SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
BECKY CONFRONTS TRIPLE-H…
Recap: The show led off with Charlotte Flair headed to the ring for a promo. She mockingly egged on the fans’ cheers for Becky, and emphasized that she was perfectly healthy and ready to take Becky’s slot in the WrestleMania main event. As she pointed at the WrestleMania sign, the spotlight caught Becky Lynch entering the arena through the crowd.
When Becky reached the ring, Triple-H’s music hit. He told Becky that she was suspended and needed to go home. Charlotte gloated in the background, but Triple-H quickly told her the situation didn’t concern her, instructing her to leave. As Charlotte left, Triple-H told Becky that ending her suspension was easy; she just needed to see the doctor. Becky objected, stating that she didn’t trust that the process was in good faith. Triple-H told her she didn’t have to trust it, as it was what it was.
As Triple-H left the ring, Becky asked how Stephanie was doing after Monday, stating that she may not be medically cleared. Triple-H paused and re-entered the ring. He said that up until then, he had bought into “the Man,” but he now saw through it. He told Becky she was self-destructive, and trying to be held out of WrestleMania. He said she was afraid that if she were cleared, Ronda Rousey would expose her as a fraud. He questioned whether her knee was actually injured at all. Becky responded with a slap. The two then stared each other down intensely until Becky broke into a smirk and left.
Evaluation: This was very good. Heel promos can be most effective when they contain some truth as Triple-H’s words did tonight. Triple-H’s accusations against Becky were believable; we’ve all known self-destructive people in real life who sabotage themselves out of fear.
Becky was solid as always. The new-look Charlotte with her dark makeup is clicking as a heel as well.
Forecast: I want to believe that Charlotte’s presence in these storylines is to create a feud to fill the next two months of Becky and Ronda being on separate shows. Realistically, however, I accept that it probably means that we are working toward a Triple Threat at WreslteMania. Charlotte has been solid so this isn’t the end of the world, but like most fan’s I’d prefer a one-on-one match.
BRYAN PLAYS TO THE HOMETOWN…
Recap: At the top of the second hour, Daniel Bryan came out for a promo with Rowan. In front of his hometown Washington crowd, he complimented them. He contrasted their attitudes to people in the rest of the country, stating that they understood what he was trying to do.
Bryan said that unfortunately he had to speak to a global audience that was destroying the planet.
Rowan likened he and Bryan to Galileo, a man hated for his ideas. Bryan stated that the suits in the back didn’t like his ideas, and that’s why he had unfairly been slated to defend his title against 5 other competitors in the Elimination Chamber.
Bryan faced Jeff Hardy in the main event. The match ended in disqualification when Rowan attacked Hardy. After the match, Samoa Joe attacked Bryan. Shortly thereafter all 5 Elimination Chamber competitors made their way to the ring. Rowan put Mustafa Ali through a table. In the end, AJ Styles was the last one standing after hitting a Phenomenal Forearm on Jeff Hardy as Bryan and Rowan scurried away.
As the show went off the air, Bryan screamed at Kayla Braxton as she tried to interview him. He said that Rowan was not his bodyguard, but his intellectual peer. He said he’d be the champion forever, because that’s what the planet needs. He said no one understands this other than he and Rowan.
Evaluation: It was an interesting choice to avoid trying to fight the hometown cheers and instead roll with them. I don’t think it diminished Bryan as a heel, as he was sure to insult the much larger at-home audience.
Forecast: It seems pretty clear that Bryan is retaining at Elimination Chamber.
MANDY ROSE AND SONYA DEVILLE QUALIFY…
Recap: In a pre-taped segment, Naomi contested the veracity of Mandy Rose’s sob story from last week. Carmella then stated that Naomi went looking for a partner with style, substance, and something to prove, making her a perfect match.
Naomi and Carmella faced Mandy and Sonya and the IIconics in a Triple Threat for the final slot at Elimination Chamber. The match ended with Mandy pinning Naomi with the Angel Wings.
Evaluation: This was fine: nothing special, but nothing terrible
Forecast: Based on the finish, I would expect a one-on-one match between Mandy and Naomi at Fastlane.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 1/29: Becky & Charlotte, New US Champ, Hemp Title