Wrestlemania 36 Review

Rhea/Charlotte and Cena/Wyatt made me have an emotional reaction. Nothing else on night two did. The Boneyard Match was the best overall thing on either show. From a pure entertainment standpoint, Undertaker/Styles was the best thing that’s been on any Wrestlemania show in a few years. Rollins/Owens was well laid out. Nothing else stuck out on night one. The Raw tag title match was the clear laggard of the entire card but it was still decent and necessary to introduce Bianca Belair to the main roster. The Smackdown Women’s title match was a little better than expected. The Raw Women’s title match was a little less intense than expected but still well fought. Edge/Orton tried to be a calmer version of Moxley/Omega. Just like that match, it was 15 minutes and 10 spots too long. Goldberg/Strowman felt like a match that didn’t need to occur.

WWE tried to salvage its premier event in any way possible, which is both admirable and morally questionable given the world’s current circumstances. The cinematic stories worked and strayed from the norm. Unfortunately, most of the empty arena stuff felt like matches sticking to clear formulas built with spots that would normally get a huge pop from a large rowdy crowd. Instead, they got silence which is tough for the performers. It was a welcome distraction but also a situation that warrants concern about the safety and risk for all performers involved. Editing it down to a one night, three-hour show featuring only standout segments and filtering out forgettable contests would’ve been the better option. 

WWE Monday Night Raw: Rey Mysterio vs. Angel Garza Match Recap

Show: Monday Night Raw
Date: 3/9/20
Venue: Capital One Arena (Washington DC)
Bell Timestamps: 0:17:26 – 0:26:24

-Mysterio whipped Garza head first into the middle turnbuckle (0:13)

-Rey did a handspring on the top rope in the corner, waiting for Angel to run under him, but instead Garza superkicked him. As Rey rolled away to try to compose himself, Angel dropkicked him through the ropes and sent him flying to the outside. (1:05)

-Angel picked up Rey, who was laying under the bottom rope, and put him in the slingshot position and then yanked him up causing Mysterio to hit his neck on the rope. (2:09)

-Garza went for the first pinfall attempt of the match. Rey kicked out at one. (2:18)

-Angel slingshotted Rey into the corner. Mysterio hit his head on the middle turnbuckle. Garza then kicked him in the back of the head. (2:33)

-After beating on Rey in the corner for a bit, Garza went for the second pin attempt of the match. Mysterio once again kicked out at one. (4:03)

-Garza then applied a sleeper, which turned into a vice-like head squeeze. (4:14)

– Angel tossed Mysterio into the air and nailed him with a right knee to the chest as he came back down. (4:45)

-Garza mocked Mysterio before attempting Rey’s signature maneuver, the 691. Rey manged to get to his feet and nail Garza with a kick to the head as he came running off the ropes. (5:09)

-Rey tossed Garza to the outside. While Angel was lying back first on the ground outside, Mysterio ran and slid under the bottom rope to hit him with a splash. (5:44)

-After delivering back-to-back seated sentons, Mysterio kicked Garza in the head and attempted his first pinfall of the match. Angel kicked out at two. (6:34)

-Rey went for a springboard crossbody off the middle rope but Garza caught him and used the top rope to bounce Mysterio off of and send him hurling backward with a reverse suplex. (6:54)

-Garza attempted his third pinfall of the match but Mysterio kicked out at two. (7:07)

-After sending Angel flying to the ropes with a step up enziguri, Rey went for a 619 of his own, but Garza ducked out of the way, popped up and superkicked him. (7:27)

-After the two stood on the middle rope trading headbutts, Garza fell down to the canvas. Rey then attempted a destroyer but Garza caught him. Rey was able to wiggle free and fling Angel into the ropes and finally hit the 619. He then hit a springboard splash off the top rope. (8:37)

-Mysterio pinned Garza and got the three count to pick up the win. (8:54)

Result: Mysterio won via pinfall following a 619 and springboard splash (8:58)

Total Pin Attempts: Five (Garza: Three, Mysterio: Two)
Total Submission Attempts: (Garza: Two—sleeper, head squeeze; Mysterio: Zero)
Total Kick Outs: Four (Garza: One, Mysterio: Three)
Commercial Breaks: One (Picture In Picture)

Overall Thoughts

After a bit of a botch powerbomb slam early on, the two found their footing and gelled well. Following the first big “Oh!” spot of the match—Garza’s superkick to an upside down Mysterio in the corner, the match slowed down a bit as Angel worked over Rey during a picture in picture commercial break. The pace picked up when the show went back to full screen. Garza more than held his own and proved he is main roster ready. A clean loss this early in his run does hurt his credentials slightly, even though it was to a legend like Mysterio.

WWE NXT: Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair Match Recap

Show: WWE NXT
Date: 2/26/20
Venue: Full Sail Live
Bell Timestamps: 1:52:16 – 2:04:50

Key Spots

-Charlotte was greeted with chants of “You don’t go here!” from the NXT faithful at the opening bell. (0:00)

-After the two traded holds for the first few minutes, Belair hit the first big strike of the match, dropkicking Charlotte into the corner and then taunting her. (2:16)

-Charlotte hit six straight knife edge chops and posed in the middle of the ring. (2:40)

-The two briefly brawled on the outside before Bianca whipped Flair face first into the ring post. (5:55)

-Belair slammed Charlotte in the middle of the ring with a double chicken wing. (7:23)

-Flair countered Bianca’s handspring off the ropes with a kick to the abdomen (7:56)

-After three straight knees to the midsection, Charlotte applied an abdominal stretch, grabbing onto Bianca’s ponytail for leverage. Belair was able to reverse the hold but Flair once again tugged at her hair to break things up. (8:12)

-Charlotte escaped a powerbomb attempt and nailed Belair with an elbow and a backbreaker before tossing Bianca’s head into the middle turnbuckle. (9:45)

-Flair attempted a moonsault but Bianca got her feet up to counter. Charlotte grabbed her feet and applied a Boston Crab. (10:14)

-Charlotte hit a sitout powerbomb in the middle of the ring. (10:56)

-After ducking under a big boot attempt, Bianca managed to dropkick Flair through the ropes to the outside. (11:14)

-The two traded spears: Bianca first, then Charlotte. Flair then hit Belair with a Natural and got the pinfall victory. (12:20)

Result: Flair pinned Belair after a Natural Selection (12:34)

After the match, Charlotte put Bianca’s left ankle in a chair and stomped on it before applying the Figure Eight. Rhea Ripley’s music hit. She took time to do her usual entrance, including her stomp move at the top of the ramp, before sauntering down to the ring to confront Flair, who ducked outside as soon as Ripley stepped in. The show then cut off as Rhea shouted at Charlotte and held up the NXT Women’s Championship.

Total Pin Attempts: Nine (Flair: Five, Belair: Four)
Total Submission Attempts: Six (Flair: Five—Sleeper, Shoulder Lock, Abdominal Stretch, Boston Crab, Stretch Muffler; Belair: One—Abdominal stretch)
Total Kick Outs: Eight (Flair: Four, Belair: Four)
Commercial Breaks: One (Picture in Picture)

Overall Thoughts

Surprisingly enough, this bout was more of a slower, mat-based, submission hold filled affair instead of the kind of back and forth trade off of high impact power moves and displays of athleticism one would expect to see from two tall, physically gifted specimens such as Charlotte and Bianca. It was OK for what it was, but it was obvious the crowd was expecting a bit more of an exciting kind of match, since the finish lacked heat. Charlotte’s spear outclassed Bianca’s attempt. Belair held her own but it was clear who was carrying who in this one. Rhea taking her sweet time coming down the ramp and the show abruptly going off the air just as the stare-down began was an odd ending.

