This Week in WWE: The Bo$$ is back, and the road to Mania continues
The Bo$$ is back?
Many have clamored for 2015-era Sasha Banks since her stardom shot up on Monday Night RAW. She’s been a popular face for the last two years, and WWE’s had no choice but to keep her that way based on her crowd reactions, merchandise sales, etc. But over the last two days… it’s sure seemed like she’s developing that cockiness that made her a star in NXT. Between that and eliminating Bayley in the fashion that she did (although they never went back to that on RAW, shocking as that is!) she seems to be developing some villainous tendencies.
Oh, and what’s not surprising or shocking is that she had an absolutely dynamite match with Asuka. Banks has always been a bit of a reckless performer, and while that’s a bit of a dangerous lifestyle, there’s a bit of a charm to it. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get the women’s division over, and if that means doing dives and crazy spots, then so be it. Banks had a couple of those in this match with Asuka, and it enhanced the match and made it even better. She didn’t come up with the win, but she looked as good as she’s ever looked on RAW. Let’s see how they play that off.
Braun kills Kane, Elias drifts and Cena winz
There were three Elimination Chamber qualifying matches on Monday night (Sidebar: The fact that they’re running a Women’s Elimination Chamber match is #GOOD). Each of which had its own fair share of action and uniqueness to it. Braun Strowman faced Kane in a Last Man Standing Match, where the winner would earn entry into the Chamber match. Braun won by toppling the damn stage that had the commentator’s table on it on top of The Big Red Machine, who died on the way back to his home planet.
Elias, meanwhile, defeated Woken Matt Hardy in his qualifier, thanks to a distraction by Bray Wyatt. Right call here, as they clearly think highly of The Drifter, he’s over, and he’s getting more polished in the ring as well.
Then there was the main event between Finn Balor and John Cena. Finn, who made reference to the fact that Cena eliminated him at the Rumble, tried to oust Cena from title contention. However, the leader of the Balor Club fell to Cena, who won with an AA off the middle rope. I don’t personally have a problem with this. Cena hasn’t been in (or won) a major match in a LONG time. One loss to Cena isn’t going to turf Finn, who seems likely to be turning heel soon anyway. And besides: since Cena threw him out of the Rumble match AND cost him a shot at the Universal Title at Elimination Chamber, it could very well open the door for Finn to get his revenge at EC by costing Cena the match. A Finn-Cena program for NOLA? Sign me up.
Roman Reigns: GOAT TV match guy
Another week, another instant classic on free television for Roman Reigns, who invoked his Intercontinental Championship rematch clause against The Miz. It’s hard to remember a better run of consistently great TV matches from anyone since Kurt Angle or Eddie Guerrero in the Smackdown Six days. Reigns and Miz tore the house down, and Miz was able to use the numbers game to his advantage and get the victory via rollup after Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas tried to get involved and ate Superman Punches for their trouble.
People may not like Reigns, but if anyone still thinks he “can’t wrestle”, they’re not worth your time. In a Raw loaded with fantastic moments and matches, this stands out just as much as any other.
Nothing bad to take away from this show. This was one of the best episodes of Raw in recent memory.
TOP GUYS WATCH
The Revival had a match on Raw for the third straight week, and they won! This is an excellent development for the TOP GUYS. Bonus points to them for Shatter Machine-ing Rhyno instead of the much less bulky Heath Slater. After the match they had another interview with Charly Caruso where they mentioned their wrestling prowess. Great stuff.
- Titus Worldwide fell to Cesaro and Sheamus, who retained the Tag Team Titles. This was a good usage of this spot for Titus and Apollo, who’ve found themselves in the midcard of the tag division. There was no sight of Jordan or Rollins, and you wonder what’s next for the tag division on RAW. It needs a shot in the arm in the worst of ways. Then again, a reviving of The Revival (ba dum tss) could be what it needs. Does that mean Cesaro and Sheamus will turn face again? Well, we’ll see.
