The Phenomenal Suck-it-up
This paled in comparison with the opening segment from this week’s RAW, but this was pretty much as good as it could have gotten. The ever-charismatic Renee Young showed rays of the old days of Gene Okerlund by actually having a personality and not just being another eye candy shoving the microphone to a wrestler and asking some generic question as “How do you feel about ABCXYZ?”. AJ Styles was solid (but not too good today), playing the role of the blue-collar champion accepting that life is not fair and taking on all that comes his way. Then came the couple that would take advantage of every possible means to win (perfect contrast against Styles by the way) – Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, whose “Yep!” movement actually started to gather some steam and had its own T-shirt now, apparently. To cap it all off, you had Shane O’Mac, who knew too well to lap up the live audience by saying “Birmingham, Alabama” at the end of one of his sentences. And to make things better, Shane set up one hell of a main event, pitting Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens against Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, and A-J-STYLES in a 2-on-3 Handicap Match. Strong segment to open the show.
The Riott Got Shut Down
Aaaaand this is exactly what we fear the most. The leader of the new evil stable was defeated in 1-on-1 action, and she tapped out to Becky Lynch. We think tapping out is THE WORST and MOST HUMILIATING WAY of being defeated, and here we had the leader of the Riott Squad (the stable was literally named after her) being cleanly defeated within minutes. Leaders of factions are supposed to be big people, and should be protected to the maximum. How many times do you see Minoru Suzuki get pinned, let alone lose in 1-on-1 action? We know Becky Lynch just returned last week and needed some momentum leading to Royal Rumble, but we do not think it is necessary to do that in expense of a main roster rookie. We had bad feelings for the 6 women that graduated from NXT the moment we saw the Riott Squad debuting in almost identical fashion to Absolution, but we did not think the whole thing would begin to fizzle down so quickly. This is bad.
Fall of the Rise, Part 1000.
Squash match. The Bludgeon Brothers continued to establish their dominance, and The Ascension continued the irony with their very team name, as they spiraled down the depths of oblivion. So much potential with Konnor and Viktor. But at least we saw some development in the one-up game between The Ascension and Breezango. Now we know what match will be on the Royal Rumble pre-show.
Too Hyped for Ryder
This was surprising. Mojo defeated Zack in the last first-round match of the tournament for the United States Championship relinquished by Dolph Ziggler in decisive fashion. Where this match was short in quality, it made up for in story-telling. Mojo seemed more aggressive than his usual self in this match. We could definitely see that as Mojo vented his frustration on Zack, possibly after all those losses as a team. It is great seeing Mojo Rawley being given some sort of story to add to his personality (which, up to before the Hype Bros’ break-up, had always been little more than a bad wrestler with ADHD), but then, he is facing Bobby Roode in the semifinals. And we would prefer seeing The Glorious One with the US Championship around his waist any day.