In the moment, there was a part of me hoping they were doing the normal Rhea entrance so just as she did the bend over and stomp at the scream part of her theme, Charlotte would come running up the ramp and boot her right in the face. Then have the ending shot just be Flair talking smack in front of the screen, posing and saying some big former star alumni comes back to town type of trash talk along the lines of, “I did go here! Now I’m back and I still run this place!”

They opted for a different direction.

WWE Monday Night Raw: Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton Match Recap

Show: Monday Night Raw
Date: 2/24/20
Venue: Bell MTS Place (Winnipeg, MB)
Bell Timestamps: 10:46:43 – 10:54:54

Key Spots

-Owens tossed Orton into the barricade and sandwiched him with a running cannonball. (0:50)

-Seth Rollins, Murphy & AOP walked onto the stage to distract KO. Randy took advantage and hit Kevin from behind, knocking him to the outside. (1:29)

-After getting whipped into the corner, Owens nailed Orton with a superkick (5:11)

-The Street Profits and Viking Raiders charged down to the ring to fend off Rollins’ disciples (5:17)

-Kevin climbed to the top rope but Randy was able to take out his right leg and crotch Owens on the top turnbuckle. (6:11)

-After Randy failed in his quest to superplex KO, the two traded blows before Owens headbutted Orton, sending him flailing down to the mat. He hit him with a senton. (7:10)

-Rollins returned to ringside to distract Kevin but Owens knocked him off the apron with a right hand. Randy was able to take advantage of a preoccupied KO and nail him with a clothesline when he finally turned around. (7:17)

-Orton delivered a draping DDT to Owens, who was once again trying to fend off Rollins and picked up the win after a fast three-count by the official. (8:11)

Result: Orton pinned Owens following a draping DDT  (8:11)

After the match the referee went out to check on Rollins and make sure he was OK. Seth slid two chairs into the ring and pleaded with Orton to give KO a conchairto. However, Owens woke up, picked up a chair and squared off with Randy, who opted instead to slide out of the ring and head to the back. Owens went outside the ring, grabbed the ref and through him into the ring. He ripped off the ref’s shirt to reveal a Monday Night Messiah t-shirt. After delivering a stunner to the official, Kevin set up a table and powerbombed him through it as Rollins yelled in disapproval from the top of the ramp.

Total Pin Attempts: One (Owens: Zero, Orton: One)
Total Submission Attempts: Zero
Total Kick Outs: Zero
Commercial Breaks: One

Overall Thoughts

It was a match bogged down by a lot of outside interference and distractions and a huge dose of shenanigans. Ultimately, though, the final shot of the ref allegiance reveal followed up by the stunner and powerbomb through the table received a big pop from the crowd. It would have been nice to see Orton and Owens get a few more minutes to build a better, cleaner match but this was clearly about furthering the KO/Seth feud. In that sense, it served its purpose. It was also nice to see Owens get away from the recycled multi-man tag matches that had clearly run their course.

AEW Dynamite: Kenny Omega & Hangman Page vs. Lucha Bros. Recap

Show: AEW Dynamite
Date: 2/19/20
Venue: State Farm Arena (Atlanta, GA)
Bell Timestamps: 1:13:08 – 1:28:14

Key Spots

-After a brief feeling out period, Page nailed Rey Fenix with a big boot to the head. (0:20)

-Page and Omega hit their combo running shooting star press/moonsault off the second rope maneuver. (2:35)

-Fenix laid in the middle of the ring and made himself a springboard for Pentagon to hit a running cannonball onto Omega in the corner. (3:58)

-Rey held Kenny’s legs open as Pentagon jumped off the top rope and double foot-stomped his crotch. (5:00)

-Omega ran off the ropes and drilled Pentagon with a spinning DDT. (8:03)

-Hangman flung himself over the top rope and took out Fenix with a Pescado. (8:49)

-Seeing Page on all fours, Pentagon ran out of the corner and used Hangman’s back as a propellant to hit Kenny with a Canadian Destroyer. (9:59)

-Omega reversed a package piledriver attempt and delivered a back body drop to Pentagon on the apron, which kicked off a sequence that included Fenix giving Kenny a hurricanrana down to the floor followed up by Hangman going up top and moonsaulting onto Rey. (11:27)

-Page hit Pentagon with a pop up powerbomb. Omega followed up with a knee to the back of the head. (12:58)

-Kenny held Fenix in place for Hangman to hit a buckshot lariat but Rey ducked and Page accidentally hit Omega instead. (13:07)

-Fenix superkicked Kenny, then did a corkscrew dive onto Hangman on the outside. Pentagon hit a Pentagon Driver. Omega barely kicked out before a three count. (13:22)

-Kenny was able to free himself of a package piledriver attempt and hit a snapdragon suplex on Pentagon. He then managed to hit a diving Fenix with a knee to the head. He then picked up Rey and hit him with a Tiger Driver 98 but Fenix kicked out. (14:00)

-Page got a blind tag, flipped into the ring and nailed Fenix with a lariat while Omega simultaneously kneed him in the back of the head. (15:00)

Result: Page pinned Fenix following a Buckshot Lariat/V-Trigger Knee combo (15:06)

After the match, The Young Bucks came down to congratulate Kenny and had a mini tug of war with Hangman. Page left the ring and grabbed a few beers from the crowd.

Total Pin Attempts: 10 (Omega/Page: Eight, Lucha Bros: Two)
Total Submission Attempts: Two (Omega/Page: Zero, Lucha Bros: Two – Two Sleepers)
Total Kick Outs: Nine (Omega/Page: Two, Lucha Bros: Seven)
Commercial Breaks: One

Overall Thoughts

Page and Omega dominated and showed great cohesion early on. The match kicked into another gear following Pentagon’s running Canadian Destroyer. After that, there were a number of exciting spots and sequences that kept the fans invested and on their feet. The only gripe with the final few minutes was Omega’s lack of selling for a devastating looking Superkick/Pentagon Driver combination. Other then that, this match accomplished exactly what it needed to. It established the champions as a dominant duo early, and it showed that the two have the resilience to overcome a potentially costly miscue late to retain their titles. It seems that they could be setting up for a potential turn by Page either in or after the match against the Young Bucks at Revolution. Hangman and Omega are clicking so well as a team right now, though, it’d make sense to extend their run even further and have the Bucks pull a post-match heel turn on them instead.

