WOMEN LEAD OFF THE SHOW…
Recap: The show led off with Becky Lynch pulling into the parking garage. After exiting her car, she as asked by Kayla Braxton if she was “ready for Asuka.” Becky said she’d answer that in the ring, tossing her keys to Kayla as she left. Kayla dropped them, to which Becky said “nice catch.”
Becky then encountered Otis Dozovic and Tucker night making a smoothie from pancakes, eggs, and tuna, to the chagrin of New Day. Otis offered some to Becky who took a swig and commented that it seemed weak.
In the ring, Becky reminded everyone that when Asuka lost at WrestleMania, she fell off the face of the radar. She as then interrupted by Asuka.
Asuka accused Becky of being “talk” and “hype.” Asuka said that after Royal Rumble, instead of being in Charlotte’s shadow, she’d be in her shadow. The IIconics then appeared.
Billie Kay said Asuka lacked dignity and class, and chastised Becky for treating Kayla like a valet, saying she behaved “like a man.” Turning to Asuka, Becky said she’d show why she as the talk of the industry, and then issued a challenge to whichever IIconic would accept.
Becky then defeated Peyton Royce. Immediately after the match, Asuka grabbed Billie Kay, and those two then had a match, which Asuka won. Becky and Asuka then had a stare-down.
Evaluation: The match between Peyton and Becky should not have been as competitive as it was considering how the IIconics have been booked.
Otherwise, this was good, straightforward build for the match at Royal Rumble. Both Asuka and Becky showed good intensity.
Becky no-selling the gross shake in the opening segment works for her character, but I fear they’re going to turn Heavy Machinery into a joke.
Forecast: This feud has been good for Becky, and has re-elevated Asuka. I would expect Asuka to retain while Becky moves toward a feud with Ronda Rousey as we get closer to WrestleMania.
MORE SOAP OPERA…
Recap: Backstage, Jimmy and Jey Uso were discussing a card Jimmy had received, thinking it was from Naomi. It turned out to be from Mandy Rose, and included a key to her hotel room.
Later, in another segment Sonya Deville chastised Mandy for handing out her hotel room key. Mandy said it would be worth it to get back at Naomi.
Cameras later followed Jimmy entering Mandy’s hotel room, where she revealed herself in lingerie. Jimmy hesitated to act on Mandy’s desires. A photographer then appeared, snapping photos of Jimmy with Mandy in lingerie, and ran out. Mandy then revealed that she had no interest in Jimmy, but only wanted the photos to destroy Naomi’s marriage. Jimmy then left to get his wife, who entered the room and immediately attacked Mandy.
Evaluation: Between this segment and the Alexa Bliss changing segment last week, WWE is clearly putting slightly more sex appeal into the show. Some fans will reflexively dislike this, but it’s not inherently bad. The show can have sexy soap opera angles in some segments while still having the women wrestle solid matches with more straightforward angles in other segments. The show in fact attempted that tonight by including both this segment and the opening segment with Becky and Asuka.
Nothing last night or tonight was tasteless, and if these new angles insert something new into the show it could possibly be a good thing. Tonight’s segment could’ve been played more realistically (less polished camera work in the hotel room would’ve helped), but perhaps that will come in time.
Forecast: I expect more soap opera angles to be worked into the shows in coming weeks.
Recap: In the final segment, Miz came to the ring with several cakes to celebrate Shane McMahon’s birthday. Shane thanked Miz and admitted to always wanting to be a tag team champion. He said he as proud to have Miz as his partner.
Sheamus and Cesaro then interrupted. Cesaro noted that Vince McMahon wasn’t invited to the party. Sheamus said he was invited, but he didn’t come because he couldn’t give a damn about Shane. Shane pointed out that Sheamus’ Brogue Kick last week was delivered when he wasn’t looking, and then challenged Sheamus to fight Miz tonight. Miz hesitated, stating he didn’t have ring gear. Shane reminded him that he didn’t have gear when he won Best in the World. Miz said that if the match was Shane’s birthday wish, he accepts.
Miz quickly defeated Sheamus (after Shane knocked Cesaro off the apron into cake), and after the match Shane attacked Sheamus. Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale, followed by a Coast to Coast from Shane. The two then celebrated.
Evaluation: This seemed an odd choice as the main event, as it was fairly short and uneventful.
Forecast: It seems that Miz and Shane will be a face tag team going forward.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 1/8: Becky Number One Contender, More Byran Rants, Best Tag Team in the World