A good week for RAW. A solid week for NXT. An average week on Smackdown. And through it all, the WWE seemingly lost about a billion dollars in value due its stock being down with 4th quarter financials released after the firing of two top executives, George Barrios and Michelle Wilson.
Now, according to Vince McMahon, the WWE may be shopping the streaming rights to its own PPV’s to an outside streaming service. What does that mean for the WWE Network? Will it become a VOD service? The allure of the network has always been to get the monthly PPV’s along with new content and access to hidden gems and past shows at your fingertips, all for – say it with me – the low, low price of $9.99 a month. If you take away the PPV’s, that’s a big chuck of the attraction. Stay tuned as we could learn the outcome of all this before WrestleMania according to McMahon on this week’s conference call.
So, when all is said and done. When the out-of-the-ring news overshadows the product in-the-ring and on tv, it’s not a great week for the WWE. I’d have to give RAW the number one show of the week, not because NXT nor Smackdown were bad. They weren’t. NXT was a solid show and Smackdown was ok, but what Randy Orton did in front of an amazing Salt Lake City crowd that trudged through a massive snowstorm in Utah made it a hotter show.
Star of the week:
Angel Garza – Pulling double-duty on RAW and NXT gives Garza the spotlight this week. If he continues to shine, maybe he’ll be sticking around even after Andrade returns from his 30-day suspension. Sure, I could’ve given it to Randy Orton for his monster-heat, but Garza put himself out there in an impressive debut and stood out on two shows.
- Liv Morgan defeated Lana
- Non-title 24/7 Championship Match: Drew McIntyre defeated Mojo Rawley
- Six-Man Tag Team Elimination Match: Buddy Murphy & Authors of Pain defeated Kevin Owens & The Viking Raiders
- Aleister Black defeated Eric Young
- Rey Mysterio, Jr. defeated Angel Garza via DQ
- Asuka defeated Natalya
- WWE Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Ricochet defeated Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley
What we loved:
Mega-heat – Randy Orton said nothing. And we LOVED it! That’s how you draw mega-heat my friends. Less is more! We are going to have one helluva Road to WrestleMania between Edge and the Viper.
New blood – I’ll give the WWE credit for continuing the Brock Lesnar-Ricochet storyline for a payoff at a big spot at the Super Showdown in Saudi Arabia. Instead of falling back into yet another Rollins vs. Lesnar or a short-term Lashley vs. Lesnar spot, it made sense to follow-up the Royal Rumble low-balling storyline between the WWE Champion to give Ricochet his first shot at the company’s top title. Of course, we know he has no shot at winning, but at least it should be a good match.
Asuka vs. Natalya – Good, old-fashioned slobberknocker right here! Two of the most physical superstars in the women’s division going at it is a must-watch.
Hello, Angel – It may be just a short-term fix until Andrade returns from his 30-day Wellness suspension, but it’s good to see Angel Garza get the call-up for a face-to-face with his cousin Humberto Carrillo and Rey Mysterio, Jr.
Charlotte vs. Rhea – We told you it was coming! Realistically, can we see Charlotte Flair heading back to NXT full-time, nope! But it will be interesting to see these two go back-and-forth for a few weeks over RAW and NXT on the Road to WrestleMania.
What we didn’t love:
RAW needs something – Remember back in the day, we had Piper’s Pit, The Barbershop, the Brother Love Show and more. Well, it’s time for RAW to have something like that. It just seems like the show’s getting repetitive with run-ins and in-ring long promos time after time. It needs to have something outside the ring to turn to on a semi-regular basis, not every week. Make it an attraction and something to look forward to. And no, it has to be more than the Saturday Night Live Update rip-off we get from The Street Profits.
Ruby Riott returns – Ruby Riott returns to attack her former Riott Squad member Liv Morgan and seemingly join forces with Lana. But why? Do we now get Sarah Cross joining Morgan soon to even the odds? Underwhelming for a return IMHO.
