Heading into this Sunday’s WrestleMania, Seth Rollins vs. Triple H was one of the matches I just wasn’t getting excited about. It had been built for a while, and that generally is a good thing, but this match feels like it should have been done months ago.
Last night’s promo segment on Raw, where Rollins officially signed the contract for the non-sanctioned match, had a lot of terrific components to it. But as good as it was, it was equally as frustrating. Rollins did an excellent job explaining why he was a babyface. He explained why he sided with Triple H and the Authority two years ago, and why now he has decided to change. Rollins said that he wanted to be the person he was before he ever met Triple H, and if that meant wrestling in an armory instead of a stadium, he would take that.
It was the best promo Rollins has cut as a babyface, without question. And it should have been done months ago, when Rollins returned from injury and was more of a tweener instead of coming back strong as a babyface. The promo was great, but I couldn’t help but feel that WWE dropped the ball not having Rollins go in this direction from the very beginning.
Triple H was great here too, being a total jerk. Too many heels try to get cheered. Triple H wasn’t trying to get cheered here, and he didn’t. That’s part of what made the reaction to Rollins even better.
The fans were clamoring for Rollins’ return earlier this year. He was going to be received as a babyface. WWE knew this. We all knew this. But instead of going all in on Rollins as a babyface, they went halfway. Rollins suffered because of it. Now they’re finally all-in and Rollins did a tremendous job.
It’s similar to the way they’ve treated Roman Reigns. Even last night in his promo with The Undertaker, he seemed to go halfway to being a heel. Although, I’ll say this, last night’s promo with Reigns was the most heelish he’s been on WWE television since The Shield. It was really good.
But WWE hasn’t gone all-in with Reigns as a heel. Now they’re going all-in with Rollins as a babyface. Maybe going all-in the opposite direction with Reigns isn’t far behind.
Reigns had a certain arrogance to his delivery last night. The content of his promos have always been heelish. He comes across very self-absorbed. But Reigns didn’t try to mask it in his promo on Monday. He seemed to embrace it, turning the dial up even a bit more than usual.
The final build for Goldberg-Lesnar was also short and sweet, just as their matches have been. Paul Heyman did most of the speaking here.
Overall, this go-home show to ‘Mania was filled with a lot of talking. Some of it was good — some very good — and others (Goldberg) left a lot to be desired.
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1. Bayley & Sasha Banks beat Charlotte and Nia Jax
After the win, Jax attacked Bayley and Banks and then beat up Charlotte, her own tag partner. This match put over Jax as a monster heel heading into Sunday’s Fatal Four Way match at WrestleMania. It was OK. Nothing special.
2. Austin Aries beat Noam Dar
Solid match from Aries. That feels like a broken record. Everything Aries does is solid, if not much more than that.
They gave the Cruiserweights some time here, going almost eight minutes. That might sound short, but for a Raw Cruiserweight match in 2017, that’s a lot.
3. Over The Top Rope Challenge ended in a no contest
Big Show came out and just beat everyone up. After that, Braun Strowman walked halfway through the ramp and he and Big Show shared verbal jabs for a few seconds. Clearly they’re building to the two big men as a main attraction for the Andre The Giant Battle Royal.
Strowman has been on a huge trajectory since the draft this past summer. It feels like he should be in a more prominent WrestleMania match than the battle royal, but I’m not sure what spot he should really be in. It just feels like they shhould have prepared better.
4. Neville beat Jack Gallagher
Another good Cruiserweight showcase match for Neville, setting him and Aries up for their match on Sunday. Nothing much to this match, either.
5. Sami Zayn beat Kevin Owens
Another Zayn-Owens match? Great, but WWE is killing a good thing. Every time they go back to this so quickly, it’s hurting the match’s ability to draw down the line. They’ve done this match a lot in recent months, going back to the summer and last year, and I think the fans are over it for now, as fun as these two are in the ring.