Hits & Misses 5/11 WWE Raw Hits & Misses: Cena vs. Neville, Elimination Chamber Announcement, Axel & Sandow, Rollins vs. Orton
May 13, 2015 - 2:41:12 PM
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By Jon Mezzera, PWTorch Specialist
Ambrose vs. J&J Security: After the poor opening segment (more later), WWE had a fun match after the first commercial. Dean Ambrose took on J&J Security in a relatively short but fun match. Ambrose was getting the top star treatment in his hometown which makes sense. WWE has been building Ambrose's momentum over the past few weeks and this match was the first of two appearances for Ambrose on this week's Raw continuing that build.
Sheamus: I liked the job Sheamus did on guest commentary during Dolph Ziggler vs. King Bad News Wade Barrett. The match itself was too short to amount to much, especially considering that it was interrupted by a commercial break. I've also just seen enough of that match-up for a long time, so it wasn't a Hit. But, it was ok so it wasn't a Miss either. But, I did like how Sheamus attacked Ziggler afterwards to continue their feud and reinforce his bully character. Ziggler got to show some fighting spirit, but ultimately got Brogue Kicked to end the segment. Sheamus is fitting in with his new heel character very well at this point.
Cena vs. Neville: After a much better promo than last week addressing Rusev and the upcoming US Title match at Payback, John Cena had a very good match against Neville as part of his US Open Challenge. This was one of the best matches in the Challenge (maybe Ambrose was better). I still say that this Challenge has killed the STF as a legit finisher and shown that Cena has to hit two AAs to get a win. I don't know how anyone can possibly see one AA and think that Cena is actually going to get the three count at that point. Neville would have gotten the same boost from this match even without kicking out of the AA. But, it was still a very good match. It went nearly 15 minutes and was enjoyable to watch from start to finish. It went back and forth nicely. Neither Cena nor Neville had control of the match for too much time. Neville had plenty of opportunity to show off his great athleticism. We even saw a new move from Cena with the modified Michinoku Driver. The match built well to Neville hitting the Red Arrow for what was a good chance of victory, only to have Rusev come in and cause a disqualification. That made sense given Rusev's storyline with Cena. It also protected Neville from taking a loss.
Rollins vs. Orton: There has been some talk about Randy Orton maybe being concussed or at least knocked a little loopy during this main even match against Seth Rollins. Whatever happened, or whatever was wrong, I don't think it negatively effected the quality of this match. We've seen this match up way too often for it to really mean anything. It didn't hold a lot of interest for me going into it, but it was a good match. Orton and Rollins do work very well together in the ring. They have good chemistry together and it showed here. It is a strange situation where I don't want to see these guys wrestle again, but I would watch expecting it to be a pretty good match. The match predictably ended with a disqualification after the run in from J&J Security and was therefore unfortunately another example of a non-clean finish on a show where that was really the theme (more later).
Opening Segment: I'm glad that WWE didn't appear to panic too much after the recent low ratings. I was worried they would start doing some major changes which would backfire. Instead, they had Triple H return, and that was probably planned anyway. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of what Triple H did. I'm not into the Seth Rollins vs. Kane feud, so having Triple H return to address it didn't do much for me. One of the problems with The Authority's role is how they come across like disappointed parents talking down to their disobedient children. Here, Triple H himself made that very analogy saying "daddy's home." Rollins' performance was strong, but I don't like having an authority figure talking down to the WWE World Champion like that. So, Kane might not be part of The Authority after Payback? Who cares? And while Jamie Noble was great as usual, having Triple H mock him and Joey Mercury for being short was bad. The opening segment did set up three big matches for the show, but it was mostly a poor segment.
Rowan and Harper: I was intrigued by the possibility of Erick Rowan and Luke Harper teaming up once again after it was teased on last week's Smackdown. However, I was looking forward to seeing Rowan have to prove himself to Harper and audition to be his partner again. I thought there was potential in a good story there. Instead, on Raw they came out together and are apparently once again a team just like that. 3 hour Raws need good interesting developing mid and lower card angles to help fill the time. Just re-establishing Rowan as a monster with a 30 second squash of Fandango with Harper in his corner isn't a great way to go. Why not stretch it out a little? Have the same match, just have Harper shown in the back watching on a monitor.
Divas Situation: Brie Bella vs. Tamina was a fine match. They performed well, but why does a match between two Divas who are presented as equals at the top of the division get less than 4 minutes? And who am I supposed to cheer for? I know WWE wants me to cheer for the Bellas and boo Naomi and Tamina. But, they haven't done much to make me want to cheer for either of them. Naomi and Tamina are heels, yet Naomi makes some very good points about her and the Divas Championship. She had earned a Title shot before the Divas battle royal last month. She had a chance of beating Nikki Bella before Brie cheated to help her sister win. The Bellas haven't done anything different with themselves to make the fans want to cheer for them either. What makes them babyfaces? It leads me to not want to cheer for any of them.
