There’s a lot happening on WWE TV now as we’ve gone from getting ready for Royal Rumble to flying down the Road to WrestleMania.
In some ways, that’s a great thing as the excitement level is ratcheted up a bit. In others, it means rushing things and losing the plot.
Let’s go back to one of the standards of Tuesday morning Cup of Coffee entries: Two Up, Two Down.
Up: Compelling title matches for Mania - Becky Lynch could wrestle a paper bag at WrestleMania and the crowd would be into it. There’s just such momentum behind Lynch and Ronda Rousey is the perfect foil to that.
We’re genuinely to the point where WWE is facing one of the rare moments where they have to pull the trigger at the right time. Whether Rousey is taking time away after WrestleMania, a few months later or not at all, Lynch needs to go over on the biggest stage of them all.
I could talk a lot about the awful Rousey promo — and it was awful, it was not “genuine,” and it was the product of someone who is not particularly great at public speaking, especially when she’s not popular at that moment.
It sucked, it was filled with cringe and it was pretty embarrassing. But she did better after the match and salvaged some momentum. But the match was never going to suffer from bad Rousey promos. This one sells itself — or rather, The Man sells this one.
On the men’s side, Seth Rollins’ pep talk from Triple H was surprisingly interesting and kind of brought my own hype levels up.
There wasn’t much drama to “the choice,” but that’s fine. Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar is a big match and they built to it well through a short burst of violence.
As far as starts to a feud go, this was fine-to-good.
Down: Turn madness - One of the biggest things WWE did to halt momentum on Braun Strowman’s character was turn him too frequently. He’d be a monster heel then he’d be teaming with a kid, then he’d be heeling it up again, then he’d be a face, then he’d turn so there was a team of three to feud with the Shield, then he’s a face again and getting his elbow broken.
The path to being The Big Show isn’t one anyone wanted to see Strowman walking down and it has noticeably hurt his standing with the fans.
WWE tried to rush a turn with Becky Lynch when she was starting to hit mega-over, they wanted her to play heel to Charlotte Flair. The fans rejected it hard enough that Lynch is now her own thing, but they tried to do it to her.
And now Elias is getting the treatment. We’re not far removed from his face turn, which happened seemingly because the crowd had just taken to him too much to ignore.
But enough time has not passed to allow for a smooth turn back to heel, even if you try to get there by having Elias beat up Jeff Jarrett and the Road Dogg.
Turns should have impact and when they’re done for convenience, it simply tells the fans there’s no point in investing in a wrestler.
Up: The Kurt Angle story - In our first Writers’ Room, I suggested Kurt Angle as a potential interesting choice for a Royal Rumble winner to tell the story of a man doubting himself as he heads into his final showdown.
This isn’t quite the same stakes as Angle vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania, but I still am really into the potential of this story.
I like things that take a break from the standard wrestling beats, and while aging legend facing his own mortality isn’t completely original, it’s outside the box enough to be compelling if done right.
I’m really hoping this leads to one last great moment for Angle at WrestleMania and then a final retirement from in-ring competition.
Down: Balor tumbles - Finn Balor was build up beautifully on Raw heading into the Rumble. He won a spot in the title match against Lesnar by winning a couple matches in a night, the next week he went toe-to-toe with Strowman and Lesnar and at the Rumble, he gave a great attempt at dethroning The Beast.
He came up short against Lesnar, though, and the post-match beating seemed unnecessary given all the work done to build Balor up.
And Balor’s reward for all his good work was to be a ragdoll for Bobby Lashley.
Look, I get it, you have to move Balor on to another program. And battling over the Intercontinental Championship isn’t anything to be ashamed of.
It just feels like such a step back to have gone from the highs of the last few weeks to helpless at the hands of Lashley. Balor could have really used a moment last night to drive home the extraordinary effort he’s given for weeks now.
Instead he was embarrassed by Lashley and Lio Rush.
- As always, we’ve got your Raw recap and reactions locked and loaded.
- Geno is calling Lynch vs. Rousey the most compelling WWE program in years and it’s hard to argue.
- Ember Moon is on the shelf for a bit due to injury.
- Here’s your list of survival times in the men’s Royal Rumble and for the women’s Royal Rumble matches.
- Brock Lesnar performed well again at Royal Rumble ... but he usually performs well when he’s around.
- Lana is in good spirits after her spot was taken by eventual winner Lynch.
- Roman Reigns will return as a big time babyface just like WWE always wanted.
- Finally, while I think Lynch tapping to Asuka was brilliant — Sean disagrees.
It’s brutally cold outside and the snow is too deep to go anywhere. Hm...
January 29, 2019