|And THAT's why he's the champ. For at least another 10 days.|
(Raw) Kevin Owens, on the mic, alone, in the ring, in a spotlight, slowly winning the crowd over as he details his plans to defeat Goldberg at Fastlane. And then, at the end, he says, "As for Chris Jericho..." and leaves the ring, because KEVIN FUCKING OWENS. So good.
(NXT) Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews put together a match that, by the end, absolutely demanded you pay attention to it Two of the big standouts from the UK Championship, the match featured amazing spots, incredible counters, mat work, hard striking, and a building story that really made the most of "two British guys wrestling an exhibition match".
((Raw) "You know she Russian, right?" This New Day Ice Cream Machine bit is ridiculous, but they're making it work. I can only assume it'll debut as part of The New Day hosting Wrestlemania, which I'm fine with, given their current position as crowd-popping midcarders.
(Raw) "HELL NO!" There are a lot of nits one could pick with this segment, and how they're pushing Bayley, and the whole Raw women's division, but what matters is that when Bayley said "HELL NO", the crowd went absolutely apeshit for her. That's what people will remember from this bit.
(Raw) In the best match of the night, Sasha Banks made Charlotte tap out after minor DanaBayleyFerenceStraction. There's no way Fastlane doesn't feature a Sasha heel turn and then a triple threat or four-way at Mania, right?
(Raw) Solid, effective contract signing between Gallagher and Neville, which at least built to the predictable violence in a new way. Also, TEA AND BISCUITS chant.
(Raw) Paul Heyman cutting his usually excellent promo in the background of a backstage room while Brock Lesnar sat right in front of the camera, filling most of the frame with his weird-shaped, glowering head. I loved this.
(Raw) Feels weird to put this in the Good side, but Show-Strowman was how you do this kind of thing. Yes, it's two four hundred pound guys with beards lumbering around the ring while we all pretend to be impressed every time they do something requiring a modicum of motion, but because we're not seeing it every week, and because it was used to put Strowman over, and because they did dumb but effective things like "reinforcing the ring", you know, the same ring they have 20-man battle royals in, it worked. Plus Reigns got his ass beat post-match. I just hope Strowman took notes, because if he sticks around, he'll be doing what Show did here in about 10 years.
(205) The Tozawa-Kendrick feud heats up with an excellent match that Kendrick wins via shenanigan-enhanced countout.
(SD) The Usos cut an insane promo from the crowd on American Alpha after the champs beat Breezango with what may be a new finisher.
(SD) Kinda weird how the belt on Naomi seemed way more important when she had to give it up due to injury than it seemed when she won it and celebrated it. Alexa Bliss' heel work afterwards was super on point as always, and she cheated to beat Becky Lynch for the belt in a match that started good but ended weird.
(NXT) Bobby Roode defeated No Way Jose in what could have easily been a filler match, but Roode's recent progress in wrestling as his character meshed with Jose doing the same (really the best thing Jose does) and it clicked, and it's that rare match that really increased Jose's credibility despite losing. Post-match, Roode attacked Jose's knee, because he still needs to turn the Full Sailors against him, but the save was made by KASSIUS OHNO, a.k.a. Chris Hero, returning to NXT after three years with what is still the dumbest fucking indie wrestler renaming in WWE history. It'll be interesting to see what kind of shape he's in. He gets the best of their encounter this week, in both promo and in-ring brawling.
(Raw) Roman Reigns beat up the tag champs again, this time with a chair. Nia Jax squashed a jobber.
(Raw) Can someone explain to me, second week running, the face/heel dynamics of Enzo shitting on Cesaro? This week, Sheamus Brogue Kicked him in the face to shut him up after the match and Cesaro seemed OK with it... and so did the LA crowd. Anyway, it's the G's vs. the Clerb for the belts at Fastlane, yay?
(SD) A boring battle royal in which people were eliminated almost precisely in order of their relative position in the company ended in a draw between AJ Styles and Luke Harper. Yawn. Oh, and Cena eliminated Miz and Miz eliminated Cena to set up the tag match at WM nobody wants.
(205) Alicia Fox being used as the Tits McGuffin for any undercard cruiser feud they can find. And then Noam Dar beating Mustafa Ali in a match that was three times longer than it should have been given the nonexistent point of the thing.
THE WEIRD, AMBIVALENT, AND BORING:
RAW: Brian Kendrick beat up Akira Tozawa pre-match to teach him his first "lesson". Sami Zayn got crushed by Kevin Owens after a "brutal" pre-match attack by a suitably intense Samoa Joe.
SMACKDOWN: Natalya beat Nikki Bella in a Falls Count Anywhere match after Setting Up The Unwanted Tag Match Maryseference. Some good spots, but this feud went on too long with too little heat for me to start really caring.
NXT: Peyton Royce defeated Liv Morgan and Ember Moon to earn the right to face Asuka... next week. Those two things go hand in hand, of course. Royce is a time-killer, a placeholder to give the women's division something to do while they work towards whatever proper program they're going to build for Orlando.
205: Jack Gallagher defeated Tony Nese in an OK match.