February 11, 2019
Finn Balor . . . shows that size really doesn’t matter compared to intensity, when he believably looks to come within an eyelash of pinning Drew McIntyre.
Dean Ambrose . . . does next to nothing and still wins, defying any semblance of logic considering his impending departure.
The Revival . . . finally get some respect from the powers that be in the WWE, in the form of a main event title win.
BAYLEY/SASHA BANKS vs. LIV MORGAN/SARAH LOGAN vs. NIA JAX/TAMINA SNUKA
Aside from some of the early comedy stuff, this isn’t anything that anyone would probably rush out to watch, unless they’re a huge fan of anyone involved (except Sasha, since she’s taken out pretty early). It’s funny to see Bayley paintbrush Nia and then tag in Liv, to create the biggest mismatch possible, and then the rest of them refuse to tag so that Liv is stuck in there. Sasha getting taken out by the Riott Squad would seem to make Bayley and underdog, but she never feels like one. She’s still got the option to tag out, and with the rules being one fall to a finish, it’s not like Sarah wouldn’t still make a save if Tamina would try to pin her. If nothing else, the finish is somewhat creative and takes care to remember who’s actually legal. Bayley gives her finisher to Liv, but Tamina breaks up the pin with her superkick, which essentially leaves both legal women unconscious. She drags Liv to the corner and makes her tag Nia, who easily pins Bayley with the Samoan drop. But aside from those few nice touches, only Liv is made out to be any sort of weak link, and despite Bayley being the one who ultimately loses the match, it’s done in a way that it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not Sasha was there.
FINN BALOR vs. DREW McINTYRE
Before all the run ins that turn this into a trios match, this was fun to watch, although it was pretty rushed. Drew has the clear size and power advantage, and he knows how to use it. When Drew misses the corner charge and takes the bump into the post, it gives Finn a chance to fight back, and he shows enough intensity that it looks perfectly believable for him to hurt Drew like that. But, before we find out if Finn can finish him off, we get run ins from Lashley, Angle, Corbin, and then Stroman.
KURT ANGLE/BRAUN STROWMAN/FINN BALOR vs. BARON CORBIN/BOBBY LASHLEY/DREW McINTYRE
Between the attempted singles match between Finn and Drew, and then the restart that happens when Finn gets pinned, despite his foot being on the rope, it feels like this just ended last week. It just drags on and on, with very little of it seeming to matter to any great deal. There are a few times it seems like it might be going somewhere. The match starts with the babyfaces working over Drew’s arm, which makes sense since he’d taken that bump into the post, but that doesn’t last. Then it seems like the heels are going to work over Finn, which also makes sense, but he quickly tags out to Angle. Finally, it seems like the babyface team is going to work over Drew, and that also makes sense since he’d be the most tired out, but that doesn’t last either. Between both teams tagging pretty frequently, and the advantage constantly shifting, the match doesn’t pick up any real traction, and it’s hard to care much about anything that happens. There’s a nice touch when Finn avoids a corner charge and Lashley takes a bump into the post just like Drew did, which seems to set up Finn to beat him the same way that he seemed to be about to beat Drew, but Lio Rush distracts Finn and gives Lashley time to recover and seemingly win the match.
After the restart, it seems like this is finally going somewhere. Angle and Braun were both taken out on the floor during the commercial break, leaving the smallest guy in the match on his own. But the heels just aren’t interesting at all about working him over. That they’re overconfident and toy around with Finn is fine, and if anything, it’s to be expected from them. But they don’t even seem like they can be bothered to act like they want to win the match. Braun eventually recovers and Finn makes the hot tag at the first opportunity, and Braun runs through everyone, and then tags Finn back in to get the pin on Lashley. This certainly wasn’t lacking in the amount of time given to it, even without factoring in the Finn/Drew singles match, they just didn’t use the time particularly well. There were several openings to tell a story and try to make things interesting, but it seemed like everyone was waiting for someone else to do it first.
