Women’s Title Matches: Asuka vs Bayley (c) and Asuka vs Sasha Banks (c)
Both matches were very good to great, and they moved the storyline along in important ways. Sasha took the bullet for Bayley to help her retain her title but Bayley did not return the favor when it was her turn to help her partner in the second match, and thus enabling Asuka to win back the Raw Women’s Title. The story between Sasha and Bayley has been arguably the best thing going since WrestleMania; I know it’s feeling long in the tooth for some but it took them from last September until the weeks before Mania to really settle on how Bayley’s heel persona was going to work and kick it into gear, and Sasha’s ankle injury kept her out of the ring for some of that time also. But now we’re heading towards to the breakup and the feud with each other that will cap all of this off. Asuka from the looks of things will now be free and clear of them both to defend the Raw Women’s title against a slate including Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax among others while Bayley deals with Naomi (likely up next) and maybe another contender (Mandy Rose maybe?) before her final reckoning with her best friend. This has been Sasha’s best character work since 2016 in my opinion and Bayley’s best character work ever, to the point where I just can’t see her going back to being a face for some time if at all.
Raw Tag Team Titles: Street Profits (c) vs Angel Garza and Andrade
Absolutely loved the Street Profits entrance with the raining solo cups.
The match was good; I was expecting a title change so I’m not sure what happens next. It looks like Angel and Andrade are heading towards splitsville as once again there was some discombobulation that led to them losing. The Profits are now the longest reigning Raw tag team Champs, and now we see who’s on the horizon (Hurt Business maybe?). They are so much fun together that I hope when Ford gets the inevitable singles push that they don’t split up; he can get the same support from Angelo Dawkins that Otis gets from Tucker and that New Day gives each other. Tag teams or factions splitting up eventually feuding doesn’t have to happen unless their individual personalities warrant it and in all three cases it does not.
Loser Leaves WWE: Mandy Rose vs Sonya Deville
One of the fair criticisms about WWE’s division is the lack of feuds/angles that don’t involve a title. This feud between Mandy and Sonya has been a welcome answer to that this year and it’s a shame that right when it was about to hit it’s highest note that Sonya’s home was broken into by a stalker. Given that she and Mandy could have been killed by that guy it’s understandable that Sonya would want to take some time off and thus changing the match from hair vs hair to loser leaves town.
What’s also noteworthy is that the feud itself involved very little actual physical contact between the two ladies. That’s not a dis; had COVID not happened then they’d have been working house shows against each other and in mixed tags for the last few months but instead we got an old school kind of feud on television that was based around talking and character work. I’ll touch more on this later but a silver lining to the no fans/limited shows situation has been that they’ve been able to cut promos without the crowds hijacking them which has made for better communication.
This feud also has brought some much needed fleshing out and character development for both ladies. Mandy had been badly miscast as a vain, look at me heel with porn star music and mannerisms; working as a face has come across way more natural than that ever did. Sonya on the other hand before 2020 was a great value Shayna Baszler who rarely got to show how tough she really was, but lately has been able to develop her own badass personality in her own right.
The match itself was the biggest in ring showcase for either of them since they’ve been on the main roster. Neither of them are great in ring workers to be honest but they made up for it here with raw emotion and energy which a feud like this lives on anyway. It’s a shame that they weren’t able to take this spotlight on the road and get more ring time this year but what we got from this story was quite good and entertaining so they get high marks from me all around.
As for what’s next Sonya is undoubtedly taking some time off and as for Mandy, maybe a title shot in the near future. Naomi should get the first crack at Bayley but unless I’m wrong Mandy hasn’t had one at all so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try and build on the momentum she’s built and get her in that mix afterwards. And hopefully Sonya is able to come back refreshed and ready to go on after that traumatic experience she had to endure.
Seth Rollins vs Dominick Mysterio
Before I get going I gotta give it up to Seth for this outright disrespectful homage to Dominick’s father Rey Mysterio. Wearing a replica of Rey’s ring attire from his all time great match vs Eddie Guerrero was a major flex. The big question for this match was how would Dominick do in his first match. And he did a good job. Seth obviously led him through it all but he executed it well. Rollins is doing his best all around work ever in my opinion; this is the most convincing he’s been on the mic and he has really crossed the line into dastardly behavior in ways that would have him needing a bulletproof vest back in 1986.
