WWE FEUD TRACKER: Assessing and grading Rock-Reigns-Cody-Seth, Drew-Punk and Drew-Sami, Imperium-New Day, Ripley-Nia Jax, Logan-KO, Iyo Sky-Bayley

By Haris Gala, PWTorch contributor


WWE has been in a volatile mode since the past two weeks. Cody Rhodes winning the Rumble, Punk getting injured and now The Rock coming back to take the WrestleMania main event hostage. We’re not really sure where this is going, but lets dive deep into it.

The Rock – Roman Reigns – Cody Rhodes – Seth Rollins

•The ending of the Royal Rumble Match heavily teased Cody Rhodes vs Roman Reigns for WrestleMania XL, especially how Cody pointed towards Roman Reigns. But then we found out that CM Punk has been injured unfortunately and with Brock Lesnar also seemingly out of WrestleMania, it just led to a domino effect somehow ending up with potential Main Events, which no one saw coming (especially this year). But we’ll dive into it sequentially, starting with Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes’ promo on Raw.

· Their promo on Raw was about Seth Rollins pitching Cody Rhodes to face him at WrestleMania XL instead of Roman Reigns. He tried to promote his World Heavyweight Championship, which I feel has been just terribly booked as a title. Seth Rollins talked about his work rate and how it’s more intense compared to Roman Reigns. He took a shot at Roman Reigns’ unavailability and cheating to retain his title. Ultimately, claiming that the World Heavyweight Championship is a workhorse title. I understand what Seth Rollins was doing in this segment, but it is undeniable that Roman Reigns is operating on a totally different level. He is the main attraction. My only argument is the presentation. This title is presented to be a consolation prize. As long as Roman Reign exists with his WWE Undisputed Universal Heavyweight Title, the other title will never feel top tier. No matter how much WWE tries to sell them being equals and perhaps it has to do with the legacy of the former and the long reign of Reigns. But anyways, it was a decent promo to plant the seeds for Cody Rhodes to choose Seth Rollins as his opponent. But for me personally, after Cody has already beaten Rollins thrice very recently, this match up does not sound as enticing to me.

•Moving on to Smackdown, a very controversial episode in my opinion, felt like a huge detour into the direction the WWE was heading. Roman Reigns comes out and just out right buries Seth Rollins, his position and the World Heavyweight Championship, to the point where I felt it was embarrassing. It buries the title to the point where no one might take it seriously. Roman Reigns called it the “Loser Bracket” title. I’m not sure if this promo was even approved. This leads to Cody Rhodes coming out who talks about how he almost had Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39 and why he does not want Seth Rollins’ title, but Roman Reigns’ title, as a matter of fact, he wants to take everything away from Roman, but not at WrestleMania (shocker). Cue for The Rock to enter. The Rock comes out to a huge ovation, hugs Cody Rhodes for being the sacrificial lamb and proceeds to have a stare down with Roman Reigns

Analysis: This is indeed a very questionable detour from the WWE and could end up backfiring them. We are seeing the backlash on social media. In fact, the video of SmackDown’s segment is one of the most disliked WWE videos out there. We’re seeing ‘Justice for Cody’ trending as well. I’m fearful that it might lead to something reminiscent of Batista’s run in 2014, where WWE was forced to include Daniel Bryan in the main event and maybe we’ll see The Rock getting booed because it does not make any sense for Cody Rhodes to win the Rumble and then give up his Main Event in favor of The Rock. A year long build to this anticlimactic supposed conclusion left a sour taste in my mouth and this just makes the Main Event all the more predictable because there is no way Roman Reigns is losing the title to The Rock. Moreover in the process, they buried Seth Rollins and his Title so badly that even if Cody Rhodes picks Seth Rollins as his challenger, it will just feel like a consolation match up for Cody especially after he outright said on SmackDown that he doesn’t want Seth’s title, but Roman’s. We’ll see how it all proceeds.

Grade: A because regardless of the controversy, Roman vs Reigns is still one of the last few big intergenerational match ups left. Arguably, there’s no bigger potential match than this. Maybe this could have started in a better fashion than Cody just making a sacrifice which seems illogical.

Heat Level: 8.5/10 we’re just getting started

Prediction: As per the reports, it is Cody vs Seth for the World Title, while Rock vs Reigns for the Undisputed title. But if WWE faces a lot of backlash, I genuinely feel this could take a twist in the form of a Title Unification Tournament, especially after how Roman Reigns buried Seth Rollins and his title (which feels like a work building to something). So Night 1 – Cody vs Seth for the Heavyweight Title, Night 1- Roman vs Rock for the Undisputed Title and then Night 2 the finale where Cody vs Roman takes place as the final for the Unification Title Match.

