You know, wrestling really isn’t that hard. You take two people who hate each other and you let them go wild.
Sasha Banks is very good at displaying that hatred.
Our main event was a tag match between the team of Ronda Rousey and Natalya against Sasha Banks and Bayley. But before we could get to the match, Rousey had an interview backstage where she angrily snapped back at Banks. The gist of her promo was that she has nothing to apologize for. Rousey took the time to call Banks underrated, deserving of a title shot, and Banks has done nothing but insult her since.
Banks responded in the ring and my god. Sasha needs to teach a class at the Performance Center on adding derision to your voice, of adding bravado to your posture. It’s incredible. The Boss countered by listing all the reasons why Rousey’s actions have been insulting and how she’s patronized the people who came before her.
Pick your side, Cageside. My word.
It’s not just Banks, either. Banks hit Rousey with a cheap shot to start the match and Bayley hit one as well near the end to allow her partner to lock in the Bank Statement for the victory. I thought the match was a bit clumsy at times, but all the important moments were there. Banks and Rousey were suitably brutal with each other and after each has vowed to make the other tap, neither were able to secure that outcome during this match.
I’m really excited for this match at the Rumble.
Moment of Chaos
Y’all, I say this with all due respect: Moment of Bliss is the worst WWE “talk show” I’ve ever seen. It never goes well.
Let’s count all the dumb things from this edition, shall we? Alexa Bliss read off all the confirmed entrants in this year’s Royal Rumble while we stared at a graphic that showed all of them. It led to about 90 seconds of wasted time. Then, Nia Jax was immediately crowned “the odds-on favorite” in the continuation of one of wrestling’s silliest tropes. And then, we had a parade of women come out to fight over the microphone, so much so that Corey Graves broke out a Mean Girls line.
Cap it all off with Bliss standing on furniture to try to make them shut up and go away, and we have ourselves one hell of a train wreck.
There was a glimmer of good, however. Bliss declared for the Rumble and that’s awesome in its own right. And then? Lacey Evans.
Oh my god, this woman is immediately detestable. I’ve lived in the South my entire life and the Southern belle thing just makes my blood boil for some reason. I think I’m a bit sensitive to Southern stereotypes.
Evans has good presence. She messed up her ridiculous hat for a moment but didn’t panic or break character in any way; she merely fixed it, called the roster a bunch of girls, and mocked Bliss before saying that she’d win the Rumble.
I’m an immediate fan. I loathe her.
I wasn’t into much of this show, and I think a backstage interaction between the Revival and Vince McMahon was what first rubbed me the wrong way. The Revival were earnestly arguing their case about how poorly the tag team division has been officiated and Vince stood there looking like he wanted to be anywhere else.
Yeah. That’s basically how I feel when I watch Raw tag team matches, Vince.
To escape the situation, Vince told them that Curt Hawkins would referee their next title shot and fled the scene. And guess what? Hawkins turned out to be the best WWE referee of all time in a five-minute match. He enforced tag rope rules, broke off pin fall attempts when he saw cheating, and did everything he could to keep the match as fair as possible.
And guess what? The Revival lost again. What a surprise.
In anger, they assaulted Hawkins but a returning Zack Ryder came out to make the save. I’m assuming these two will join the tag team division. They might be fun. Or they’ll just join the miasma of tag team tepidness that currently exists.
No one believes in Finn Balor
So the story for the Universal Championship is essentially that it’s Balor and his fans against the world. An overbooked opener had Paul Heyman, Vince McMahon, and Braun Strowman all saying they don’t believe Finn can defeat Brock Lesnar. Hell, even Lesnar spent the segment more interested in Strowman than Balor.
Vince booked a match between Balor and Strowman with the idea that it’d allow Balor to prove he can hang with the big guys, and Strowman spent more time posturing and trying to intimidate Lesnar than putting Balor away. Balor had the Monster beat, however, before Lesnar interfered and hit him with an F5.
There are some big positives, of course. Balor had an extended run where he was running roughshod on Strowman and Lesnar at the same time. Balor was running, ducking, and countering everything the two guys could throw at him and had them both on their heels. My big issue here is with the story.
I came into this show thinking Balor was in a can’t lose situation, do you know what I mean? Either Balor shocks Brock at the Rumble, or he loses and looks more credible in defeat while also potentially using the match for character development.
With this narrative framework, though? The only apparent “happy” ending we have now is if he can actually pull off the miracle and defeat Lesnar. Anything else is a consolation prize. WWE didn’t even bother to mention the Demon either, and that’s the worst thing they could do, especially on the heels of Balor’s quote for ESPN. We need a reason if he’s not going Demon form for THIS.
Bobby Lashley def. Apollo Crews – …But not after they had an impromptu bodybuilding competition! I thought the segment was a bit silly, but it was actually a great spotlight for Crews; he was really entertaining.
Unfortunately, some interference by Lio Rush helped Lashley to hit a Spear for the victory.
Seth Rollins def. Drew McIntyre – Rollins is trying to regroup and he’s looking to the Rumble as his way to get back on track. McIntyre’s still trying to make examples of people. What followed was an awesome match. Probably catch the YouTube video of this one, folks.
Lucha House Party def. Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers – Ah, the part of the show where I feel my attention slipping. Did you know that Velveteen Dream made his Twitter account private? Discovered that during this match.
And yes, I know this is a horrific take. I waxed on last week about how amazing Mysterio vs. Andrade was. But it’s what it is.
EC3 gets a video package, plays mute – How on earth is this a good look? We get a video package that we’ve already seen before, and then we get a short segment where Dana Brooke’s asking EC3 a barrage of questions that he never answers. Debuts are supposed to be fun, man! What on earth happened?
Baron Corbin def. Elias – This was what you expected. Elias sang a song, Corbin was a tool, and then he used a cheap shot to the throat to get the victory.
Titus O’Neil, what are you doing? – Hey man, way to use the exact same story as the Universal Championship match to try to sell you winning the Rumble. Can’t wait for them to book Titus to trip on purpose this time.
Heavy Machinery def. The Ascension – I’ve not 4watched much of Heavy Machinery, and their debut didn’t give me much hope. Commentary tried to put them over by talking about Otis’ “beefy worm elbow drop.”
Mmm. Not great, Bob.
Raw’s still got major issues, man. It’s getting better, but there are still glaring problems. We had some really good moments, but they were countered with some really bad stuff as well.
What stuck out to you, Cageside?