- Angel Garza defeated Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
- Dominik Dijakovic defeated Killian Dain
- Mercedes Martinez defeated Kacy Catanzaro
- Non-title NXT Cruiserweight Championship Match: Jordan Devlin defeated Tyler Breeze
- Tommaso Ciampa & The BroserWeights (Pete Dunne & Matt Riddle) vs. The Undisputed ERA (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) went to a no-contest
What we loved:
Double-teaming The Queen – Not only did Charlotte Flair come back to Full Sail, but she got Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair over before going over, literally, herself as Ripley and Belair topple her ot defend the NXT turf. They’ll be time to cement the Flair vs. Ripley WrestleMania match, but a good, creative job of booking to hype Ripley vs. Belair for TakeOver in Portland first. Belair’s stock continues to rise coming off the Royal Rumble with some quality mic time showing she can handle it with it the top stars.
Double-duty Angel – Monday night. Wednesday night. What’s next for the former NXT Cruiserweight Champ? Maybe a trip to Smackdown to complete the trifecta!
It’s not a Dream – Welcome back Velveteen Dream! Just when it looked like The Undisputed Era had the upper hand again, back comes the Velveteen Dream to make it a nightmare for Cole and company! The only down side to it could be a possible injury to Ciampa heading into TakeOver.
What we didn’t love:
The look – We will continue to say it until it changes. The WWE rarely does anything that looks small, especially against a rival. Yet, when going up against AEW on Wednesday nights, the look of NXT appears lesser when put in the cozy confines of Full Sail. It’s times to take it to the road a few times a month. The talent and the audience deserve it! As for quality, NXT has it. Now it’s time to sharpen up the look. The WWE, with its lucrative TV deals and Super Showdown money from Saudi Arabia, can afford it.
Too little KC – Yes, I’m biased being a Ninja Warrior fan, but I need more than just under three-minutes of Kacy Catanzaro. It was nice to see her return to TV, but in pretty much a squash match against Mercedes Martinez doesn’t cut it for me.
- The Usos defeated Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
- Elias defeated Cesaro
- Daniel Bryan defeats Heath Slater
- Sheamus defeated Apollo Crews
- Smackdown Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Carmella defeated Alexa Bliss, Naomi and Dana Brooke
Here’s the thing about this week’s Smackdown. It was perfectly fine. Nothing tremendously great, but nothing over-the-edge bad. It just was there and that’s not how I think the WWE wants to have its only show on broadcast TV to be looked upon, especially when it has two major events – Super Showdown in Saudi Arabia and WrestleMania coming up. Every week should be treated as special.
This week, Goldberg’s return was more of a throwaway. A rematch for the Universal Title a year later against The Fiend, who wasn’t even the person to beat Goldberg last year? Huh? I get that they want to deliver a big-time feel match for the Prince, but it just doesn’t make common sense and give you any reason to believe that Goldberg could win.
The best thing may have been the Otis vignette getting ready for his Valentine’s Day date with Mandy Rose for next week. Now that’s MUST SEE TV my friends.
Sheamus, after weeks and weeks of saying Smackdown doesn’t have any challenges for him, is making that seem true as he doesn’t really have a true suitor – no, I don’t count Shorty Gable’s, ahem, short feud.
Good to see Heath Slater is alive, losing to Daniel Bryan via a ref stoppage. You have to wonder what’s next for Bryan and the born-again YES movement.
And no, I can’t believe they are trying to give us yet another King Corbin vs. Roman Reigns match at Super Showdown inside a steel cage. It’s the feud that no one cares about that will never end!
On the positive side, the Dirt Sheet returned with a few funny moments from The Miz and John Morrison, complete with cameos from Lance Storm and John Laurinaitis. Elias and Cesaro was pretty fun.
Naomi looked good before bowing out in the main event fatal four-way as Carmella wins a shot at Bayley’s title before Bayley gets her shots in on Carmella.
The trailer for the WWE Network’s new series Ruthless Aggression looks pretty good.
WrestleMania card – confirmed matches
WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre
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