Drew McIntyre vs. C.M. Punk/Sami Zayn

· Punk vs. Drew is a feud which will land into obscure feuds, but eventually will resume. We got the unfortunate news where CM Punk came out and talked about him injuring his tricep. A very emotional promo from Punk, giving us a reminder of why he’s one of the best talkers out there. He said there’s always a next year and an injury is just another obstacle in his path. This led to Drew coming out and completing his heel transformation. Drew McIntyre is on a roll here and I feel he’s currently doing his best character work. He talked about praying for CM Punk to get injured after Punk eliminated him and it happened. He said with Punk out of the picture, he will now main event WrestleMania, ultimately and ironically living Punk’s dream. This led to the two coming to blows, ending with McIntyre assaulting Punk’s tricep and Sami Zayn coming out to save Punk.

· In the main event, Drew McIntyre and Sami Zayn had a good match, something you’d expect out of the two. The match ended with Drew inadvertently using a low blow to finish off Sami Zayn. Not really a controversial victory, but more of Drew accepting his heel persona. Although Drew has won this against Sami, expect the two to face off against one another again.

Analysis: There are reports that Drew McIntyre has not signed with the WWE as yet, but I feel he has especially with the focus he has been getting. CM Punk said that he will come back to main event WrestleMania, but before that it’ll be Drew he is coming after, so I guess Drew must be around then. Moreover, the recent work of Drew McIntyre has been just top notch and not just in-ring but also his social media activity with persistent trolling against Punk for getting injured and now recently Cody for sacrificing his Main Event. But the only thing I wonder is who does Drew face at Mania? Maybe a Triple Threat with Cody and Seth?

Grade: A because Drew is on a roll here and possibly the most interesting character arc at the moment

Heat Level: 10/10 – not for the rivalry, because that’ll be on the backburner for now, but for Drew’s character work. Perfect, just Perfect!

Prediction: I feel Drew McIntyre would be added in Cody vs Seth to make it a Triple Threat because just Cody vs Seth sounds bland especially after their recent trilogy. Drew adds heat into this match of Babyfaces

Judgment Day vs. Awesome Truth & DIY

· This week we had Balor and Priest defend their titles against DIY in what was an excellent match. I’m glad there were no shenanigans involved in the finish.

· Post match, as Judgement Day was celebrating, Priest called out R-Truth in the guise of apologizing to him.

· R-Truth started his comedy skit by calling Priest his older brother, Balor the weird uncle and McDonagh the step-brother. This was great.

· Damien responded by saying that he always found R-Truth funny followed by the twist of the Judgement Day assaulting R-Truth. The Miz’s music hit and he came out to save R-Truth but it was already too late.

Analysis: I think it’s a good program to keep Damien Priest busy while he’s still Señor MITB. They can’t let people forget about Priest, especially during all the chaos in the main event scene. Now that the faction has finally turned against R-Truth in a concrete fashion, we can expect this storyline to get more serious with The Awesome Truth finally reuniting properly.

Grade: B+ because R-Truth has done some fantastic work here and his chemistry with Priest has been good

Heat Level: 7/10 because it seems like the comedy is over and things are getting serious

Prediction: With DIY losing conclusively, I feel they could be sidelined for now and we might be getting The Awesome Truth vs Balor & Priest at some point before the Elimination Chamber or at WrestleMania. At SmackDown, Pete and Bate won the Fatal 4 Way to earn a shot at the Tag Titles at the Elimination Chamber, so maybe The Awesome Truth can screw Judgement Day into losing the titles at the Chamber leading to an eventual match at WrestleMania.

Imperium vs. The New Day

This week we had Gunther vs Kofi Kingston for Gunther’s Intercontinental Championship. It was an excellent match and it’s no surprise coming from Gunther and Kofi. Gunther won the match in a decisive fashion followed by an attack from Kaiser and Vinci on Kofi and Xavier. It has been a highly physical rivalry and booked very well especially.

Analysis: They were teasing Jey Uso’s involvement in this, so I suspect he will enter the foray at some point to equalize the odds because as of now it’s a 3-on-2 situation. Jey Uso vs Gunther at Chamber makes sense to give Gunther someone strong with momentum to defend the title against, unless WWE has Big E under their sleeve for a complete New Day reunion. Other than that, the physicality displayed in this feud is just amazing to witness. A rivalry is booked based on violence and brawling instead of just promos, which is refreshing.

Grade: B+ because of the physicality that is involved in the feud

Heat Level: 7/10 it would have been higher but we didn’t see this rivalry significantly progressing this week but a rehash of sorts from last week

Prediction: We get Kofi & Xavier vs Kaiser & Vinci at the Chamber in a gimmick match and Gunther vs Jey for the Intercontinental Title, where Jimmy perhaps costs Jey the match to set up their WrestleMania match

Rhea Ripley vs. Nia Jax

As expected, WWE is heading to Elimination Chamber for Nia Jax challenging Rhea Ripley for the World Women’s Championship, which feels like a logical pitstop before Rhea can defend her title against Beckly Lynch at WrestleMania.