They really played up the melodrama here, with Dominick’s mom/Rey’s wife backstage watching on the monitor and eventually walking down the aisle towards the ring and Dom telling Rey not to help him to Seth taunting Rey whenever he had the advantage. And thankfully they did not do an Attitude Era-esque snap turn from Rey, Dom, or from Buddy Murphy on Seth. Playing it straight is often the best option so I’m glad they did that here. The ring was solid and the emotional button pushing took this to the next level. A plus performance from Rollins here.
World Title Match: Drew McIntyre (c) vs Randy Orton
This was a great old school kind of match, two big guys having a fight with beef behind it. They hit each other hard, and did things to hurt each other. No ridiculous highspots, everything made sense, and there weren’t a bunch of killshot kind of moves being brushed off like they were nothing after 30 seconds. And the finish was great, both guys going for their finishers but not hitting them and then Drew pulling the backslide out for the surprise pin that protected Randy in defeat. Great match, and they can run it back later if they want. Drew has been great in all his title defenses and Randy stepped up to the plate here.
Universal Title Match: Braun Strowman (c) vs The Fiend
OK no one had particularly high expectations going into this match including me. Wrestling Twitter in particular has been really down on Braun all year, and especially since he filled in for Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. And both guys are ok workers who need the right opponent to have a match that’s anything better than ok so to put them together is asking for a ton of bad reviews and maybe even people falling asleep if they go too long. The only solution is to gimmick it up, which they’ve done in the past (like the house show I went to last November), so they did that here by making it Falls Count Anywhere. The end result was fine, but as a show ender it was a bit of a bummer. So it’s a good thing the show didn’t end that way. The Fiend would win back the title but immediately afterwards we were treated to
THE RETURN OF THE BIG DOG!!!
Yes, Roman Reigns made his return and in a matter of two or three minutes laid out both the Fiend and Braun, then dropped some major trash talk on them. Telling Braun that he made him (true) and that the Fiend wasn’t up for the responsibility (debatable), then holding up the Universal Title was a huge flex and a great way to end the show. My Twitter timeline exploded in jubilation at that moment and over twelve hours later is still flying high about it. Roman returning brought something was missing at the top and that’s Big D- Energy. As good as Drew and Randy are as overall performers, along with Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, etc they do not charge up the room the way that Roman does. I’ve seen it myself in person and you could feel it all over the internet. I am not down on Braun like a lot of people on Twitter but Roman made him look like a substitute teacher in 30 seconds. That moment showed why they have persisted in pushing him now matter how loud people get on podcasts and other spaces that (insert name here) should be the top guy instead of him.
As for what’s next, I hope we finally get the unencumbered push that us Roman fans have been asking for. No more hedging, no more hitting the brakes because of the noise, no more keeping the title away from him to appease the idiots who start chirping as soon as word gets out that he may be getting a title match. That side of the fanbase has been given too much power over everything for entirely too long and it’s been to everyone’s detriment because quite frankly those clowns are never satisfied no matter what you do. Put him in pole position and run everyone at him for more than two months. Those who can step up will make their own place and those who don’t can go out on their backs and count the lights while the ref counts to three. That’s how the business has always worked and contrary to what you may see online there’s no evidence that deviating from that actually works. Let em get mad and stay mad.
Halfway through I was saying good show but that’s all. The two women’s title matches bumped it up a bit but then Seth vs Dominick, Randy vs Drew, and Roman’s return made it great. Sticking the landing at the end is as important as any match on the show and they nailed it here, even after a main event match that was just ok. I can’t forget the Thunderdome, which was a star of the show itself. The Performance Center atmosphere was a major come down from being in an arena, even as the matches and performances were often great in their own right. Being in a big building with the bright lights and the big entrances matters in ways that are hard to describe without showing people and it’s good to have that all back. Add it all up and I give this show an A.