Of course they did the official face-off pictures at the end and of course it got physical. Hunter hit Kurt from behind so Ronda when after Hunter but Steph gave her a uranage through a table. Based on the fact that the tables were covered with black tablecloths and the fact that the table seemed to break so cleanly, I’m going to assume that it was gimmicked, but either way it’s a little weird that Ronda has taken her first table bump before she has had her first match. This bit was effective for a go-home segment (or rather, it would have been if I cared about this match), but most of the talking was boring. Thankfully this didn’t last as long as these segments usually do in WWE, so that was a plus.
BAYLEY vs. SONYA DEVILLE (w/Absolution)- 4/10
Cole promises us that the Women’s Battle Royale will be just as important to the women as the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale has been to the men. That’s certainly true.
Bayley won. I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed seeing bayley beat Sonya up this week.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
Bayley then got beaten down by the Radic-galz. Sasha Banks showed up to make the save, then was huge asshole to Bayley. I popped huge when Bayley punched her in the face. They brawled until the NexSisters came back and beat them both up.
ASUKA-CHARLOTTE VIDEO PACKAGE- good video package, wrong show.
SETH ROLLINS vs. FINN BALOR- 8.25/10
Miz came out to do commentary… and the f*cking camera wouldn’t stop cutting to him. Even worse, he wasn’t even talking about anything relevant to the match. Okay, you just had a kid. I’m very happy for you… but now is the time when you’re supposed to be building up your WrestleMania match, not talking about your kid. They also minimized this match so they could give of the screen over to an AJ vs. Nakamura video package, which I’m sure we’ll all have to sit through approximately another 463 times on Sunday alone.
These guys had an awesome match that I’m sure I’d have been more into any other week of the year, but right now I just want everything to end already. I’m actually writing this bit after the Ronda Recap™ that aired after this and the various card rundowns and Brock/Roman video package that aired after that. That means I’m almost half way through the show, and I feel like nothing has happened.
And the crazy part is that I know that objectively that isn’t true. In fact, I think that everything booked so far tonight has at least been booked competently, even if, like the opening segment, it didn’t really catch my particular interest. Sasha and Bayley had an enjoyable brawl with Sasha making her role as the heel more clear by acting like an asshole beforehand while Bayley got to look good by getting a clean win, the mixed tag segment got some heat on the heels on the go-home show so that the babyfaces have something tangible to get revenge for, and Rollins beating Balor sets up for Balor pinning Miz at the PPV and then us getting a rematch of the awesome match we just saw at the next PPV, but this time with no commercials and the prestigious Intercontinental Championship on the line.
And yet a large chunk of the reason I had trouble getting into this match was that in this feud, NOTHING has moved forward since the match was first announced, so I assumed we were getting more of the same here tonight and was expecting Miz-tourage to run in at any moment for the double DQ and beat-down. And that’s something that would have been okay to do on a go-home show, but the way WWE has booked the build to not just this match but this entire WrestleMania card has already worn through my patience. Let’s look at the matches:
Ronda & Kurt vs. Hunter & Steph- this has move forward just about every week.
US Title- this, too, has felt like a progressing storyline.
Owens & Zayn vs. Bryan & Shane- it’s been bad, but at least it has moved forward.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale- no build at all
Women’s Battle Royale- not only has this had no build at all, but it is taking the place of what feels like should be a featured WrestleMania singles match between Bayley and Sasha.
IC Title- as documented, this hasn’t moved forward at all.
SD Women’s Title- nothing has happened
Raw Women’s Title- there was one moment week where something actually happened. This one is probably the most frustrating because instead of trying to craft a progressing story of Nia being pissed off at Alexa and wanting the title shot Alexa promised her all those months ago and never got her, they instead decided to job both women out to Asuka a bunch of times and do an angle where Nia was given a title match because Alexa made her cry, turning what should have been the devious champion vs. the unstoppable force into one loser defending her title against another loser because the first loser hurt the second loser’s feelings.
Raw Tag Titles- arguably a progressing story, but it buries the whole division.
SD Tag titles- not really a progressing story.
Taker vs. Cena- nothing has moved forward.
WWE Universal Title- they’ve had two different angles here that they have just repeated several times each, so basically it’s not fair to say it hasn’t progressed at all, but it has certainly been repetitive to the point of boredom.
World Heavyweight Title- nothing has happened, and they’ve been teasing this match since all the way back in January, so it’s even worse than the others.
So at this point, after a good month of nothing happening almost every week, I just want this sh*t to be over with.
