you are going to respect him/her. To put this in context say two teams got into on the football field. Sure they are going to ignore the officials but if you think for one minute if Roger Goodell walked onto that field they wouldn’t immediately stop fighting then you are delusional. Stephanie is authority and as such it’s her right to reinforce that authority from time to time just like a REAL boss in the REAL world does. You always harp on how unrealistic most situations in wrestling are but this is the most realistic one there is and I don’t get how you don’t see that.

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