SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Edge – Balor – HIT: I haven’t cared much about the ongoing saga of Edge against The Judgement Day. I think that he and Finn Balor can have a very good match at WrestleMania. As this is the culmination of a very feud which includes Edge’s wife getting her head bashed in with a chair, then having it blown off in a Hell in a Cell match makes sense. I appreciate that Edge is talking about how his career is almost over and how he needs to move on from Judgement Day to finish his career on a higher note. I hope he has a good retirement tour starting at WM. The tag match that followed with Dominik & Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano & Dexter Lumis was solid, but not particularly good.
Omos – Lesnar – HIT: This is a match that doesn’t interest me at all. But, the fans seemed more into seeing Omos and Brock Lesnar face to face than I was. I liked how Lesnar acted here, being very confident at first, but then looking more concerned at the end after Omos threw him over the rope. They want to make it look like Lesnar is in trouble at WM, so this worked well in that respect. The actual physicality did not look good, which is unfortunate.
Rhodes vs. Knight – HIT: This was a good match between Cody Rhodes and LA Knight. Rhodes missed a lot of time after his injury last year. He didn’t have a chance to have a lot of matches on WWE tv (and they all seemed to be against Seth Rollins). So, it is good to see him wrestling here and getting good wins against at least fairly credible opponents like Knight. I am among the crowd that is hoping for a bigger push for Knight after WM.
Rhodes’ Promo – HIT: Rhodes’ promo after the match was even better than the match itself. He continues to get good reactions from the live fans. The concerns about the fans turning on him for not being Sami Zayn (and I had those concerns too) seem to be unfounded at this point. He gives passionate babyface promos like this, and you want to see him beat Roman Reigns for the WWE Championship. It also played into the ongoing saga of The Bloodline, Zayn and Kevin Owens, so it worked on multiple levels.
Theory vs. Dawkins – HIT: Austin Theory certainly had a better week this week than last. He looked more confident in his encounter with The Street Profits. It seems to be part of a larger story that they are starting to tell about the Profits breaking up (although I hope that they remain friends, but stop being a team). Theory’s match against Angelo Dawkins was good. It was nice to see Theory getting a clean win for a change. He needs to be protected and made to look like a stronger United States Champion going into his Title defense against John Cena at WM. I look forward to his match against Montez Ford next week.
The Mysterios – MISS: This was good in a vacuum, but it felt repetitive. We’ve seen Dominik trying to get his dad to fight him multiple times. We’ve heard Rey Mysterio tell him that he won’t fight him multiple times. We’ve heard Dominik complain about Rey being an absent father. I suppose this was the first time that Dominik specifically challenged Rey to a match at WM. Rey being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame adds a wrinkle too. And while the performances remain strong, the story seems to be treading water and stuck in the mud (or am I mixing metaphors?).
Corbin vs. Rollins – HIT: This was what it needed to be. Baron Corbin is on another low point in his roller coaster of a career. Having Seth Rollins beat him so quickly and decisively made sense. It hyped Logan Paul’s appearance on next week’s Raw, which should get fans interested in tuning in to see how Rollins reacts to their encounter last week.
Asuka – Belair – MISS: Bianca Belair’s match against Chelsea Green was perfectly fine. I enjoy her act and her team with Carmella. I’m assuming we will get a tag match next week with those two facing Belair & Asuka. But, WWE isn’t doing enough to make me care about Belair vs. Asuka. I said initially that having a strong challenger vs. a strong Champion could be enough. But, I may have been wrong. Asuka is back to acting more like a pre-Royal Rumble goof. Fans were excited by her new face paint and what seemed to be a more serious, bad ass persona at the Rumble. But, having her act goofy, and then spit up some blue goo just isn’t good enough. I have no doubt that they will have a good if not great match at WM. But, WWE needs to sell it better.
Bloodline / Kevin Owens Saga – HIT: This story was touched on in multiple segments on Raw. We had Cody Rhodes mention it. Owens gave a good interview about facing Solo Sikoa in the main event street fight, making it clear that he didn’t want Zayn nor Rhodes to help him in the match. Paul Heyman gave a strong promo also. The match itself was good. I liked some of the little things like how Sikoa put the table back under the ring to get heel heat in response to the “we want tables!” chant. The match was physical and built well to Owens getting the upper hand only to have the Usos attack him in the back to turn the tide and give the win to Sikoa. It was meant to show Owens that he needs help against The Bloodline. This will ultimately lead to a reconciliation with Zayn. But like the Mysterios drama, you run the risk of making this story too repetitive if you don’t move on to something new soon.
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.
CATCH-UP: Pat McAfee announces he still has “massive” plans for WWE in the future
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