SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Undertaker Opening – MISS: Raw did not get off to a great start this week. The AJ Styles vs The Undertaker match has had some of the worst build of any WrestleMania match, perhaps the worst. So, I wasn’t excited to see a video package on the match to kick off the show. It reminded me of how bad the storyline has been. Undertaker was fine in his performance with the promo which followed, but I still wasn’t a fan of the content. Some of it was fine, but talking about how Michelle McCool did the Styles Clash better than Style himself, and using AJ’s real name just fit in with the themes of what Styles has said about Undertaker which hasn’t worked. So this didn’t work either.
Lynch vs. Flair vs. Rousey – HIT: This was a good match and made perfect sense to replay given the storyline involving Becky Lynch and Shayna Baszler. It was fun to re-watch, but unfortunately the botched ending didn’t play any better a year later.
Lynch – Baszler – HIT: The replay of that match was followed up by a very good promo from The Man. It was interesting how she turned Baszler’s words around on her by talking about how she is living in Ronda Rousey’s shadow and how she needs to beat Becky or she will remain in that shadow. This was well scripted and well delivered. The attack from behind by Baszler worked very well to allow her to stand tall in the end which was important after Becky got the better of her last week. The sound Becky’s head made when it was swung into the announce table was quite impressive.
Owens & The Street Profits vs. Rollins & Garza & Theory – HIT: It is unfortunate that Andrade got hurt in last week’s tag match. WWE was already short handed due to COVID-19, and now they have to take another hit with an injury. I haven’t been all that impressed with Austin Theory in NXT yet, so I wasn’t thrilled with him taking Andrade’s place in this match or the WM Tag Team Title match, but with limited options, I can’t be too critical of WWE’s decision. This match was pretty good for an empty arena match. It lasted a good amount of time without overstaying its welcome. Kevin Owens’ verbal skills were on display as he added some energy with his taunts and what not.
Owens’ Promo – HIT: After Owens got the win in that tag match, Rollins stomped him. After the commercial, it was good to see Owens still in the ring, selling that stomp, and cutting a very good promo about his match with Rollins at WM. This was the response he needed after Rollins’ great promo on him last week. This was a nice way to follow up on the idea that Rollins introduced last week in terms of Owens never having a WM moment.
Edge – HIT: The strong mic work on this show (other than the opening Taker promo) continued with Edge addressing Randy Orton. Edge and Orton have been so great in this story from The Royal Rumble to today. Edge has handled the empty arena promos better than anybody (not to take away from some of the other really strong mic work, but his has stood out even above the good and great work being done by wrestlers like Orton, Lynch, Owens and Rollins). Obviously, it goes without saying how unfortunate it is that Orton vs. Edge is happening in this context, but I don’t want to take away from how much I am still looking forward to the match because of promos like this one from Edge, as well as the overall well told story that WWE has told with it.
Lesnar vs. Mysterio – MISS: This was not as good as the other match replay on this week’s Raw. I didn’t have much interest in seeing this match again. I get the idea of showing how dominating Brock Lesnar has been, but there had to be a better choice. Plus, it was really odd how they squeezed two commercial breaks in to what was like a 7 minute match.
Heyman’s Go Home Promo – HIT: Other than Edge vs. Orton, the WWE Championship match between Lesnar and Drew McIntyre has had the best build of any WM match. We’ve gotten strong promos from Paul Heyman and McIntyre, and some nice physicality. This was a good go home promo. Heyman did a nice job of putting McIntyre over as a strong challenger to Lesnar, while reminding the audience of all the top stars Lesnar has defeated over the years. It will be interesting to see what WWE does with this match this weekend. Will they change plans due to the empty arena?
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 Jon on Twitter @JonMezzera.
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