I think talking about this episode of Raw and not mentioning the return of Roman Reigns, but this will not be the focus of this article due to how many other sites have written about this segment. Either way though I want to offer my props to Roman tremendous respect for what he had to go through the last few months and am glad to have him back. Also it's worth noting that this was the first episode of Raw with a new creative direction including Bruce Prichad returning to the company in a creative capacity for the first time in over a decade.
The one segment that took my attention and really may have changed my perception of the Monday night show. First of all I didn't expect to see Batista return to the program let alone return like he did attacking Ric Flair backstage. I mean normally the company just tries to rely on the image of the veterans to promote their match as oppose to really attempting to build anything worthwhile for us to actually care about. Though this might just be the start of the feud but this hot start can only mean good things for the coming weeks as we move closer to Wrestlemania. If you don't believe me well I will let the segment do the talking for me sort of the way the WWE did to end Raw.
Fact is that I don't think that Tomasso Ciampa had the best year out of all top NXT talent on the entire roster. Ciampa not only had an incredible feud with Johnny Gagano, but stole the show in matches with Allister Black capturing the World Title. Ciampa has definitely found his peak performance and will become a top star when he finally reaches the main roster. The only question I have is though even with Johnny now free does this mean that Ciampa will be appearing on both the main roster & NXT until he likely drops the World Title over Wrestlemania weekend.
Overall all though looking at the year he had it really brought everything together and in many ways this was the year for him to sink or swim in the WWE. If you go back two years when Ciampa turned heel on Gargano he got injured very soon after and really derailed the early days of his heel run. However, as soon as he came back things got right on track with him finding his groove and jumping into a classic feud with Johnny Gargano.
At one point Tomasso really never showed any signs of being a top star in the world of wrestling as it seemed like he was really missing something. Once he was given a chance to show his potential and tap into his inner heel we saw a side of Ciampa that until last year we never really saw before and that showed just how much potential was hidden under the surface. It is for this reason that Tomasso Ciampa has found himself as the number 7 wrestler of the past twelve months.
Spring cleaning has been a common practice in the WWE for a few years now the only difference is that we usually don't see it until after Wrestlemania as the company gets readjusted for the remainder of the year. However, with the arrival All Elite Wrestling and the seemingly never ending conversation of current talent asking for their release from the prominent promotion and now at least some talent have gotten their wish. Though we expected the official announcement of the release of Hideo Itami as he asked for his release a few weeks back which was a shock at the time, but looking at his booking on the main roster it's clear why he chose to leave. The only question for Hideo now is does this mean that we will finally see Kenta return to his home base in Japan.
The one shocking release that really caught me off guard was finding out that WWE Hall of Famer Arn Anderson has ended his nearly two decade run as an agent in the promotion. This is not to say that the company and Arn has left things on bad terms or anything like that. It just seems like the company wants to go in a different direction with some new agents being brought in as Gregory Helms, Chris Parks, Jeff Jarrett and others have recently been brought on to help interject some new blood into the backstage area. I wonder if maybe this means that Arn will be another legend at a certain NWA event on April 27, we will have to wait and see.
As for the other two releases that took place today well the end has come for both TJ Perkins and Tye Dillenger in the WWE with both ending their runs with the company. A few days ago it was reported that Tye had asked for his release which isn't surprising, because similarly to Kenta he had really done nothing since arriving on the main roster from NXT. It is a shame though, because there was a time when Tye had a ton of build able momentum while on the main roster but it didn't go anywhere. However, keeping in mind that he happens to be good friends with a certain promoter down in Florida it is possible that a Perfect 10 may become All Elite.
Our last talent to look at is the former Cruiserweight champion, winner of the first Cruiserweight Classic and someone who seemed to have a bright future in the company but got lost in the shuffle. Next to Arn Anderson the release of TJ Perkins was a shock in my opinion, because this was on that I really didn't see coming as I really thought that he would have a long run with the company. Again looking under the surface what has he really done in almost a year in a twist things started on a high for TJ, but from Cruiserweight champion to really not doing much it's a shame that TJP couldn't do more in WWE. Overall though TJ has had an incredible career on the Indies before the WWE competing in various promotion including PWG, TNA, ROH, and short stints in both New Japan Pro-Wrestling and top Mexican promotion CMLL. I think that T.J will do fine as a free agent it's just again a shame though that so much potential was left on the table.
In the end though I would like to extend the best of luck in all future endeavors for all those that have come to terms with the promotion. The reality is though I think all of these talent will be fine and find a new home fairly quickly. Things are about to get interesting!
According to various reports this past week's episode of Monday Night Raw was rewritten just before the show which showed during the show. Clearly the company didn't know what direction they really wanted to go with the program. Even on a three hour episode they really didn't have flow of the program with what they hoped to accomplish in most cases because it really just seemed like they were going in all sorts of directions which is something they really can't be doing this close to Wrestlemania.
The never ending feud between Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman, a tag team division lacking direction, Ambrose being ran into the ground, and various other reasons. After an interesting PPV event the night before I thought it would've been easy for the company to pick up where they left off the night before, but I guess Vince wanted to make a big splash, but did it work or was it miss. In recent weeks I have been focusing on Dean Ambrose and his effect on the product and how him having no clear direction negatively effects the product.