AEW Dynamite: Jon Moxley vs. Jeff Cobb Recap

Show: AEW Dynamite
Date: 2/19/20
Venue: State Farm Arena (Atlanta, GA)
Bell Timestamps: 50:06 – 1:01:22

Key Spots

-Cobb began with an overhead belly to belly suplex to gain the initial advantage. (0:06)

-Outside, Jeff reversed an Irish Whip and sent Jon flying over a guardrail. (3:58)

-In the corner, Moxley caught a Cobb kick attempt and hyper extended his left knee over his shoulder. (6:54)

-Jon crotched Jeff on the ring post and slammed his knee into the post three times. (7:17)

-Moxley went for a double axe handle strike off the top rope to the outside but Cobb caught him and suplexed him onto the floor. (8:51)

-After receiving a German Suplex, Jon was able to pop back up and clothesline Jeff. The two then traded strikes and clotheslines. Moxley rocked Cobb but Jeff ended up as the one who stood tall following the exchange. (9:54)

-Jeff suplexed Jon off the second rope. (11:10)

-After landing, Moxley was able to grab Cobb’s left leg and cradle him for the pin (11:13)

Result: Moxley pinned Cobb with a cradle (11:16)

Following the match, Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager ran into the ring to beat on Moxley but Dustin Rhodes came out to fight them off. In the middle of the brawl, the lights went out. After a few seconds, Darby Allin’s music hit. Darby skateboarded down to the ring and used his board to fight off an attacking Jericho and Hager before turning his attention to Sammy. He hit him in the abdomen and grinded his board into Guevara’s back. Cobb then suplexed Allin but Darby landed on his feet and hit Jeff with the board in the midsection. Moxley then awakened and delivered a Paradigm Shift to Cobb. Outside, Darby threw Sammy into the steel stairs. Inside the ring, Moxley and Jericho traded blows before the AEW Champion was able to escape with a wounded Guevara as Moxley and Allin stood together in the ring and glared at and taunted them.

Total Pin Attempts: Three (Cobb: Two, Moxley: One)
Total Submission Attempts: Two (Cobb: Zero, Moxley: Two — Sleeper, Heel Hook)
Total Kick Outs: Two (Cobb: Zero, Moxley: Two)
Commercial Breaks: One

Overall Thoughts

This one went about as expected with a bit of a surprising ending. Cobb dominated early and often. After getting beaten down and thrown around for a while, Moxley was able to catch Cobb in a precarious situation and hurt his left knee. He worked over the knee for a bit but Jeff was still able to gain the advantage with a few suplexes and a clothesline. The surprise grab-the-leg pin by Moxley to win was probably the best outcome, considering this matchup presented a tough situation, in which it was not desirable for either competitor to take a clean loss since Moxley is challenging for the title soon and Cobb has been built up as a new scary dominant force. There was nothing mind-blowing in this one, but Cobb came off looking strong, and Moxley proved he could take a beating and still use his savvy to eek out a victory.

The post-match brawl was to be expected. The addition of Darby and Dustin made sense since they’re both feuding with Inner Circle members. Allin’s return was well received. His tussle with Sammy helped to build momentum for what should be a good vengeance match between him and Guevara at Revolution.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (2/10/20)

Venue: Toyota Arena (Ontario, CA)

Show Summary

The show began with Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy and AOP standing in the middle of the ring. Rollins called for a replay video of last week’s match, which Rezar won by pinning Kevin Owens. Seth said they are here to preach a message of oneness and unity and they would not leave the ring until their message is heard. Kevin Owens came out to confront Rollins and his disciples. Seth reminded KO about how Samoa Joe and Ivar hurt themselves trying to help him. He warned him that if you stand alone, you will fall alone.

Owens responded to Rollins by saying that he not only sounds stupid but looks stupid too. He was then joined by the Viking Raiders and they burst down to the ring to brawl. While Rollins stood in the ring, Samoa Joe surprised him from behind with a Coquina Clutch. After a stunner to Murphy, Owens, Joe and the Raiders stood tall. Their celebration was short-lived, however. Becky Lynch’s music blared, signaling her Raw Women’s Title match with Asuka was up next.

Asuka, joined by Kairi Sane, mocked and laughed at Lynch as she made her way down to the ring. The match began with a fight for control, which Asuka won by locking in a headlock. Becky was eventually able to gain the advantage for a brief period of time but Asuka countered with a knee and a sit out spinebuster. On the outside, Kairi sacrificed herself by pushing Asuka out of the way of a leaping Becky and absorbing the blow. Back in the ring, Lynch went for a move off the second rope but Asuka was able to catch her with a double knee strike.

After locking in a disarm-her in the ropes, Becky teased a suplex before reversing positions and slamming Asuka spine first onto the apron. After a commercial break, Asuka had a submission locked in but Becky was able to scoop her up and slam her to the mat to garner a near fall. Lynch looked to put away Asuka with a leg drop off the top rope but Asuka moved out of the way. The two went back and forth, both rolling up the other for near falls before Becky was able to hit a Rock Bottom and pick up a pinfall victory. After the match, Shayna Baszler attacked the champion from behind, took out her mouthpiece and bit Becky on the back of her neck. Baszler stood up and screamed as blood dripped out of her mouth. Lynch wailed in pain and asked the ref to check her neck. The medics then came out and helped her to the back as she tried to assure them that she was fine.

Backstage, Becky told the medics that she didn’t need to go to the hospital because it was just a flesh wound.

Mojo Rawley and Riddick Moss had a brief pre-match interaction in the ring with the Street Profits. Montez Ford accused Rawley of riding Rob Gronkowski’s coattails. Moss and Angelo Dawkins started things off. Dawkins quickly drilled Moss with a spinebuster and Ford finished him with a frog splash off the top rope. After the match, Moss surprised Rawley with a roll-up pin to become the new 24/7 Champion.

Outside in the parking lot, medics tried to load Becky in the ambulance. She agreed to go to the hospital but only on her own terms. She then grabbed the driver, pulled him out, hopped in the driver’s seat and sped off.

MVP hosted Drew McIntyre in his VIP Lounge. MVP talked about the good and the bad times the two had in the past. He said he was proud Drew was finally reaching his potential. MVP told McIntyre that he shouldn’t listen to the doubters who think he’s not ready to be WWE Champion. MVP told Drew he needed a veteran mentor to guide him through the process. McIntyre asked MVP if he wanted to be his version of Paul Heyman and he agreed. Drew said the difference between him and Brock Lesnar is that he didn’t need a business manager kissing his ass. Drew went to leave but MVP grabbed him and warned not to turn his back on him. McIntyre responded with a Glasgow Kiss, ripped his shirt off and sent the veteran flying over a couch with a Claymore Kick.

Zelina Vega introduced a video highlight of Angel Garza’s altercations with Humberto Carrillo and Rey Mysterio from last week. Garza said that he’s a man’s man because no man can measure up and a lady’s man because no woman can resist him. Humberto then came storming out to beat on his cousin before security subdued him. A flustered Garza then entered the ring to do battle with Cedric Alexander. The two ended up on the outside, where Angel teased stripping the mats but Alexander recomposed himself before he could. Back in the ring, Garza ripped off his pants and nailed Cedric with a wing clipper to pick up the win.

Backstage, Charly Caruso asked Rhea Ripley if she was still waiting on an answer from Charlotte Flair. Ripley said she doesn’t wait for things, she gets out and gets what she wants. Sarah Logan broke up the interview and confronted Rhea. Logan asked Ripley why she thought she could just come to Raw and do whatever she wanted. The NXT Women’s Champion responded by saying, “I’m Rhea Ripley, who are you?” before walking off as Sarah stood and sighed.

Sarah Schreiber interviewed Lana and Bobby Lashley. Lana said it was Bobby’s dream to face Brock Lesnar and that Ricochet got lucky and stole Lashley’s opportunity. Bobby said that he doubted Ricochet was even going to make it to SuperShowdown after facing him. Lana then shooed Sarah away.

