Gentleman Jack Gallagher def. Lince Dorado
Gallagher and Drew Gulak are on a mission to recruit Humberto Carrillo into their alliance, so I guess Gallagher was looking to impress Carrillo by beating Dorado. This match received more time than I expected and was very fun. Gallagher hasn't been showcased in singles competition in a great while, so this felt refreshing. It was also the right call to have him go over.
Tony Nese def. Noam Dar in a No Disqualification Match
I've been a fan of how this feud has been built up like a blood feud with the two recently brawling in a parking lot. It was way more than your typical rubber match and they benefited from having no disqualifications. Unsurprisingly, the crowd was dead early on, but to their credit, they did a great job of getting the fans invested in the action. They didn't go too over the top, but it was also extreme enough to warrant the stipulation. Both guys put forth an exceptional effort and the finish looked fantastic.
Charlotte Flair Addressed Replacing Becky Lynch Against Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 35
WWE has been flirting with the idea of Flair as a full-fledged heel, and coming off the announcement that she'll face Rousey for the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania, it was smart to go all the way with the turn. Needless to say, that's the role she's most comfortable in and I thought this was a hell of a promo from her. I know people are upset about Lynch being bumped from the 'Mania main event, but of course, it's all a part of the storyline and she'll be added back in eventually. Now the question is if Charlotte's presence in the match will be permanent.
Naomi & Carmella def. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville and The IIConics in a Triple Threat Match
We saw the same exact match last week, though this had the twist of the losers having to enter first in Sunday's WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber. Sasha Banks and Bayley will enter first for Raw, and as a result of their loss here, Rose and Deville will enter first for SmackDown Live. The in-ring work was noticeably better this time around as everyone played their roles well. Naomi scored a measure of revenge in her rivalry with Rose by pinning her to win, and seeing as how she and Carmella are a makeshift team, it was the right call for them to go over.
Heavy Machinery def. The Ascension
It stuns me to say that Heavy Machinery have arguably been handled the best out of all of the recent NXT call-ups. Then again, that isn't saying much because their appearances on Raw and SmackDown Live have been infrequent. On the bright side, they've made the most of every opportunity they've been given up to this point and have managed to win over some fans with their wacky antics. They're a treat to watch in the ring and this was a fun showcase for them.
Tyler Breeze and The B-Team def. Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers
Sometimes I forget The B-Team are still employed, let alone that they were Raw Tag Team Champions less than six months ago. Meanwhile, Breeze deserves way better, and I don't think reuniting him with Fandango when is cleared to compete again is the answer (All Elite Wrestling, anyone?). At any rate, this was a perfectly fine six-man tag team match that didn't overstay its welcome and actually featured an enjoyable closing stretch. I was somewhat surprised by the outcome, if only because Mahal was WWE Champion a little over one year ago and now he can't even beat Breeze and The B-Team. What a fall from grace (hey, I'm not complaining).
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon Offered Becky LYnch an Ultimatum
WWE is playing up Lynch as the rebellious babyface perfectly by having her defy authority at every turn. She attacked Stephanie last week and slapped Triple H the next night, and now she's refusing to apologize to them. They offered to give her the WrestleMania match against Ronda Rousey and lift her storyline suspension as long as she apologized to them, so that was a nice hook for the remainder of the show. So much for a "suspension," though.
Nia Jax & Tamina def. Bayley & Sasha Banks and The Riott Squad in a Triple Threat Match
As a result of their loss, Bayley and Banks will now enter the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber first. Meanwhile, the SmackDown Live ladies didn't have to qualify for their spots in the Chamber, and now none of them will have to enter first, either. How fair is that? At any rate, this was a good Triple Threat match on the whole with the right team losing, just because it creates more doubt that Banks and Bayley will take the titles on Sunday. Banks once again had to be escorted away from ringside due to injury, so it will be interesting to see whether she will be cleared to compete by the pay-per-view.
Before becoming a multi-time world champion and first ballot WWE Hall of Famer, CM Punk was just another "local athlete" on an episode of Sunday Night Heat in May 2005. However, he actually stood out more than most local athletes do, likely because the company was aware of his potential and his buzz on the independent scene. If they weren't, the commentators wouldn't have said as such on commentary, so it was clear he was being groomed for greatness.
Interestingly enough, Punk wasn't signed to a developmental deal by WWE until that September, so this was merely a tryout for him (except in a televised setting) to see if he had what the company was looking for. I've never been the biggest Val Venis fan, but he was probably the perfect person for Punk to face in his unofficial WWE debut, as Venis had plenty of experience and could typically be counted on for a quality performance.
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