Some shows can really bring out the venom in parts of the audience…..this was one of them. My general rule on the February show is to keep expectations low; the main point of the chow is to confirm what we already think is going to be title match at WrestleMania and maybe lay the groundwork for a few other matches. Looking back there aren’t that many February shows worth remembering; No Way Out from 2001 is the only one that comes to my mind relatively easy (there are some others, of course but I’d have to look them up to find them). Now that doesn’t excuse egregiously bad decisions or bad matches but come on people. Was this a great night? No. Was it the worst show ever? Of course not.
The main beef people had last on Twitter was with Roman Reigns winning the main event and not Dean Ambrose. To that I say…..get over it, people. For one, we have six weeks until WrestleMania for Vince and co. to add something to the impending Roman-Triple H title match. Second…..get over yourselves people. If you want Vince to either move on from Roman or book him differently you’re going to have to let this play out first, because they’re trying make this thing work. Forcing pauses isn’t working to well for you, is it? I saw a lot of ‘Vince is trying to make Roman another Cena and we don’t want that’ last night afterward. OK, let’s unpack this a little.
John Cena is pushing 40 and getting into more Hollywood stuff; there’s a good chance he’s headed for part time land in a few years. And with that, Vince wants somebody to fill the superhero mold. Now you may not like that, but it’s an important role in the company’s success. There has to be somebody for the kids to want their parents to take them to see, and that their parents can be ok with them looking up to. You’re not a kid so you don’t care about that, but you better believe that’s crucial to the company’s bottom line. And in 2016 walking the tightrope that they did during the Attitude Era and Ruthless Agression (foam middle fingers aren’t going to work in 2016) isn’t an option. And of the people on the roster right now I don’t really think there’s anyone who play that role better than Roman. If you another pick I’m all ears.
Anyway, on to the show. What did I think?
- U.S. Title Match: Kallisto vs Alberto Del Rio – Still not sure why they put this on the kickoff show and not the main one. Match was good, with an interesting twist of Del Rio bashing Kallisto with a chair to get DQ’ed in the first fall but making the second fall easy pickings. It didn’t work out for him, of course, as Kallisto won the final fall to keep the title. Looks like they’re going forward with Kallisto as a singles wrestler, and he dialed back the aerial stuff a bit and did a more straightforward style.
- Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch vs Team BAD – This was the official show opener and I was a little surprised it went first. It was a standard tag team match but the ladies all did well and the match was a good one. As I’ve been saying for almost a year now it’s good to see the ladies get enough time to have a real match and not a five minute special. That match’s bigger purpose was to give Banks a clean break from her former teammates and move her (along with possibly Becky) towards a Diva’s title match with Charlotte at WrestleMania.
- Intercontinental Title Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs Dolph Ziggler – Good match here, but we all know Ziggler wasn’t winning this. At least they had a clean, straight up finish unlike last year’s Intercontinental Title DQ-finish fiasco.
- Big Show, Kane, and Ryback vs The Wyatt Family – This was the ‘what in the hell?’ result of the night. The Wyatt Family losing clean made zero sense at all, and we didn’t even get a Braun Strowman choke out of anyone. If you’re going to have this is a space filler, you gotta have the right result here. Bad move all around.
- Diva’s Title Match: Charlotte (c) vs Brie Bella – This may be Brie’s last match, and if it is she went out well. She’s been underrated in the ring lately, not a world beater but nowhere near as terrible as she or her sister were before. I didn’t have much doubt in who would win here but the match was still a good one. As with the tag match it was good to see them get enough time to have a real match.
- AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho – This is the match everyone was looking forward to the most, and it delivered. As someone who is new to Styles work, I can see why he’s been considered one of the better performers over the past decade. It did, however, look to me like he’s still feeling his way around a WWE ring. Jericho held up his end, and did what needed to be done to help get Styles established in the company. We knew who was going to win this one, but the execution was there to make that ok.
- R-Truth vs Curtis Axel – And here is the bad taste in people’s mouths was cemented. If the main event result wasn’t the one you wanted, then the mere presence of this match on the main show was enough to push you over the edge to ‘this show sucked!’ territory. Axel won….who cares? It’s fine to do this match and it’s comedy angle premise on the pre-show, but it shouldn’t be on the main one at all.
- Main Event: Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar – Having already opined on the Reigns matter, I’ll focus on the other things here. Lesnar looked a little rusty here; didn’t botch anything but he stuck to his main four to five moves and spent a lot of time buried under broken tables like he did in his Royal Rumble match against Cena and Seth Rollins. Dean was the glue in the match here, and in hindsight it looks like that’s why he was added to it. I, and apparently a lot of other people, were expecting a Wyatt Family run-in to set up a Bray Wyatt/Lesnar match at WrestleMania. The absence of that is somewhat puzzling unless they’ve nixed that match. There were some good spots, but the match as a whole wasn’t one to go back and re-watch later.
This was a ‘better to be paying $10 a month for the network then $50 for pay per view’ show. And there were some things that ranked very high on the bad idea spectrum. The Truth-Axel match shouldn’t have been on the main show, the six-man match should have ended differently, and if they are going to do Wyatt/Lesnar at ‘Mania then we should have gotten a run-in during the main event. If you know you’re going to have a main event result that pisses some people off then you have to shore up the rest of the show to not add to that. They missed the mark on that end. But there were good matches elsewhere on the card. If WrestleMania comes off alright no one will care what happened here. So no, not a great show booking wise but good enough in the ring and not worth going all keyboard crusader over.