PAUL HEYMAN & KURT ANGLE BACKSTAGE- bad
The implication is that Heyman was talking a fellow Jew who works for UFC. Kurt asks Paul not so “say anything that would incite Roman Reigns to injure Brock Lesnar.” Heyman burst out laughing at this. This felt heavy-handed, and Kurt’s delivery was pretty terrible. He almost always comes off like he’s the straight man in a comedy act, oblivious to the atmosphere around him, which makes the things he says impossible to take seriously.
TAG TITLE SEGMENT- atrocious
Sheamus & Cesaro cut a boring promo. Braun came out and they built up to the reveal of his tag team partner by saying that Braun’s partner wants a match with one of them. I’m kind of hoping that it’s Undertaker and his silence has been one elaborate troll-job on Cena.
Anyway, they agree to this match so Braun goes backstage and comes back with different clothes on, claiming to be Braun’s brother “Brains.” He beat up both of the tag team champions on his own. This was horrendous.
GOLDUST PROMO- good enough that he almost managed to make me forget it was for the Andre The Giant Memorial Bathroom Break.
MATT HARDY PROMO- skipped it.
MATT HARDY vs. GOLDUST- 4/10
Corey Graves tried to claim that losing last year’s Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale due to getting shoulder-tackled by a football player somehow led to Mojo winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Those are the pathetic lengths they are forced to go to in order to try to convince people that this match is in any way important.
The match wasn’t bad, but it was pointless. After the match, Matt Hardy went over the Andre statue and felt the size of its penis.
ALEXA BLISS! & MICKIE JAMES PHONE PROMO- this would have been okay if it wasn’t shot via selfie and didn’t have words on the screen.
JOHN CENA PROMO- He says we’re out of time for Undertaker to respond, so he guesses it isn’t happening. Way to bury Smackdown there, John.
FINALLY they address why Cena won’t just enter the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale or try to be Braun’s partner or something else along those lines. The reason is… because his recent string of losses means that if he were to do so, he would be taking a spot from a “full-time Superstar who had busted their ass all year.” I can buy this argument for the tag title match, but for the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale? Really? CURT HAWKINS is going to be in that match, and his whole gimmick is that he hasn’t won a match in well over a year! John Cena beat Kane just last week, so that should automatically put him above Hawkins on the totem pole of who deserves a spot or not. Hell, in his last four televised matches, Cena is actually 3-1, with wins over not only Kane but also WWE World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles, and wasn’t even the guy who got pinned in the one match that he did lose. How the hell is Curt Hawkins more deserving of a spot than Cena? If you want to talk about someone who is talking opportunities away from other, more deserving wrestles, it’s Curt Hawkins. There is no logical reason for him to even be employed (or at the very least on the main roster) with a record like that. He is taking a spot away from some young NXT hopeful.
Or let’s look at this another way. If Cena feels so unworthy that he won’t even enter himself into the Andre The Giant Memorial Everyone Gets A Chance To Hit Tee-Ball League (which exists for the sole purpose of getting everyone on the WrestleMania card) then how the hell does he justify this campaign to take a top spot on the card for a match against The Undertaker? Shouldn’t he instead be lobbying Taker to accept a match against someone like Samoa Joe?
Not going to lie… I got really bored during this and figured I’d fast forward until the lights went out but they never did, so no Undertaker yet.
KURT ANGLE & ROMAN REIGNS BACKSTAGE- bad
Kurt begs Roman not to attack Brock. Roman says that he will hear Paul out, but warns Kurt that if Paul says one thing he doesn’t like, he will go out there and fight Brock. Roman says that he has to do this because he is tired of the “disrespect” Heyman has shown him over the past six years.
Disrespect? Heyman is very careful to always build people up in his promos, not bury them. He says everyone Brock is set to face is a world-class wrestler and a worthy challenger. He said Brock was better than they were, yes, but that’s Paul’s job. I thought this made Roman look like a total moron for not understanding that.
Roman also claimed that “everyone in the locker room” and “all of the fans” were tired of Heyman disrespecting him, which was a line that had me in stitches. If anyone in the locker room cared about you, they would have helped you at some point over the past few weeks when Brock was beating the sh*t out of you, and if the fans cared about you so much, they wouldn’t have been chanting for Brock to beat you up more.
THE DRIFTER SINGS- he was interrupted by Heath Slater & Rhyno because apparently it was time for…
“THE DRIFTER” ELIAS SAMPSON vs. HEATH SLATER (w/Rhyno)- squash.