Sarah Logan came out and said she will defend her turf by any means necessary and demanded that Rhea come out to face her. Rhea obliged. Before the match could start, Charlotte Flair’s music hit and she made her way to the top of the ramp to observe Ripley beating down Logan. Rhea made quick work of Sarah, finishing her off with a Riptide. After the match, she grabbed a mic and called Charlotte out for not answering her challenge on either Raw or NXT last week. Flair said she wondered whether Rhea would still even be the Women’s Champion after her match with Bianca Belair at Takeover Portland on Sunday.

Charly caught up with Ricochet before he made his way through the curtain and asked him what he thought about Bobby’s strong words. Ricochet said he never backed down from a fight before and he doesn’t intend on doing it now. As the crowd chanted Rusev Day, Ricochet said facing Brock Lesnar is the biggest opportunity of his career and nobody is going to stop him from walking, limping or crawling into SuperShowdown.

Ricochet scored the first big move of the match, connecting on a flip over the top rope onto Bobby Lashley on the outside. His momentum was short-lived. Lashley soon took control of the match, tossing Ricochet head-first into the ring post and back-first into the barricade before throwing him back into the ring to inflict more punishment. Ricochet was able to buy some time to recover with a step up enziguri. He was able to capitalize with a flurry of moves, including a springboard cross body and a standing shooting star press, which got a near fall. Lashley didn’t stay down for long. He nailed Ricochet with a thunderous spinebuster before propping him up on the top rope and tossing him off. Somehow, Ricochet was able to flip over and land on his feet and stun Bobby with multiple running dropkicks. He then finished off Lashley with a 630.

Randy Orton came down to the ring to cut a promo. Orton was only able to get out a single sentence, “What I did to Edge hurt me more than it hurt him” before Matt Hardy’s music interrupted him. Hardy said that although he and Edge had their bad blood, they were once friends with the same dream. Matt said he and Edge helped to revolutionize the TLC match and stole the show at Wrestlemania. Hardy said his ill-feelings towards Edge vanished when he saw his one-time friend had to retire prematurely. He said Randy took away Edge’s miraculous return and asked what the hell was wrong with him. Orton tried to stun Matt with an RKO but Hardy fought back briefly before Randy was able to finally hit him with it. He then rolled outside the ring, grabbed two steel chairs and delivered the same devastating sandwich chair shot to the head he gave to Edge.

Backstage, Sarah interviewed Ruby Riott, asking her why she had such animosity for Liv Morgan. Riott said that she didn’t buy into Morgan’s transformation, so she came back to put Liv in her place.

Aleister Black made quick work of Akira Tozawa, finishing him off with a Black Mass. After the match, Aleister grabbed a microphone and said he was appreciative of each and every person here tonight. He said he knows a thing or two about rebelling against paradise and that he feels like an animal inside of a cage. He said anyone who ventures out to face him will be trapped in a metaphorical cage with him.

Becky returned in the ambulance and stormed back into the arena. She made her way out to the ring and delivered a message to Shayna, telling her she was going to smash her face in and break her down week by week, little by little.

The main event was a four-on-four tag match, pitting Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy and AOP against Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and the Viking Raiders. The match started off with Rollins and his disciples taking turns beating on Erik. After a brief glimpse of hope provided by Ivar, it was Kevin Owens’ turn to get worked over. Samoa Joe and the Viking Raiders provided one of the highlights of the night with a synchronized three-man suicide dive. Not be outdone, Owens went up top and hit a cannonball to the outside onto a group that included both friends and foes. The finish was Samoa Joe locking in the Coquina Clutch on Murphy who tapped while the ref had his back turned to deal with Rezar trying to run into the ring. Rollins took advantage of the blind spot and stomped Joe’s head into the canvas, which allowed Murphy to flop onto him and get the pin.

Final Thoughts

This week’s show featured the beginning of yet another Wrestlemania feud. With Ronda Rousey apparently not coming back for Mania, Shayna Baszler seems like the logical challenger for a feud with Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship. Following the conclusion of a long dominant title reign in NXT, it’s time for Baszler to make the move up to the main roster. There’s no bigger or better way to debut than to do it in a spotlight title match at the company’s biggest show of the year against one of the WWE’s most popular stars. The lackluster triple-threat match at Survivor Series between Becky, Baszler and Bayley is a cause for concern, but a singles program between just Shayna and Becky should hopefully end up clicking better. Their build to the Survivor Series match was well done, which is probably why the match felt so disappointing.

The Lynch storyline was clearly the key point of tonight’s show. But there was other good stuff as well. Ricochet won over the crowd with an exciting performance against Bobby Lashley. Drew McIntyre got another encouraging reaction from the crowd in a segment with MVP, who is clearly better suited for promos instead of in-ring action at this point in his career.

The Matt Hardy-Randy Orton interaction seemed like a placeholder but it did at least get a little more heat for Orton. Given Hardy’s soon expiring contract, it may be a goodbye to him as well.

For the second week in a row, Angel Garza looked like a natural and showed that not only does he belong on the main roster full time but that he’s got the type of charisma to be one of the future stars of the show. A potential stable of him, Vega and Andrade could be gold.

After two weeks of multi-man tag matches featuring Kevin Owens against Seth Rollins’ crew, the main event didn’t have quite a fresh feel, but it was fine for what it was, It was a nice welcome back for Samoa Joe, even though he was the one who ultimately ate the pin.

Aleister Black had another strange promo. This week, instead of talking about shadows, he discussed cages. Could that be a hint at an eventual feud with Eric Rowan, who along with his caged pet was absent from tonight’s show?

They’re prolonging the Charlotte challenge acceptance until after Takeover, which is understandable, but if that’s the course of action, they probably could have just saved the big Rhea challenge spot until next week and kept the focus primarily on her match with Bianca Belair at Takeover. The Charlotte involvement has forced Belair into third wheel territory for no real reason since there’s still plenty of time until Wrestlemania.

Rusev was once again absent from the show. Who knows what his direction will be now that Lana and Lashley have seemed to move on to new things and Liv Morgan is now set up for a feud with Ruby Riott. Ultimately, the whole Lana/Lashley/Rusev/Liv storyline didn’t seem to benefit any party involved.

Overall, it was a good show with a pretty responsive crowd. The Kevin Owens, Joe and Viking Raiders gang versus Rollins and his disciples angle looks like it will continue, but there needs to be some type of new dynamic added to freshen things up a bit in the coming weeks. The multi-man matches feel recycled. It might be time to laser in the focus on Rollins and Owens as a singles program.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (2/3/20)

Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena (Salt Lake City, UT)

Show Summary

The show began with a recap video of Randy Orton’s attack on Edge to end last week’s episode. Orton came down to the ring and earned loud boos from an unforgiving crowd that taunted Randy with “Edge” chants. After a few minutes, Randy gave up, dropped the microphone and walked to the back as the fans made their displeasure loudly apparent.

The first match of the night was a rematch of Liv Morgan and Lana, which Morgan quickly won in a nearly identical finish as last week’s victory. Ruby Riott surprised Liv after the match. Ruby smiled and went to give her old friend a hug before slamming her and beating her down as Lana looked on and smiled. Lana slammed Morgan to the canvas and shrieked before walking off as Morgan laid crying in the middle of the ring.

