SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Recap: The show opened with Seth Rollins in the ring recapping his victory in last night’s Royal Rumble. He emphasized his heart, passion, and love, and the fans ate it up. He said while he had previously promised himself that he wouldn’t point at the sign, he now couldn’t help himself.
Triple H then came out to “NXT” chants. He congratulated Seth and recounted how a few months ago he had challenged the old Seth Rollins to return. He said he was proud of Seth. He also informed him that he needed to select which champion he’d face at WrestleMania by the end of the night.
Dean Ambrose then interrupted. He recounted how he and Dean traveled around Florida in beat up cars while Triple H never believed in them. Dean said he always believed in Seth. He reminded Seth of Triple-H’s earlier treachery. Triple-H countered by talking about Dean stabbing Seth in the back the same night Roman announced his fight with leukemia.
Dean said while he hopes Seth beats Brock Lesnar, Seth has never been able to beat him, Dean, without help. Dean goaded Triple-H into making the match, accusing him of needing Vince’s permission.
Seth won the match decisively with a Curb Stomp.
Later backstage, Braun Strowman told Seth he earned his spot, and advised him to choose his opponent wisely.
In the night’s final segment, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar came to the ring. Heyman said that Seth’s decision was easy: he should choose to fight Daniel Bryan so they can have a “fun grappling match.” Seth then came to the ring and got in Brock’s face. Lesnar laughed. Seth attacked, but Brock quickly gained the upper hand, giving Seth a total of 5 F5s. Aftrer the fifth, Seth defiantly asked Lesnar if that was all he had, which Lesnar followed up with another F5.
Evaluation: Seth showed great passion as usual. Dea’s goading of Triple-H was believable. Overall, the segment was good.
It was interesting that while the fans cheered for Triple-H, they also reveled in Dean’s accusation that he needed Vince’s permission to act, chanting “yes he does.”
The final segment accomplished what it should. Seth came across as undersized but passionate and willing to do anything. Brock came across as a monster.
Forecast: Seth’s decisive victory over Dean seems to mean that feud is over.
It would seem a waste to not use Brock to put Seth over. He’s had a great year, and the best use of a protected part-timer like Brock is to put guys like Seth over.
NEW GIMMICK FOR NIA…
Recap: After the match between Seth and Dean, Dean lingered in the ring and told the crowd that he was about to bare his soul to them. He was interrupted, however, by Nia Jax. She got into his face and eventually threw him out of the ring. Dean considered going after her, but decided to leave.
A Women’s Tag Team Title qualifier followed, in which Nia and Tamina beat Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. The match ended with a double Samoan Drop from Nia to Alexa and Mickie. The announcers hyped Nia as the first woman to eliminate competitors in both the men’s and women’s Rumbles. They also accentuated her strength in carrying both opponents on her shoulders at once.
Recap: Since Vince McMahon said things would be changing on Raw a few weeks ago, WWE has been less afraid to be politically incorrect. We’ve seen Mandy Rose in a an angle involving sex, we saw Alexa Bliss topless from behind, and last night we saw intergender combat.
All of these developments have been totally fine. Nothing has been in poor taste. The Nia Jax intergender combat angle is a huge improvement over the prior ridiculous status quo, where Ronda Rousey was permitted to attack men with impunity as WWE was afraid of showing men hitting women on TV.
Evaluation: It seems going forward attacking men is going to be a part of Nia’s gimmick. It’s a fresh angle, so I’m willing to give it a shot.
RONDA BOOED OUT OF THE BUILDING…
Recap: At the top of the third hour, Ronda Rousey came to the ring for a promo and open challenge. She attempted a promo about dreaming big, but was booed too loudly to continue. She laughed nervously, and eventually Bayley came out to accept her open challenge for the title.
During the match itself, the boos were at timed deafening. Ronda won with an armbar.
After the match, Becky Lynch made a surprise appearance. [We had been told earlier that she would not be picking her title opponent until SmackDown. The crowd popped wildly. Becky and Ronda cut promos face to face; whenever Ronda spoke the boos were deafening.
Eventually Becky announced what everyone expected, that she would face Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. The crowd cheered. Ronda shot back about how she has been a household name for a decade, again to more boos. Becky smirked as Ronda yelled in her face before leaving the ring.
Evaluation: Ronda has been booed frequently as a face, but tonight was a whole new level. If this continues in other cities, this feud will need to be played as a straight face-heel dynamic instead of two tough faces going at it.
Forecast: With Ronda potentially leaving after WrestleMania and the intense passion for Becky from the fans, it would be crazy for Becky to lose at WrestleMania.