RUBY RIOTT vs. NIKKI CROSS
Other than giving Ruby a win before her title shot at the upcoming pay-per-view, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for this. There are a few cool moments, but nothing that matters to any great degree. It’s nice to see Ruby drop down and avoid Nikki’s flying body press and use that as a starting point to working the midsection. Nikki’s DDT on the apron is what allows her to hit the diving body press on the floor, but you’d think a big spot like that would lead to something bigger. And as soon as Ruby gets back in the ring, she’s no worse for wear, and takes the first opening to hit her finisher to finish off Nikki.
DEAN AMBROSE vs. EC3
Well, nobody can say that Ambrose wasn’t willing to do business on his way out. He pretty much does as much as possible to make Carter look good before winning on a fluke. He attacks at the bell, with some obvious aggression after having lost to him the week before, but Carter manages to outsmart him by rolling to the floor, and then rolling back in and then getting the jump on Ambrose to take over. Ambrose is more than willing to stooge around, while Carter seemingly bumps him from one side of the ring to the other. Ambrose gets a couple of token spots, such as the surprise back elbow, just to keep from totally getting squashed, but nothing he does is of any real consequence. In fact, the only real questionable thing here is the booking of giving Ambrose the fluke win. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if he did it with his feet on the ropes or something underhanded like that, but Ambrose hasn’t exactly shown to be a technical wizard (not that Carter is either), so there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for him to get dominated like this, only to pull a surprise win out, when nobody thinks he can pull that sort of thing off or really wants to see it in the first place.
BOBBY ROODE/CHAD GABLE © vs. DASH WILDER/SCOTT DAWSON (Raw Tag Team Titles)
Considering some of what this match had to follow, it looks like the second coming of Bulldogs/Harts or Midnights/Fantastics. It’s plain to see that this is a good match, but it’s not much more than just good. All four of them show that they can work, but it seems like they just work to show that they can, and don’t really go anywhere with things. Part of it can certainly be blamed on the fact that the match goes through two commercial breaks. We go from seeing Gable in trouble and crawling to tag Roode, who has been knocked down and is laying on the floor. The show comes back with Roode having recovered and tagged in, and handling things just fine. Dash and Dawson both do a fine job of stooging for the babyface champions, although it’s frustrating to not see them struggle at all when it comes to the near falls. Early in the match, Gable gets a near fall on Dawson with a German suplex, and he just lays there until the ref gets to two and then he kicks out. Gable shows the ability to seemingly suplex both of them, almost at will, but it never seems like either Dash or Dawson is worse for wear or that Gable’s suplexes are having any meaningful impact.
However, despite its issues, there are more than enough nice touches to make this worth checking out. Gable does all kinds of big spots, and their timing is spot on, to make sure that Dash and Dawson are in exactly the right place, such as Gable’s huge double lariat off the top. And, as irritating as it was to see the lack of struggling for kickouts, Dash’s method of breaking up the pin on the Blockbuster/German suplex combo was perfect. It’s also lots of fun to see the challengers cutting off Gable’s attempts to tag in Roode, which makes it especially infuriating that we’re robbed of seeing the actual hot tag itself. The finish they work is virtually flawless, Roode is on the floor and the Revival do a blind tag, but Gable sees Dash coming and hits him first, seemingly having everything well at hand. But he goes for too much with a blind diving body press and leaps himself right into the Shatter Machine to give Dash and Dawson the tag titles. It wasn’t like Gable was thoroughly outsmarted or outwrestled, he simply made one mistake, and it was against a team whom one can’t afford to make mistakes. It’s a perfectly fine match and a good way to cap off the wrestling portion of the show, it’s just too bad that we never got a rematch with 20-25 minutes on PPV to fully showcase how well these two teams could work together. ***1/4
Conclusion: It’s fun to see the Revival finally go over, but to say the rest of the show is a chore to sit through would be an understatement.