- As we mentioned, there’s an Elimination Chamber match for the women. Unfortunately, not much information was given towards how the participants are going to be chosen on this episode. We figure that’s going to come next week. Given that Asuka is out of the picture and Alicia’s injured, the participants in the match figure to be Alexa, Bayley, Sasha, Nia, Mickie and probably one of Sonya or Mandy. It should be a fun one in Vegas.
- Jonathan Coachman is back on the commentary team in place of Booker T! How exciting. Though, I will miss Booker and Corey’s constant back and forth which always felt like Booker was one moment away from shoot-tackling Corey.
- The Dudley Boyz are the newest addition to the WWE Hall of Fame.
- Ronda Rousey wasn’t there. It’s fine. Relax.
Nakamura Time & Fractures Forming
Ever since Shinsuke Nakamura got to WWE, everyone has been waiting for him to have his moment in the sun. With his Royal Rumble victory, that’s finally arrived. He lead off the show in the ring before getting interrupted by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who said they shouldn’t have lost to AJ Styles because the wrong guy took the pin. Eventually Styles came out and Shane McMahon made a tag team match for the main event and Daniel Bryan announced that Zayn will face Owens next week for a shot at Styles’ title, since they were in fact wronged by the referee.
There’s a lot to unpack here. First, the continuing rift between Bryan and McMahon by way of Bryan making this match. Second, and perhaps more interesting, is the relationship between Owens and Zayn starting to crack a bit. Zayn took a couple subtle shots at Owens during the promo battle with Styles and Nakamura. Then, in the actual main event match, Zayn walked out about midway through and watched the rest of the match from the back as Nakamura and Styles picked Owens apart. This is fantastic psychology because the prevailing thought now is Owens may not be 100% next week, giving Zayn an advantage.
Also, Nakamura’s backstage interaction with Styles where he repeated “I’m going to beat you at Wrestlemania” like five times before laughing it off was great banter.
Day One Ish
The Usos are still the tag champs and aren’t afraid to let everyone know it, even using cool new graphics to hammer home their point! A lot of people didn’t like the graphics. I did.
They went on to talk about all the teams they’ve beaten lately, and I really thought it would lead to Authors of Pain coming out. Not this week. Maybe next week? The Usos clearly need new competition.
There was some unmemorable stuff. But nothing we flat-out hated.
- Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger with an End of Days. It was a fine match, I just don’t really care about Corbin at this point. It feels like he’s been given a few opportunities and never really did anything with them, and yet we’re all supposed to continue to want to see him. Maybe he should start tagging with Dolph Ziggler!
- Benjamin and Gable defeated Breezango after an incredibly entertaining backstage segment where Benjamin and Gable destroyed the locker room in a rage. Chad Gable’s “SHUUUUUUUUSH.” makes me laugh every time and it pains me that there’s not a YouTube compilation.
- Charlotte got beat up by the Riott Squad after she talked about how she’s not afraid of Ronda Rousey. Carmella came out and looked like she was going to finally cash in her Money in the Bank contract, but missed Charlotte and dropkicked the referee before he could make the match official. It was hilarious.
- Bludgeon Brothers defeated a couple jobbers. One of them was Drew Gulak’s brother Rory, which led to this incredible tweet right before the match:
- Rusev won a Fatal 4-Way Match to become the #1 Contender for the United States Championship. He’ll now face Bob Roode next week for the title. His name is Bob Roode now. Those are the rules. We don’t make them, we just follow them.
Mixed Match Challenge
Braun Strowman/Alexa Bliss d. Becky Lynch/Sami Zayn: Sami Zayn’s face when Alexa tagged Braun in and Zayn had to come in was absolutely amazing, as was Zayn continually trying to leave the ring to avoid him. This match worked well because both of the pairings spent a decent chunk of 2017 working with each other, so there was strong familiarity there. Also, Alexa doing Twisted Bliss off Strowman’s shoulders was an absolutely perfect ending.