It’s go home week for the biggest wrestling weekend of the year, Wrestlemania. With that being the case you’d think WWE would go all out ahead of its two big events? Eh not really, both shows were kind of average at best. Both RAW and Smackdown felt formulaic and dull. There was sparsely anything to report from RAW as it was all throwaway matches and repeats. Smackdown had more to report but still nothing too special. Let’s get into it.
Winner Takes All… If They’re Not in Jail
Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch & Charlotte defeat The Riott Squad via Arm Bar
The best segment from WWE RAW featured the cast of the Main event of Mania. The triple threat trio found out that their match will be winner takes all. This means whoever wins will get both the RAW and Smackdown women’s titles. Later in the night they had to try and co-exist in a six woman tag match against the Riott Squad. Rousey tapped out Liv Morgan then all hell broke loose. The three brawled then brawled with security then brawled with the cops and ended up getting arrested. Backstage they still fought, the windows of cars were kicked out, Charlotte hit the best knee ever on Rousey through said broken window and Rousey tried to commandeer a police car and ended up crashing. It was pure stupid chaos but my god was it fun. This is the type of thing the feud needed to igniting the fuse one last time before setting off the firework. The interest is there; let’s just hope the match delivers.
By Any Means Necessary
The Revival vs Ricochet & Black ends in count out
This is here because I appreciate a return to proper heel tactics. It made sense from the match perspective and it felt like a true to character move. The Revival were being outmatched by the competing team so decided to take a count out win to save their belts. This was smart and felt right. Especially considering it was only a TV title match and not a PPV match. I’ll take a win like this over any of the B Teams lucky roll up wins. They took a scummy win and got punished by the scorned challengers for it. This was purely traditional heel tag team wrestling.
The Demon Cometh
So the element of surprise is dead. A lot of speculation could be made that Balor was going to bust out the demon because it was Wrestlemania. This was confirmed yesterday by a video package from Balor interrupting a Lashley and Rush promo. It even showed the demon. Why do this? Wouldn’t the continuous will he/won’t he tension leading up to the match have been worth more than giving away the surprise? Normally I wouldn’t care but with something as rare as the Demon, at least try and treat it with some semblance of respect and value. This guarantees Finn will probably have one of the best entrances of Mania but still, it shouldn’t have been revealed before the show. Not to mention the actual demon reveal looked stupid because of the face they made him pull.
Corbin in the Main Event
Baron Corbin defeats Rey Mysterio via Deep Six
Originally the plan was to have Angle vs Rey Mysterio this week as part of the farewell tour; instead we had this odd main event match where Corbin and Rey slugged it out because Corbin talked some trash. It wasn’t a bad match by any stretch. Corbin is good at doing what he does as the powerhouse bully and Rey flourishes against those kinds of opponents. Was it main event worthy, probably not? However this kind of felt right given the rest of the episode. So much of this RAW was throwaway or repeated that this just seemed like an “of course it is” moment. Rey being defeated by the Deep Six was pretty disappointing too as very few people lose to that move. At least make it the End of Days. Corbin gloats after the match and falls victim to a lurking Angle who gives him the Ankle Lock on the stage. Apparently Rey is currently battling an injury at the moment but I couldn’t really tell watching the match.
The KO show is slowly turning into an insult contest/fight show. Owens works as a true sh*t stirrer so I’m all for this. He sat and watched on as AJ and Orton laid into each other with personal and professional insults. Orton went for insults levelled at AJ’s move-set and career path. AJ went after Orton’s lack of a move-set and young Orton’s lack of professional conduct. The two reached their limit with insults and had one final brawl before Mania. The segment ended with Orton RKO-ing AJ out of a Phenomenal Forearm. AJ will probably win at Mania now.
Uso’s Mania Penitentiary
Usos and Ricochet & Black defeat The Bar and Rusev & Nakamura via Double Superkick
Well we have a Smackdown Tag Titles match for Mania now. Mania host Alexa Bliss made the match after the face team defeated the heels in a fun tag bout. Bliss came out and basically chastised the Usos for forfeiting their match last week. As punishment for ducking out on a challenge Bliss made a four corners tag match for those belts at Mania featuring everyone who had been in that match just there. This means that Nakamura, Rusev, the Bar and Ricochet and Black now all have a Mania match, which is pretty cool.