I refuse to mention that terrible feud between Corbin and Strowman because it just needs to end and have both men move onto totally different things. Now onto something else that the WWE need to understand having a few great matches with tag teams doesn't automatically give the division direction if they mix things up the next week. I am very confused about things after this week with Gargano and Ciampa winning their debut against the tag team champions the week after they won the tag team titles. It is extremely puzzling, because you would've thought that they would continued to build momentum rather than taken the hit this week. I know it was good match and it's possible to loose and still look good, but my only question is that if Gargano and Ciampa aren't sticking around why did they have to get the win against The Revival on Raw and why not just have a draw.
Elimination Chamber 2019
WWE Cruiserweight Championship:
(c) Buddy Murphy vs Tozawa
I really like seeing that the Cruiserweight champion is on the main show as opposed to holding them back on the pre-show. Murphy has been a very capable champion helping the division into a new age and giving it a little more meaning. Tozawa is very reliable, but I do think that Murphy deserves to maintain his stock as the leader of the division. Murphy gets the win tonight.
Braun Strowman vs Baron Corbin
I am going to keep this short and to the point I've been extremely bored by this feud and even though I know that it is only continuing, because of Braun injury late last year but still it needs to end. Corbin is extremely hated and a lot of heat so he could maintain his spot with a win. However, Strowman really really needs the win to not fall to far down from his previous standing in the company.
Raw Women's Championship:
(c) Ronda Rousey vs Ruby Riot
This is the biggest so far for Ronda and Ruby since they've gotten to the main roster as Ronda seems to struggle on occasion when she has to lead the match. But I think that Ruby has a ton of potential to be a top talent in the company for the division. This is clear that Rousey will get the victory tonight and there no doubt of that clearly.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship:
(c) The Miz & Shane McMahon vs The Uso's
It has been incredibly interesting to see Shane & Miz coming together as a team and it is definitely something different then we normally see from the promotion. However, The Uso's could've won the titles this time around but clearly it is time to keep the titles on Shane & Miz. With the recent news of The Uso's issues I don't think that the company will let them win the titles. With that being said Shane & Miz get the win tonight.
WWE Intercontinental Championship:
(c) Lashley & Lio Rush vs Finn Balor
In my opinion this is the best way to keep the feud going without having a finish or not as a way to keep things going. I don't really know how they could keep it going with Finn losing due other than maybe Lio winning the match in a flukey way setting a rematch with them as oppose to Lashley getting the pin over his top challenger. I do think that Finn will get the victory eventually, but I don't think it will happen tonight. Lashley retains tonight.
Elimination Chamber Match: Women's Tag Team Titles
Nia Jax & Tamina vs Riot Squad vs Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Naomi & Carmella vs IIconics vs Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose
This is the toughest match to predict as the winner will be based on the who the company really wants to invest in as a team to make them the first tag team champions. Though I do have an issue with the tag titles being able to go between brands even though the main women's champion can't that's very strange. Now I do think that some members of the match are clearly not going to win, but they could surprise us. I will select two possible winners giving it to either Bayley & Banks or Riot Squad allowing to legit teams the chance to hold the tag titles.
Elimination Chamber Match: WWE Championship
(c) Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles vs Randy Orton vs Kofi Kingston vs Jeff Hardy vs Samoa Joe
Unfortunately I would've loved to see Mustafa Ali in the match, but injuries happen and I just hope the kid will be back before Wrestlemania and maybe will have a major match at the big event. There is no doubt though that Kofi made his case on Smackdown last week showing that he could be a shocking winner. However, the championship will not be going anywhere from Daniel Bryan this close to Wrestlemania the only question is who will be facing the "Eco Warrior" at the big event in April.
Following the "elimination" of the unfortunate injured Mustafa Ali that opened a spot in Sunday's Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship. In my opinion seeing Kofi Kingston take the spot of Mustafa Ali in the Chamber is shocking because he's never really been featured in a huge role. For the last few years Kofi has been one third of the New Day, but now he has been given the biggest spotlight that he has had in his career. The fact that initially this was the planned run for Mustafa in this match which shows just how much the company is willing to invest in the insanely talented Ali.
Either way though Kofi had a similar performance to the one that Seth Rollins had in the Raw gauntlet match from last year. But in my opinion the performance for Kofi was a lot more shocking as you didn't really expect the company to allow him to get such a spotlight considering it's been so long since he hasn't been a singles star in a very long time. Take a look though below at his performance from the match on Smackdown! Well done Kofi Kingston it's was a incredible performance.
I know that it might be hard to believe that for the third week in a row we have Dean Ambrose as the focus of this weekly series, but there is a good reason that just wait. So as everyone has heard by now Dean Ambrose will be leaving WWE in the latter half of April following Wrestlemania and though that is big story I wonder if WWE realizes that they still need to book him somewhat well if they want him on the show. To start I had my reservations about Dean and Nia Jax possibly having an inter-gender match for obvious reasons, but seeing as that isn't going to happen and they shifted gears let's look at the match from this week.
