February 26 2018
We’re in Anaheim, California. Hosts are Michael Cole, Coach and Corey Graves.
Promo Time: Alexa Bliss
She has Mickie James out here in support as their friendship has survived a brief marriage of convenience.
*Points at sign*. Alexa is now looking forward to WrestleMania where she will break Asuka’s streak.
That naturally brings Asuka out here and Alexa doubles down by making fun of Asuka’s English. Nia Jax arrives leaving Asuka three on one. It’s not over between Nia and Asuka. Mickie’s role here makes no sense. Bayley and Sasha run in to make the save, having clearly made up over Sasha’s betrayal last night. Nia ends up standing tall. The inter-personal relationships in WWE often don’t make sense and a couple of them failed here. They’re clearly trying to establish a good/evil set up but Mickie doesn’t belong on the evil side. She was manipulated there by Alexa and Sasha does belong on the evil side after turning on Bayley. Basically not everything is black and white here but they’ve treated it that way because it’s easier and the writing is lazy. Besides it sets up…
Asuka, Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax & Mickie James
Again Nia is positioned as the star here, despite everyone else’s storyline being more compelling. The key part of this is Bayley refusing to tag in and dropping off the apron to screw Sasha over. Oh, she’s finally figured out that Sasha will betray her at the drop of a hat. Trouble is; they needed something to establish Bayley’s anger and this match means nothing so why do it here? Poor disposable Mickie is positioned as fodder for Asuka but the big story is Sasha/Bayley.
Final Rating: **1/4
Promo Time: John Cena
Cena gets himself all fired up, after being sad about losing last night. Cena has been surprisingly low energy in his matches of late. Especially at Survivor Series and last night. Could he be winding down his career? He still looks in good shape. He throws out a WrestleMania challenge….to the Undertaker. Do people really want to see Undertaker after last year? I felt sorry for the poor old fucker seeing him hobble around. Cena then goes on to say it’s not happening. Why is Cena so obsessed with getting on the ‘Mania card? Why isn’t he just in a natural feud, which would result in a ‘Mania match? Because moments. If he inserts himself into that goddamn Styles/Nakamura match and wrecks MOTN people will be pissed off.
Bray Wyatt vs. Heath Slater
This doesn’t happen as Bray takes out Slater and Rhyno while the crowd chant “delete” at him.
He then cuts a promo about coming for Matt Hardy. Just do one of those wacky compound matches already.
Promo Time: The Miz
The “anchor of the Marine franchise” is out here to bitch about his lack of WrestleMania opponent. Miz gets all kinds of angry about how he’s never on any promotional material, he doesn’t have any merch. It’s a genuine series of complaints. It’s also true when he points out he’s on his way to becoming the longest reigning IC champion of all time (albeit with eight reigns, current leader Pedro Morales only held the belt twice). Miz is all fired up. He should be wrestling Cena. The promos were great when they did that nonsensical tag last year so John could propose. It’s all about moments…
The Miz vs. Seth Rollins
This match “might” determine who Miz wrestles at ‘Mania. It occurs to me that almost no one has a ‘Mania match at this point so Miz, while he has a point, is in a very large group of people. Rollins isn’t moaning about a lack of ‘Mania match despite him busting his ass on recent shows. From an in-ring perspective Seth is Mr Monday Night right now. His bursts of energy have the crowd all fired up. Seth hits an insane frog splash to win this with Miz almost on the other side of the ring.
Final Rating: ***1/2
The Miz vs. Finn Balor
This is another potential ‘Mania opponent for Mike. He doesn’t look too happy about it so the Miztourage jump in for the DQ after a few seconds. The Good Brothers make the save and Angle demands a re-start. I’m shocked it’s not a six-man tag but the Miztourage were in their suits. At least the kicking received by Balor evens the scores a bit and gives Miz a shot. Balor looks fired up and that seems to be a trend tonight. These guys are getting excited for WrestleMania. Coup de Grace puts Miz away and Balor picks up the win. Hardly fair on Miz, having already wrestled once.
Final Rating: **3/4
Promo Time: Roman Reigns
“Brock Lesnar is an entitled piece of crap who hides behind his contract”. Roman is angry that Brock was in Vegas last night but didn’t make it to the show. If Roman showed this kind of fire more often he might not get booed so often. His attempts to kill off Lesnar’s legend by making him a part-timer won’t matter. He’ll still get cheered over Reigns at ‘Mania. Again though, this was another good promo on a night of them. Guys are getting fired up! I love it. “I don’t respect Brock Lesnar and I don’t fear that bitch”. Holy shit! Cowboy Roman shooting from the hip like a champ.
RAW Tag Team Championship
The Bar (c) vs. Titus Worldwide
Oh god, again? This is two out of three falls and the Bar win the first fall in a matter of seconds with a distraction/Brogue Kick combo. Where is the sense in booking this as a rematch when Titus Worldwide got beaten clean last night at the PPV? Anyway, the Bar put Apollo away for fall two and retain. The match was a lot better than last night’s snoozefest but I didn’t care about this from minute one. I love the Bar but this whole Titus Worldwide thing is just completely played out and was never good to begin with. They point out how dominant they are and there’s no one who can beat them. This is when a team shows up? No? Authors of Pain? Anyone?
Final Rating: *1/2
Walk With Elias
Elias is getting nicely over with his gimmick. The crowd can chant along with “Walk With Elias” even if they hate him. Catchphrases, people. That’s how you get super over. The Rock had a tonne of them. Anyway, he sings, Braun comes out here and we have a match.
Elias vs. Braun Strowman
This is technically the main event, although the actual honours go to Ronda Rousey talking. Keeping in mind that Braun smashed everyone in the Elimination Chamber and dominated that match, it’s weird that he arrives here and barely gets out of first gear. There’s no dynamism to his performance and the crowd are sleepy after a long show. RAW is incredibly tedious so I totally get it. Elias uses a fire extinguisher and that’s a DQ. Meh.
Final Rating: ½*
Main Event Promo Time: Triple H, Stephanie McMahon vs. Ronda Rousey
Steph tries to cut Ronda’s nuts off by reminding her of the hierarchy in WWE. I’M IN CHARGE, ME, ME, ME!!
Rousey has her business face on when she comes out here. Last night she was all ‘aww shucks, golly gosh’ mode. Here she has her hair tied up and she is mad and focused. “I refuse to be disrespected”. Kurt Angle tries to give her the “you need to work within the system” speech. I hope Ronda is more of anti-authority badass a la Steve Austin. I love how Steph comes charging at Ronda and then says “I am terribly sorry”. Tremendous cowardice. This is more like it. Steph needs to play Vince McMahon here and Vince was a coward when the odds weren’t on his side. Then Triple H lays out Kurt Angle because…eh, I don’t know at this point. Anyway this was a good showing from Rousey. She needs to have that game face on now. It’s put up, or shut up.
Everyone was fucking fired up here. Almost every promo on the show was tinged with aggression and excitement. Roman Reigns killed it. John Cena killed it. Ronda Rousey killed it. This is WrestleMania season. It’s time to deliver. In the ring the story wasn’t quite so exciting but Seth Rollins showed up again here and his in-ring is a brand leader right now. He’s also all fired up. If only some of these guys were this motivated all year round. If only WWE wanted them to be this motivated all year round. Hey, I guess the grind of the road stops that from being realistically achievable but if you bring the fire every time people will love you for it.