Here are some live reactions from Sunday’s show if you’re looking for a different perspective.
Rusev Day Isn’t Happening Anytime Soon
I probably shouldn’t say anytime because WWE has done some questionable things at times, but as of now, Rusev looks like someone who got over against WWE’s wishes and won’t be getting anywhere positive anytime soon. It was clear coming into the fatal four way that Rusev was the heavy crowd favorite and then…he loses to Jinder Mahal. If that’s not a major middle finger to the fans, I have no idea what is. This was WWE saying WE know what you want and if you don’t like it, sit down and shut up to deal with it.
Rusev is someone who can do a lot of things for WWE. I mean just imagine him doing the exact same thing as Mahal did last year and see how much better the whole thing goes. He’s good in the ring, he’s only thirty three years old, he has a resume and the fans love him. So why is WWE treating him like this? No idea, but this unwillingness to take what is being handed to them on a silver Rusev Day platter is absolutely baffling. The fans care for him and he has something to run with, but instead he’s losing to Mahal in a short and uneventful match.
There’s still a chance for Rusev, but that now I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do. Should he be next in line for AJ Styles and the Smackdown World Title? That seems unlikely after Shinsuke Nakamura attacking Styles after their match. Does he move to Monday Night Raw and feud with…..given that I can’t come up with anyone to put in there, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards. I know there’s something for Rusev to do, but for some reason WWE doesn’t seem to be interested in capitalizing when Rusev has already done all the heavy lifting for them. They’re strange like that at times.
Bray Wyatt’s Second Face Turn
Two years ago on the Raw after Wrestlemania XXXI, Wyatt seemed ready to start fighting on the side of the good but for some reason, WWE never felt the need to try it again after he got hurt and had to take some time off. The following year and a half got worse and worse for Wyatt as it was clear that something needed to change but of course WWE didn’t feel the need to actually anything about it. That has changed in recent weeks though and Sunday was the big moment.
During Sunday’s Wrestlemania XXXIV Kickoff Show, Wyatt returned after a few weeks away and helped Matt Hardy win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The moment was pretty clearly Wyatt’s official face turn and that’s one of the best things that could have happened to him. It’s clear that he’s out of things to do as a heel so now it’s time for something new.
I’ve been wanting to see Wyatt turn for a long time now. He has some outstanding charisma and it makes no sense to have him wasting away while doing the exact same things that he’s been doing to diminishing results for years now. Let us see what he can do and show that off a bit, because it’s high time for something fresh. You can turn him heel again later if you must, but let him try this for now. It’s long overdue and already seems to be working for him.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s Heel Turn Was Stupid
So on Sunday, AJ Styles successfully defended the Smackdown World Title against Nakamura in what was billed as a dream match. While I’m not sure it quite lived up to that kind of hype, the match was very good and got some time to make it entertaining. However, there was a moment after the match that changed things going forward and got a strong reaction.
After being defeated by Styles, Nakamura presented him with the title and knelt before him, only to hit Styles low, turning heel in the process. A big Kinshasa on the floor followed as Styles was left laying and Nakamura turned heel for the first time in his WWE career. That’s all well and good, except for one problem: it’s really stupid booking.
Why would you do this AFTER the clean loss? You could have Nakamura be frustrated that he couldn’t put Styles away and do a DQ finish. You could do the heel turn at the worthless Fastlane 2018. You could do it on TV to give them something to fight about in the weeks leading up to the match. You could do pretty much ANYTHING other than having Nakamura lose clean and then do an angle to set up a rematch. WWE has done this before and it’s been stupid every single time. I don’t get this and I don’t think I ever will.
Undertaker Squashed John Cena
Let me repeat that: he squashed Cena in less than three minutes. This was complete and utter destruction with Cena hitting a single belly to back suplex before going down. The match followed weeks of Cena calling Undertaker out and then losing in the end, with Undertaker completely flattening him in the process.
I’m not sure what to think about this. I mean, I like it better than Undertaker hobbling through a twenty minute match and looking terrible in the process. I know I didn’t hate it, though I could have gone with never seeing Undertaker wrestle again. Normally I would guess this is it for Undertaker as the YOU STILL GOT IT chants were more nonsense than anything else (He had a short sparring session. What is that supposed to prove?). Undertaker had a short but energetic performance here, but Cena losing this way is the bigger deal.
So what does this mean? Heck if I know. Odds are you won’t be seeing either of them on an American soil wrestling show for a long time (they’re both probably going to be at Greatest Royal Rumble) so this probably doesn’t mean much in the long term. In the short term….probably even less. It came and went with Cena getting put in his place, but I really didn’t need to see Undertaker in the ring again. I hope they don’t do this again and just let it rest….in….somebody help me out here.
Ronda Rousey Looked Great
In what is probably the biggest story of the show, Ronda Rousey proved her critics wrong and came out in her first match looking like the dominant athlete that she is. After a few weeks of not looking so polished coming into her first match, she went out and put on a heck of a performance, beating the heck out of both Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the same match.
This is important as it gives WWE a sigh of relief. Rousey is going to be a big deal in the company for a long time to come and it would be a very bad sign if she had a terrible debut. As it turns out though, she seems to be much better once the bell rings, showing off a wide variety of suplexes and holds, mainly focusing on the arm of course. That, some more experience and the death stare will serve her very well as she goes forward in her wrestling career.
On top of that, the match was a blast. McMahon and Triple H sold well (save for that time where McMahon OUT GRAPPLED AN OLYMPIC MEDALIST IN JUDO BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT SHE DOES) and made Rousey look outstanding. This was a great performance from everyone involved and if Rousey can do anywhere close to this going forward, she’s going to be a star.
Overall, it was an eventful night and promises to be an eventful week in general, but there’s just too much to break down into a single look. This is the kind of series of shows that needs a lot of separate attention and that’s what I was trying to do here. You could talk at length about any of these moments, which is what makes this weekend so special.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 26 wrestling books. His latest book is the WWE Grab Bag.
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