WADE KELLER PODCAST - EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN'S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
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Opening Segment – MISS: Last week, the first two hours of Raw were really good, but the third hour was bad. This week was kind of the opposite, as the first two hours were mostly bad, but the final hour was mostly good. The show did not get off to a good start. Seth Rollins started the show off with a decent promo. It just didn’t capture my attention the way it should have coming off of two big matches the night before at Clash of Champions. Then he was interrupted by the Firefly Funhouse. The problem for me was that he was trying to talk to Bray Wyatt on the screen even though these segments are clearly pre-recorded with post-produced sound and visual effects. It isn’t like when someone regular interrupts a wrestler in the ring from the big screen. That took me out of the moment, because it showed how silly the whole Firefly Funhouse gimmick is. He can’t be live and have post-produced effects. Having Rollins try to interact with Wyatt here was stupid. It did set up the idea that The Fiend would appear later in the show which was a good hook, so it wasn’t all bad. So, I’ll call this a minor Miss.
Strowman Destroys the Tag Champs – MISS: The tag team summit with the two Tag Team Champions wasn’t particularly interesting. The brief mic work to start things out wasn’t good. It certainly needed something, but that something should not have been Braun Strowman coming out to destroy both Ziggler & Roode and The Revival to send the signal that the two best tag teams in the company can easily get beat up in a four on one situation by one singles star.
Viking Raider & Alexander vs. The OC Brawl – MISS: The six man tag match with The Viking Raiders & Cedric Alexander vs. The OC was solid. It wasn’t good enough to get a Hit, but it was not bad enough to get a Miss either. Having Alexander lose again after the way he lost the night before was a way to signal that he isn’t going to be treated like a star which is a shame. The real problem was the brawl that happened afterwards. Ivar leapt off the top rope onto the others at the ringside which could be a really cool spot, other than the fact that he missed everyone. He split them right down the middle, landed with a thud and then the others had to fall down as if he had landed on top of them. Then, you end the brawl with AJ Styles hitting the super Styles Clash on Alexander. In addition to continuing to burry Alexander, that is a spot that should be saved for big PPV matches, not some random post-match brawl.
King Corbin – MISS: I have been fearful that WWE would put the crown on Baron Corbin. I wanted a King who wouldn’t do the cheesy King gimmick trying to rule WWE. That could have worked with someone like Andrade, but we’ve seen how bad Corbin was in the role of an authority figure on Raw last year when ratings dropped to an all time low. WWE even acknowledged it and blamed him for the bad ratings. So why would you put him in a similar role now? I also believe that they only had him win King of the Ring to troll the fans which isn’t a good business decision. Moving past that, he should not have defeated Chad Gable. I would be less upset if he had defeated anyone else in the tournament. They built a storyline around how Gable gets made fun of for being a short loser while questioning whether he can beat a taller opponent. This was set up to have him beat the much taller wrestler in the end to stand tall (pun intended). But, he lost. He went through all of this to prove the heels right that he is too short and that he is a loser. This was a long match at nearly 20 minutes and Corbin was in command of it for about 75% of the time. Again, that’s the set up for the underdog to win. But, he lost. The execution of the match was good (other than those bad front flip kicks that Gable does which look like they have more impact on his own neck than his opponent). There was plenty of good wrestling action throughout. But, the booking was totally out of step with the outcome.
Baby Daddy Saga – MISS: I was seriously getting angry at my tv watching Raw at this point, a little over an hour into the show. The gender reveal party was stupid. I was trying to figure out why Ricochet was at the party, but then it unfortunately became apparent. Having him involved in this crap immediately defined him down as a loser like Titus O’Neil and Zack Ryder. Later on, we got the long awaited return of Rusev who was also part of this storyline which is a huge disappointment. Rusev has so much talent and was underutilized when he was on before disappearing several months ago. To have him return as part of this baby daddy storyline is a mistake. Nobody really cares about Mike and Maria Kanellis and their baby and who the father really is. So don’t waste Rusev or Ricochet in this storyline.
Mysterio vs. Cesaro – HIT: Finally, there was something good in the first two hours of Raw. Unfortunately the crowd was dead for this match which took away from it some. Rey Mysterio and Cesaro had a good 12 minute match that went back and forth nicely and featured some very good wrestling action. But, Cesaro loses to everyone and they are telling a Mysterio redemption story, so the outcome was never in doubt. Maybe that’s why the crowd wasn’t into it?
AOP – HIT: The Authors of Pain are a good team who had a nice body of work in NXT, but have largely been underutilized on the main roster, in part due to injuries. I am hopeful that WWE is going to get behind them and give them a push. This video was well done, allowing them to speak in their native language with subtitles (they should do this with some of their Japanese wrestlers too). It points to the start of a push which hopefully will lead somewhere positive for them.
Banks & Bayley vs. Cross & Bliss – HIT: Nikki Cross was the star of this match as her spirited comeback (once the match turned into a handicap match with Alexa Bliss being taken out due to a knee injury) was the highlight. She lost in the end, but she looked great in nearly overcoming those odds. Bayley and Sasha Banks also did well here, with Bayley looking more like a heel during the match which is good. Of course, there is a problem when the Tag Team Champions always lose their non-title matches.
Charlotte Turns Face – MISS: You could look at Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley at the PPV as a heel vs. heel match which WWE would go away from afterwards. However, when she came out to save Becky Lynch from Bayley & Banks, it was a clear babyface turn. She is so good as a heel and so bad as a babyface. This is disappointing. Maybe it won’t go in that direction, but it certainly appears to be at this point.
The Fiend and Kane – HIT: The main event of Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Roode was ok. I’m not sure why Roode was protected. He was the only one who escaped Strowman’s attack earlier in the show (which makes sense to protect him going into the main event), and he was protected by having Dolph Ziggler break up the pin to cause a disqualification. This led to the 5 on 1 beating with The OC and the Tag Champs beating up Rollins. It was nice to have Kane make an appearance in front of his hometown fans. The 24/7 videos earlier in the show were fun and set Glen Jacobs up being at the arena, but it was still a good surprise to have Kane appear. I have to question why he was the only one to help Rollins. I get that Strowman isn’t Rollins’ best friend at this point, but I still would have thought he would have come out. Or the Viking Raiders or Alexander wanting revenge on the OC. Where were they? That aspect took away from the show-closing angle. It was still Hit worthy as The Fiend got to take out another WWE legend. It went nicely with the earlier segment where he put up the pictures on his wall with the legends (with their eyes x’d out) who he has attacked in the past. It was a good show closing angle taking advantage of Kane’s hometown fans who weren’t going to cheer for The Fiend beating him up the way they would if it was someone without the local connection. I also suspecting that Kane’s involvement will get his half brother The Undertaker to get involved at Hell in a Cell. It seems obvious that he would do that to keep the Universal Title on Rollins while not having The Fiend take a loss. Undertaker vs. Wyatt makes so much sense and starting their feud in the Cell which Undertaker made famous seems perfect. It gives WWE an out for a match that shouldn’t have either wrestler lose in a way that won’t upset the fans since they get to see a surprise appearance by Undertaker. And it won’t be random because he is upset over what happened to Kane here.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera
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