SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Yes the “parade” of champions had a level of corniness to it, but cheers to a fresher start than usual to a WWE show. There was some really good things that came out of that start, namely the further elevation of Roman Reigns as being completely above the rest of the title holders, as well as another stellar showing from Bayley. Her shout out to Apollo was spot-on and better delivered than nearly everything else on the show. This segment showed who is on track and who is not, and those who are not (ahem, Dominick) should view this as a motivational tool to get their acts together.
Fade to Black
The entire main event was excellent and also seemed like a definitive conclusion to many facets of the Intercontinental division. Amazingly, all four competitors came out looking strong and we seemed poised for a Kevin Owens/Apollo Crews next chapter for the championship. That would’ve been a fine enough story of the night if it was wasn’t also followed by a well-done return of Aleister Black, who hit a pitch-perfect Black Mast on Big E. That seems like a great position for Black coming back and hopefully a dominating first feud back.
Live Event Effect
There seemed to be an obvious effect of the announcement of the return of live events on the energy of the overall show. Top-to-bottom, there appeared to be an extra pep in the step of everyone, perhaps in a recognition that the returning crowds will be an actual score card on how they’ve all really been performing and the time is now to turn the volume of performances up. Either way, it created a sense of urgency and enthusiasm that hasn’t existed in quite some time.
A necessary win for Shayna Baszler that will hopefully pair with a break up and dual push with Nia Jax. The women’s division needs both of them right now and Baszler more than Jax has been damaged by frequent losses. There seemed to an intentionality to rebuilding Baszler tonight with her being a focus rather than a sidekick and that is good news for either Bianca Belair or Rhea Ripley in having a great opponent in waiting for an eventual feud.
Nakamura’s Hype Man
No I don’t mean Boogs. That was random and dumb. I mean the cat! It was oddly joyful to watch Shinsuke Nakamura so fully embrace the ridiculous of the stealing of the crown and appear to be having genuine fun with it all. Boogs’s debut was fine for what it was, and what it was, I’m not sure, but Nakamura is making the best of his overall situation, and that made for some fine tv.
Not the Time, Not the Place
The win of Dominick Mysterio over Robert Roode was too much, too soon. Of all the acts that I anticipate having a live crowd backlash, I feel that Dominick is at the top of that list and its for reasons like this. Roode has been doing some great work lately and this seemed undercutting to an unnecessary degree. Also, of all the bad in the parade of champions segments, Dominick clearly takes the cake for worst overall dance moves.
What a Loser
Could Cesaro have looked any worse? After taking a clean, decisive loss at WrestleMania Backlash, he had the nerve to come out, demand a rematch, and then again get beat up by Seth Rollins? This all seems headed towards Cesaro putting over Rollins for brighter days in Seth’s future. It’s hard not to think that Cesaro’s date with the main event didn’t go well, and he’s been un-matched on the WWE version of Tinder.
Belair seems to entering into the cartoon realm more and more each week. Why was Big E crouching in his interview segment and popping up like a Pop Tart? And people wonder why he isn’t in the main event. Why can’t Rey go fur-less for good?