By Matt Straub
Last month when we did the winners and losers from the Royal Rumble, we talked a lot about logic because of some of the things the company did with its booking. This time around, with two notable exceptions, WWE did a nice job of making sense for a change, while putting together a solid wrestling program where wrestlers did what normal people in a fight would try. The problem is, the logic went out the window when it was time to write the endings of matches.
So let’s take a look at what worked during a surprisingly good show in the ring and what could have been done better behind the scenes.
U.S. Champion Kalisto defeats Albert Del Rio: We have to start with the negative and get it out of the way. The company brought Del Rio back and made him look good early in his most recent run, only to have him lose a feud decisively to a very small tag team specialist. Del Rio is also in one of the main heel groups in the moment, so making him look weak makes little sense unless they plan on making Kalisto a star, which might be impossible. On a good note, this was booked with some logic. Del Rio getting DQ’d in the first fall in order to get an easy win is something I’m surprised more heels don’t do. Knock your opponent out, take one loss, then beat pin his fallen body twice. It wasn’t booked that way, but that’s what I would do in a real fight. I wasn’t in love with this match, but why it was on the preshow blows my mind considering some of the other things they put on the PPV.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch def. Naomi and Tamina: I’m surprised the faces didn’t break up and start a feud, but at least they got the win which elevates two of the better wrestlers on the Divas roster. It was a surprisingly decent match, but nothing seemed to come of it.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler: Owens got a win after the two put on a really good match. There wasn’t much to take from it going forward, but it was fun. I’m interested to see what happens with Owens tonightas they give him something to do for Wrestlemania. Ziggler has fallen to “opponent” status, but he still puts on a good show.
Ryback, Big Show and Kane def. the Wyatt family: Why? The Wyatts are supposed to start something with Brock Lesnar, so they needed to look good. Instead they lost to two old men and Ryback, who, while I like him more than most, will never be a huge star. No one gained anything from this match, and the Wyatts were hurt badly for the 206th time. It was terribly done.
Divas Champion Charlotte def. Brie Bella: The announcers, whether intentionally or not, missed a key story point, which always annoys me. When Brie had Charlotte on the verge of tapping, Ric Flair started yelling “What about Daniel?” and Brie started to cry. The implication being if Brie wins the title, she won’t be able to go home and be with her recently-retired husband, Daniel Bryan, which she has said she wants to do. This left her conflicted, which helped Charlotte turn her over and get the win. In a moment when WWE actually had a potentially strong story point, something wrestling has desperately lacked in recent years, most people missed it, including the people in charge of helping the fans understand the story. Flair is done as a performer (his promos are even lacking now), but he can tell a story as well as anyone who ever stepped in a ring. All the young wrestlers should take advantage of his knowledge. He made a crappy Divas match interesting for 30 seconds, something neither Bella ever did on their own. The only thing I can think of is Brie talks about this tonight and retires. If not, WWE missed a chance to give itself credit for doing something smart.
A.J. Styles def. Chris Jericho: Ever since Brad dropped the “soccer mom” line on Twitter about Jericho, that’s all I can think about when I see him. Last night, however, I did have one other thought: Man, 10 years ago this match would have been amazing. At least WWE didn’t mess up the result of this match. Styles doesn’t have many years left of his current ability, so I’m glad people are getting to see him now.
Edge and Christian interview the New Day: Watch Edge and Christian’s show on WWE network! By the way, I tried, and it took me back to a replay of Fastlane. The Network was terrible last night. The bit had some good lines, but went on way too long and didn’t have much of a payoff other than a potential feud for New Day.
Curtis Axel def. R-Truth: I’m a professional writer and still can think of nothing to say here. I heard this match happened because the show was running short, which is stunning if true. Just let the good matches go longer. Or just go off at10:30 p.m. instead of wasting our time with that.
Roman Reigns def. Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar: One more network note: Just as they were getting introduced, my replay randomly skipped ahead to the moment where Triple H held the belt above Roman. If I didn't know who was going to win, that would have been an awful way to find out. Maybe WWE should cut a couple of wrestlers and invest in an IT guy for the network. This match is the original reason I wanted to write this review. For once, a Triple Threat match was booked the way it should have been. If a friend and I were in a fight with a guy twice our size, we’d team up to take him out first, then settle our business. This doesn’t happen nearly enough. Which reminds me, why don’t the first two guys in the Royal Rumble team up to eliminate each guy who comes down after them one at a time as soon as they get to the ropes, then fight for the win after throwing out the other 28 guys?
As for the match itself, as Brad said, it’s silly to continue to debate Roman Reigns’ worth as a title contender. Vince wants him to get the belt, and he’s going to beat Triple H, which he hopes gives Reigns some legitimacy. I don’t hate Reigns, but I think he has stopped developing and I’m certain the majority of the fans aren’t going to accept him. They did a good job of making Brock look like a monster without having him do much, which shows you how scary he really is. Ambrose also got a nice boost, and the fans seemed into him. But why not bury both the Wyatts and Lesnar on the same night if they’re going to meet at the next show? And why continue pushing Roman when it’s clear he’s not going to get over? Brock vs. Triple H and Roman vs. Ambrose would have been fine at Wrestlemania. In fact, with so many people currently out, that’s about as good as you could do.
But hey, WWE had the actual matches make sense, I couldn’t ask them to pick the right winners, too.