So let’s be real, Cageside - this whole “fist fight” nonsense was stupid from the moment it was named that for some odd reason. Going into this episode, I was convinced that the only way I’d buy this match is if all the guys showed up in boxing gloves and we had Michael Buffer out here telling us to get ready to rumble.
Unfortunately, there were no boxing gloves to be found. But instead...might I interest you in some character progression?
It’s true, and it was awesome! Raw’s resident fight-picker Buddy Murphy had a third and final match advertised on this show against Aleister Black. And like the two matches before it, it was hard-hitting as hell and really made both guys look like they matter. The problem, however, was in what WWE should do with them after the feud.
Well, Murphy lost again. A clean, violently brutal sweep for Black. And the question after such a decisive loss for any wrestler is pretty simple: How does this help them as a character?
As a community, we get so hung up on “going over” and looking strong and all that stuff at times. Instead, it’s important to these characters as forces acting upon each other. How Murphy has impacted Black’s story remains to be seen, but we now know that Black has dramatically influenced Murphy.
After his loss, Murphy sat hunched up against the barricade, staring out into nothingness. He sat there all throughout Erick Rowan’s squash, sat there essentially unresponsive when Charly Caruso tried to interview him, and sat there halfway through the Fist Fight. Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe dragged the AOP off to the top of the ramp, where Owens hit a fantastic cannonball where he ran up the “ramp” of the tron. Joe followed it up with a senton, and it looked like they were going to win. Show had isolated Rollins near the ring, which spurred Rollins into begging Murphy for help.
Murphy finally snapped out of his reverie, and decided to help the heels. A low blow to Show helped Rollins to secure the victory, and Murphy got a hug from the Messiah for his troubles.
Firstly, what an awesome addition to the group. Murphy rocks; he’s been awesome all throughout the Black feud, and this gives him a prominent spot to keep being awesome. It also makes Black look awesome for causing such a change in another character. Hell, that’s what makes Wyatt so awesome right now - he’s changing people.
That’s what you want from any story. Stagnant characters are no fun. I’m actually really excited about this stable now.
Lynch finds footing
The coolest thing about this Becky Lynch/Asuka feud has been Lynch’s vulnerability. She’s openly doubted herself, and praised Asuka’s skills. They finally made their match official at the Royal Rumble on this show, and it was the first time Lynch finally put the doubts to rest and looked like herself. Ironic that it took someone taking a cheap shot to make that happen.
Lynch was pretty mellow when she entered the ring, and didn’t really lash out at Asuka or Kairi Sane when they arrived. Asuka was shouting in Japanese, and Sane twirled her umbrella in Lynch’s face; aside from snatching the umbrella and tossing it out of the ring, Lynch was still trying to give Asuka the respect she feels that her challenger was owed.
From there, it was pretty uneventful until the contract was signed. In fact, Asuka even seemed bored. But as soon as the contract was signed and Lynch offered her challenger luck, Asuka spat the green mist in Lynch’s face and left, laughing.
That moment finally got Lynch angry. She got on the microphone to admit that she’s been struggling to get angry and hungry enough to defeat someone like Asuka, but that moment finally did it. Asuka had woken a “badness” inside her that she needed for this fight.
All in all, I thought this was good! These two have been consistently great building to the match. It’s felt unique, as well.
With that said, the fact is that they’re still rewriting history a bit. Hiding Asuka? No, they forgot about her, or had no real plans. You can’t treat someone differently for a year and then suddenly bill her as a monster again. On top of that, I think this one needs bigger stakes than it currently has. Lynch is basically implying that her self-image is at stake, here. So how does that work if she loses, WWE? My assumption is that she’d still be the same person, even if she lost. They’ve got a cash cow in that “The Man” persona, after all.
At least try to make it seem like that’s in jeopardy.
Drew McIntyre def. AJ Styles and Randy Orton - This was good! It’s really important to add underlying stories to the Rumble. Styles/Orton will be a good one. As for McIntyre, he got a really important win against some big names - a big deal for his babyface push.
Ricochet def. Mojo Rawley - Not much to this one. Ric hasn’t had much TV time lately, and this was a quick win.
Charlotte def. Sarah Logan - Another quick win for a bigger name on the show. It looks like Charlotte and Logan’s mini-feud is concluded - until the Rumble, at least.
R-Truth is a global treasure who must be protected at all costs - This man tried to cut a promo on tossing Paul Heyman out of the Royal Rumble. What a boss. You’re right, Truth; Heyman does talk A LOT.
Mojo Rawley wins 24/7 Championship - Picking Lesnar’s scraps. Boooooooo.
Bobby Lashley def. Rusev - Okay look - is it too much to ask for the babyface to win this cursed feud? More of this in mixed tag form next week. At least Lashley and Lana are having problems, I guess.
The Viking Raiders def. The Singh Brothers - I mean sure, I guess. The problem with open challenges though, WWE, is folks always want it to be someone important. And when it’s not, they’re disappointed.
Erick Rowan def. Local Talent - I see you rocking that Eluveitie shirt, Rowan. He tried to take his pet whatever the hell it is out of the cage and got his hand cut up really badly. This story is always good for like 5 minutes of fun, even if I’m skeptical of the actual payoff.
Andrade and Rey Mysterio fight next week - I really feel like the promos in Spanish would have more gravitas if they were used less frequently.
I enjoyed the show this week. I think Raw’s a better product than SmackDown at the moment.
What’d you think, Cageside?