The New Day def. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev
I don’t know about you guys, but WWE has been killing it on the pre-shows lately. I didn’t expect much out of this match because WWE was airing backstage segments during the match, but this ended up being a tremendous match to warm up the crowd.
They kept the story basic, and they were to keep the crowd in it the entire time. I also like how they slowly but gradually raised the intensity of the match after each near-fall. It was a match of no consequence, and it was just four people workin their tails off. Great start! ***1/2
The Usos (C) def. The Miz and Shane McMahon – Smackdown Tag Team Championships
The tag teams seem to be bringing the heat tonight, evidently. Again, I’m not a fan of Miz and Shane as a team, but both teams worked hard here once again. Shane has always been a crazy SOB, and intercepting a frog splash in mid-air in 2019 was really something.
I was also a huge fan of the finish. The Miz lost in their last match because he wasn’t careful with his cover. Here, The Miz stepped out of his comfort zone by going to the top rope and getting the same fate dealt to him. It gives us consistency as well.
Now I don’t know how I feel about Shane’s heel turn, because he really shouldn’t be a character that we should be concerned with in 2019. But I suppose it gives Miz something to do. All in all, an eventful start. ***1/2
Asuka (C) def. Mandy Rose – Smackdown Women’s Championship
Well that was, er, not good. The match didn’t have much build to begin with, and the match pretty much matched the intensity, or lack thereof, of the feud. Simply put, the match sucked. There wasn’t a flow to the match, and the only story to follow here was what Sonya was doing on the outside.
So Deville looks for something on the apron once and moves away. Then she gets a Kendo Stick, leaves the apron up, Mandy slips, and the match ends? Um, ok? I don’t know if the story is Deville wanting a shot at the women’s title for herself or whatever, but everything here was awkward and disjointed. *
Cesaro and Sheamus def. Kofi Kingston – Handicap Match
Boy, this night is just filled with things the fans didn’t pay to see, eh? I did like the angle with Vince screwing over Kofi, as this is clearly a part of something bigger.
The match, if you want to call it that, however, is as the crowd said it was, boring. To be honest, this was really more of an angle than a formal match so I won’t even give it a rating.
I didn’t even think this was needed to hammer the point home. This continued the story, but not in the way I wanted.
The Revival (C) def. Aliester Black/Ricochet and Bobby Roode/Chad Gable – RAW Tag Team Championship
The crowd went from chanting “This is boring” to “This is awesome” best the span of two matches. While I wouldn’t say this match was “awesome”, this was exactly what I wanted it to be. An energetic sprint. We’ve already had two tag team matches. Three if you consider the handicap match to be one.
And with that, we still have The Shield six-man tag and ANOTHER set of tag titles to be defended. What this match needed to do is not only find a way to stand out but make sure they didn’t lose a crowd that would be subject to fatigue.
All teams kept up a brisk pace, there was brief resting periods, and they just went at it. Ricochet’s high flying acrobatics remain amazing, The Revival took advantage of opportunities and Roode/Gable took risks that almost paid off.
The right tag team won, and I enjoyed myself here. Good stuff. ***3/4
Samoa Joe (C) def. R-Truth, Andrade and Rey Mysterio – United States Championship
Be reminded, this was originally supposed to be Rey vs. Andrade on the pre-show.
Thankfully, it looks like superstars are getting the message. I liked this match a lot as well for the same reasons why I liked the match before it. There was nothing long and drawn out, and everyone was throwing haymakers from the moment the bell rang.
Rey Mysterio’s ability at this stage of his career is still incredible. I have no idea how he has the wherewithal to hit some of those hurricanranas. Andrade’s cockiness and callbacks to Eddie Guerrero was great, R-Truth in his usual self is good in any capacity and Joe did what he does best, and that’s give you a false sense of security before finishing you off.
Even the interactions with Carmella and Zelina eventually leading to Joe wisely taking advantage of the distraction was clever booking as well.
Smackdown’s mid-card is looking to be in great shape, and I’m glad they’re riding with Joe going into WrestleMania. Overall, this match didn’t overstay it’s welcome and the occupied the time given to them tremendously. Quality-wise, this was on par with this match on Smackdown, if not a bit higher. ****
Sasha Banks (C) and Bayley (C) def. Nia Jax and Tamina – Women’s Tag Team Championships
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get behind this match. This was primarily due to the fact that Nia and Tamina are two of the worst in-ring performers I’ve ever seen, and they are on the same team. I wish I could say this in jest, but they are seriously just bad. Nia is dangerous and clumsy, and Tamina is somehow a worse version of her.
God bless Sasha and Bayley for their passion because they carried this match along, and the effort was certainly there. But with Nia and Tamina, a match can only be so good. I give them the benefit of the doubt, but I didn’t really enjoy this. So, are Beth Phoenix and Natalya challenging for the titles now? *3/4
Daniel Bryan (C) def. Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali – WWE Championship
So much to digest here. Mustafa Ali was a logical replacement for Kofi because he was supposed to be in the Elimination Chamber. My biggest fear going to into this match was that the inevitable chants for Kofi would ruin my enjoyment of the match.
Sure enough, early on, we got chants of “Kofi” and “boring”. If we are being fair, the match was kind of slow paced to start. Remember the reasons why I loved the triple threat tag and the US Title fatal four way? It’s because they started big from the beginning. I think KO, Ali and Bryan were still trying to find a comfort zone.