SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: WWE continues to draw out the explanation from Randy Orton as to why he attacked Edge the night after the Royal Rumble. At some point, it is going to be too long of a draw out before getting the explanation. We haven’t gotten there yet. This week we got an apology from Orton, but no explanation so Kevin Owens came out to demand one. This was a nice (very short) break from the Owens vs. Seth Rollins feud. It was good to see a babyface wrestler like Owens coming out to stand up for Edge. He was great in talking about being a huge fan of Edge and dreaming of one day wrestling him. Orton was good too. It was a nice way to set up the main event and build anticipation for the rest of the show. Unfortunately, WWE did nothing for the rest of the show to hype the main event and make it feel like a bid deal. After two hours with zero mentions, I would not be surprised if fans had forgotten about it.
Garza and Caruso – MISS: The interview Charlie Caruso did with Zelina Vega and Angel Garza was perfectly fine until the end. It was odd that Caruso would shake their hands afterwards. She has never shaken a hand of a wrestler at the end of an interview before. That was odd. WWE wanted Garza to flirt with Caruso to fit in with the ladies man gimmick that he is doing, so they scripted Caruso to do something that she never usually does, just to give him a chance to kiss her hand. Then the way she swooned over him wasn’t believable. The whole thing was very short, but so bad that I had to mention it.
Garza vs. Carillo – HIT: This was a very good match. These two obviously work well together. The match was exciting to watch from start to finish. It built well to the ending with Garza and Humberto Carillo going back and forth with leverage pin attempts. You see those sequences fairly often in wrestling matches, but they don’t usually lead to the finish of the match. Here it did with Garza getting the win. The only bad thing about it was that it was interrupted by 2 commercial breaks. Yes, they stayed with the action on split screen during the first commercial, but I am getting tired of the split screen stuff that WWE and AEW have been doing lately.
“Prestigious” – MISS: Someone needs to tell Tom Philips (and Vince McMahon) that repeatedly calling a thing “prestigious” doesn’t actually make that thing prestigious. A trophy that doesn’t exist and has never been a thing before this week can’t be prestigious, especially if it is won as part of a gauntlet match. Nothing prestigious has ever come out of a gauntlet match.
Lesnar & Heyman – MISS: This wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly wasn’t good. Nobody is buying Ricochet as a legit contender to Brock Lesnar’s WWE Championship. It doesn’t matter how many big wrestlers like Luke Gallows that Ricochet beats, nobody thinks he will beat Lesnar. Every Paul Heyman interview about a Lesnar match falls into the law of diminishing returns equation. It means a little less each time we hear it. So hearing him talk about Ricochet hurts more down the line the next time he talks about a more legit contender like Drew McIntyre for instance. I wouldn’t have had them on at all.
Black vs. Rowan – MISS: The action here was fine, but WWE didn’t do enough to explain why we were getting a rematch here in the first place. The bigger issue though was Aleister Black overselling the beating he had taken in the back from The OC earlier in the show. That beating just didn’t seem bad enough to cause him to be so injured in this match. I thought he was selling a concussion at first in the way that he looked dizzy like he was going to fall down. But, he was actually selling a rib injury. So, he didn’t do a good job of selling that specific injury. At least he won in the end and I look forward to seeing his match against AJ Styles next week.
McIntyre Interview – HIT: This was a good way to use Drew McIntyre this week. He didn’t need another squash match right now. He performed well and was able to tell his story from debuting in WWE as a 21 year old “Chosen One” to winning the Royal Rumble, including his years away from WWE.
Contract Signing – HIT: I had a bit of an issue with the five women just sitting at tables waiting for Jerry Lawler to give them a contract to sign. It made them look small. But, Shayna Baszler looked really big for coming out on her own and doing her own thing and it is difficult to have someone like Baszler look big (as she should) without making others look small. It points to the stupidity of having this match. I did like Asuka and Natalya getting in her face. It is good that they weren’t all cowering before Baszler. An Asuka vs. Baszler feud down the line could be very good, and teasing it here without any physicality was smart. WWE continued to build towards some type of Natalya and a partner against The Kabuki Warriors (Beth Phoenix will be on next week, maybe Asuka makes fun of Edge?). I loved how Liv Morgan jumped over the table to attack Ruby Riott. Baszler was great in laughing and being above it all before Becky Lynch came out to attack her which was a strong ending to the segment.
Rollins vs. Ford – HIT: After a nothing match between Buddy Murphy (I am not ready to drop his first name) and Angelo Dawkins, we got a weird transition where Montez Ford challenged Seth Rollins to a match which had been announced multiple times already on the show. But, it did lead to this match that was very good. We need to see more of both Street Profits in the ring, especially Ford. They can be very entertaining on the mic, but their pre-match mic work wasn’t good this week and then that was followed by a short nothing match and the odd challenge to a match that was already going to take place. Ford and Rollins saved what could have been a bad night for these two teams heading into their Tag Team Title match with such a good performance in the ring.
Owens vs. Orton – HIT: Orton and Owens had a good 12 minute main event. I like the way The Messiah Complex come out to surround the ring and intimidate Owens to give Orton the early advantage, only to have the Street Profits and The Viking Raiders chase them away. That worked to advance the overall storyline in the context of Owens getting distracted by the Orton – Edge situation. Rollins coming back worked ok, but the crooked referee was bad.
Crooked Referee – MISS: The super fast 3 count was well done in the way that both Orton and Rollins were surprised by it. The issue is that nothing Rollins has said as the Monday Night Messiah has actually been inspirational in any way where you could imagine him having disciples outside of the few wrestlers who work with him. Why would a referee follow him? And if you are a referee secretly wanting to help Rollins’ crusade, why would you cheat in a match that didn’t actually involve Rollins? Yes, you’d want Owens to lose, but you’d want him to get beat up more, so why not let the match continue so he gets hurt more? Why not wait and help Rollins win a major match down the line? The idea that he would secretly be wearing a Rollins t-shirt under his ref shirt was utterly stupid. My only hope is that this is the end of that part of the story. He can’t be a referee any more in WWE after this.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.