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