Last week I pointed out that the WWE should've waited to have Dean and Ethan Carter III meet until Elimination Chamber especially knowing that the show is this weekend; instead of having them fight now two weeks in a row. The reality of it is that this feud should've been the coming out party for Ethan on the main roster, but in my opinion because Dean is leaving the company feels like they have to rush through the feud instead of booking it the right way.
Overall 50-50 booking is a problem in the company, because they do it far to often and even though I think it could work for a lower card feud or if you just want to give someone a little momentum it isn't the right way to go when it comes to a fresh talent like EC3 or a former Main Event star like Ambrose. I'm really confused how the WWE thinks that this is a good way to book these two especially knowing that we will likely see them fighting for the third time on Sunday which will be pointless. Take a look at the match below:
Fact is that with the arrival of All Elite Wrestling it has really brought up an interesting outlook on the wrestling business due to how long it's been since the WWE has had any other competitor. Now I don't really think that many stars will have the ability to talk walk away from the company due to contracts preventing that from happening in most cases. However, we might've seen the last of Dean Ambrose in the WWE as news broke that he would not be renewing his contract and will be leaving after Wrestlemania. At this point we don't know for sure that this means he could end up in the other company.
But now earlier this week news broke that The Uso's could be leaving the WWE once their contract expires in April. Jimmy and Jey have been a staple of the WWE's tag team division since their arrivals on the main roster back in 2010, but it might be getting to that time. See over the years the company has gone through periods of real darkness for tag teams with thrown together teams often getting the spotlight over the established tag teams. Often I remember Sam from "Here's What all Things WWE" really drilling home much of a problem this in the company especially early last year.
Overall I know that some fans might think I am crazy for even thinking that The Uso's could leave WWE as they are one of the top teams. If you think about it though what does it mean to be a top team in a company that doesn't value tag team wrestling or if you have other goals you want to accomplish but know you may never get to. Heading back in the wrestling time machine to the peak of tag team wrestling in the 1980's there was a time when tag teams could headline a show, but that was really never the case with Vince. If I am Jimmy & Jey I would at least consider heading south and making a match between the Uso's and "Bucks of Youth" a reality. The only real question is how much appeal does real competition have for The Uso's and the chance to a featured and maybe even a headline act with Matt and Nick in All Elite Wrestling.
Even though the new era was announced we have seen the arrival of some fresh talent, but unfortunately it hasn't gone well for a lot of the talent so far. Now I know it hasn't been that long since these names have arrived on the roster, but it doesn't seem like they have any direction on the roster. In my opinion NXT stars shouldn't be brought up without having a clear direction for their arrival on the main roster. Clearly it seems like Ethan Carter has a gimmick as does Nikki Cross, but with the amount of programming the company has they could've set up some sort of direction for them to get their feet under them.
Looking at this recent episode the company has set the groundwork for possibly Carter's first feud with Dean Ambrose which is a great plan. However, I think they could've got away with having the first match at Elimination Chamber and then do the rematch the next day or something like that to do something different with the feud. Shifting the focus to the tag team division with Heavy Machinery they are another victim of the rebuild that the division is currently going through. After months or even close to a year of bad booking the company has finally decided to refocus on the tag team division according recent reports. This in my opinion would've been a good reason to bring someone else to the main roster and hold the debut of this team until they got the tag team division on stable ground again.
It has been 20 years since Jeff Jarrett has been seen on WWE television with his last appearance coming in October 1999. I think I am right with everyone else in saying that I never thought I would see Double J back in the WWE, but I am very happy seeing in him get one more run. Unfortunately I don't think the feud is the best and even though it just about the nostalgia it is a little too one sided for my liking. However, with the ending of this week's match in mind I don't think this feud ends just yet and we could see one more meeting between the "Drifter" and Double J.
After holding onto his WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble over the weekend against AJ Styles we have seen the "New" Daniel Bryan revel a new WWE Title design. This revel was extremely unexpected because this time around I didn't see it coming unlike when they redid the title the first time John Cena won the title and they created the spinner title. In my opinion this just another step forward for Daniel Bryan to embrace his new gimmick and really show how far he has come in such a short time.
The first time I saw Daniel Bryan he was in the middle of World Title reign in Ring of Honor and was the top heel in the company. This time around is different and I really didn't even know that Daniel had this gimmick in him much like Eddie Edwards in Impact Wrestling we are seeing a different side of Daniel. Overall this is what happens when the company really tries to book properly and invest time in letting a talent find his footing. The main problem with WWE in the modern era is that they have far too many cookie cutter character and nobody that really sticks out like they had in past years which makes it difficult to really invest in anyone.
It is for this reason that it has been amazing seeing the continued evolution of the "New" Daniel Bryan a man that was at one point getting some of the loudest reactions among all active wrestlers in the company. However, nobody expected that Daniel could really turn into the top heel in the promotion getting louder boos in some cases than Brock Lesnar. For the first time in a long time the company actually has a heel that can stick as heel and really get heat from the smarky modern fans. Check out his promo from Smackdown Live when he introduced his new WWE Championship:
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present