The promo with Bayley and Damage CTRL at the start was obviously WWE teasing with the idea of Rhea and Bayley, which of course now stands irrelevant considering the segment on Smackdown, but the highlight was Nia Jax manhandling and assaulting Rhea Ripley as soon as Rhea came out to address Bayley.

Analysis: While on paper, Rhea and Nia sounds good because of the dominating figures they both are, it feels a no brainer that Nia will lose eventually. So a decent segment, but there’s nothing extraordinary here especially when the outcome is pretty much a given conclusion

Grade: B- because this was expected, and we know how this will transpire in terms of the outcome. It’s technically a heel vs heel match up, so not sure how this will proceed.

Heat Level: 6/10 not really excited for this because it just feels too predictable and Nia Jax just doesn’t feel a threat regardless of how dominating she is presented to be whenever it’s convenient

Prediction: Rhea will beat Nia Jax in her hometown and proceed to face Becky at WrestleMania

Logan Paul vs. Kevin Owens

Logan and Owens match at Royal Rumble ended in a creative finish which involved a Referee to finally be aware of someone trying to cheat to win, except this time it was a babyface doing it. This week we got a promo battle between the two where Logan Paul played his usual obnoxious cocky heel, while Kevin Owens played his character about never giving up from a fight. It’s a pretty decent feud, if you ask me. Feuding with Logan allows Owens to grow even more as a baby face while Logan gets to generate even more heat. Anyways, Logan Paul refused to give Kevin Owens the rematch and it transitioned into Kevin Owens vs Austin Theory. Sometimes I feel for Austin Theory. There were times when he was getting a push of a lifetime, facing John Cena, taking an F5 from Brock Lesnar and being Mr. MITB. I think cashing in that contract on the US Title just killed all his momentum and it’s not coming back any time soon. Anyways, the match was good and Kevin Owens finally won using the knuckles. He then chased Logan Paul down before Logan escaped through the crowd.

Analysis: With Owens and Paul, I felt WWE had booked themselves in a corner initially where neither could afford to lose. But now, I feel it’s a pretty decent feud. Feuding with Logan allows Owens to grow even more as a babyface because he gets to put down a character which the crowd despises, while Logan gets to generate even more heat before he fights one of the top babyfaces at WrestleMania i.e LA Knight

Grade: B­+

Heat Level: 6.75/10 it’s a good feud but at the same time it also feels generic. However, the US title is getting a spotlight it needed since a long time

Prediction: The two will fight in a rematch eventually and maybe Theory and Waller will screw Owens again. Perhaps, it might lead to Owens & Zayn reuniting to fight Theory and Waller at WrestleMania. Logan Paul would transition into a feud with L.A. Knight for the U.S. Title.

Bayley vs. Iyo Sky (w/ Damage CTRL)

This entire arc of Damage CTRL has been good to not only elevate Bayley, but also others along with her. To be honest, I have no idea when the Kabuki Warriors entered this faction because for me it was Dakota, Bayley and Iyo all along. But anyways, this segment was fine in the sense that we knew it was always going to be Bayley vs Iyo Sky at WrestleMania, so the tease against Rhea was just a distraction WWE had to play. Bayley acknowledging Damage CTRL not acknowledging her enough and backbiting about her was a good touch to make it personal.

The good sign is that after Bayley acknowledged her friends turning into enemies, the crowd did get behind her.

Analysis: I’m not sure how WWE will book this considering Iyo Sky’s promo skills. It’ll be hard to generate good promos around this, so I feel that the build up to this match up might not be very exciting.

Grade: B+ because factions breaking apart is always interesting and Damage CTRL was a long time coming

Heat Level: 7/10 this week’s segment was good, but I’m still doubtful how they will build this moving forward

Analysis: Without too much reliance on promos, I think it’ll be booked around Bayley finding help to fight off the odds and maybe facing Asuka and Kairi respectively in different weeks to give iterations of Bayley vs Damage CTRL. I’m not too high on the progression of the build up. This could end up feeling very generic

The Final Testament vs. Bobby Lashley & Street Profits

This feud is just poorly booked and reflects lazy writing overall. The Final Testament feels like a generic heel faction in contrast to the gothic vibes it gave in its initial presentation. It’s also just 50-50 booking with Testament getting the upper hand previous week and now this week Lashley & Profits got the upper hand, which is just reflective of the lazy booking overall. The match never started, which means we will have to bear this further.

Analysis: I honestly cannot wait for this to be over. Karrion Kross has been a failure in my opinion and Lashley is tough to be taken seriously without a manager doing the talking because he just can’t cut good promos

Grade: D for me this is a non-existent feud because its just bad

Heat Level: 0/10 end it already

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