Well, here we are: days away from the WWE’s largest event of the year, Wrestlemania. Generally, the go-home Wrestlemania shows, and the first one’s post the grand pay-per-view (PPV), are pretty amazing … but did this week’s Monday Night RAW and SmackDown LIVE measure up to what fans generally expect from a RAW or SD LIVE before Wrestlemania? Allow me to review …
Monday Night RAW
Women’s Match: While RAW’s opening promo didn’t accomplish much (see below), the match following it was incredible. Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Nia Jax gave the WWE Universe a ‘taste’ of what we might see this Sunday during their fatal four-way for the RAW Women’s Championship. The ladies simply ‘brought’ it.
It’s All About Redemption: The contract signing between HHH and Seth Rollins for their match (that’s not a match) was solid. Two men, excellent on the mic, telling their side of this story; opening the program that much more for what is sure to explode, come Sunday. It’s so true when Rollins laid out how much he lost when he aligned with HHH and The Authority – and how much he’s lost in the aftermath. HHH played the perfect richy-rich boss, who only cares about profits and money. If I had one beef, and this is a minor one, it’s the way Rollins has been over-selling his knee injury; however, it’s got to be hard to fake and maybe WWE officials were telling him to lay it on thick.
HHH/Rollins Video: The WWE production team has done it again! Amazing video to hype a match that is sure to tear the house down.
Main Event: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have fought a million times and continue to entertain audiences. Nothing between these two gets tiring, over-done, or boring – and they have amazing in-ring chemistry. #FightForever
Paul Heyman: No surprise here. Paul Heyman continues to carry this Goldberg versus Brock Lesnar program on his shoulders when it comes to segments and promos. Another job well done for Mr. Heyman when it comes to mic work.
Women’s Opening Promo: Charlotte was strong and convincing on the mic, but for one reason or another I did not ‘feel’ it from the other women. I felt the promo was awkward and lacked luster. It just didn’t work for me.
Undertaker Videos: I can’t believe Taker has made the failed list, but I truly believe it is of no fault of his own. I think the idea was these Undertaker videos (that aired at various times during RAW) was to look similar to Bray Wyatt’s creepy vignettes, but the graininess of the footage looked like something The Deadman filmed in the late 1990s. I’m so over watching him dig a grave from his WM opponents. #SorryNotSorry
Ultimate Thrill Ride: Not sure what’s more annoying, hearing Wrestlemania’s theme song (which is a catchy tune, but with WM days away and hearing it none stop, I am kind of getting sick of it – yet, it plays in my head constantly!) – or hearing everyone on RAW this week make reference to the Ultimate Thrill Ride. I get it, it’s the event’s tagline, but still. Triple H mentioned it twice in his promo with Rollins; Austin Aries, Kevin Owens, Enzo, and Paul Heyman dropped the UTR bomb in their segments; and the announce team reminded us about WM being the Ultimate Thrill Ride a total of four times during the broadcast (Cole three times, Saxton and Graves once respectively). SD LIVE’s talent did this a number of times, but not as near as RAW. We get it, WM will be the Ultimate Thrill Ride … can’t wait (insert sarcastic tone here).
Opener: Contract signing between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon hits the win list for opening SD LIVE with a bang, with some tremendous mic work by both men. Thankfully, it was a lot of talking with minimal action … which is perfect, these two are going to save it for Wrestlemania.
Naomi Is Back: What a welcomed surprised! Former SD LIVE Women’s Champion is all healed up and ready to head to hometown Orlando and Wrestlemania. I like the fact that we know this heading into WM; I have a feeling there are a ton of other surprises to this match come Sunday and no one wanted to overshadow Naomi’s return with them.
Total Bellas Spoofs: Once again, incredible work by The Miz and Maryse. They have been huge factors in the buildup of this program. The spoofs are hilarious and have been done well.
John Cena: Well, wow, just wow. After the ‘lost’ Total Bellas footage aired, John Cena and Nikki headed to the ring and “Jawn” basically tore a piece off Miz and Maryse. With comments like, you star in ‘crappy bootlegged movies I’ve already made’ and ‘how many kids you got? Firing blanks’ (plus others, but this is a PG site …), John added yet another layer to hyping up this program when he hit the mic.
Main Event: Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt provided a great main event match. I hope to see Harper continue to linger in the upper-mid-card and main event scene. Maybe even the title race picture at some point.
Randy’s Closing Scene: Orton’s always been a master on the mic, but his creepy and cryptic promo even had Wyatt unsure of what he was saying. Mimicking Wyatt’s mic styles, Randy nailed it. It was a perfect way to close the show (viper snagging the rat and all).
No real fails this week when it comes to SD LIVE … none I can think of. WNZ fans … do you have any you’d like to leave in the comments section?
In my opinion, both brands could have stepped up their go-home show games a bit more; it didn’t really feel like the last episode before Wrestlemania on either RAW or SD LIVE. Alas, SD LIVE did have the better show though, when push came to shove. It will be interesting to compare the shows next week, as the RAW after ‘Mania has traditionally been quite explosive.
What are your thoughts, WNZ fans?