WWE Raw Fallout: NXT Call-Ups Already Damaged After Lackluster Debuts and More
Four of the most talented, celebrated and acclaimed Superstars in NXT made their main roster debuts Monday night, landing on WWE Raw not with a bang but a thud, thanks in large part to disappointing creative and a Lafayette, Louisiana, crowd that lacked energy of any kind.
Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Ricochet and Aleister Black's arrival should have meant more than it did, but, unfortunately, it felt like an underdeveloped afterthought rather than a defining moment for the four wrestlers and a fresh start for the flagship show.
Their debut was the most noteworthy moment of an...interesting...February 18 episode of Raw but not the only takeaway.
NXT Debuts Underwhelm Creatively, Create Concern Over Future
Ricochet, Aleister Black, NXT North American champion Johnny Gargano and NXT titleholder Tommaso Ciampa made their main roster debuts Monday in front of a Lafayette audience largely unfazed by the greatness presented to them by WWE Creative.
Ricochet was his mesmerizing, high-flying self. Ciampa and Gargano reunited as DIY, bringing their year-plus rivalry to the flagship show as they defeated The Revival. And Black silenced Elias.
No matter how impressive they were, or how much they will likely figure into the future of the brand and WWE as a whole, the lack of response and the questionable creative is cause for concern.
Their call-ups came out of nowhere, a desperation move from a writing team in need of a spark for its flagship show. They did not arrive to a series of vignettes or an introduction to their greatness through any grand video package. Triple H merely said they were there, and they popped up in random matches throughout the night.
The lack of forethought put into the arrival of four guys with enormous potential to shape the future of WWE is damning evidence of the chaos within the writing team as WrestleMania 35 approaches.
That could spell trouble for The Showcase of the Immortals but is even more damaging to the Superstars tasked with providing a spark to the Raw brand, especially if there is no obvious storyline planned for them as they look to connect with the audience at large and continue their critically acclaimed run into the rest of 2019.
Ruby Riott Shines in Championship Opportunity She Should Have Had on PPV
Ruby Riott was humiliated and done a great disservice Sunday at Elimination Chamber when she lost to Raw women's champion Ronda Rousey in less than two minutes. She was the sacrificial lamb before a red-hot angle involving Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch.
In Monday's main event, she had the opportunity to make a different impression than she did at the pay-per-view as she challenged Rousey in a rematch.
Riott rose to the occasion reminding fans why she is, arguably, the most underrated and underappreciated star on the women's roster. She dominated the majority of the match and utilized her superb timing and bumping to put the champion over when necessary.
She was the glue that held the bout together and, most importantly, left a greater impression on audiences than she had the chance to Sunday.
While she did lose to Rousey, it became abundantly clear Riott has a bright future with WWE and should be champion at least once before her career comes to an end. She has the charisma, is as technically sound between the ropes as anyone and has the look and presence of a star.
Yes, there is a logjam at the top of the card, but Riott appears destined to be one of those performers who sticks around, is quietly consistent and eventually gets her opportunity to run with the proverbial ball—and rightfully so.
Braun Strowman and Baron Corbin Should Never Fight Each Other Again
Braun Strowman and Baron Corbin should never, ever wrestle each other again.
Not because the effort isn't there or the matches are actively bad. No, they should never wrestle each other again because we have seen it more than anyone should have to and, worse yet, their series has done neither man any good.
Just as Corbin built heat as one of the preeminent heels on Raw, he was thrashed by Strowman Monday night in a Tables match. Conversely, The Monster Among Men has had his momentum extinguished via beatdowns and defeats at the hands of The Lone Wolf and associates Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley.
After Strowman's victory over Corbin, there really is nothing left for either man to accomplish in their rivalry. The heel screwed the hero over on pay-per-view, and the babyface came back and got revenge 24 hours later. Their story is over, their in-ring series has exhausted itself. There is nothing left to do or say, and thus they should not work with each other again on this Road to WrestleMania at least.
Let Strowman try to rebuild some of the excitement that once surrounded his character. Let Corbin move on to literally anything else.
In the process, both will be better off for escaping the monotony of their underwhelming and uninteresting rivalry.
Women's Tag Team Championship Celebration Lacks Creativity, Energy
Monday should have been a monumental moment in the careers of Sasha Banks and Bayley as they celebrated their historic Elimination Chamber victory and their status as the first WWE women's tag team champions.
Instead, they cut a lackluster promo in front of a lethargic Lafayette crowd before being interrupted by Tamina Snuka and Nia Jax, who figure to be the first challengers to their titles.
The segment lacked spark and felt like every other start to a title program that WWE has booked in recent years. There was nothing to really create any excitement for the new titles, the first champions or their inaugural rivalry.
It was a promo segment cloaked in "meh," wrapped in indifference and encased in "who cares?"
Unfortunately, it did a great disservice to a title that needs a boost in its infancy and to champions who deserved better after years of hard work and dedication to their craft on Monday nights.