Strowman Loses His Title Shot
What’s been going on with Braun Strowman lately? He was once pegged as the next big thing and with Roman Reigns’ untimely exit from WWE, Strowman looked to be on the fast lane to being the WWE guy. He has also been in all the right places with multiple title shots including holding the money in the bank contract and yet that title run eludes him.
In the latest of these cruel exclusion from holding the title, Strowman lost his title shot at the Royal Rumble in the most laughable manner yet. It was fun seeing him rip Mr McMahon’s limo’s door and then flip it over but unlike previous occasions this one seemed uncalled for.
Corbin did his part to rile the monster up but somehow this whole shindig felt a lot less believable or interesting than everything Strowman has done up until now.
Don’t get us wrong. We are glad he has been taken off the title picture for now. It wouldn’t be least bit interesting seeing him come up short against Lesnar yet again.
At least now, WWE can come up with something for the otherwise lackluster Universal Title picture. The segment itself was unexpected and got us interested in the Universal Title scene and hence gets a pass.
Some Forced Drama Between Rousey and Banks
Ronda Rousey has had a weird run of late. While she has made great strides as a wrestler, she hasn’t been able to build up feuds the same way Becky Lynch and Charlotte have been. It was more of the same today.
Ronday Rousey & Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax & Tamina: Rousey partnered up with Sasha Banks to take on Nia Jax and Tamina and the four of them put on a rather decent tag match. However, what followed felt fake as s**t.
Rousey is a poor actor as we have seen from her Fast and the Furious role and here too she could not make the argument she had with Banks seem believable. This might not seem like a big deal but it is what separates the good matches from the great matches.
At this point not many would care about who wins that matchup which means that all the shenanigans they pulled today was meaningless. Things were made worse when Natalya and Bayley tried to intervene. It all felt like they were reading from a script which is never good for business.
Winner: Sasha Banks and Ronda Rousey
The Revival Turn The Odds In Their Favor Again
The Revival vs. The Lucha House Party: We have been ebbing for and against this feud between the Revival and the Lucha House party. On the plus side it gives some really talented wrestlers to do something but on the flip side we have been quite literally getting the same matchup for more than a month now.
However, credit where credit is due, these two teams are managing to keep it interesting which is a huge accomplishment. How long they can keep it up is a different question though.
This week the Revival managed to pick up the unfair advantage when Wilder pushed Metalik’s leg off the ropes during the pin behind the ref’s back.
It was enjoyable tonight but WWE need to up the stakes if they want this feud to be able to mean something to the fans and be something that can be sustained in the long term.
Winners: The Revival
The Universal Title Gets Some Worthy Contenders
It was funny seeing everyone line up outside Mr McMahon’s office to ask for a title shot including people like Heath Slater and Curt Hawkins. EC3 made his appearance hinting that he is ready to play with the big boys.
We then had an in-ring segment with Mr McMahon and while he is a shell of his former self these days, he yet again proved than no one can ever come close to playing the authority figure as well as him.
John Cena made an appearance and possibly for the first time in years it felt like the cheers were more audible than the boos. The gist of it is that now we have fatal four way between John Cena, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, and Baron Corbin to decide the new number one contender for the Universal Title.
This is interesting and new and for once there is no clear standout among the challengers. John Cena might get his 17th title run or McIntyre might finally win it. Balor might finally get his dues. The only surety is that Corbin will not win. This also sets up something interesting for the go-home show next week.
Nikki Cross Makes Her In-Ring Appearance
Nikki Cross, Bayley & Natalya vs. The Riott Squad: This was yet another decent tag match without any consequences though. Nikki Cross got added to the team of Bayley and Natalya which means that she will begin her main roster run as a face.
That was however the only exciting thing about this match-up. Natalya and Bayley are stuck in limbo while the Riott Squad are as directionless as they can be at this point. These are all talented women who could do with a more meaningful push.
Having said that, this was an enjoyable match and Nikki Cross showed that she can be as interesting in her own weird way on the main roster as she was in NXT. All six women featured here need something more substantial and hopefully the women’s tag titles will rectify that.
Winners: Bayley, Natalya and Nikki Cross
WWE Will Never Learn
This was one trope we were hoping that WWE was not going to repeat in 2019. Throughout 2018 we saw WWE alter match-ups that were seemingly set in stone.
It seemed like the Fatal-four-way for next week was a lock but all of a sudden Jinder Mahal got an opportunity to take Balor’s place on the very same night. The match was a dud as the stiffness and lack of agility of Jinder became even more pronounced against Balor.
Balor managed to pick up the win as otherwise we had every intention of boycotting upcoming WWE events. This does put a question mark over Balor’s standing with the authority figures backstage. What more does he need to prove that he is a legitimate championship pedigree wrestler?
Winner: Finn Balor
An Upset For The Ages
Bobby Lashley vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Championship): Sometimes WWE goes for shock value over substance and this was clearly the case here. No one expected Ambrose to drop the IC title so soon and WWE decided to cash on that by having Lashley win it on an episode of RAW.
We cannot understand the rationale behind it. Surely he cannot follow-up the immensely popular reign of Rollins and the short but impactful reign of Ambrose. If anything, WWE is setting him up for failure by putting a title on him at the wrong time like they did with him during his previous stint with the WWE where he got the ECW title over CM Punk.
The match itself was quite good and all three men bought something to the table. While we are a bit excited to see how all this pans out, we are more worried about all of this coming to naught and Ambrose’s heel turn ending up meaning nothing. That is however something that the future us has to worry about. For now, this was different and exciting albeit in an uneasy sort of way.
Winner and the new Intercontinental Champion: Bobby Lashley
The Women’s Tag Team Title Is Revealed
We knew this one was coming but it was rather strange to see how this was pulled off. The whole backstage segment with Bliss partially dressed seemed random and out of nowhere. Also, the reveal that there will be a single women’s tag title for both SmackDown and Raw seems counter intuitive though understandable.
We will have to wait till Elimination chamber to see which team becomes the first women’s tag team title holders but this should be fun.
Finn Balor Finally Gets His Shot
Raw Main Event – Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin vs. John Cena: Finn Balor won the main event to get a guaranteed shot at Lesnar’s title but this has us worried.
There is still one more RAW to go through before Royal Rumble which means that WWE could still screw him out of the match and even if he does make it in one piece to the PPV, he could simply be fed to Lesnar as fodder.
A victory over Lesnar for the title could be bigger than him becoming the first ever Universal Champion but WWE has never shown like they have the gumption to pull of such a gutsy move. However, we will give WWE the benefit of the doubt and hope that this is finally how Finn Balor gets his dues. From that point of view, this was a very satisfying main event.
Winner and No.1 Contender for the WWE Universal Championship: Finn Balor
Overall Review: This was a strange edition of RAW. There was nothing really wrong about it and a lot of unexpected things happened but it didn’t feel as impactful as it should have felt.
It is fun to see Strowman flip things over but he needs a solid direction moving ahead or he might end up being a joke. The women’s division needs more improvement. The Universal Title could be made to feel more significant depending on how things are managed from here.
We wish WWE has the balls to dismantle Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. The main event was brave to say the least as WWE can either use this to their advantage or use it as another opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot. Overall, this was a different night of RAW and that alone merits some good reactions.
Moment of the night: Jerry Lawler walking out of Vince’s office
Overall Rating: 3.9/5