Red Vs Blue

Mania Matches Made & Ricochet Buried? | Red Vs Blue (SmackDown 28/2/20 & Raw 2/3/20)

Benjamin Clem looks at this weeks Raw and SmackDown, and decides which show is superior this week.

Roman says he’s next as Orton passes the blame to Beth, all that and more in this week’s Red Versus Blue!

With the collective sigh that was Super Showdown over and done with, this week’s episodes of WWE’s flagship programming quickly began paving the remaining road to Wrestlemania. Rumours of Mania matches became reality, overall in-ring work improved in quality, and Elimination Chamber’s card started to take shape. It truly seems as though Super Showdown was the one obstacle in the way of WWE building towards what could be one of the better Wrestlemanias we’ve seen in the last decade. So, with possibly the first-ever speed bump on the road to Wrestlemania in the proverbial rearview mirror, and WWE delivering two absolutely enjoyable shows, the question we gather to answer each and every week still remains…In a week consisting of above-average WWE content, which show was better?

You know the shtick, folks! Every week I watch the shows, make the notes, and then deliver unto you fine readers my semi-informed opinion of which show was better overall. So, with my less long winded than usual introduction and explanation dutifully handled, it’s time to jump right into this week’s positive highlights!

The Good

This week’s Blue Brand positives have to start with the opening segment that saw Bluniversal Champion Bill Goldberg bathed in a sea of boos before Roman Reigns appeared to confirm the rumour of a battle of the spears taking place at Mania. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Roman’s short and sweet promos. Yes, the pop heard from the crowd in attendance could be the result of most of us hating another part-timer holding a world title, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of Roman’s “my yard” promo. After years of Reigns being shoved down our throats, it’s much more entertaining to see him get in the ring, get to the point, and get the hell out. If this truly is WWE’s over-complicated way of getting Roman over with the fans again, then it’s safe to say it’s working.

Next on Smackdown’s good column is the non-title match between The Usos and Smackdown Tag Team Champions John Morrison and The Miz. Now, I know having the new tag team champions lose clean a day removed from winning the titles is a booking decision that was highly criticized amongst the wrestling fan communities, but I feel like this was exactly how you book a heel tag team. Heels should always lose when nothing’s really at stake, and then cheat to keep the title when it’s on the line! Does The Usos clean win make Miz and Morrison look weak? No, because at the end of the day, they still have the belts. You can even chalk this loss up to Miz and Morrison being distracted by the pre-match announcement of their titles being on the line at Elimination Chamber. Even if most fans disagree, I personally think was good booking.

Wrapping up the Blue Brand’s good list is the closing segment that saw the returning John Cena silently challenged by The Fiend. Similar to Goldberg and Roman’s opening promo, the fact that the possibility of this match taking place was spoiled by online rumours may have been the determining factor in the style of promo that took place. Nevertheless, this was the perfect way to set up a match between The Fiend and “Big Match” John. No pomp or circumstance, just a sudden appearance, a point to the Wrestlemania sign, and a determined nod.

Sure, Cena immediately accepting pretty much negated everything the man said previous to Bray’s arrival, but you absolutely couldn’t ask for a more perfect hype package moment than this. Bray and Cena have a tremendous amount of history which will no doubt be chronicled over the next few weeks, so starting this feud without a word spoken between the two was exactly what needed to happen!

Switching over to Raw’s positives, the Red Brand’s good list kicks off with WWE Champion Brock Lesnar looking weaker than we’ve seen him in years. How refreshing was this?! After months and months of multiple F-5’s immediately followed with Brock’s trademark smug smile, I can’t tell you how great it was to see Drew McIntyre getting the upper hand on “The Beast Incarnate”.

Since winning the Men’s Royal Rumble, McIntyre has been pushed to the moon but a moment like this is just what was needed to cement Drew as the fan favourite going into Mania. Even though McIntyre levelling Brock with three Claymore’s was a pretty surprising moment all on its own, the biggest shock for me came from the amount of selling we saw from Lesnar. It’s no secret that Brock has a massive ego, so seeing him look undeniably shook could very well mean that Brock is all for delivering the best match possible at Wrestlemania.

Raw’s next positive has to be The Street Profits capturing the Raw Tag Team Championships. It seems as though Vince and company have finally realized the amount of potential they’ve been relegating to silly backstage promos. Yes, Ford and Dawkins are amazing promo acts, but it’s in-ring work like we saw last night that made these guys possibly the best tag team NXT has produced in years.

