OPENING SEGMENT- fine
Michael Cole needs to stop saying “IT’S BOSS TIME!” It makes everything feel the same when this new Sasha should feel different.
Sasha came out and cut a good heel promo. She says that she is angry because Becky is getting all the glory and making all of the money while Sasha was relegated to a “meaningless” tag team match at WrestleMania. She says that she didn’t “throw a fit” but rather just decided to go on a vacation, and has now decided to come back because she thought the time was right to make a splash in a way that will set her up to challenge Becky so she can take Becky’s belt and make a lot more money by wrestling in main events.
I thought Sasha’s promo was mostly pretty good. She stumbled over her words at times, but otherwise the delivery was great. The content was also very good, but the line about the “meaningless tag team match at WrestleMania” was something that stood out to me as needing more focus. Or maybe I shouldn’t say it’s some that needed more focus so much as it was something of a big missed opportunity.
Said “meaningless tag team match” was, of course, the four-way match for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles, and I’m certain part of the reason that they didn’t give any more details that they’re hoping that we don’t have the mental capacity/memory to realize that Sasha’s statement buries those titles. That sort of “have your cake and eat it, too” type of thinking is typical WWE defensiveness- especially because they know that those belts don’t mean anything- but instead of doing their best to just ignore their failure, what they should do in this particular situation is acknowledge that failure, and use the acknowledgement of that failure as the first step in correcting their error.
Imagine a WWE where Alexa Bliss! and Nikki Cross come out later and Alexa cuts a promo responding to Sasha saying that “maybe when you held these titles they didn’t mean anything and when The IIconics held these titles they didn’t mean anything, but Nikki and I are going to make it out goal to make sure that these titles mean a whole hell of lot while we’re champions!”
Yet another opportunity that WWE is missing by running from this line here is an opportunity to flesh Sasha’s character out a bit more. I’m sure you all remember the myriad tearful promos that Sasha cut telling us how much the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles meant to her. And the fact that they did so many of them that t at best it felt like overkill and at worst it made Sasha (and Bayley, too, but Sasha was the one crying all the time) look completely pathetic?
Well what if they are actually were the pathetic attempt at emotional manipulation that they felt like? Sasha didn’t start talking about how much having WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles would mean to her until after she failed to win the Raw Women’s Title from Ronda Rousey at Royal Rumble. What if all of that crying was Sasha trying to manipulate all of us- and even the promotion- into treating her clearly midcard at best Women’s Tag Team Titles like they were main event titles. And once she no longer even had those, that is when she decided to just a vacation, because she wasn’t even getting the extra money for being a champion anymore?
Of course, this revelation requires a response from Bayley, who should absolutely confront Sasha over this, because while Sasha’s emotions were phony manipulations designed solely to get herself more money, Bayley’s emotions about those titles were real. This will lead to a confrontation between them later tonight (we know Bayley is in the building because she’s been booked against Nikki Cross). This will obviously lead to a match between them that will take place tomorrow night on SD. Unfortunately, that match will have to end in frustrating DQ as Charlotte runs in to attack Bayley, but at least we’ll be able to use this DQ loss to help keep Sasha away from a title shot a little longer.
Sasha’s comments could also be used as the impetus for Bayley turning attention to the tag titles after she is done with Charlotte. She could team up with Ember Moon to challenge for them and they could lose via a miscue resulting in Ember being pinned, which Ember could then blame on Bayley and go heel, attacking her. This whole plan isn’t without its flaws (I think the tag titles are key turning Bliss! full babyface, first in her prideful desire to make them mean something and then in her full acceptable of Nikki even after Nikki gets pinned to lose them, so they need to have the titles for a while, but there really isn’t anyone other than the Kabuki Warriors, who are also babyfaces, who I trust to carry the Bliss/Nikki combo to the necessary level to really make the belts mean something), but I think it’s a good illustration of the sort of nuance and opportunities that WWE often loses out on due to their refusal to admit to their own failures.
Nattie eventually ran out and charged at Sasha leading to a pull-apart. This was fine but unnecessary.
THE STREET PROFITS TELL US ABOUT TONIGHT’S #1 CONTENDERSHIP TAG TEAM TURMOIL MATCH- I’ve said before that I think putting the Street Profits (or any other wrestler) in this role which should be filled by an announcer or host or someone like that. That being said, their humor did manage to defuse the “wait… Ziggler and Roode are a team now?” issue. I’d still like to know why this one makeshift team has been thrown in this match populated by established teams, but just having some acknowledgement that the show itself acknowledged that this was a little weird makes it an easier pill to swallow. The Street Profits also ran down the entire list of competitors in the match and explained the rules of a tag team turmoil match (it’s just a gauntlet match for tag teams), while we were shown a graphic on screen. THIS is how you should do these things; not with the announcers telling us the rules after the bell rings while we’re trying to concentrate on the action.
RICOCHET PROMO- good
DREW MCINTYRE PROMO- this was good until the “when I’m king, all of the unworthy Superstars™ will be exiled from my kingdom” line at the end. That was painful.
KING OF THE RING FIRST ROUND MATCH: Drew McIntyre vs. Ricochet- 7/10
Drew picked up the crown and scepter and sat on the throne during his entrance, thus risking the anger of the wrestling gods. Drew lost after being attacked by Jack Swagger and Jeff Cobb. The match was great for the time it got, but it’s yet another WWE TV match in recent weeks that makes me wish it was longer. They have THREE HOURS and aren’t doing that stupid “no wrestling during commercials” crap anymore. There is no excuse for this match only going 12:51.