Drew McIntyre got an encouraging reaction from the fans when he came out to face 24/7 champion Mojo Rawley in a non-title match. McIntyre thanked the fans and warned Rawley that a Claymore Kick was in his near future. Drew discussed Brock Lesnar’s postmatch attack last week, which he said occurred because Brock is apprehensive about facing him at Wrestlemania 36. McIntyre fulfilled on his promise and drilled Mojo with a Claymore Kick to pick up a victory in just a few seconds. Riddick Moss is certainly not flourishing in his new role as Rawley’s bodyguard.

Backstage, Charly Caruso talked with Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy and AOP. Charly asked Rollins about his triple-threat match with Bobby Lashley and Ricochet with a chance to face Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown. The Beast Slayer said that he’s beaten Lesnar twice before and that he’ll beat him again in Saudi Arabia.

Kevin Owens and The Viking Raiders squared off with AOP and Murphy in a six-man tag team elimination match. Murphy and AOP worked over Erik for a bit to start off before a fired up Ivar made his way into the ring with a head full of steam and turned the tide back in the favor of the Raiders and KO. Ivar took a nasty bump face first into the LED board, which distracted the referee long enough for Seth to stomp Erik on the outside and throw him back into the ring to get pinned by Murphy. After the elimination of Erik, the officials came down to a bring a shoulder-favoring Ivar to the back, leaving Owens facing a dire 3-on-1 situation. Murphy and AOP took turns beating on Owens. KO eventually was able to knock down all three of his foes in succession, starting with a cannonball to Akam on the outside. He followed that up by tossing Rezar into the steps and superkicking Buddy. Kevin looked to put away Buddy with a swanton bomb but Murphy got the knees up. Owens hit a pop up powerbomb to put away one half of the Raw tag champs. He quickly pinned Akam after a stunner. A few superkicks to Rezar followed by a successful swanton bomb got a near fall. Seth distracted KO for long enough for Rezar to turn him inside out with a clotheline. Rezar finished off a Kevin with a few hard slams to end the match. The Monday Night Messiah’s three disciples all met at the top of the stage to celebrate.

Backstage, Charly interviewed Ricochet, who admitted that he’s not as big or strong as Bobby Lashley and didn’t have the game of Seth Rollins but what he does have is determination and promised to make the most of the opportunity presented to him.

Aleister Black finished off Eric Young in his usual quick, dominant fashion, knocking out Young with a Black Mass. After the match, Aleister grabbed a microphone and said he was going to engulf the Raw Locker room with shadows of black mass.

A video recap was shown of Humberto Carrillo delivering a DDT to Andrade on the exposed concrete last week. Carrillo came down to the ring and was surprised by Angel Garza and Zelina Vega, who said she found Humberto’s liability. Vega called Garza the hottest latino prospect. Garza told Carrillo that the reason he’s here is because he’s the leader of their family and that Humberto was a disgrace to him, their family and all latinos. An angered Humberto yanked the mic out of his cousin’s hand and started screaming at him before Vega slapped him and Angel began to attack him. The former Cruiserweight champion nailed Carrillo with a wing clipper before tossing him out of the ring and attempting to DDT him onto the exposed concrete at ringside. Luckily for Carrillo, Rey Mysterio ran out to stop the attack. Mysterio entered the ring and the two had an impromptu match.

Garza had a good showing in his debut, toeing the line between vicious heel and smiling cocky crowd taunter well. The two went back and forth before Garza attempted the first big move of the match, a moonsault off the second rope, which Rey was able to avoid. Angel was able to catch Rey running the ropes and knee him in the head. Mysterio was able to recover and looked to finish off the match with a 619 but Zelina yanked Garza out of the way at the last second. Mysterio was able to take out Garza with a cannonball over the top rope. On the outsize, Zelina shouted at Mysterio before Angel superkicked him from behind, dragged Rey over to the exposed concrete and hit him a DDT, which earned a disqualification.

2020 Women’s Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair came down to the ring and talked about who she plans on challenging at Wrestlemania. Flair said she’s already held both the Raw and Smackdown women’s titles multiple times and that she’s already beat both current champions Becky Lynch and Bayley. Flair acknowledged the crowd chanting for “Rhea” and said that she has love for NXT. NXT women’s champion Rhea Ripley interrupted Charlotte and reminded Flair that she’s never beaten Ripley but Rhea has beaten her. She challenged Charlotte and held up her belt. Flair responded by staring at her, walking away and giving one final woo at the top of the ramp.

Backstage, Sarah Schreiber asked Bobby Lashley if he was distracted because his new wife Lana lost her match earlier in the night. Lashley said he wasn’t distracted and confidently proclaimed that he was going to win tonight’s triple-threat match, beat Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown and beat Drew McIntyre at Wrestlemania.

Asuka beat Natalya with an Asuka Lock. It was a 10-minute bout that felt about five minutes too long. After the match, Asuka called out Becky Lynch and said she wanted a rematch. Lynch said that beating Asuka at the Royal Rumble damn near gave her superpowers and she’d love to beat her ass again. Kairi Sane tried to attack the Raw Women’s champion from behind but Becky caught her and threw her out of the ring. Lynch said that was one of her superpowers now, she’s got eyes in the back of her head.

Seth Rollins cut an in-ring promo and told the fans that he will be the one to save the wrestling business and that he will be the one to beat Brock Lesnar and go on to successfully defend the WWE title against McIntyre at Wrestlemania. The triple-threat kicked off with some high-flying maneuvers by Ricochet. It didn’t take long for AOP and Buddy Murphy to take advantage of the no disqualification rules and come down to attack Ricochet and Bobby Lashley. Kevin Owens and Erik intervened with the help of two steel chairs, brawling with Akam & Rezar throughout the crowd and out of sight. Back in the ring, all three competitors took turns gaining a brief advantage before being thwarted. The highlight of the match was Lashley and Ricochet superplexing Seth Rollins from the top rope. With Rollins taken out and Lashley dazed, Ricochet was able to climb to the top and hit a 630 to put away Bobby and punch his ticket to Saudi Arabia. His celebration was short lived, however, since Brock Lesnar came down and immediately F-5ed him to a chorus of boos as the show went off the air.

Final Thoughts

The show started and ended with loud boos from the crowd, which is actually a good thing. At the start, Randy Orton was met with the level of boos and jeers that were reminiscent of Roman Reigns’ promo the night after he beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 34. They were so loud, Orton couldn’t even get a word out before frustratingly just deciding to leave. The show ended with Lesnar sending a message to Ricochet and robbing the crowd of the chance to properly celebrate one of the biggest wins of Ricochet’s WWE tenure.

The Lesnar-Ricochet title match up for Super ShowDown is an interesting pairing. the confrontation the two had on the Raw before the Royal Rumble, which ended with Lesnar low-blowing Ricochet, is a good starting point for what could be an interesting smaller, scrappy underdog takes on the big bully champion storyline. Obviously, Ricochet’s chances of victory are low but Lesnar has had some of his matches with smaller competitors in recent years such as Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles and Finn Balor. Hopefully, it isn’t just a quick suplex-filled squash match.

There didn’t seem to be much of a reason for a Liv Morgan and Lana rematch, considering Liv beat her clean last week. It did at least serve a purpose for Ruby Riott’s return and ultimate betrayal of her former friend and teammate.

The triple-threat main event was a little quicker than expected and was chopped up by a long outside attack sequence and a commercial break at a key point in the match.

The crowd had good passion and heat tonight. Rhea Ripley and Drew McIntyre both got positive reactions, which is encouraging, considering they’re both on track for spotlight matches at Wrestlemania, and they’ll benefit from investment and support from the fans.

