Hits & Misses 6/1 WWE Raw Hits & Misses: Reigns & Ambrose, Owens & Cena, Return of Twin Magic, State of Tag Division, Sonic, more
Jun 3, 2015 - 3:28:56 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
By Jon Mezzera, Torch Specialist
Before I get to Raw, I have to say I was surprised by the positive reviews for Elimination Chamber. The reader polls had mostly above average to excellent reviews. The VIP audio roundtable reviewers all gave the show a thumbs up. I agree that Owens vs. Cena was very good and that the main event was good until the very lame ending which seems to be getting a pass for some reason. But, those two Chamber matches were terrible. They didn't have good wrestling action. There were too many overly choreographed spots (Kalisto's big drop where the guys are looking up to make sure they are positioned correctly, and the multi man suplex are just two examples). And in both matches there were wrestlers (Tyson Kidd & Cesaro and Mark Henry) who broke up pin attempts on competitors who they should have wanted to get eliminated, and I haven't seen much at all on the Torch about that. To me that shows just as low a wrestling IQ as anything else that we've seen in other situations from other wrestlers. You don't break up pin attempts in an elimination match unless your partner is the one getting pinned (which was not the case with Kidd & Cesaro). The Divas triple threat was poorly executed. And do we need to see Dean Ambrose steal another Championship? That ending to me ruined the otherwise good main event. So, I don't understand why people were high on this show. Now on to Raw.
Opening Segment: Raw got off to a good start. Everyone involved played their parts well. The Authority was good in showing anger towards Dean Ambrose, with Triple H's anger growing waiting for Ambrose to come out. Roman Reigns did a nice job talking for his friend. WWE has been doing a nice job with Reigns lately and he has had better performances. This effectively set up the Money in the Bank main event rematch for the WWE World Title with Seth Rollins defending in a ladder match against Ambrose (but why do we have to have two ladder matches on that PPV each year?). Rollins was great in losing it at that point and accepting the challenge much to the chagrin of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The opening also set up the idea of Reigns having to win a series of matches in order to keep his spot on Money in the Bank.
Reigns vs. Barrett: The first of Roman Reigns' three matches was definitely the best. He and King Barrett worked well together and put on a good match that went 14 minutes. It went back and forth nicely. I still want to see more variety of moves from Reigns. He has improved some in that area, but needs to continue to improve. The match also set up the injury to Reigns' left eye which would come up in his later matches.
Owens - Cena: This was two good promos, the first from Kevin Owens, the second from John Cena. Owens is so good in seeming like a good guy on the surface at times, but always having those heel undertones to remind people that he isn't someone to cheer for. I like the idea of him being upset that his son is a Cena fan. And his declaration to parents to make sure their kids are watching Money in the Bank to see what he does to Cena was very good. Cena was also good in his promo. He put Owens over for beating him the night before. But, he also underscored those heel elements to Owens' character. He showed a lot of passion. He kept up the intensity level and wasn't trying anything silly. I liked how he defended himself against Owen's attack about being the result of WWE's marketing machine. I had mixed feelings about pointing out the kid with cancer as it did come off as somewhat exploitative. Assuming the kid wasn't a plant (which is what I think), then I don't have a real problem with it. It was probably a huge moment for that kid. It fit in with Cena's character and what he had to say about his catchphrases and how Owens isn't as different from him as he likes to think. Of course, if the kid was a plant, then it was terrible.
Sheamus Beats Down Orton: Sheamus vs. Randy Orton was a pretty good match. The problem was that it felt too unimportant for a match between two stars the caliber of Sheamus and Orton. It needed something more than just the fact that they are both going to be in Money in the Bank. This points to the fact that WWE made a mistake in cramming Elimination Chamber into the schedule. They had insufficient time to build to that show, and now that it is over, they have insufficient time to build to the next PPV. It feels rushed. At least the segment was saved by the beat down that Sheamus gave Orton after he was disqualified for hitting him with a chair. The two Brogue Kicks were a good way to get some heat on Sheamus and set up an issue between these two going forward.
Ambrose & Reigns: One of the smart things that WWE has been doing recently is emphasizing the friendship between Ambrose and Reigns. They have good chemistry together and it has been making the fans cheer more for Reigns as they like his work with his former Shield brother. Ambrose's save after the main event was fun and exciting to watch. I am not a fan of his stealing the WWE World Title belt. As Stephanie McMahon pointed out, we've seen this story before with the Money in the Bank briefcase and the Intercontinental Championship. But, the pairing of Ambrose and Reigns works well. Their antagonistic position against The Authority works well. The fans are responding favorably to what they are doing. And it made for a strong ending to Raw.
Tag Division: I've enjoyed The New Day since they became heels. Kidd & Cesaro are a good team. The Lucha Dragons are fun to watch. But, on the whole I am not high on the tag division right now. I am disappointed that after moving on from Kidd & Cesaro, The New Day's next opponent for their Tag Team Championship is The Prime Time Players. I've never been a big fan of them, individually or as a team. Their recent vignettes making fun of the other teams on the roster were mostly lame. They didn't make me want to cheer for these guys. I'm not sure what about them makes them babyfaces. The Elimination Chamber tag match exposed some weaknesses in the division with the Players, The Ascension and El Matadores. They have a chance to rebuild Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, but they were not on this show. So, I'm left not excited at all about the tag division at this point.
Sonic Commercial Auditions: This was lame. It was not funny. It did not entertain me in any way. It did not make me want to go out to a Sonic any time soon. So, this was a failure on every level.
Return of Twin Magic: During the set up to Nikki Bella defending the Divas Title against Paige, I was wondering why I was supposed to cheer for either of them. I think they had been babyfaces, but neither has been presented in a clearly babyface way. Neither character seems cheer worthy to me. They aren't likable. The inconstancy with the Bellas has been terrible over the past several months going back to Survivor Series. They hated each other, then with no explanation they were back together. They were terrible heels. Then with no turn they were babyfaces. Now, they are back to sort of being heels with the return of twin magic (at the end of a pretty good match against Paige). And I'm honestly not sure how WWE wants me to react to that. Do they expect me to boo them for doing something heelish? Or am I supposed to cheer for Nikki continuing to hold on to her Divas Championship? The announcers didn't say much to signal one way or the other. And Brie has different color hair that Nikki at this point and I'm not even sure it was the same exact outfit. So, it should never have worked.
Reigns vs. Wyatt: Whatever problems exist on Raw, the solution is not having more wrestling from Roman Reigns. While he has been improving in the ring, he is not someone I want to see wrestle three times in one show. I get that WWE is trying to show that he is earning his spot at the top of the card by going through these matches that The Authority is putting him through in order to keep his spot in Money in the Bank. And in a vacuum, this match was fine. But, I had seen too much of Reigns in the ring by the time this match ended. I also question having Bray Wyatt lose to an opponent with an injured eye and injured ribs. And he had J&J Security and Kane trying to help him in the end and he still lost to an injured Reigns who was in his third match of the show. The ending could have been booked better to have Ambrose get involved in some way to help protect Wyatt (seriously, he waited a long time to come to his friend's aid). The Authority could have been overzealous and accidentally caused a DQ win for Reigns which would have played into Rollins' rant at the start of the show about not needing their help. The show did end strong, but the main event wasn't great.
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.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**