Not only did this earn a positive mention for giving the Profits the recognition they’ve been desperately lacking, but it also corrected the highly criticized booking of Rollins and Murphy as tag champions. Even Kevin Owens’ involvement in the finish of this match didn’t feel played out, but it definitely would’ve made more sense for Seth to challenge KO afterwards than demanding a tag rematch at Elimination Chamber.

Finishing off this week’s positives is the tag match between the teams of Rey Mysterio and Humberto Carillo and Andrade and Angel Garza. I’m not truly sure where this storyline is headed, but I’m not going to complain about getting to see the level of Lucha libre these guys are showcasing every week. WWE has never been the company to look to when it comes to highlighting the deep history that has made lucha one of the most popular styles in pro wrestling, usually seeing a mask as a marketing tool rather than a legacy.

However, the recent treatment of this angle makes it seem as though WWE is finally fully aware of what they have in talents like Andrade, Garza, and Carillo. Even Rey sporting an Eddie Guerrero shirt to the ring felt like a subtle nod to the fans that WWE is entering a new era of Latino wrestlers. Hopefully, the next few months will see these guys continued to be showcased rather than all this just being a lengthy one-off.

The Bad

Starting off this week’s negatives for the Blue Brand is the convoluted antics of Bayley that led to an eventual women’s tag match. This was bad from beginning to end. Bayley delivered Sasha’s introduction like an overly excitable fan girl, Evans teaming with Naomi made zero sense, and the whole dumpster fire ended with a sunset flip!

Granted, this could be Smackdown setting up a second Women’s chamber match for this Sunday, but even that assumption doesn’t redeem this segment. The Blue Brand may have the best tag division in the company currently, but compared to the women of Raw or NXT, Smackdown’s women’s division is the minor leagues.

The Blue Brand’s second negative is the quick backstage segment that saw Tucker trying to get Otis focused on the love of the fans. I know that Otis is being portrayed as the giant with a heart that’s twice as big, but why wouldn’t the solution to all this be a match between Heavy Machinery and the team of Roode and Ziggler? I mean, I get being sad over being supposedly stood up, but these guys are wrestlers!

Couldn’t Otis be sad while wrestling? It’s as simple as slipping a plant in the crowd wearing a Mandy shirt! Otis sees said plant, gets distracted, costs him and Tucker a match. Sure, they’d be losing but at least the fans wouldn’t be cooling on their pop for Otis while it was happening. Musty haired backstage stalker moments don’t make us sympathetic, they make us think Otis is a chump.

Raw’s bad list starts with a question this week. Who did Ricochet piss off?! As if being Brock Lesnar’s most recent squash victim wasn’t bad enough, last night saw WWE’s resident superhero eat a clean lost to current 24/7 Champion Riddick Moss. I seriously thought that Ricochet’s consolation to jobbing to Brock at Showdown might be winning the 24/7 title when this match started, especially considering the recent legitimacy that’s been given the championship.

However, it seems Vince’s distaste of talent who made their name outside of WWE still exists. I’m not trying to downplay the recent accomplishments of Riddy Mo, but I truly doubt anyone thought he stood any inkling of a chance against someone who’s been pushed as Ricochet. This felt out and out personal.

Finishing up this week’s negatives is the lacklustre reveal of what Erick Rowan has been carrying to the ring for weeks. Now, I know my theory of Rowan having a pet possum was a bit obscure, but would that have been any worse than what we actually got?! Why in the name of God would Rowan have a dinner plate sized, obviously animatronic spider in a cage?! I get the art of answering questions with more questions, but the minute you stop and think of the logistics involved in transporting and feeding a spider that big, the whole angle starts to unravel. And that’s based off any of us being dumb enough to think that thing is real! Honestly, this whole thing feels like a member of creative watched Home Alone and imagined Buzz growing up to become a professional wrestler.

The Verdict

Thanks to Super Showdown Vince and company have been forced to merge into the fast lane and drop into high gear on the road to Wrestlemania and it definitely showed this week. Although both shows were incredibly watchable, neither was perfect. So, when it comes to which show was better overall, I have to say this week goes to…

Finally Raw’s winning streak comes to an end! Sure, closing the show with Randy hitting Beth with an RKO was watchable TV, but it couldn’t hold a candle to the chills I got from The Fiend’s ominous pointing. So, with Smackdown finally coming out the victor, the time has come for me to bid you fine readers farewell the only way I know how.

Until next week, may all your kicks be super and every frog splash five stars!

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