Andrade’s 30-day suspension opens the door for a debuting Angel Garza, who was one of the best performers on NXT television since the show started on USA. Garza is loaded with charisma and a potential pairing with Zelina Vega should aid him in his transition if he is in fact making the move up to the main roster.

A Becky Lynch-Asuka rematch should be entertaining but it feels like a bit of a placeholder, especially since Lynch has already avenged her loss at the 2019 Rumble and beaten Asuka clean to retain her title.

Kevin Owens had another valiant individual effort tonight, as he once again faced tough odds following a tag partner’s injury.

Overall, the show lacked a big memorable moment like Orton attacking Edge last week, but in-ring, all the matches besides the two squashes and Lana vs. Liv, were entertaining and served a purpose. The action was helped by one of the more energetic and vocal crowds that Raw has had in a while.

New feuds such as Liv/Ruby, Brock/Ricochet, Charlotte/Rhea and Garza/Humberto were all kicked off and existing feuds such as Becky/Asuka and KO/Seth Rollins and his gang were built on. Raw is a show that has direction right now, which is no easy task considering there’s speed bump (the Super ShowDown show) right in the middle of the road to Wrestlemania.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (1/27/20)

Venue: AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)

Show Summary

The show began with a video recap highlight of Drew McIntyre interrupting WWE Champion Brock Lesnar’s destruction of early Royal Rumble participants, eliminating Lesnar and going on to win the Men’s Rumble.

The proper show began with a thrown together commentary team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Jerry Lawler advertising a tag bout pitting new champs Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy against Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe, a US Title rematch of Andrade against Humberto Carrillo, Lana vs. Liv Morgan and female Rumble winner Charlotte’s announcement of her Wrestlemania opponent.

McIntyre came down to the ring and soaked in some “you deserve it” chants from the crowd. Drew wasted no time announcing that he will challenge Brock Lesnar in Tampa. The Scottish Claymore Kicker promised to defeat Lesnar and win the WWE title at Wrestlemania. He issued an open challenge to the Raw locker room, which Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows both answered. Without hesitation, McIntyre agreed to a handicap match. A quick Magic Killer tease was the only offense Anderson or Gallows were able to get in before Drew knocked both of them out with back-to-back Claymore Kicks and piled them up for the pin. After throwing The O.C. out of the ring, Drew turned back around and walked into a boot followed up by an F5 from a vengeance-seeking Lesnar. Brock held his title up and left his Mania challenger lying in a heap.

A promo package recapping MVP’s former tenure in the WWE was shown. The 46-year-old two-time US Champion squared off with Rey Mysterio in a bout that didn’t have the usual quick pace and excitement of recent Mysterio matches. Rey won with a splash off the top rope.

For the second week in a row, Aleister Black squashed a local talent in a matter of seconds, this time knocking out Kenneth Johnson with one Black Mass. After the match, Aleister grabbed a microphone and took accountability for being eliminated at the Royal Rumble. Black said he was no longer going to wait for someone to pick a fight with him, instead, he will bring the fight to the Raw locker room.

Seth Rollins came out with Buddy Murphy. Rollins told Drew McIntyre to enjoy the fan support while it lasts because the crowd will turn on him so fast. Rollins bragged about eliminating Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe in the Rumble and demanded that KO and Joe come down to face them in the ring. Owens came out and called Seth a delusional jackass and inquired about where AOP were hiding. Rollins said that Akam and Rezar were back in the his private dressing room and he had the live camera shot to prove it. Kevin thanked him for revealing their whereabouts. Apparently, the Viking Raiders had been backstage looking for them. Once they found their location, they attacked and brawled.

Joe and Kevin took turns beating on Buddy. The first big spot of the match came when Rollins and Murphy both ended up outside. Owens hit Seth with a cannonball while Joe dived through the ropes to take out Murphy on the other side of the ring. KO got the first near fall of the fight after delivering a pop up powerbomb to Rollins in the middle of the ring. Owens got another near fall on Murphy after hitting him with a Swanton Bomb from the top rope but Seth broke it up. Owens stunnered the Monday Night Messiah but Buddy surprised Kevin from behind with a roll-up pin from to retain the titles.

Backstage, Charly Caruso talked with Becky Lynch who said that after beating Asuka at the Rumble she realized she’s without a doubt better than every other woman in the locker room. After seeming unfazed by the thought of Charlotte challenging at her Wrestlemania, Becky turned and walked off, revealing the letters G.O.A.T. on the back of her leather jacket.

For some reason, Andrade had to put his US Title on the line for the second night in a row against Humberto Carrillo, a man he beat clean in the middle of the ring in Houston. Andrade dominated Carrillo early in front of a noticeably quiet crowd. After getting beaten up throughout most of the match, Carrillo looked like he might sneak away with the title after a moonsault from the top rope. Zelina Vega interrupted the pin attempt to cause a disqualification and save Andrade’s title. After the match, an enraged Humberto peeled back the pad on the outside and gave the US Champion the eye-for-an-eye treatment by slamming him down with a Hammerlock DDT on the exposed concrete. Vega then screamed, cried and begged for someone to come help Andrade.

Charlotte introduced a video recap showing how she won the women’s Royal Rumble. The Queen said that she has not yet made up her mind about which champion she will challenge at Wrestlemania. Asuka and Kairi Sane came down to the ring and double suplexed Charlotte, which set up an impromptu match. The two had the kind of physical back-and-forth match they usually do. After a spear failed to put Asuka away, Charlotte applied the figure eight which Kairi Sane broke up with an insane elbow, giving Charlotte a DQ victory. Charlotte repaid Sane by nailing her with a big boot.

Backstage, the Street Profits recapped the night’s action before being joined by Kelly Kelly, who received some playful flirting courtesy of Angelo Dawkins. They announced that the 24/7 title will be defended in the next match. Mojo Rawley came out with his “offensive lineman” Riddick Moss. Rawley said that the belt was no longer the “hide and go seek” championship. Mojo said he has Moss to watch his back and block any challenger. No Way Jose came out with his conga line and was quickly disposed of. Following the match, R-Truth, disguised as a cheeseburger, was able to sneak by Moss and pin Mojo from behind. Riddick and Rawley surrounded Truth. Mojo slammed him and pinned him to retain the title.

Liv Morgan and Lana had a clunky contest that somehow managed to get even less of a crowd reaction than No Way Jose. Liv pinned Lana clean after a flatliner off the middle rope. Jerry Lawler delivered the horrifying statement, “I have a feeling this isn’t over.”

Branden Vice got destroyed by Erick Rowan in a quick squash. Unlike his recent outings, Rowan had no interaction with his mystery pet this time around.

After getting lulled to sleep by a string of sub par matches, the crowd was awakened by a returning Edge. The 46-year-old Hall-of-Famer thanked the crowd for the warm welcome back. He talked about what it was like walking into the Rumble and seeing some old faces and some new ones as well. He brought up Randy Orton’s name, which got a positive reaction, and the name of Roman Reigns, which got a decidedly less positive reaction, and then rattled off some more names before saying he hopes to see all of those competitors down the road. He admitted that he didn’t know how long his final run would last, but he did hope the fans would join him for the ride. Judging by the “Yes!” chant from the crowd, the fans are more than welcome to hop on that bandwagon. Randy Orton interrupted the speech to come down and give Edge a hug. Orton talked about their history and welcomed him home. Randy wondered about what would happen if Rated RKO got back together again before surprising Edge with an RKO. He then grabbed a steel chair and slammed it into his back as Edge writhed in pain. The show ended with Orton placing his one-time teammate’s head on a chair and slamming down another chair on top of it as a chorus of boos rained down from the crowd.

