WWE Raw and Smackdown Thoughts – January 16th & 17th, 2017
We’re less than two weeks away from the Royal Rumble and besides hyping the Rumble match on Raw, I really didn’t come away from the show with any more interest than I already had. Same goes for Smackdown. Here’s what resonated with me this week.
The beginning segment of the show wasn’t bad at all as it did put the spotlight on many wrestlers that could potentially win the Royal Rumble match (maybe minus Sami Zayn). Lesnar coming in at the end to destroy everyone and have a showdown with Brawn Stroman was a good way to reestablish Brock’s dominance after a quick loss to Goldberg a few months back.
The three-on-three main event (Rollins, Reigns, and Zayn vs. Strowman, Owens, and Jericho) was a decent match but I have to say that I really liked the ending where Owens decimated Reigns. It’s great to see Owens as a threat and legitimate badass instead of just one half of a comedy team and poorly booked champion. I really hope WWE surprises me and somehow lets Owens retain the belt until WM and book him as the heel to beat.
Charlotte’s promo on Bayley went way too long and the crowd was dead for it. It didn’t do anything for me because I just didn’t see the point. Charlotte is showing footage of her competitor being passionate about WWE since she was a kid and that’s supposed to make her look bad? I don’t think so – but then again, that was maybe the point. Charlotte was mocking it while people in the crowd thought, “yeah, she loves wrestling! So what?” Maybe that’s why it fell flat…it just wasn’t embarrassing.
Props to WWE Creative for doing something different having footage of Nia Jax attacking Sasha Banks during rehearsals/production set up. They didn’t really do more with the two besides that filmed segment, but it’s still in my head a few days later because it WAS different.
It was quite interesting to see Gallows and Anderson technically win the Raw Tag Team Championship but then have the ref take it away from them because Sheamus accidentally bumped the ref. It’s usually the good guys that it happens to! It makes it believable that Gallows and Anderson are a threat and can actually beat the champs for the belt. Unfortunately, WWE has a long way to go with building Gallows and Anderson back up after the damage they caused them last year. They need a championship reign that rivals The New Day and if they become champs, they have to BEAT The New Day in championship matches.
Speaking of The New Day, I am SOOO bored with them on TV. I find myself forwarding the segments on my PVR any time they come out now.
I’ll end my thoughts on Raw by saying heel Neville is the best. He’s the best thing about the Cruiserweight division and you can see how WWE dropped the ball with him as they didn’t need the Cruiserweight division for him to shine last year.
It was a bit unusual for Smackdown to have only three matches on the show this week but I still found the show more satisfying than Raw.
Is WWE testing the waters with a babyfaced AJ Styles? Yes, he was still playing a heel against Shane McMahon when it was announced there would be an Elimination Chamber PPV/match in February. Styles was also playing the heel against John Cena but when you’re in a verbal confrontation and/or match against The Miz, The Miz is always the heel. Even with Styles acting like a heel, the crowd was/is so into him it’ll be hard to keep him as a heel for long.
I liked how Styles/Miz match ended in a DQ, protecting both heels and trying to get heat by them attacking Cena. Like usual, Cena came out on top while both Styles and The Miz sold the AA from Cena. The crowd barely popped for Cena as he held the belt at the end of that Cena winning the belt just for the sake of tying Ric Flair’s 16 time record shouldn’t be done at this point and time. The only rationale thing they COULD do is have Cena go over Styles at the Rumble and then have Style regain the championship in the Elimination Chamber match. I think Styles deserves to headline WrestleMania but at this point in the time, I’m not sure against who.
The Dean Ambrose/Randy Orton match bored me to tears. You knew that Luke Harper was going to cost Orton the match to further the Wyatt Family story line, so it was just a waste of time. After all of this, we have no direction for Dean Ambrose as the Intercontinental Champ and a match between Orton and Harper next week. Whoopee.
I have to say I really liked the Nikki Bella/Natalya confrontation. Does Natalya need to say something as crushing as her uncle, Bret Hart, dying alone to generate heat? I don’t think so, but her actions of going to the merch table to reiterate that she doesn’t get what she deserves worked. I liked the unique approach of a confrontation out at a merch booth and found it amusing that Natalya was throwing out other people’s shirts. The spear Nikki gave Natalya, causing them to go through a table, made me gasp because I wasn’t sure if Natalya bumped her head on the concrete. The brawl afterward was effective and actually made me care more about this feud.
To wrap up my thoughts on Smackdown, I was impressed with the Smackdown Women’s Championship match in the steel cage. Would I like to have seen a bit more action? Sure. Would I have liked this to have gone on longer? Sure. Do I think they should have waited for a PPV so the women could have more time and try and bring down the house? You betcha! But for TV, it was a decent match.
For the ending, if you weren’t on any wrestling websites on Tuesday, you may have been surprised when La Luchadora showed up and cost Becky Lynch the match. You may have been even more surprised that La Luchadora was really Mickie James (mind you, it wasn’t the same woman portraying her as the last time as the body proportions were definitely different).
This reveal/revelation leads me to question WWE Creative. You have Mickie James, one of the best women wrestlers, back in the company. People applauded the hell out of her when she had her NXT match against Asuka and they have her come back as a heel? Why in the hell would they do that? Yeah, I know Smackdown doesn’t have enough strong heel women but c’mon…the crowed was still chanting her name after the beat-down of Becky Lynch at the end.
Isn’t there a better way to book Mickie James? Sure, the decision helps Bliss retain the championship, but it makes her look like a weak champ. I’m sure Mickie and Becky will have fantastic matches together, but where does that leave Bliss in the equation and who will step up to team with Becky (for the inevitable two on two match before Mickie and Becky ever square off against each other) and perhaps challenge Bliss for the belt? I guess that’s what tuning in next week is all about, right?