CURT HAWKINS BOTHERS BRAUN STROWMAN BACKSTAGE- Hawkins outright says that he wants to use Braun to improve his miserable win-loss record. Braun threw him through a wall. Hawkins got off lucky.
RENEE YOUNG’S SIT-DOWN INTERVIEW WITH NIA JAX- bad until the end
Nia talks about being you and respecting yourself etc. It’s not that any of this is bad or anything, but her delivery was devoid of charisma. She’s not, like, Dana Brooke-level or anything, but she just comes off as constantly sad and wistful rather than actually practicing what she preaches and being proud. Even at the end when she was supposed to be that way, she still shouted unsure of herself. Renee Young assured Nia that everyone respects all of her accomplishments, at which point I was compelled to shout “what accomplishments?” because Nia Jax hasn’t won sh*t.
Nia says that she didn’t think that Alexa saw her as a big, gullible idiot. The fact of the matter is, though, that it’s really hard to deny that that’s exactly what Nia is. How many times did she turn on Alexa, only to rejoin her within a few weeks? She was Alexa’s lackey for ten months and there was never any sign that Alexa intended to get her the title shot she promised her in exchange for her services as an insurance policy. How am I not supposed to see her this way?
(And I’m not blaming this on Nia at all. This is all on Vince and Creative’s start-and-stop mentality and inability to follow through on a story once they start it up [with the frustratingly glaring exception of making Roman Reigns the top babyface]).
And then we got that final bit where HOLY SH*T SOMEONE LOOKED INTO THE CAMERA AND CUT A PROMO ON THEIR OPPONENT LIKE AN ACTUAL WRESTLING SHOW! HOORAY!
Nia’s last bit (the actual promo part) was good, aside from that “pathetic little fly” line.
ALEXA BLISS! & MICKIE JAMES vs. ASUKA & DANA BROOKE- 4.5/10
Titus & Apollo were not at ringside with Dana for no adequately explained reason. Also, Dana is back to being a babyface again after having randomly been a heel in that dark segment with Ronda a few weeks ago that they put up on YouTube.
The match itself was fine- Dana was the babyface in peril and got her arm worked over, then Asuka got the hot tag, ran wild, did some nearfalls with Mickie, then made her tap- but the booking was idiotic. Asuka has already gotten TWO video packages tonight. Did she really also need a win? And over a pair of women she’s beaten multiple times over the past few weeks, to boot? This result helped no one, but hurt Alexa and Mickie. There was absolutely no reason for this to not just be Alexa Bliss! beating Dana Brooke cleanly so that the Raw Women’s Champion can go into her title match at WrestleMania looking like a winner and not like a loser.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Alexa Bliss! & Mickie James beat up Asuka and Dana. This was all done so Nia Jax could make the save. Alexa got away but Nia beat up Mickie James. Didn’t this exact same thing just happen last week? Also, there was no reason this couldn’t have happened after Alexa getting a singles victory over Dana.
KURT ANGLE IS A WHINY, WORRYING SH*T BACKSTAGE- dude… if you’re so concerned about someone getting injured before your main event, then why not just work on coming up with a replacement rather than begging guys to do something when you know they’re not going to listen to you and when we all know you’re not going to punish them for disobeying? Or if you don’t want them to fight, why don’t you surround the ring with security? Or say that if they touch each other, they’ll both be fined a million, zillion dollars and forfeit their entire WrestleMania purses?
CLOSING SEGMENT- snore
Heyman & Lesnar come out for Heyman to cut Heyman’s promo, so Kurt has put the entire tag team division on the ramp to prevent Roman from coming out to fight Brock. This would be fine if not for the fact that the last few times Roman has shown up to try to fight Brock he has come through the crowd, and Kurt has no one posted by the barricades. Heyman cut a very good promo on Roman, and said that Brock was going to UFC.
Once Heyman was done, Roman came out. The tag team division tried to block him. He cut a promo on them, asking if they as “full-time talent are really going to protect that part-time bastard.” They thought about it for a moment, and they all turned to let Roman through. All ten of them. Basically, it was a really lame version of this:
And I’m sure none of these guys will face any sort of punishment from Kurt, either, which once again makes Kurt look like a completely ineffective authority figure.
Brock and Roman spent a long time standing there and not fighting. Brock got a chair but Roman beat him up. Roman then went and posed with the belt… and Brock got up and hit Roman with the F-5, making Roman look like an idiot. That was your go-home angle.
This was a boring, frustrating go-home show. I have no idea how I’m going to make it through SEVEN HOURS of WrestleMania. Well… maybe things will be better next year when Vince is off wasting time and money on the XFL revival.