PREPARE THE BATTLEFIELD FOR….ANNIHILATION!

HELLO, MOST DELIGHTFUL young people!  It is I, your Lord of BOTCH to preside OVAH yet another EEEDITION of “Spot of Botch”.  FOLLOW THE MUSIC!…

 

In-ring segment – Kurt Angle & Roman Reigns

Why did he keep calling him “Ramen”?  When Kurt announced that “Ramen” was still suspended, the crowd cheered.  The interaction between Angle and Reigns was good.  The problem is now what it has always been:  forcing us to love Roman Reigns isn’t working.  It’s really that simple.  The fact that the audience doesn’t want any of this will impede anything they try to do and it will undermine any segment intended to make the crowd feel anything other than disdain.  The reaction tonight was very mixed.

When the “marshals” arrived, they put the cuffs on him…and did it wrong.  They were twisted and they were on too tight.  He must have been in tremendous pain going through this segment so he definitely has my sympathies.  There’s a pic floating around out there of what his wrists looked like when it was over.  It must have killed.

Brock’s beatdown was really great and it was the thing that generated the most reaction.  There were a few “you deserve it” chants that were uncalled for, regardless of what you think of Roman.  He kept coming out and he did it well.  Roman was defenseless and the Beast came to collect.  Nice story but it’s at the service of an underlying issue that few care about.  Roman is NOT the one to make this work.  Vince is bent on it so that’s why we have stuff like this.

 

In-ring segment – Alexa Bliss (w/ Mickie James)

There is literally nothing Alexa can’t do.  She’s great in every way possible.  She is an incredibly good bully.  She’s beyond hate-able and it’s great for stuff like this.  WWE is trying to tell a very noble story and in order for it to work, Alexa has to be truly awful…so she is.  She really laid it on thick here with the fat shaming and with the personality-shaming.

What isn’t great is Mickie.  She’s a definitely third wheel here.  Any other female would be a better fit for the “second banana” thing than Mickie.  She’s a bit too old to do the “mean girl” thing.  It’s like Alexa’s mom is out there with her.  Forgive the age-ism but it really is silly.  Mickie has done nothing of any note since she re-signed with the company and this is just completely useless.

 

Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka

This was a good match.  Not a real shock either.  Asuka is scary good and Alexa is too.  Of course, this match couldn’t end traditionally.  Neither can lose.  Alexa had to walk away.  We also saw Nia’s interference coming from a nautical mile out.  Alexa is the premier slimy heel so watching her smile while she limped off with Mickie was great.

Nia can out like a truck with all the vitriol and anger that works for stuff like this.  The commentators (Cole specifically) added to it really well and they heightened the tension very nicely.  Ok, Coach didn’t but Coach doesn’t do anything well these days.  Nia’s primal screams as she went after Alexa was just perfect.  Nia’s acting chops are considerable and she’s really showing them off here to tell a great story.

 

Backstage segment – Alexa Bliss & Kurt Angle

Alexa was great as always but Kurt was a total mess here.  He got really lost there at first.  The look on Alexa’s face when she realized she’d be facing Nia at WrestleMania was just perfection.

 

In-ring segment – Braun Strowman & The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro)

Braun’s good in there.  He pulls it off and knows how to get the lines across.  Still, he felt a bit more scripted than usual here.  I don’t hate it but it just felt a little stiffer than I’d have liked.  Sheamus and Cesaro are always fun.  Even when they screw up like Sheamus did (“let me do that again”), they’re still so likable that it doesn’t matter.  Their screwups are also incredibly rare so it can be forgiven.

 

Braun Strowman vs. Cesaro

Of course, this was going to be a bloodletting.  Of course, Strowman had to win.  Sheamus continually interfered but the result was what we knew it would be.  It’ll be quite interesting to see who Strowman’s tag team partner turns out to be.  I suspect it’ll be Elias.

 

Cinéma de Obsolescence – The Hardy Compound w/ Matt, Reby, King Maxell, Lord Wolfgang, and Señor Benjamin

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.  The Hardys, in all their Broken glory, show us a bit of their home life here.  Reby is a decent classical player and she gives us some of the that here too.  I’m so glad we’re also seeing the other accoutrements (Vanguard 1 and Skarsgaård the Dilapidated Boat).  I’m so glad we can get all of this WONDERFUL ornamentation now and it set up the “Ultimate Deletion” beautifully.

 

The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) vs. Titus Worldwide (Titus O’Neil & Apollo)

This was a decent little match.  Apollo was quite impressive here.  ‘Course, he generally is but I really noticed him here.  He’s scary athletic and really quick for a man his size.  Apollo got in quite a bit of offense but the Revival took this.  Revival appears to be on their way up and Titus Worldwide appears to be on their way down.  It would have been fun for TU to have a run with the belts but I doubt that’ll happen now.

 

In-ring segment – The Revival

This was quick and it was all about them entering the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.  As a promo, it was pretty inconsequential.

 

WWE Hall of Fame Inductee:  Mark Henry

I already wrote an article about this yesterday but I’m all about this.  He’s a huge man who’s also incredibly athletic.  He’s also one heck of an actor and that was proven during his “retirement speech” a few years ago that lead to a feud with John Cena.

 

In-ring promo – Bayley & Sasha Banks

This was really good.  Sasha was committed and, oddly enough, Bayley was too.  She’s been relentlessly boring since she debuted on the WWE roster but here, she was really very good.  She was a little stilted but she pulled this off nicely.

I also loved how Absolution came out and end the tense moment.  Paige totally disregarded the moment and brought Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose down and the match begins!