Mega Powers Reunion: I appreciate the work that Curtis Axel has done since The Royal Rumble. The "mania" in Axelmania should have been a reference to WrestleMania and not Hulkamania. It should not have turned into a Hulk Hogan impression. WWE could have found other ways to keep various hashtags going for Axel moving forward. Instead, he is stuck doing a pretty lame Hogan imitation. Enter Damian Sandow whose breakup with The Miz has been totally wasted. I liked what they did at first with him continuing to impersonate Miz after they broke up, but I would not have continued his doing impersonations after his feud with Miz ended. The crowd certainly did not seem into his Macho Mandow gimmick at all. I know I wasn't. Sandow himself didn't seem to be that into it. It is one thing to do an impression of Hogan who can come in and hit Axel with a big boot, but to do a deceased wrestler like this seems in poor taste to me. If it was just a one night only thing, I would be more forgiving of it. But having him team up with Axel moving forward in a rebirth of the Mega Powers at least for the Payback pre-show match against The Ascension, makes it even worse.
Big E vs. Cesaro: Cesaro carried his part of this match, but Big E showed why he is not ready for a big singles push. He just isn't good. His deficiencies can be hidden in a tag match where Kofi Kingston or Xavier Woods can cary the bulk of the match. But in a singles match that goes nearly 9 minutes, those deficiencies can't be hidden. He was sloppy and a step off at times. I'm not sure whose fault it was, but Cesaro looked unable to lift Big E on that overhead throw after two German suplexes. That turned into a scary moment as it looked like Big E was going to land on his head. The announcers didn't help spending the first part of the match talking about DeflateGate after the super dated reverence to Pete Rose from Big E before the match.
Elimination Chamber: Ugh. I get some of the business reasons for having this special event as a WWE Network exclusive. But, do we really need another "PPV" event two weeks after Payback? It is way too soon of a turn around to be able to build up to another special event. It reeks of desperation. The Elimination Chamber PPV always seemed like a forced gimmick in the past when there wasn't a natural reason to have six guys in a title match. I guess it makes some sense to have the vacant IC Title defended in the Chamber, but it still feels way too forced and definitely way too soon.
End of Raw: While I liked the main event, I wasn't a fan of what happened afterwards. To me, the focus was way too much on Kane on not on the actual wrestlers who are going to be in the fatal fourway for the WWE World Title at Payback. Also, WWE pounded us over the head with the fact that Seth Rollins has no chance of winning on Sunday, even going so far as to have both Booker T and JBL say that he has no chance, that you know he is going to win. This was so heavy handed with all three of his opponents hitting their finishers on him while Kane stood by doing nothing. They did hint that it won't be that simple at Payback with Reigns hitting Orton with the spear and then Ambrose hitting Reigns with Dirty Deeds to stand tall at the end of the show in his home town to a big reaction. But, the message was so clear that Kane will not help Rollins who has no chance to win, that you know the opposite will happen. And the focus should not be on Kane who shouldn't be a part of this at all.
Match Endings: There were too many non-finishes, non matches, disqualifications, and other non-clean endings after interference on this week's Raw. Ambrose vs. J&J Security ended clean. Barrett got the win over Ziggler after distraction from Sheamus. Rowan vs. Fandango was a quick squash. While the interference to cause a non-finish made sense in Cena vs. Neville, it was still a non-finish on a show with too much of those types of endings. The promised Kane vs. Reigns match never ended up happening because of their pre-match brawl. I'm ok with this as I didn't need to see Kane vs. Reigns, but it was a non-match on a show with too many other gimmicky finishes. Also, while the brawl was mostly good and physical, I was let down by the spear over the announce table. It didn't seem that impactful to me as the table didn't break and it looked like Kane was speared and then simply rolled across the table. Brie vs. Tamina was a clean victory for Tamina which was good as it easily could have included interference from Naomi. Axel vs. Macho Mandow had a non-finish after it was interrupted by The Ascension. Cesaro vs. Big E ended with a cool looking leverage pin for Cesaro, but only after Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston (and I can tell the difference between them unlike Michael Cole) and Tyson Kidd had fought ringside causing a lot of distraction. As mentioned above, the main event of Rollins vs. Orton ended with the interference from J&J Security. Out of nine would be matches, six of them either didn't happen, or had non-finishes, or ended in DQs, or ended after distractions from other wrestlers. That is too many.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com's WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at his NEW email address - firstname.lastname@example.org.
For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell's views to mine by visiting prowrestling.NET's "Hitlist" section here.
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