WWE Raw and Smackdown Thoughts – January 30th & 31st, 2017

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Source: WWE.com

Hot off the heels of a good Royal Rumble PPV (see my thoughts – great undercard, unfulfilling Rumble match), Raw and Smackdown needed to be hot to kick off the road to Wrestlemania on TV.

RAW

One of Raw’s main storyline revolved around Seth Rollins and his quest to confront Triple H. After some unnecessary banter with Stephanie McMahon, Rollins got what he asked for at the end of the show: to confront Triple H face to face. Triple H appeared in the ring talking about suppressing his destroyer persona so he could remain the creator and that Rollins shouldn’t be looking for a fight with him.

As Rollins made his way down to the ring after Hunter’s diatribe, he got ambushed by Samoa Joe, who is now on the main roster. The beat down of Rollins was impressive and the show went off the air with Rollins grasping for his breath after Joe had him in the Komodo Lock.

While I’m happy to see Joe, there are a few things I’m questioning. I wonder why Joe is on Raw and not Smackdown. It probably have made more sense for Joe to be on the same show with AJ Styles if they are now both being presented as heels. With the beat down, it would now seem that Joe and Rollins will probably meet in a match on the Fastlane PPV in March (if they hold off that long). If that’s the case, I’ll bet that there will be some sort of stipulation where if Rollins beats Joe, he’ll get HHH at Wrestlemania. That may mean that Joe will have to take a loss while Rollins moves on to his match against HHH. So where will that put Joe?

As well, placing Samoa Joe with HHH didn’t get the effect WWE probably wanted from the crowd. While the crowd was/is behind Rollins usually, everything flipped upside down when Joe showed up and beat up Rollins. Hell, the show went off the air with Rollins down and the crowd chanting, “Joe! Joe! Joe!” I don’t think that’s what WWE wanted.

Is it me or is anyone else surprised that Sheamus and Cesaro were all buddy-buddy again AND didn’t get a rematch for the Tag Team Championship on Raw? Anyone else also surprised that Bayley got a quick pin on Charlotte when Charlotte didn’t get even 20% of the beating she got the night before but kicked out of everything Bayley handed to her at the Royal Rumble? Weird.

You had to love the crowd chanting “Thank you, Strowman!” when he appeared to challenge Owens for the belt. You KNEW when the match was announced that Reigns would interfere and cost Strowman the belt. It looks like these two will be feuding until Fastlane at least.

Sami Zayn getting the pin on Jericho may foreshadow a new US Champion is coming. Jericho announced that he was done with WWE after April because he’ll be focusing on his band Fozzy. Could we see Zayn capture the belt sooner than later? Could Zayn face Owens and Jericho for the US Championship at Wrestlemania if Owens loses the Universal Championship before it? There are so many options still popping up!

It looks like Lesnar and Goldberg will totally be a lock now for Wrestlemania now that the challenge has been put out there.

You could still hear a pin drop when Rich Swann came out to confront Neville. The Crusierweight division really needs a likable and huge face. Perhaps Brian Kendrick could switch his attitude and be the guy to tear the house down at Wrestlemania against Neville. I’d watch that.

Smackdown

I was expecting a bit more from this week’s edition of Smackdown considering that they only have two weeks to build to the Elimination Chamber PPV. We officially found out the Chamber match will include John Cena, Bray Wyatt, AJ Style, Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, and The Miz.

I have no idea why Dean Ambrose is in the match as it will be the second PPV that he is not defending his Intercontinental Championship. Randy Orton, who is now the number one contender, is also not in the match for some weird reason. It will be interesting to see what his role on the PPV will be – probably another match against Luke Harper.

Natalya vs. Nikki Bella has been announced for the PPV and it’s a given that Becky Lynch will probably face off against Mickie James at the show (or Kick-Off show). Naomi will face Alexa Bliss for the Smackdown Women’s Championship based on Naomi pinning the champ again for the second time in a two day span (boy, that makes Bliss look weak). Imagine that: a WWE PPV with three womens matches! How times have changed.

I bet we’ll also see Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews at the Elimination Chamber PPV considering either man isn’t in the Chamber match. Unfortunately, they aren’t letting Ziggler play up his heel persona as much or as well as they should and WWE Creative STILL hasn’t given the audience any reason to care or latch onto Apollo Crews.

I can’t believe it took the announce team until the main event of the show to mention the huge feat it was for Baron Corbin to eliminate Braun Strowman at the Royal Rumble. Why? I don’t know. I would have had Corbin come out, grab a mic and gloat like hell.

Speaking about grabbing the mic, when Cena came out at the beginning of the show, I couldn’t believe how dead the crowed was. You’d think if people (besides kids) really cared about Cena holding the belt again, you’d hear more enthusiasm from the crowd. There wasn’t any.

Having Orton pin Cena in the no-so two-on-two match and then announcing that Orton vs. Cena are facing each other next week on Smackdown really leads me to believe that Cena won’t have the championship by Wrestlemania and we won’t be seeing them face each other. It’s also funny that in a recent interview, AJ Styles said that one of his dream opponents is Randy Orton. Hmm….

The main event between AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose was good, with Styles coming out on top like he should. Unfortunately, there was no title on the line and nothing really mattered in the grand scheme of things. The real main purpose of the match was to be a showcase for everyone in the Chamber match (besides Cena and Bray Wyatt) to have some time on TV. Why the belt wasn’t on the line is beyond me (THAT makes for good TV, Daniel Bryan!).

While I want to end my look at this week’s shows on a high note, I can’t because I want to focus on how awful Smackdown’s tag team division is. Besides American Alpha coming out and being somewhat serious on the show, do we really care about any of the other teams or the division as a whole?

I TOTALLY forgot about The Usos. The Vaudevillains, Breezango, and the Ascension all need to be repackaged or the teams need to be split up and rebranded as individuals as they’re all nothing more than cartoony/80s style joke teams with absolutely no credibility. I also thought that Rhyno didn’t like Heath Slater now, so why are they rushing the ring together acting like a team? They have also become irrelevant (at least one or both of these guys could have been in the Rumble match).

WWE Creative really needs to go back to the drawing board with this division because American Alpha and the other wrestlers that are haphazardly linked to this division all deserve more than this. It is apparent that the division and its participants is nothing more than an afterthought at this point and it’s a shame.

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