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
The Raw brand had their final stop on the road to WrestleMania last night. WWE Elimination Chamber was a really enjoyable show featuring both a men’s and women’s chamber match. Alexa Bliss successfully defended the Women’s championship while Roman Reigns outlasted Braun Strowman to become the #1 contender for the Universal title. We predicted both of those things. My favorite part of the show wasn’t a match, though. It was Ronda Rousey being a bad ass.
Ronda Rousey Contract Signing
Kurt Angle, HHH and Stephanie McMahon were all in the ring to welcome Rousey aboard. After a Rousey promo, business immediately picked up. Kurt Angle was ushered out of the ring, Rousey and Steph went to nose nose, HHH was thrown through a table and Stephanie slapped the hell out of Rousey. The crowd loved it, because Rousey should always be kicking ass instead of cutting promos. I enjoyed it for that reason, as well as WWE remembering their history. Rousey, Steph, HHH and The Rock had an altercation at WrestleMania 31. There’s obviously still some unfinished business there, and I’m glad WWE is keeping that story line going. Also, it’s a smart move to have Rousey work with Steph and HHH instead of immediately inserting her into the women’s title picture. You want the crowd to be on Rousey’s side, and it’d be too easy for them to turn on her if she’s forced into something.
This was a great ‘official’ introduction for Rousey, and perfectly planted the seeds for a mixed tag WrestleMania match. Kurt Angle is the most likely partner for Rousey, which should be a lot of fun.
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for February 1, 2018.
On today’s show we’re chatting about what we’re watching, David Copperfield, last Sunday’s Royal Rumble, this Sunday’s Super Bowl, Elon Musk’s new flamethrower & the latest on Logan Paul. You can chat with us on Twitter, toss us a like on Facebook and heart all our pictures on Instagram. Don’t forget, this podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and YouTube.
– @ryanfoges @mattfromri
I’m an optimistic wrestling fan. That’s not something you see a lot of on social media, but I’m one of them. That”s why I think Ronda Rousey coming to the WWE is going to be fantastic. While Rousey has made only one WWE appearance it has generated a lot of reactions.
Ronda Rousey Debuts in the WWE
Firstly, let’s look at what the detractors are saying. Sasha Banks & Nia Jax are seemingly unhappy with Rousey’s arrival and subsequent spotlight. Those comments have triggered WWE fans into thinking that Rousey isn’t well liked and therefore won’t succeed. Let’s get real for a moment. This is the WWE. The athleticism, injuries and insane skill that go into being a pro wrestler are very real. Wrestlers getting fans to start conspiracy theories via Twitter and interviews are not. While I appreciate it still being real to some people, you have to think logically.
Rousey vs. The World
Nia Jax is the women’s division resident monster. Sasha Banks is The Boss. They don’t call her that because she loves giving other women the spotlight. The Nia tweet everyone is focusing on is this one. Now, would it be smart for WWE to get some feuds going via Twitter and interviews or should everyone just be ecstatic that Rousey is there? The WWE is better than almost anyone at utitlizing social media, and if Rousey is still training for her first match, why not use the power of the internet to stir the pot?
Is Rousey going to take someone’s spot? Of course she is. The same way Asuka took someone’s spot when she debuted. The same way Ember Moon took someone’s spot in the women’s royal rumble. If Rousey was in the WWE for a one and done I would understand the uproar. She’s not, as she’s signed to a multi year deal and already has great name value. I’m sorry if I don’t fall apart when she takes Bayley or Mickie James’ spot.
Maybe the dumbest ‘point’ being discussed is that Ronda Rousey will only succeed if she’s built up properly. Uhh, ya think? Same goes for literally every other man and woman that debuts on the main roster. If her character sucks and they put her in story lines that don’t maximize her strengths she will not succeed. If her character is good and they do maximize her strengths, she will succeed. Those two things have nothing to do with Ronda Rousey.
Here’s the thing. While it’s fun to think the women’s revolution is due to contributions from past stars, it’s just not true. The reason women are in the main events of Raw, Smackdown and pay per views is because of women like Ronda Rousey. Same goes for the women’s TLC, cage, royal rumble and elimination chamber. If Rousey didn’t prove that people will pay to watch talented women fight, the WWE would not have followed suit. Rousey has legit fighting skills that will only be enhanced as she continues to train in the Performance Center. More importantly, she knows how to sell and perform in big time events.
She’s headlined multiple UFC events that have earned over 1 million PPV buys. While her career as a UFC fighter might be over, her career as a WWE star is just beginning. That’s great news for everyone involved.
LMFAO!!! Ronda don’t play! pic.twitter.com/jT3KW1lS3M
— Dana White (@danawhite) July 16, 2015
Ronda Rousey might be spirit animal. Not only does she win Best Female Athlete, but she’s uses that platform to call out serial abuser/horrible person Floyd Mayweather. Now I’m not saying Ronda Rousey would beat Floyd in a boxing match. He’s one of the best in the world for a reason, but throw him in a UFC cage and he’d probably get his arm broken. People are arguing that Ronda shouldn’t have won this ESPY, which is weird, because usually when someone wins an award, no one ever complains and everyone is just happy for the person who won. Whether you agree with her winning or not, you can’t argue that she’s a badass who should absolutely join the WWE because we would love her and appreciate her.
Ronda Rousey did an SI Swimsuit photo shoot, and there’s now an outtake video online. It’s pretty wonderful, as is Ronda Rousey. What’s seriously not to love about her. She’s an ass kicker. She loves wrestling. She seems like a lovely human being. And she’s also very easy on the eyes. My only question is how do you get to be the guy who rubs her down before the shoot? You could pay me in barrels of peas and I’d still be down for that job.
Dana White just shattered my heart into a million little pieces with a frozen sledgehammer. While Dana White seems pretty sure that Rousey will never fight in the WWE, I learned a long time ago to never doubt Vincent Kennedy McMahon. If he wants someone to appear at WrestleMania, you better believe that person will be there. While Rousey fighting an actual match while under contract with UFC was always a long shot, I still think she’ll play some kind of role at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas. The Rock wants it to happen. WWE wants it to happen. Even Ronda herself wants it to happen, so if the deal is ‘you can’t fight’, then I’m sure the WWE can figure out a way to use her in an effective way. After all, Vince always win.
Ronda Rousey & The Rock Made Surprise Appearances At WrestleMania To Confront The Authority #WrestleMania
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) March 30, 2015
— Maykel Delgado (@maykel_jav) March 30, 2015
WrestleMania 31 was a fantastic show filled with unbelievable entrances, excellent in ring bouts and a few surprises. Two of those surprises were The Rock and UFC mega star Ronda Rousey, who came out to confront The Authority on behalf of the WWE Universe. The Rock had a hell of a weekend, as he killed it on SNL (there will be a post on that later today) and was on top of his smack talk game here with HHH and Steph. When The Rock challenged HHH to duke it out, Stephanie stepped up instead and told The Rock to leave her ring, adding in the fact that Dwayne would never hit a girl. He wouldn’t, but he just so happened to know someone sitting in the front row who gets paid a lot of money to hit girls. That someone was Ronda Rousey, and a few punches and an arm bar takeover later, Steph and HHH were retreating and The Rock and Ronda were standing tall. This was a really cool moment, and setup two possible WrestleMania 32 matches. The possibilities are endless for these four, and I’m glad Ronda got her first WrestleMania moment. In case you were wondering what Ronda’s boss thought of all of this…
— Dana White (@danawhite) March 30, 2015