SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Sami is just such a brilliant performer. His promos, his acting, and his in-ring character work is so top tier. Sami does not literally need to be in the main event to be tentpole of show, but this week proved that when he literally is in the main event, he more than carries his share of the entertainment responsibility. Losing the way he did was ridiculous in all the right ways, and he played the interloper role beautifully in the process.
The Only Brock That Matters
Suplex City Brock saved soft-voice Brock by the end of the night. Whatever reluctance that arose after the first segment was gone by the end of the show, with Brock returning to form as the big time main eventer that WWE needs right now. I continue to be excited about the possibilities for Brock right now beyond Roman Reigns, but pairing them together again is a good opening salvo by WWE to kick off the year and WrestleMania season.
Bring Back the Bar
Cesaro and Sheamus have such obvious chemistry and I like seeing them share any ring together. But as fun as this short match was, I was left missing The Bar, missing being excited about the possibility of Cesaro, and missing the days when Sheamus felt like he was doing something, anything relevant. I’d be more apt to putting The Bar back together after this week’s Smackdown and reheating the tag division, which is already stale as it comes.
A much better promo by Toni Storm this week. The controlled environment of the backstage setting along with the continued scaling back of the gimmicky costuming has been helpful. I even liked her leaning into the “Two Pie Toni” name. The inflections on certain words are still all over the place, but that can be worked on. I’m shocked that the entire focus of Charlotte’s promo was on Storm, showing that the booking isn’t pivoting away from the Storm. Flair, as always, looked like such a star and that can only help Toni. This was a big leap forward after last week’s disaster.
The Voice That Fails
And just like that, I remembered how week of a promo Brock Lesnar can be. He may be a beast, but Brock’s voice failed him nearly as much as his was clearly losing his lines in the opening promo. This was not an electric performance by any means despite Sami Zayn giving it his absolute best effort. I continue to hope that this all leads to a reunion with Paul Heyman – or any other mouthpiece really- so we can always see Brock as the monster that he is.
The Dream Match That Wasn’t
The fantasy of an incredible Shayna Baszler and Sasha Banks match on a major show just evaporated. Not only was a would-be-marquee match just thrown out there, it was a sloppy match for two wrestlers that can have that adjective put on their segments more than they should. I don’t see Baszler ever returning to a women’s championship level, but Banks left this segment relatively unscathed. It wasn’t crippling, but it wasn’t good either.
This would have been a good night for Drew McIntyre to turn on Jeff Hardy. You know, when they were both dancing like aged Chippendale dancers in bowler hats. The turn didn’t happen, but I still think it will soon. It just isn’t good or McIntyre either way to be seen as so corny (again!) and participating in a storyline so clearly beneath his typical positioning.
More of the Same
I hate that Xavier Woods has come out of the program with Roman Reigns right back where he started with the cartoonish king act. There was something so tired about this week’s New Day/Uso’s segment that felt more like treading water than anything of the main event caliber that both teams were getting used to.