 

Bayley & Sasha Banks vs. Absolution (Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose w/ Paige)

This wasn’t at all about the match.  This was about Sasha and Bayley’s deteriorating friendship.  I love that WWE is taking it nice and slow.  Despite what was said by Corey about their “futures looking bright”, Deville and Rose have been in a holding pattern for a while and have just been used for fodder for the Bayley/Sasha feud.  Both deserve better and hopefully, in time, they’ll get it.  Sonya is all strike and damage and I like it.  As for Mandy, I really liked her unique take on the Abdominal Stretch.  More tension was needed, of course, so Bayley and Sasha had to lose.

 

In-ring promo – John Cena & Kane

John is great with a mic for sure.  He exhibits all the passion that has always made him great.  His face also told a great story here too.  He told a very nice story here but he was awfully disrespectful doing it.  He also came off as a bit petulant here.  It’s like “I’m gonna keep calling you out and disrespecting you so you’ll say yes to me and I can work WrestleMania”.

Kane came out and that was certainly not something I saw coming.  Cena challenged him for an answer and Kane choke slammed him.  No answer here and I like it.  We all know it’ll happen but I like how this is unfolding and even if I don’t exactly love John’s way of making it unfold, it’s still good.

 

Cinéma de Obsolescence – “Woken” Matt Hardy & George Washington (the giraffe)

GEORGE WASHINGTON!!!  I’m so happy to see him again.  The bizarreness of this is just EENTOXICATING.

 

In-ring segment – Miz & The Miztourage (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)

The Miz always delivers he did here too.  I loved how Miz turned on Bo and Curtis for a minute too.  Miz has made it his business to be “anti-indie” and he kills it. I love how Miz referred to Bálor and Rollins by their indie names (well, kinda…Prince Nevitt?).

 

The Miz & The Miztourage (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) vs. Prince Devitt & Bálor Club (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) w/ Tyler Black on commentary

I know I’m petty (okay, I’m just silly…only one here is truly Petty) but Curtis Axel needs to sacrifice his hair…er…what’s left of it.  When it gets messy, it becomes really obvious how thin it is.  Probably best to cut it low or get rid of it altogether.

As a match, this was pretty good.  6-man tags can get pretty messy but this one held together nicely.  There are a lot of excellent hands in there, ring wise, so this really couldn’t miss.  It’s little things, too, that are really nice.  The way Curtis Axel takes a cross-body is a thing of beauty.  I can see him being a trainer when he’s done in-ring.

Bálor got the win on a roll-up on Miz and then they all attacked Bálor.  Had to be done as it set up Rollins save.  I do like the Seth’s Curb Stomp has returned.  There was no reason it should have been taken away so I’m glad it’s back.

 

Cinéma de Obsolescence – Matt Hardy & Skarsgård the Dilapidated Boat

I love these vignettes that introduce the strangeness that comes with the Hardy Compound.  This was DELIGHTFUL!

 

Cinéma de Rowdy – Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle

This was clearly done to tell the whole story up to this point and sell us on Ronda Rousey.  It was well done but not really needed.  I was already about this, really, so I didn’t need it to be sold on the match and Ronda.

 

Cinéma de Obsolence – The Ultimate Deletion

This was absolutely beautiful.  WWE is capable of a level of polish that TNA just couldn’t quite muster.  As a result, this looked more crisp and the nuances were executed better.  It’s said that Hardy was paying for those things out of his own pocket and that’s admirable but the crew that works for WWE is impossible to beat.  They are the best that television has to offer and they showed it here.  It was all about the subtleties.  I loved the overly-loud footsteps as Bray, with lamp in tow, was coming towards Hardy Compound gate.  For those who don’t know, those footsteps were created after this was shot – likely in a shoebox with sand so that they could put the mic right next to the footsteps so they could really articulate them.  I also think the Vanguard 1 imagery (Matt’s face triangulating out of it) was crisper here.

Reby playing “Live in Fear (aka “Broken Out in Love”) – Bray’s theme – on the piano was brilliant and well-done.  The woman can play and I love that she’s getting to do it on WWE television.

The match itself…wasn’t, really.  It mean…it kinda was but to expect a proper match from this is to miss the point entirely.  This is entertainment.  This was just pure, unadulterated fun.  It also showed the mental part of “Woken” Matt’s capabilities.  When they entered Dilapidated City, Bray was confronted with the house he grew up in and it really messed with him.   He looked at it like a child looks at his favorite toy.  It was really something.  When he saw it on fire, he cried out.  Bray really sold it.

In the “Land of Obsolete Men”, the “cat and mouse” game was just bizarre.  They sped the frame rate up to make everything go faster and it just looked great.  TNA never did that.

As they entered the “Dome of Deletion” (with another ring in it…and a piano), the fight continued.  Hardy’s nose started to bleed during it but it wasn’t anything serious.  The “Ode to Joy” as Hardy began to drive the Mower of Lawns was a riot but Bray’s spider walk ended that and Hardy’s reaction to it was just sublime (I’m running out of positive adjectives to use here).

The brief cameos from Señor Benjamin and Brother Nero were perfectly timed.  Bray was sent into the Lake of Reincarnation and…DELETED!  The rumor is that he will be repackaged as a result of all of this.  Will he come back as “Deleted” a la Brother Nero?  We’ll see.

All of this was so good but I do think WWE should have played it straight.  Instead of doing that, Cole was told to treat it as a joke.  “I’m sorry for what you’re about to see”.  Totally unnecessary.  Nothing needed to be said.  In fact, cutting back to the the commentators from the first commercial wasn’t needed either.  Just let us live in that world.

 

Yet another good “Raw”.  This has gotta be some kind of record!  Let’s go for 5!  See you next week for another DELIGHTFUL “Spot of Botch”