The Usos (C) def. New Day – SmackDown Tag Team Championships
These two teams know each other like the back of each other’s hands, which means they are practically incapable of having a bad match.
Thing is, as with most WWE tropes, they practically spoiled the finish of the match by having the challengers defeat the champions before this title bout. So once again, I already know what the destination will bring, so I decided to enjoy the journey. This match was a beautiful opening bout. Great heat segments, great near-falls and great transitions. If you’ve seen any Uso/New Day match the last 4 or so years, you know what I’m talking about. They’ve had better bouts, but I still enjoyed this heavy. ****
Drew McIntyre def. Madcap Moss
I was hoping that this match would be a squash but in light of Roman’s situation, they probably needed to fill as much time as they could. I just don’t see Madcap as a main roster guy as of yet. Maybe in time, I don’t know. Match itself was kind of whatever. Drew hit his big moves and it was inoffensive at best, so not much to say past that. **1/4
RK-Bro (C) def. Street Profits – RAW Tag Team Championships
Unlike the SmackDown variation, this match had a little more extracurricular activity due to the fact that both teams were face teams and Migos were ringside. When they came out with RK-Bro in their entrance, you just knew who was winning. This was a pretty bare bones match with a basic formula. Nothing too crazy, nothing too out of the ordinary except with Ford impressing with his athleticism and hops once again. Sometimes, simple and basic is all you need. ***
Edge def. The Miz
Edge is my favorite superstar of all time. Bar none and it’s not even close. However, one thing I’ve noticed in his matches since he’s returned is just the sheer length of them. It’s like his contract stipulates he has to be in at least a 20 minute match.
Its not always a bad thing, because he’s had some bangers, but sometimes I feel as though he has long matches just for the sake of us knowing he’s fully healthy and can still go for long periods. That’s encouraging to know, but not always necessary. For example, this match. Maybe this match is shorter if Roman/Brock is still on, but even so, this didn’t need the length of time it did to get to the somewhat predictable conclusion of Beth Phoenix evening the odds for his husband.
Don’t get me wrong. Match was fundamentally sound and well-worked, if not a tad slowly paced. But I also thought there were a tad too many rest holds and spots that weren’t needed just to pad time.
For example, there was a sequence where Miz smashes Edge’s brain into the announce table. Miz goes back in the ring to showboat. Edge for some reason lies on his belly on the announce table. Miz goes back outside, tries to hit SCF on the announce table onto the table and Edge reverses it into a front face side slam before resting a little longer. It’s sequences like that which doesn’t really advance the match and just serves to fill time. It’s not bad, and maybe if it were a title match or something it would feel more impactful.
But I just felt like they went a little long for the sake of being long. Again, a good match, but went a bit too long to get to a predictable distraction finish. ***
Becky Lynch (C) def. Liv Morgan – RAW Women’s Championship
This was another well worked match between these two as Liv continues to grow as a singles star. They definitely weren’t taking the title off of Becky at this stage in the WWE season. I also felt as though Liv never really was going to actually win during the match. She never had that moment where I thought it was over.
Even when she was going for her rope-assisted finisher, it looked heavily choreographed into a reversal. I’m confident Liv is going to hold that title one day, perhaps within the next few months, but this is where WWE puts there reliable aces on the table, and while Liv will get there, it’s still Becky’s time. Would have made for a nice surprise though. Match was very well done, and aside from a few awkward moments (including the finish where it looked like Becky was trying to use the ropes but was too far away), I liked it. ***1/2
Brock Lesnar def. Big E (C), Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Bobby Lashley – WWE Championship (Fatal Five Way)
First, a word on Big E. You gotta feel for him. This morning, he’s probably thinking he’ll be going into the Rumble as the WWE Champion. Then Roman tests positive and he’s told Brock will be in his match and taking his title. It’s rough, and it sucks, but the bottom line is Brock is at that point in his career where he’s just going to get those kinds of impromptu title runs, especially in WrestleMania season. Underwhelming as it was, I don’t believe his loss was a referendum on his ability, but Brock is Brock. So these things will happen. It’s WWE business. So where does Brock go from here? Well, judging on a brief post match stare down between Brock and Bobby, I think that’s your WrestleMania WWE Title Match right there. It kind of writes itself. Brock and Bobby is a dream match many have clamored for since Lashley returned to WWE, and there’s no better opportunity to do it. And there’s nothing to stop WWE from doing so. I’d probably say Big E gets a rematch at the Rumble, Lashley wins the Rumble, and they hit the ground running from there.
On the SmackDown side of things, well, it gets interesting. It was reported earlier in the week that WWE did everything in their power to make sure the original main event of Roman vs. Brock wouldn’t be tampered with because a major angle with WrestleMania implications was apparently planned. And Roman still tested positive. So what happens now? Do they continue to have the feud with Brock and do a champion vs. champion winner take all match? Or do they just table the feud and have a new out of left field challenger step up? It’s an interesting conundrum, but as I’ve said in the past, WWE is often at their best when they’re forced to improvise on the fly due to circumstances beyond their control and it often results in matches we’ve never seen in WWE before (see Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles at TLC 2017). Next week should be interesting.
As far as this match goes, it wasn’t a match. It was a train wreck. An entertaining one. Say what you want about Brock or if he’s deserving of winning these titles are not. The bottom line is this. He gets these title wins for a reason. He remains a box office attraction. His moves are impactful. He looks the part. His presence in a match amplifies the energy of everything. I can’t describe it, it’s just something you have to see.
It’s really a shame the main event ended up being almost the shortest match of the night, but when so many impactful moves are being hit in such a condensed period, it makes things feel intense and high stakes. Rollins and Owens didn’t do much past their double team moves, and the big moves were really hit by Lashley and Lesnar, which is why I think that’s the direction WWE will go in. I would have given anything to see even five-ten more minutes of this, but as an impromptu sprint, I can’t complain too much. I enjoyed it. Would be much higher if not for the sub 10 minute time stamp. ***3/4
In light of Roman’s sudden change in status, you have to wonder how things would have looked if everything remained on. Would Brock have won the Universal Title? Who knows, but once again, WWE is forced to veer off their pre-planned course, but that’s when a lot of the fun happens. For Day 1 as a whole, I give it a relatively solid thumbs up. Nothing overstayed its welcome despite Edge/Miz pushing it a bit. If anything, the main event understayed (pretty sure that’s not a word) its welcome, but it was still balls to the wall for what we got. The tag matches ranged from good to great, the women were solid, and we have a set stage for the Rumble. Let’s see where we go from here.