Hey, this Seth Rollins/AOP partnership’s pretty neat, isn’t it?
The show kicked off with a recap of Rollins’ heel turn and assault on Kevin Owens last week before the man himself hit the ring with his new business partners in tow. Rollins wanted to talk about leadership, in general. And the argument he made went like this: “I’m a leader because they called me the future in NXT, they called me the future when I debuted, and I’ve done nothing but prove them right in my career. In fact, every critic loved me all the way up until they suddenly started questioning him.”
You know that “am I out of touch” meme? Yeah, that. That right there.
Rollins would go on to explain that he’s a visionary who’s trying to progress this industry. It’s the Architect moniker all over again, quite frankly, and things got ominous when he started talking about Owens. You see, Owens resisted Rollins’ image of what Raw is supposed to be - just like the fans resisted when he started saying stupid stuff on Twitter and in interviews. And instead of taking those criticisms and trying to become better, Rollins has employed two monsters to enforce his vision upon us.
Character work! Intrigue! Isn’t this sooooo much better than Baron Corbin? (No, I’m not over TLC yet.)
Rollins also apologized in advance to the crowd for making a leadership decision that he knew wouldn’t be popular. That came to fruition when the trio attacked Rey Mysterio for handing Owens a pipe last week. Rollins also challenged Mysterio to a title match next week.
My favorite part of this was probably Samoa Joe on commentary, by the way. He sold the AOP tremendously, saying that these two are legitimate monsters. His explanation was that yeah, Joe will do something mean when he has to for a title, but the AOP does these things at all times simply because they want to. He also urged the locker room to rise up and do something about this situation before it gets out of hand.
Urgency and intrigue! Hooray!
The rest of the show lacked substance
Unfortunately, the rest of the show left a lot to be desired. The best character development outside of the Rollins segments was probably a backstage interview with Becky Lynch. She talked about being frustrated with how management is trying to protect her by keeping her away from Asuka. She’s not sure if she can beat the Emperess, but coasting on top sickens her and she wants to change that.
Great motivations. Excited to see where that goes.
As for the rest, I guess the most notable thing was The OC getting the best of the Viking Raiders to open the show. Gallows and Anderson argued that they have been the only duo to beat the Raiders, and then proceeded to go out and do it again...in a non-title match, of course.
AJ Styles celebrated with the guys before turning his attention to Randy Orton in the main event. Styles got a lot of offense in and wore Orton down with a prolonged Calf Crusher, but an RKO sealed the deal for Orton. The OC attacked Orton after the bell and fought off the Raiders to stand tall at the end of the show.
So...y’know. The OC vs. Raiders/whoever’s feuding with Styles template is still in full effect.
Gauntlet Match ends in a non-finish - Gauntlet matches are always interesting, and this one was billed as a way to find a #1 Contender for Mysterio’s United States Championship. I was excited to see Akira Tozawa defeat R-Truth and put up a decent fight to Ricochet before ultimately bowing out. Ricochet was great in the middle of the match with Tozawa, Matt Hardy, and Humberto Carrillo. But ultimately, this match was about the Andrade/Carrillo feud.
Essentially, Andrade had absolutely no intention of winning the match. He just wanted to hurt Carrillo. He jumped Carrillo, exposed the ringside floor, and hit him with a Hammerlock DDT to send the man out on a stretcher.
Oh, and he and Vega seem to have smoothed out their issues. For now.
Asuka def. Deonna Purrazzo - This match got more time than I expected, but commentary framed it well by mentioning how impressive it was that Asuka could compete after her match at TLC. I wish there was a noticeable dropoff in wins for talent who compete the night after a PPV, actually. Seems like that might be interesting. It would also make wins like this more meaningful.
Erick Rowan def. Local Talent - Not nearly as fun as the jobber who actually had a strategy. This doofus just tried to peek in the cage and got blitzed like all the others.
(This “what’s in the cage?” thing had a shelf life of like two weeks. Already bored with it.)
Liv Morgan gets a vignette - Hahaha they used the Emmalina font.
I really like Morgan as a performer, so I hope this is something that’s interesting and not just a rerun of something we’ve already seen. I’ll give them a chance, but this character needs depth beyond “revealing my true self.”
Bobby Lashley proposes to Lana - I mean, sure.
This show was a show. There are a few things to like, and a lot to just feel nothing about.