Quick Takes: Goldberg vs. McIntyre, Good Brothers' AEW Debut, Adam Pearce, More
Monday's Legends Night edition of WWE Raw may not have been much to write home about to kick off the new year, but the shocking ending left fans buzzing.
In the episode's final few minutes, Goldberg returned to challenge Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. It's a match that could either further propel McIntyre to superstardom or ruin the Road to WrestleMania.
The conclusion to SmackDown on Friday night was equally unpredictable, when on-air WWE official Adam Pearce emerged from a Gauntlet match as the new No. 1 contender to Roman Reigns' Universal Championship at the Rumble. Whether the bout will go on as planned remains to be seen, but if it is changed, it raises the question of why the company bothered to put Pearce in such a prominent position in the first place.
AEW delivered a few surprises of its own on Night 1 of New Year's Smash on Wednesday night, most notably the debuts of Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows. Their immediate alliance with Kenny Omega should shake things up on Dynamite in the weeks to come, as well as make for some interesting exchanges between them and The Young Bucks.
All of that is in addition to Sonya Deville resurfacing on SmackDown and NXT announcing the return of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. This installment of Quick Takes will explore these various topics, attempt to analyze what's next and more.
Looking at the Potential Positives of Goldberg vs. Drew McIntyre at Royal Rumble
WWE's decision to give Goldberg a WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble was polarizing, to say the least. If the reaction it received on social media from fans wasn't enough, look no further than the 11,000 dislikes the YouTube video of his Raw return has at the time of publishing.
After not appearing for the promotion since WrestleMania 36, the former WCW world heavyweight champion was always expected to be back for 'Mania season this year. However, it made the most sense for him to rekindle his rivalry with Roman Reigns over the Universal Championship, not set his sights on the WWE title.
From an in-ring standpoint, there can be zero doubt that Goldberg vs. McIntyre is a vast improvement over Goldberg vs. Reigns. Although Reigns is a more compelling character than McIntyre at the moment, the Scot has a better chance of getting a great match out of the WWE Hall of Famer at this stage of his career.
It also ensures that Reigns' run as universal champion won't be interrupted and that a fresh face could win the Royal Rumble, assuming Goldberg walks out with the WWE title in his possession. Keith Lee would be an ideal opponent for Goldberg on The Grandest Stage of Them All, and Bobby Lashley is a believable option as well.
Despite all that, the negatives outweigh the positives, and the bottom line is that Goldberg should not be wearing world title gold anymore. Putting him in marquee matches on pay-per-view is perfectly acceptable, but McIntyre vs. Sheamus is a significantly stronger WWE Championship clash at WrestleMania than anything involving Goldberg.
Sonya Deville Is the Perfect Opponent for Sasha Banks Ahead of WrestleMania
After several months away, Sonya Deville finally returned to WWE TV last week on SmackDown. It was explained on Friday's show that she was able to work around the Loser Leaves WWE stipulation of her match with Mandy Rose at SummerSlam by accepting a position as Adam Pearce's assistant on the blue brand.
Deville can and will be an amazing asset to the women's division when she inevitably steps back into the ring, but it's wise to highlight her as a character in another role in the meantime. She proved during her most recent run that she's a terrific talker, so her appearing in multiple segments and asserting her dominance in other ways is far from a bad thing.
Once that runs its course, most likely in the next month or so, she should become the No. 1 contender to Sasha Banks' SmackDown Women's Championship.
As many fans have made clear lately, Banks vs. Bianca Belair should be the WrestleMania match. Carmella will definitely get another shot at the title before then because of her recent pinfall victory over Banks, but beyond that, Banks will need someone else to feud with prior to WrestleMania. Deville would be the perfect person to fill that role.
If not in the middle of 'Mania season, then WWE can easily save the storyline for after The Show of Shows. Either way, it's a rivalry that needs to happen sooner rather than later, as the matches could be excellent and the promos even better.
Adam Pearce Competing for the Universal Title at Royal Rumble Shouldn't Stick
Despite falling short of becoming universal champion at the TLC pay-per-view and on the subsequent SmackDown, Kevin Owens has remained in hot pursuit of Roman Reigns' title in recent weeks. It looked like he was in line to receive another shot at the strap at the Royal Rumble, but his absence from Friday's show caused to him to miss the No. 1 contender's Gauntlet main event.
Of all the talented Superstars who competed for the opportunity to face Reigns at Rumble, it was on-air official Adam Pearce who pulled out the victory. Of course, that was only after Jey Uso laid out Shinsuke Nakamura and dragged Pearce's body over Nakamura for the three-count.
Reigns bullied Pearce earlier in the evening, so apparently WWE wants fans to feel sympathetic toward Pearce and make them want to see him give Reigns his comeuppance. Unfortunately, Pearce's authoritative role has been poorly defined. Nor has it been established that he's an actual wrestler like he once was in reality prior to coming to WWE.
As a top executive on SmackDown (or at least as we're led to believe), Pearce must give his title opportunity to a deserving member of the SmackDown roster. If not Owens again, Nakamura would be a fine choice considering how he came close to clinching the victory before Reigns ruined his hot streak.
Reigns vs. Pearce is a waste of a title defense for such an important pay-per-view, especially because the outcome wouldn't be in doubt. If Pearce does relinquish his title shot, then the Gauntlet accomplished nothing, so it's essentially a lose-lose situation unless WWE has something bigger brewing that we're not yet privy to.
NXT's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tourneys Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time
The year 2020 was arguably the worst NXT's tag team division has experienced to date. Between teams moving to the main roster, others being forced to split up or getting stranded overseas because of the pandemic and the general lack of focus on tag team wrestling, the scene was depleted for the better part of the year, and the NXT Tag Team Championship was defended on only one TakeOver special.
Thankfully, the black-and-gold brand has done a commendable job of building up fresh, new teams to help fill out the division. They include Drake Maverick and Killian Dain, The Way and Grizzled Young Veterans, to name a few.
They are all going to get their chance at greatness when the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic returns Wednesday. It will play out on NXT and 205 Live in the coming weeks, with the winners most likely earning a shot at the NXT tag team titles soon after.
If this doesn't put some much-needed emphasis on the men's tag team scene, nothing will.
We also found out this week that there will be a women's Dusty Classic for the first time this year as well. NXT's women's division is its strong suit, so the brand should have no issue filling out that bracket with all of the talented women they have under contract.
That should lead to the WWE Women's tag team champions returning to NXT to defend their titles.
Will Young Bucks Align Themselves with Kenny Omega and Good Brothers Long-Term?
When the AEW and Impact Wrestling crossover began in December, it was more a matter of when than if talent from both companies would start appearing on each other's programs. Sure enough, The Good Brothers made their way over to Dynamite on Wednesday night to help their longtime pal Kenny Omega lay out Jon Moxley.
They were eventually joined in the ring by The Young Bucks, another two wrestlers they know well from their time together in Bullet Club. Matt and Nick Jackson didn't appear to approve of their actions, indicating that there will be a rift between the teams.
From a storyline standpoint, it makes sense for Young Bucks to be wary of Gallows and Anderson. After all, the former Raw tag team champions made a vow to them in 2019 that they were AEW bound before they changed their minds and stayed with WWE instead.
That needs to be incorporated into the angle, as well as how it was Gallows and Anderson who attacked Moxley backstage many weeks ago. There are plenty of ways this can go, and it will be exciting to see it unfold.
A full-fledged Bullet Club reunion isn't necessary because Young Bucks are poised to continue doing their own thing in the tag teams ranks and remain babyfaces while Omega, Gallows and Anderson run wild over AEW and Impact Wrestling.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.