Final Thoughts

Drew McIntyre’s opening squash match against The O.C. set the tone for the night. Three other squashes felt like overkill, especially the back-to-back affairs which ended with Mojo Rawley and Erick Rowan emerging victorious in front of a clearly disinterested crowd late in the show.

Kevin Owens had a strong performance in a tag team title match that otherwise felt like a step down in intensity in a feud was getting pretty hot in the lead up to the Rumble.

Charlotte vs. Asuka was well-worked but it was hurt by a cheap disqualification finish, the second of the night. It didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose unless the plan is to leave the door open for Charlotte to challenge for the tag team titles at Wrestlemania, since technically she can choose to challenge any champion. That seems like it would be a waste of a Rumble win, though.

Lana vs. Liv Morgan felt even more anticlimactic than last week’s mixed tag match. The lack of any Rusev or Bobby Lashley involvement didn’t make much sense either.

The Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo and Rey Mysterio vs. MVP matchups were both forgettable. MVP looked slow and not in great ring shape. He definitely didn’t have the feel of someone who should be having a televised singles match on the WWE main roster at this point in his career. Fans just don’t care about Carrillo in a babyface in peril role. A post-match attack is at least the kind of character development he desperately needs.

The final segment featuring Randy Orton RKOing Edge and taking him out with a chair shot to the head was the clear highlight of the show. Unfortunately, it was a chore to get through the rest of the show just to get to that final moment.

The lack of a Charlotte announcement felt like a cop out, and there was little intrigue surrounding Drew’s decision, since it was obvious from how the Rumble unfolded that he would be challenging Brock Lesnar.

The Edge-Orton interaction was the only standout moment that felt truly meaningful. Everything else was forgettable, which is surprising and a bit concerning considering the “Road to Wrestlemania” is supposedly the time of the year when things are supposed to be heating up. The fact the next Saudi show will occur on Feb. 27 before Wrestlemania may mean the build to other Mania feuds will have to be put off for another month.

WWE Worlds Collide 2020 Review

Quality-wise, WWE Worlds Collide was a little better and featured a lineup that was obviously more star-studded than an average NXT Wednesday night show but in terms of drama and sheer suck-a-viewer-into-what’s-happening, it didn’t reach the heights or precedents set by normal NXT Takeover events. Ultimately, it came off feeling like a manufactured show that managed to be both enjoyable in the moment yet a bit forgettable in terms of importance in the NXT timeline.

WALTER was the star of the night, outshining NXT Champion Adam Cole in terms of fan reaction and adoration. Unfortunately, his counterparts in Imperium: Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner and Alexander Wolfe just did not seem like main event caliber performers. That hurts in a four-on-four final main event match situation. Barthel and Aichner put in the necessary effort when they were handed the ball, and it’s likely Wolfe would’ve done the same too if he hadn’t been knocked out by a Bobby Fish kick early in the match. Still, it was apparent that anytime they were in the ring, there was a noticeable drop off in terms of fan response and interest compared to the few stints Imperium’s head honcho received once he climbed in and did his damage.

WALTER being driven through a table by Roderick Strong felt like the emotional high spot of the match and probably even the show overall.

That may be because it was a show that didn’t feature many big moments.

Rhea Ripley had an unmemorable first title defense against Toni Storm. It was clear that no one in the crowd expected Storm to win or viewed her as much of a credible threat. Ripley did a decent job of selling her neck after being thrown blindly back first into the turnbuckle but the match largely fell flat.

DIY vs. Moustache Mountain was a fun back-and-forth that maybe was a little too fun and lacked the kind of urgency and intensity that Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa had in their epic Takeover tag team title bouts against The Revival and Authors of Pain.

The four-way Cruiserweight Title Match was an expected spotfest that ended in surprising fashion with Jordan Devlin pinning Isaiah Scott as champion Angel Garza failed to break up the pin in time. Garza has proven himself to be one of the best characters and performers on NXT since it debuted on USA. To take the title off of him in his first real big defense on a spotlight show is puzzling to say the least.

Finn Balor in a curtain-jerking position basically dwarfed and humiliated Ilja Dragunov in terms of crowd responses for entrances. After a huge pop for Balor, Dragunov got the cricket treatment to follow. Once the match started, the young Russian tried to get the fans on his side with a few “come on” arm waves and pleas during the match but it was to no avail. Houston was a pro-Prince crowd. Balor did his best to elevate his energized foe but few seemed to care.

Overall, this was a show that was basically a really good version of what an NXT weekly show could be if it was in front of a bigger crowd and there were no filler matches or squashes and instead just utilization of the biggest names available. This wasn’t a Takeover but it was entertaining for what it was: A light on storylines and builds two-and-half-hour show that featured some of the best talent that the NXT and NXT UK brands have to offer. The main takeaway from tonight is that WALTER once again proved he is beloved in his role as a dominant hard-hitting monster figure.

 

 

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (1/20/20)

Venue: INTRUST Bank Arena (Wichita, KS)

Show Summary

“Either you’re with us or you’re against us.” That was the battle line-drawing statement that Seth Rollins made to the Monday Night Raw locker room. It was clear which side Buddy Murphy, who Rollins referred to as the newest disciple of the Monday Night Messiah, chose to stand on. It didn’t take long for Murphy to find out that standing on Seth’s side meant having to fend off foes like Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and The Viking Raiders, who all came down to chase off Rollins and beat down Murphy and AOP.

In the first match of the night, Andrade and Rey Mysterio had their usual high-flying, back-and-forth fight, only this time with some painful-looking ladder spots mixed in. Mysterio and Andrade took turns powermbombing each other onto bridged ladders before the match reached its climax: Zelina Vega sitting on top of the ladder and blocking a climbing Mysterio and distracting him long enough for Andrade to hit him with a Hammerlock DDT through a bridged ladder. After retaining the US Title, Andrade went to deliver another DDT onto Mysterio on the exposed concrete outside. However, a man in a Rey Mysterio mask and t-shirt emerged from the crowd to halt him in his tracks. It was revealed to be a returning Humberto Carrillo who tussled with Andrade for a bit before the champion ran up the ramp.

Aleister Black got the ‘squash a local jobber’ spot this week, finishing off an unnamed competitor in a matter of seconds with one Black Mass right after the opening bell.

Paul Heyman came out with Brock Lesnar and bored the crowd into silence by explaining how the Royal Rumble works. Heyman said no one in the locker room was worthy of facing the WWE Champion at Wrestlemania. Ricochet then came out and said that he wasn’t afraid of Lesnar, which made Brock chuckle. Ricochet asked the Beast if he was scared. He replied by kicking Ricochet in the groin before picking up the microphone and saying “not scared.”

Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre had a slow-starting, headlock heavy affair that picked up steam after Orton clotheslined McIntyre over the top rope. A member of the ringside crew became a victim of an errant Claymore Kick. The two had a chop-trading spot in the middle of the ring before Orton nailed McIntyre with a DDT off the middle rope. Drew was able to thwart an RKO attempt and stun Randy with a Glasgow Kiss. Orton followed that up with a counter of his own, nailing a charging Drew with a bodyslam before taking him up top and superplexing him. The O.C. ran down to interfere but Drew and Randy were able to put their differences aside to fight off the trio. Their truce didn’t last long, though. Orton stunned his opponent with an RKO out of nowhere. McIntyre responded by grabbing a microphone and declaring that he was going to kick Randy’s head off in the Royal Rumble and go on to main event Wrestlemania.

Becky Lynch said that Asuka did her a favor by spraying the green mist in her eyes, because she now sees thing clearly. After expressing doubt and regret in recent weeks, Lynch seemingly regained her confidence, declaring that Asuka can’t beat her anymore. Lynch and Kairi Sane had a bit of a clunky match, which Becky won with a disarm-her. Asuka then attacked Lynch after the match and applied the Asuka Lock.

The Viking Raiders put the Raw tag team titles on the line against Buddy Murphy and Seth Rollins. Early on in the match, Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens brawled with AOP throughout the crowd to the backstage area. Back in the ring, Erik and Ivar looked like a championship caliber team, taking out both Murphy and Rollins. A Viking Experience on Murphy nearly ended the match but an interference from Rollins broke up the pin attempt. Seth and Buddy gained the advantage after powerbombing Ivar off the rope but it didn’t last long. The big man soon made it to his feet and neutralized both. Ivar looked to end the match with a big move off the top rope but Rollins pushed him down to the floor. He followed that up with a stomp to Erik on the apron while the referee had his back turned. Buddy took advantage and pinned Erik to win the titles.

The Street Profits brought back the Monday After Weekend Update segment. It was forgettable.

Erick Rowan made quick work of Matt Hardy, finishing him off with a bloody Iron Claw slam. For the second week in a row, his hand was bloodied after he stuck it in his covered pet cage. After being bitten, Rowan yelled and angrily slammed the cage onto the steel steps.

Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe both declared for the Royal Rumble. Joe said that he may have Owens’ back when it comes to Seth Rollins, but in the Royal Rumble, it’s every man for himself.

The Singh Brothers tried to sneak up on 24/7 champion Mojo Rawley backstage but Rawley easily fended them off and slammed them each onto a nearby equipment case.

In the main event of the night, Bobby Lashley and Lana beat Rusev and Liv Morgan in less than five minutes. The finish was Lana distracting Rusev by grabbing his leg, which allowed Lashley to spear and pin him. It certainly didn’t feel like much of a payoff for this months long storyline, and it did no favors for either Rusev or Morgan. If it isn’t the payoff, then that means the feud will likely continue. After two straight weeks of Lashley pinning Rusev, it’s anybody’s guess which direction it could go from here.

Final Thoughts

An exciting ladder match between Andrade and Rey Mysterio as well as a well laid out tag team bout which ended with Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy becoming the new Raw tag team champions were the two highlights of a show that otherwise didn’t offer up much entertainment. The Drew McIntyre/Randy Orton matchup felt like a bit of a drop off in quality after a much better triple-threat bout featuring AJ Styles last week. An anticlimactic interference finish also didn’t help matters.

The big losers of the night were Ricochet, who played sacrificial lamb for Brock Lesnar, and the duo of Rusev and Liv Morgan, who finished off the night on the losing end of one of the worst main event matches Raw has had in quite some time.

There is a Women’s Royal Rumble match on Sunday, but if you missed a quick Charlotte backstage promo tonight, you probably wouldn’t know it. The build to that match has almost been nonexistent.

The build to the Becky Lynch/Asuka title match has been a bit uneven tone-wise. For weeks, Lynch has cut promos sounding scared and almost overwhelmed at the idea of facing Asuka at the Rumble. This week, she magically found her confidence for no other explained reason then because Asuka spit the green mist in her eyes last week.

The Street Profits’ ‘Monday After the Weekend Update’ wasn’t exactly getting laughed at and kicked in the groin level of bad, but it’s certainly not the kind of segment I’d be eager to watch every week. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins are good performers but I’ve seen enough of their promos now to confidently say that their brand of humor just isn’t my cup of tea.

Just a week in, the Seth Rollins/Buddy Murphy pairing is working well for Murphy. He went from being a three-time loser to Aleister Black to a tag team champion with one of the company’s biggest stars. Seth is working well in his heel Monday Night Messiah persona thus far. It seems like some of that shine should rub off on Buddy.

Overall, I can’t say anything that happened tonight made me more interested for the Royal Rumble show. It’s a thumbs up for the Andrade vs. Mysterio match and the Rollins & Murphy vs. Viking Raiders bout, and a big thumbs down for the mixed tag main event, the Ricochet/Lesnar interaction and the Street Profits segment. Everything else was passable but rather unexciting.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (1/13/20)

“Help us.”

Whether it was a desperate plea or a carefully crafted commandment, those two words were undeniably effective.  A simple call to action from the self-appointed messiah, Seth Rollins, was heard by a lost soul awaiting on the outskirts, Buddy Murphy. An alliance-forming, giant-conquering initiation ended with a post battle embrace of acceptance and appreciation, which is completely statement making and course altering for a Seth-led stable that’s established itself as a true force to be reckoned with.

Stage-hopping stunts by Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe and a valiant in-ring effort from a game and surprisingly spry Big Show proved to be eye-catching but alas ultimately futile. A stomp of the foot served as the ending to a fight of fists in a show-closing sequence that was the highlight of an entertaining yet somewhat uneven Monday Night Raw episode.

The crowd in Lexington, Kentucky was treated to a ppv-quality battle in a triple threat opener that saw a streaking Drew McIntyre sneak away with a win over AJ Styles and Randy Orton, who both let their preoccupations and bad blood with each other blind them.

Ricochet picked up a much-needed win over Mojo Rawley.

For the second week in a row, Sarah Logan was used as cannon fodder for Charlotte.

Brock Lesnar had a comedy segment with R-Truth, who did drop John Cena’s name. That could potentially be a tease for a possible Rumble confrontation between Brock and Cena.

Bobby Lashley took advantage of a distracted Rusev who was focused on a Lana/Liv Morgan confrontation on the outside, which resulted in Lana throwing a drink in Liv’s face and then throwing her into the barricade. Lashley’s pinfall victory did not end the feud, though. Instead, a mixed tag match featuring Lashley and Lana vs. Rusev and Liv has been set for next next week.

The Sing Brothers quickly regretted answering The Viking Raiders’ open challenge. Erik and Ivar made short work of their challengers, asserting their dominance in a Raw tag division that admittedly feels rather thin at the current moment.

Becky Lynch, seemingly clad in the same yellow shirt and leather pants attire she wore on last week’s episode, fell victim to an Asuka green mist attack during their contract signing segment. Lynch cut an eyes burned shut promo, telling Asuka that at the Rumble, if she has to go down again, she’s going to take Asuka with her.

Andrade and Rey Mysterio hyped up their Ladder Match for the US Championship on next week’s episode. Zelina Vega called Mysterio a disgrace to latinos everywhere and a really sad and terrible example for his son Dominick and all of his children.

Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy had another buzz-worthy, highlight-reel match which received a “this is awesome” chant from an adoring crowd. After another back and forth affair, Black cemented himself as the superior fighter with a third straight victory over Buddy.

Erick Rowan squashed another local competitor and continued building intrigue surrounding his mysterious pet cage.