I want to give WWE a lot of credit with this show...well outside of its main event, of course. They could have just packed it all up and tried to give every feud a “find out next time on Dragonball Z at the Royal Rumble!” cliffhanger. Instead, they went out and mixed in those cliffhangers and up-in-the-air moments with some developments that were really fun.
Take good ol’ Buddy Murphy, for example. A few months ago, he was WWE’s best-kept secret. Last month, he was Aleister Black’s sparring partner/punching bag. And now? He’s a Raw Tag Team Champion thanks to the Messiah Seth Rollins.
It’s amazing where a spur-of-the-moment decision will take you.
Rollins and his new group started the show to recap last week, and were interrupted by Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe who wanted to fight. The Viking Raiders joined in on the fun and the good guys sent the heels running off until the tag team title match later in the show.
As for that match, the Messiah did some heavy-lifting. The Raiders had Buddy in a bit of trouble after a powerbomb, and Rollins lunged to knock Ivar off the tip rope to the floor below. Erik got hit with a knee strike from Buddy and a Curb Stomp from Rollins on the apron before Buddy got the pin to seal the win.
This was fun! The Raiders haven’t had much momentum in Raw’s tag scene, and this provides Rollins with “proof” that all his lecturing and “fate” bullshit is real. It’s a win that also truly shakes up the Raw singles division and sows chaos going into the Royal Rumble. KO and Joe had a promo later in the show where they did that cliffhanger “I’ll fight you if I have to” stuff in relation to the Rumble, so who knows where this show stands next Monday?
You sure about that, Becky?
After getting Misted (is that the term we’re going with, Cageside?) last week, Becky Lynch has a theory: It’s actually Asuka that’s doubting herself heading into the Rumble. Sure, she beat Lynch last year, but who really won in the end?
Nice burn on the cooking soup on YouTube line, Becky, but I’m not so sure I buy that theory. You see, Lynch has done a lot of talking these past weeks, and she’s been all over the place. First, she wanted to call Asuka out to “right a wrong.” Then, she started to doubt herself. Now, she’s trying to get back into the mindset that allowed her to headline WrestleMania.
And all throughout this identity crisis that Lynch has been having...Asuka hasn’t changed one bit. She is angry, and vicious, and mocking, and violent - extremely violent - at every single turn. Lynch fought Asuka’s tag team partner Kairi Sane on this show and Asuka perched on the ring post during the match and openly laughed at Lynch throughout the contest.
Becky found a way to win, but was immediately put into the Asuka Lock afterwards and was once again left searching for answers.
This has been a really good build to a match, y’all. The juxtaposition of Lynch spilling her heart out on the microphone every week to Asuka’s complete and utter murderous silence is really fun.
Andrade and Rey Mysterio are insane and I love them
These reviews run together in my brain like you wouldn’t believe, Cageside. I can barely remember the grade I gave the previous episode of Raw, let alone remember something from a year ago. With that said, I vividly remember gushing about the matches that Andrade and Mysterio had on SmackDown whenever the hell that was.
Put ‘em in a ladder match, however, and I was half-convinced one of them were going to kill themselves. Did you see the bumps these two took?!
Firstly, those neck bumps are not okay. They scare the hell out of me. And onto ladders? Yeesh. But with that said, these two went out and had a legitimate freaking ladder match. Sometimes WWE books the hardcore sort of matches on Raw or SmackDown and they just don’t live up to the billing.
Uh, yeah, this one did.
With all that said, it still followed the same formula as all of Andrade’s wins: Zelina Vega interfered to help him secure the ‘dub. I’d like to see more diversity from how Andrade picks up his victories moving forward. This feud with Mysterio looks to be over as well, now that Humberto Carrillo is out saving Mysterio from further damage.
I know it’s easy to complain about booking and promos and all that - especially online - but you’ve got to really respect these wrestlers for fighting as often as they do and then going out and putting THIS match together without any promise of off-time.
Gonna go ice my neck in sympathy now.
Bobby Lashley and Lana def. Rusev and Liv Morgan - This was the main event and it was not good at all.
The match was like 5 minutes long, uninteresting, and uneventful. I have no idea what the purpose of this segment was, nor do I believe that it set anything up for the Rumble. It was just there, and I’m confused why it even happened.
What the hell are you doing, Ricochet? - I don’t want to speak for everyone here because I’m just one dude with one dumb opinion online, but Ricochet really isn’t portrayed well on television, is he?
He came out to interrupt Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar and was just the most pitiful guy ever. His argument was “hey I’m probably not on WrestleMania if I don’t win the Rumble, and I’m not scared of you.” He then got into the ring, Lesnar dismissed him entirely, and Ricochet taunted him by asking if he was scared.
...Brock kicked him in the balls, grabbed the mic, and said “not scared” because OF COURSE he’s not scared of Ricochet. No one’s scared of Ricochet.
Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre a no contest due to outside interference - Oh, that pesky AJ Styles and his OC.
Solid match with that heavyweight sort of physicality that you’d expect from to guys in WWE. They had the luxury of not needing a finish to the match, so they went back and forth throughout the contest. Orton and McIntyre banded together to run the heels off in the end, and Orton followed that up by surprising McIntyre with an RKO.
Drew got a mic afterwards and basically said he’d let Orton have that one. I rolled my eyes at his cheesy “so I guess that’s why they call it the RKO outta nowhere” line, but whatever. Just gotta let some things slide.
Aleister Black def. Local Talent - Okay so this is where a squash works. Black just won a feud with longer, physical matches. Mixing that up with squash where he kicks someone’s face off with a Black Mass is good. Now give him a good story in the Rumble and keep moving forward.
Street Profits have a Weekend Update - Did they actually have a laugh track playing during this thing? WWE poking fun at themselves with the rerun stuff is amusing enough, but my biggest realization during this segment is that the Rumble is in Minute Maid Park. For the non-baseball fans out there, the Houston Astros are in major trouble for cheating.
Someone’s gonna do a trash can thing at the Rumble, aren’t they? ...It’s going to be Baron Corbin, isn’t it?
(R-Truth is still a global treasure.)
Erick Rowan def. Matt Hardy - Ooooh, so now Rowan’s smashing the cage on the steps in frustration! Is there a little demon or something in the cage that Rowan’s trying to coax out with bloody jobber tributes or something?
(Still no chance of a good payoff to this, but who cares. It’s fun.)
Mojo Rawley is gonna be a different type of 24/7 Champion - Dude, you took out the Bollywood Boyz. Chill with the ego.
Solid show! Good wrestling with some solid story moments. Not a perfect show by any means, but one worth the time if you wanted to tune in. Who the hell knows what’s happening for the Women’s Rumble, though.
Who’s winning the Rumbles, Cageside?