Ladies and gents, I don’t know what to say anymore.
I try to be really fair in these reviews. I try to look for the good in things and point out the things that intrigue me, even in the worst scenarios.
Guys, what can I possibly say that’s positive about the Universal Championship?
Brock Lesnar is one of the most talented wrestlers of all time. When he feels like bringing some effort, his matches can be incredible spectacles. That’s why it’s so embarrassing to watch him hold that Universal Championship.
How long has he held that stupid championship at this point? For whatever reason, WWE decided that he’s their best bet as champ, never mind the stagnation it has caused for two years amongst their mid card.
And THIS is the best they can do with that stupid, overrated title?! A damn side-by-side video segment that makes everyone look ridiculous?! Braun Strowman got over by obliterating folks, tipping over all manner of things, tearing down scaffolding...and he lets Lesnar just walk around while cutting a promo in which he said Heyman’s ass is jealous of his mouth because of all the crap that comes out of it.
Segments like this are the ones that can make you embarrassed to be a wrestling fan. This sucked, but what else is new with this stupid belt.
Mean Gene Okerlund tribute
The tribute package for Mean Gene was awesome. It’s funny to me, actually; when I was growing up and got into wrestling for the first time, all the backstage guys like Coachman were used almost like comedy props. Mean Gene was the exact opposite. He was someone who played things so well and had such a professional air...getting interviewed by him was cool. He could make you cool.
So here’s to you, Mean Gene Okerlund. You rocked and we’re going to miss you a whole hell of a lot.
I wanted to start this bit by talking about Mean Gene because he SHOULD be the story here. But of course, there’s the Hulk Hogan issue to talk about. When Hogan was announced for this show, I was disappointed because I knew the talk would shift away from Gene Okerlund. It felt like WWE had hit an opportunistic jackpot that would allow them to plug Hogan back in with minimal fuss. And if you had similar thoughts to my own, how slimy did that 10-bell salute directly into Hogan’s theme feel?
Honestly, I don’t think anything Hogan said was that bad. He introduced Mean Gene’s video package and then did his “Let me tell you something, Mean Gene!” line. I mean there was a weird bit about heaven, but whatever. They kept it on brand as much as you could reasonably expect from Hogan. However, on a night where it should be all about Gene Okerlund, it’s not all about Gene Okerlund. That’s unfortunate.
The problem with falls count anywhere matches...
...is that they’re no disqualification, Seth Rollins. I covered the opening of this show where Rollins and Bobby Lashley brawled below, so let’s talk about the Intercontinental Championship match that closed the show. Triple H granted Rollins one more shot at his old title and thanks to Lashley, he came up empty handed.
Firstly, this is a great match stipulation for the IC title so I’ll give WWE credit there. Dean Ambrose and Rollins made the most of their space too, using the time to brawl backstage and teasing a spot where Rollins tried to crush Ambrose with some metal scaffolding to further emphasize that he’s working on another level.
And Rollins was going to win, too. After countering a Dirty Deeds by flipping Ambrose onto exposed concrete as a callback to the night Ambrose turned, Rollins even hit his finisher before Lashley intervened. I’ll give WWE this – Lashley got more heat for his actions here than he’s gotten since he returned to this company. I think it’s a good move to get away from the Ambrose/Rollins feud as well.
I also liked Renee Young near the end. Commentary’s not been great lately for me, but her earnest “You’ve gotta do something!” when Ambrose was near losing as well as her audible relief when Lashley saved her husband’s title was a nice touch.
The Good Stuff
BITCH WHAT LINE? - Life goals, y’all. Life goals to be like Sasha Banks when she gets pissed. BITCH, WHAT LINE?!?
Banks fought Nia Jax after that Moment of Bliss talk show thing for the right to face Ronda Rousey. I wasn’t a big fan of the match, but Banks won! Banks vs. Rousey at the Rumble is going to be so much fun!
Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, John Cena def. Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, Dean Ambrose – The opening segment was sheer chaos that finally led to a six-man tag match. The segment in its entirety lasted a good 30-40 minutes and Rollins, McIntyre, and Balor all got the big moments to shine.
Balor got a dive spot to send us to the first break as well as running roughshod on Ambrose late in the match. McIntyre got the better of Cena and hit a Claymore to end Balor’s run. And Rollins caught fire to end the match by pinning Ambrose, knocking the coffee out of Triple H’s hand backstage, and earning another shot at Ambrose later in the night. If I had to bet, one of the three men I mentioned are going to win the men’s Royal Rumble.
More stuff that sucked
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable def. The Revival – Let me get this straight. The Raw tag team scene can’t get a pop to save its life and you run a story about how shoddily run the division is? The Lucha dudes get their own rules, refs can’t even get decisions right...geez, man. I think that’s a shame because the match was good! That bridging German Suplex pin that The Revival broke up with a splash from the top rope? That’s nuts! But the crowd wasn’t invested, lumberjacks and titles on the line or not.
Ember Moon is out here hitting ridiculous finishers, can’t get any time – Credit Alicia Fox for an awesome sell. This was a mixed tag with Apollo Crews and Moon teaming against Jinder Mahal and Fox. It was just a little nothing segment and that sucks.
Baron Corbin def. Elias – This feud has no steam at all. Elias likes watching Corbin fail and Corbin gets booed for being a colossal goober. Corbin won because he needs steam I guess.
A Moment of Bliss – Ronda Rousey is an incredible performer, but she is not at her best on these talk show things. She tried to talk up Sasha Banks and take shots at Charlotte and Becky Lynch, but it came off flat. Things didn’t pick up until Banks got out there.
No call ups – Lars Sullivan has been getting promos for like three months, man.
This show was weird as hell. The beginning was good, the end was solid, Sasha Banks KILLED it with that one liner...and everything else was uninspiring to terrible. And even the stuff outside of Banks wasn’t really all that inventive.
That’s REALLY bad when you consider the fact that WWE promised things would get better. Still waiting on that, guys.