SETH ROLLINS & BRAUN STROWMAN INTERVIEW- The graphic told us this was taped “last week” but Sarah Schreiber said that these guys won the titles “last week” so someone is clearly wrong.
This was a decent segment. I enjoyed the way that Seth tried to be a standard WWE top babyface and cut this long-winded promo and Brock just looked at him the way the rest of us do with this “get on with it already!” look. Braun challenged Seth to a title match at Clash of the Champions and Seth accepted. Michael Cole was amazed by the fact that we have tag champs will defend their titles together and then have a world championship match “the same night!”
MIZ PROMO- meh
KING OF THE RING FIRST ROUND MATCH: The Miz vs. Baron Corbin- 4.75/10
As much as both Raw and SD have improved in recent weeks, decisions like giving this match the top of the hour spot instead of Drew vs. Ricochet are an important reminder that the old man is still very out of touch. Even for him, though… thinking that this match would be more of a draw to people tuning in at the crossover than Drew vs. Ricochet is a different level of out of touch.
They had one or two clever spots. Corbin won clean. Renee Young needs to tone down her hatred for Corbin a bit. She’s almost coming across like Corey Graves with Sasha Banks, unable put aside something the wrestler did a while ago and his/her situation has since changed.
BARON CORBIN PROMO- good heel stuff
Like Drew, who sat in the throne and held the scepter. That crown looks so goofy.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON- decent
NIKKI CROSS vs. BAYLEY- 2/10
No Alexa Bliss! at ringside for Nikki tonight. Renee Young completely put her foot in it on commentary and came off as a blind mark for the babyfaces.
The Smackdown Women’s Champion defeated one half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions in four minutes. Long live the Women’s Evolution!
If this loss leads to some sort of storyline with Alexa and Nikki where they make Alexa not being at ringside relevant or if they use this to start a story about Bayley chasing the tag titles that’s fine, but if this was just a thing they did get both women on TV, I’m going to be quite annoyed that they had a champion do a job in four minutes to someone who didn’t even have to be on the show. (Wildcard count: 1)
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERIVEWS BRAUN STROWMAN- excellent!
He hyped up his title match tonight, his other title matches at the PPV, told us that if he wins the US Title tonight he will defend that at the PPV as well, put over the two related stories he is currently involved in, and working in his catchphrase in a natural way.
TAG TEAM TURMOIL MATCH FOR A SHOT AT THE WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLES AT CLASH OF CHAMPIONS 2019: Viking Raiders vs. B-Team vs. The OC (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. Bobby Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs. Lucha House Party (w/Kalisto) vs. The Revival vs. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins vs. Heavy Machinery- 6/10
B-Team and Heavy Machinery bring our wildcard count out to 3.
The B-Team got some offense in on the Vikings before getting obliterated. The OC came out next and started brawling with the Viking Raiders until the referee DQed both of them for not abiding by the tag rules. Hooray for the rules being enforced!
Team Upper-Midcard Heels made quick work of LHP after LHP got their sh*t in, setting us up for a heel vs. heel match between The Revival and Roode/Ziggler. Roode and ZIggler won that match, which pretty much guaranteed their victory because the only teams left are both dorks and babyfaces. They squashed the jobbers, then overcame the big dudes to earn #1 contendership, picking up four straight clean wins. Every single one of these matches went in there, did their thing, and got out, without stretch the match out unnecessarily long.
RONDA ROUSEY IS GOING TO BE A CAST MEMBER OF THE NEXT SEASON OF TOTAL DIVAS- wow. Just… wow. I knew WWE was this dumb, but I’m shocked that Ronda is, too.
NATALYA vs. SASHA BANKS- 5/10
One of the best four-minute matches you’ll ever see… but why the hell couldn’t they give these two more time?
Sasha won clean, then came back and put Nattie in the Banks Statement again just because.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS AJ STYLES- He says he doesn’t need the OC in his corner to beat Braun. Cue predictable swerve.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. CESARO- 7/10
Another great match that should have gotten more time. The story here was Cedric’s knee getting worked over, and even though he won tonight, the announcers put over that this will surely hinder him next week against Baron Corbin in his KOTR semifinal.
24/7 TITLE SILLINESS- dump
SARAH SCHREIBER INTERIVEWS ROODE & ZIGGLER- would have been fine if it didn’t go so long.
THE STREET PROFITS RECAP THE SHOW SO FAR- pointless waste of time
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: AJ Styles(c) vs. Braun Strowman- 6/10
Things were just starting to get good when we got a ref bump. AJ kicked Braun in the nuts but AJ overcame it to use his finisher and get a visual pinfall. Gallows & Anderson ran in but Braun made a comeback on them and beat them up with a chair. AJ then got himself a DQ victory via Eddie Guerrero finish, then Braun beat all the heels up by himself again. This was another frustrating DQ, and in a main event title match, just to make things worse… and there isn’t even that much heat coming out of it because Braun made his own comeback and beat all of the heels down. I know I’m supposed to be angry that Braun got screwed out of the US Title, but I honestly don’t care if he has the US Title or not. It will just make his match with Seth feel even more like WWE is trying to go over the top with how big the stakes are.
This was a shockingly good show, despite many of the things I have written tonight. The actual booking has shored up a lot in the past few weeks. Now they just need to learn what to cut from the show to give their matches enough time to really deliver.
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