Five Stars From @WWE #RAW (2/26/18): Roman Reigns, Miz, Asuka & More!
WWE Raw was live from Anaheim, California last night. Most of the show centered around fall out from Sunday night’s Elimination Chamber. I wrote a short post about Ronda Rousey’s contract signing yesterday, but the main takeaway from the Chamber is that we’re inching our way towards WrestleMania. Alexa Bliss is still the women’s champ, The Bar are still tag champs and Roman Reigns is the new #1 contender for the Universal title. Let’s get to the five stars!
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5. Alexa Bliss
Raw opened with women’s champ Alexa Bliss and her best friend (?) Mickie James gloating about her win in the first ever women’s elimination chamber. Bliss cut a masterful promo after her win on Sunday, playing the crowd like a fiddle and eventually stomping on their dreams. I think Sunday night was Bliss’s best overall performance on the main roster. She won the match with a combination of resourcefulness and true wrestling skill, and then finished it off with a great promo.
Her promo last night wasn’t as good as Sunday’s, but it was effective. It worked so well because everything she said was true. She did win the first ever women’s elimination chamber, and she did win it on her own. Mickie James is apparently her best friend now, but she was already out of the match by the time Alexa entered. Alexa moved on to talk about breaking Asuka’s streak at WrestleMania, which brought out the Empress. Thankfully WWE didn’t have Asuka try to match Bliss on the mic, and hopefully they realized Asuka’s facial expressions and body language have more impact than any promo.
Bliss turned full heel once Asuka got into the ring. She made fun of Asuka’s poor English skills, which is not as easy as it sounds. Alexa could have easily crossed the line from arrogant and conceited to offensive and insensitive. I personally don’t think it went too far, and it got the crowd firmly on the side of Asuka. Alexa also laid the perfect trap, as Nia Jax came out to attack Asuka 3 on 1. Alexa Bliss continues to be a smart, sophisticated heel.
4. Multiple Stories For The Women’s Division!
Bayley and Sasha Banks ran down to help out Asuka which gave us our first match of the night, playa. It wasn’t the most exciting match in the world, but I appreciate them advancing multiple stories. Bayley and Sasha are destined to blow the roof off of the Super Dome as WrestleMania. After Sasha eliminated Bayley from the Rumble and Lion King’d her at Elimination Chamber, Bayley bailed on her last night. The back and forth betrayal could get monotonous for the next five weeks, but you know the pay off match will be awesome.
Even though Alexa is champ, Nia and Asuka are the two most dangerous women on the roster. They proved that again in this match, with Nia bull dozing people and Asuka picking up the win. Alexa/Nia/Asuka vying for the women’s title and Sasha/Bayley in a grudge match feud are two very good stories for the women on the Road to WrestleMania.
3. Seth Rollins & The Miz
Before the Rollins/Miz match, Miz was given a microphone. 99 out of 100 times that’s a good thing, and last night was no exception. Miz is forcing the IC title to be relevant through his performance, which makes guys like Rollins and Balor wanting the belt feel like a real thing. It’s not just a guy wanting a championship because that’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s a guy wanting a championship because it’s an important part of your most important show.
Onto the match. Has anyone had a better 7 day in ring stretch than Seth Rollins? He wrestled for 60+ minutes last Monday, killed it in the Elimination Chamber and then had a fantastic match last night against Miz. The Miz is such a great bad guy that he gives almost every match he’s in an old school heel/face dynamic. Rollins has had a hell of a week and is super easy to root for, but when you add in the fact that you want to see The Miz get his ass kicked, it makes the match that much more enjoyable.
Rollins is aces in the ring right now, and watching him fly around taking out Miz, Axel and Dallas was a delight. As happy as I am that the curb stomp is back, he should start getting some pins with the top rope suplex into the falcon arrow. That’s such a crowd pleasing move, but it loses a little bit of it’s luster when you know the guy is going to always kick out.
This was a great match though, and I only have one minor complaint. Having challengers beat the champion so the challenger can face the champion again is a weird trope. The roster is too deep for that to consistently happen. Miz/Rollins was great, but I’d rather see Seth beat other guys to earn a title shot instead of beating the champ in a non title match. It’s a weirder story, and takes away from the eventual title match.
2. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns is almost the perfect wrestler. He’s consistently good to great in the ring, has a believable look and CAN be good on the microphone. Every good Roman Reigns promo has a natural feel to it. His best one to date was a five word promo on the Raw after WrestleMania last year. Last night’s was a close second. If you look at Reigns, you know right off the bat that everything he says should be quick and impactful. He doesn’t need clever writers. He’s a 6’3 bad ass Samoan with wrestling royalty in his blood. If he’s going to speak, there should be a point to it. Last night he had a point to make, and he made it well.
WWE was advertising a face-off between Lesnar and Reigns all day. Lesnar was scheduled to be there and the face-off was in the script, but Lesnar never appeared. I’ll leave the speculation to the internet, but this worked out perfectly for Reigns. For the first time in a long time, he felt like an actual person instead of a first draft of a character.
He spoke with intent and purpose and whether this was a heavily scripted promo or not, there was some absolute truth behind it. It’s not secret Lesnar is an asshole, and that he only works for the money, and that he only cares about himself. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say Reigns doesn’t respect Lesnar, but I would not be surprised if he doesn’t like him.
Reigns speaking with a fiery passion is such an easy guy to root for. He’s already great in the ring and has a bad ass look. If you remind people that he actually loves what he does and cares about the business and fans once in awhile, the fans will respond. When’s the last time you heard more cheers than boos during a Reigns promo? Well it happened last night, and the best part about it was that it was earned. If WWE sticks with Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania, I guarantee you Reigns enters as the fan favorite.
1. Ronda Rousey, Slow Burn
The main event of last night’s show was Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle explaining their actions from Sunday night. The whole Kurt Angle/pneumonia/hallucinating story is silly, but I thought Rousey was very good here. She was much more confident on the mic, and that’s because her material was better. Ronda Rousey isn’t a character. She’s an actual real life bad ass. I understand having her explain this is her dream and she’s happy to be in the WWE. But I’m much more interested in the ‘I will rip your arm out of your socket’ Ronda Rousey.
The good news is that this will definitely lead to Angle and Rousey vs. HHH/Stephanie. HHH and Stephanie are experts at being dick bags, so it won’t be hard for the crowd to get behind Rousey. Let’s just hope Kurt Angle remembers not to blankly stare at the ceiling when HHH is around:
Rousey and Angle are gonna get their asses whooped at Mania if they don't improve their reaction time pic.twitter.com/REeVeohR80
— Robbie Fox (@RobbieBarstool) February 27, 2018