MORE ATTEMPTS TO GET ROMAN OVER….
Recap: The show opened with Kurt Angle in the ring, announcing the night’s later contract signing and Money in the Bank qualifying matches. He was quickly interrupted, however, by Stephanie McMahon. She claimed that her WrestleMania match was water under the bridge, and that any conflict between her and Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey had been forgotten.
Stephanie then stated that she, rather than Kurt Angle, would handle the Ronda Rousey-Nia Jax contract signing. She also stated that Kurt’s emotions had the best of him, and that he therefore had given too much latitude to Roman Reigns. At that moment, Roman Reigns interrupted and came to the ring.
Roman asked Stephanie to address any complaint directly to him. She said that if his “Samoan temper” continued to get the best of him, he’d need to find a new line of work. Roman then threatened to go backstage and destroy Stephanie’s favorite competitors if she did not treat him with more respect. Roman claimed that management was trying to keep him away from the Universal Title, and called out Brock Lesnar. Stephanie told him to take it up with Jinder Mahal.
Kevin Owens then appeared. He thanked Roman for incapacitating Jinder last week, as it allowed Owens to qualify for Money in the Bank. He attempted to induce the fans to cheer “thank you Roman” to no avail. Owens then said despite liking Roman, he agreed with Stephanie that she did not play favorites. He offered as proof being granted recent in-ring opportunities despite his prior history with the McMahons.
Annoyed that Kevin Owens leaned against her as he spoke, Stephanie then set a match between Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns.
During the match, Corey Graves interestingly claimed that Roman fed off of crowd reactions, regardless of whether positive or negative. The match ended in DQ, as Jinder Mahal interfered and beat down Reigns. Kevin Owens joined in to make it a two on one, however Rollins then made the save for Reigns.
After a commercial break, the match then restarted as a tag team match. The faces won as Seth Rollins pinned Kevin Owens. After the match, Jinder assaulted the faces with a chair. Jonathan Coachman announced after a commercial break that Jinder Mahal would officially face Roman Reigns at the next pay per view.
The above occupied the entire first hour of the show.
Evaluation: The tag match seemed designed to give the fans more of the Seth Rollins action they have clamored for recently, and to have some of that positive momentum rub off on Roman Reigns going into his feud with Jinder Mahal.
Unfortunately it appears we have returned to Stephanie belittling Kurt Angle as a fixture of the show.
Forecast: Unfortunately I think we’re past the point where a rub from Seth Rollins can get Roman Reigns over. Several months ago when Roman was teamed with the Shield, the fans cheered when they were together but still booed Roman when he was apart from them. Roman’s fan support has declined since then, so I can’t see a better outcome this time around.
The most likely outcome of the Reigns-Mahal match in Chicago is the fans rejecting it altogether.
BOBBY LASHLEY’S SISTERS APPEAR…
Recap: At the top of the second hour, Sami Zayn conducted the interview with Bobby Lashley’s sisters that was promised last week. The “sisters” were very obviously men dressed as women. They claimed that Bobby picked on them as children. They claimed Bobby was disrespectful to his parents until finally being shipped to reform school. They also claimed that he was sufficiently a juvenile delinquent to have the police involved.
A smiling Bobby Lashley then came to the ring, as the commentators mentioned that Lashley is not one to take himself too seriously. He then warmly greeted his “sisters”, showering them with faux compliments. He thanked Sami for the interview and called him a great friend. He seemed to find the whole thing funny. Sami then got upset at Lashley’s lightheartedness, called Lashley garbage, and claimed his family also thought he was garbage. Lashley then attacked Sami, but was quickly quadruple teamed by Zayn and the sisters. Eventually Lashley recovered and beat down all four.
Evaluation: The crowd was dead silent for this. I suppose this was an attempt to get Lashley over as a lighthearted guy. I’m not sure why they’d go that direction with a guy like Bobby Lashley. At any rate, it didn’t work. This was just bad.
Forecast: If WWE keeps moving in this direction, the fans are not going to react to him at all. Hopefully, if this push fails he will be turned heel. He was more successfully as a heel than a face in TNA.
SETTING UP THE WOMEN’S TITLE…
Forecast: During the contract signing for the women’s title, Stephanie McMahon attempted to sow discontent by claiming that Nia Jax’s motivations in challenging Ronda Rousey were to make a name for herself at Ronda’s expense. She claimed that Nia knew that Ronda is still very inexperienced in WWE, and further claimed that with Ronda being accustomed to flyweights and bantamweights in UFC she’d be unable to handle Nia’s size.
Stephanie then turned to Nia, and mentioned that if it took 20 minutes for her to beat “diminutive” Alexa Bliss, she would have a difficult time with Ronda. Stephanie claimed that Ronda knew the “truth” that Nia relies too much on her size and power and is “lazy.”
Stephanie then expressed doubt that Ronda could even get Nia into an armbar due to her size.
The “lazy” comment set Nia off, and she said she was tired of hearing it her whole life. She said that Ronda would not be able to get her into an armbar, and that she would win.
Ronda then thanked Nia for the truth coming out, and stood up to shake hands. She then intensely stared Nia down, claiming she would take both Nia’s title and her arm.
Evaluation: This was pretty good. Ronda came across as sufficiently intense and believable in her promo. It was probably her best promo yet.
The segment also did a good job of creating a story between the two.
The crowd certainly didn’t have a bad reaction to the segment, but they seemed lukewarm. Among those publicly expressing opinions on Ronda, I’ve noticed that wrestling fans and commentators who also watch UFC consider her to have far more star power than wrestling fans and commentators who do not watch UFC. While that may seem like an obvious result, I think it’s important to keep in mind when judging reactions.
Forecast: I still think it’s too early for Ronda Rousey to be champion, especially since this is her first singles match. I think Mickie James and Alexa Bliss will interfere, setting up perhaps a Mickie-Alexa vs Ronda-Natalya feud. Later in the show, the commentators went out of their way to show Ronda and Natalya hanging out on Instagram, and Natalya shouted out Ronda as her training partner after she qualified for Money in the Bank, so something is happening there.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 5/14: Jinder Looks Sympathetic, A Purpose for Lashley’s Sisters, A Title Shot for Ronda