March 26 2018
It’s Wrestlemania season and although I’m personally ready for the weekend now we still have a few weeks of hype to go. Let’s see what WWE has up it’s hype sleeve.
Promo Time: Paul Heyman & Brock Lesnar
Heyman points out Roman’s suspension is over so any moment he’ll come storming out here to attack Brock. Which is exactly what happens. He’s ‘injured’ but he strolls in through the crowd. This might be the Big Dog’s Yard but there’s a bigger dog in it. Roman gets a little joy before Brock catches him with an overhead belly to belly on the floor. The crowd cheer along as Brock decimates Reigns with chair shots. It’s like the last time they did this. The crowd will eventually come around to Roman as long as he takes a hellacious beating first. They’re starting the beating off early this year!
Nia Jax vs. Mickie James
This is a hype match for Nia vs. Alexa at ‘Mania. Much of the focus is on Alexa. Mickie works the leg extensively, trying to show Alexa how to win at ‘Mania. Be fast, stick and move, take out the base.
Nia overpowers though and finishes with the Samoan Drop. Her selling is diabolical because she’s never really had to do it before. That could be an issue at ‘Mania.
Final Rating: *1/4
Video Control gives us clips of the Ronda Rousey story so far and we get tape from Triple H and Steph. Triple H is looking very old.
He’s getting close to 50 and it shows. His workout routine is still pretty intense. Steph is typically terrible here, and I almost mean that in a complementary way. Hunter is quick to point out that if Steph beats Ronda it’s “embarrassing”, which is a hell of a way to put over your wife but it’s a fine point. If Kurt loses to Hunter nobody bats an eyelid. Ronda losing to Steph would be a shocker. The mention of humbling “every other superstar” is a good one. Hopefully that plays into Ronda winning strong. Although the McMahon’s do have a habit of putting themselves over. Look at HHH vs. Sting.
Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak & TJP
Cedric vs. Mustafa is happening at WrestleMania and both Gulak and Perkins are not pleased about it. It’s interesting that they’ve brought in a load of talent for the tournament but at the end of it we’re back to the starters. The two championship contenders have a friendly rivalry with Cedric having Perkins beat with the Lumbar Check only for Ali to have tagged in blind to hit the Imploding 450 for the win. This match existed to make sure the fans knew who Cedric and Ali were, what their motivations were and what their finishers are. All important little building blocks for the ‘Mania match.
Final Rating: **
Miz sets up Seth Rollins and Finn Balor by berating the Miztourage beforehand.
Meanwhile Seth tries to butter up the Miztourage by pointing out they are the reason he’s still IC champ. The idea is to tease Miz’s internal conflict but it’s actually just a set up. The “better than Mr Perfect” line is absolutely perfect though. Miz is such a sleazy little bastard that he’s talked his way into so much trouble. It makes sense for him to do it to his own stooges so the whole thing being a ruse does actually work. It’s interesting to note that Balor’s mates make the save and Finn ends up standing tall at the expense of Rollins.
Asuka vs. Jamie Frost
Frost is portrayed as a rookie. She’s a wrestler called Ellie Fredricks from Pittsburgh. Works more as a manager. Asuka kicks her in the face for the win after 30 seconds. This was also perfect. Put Asuka over as a killer who can murder your average run-of-the-mill wrestler in a matter of seconds.
Final Rating: Squash!
Video Control gives us a weird promo from Matt Hardy. He’s in the Andre and will win. I think. Woken Matt doesn’t always work for me but this was one of his better WWE promos since the turn to the weird side.
Elsewhere Sasha Banks and Bayley meet up for a clear the air talks. Bayley is entering the ‘Mania battle royal.
Bayley cuts a clever promo saying she thought Sasha wanted her to be passive. “You keep screwing me over because you know you can’t beat me” – Bayley. Sasha swings first when Bayley questions the length of her women’s title reigns and they have a brawl. Sasha is still being positioned as the bad guy here, just, and I’m sad they didn’t get this all sorted earlier so they could have an actual match at ‘Mania. Instead they’ll be throwing fists as a focal point in the battle royal.
Braun Strowman vs. Sheamus
This is a follow-on from Braun vs. Cesaro last week. The idea is that Braun can beat both these guys in singles but is left alone at ‘Mania. The ‘mystery partner’ angle has people guessing. Logically Braun, the companies top monster, doesn’t need a partner. Powerslam puts Sheamus away. This served as a reminder that Braun is strong and the tag title match is happening.
Final Rating: *
Promo Time: Ronda Rousey
Ronda has opted for some really weird eye makeup, which looks bad from some angles. She’s out here with Kurt Angle to discuss ‘Mania. The in-ring Rousey promos have generally been ok. Here Paige and the Absolution girls come down to introduce themselves. Paige offers to get her back and offers her a spot in Absolution.
“Thank you for the offer, but no”. Paige’s assertion is that you’re with us or against us. She sends in the attack dogs and Ronda kills them. It doesn’t help that everyone here is inexperienced as Ronda is supposed to throw Mandy at Sonya and no one is in the right place. I like how Ronda switches gears but I’d rather she was perfectly calm until physically provoked.
Gallows & Anderson vs. Miztourage
These are the factors in the IC title match. The tease of Miztourage turning face were fine in the moment but this match demonstrates what a non-factor they are in WWE. Miz has salvaged their careers by having them as stooges. Karl is the only guy in this who does anything for me and he’s been lost in tags since joining WWE. It’s a total waste of someone who’s incredibly talented. Magic Killer puts Axel away. This was nothing.
Final Rating: *
Elias vs. Rhyno
Elias does a fine job of running cheap heat on Cleveland. Cole thinks Elias is “tremendous”. I like how Corey has maintained his hatred of Elias’ from his debut in NXT right through to now. Commentator continuity is underrated. Drift Away finishes Rhyno. This was nothing.
Final Rating: ½*
John Cena vs. Kane
This is directly connected to Cena vs. Taker as he’s called out Undertaker and had no response. So instead he’s wrestling Kane in tonight’s main event, an ambling, sluggish 14 minute bout. Cena does throw in some nice character work by doing the Undertaker zombie sit up. Kane is way past his sell-by date though and cannot work a main event in 2018. He looks badly out of shape and can’t get up for Cena’s spots, leaving Cena to do all the power work himself. Cena hitting the chokeslam is nice work. All of this is provocation, trying to get Taker off his dead ass and into the ring. Kane’s positioning is not good either and the way he has to shift around ahead of the finish is borderline embarrassing. Cena puts him through a table for the win. This was all about Cena and his character work. Kane was very bad.
Final Rating: **1/4
Promo Time: John Cena
Cena goes off on a post match rant, expecting Taker to be here. He expected him to interfere in the match. Where are you? Undertaker? Cena hopes to see the cowardly Undertaker next week or he’s simply going to WrestleMania as a fan. Big Fan John. Superfan Cena.
The best segments on this show were the non-wrestling ones. Which is to be expected. It’s all about hype at this point. We’re not likely to get any big RAW matches this side of ‘Mania. Next week is based around Undertaker and getting the rivalries suitably fired up for Mania itself. I’m fucking ready. I have my WWN package sorted. I have Monday and Tuesday off work. I’m prepared to sacrifice sleep. I’m all fired up!