The Miz defeats Sanity via Travel Case Crushing Finale
Right everybody, we can call off the search party as Sanity have been on WWE TV for over a week now. They took part in a one on three handicap match at the behest of Shane McMahon. The match was contested under falls count anywhere rules so Miz basically beat the hell out of everyone everywhere. It was a fun bit of chaos and ended in a pretty unique fashion. Plus it was funny to hear Miz call Shane a son of a bitch and see the irony of a living Mr Potato Head calling another man a potato face.
Obligatory Battle Royale Instruction Video
Why does this always happen? We’ve seen enough battle royals and Royal Rumbles to know how the over the top rope rule works. Smackdown chose to display this in an 18 person tag match. It was barely a match as two giant teams fought for a bit then chaos ensured for a bit then everyone threw everyone out. During this brawl we saw a few alliances, some creepy Otis trying to scare Mandy Rose and Asuka standing tall. Hopefully this means we see her win the Women’s Battle Royale and we get some of her momentum back after she was sacrificed to Charlotte. The longest lasting man in this brawl was Jeff Hardy so that maybe teases him lasting a while?
Kofi + Mic = Verbal Smackdown
How much fun was this? Daniel Bryan is relishing his time as a heel champ and un-ironically using the insults that were once aimed at him against his opponent. He insulted the crowd who loved cheering for Kofi and ran down complacency. However all these insults just fired Kofi up. He came back with his own microphone beat down. He talked of his own journey, his own unfair odds, how he’s been overlooked and how ready he was. It was delivered with passion and is so eerily reminiscent of Wrestlemania 30 with the roles reversed. A fan favourite is standing up to the dismissive heel champion. It was also another contract signing that didn’t end in a brawl which never stops being surprising.
Warm Up Round
War Raiders defeat Cezar Bononi & Adrian Jaoude via Fallout
NXT opened with a message from the War Raiders. It wasn’t a spoken message, more of a show and tell. They squashed a jobber team in about two minutes then squashed another jobber team in about five minutes as they had a bit more fun with them. There were some power displays from the Raiders as they hit a Powerslam/Powerbomb combo. They finished this display with Fallout and left without any other words. Their message was sent and they will not be taking it easy on Ricochet and Aleister Black. It was a strong opening to the show and reminds people what the Raiders are capable of since they haven’t been on TV in a while.
Fight of the Forgotten
Jaxon Ryker defeats Oney Lorcan via Choke Bomb
It appears that the Forgotten Sons may be in line for a push in the near future. Their silent partner got a strong win over the scrappy brawler Oney Lorcan. This wasn’t a very competitive match as Ryker overpowered Lorcan and continued to overpower him as the match went on. Lorcan was able to make a small comeback after escaping a Bear hug but that was about it. He hit a few corner moves but after that well it was a Choke Bomb and a three count. Lorcan looks set for a career on 205 Live so they may use him a bit more sparingly on the black and yellow brand now. That would be a bit of a shame though as Lorcan is a fan favourite on NXT.
Two Down, Two to Go
Kairi Sane vs Bianca Belair ends in no contest
Lastly NXT finished with a semi grudge match between Kairi Sane and Bianca Belair. This was not the match you’d think it would be. Sane held her own incredibly well, dominating the opening of the match. She put Belair down with a stiff chop to the chest and followed it up with a slew of her common moves. Belair came back and the match got more competitive. There were some nice displays from both women but we were robbed of a finish as Shayna Baszler came in and ruined yet another match. However, her attack was foiled as the whole women’s division came out to break up this attack.
They eventually all ended up outside and Belair launched Lacey Lane into the horde from the riming with a Gorilla Press. However, that would not be the end moment as Io Shirai went for broke by hitting an Asai Moonsault into the crowd. The show ended with Shirai standing tall and holding up the belt as if she’d already won it. Following this show she would be the healthiest going into the match. This four-way is seriously competitive and since Sane and Belair just had a match those two may have slipped down a bit in winning odds.
Well there you have it, the few reportable points of a relatively tame week. Considering this was the go home week for Mania, I’d have expected more but oh well it is what it is. The hype is real for Mania and Takeover regardless of this flop of a week. RAW and Smackdown have a habit of being quite all over the place in terms of quality, NXT remained consistent yet again even if a lot of the show was just hype and interviews. Let’s regroup after Mania and see just how much better these shows do.
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