Hits & Misses HITS & MISSES - 7/13 WWE Raw: Brock Lesnar, Heyman & Rollins (x2), Rusev vs. Owens vs. Cesaro, The Divas Reset Segment, more
Jul 15, 2015 - 11:31:07 AM
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By Jon Mezzera, Torch Specialist
Opening Segment: I enjoyed the start of Raw with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar coming out to start the show. Heyman was better than last week in talking up Lesnar for his upcoming WWE Title opportunity against Champion Seth Rollins. I liked the history lesson of Lesnar as the challenger. Rollins was also good in his response. I like the line that he will burn Suplex City to the ground. I wasn't thrilled with the contract signing announcement from Kane. Even Heyman's comments at that point showed how predictable contract signings are. But, it was still a good start to Raw.
Reigns Attacks Wyatt: This is a marginal Hit. I liked the intensity shown by Roman Reigns in his attack on Bray Wyatt before the announced match against Dean Ambrose. And since I wasn't really looking forward to another Ambrose vs. Wyatt match, I didn't mind that the match got skipped. The fight that ensued was well done and it was good that Wyatt was able to fight back to escape to keep the physicality to a minimum. You want the fans to want to watch Battleground to see Reigns getting his full revenge on Wyatt, so don't give away too much here. The reason I'm calling this a minor Hit is for the anticlimactic ending. After Wyatt got away and Reigns stumbled out of the ring, the show cut to a quick commercial. That was jarring. I was looking for a strong promo from Reigns to end things. He definitely needed some mic time at that point to say why he had to get his hands on Wyatt and promise his fans that while Wyatt got away this week, he wouldn't get away from him on Sunday.
Owens vs. Rusev vs. Cesaro: This was a very good triple threat match that turned into a singles match half way through. The set up was ok with Rusev, Kevin Owens and Cesaro all coming out to try to accept John Cena's US Open Challenge. I have to admit to laughing at Rusev calling Owens a stupid French-American (that was hilarious), but his joke about Owens having two first names wasn't nearly as good. The match itself was very physical. Rusev has joined the list of wrestlers (which includes Owens and Cesaro) whom I expect to have consistently good matches. There was a time when I was a bit surprised if Rusev was in a very good match, but not any more. I like how this match built in the first half. It made perfect sense from both a storyline and a character standpoint for Owens to get frustrated and walk out on the match, knowing that he has his match against Cena guaranteed at the PPV. After the commercial, the match proceeded like a singles match with Rusev vs. Cesaro and continued to deliver. Just like I would like to see an Owens vs. Cesaro feud, this made me want to see a Cesaro vs. Rusev feud. I thoroughly enjoyed this match. Cesaro was a bit off at times last week, but he was spot on this week. It is too bad that the big final kick from Rusev didn't quite connect. But, that was a minor complaint in an otherwise very good match.
Brock's Physicality: After another great promo from Paul Heyman to start the contract signing closing segment, I loved how Lesnar played his part. It was great how he turned the tables (literally) on Seth Rollins' attempt to use the axe handle. I loved Lesnar's cocky look when he set the handle on the table, inviting Rollins to take it. Then his physicality in driving the table into Rollins, knocking him out of the ring was great. The double team with Rollins and Kane briefly getting the upper hand over Lesnar worked well, only to have Lesnar fight back and get the better of them, once again chasing Rollins away. Lesnar's attack on Kane was good, taking him out physically so he can join J&J Security in not being able to be in Rollins' corner at the PPV. And since Rollins got away, this should build anticipation to finally see Lesnar get his revenge (ant Title) on Rollins. I wasn't as big a fan of what happened afterwards with Rollins making his way back to the ring. The mic work from Rollins was fine, but it made the end of the show drag on too long. And we've seen him angry at Kane and then happy with Kane and then angry at Kane, going back and forth, too often. So, now he insults Kane and then adds injury to insult by kicking his injured ankle. We've seen it before. The bigger issue is that by having the announcers hit us over the heads with the fact that Rollins has zero chance on Sunday (JBL said at the end that we will have a new Champion at Battleground), it means he will win. I figured he would any way, but this was too over the top. It didn't ruin the segment for me. I'm not giving it a Miss. But, the segment could have been stronger without the mic work from Rollins at the end.
Orton's Flop: Ryback & Randy Orton vs. The Big Show & Sheamus was a solid tag match. It went over 15 minutes (though it was interrupted by two commercial breaks so we saw much less than that) and was a decent way to build to two Battleground matches. However, right before the second commercial, Orton was knocked to the outside of the ring by Sheamus. He got up and took a wild swing at nobody and fell down, way over selling the few moves that Sheamus had hit him with. He was acting loopy like he had a concussion or something and it got a laugh from the crowd. But, I'm not sure why he was playing for laughs at that point. On Smackdown, Orton said that nobody had ever gotten under his skin as much as Sheamus (a ridiculous enough statement considering his recent feud with Rollins), trying to sell the intensity of this feud. But here, he was acting like a goof. It took me out of an otherwise solid match. It is possible that he wasn't trying to be funny, but I'm still surprised by that execution by someone like Orton.
Rusev vs. Cena: I'm not sure what WWE was trying to accomplish with this match. John Cena acted way too cocky for my tastes. Were they trying to get sympathy for Rusev? Rusev works as a heel and while his recent feud with Dolph Ziggler has hurt him, having him away from Ziggler this week and putting in such a great performance in the triple threat match helped to undo a lot of that damage. They need to keep him strong and get him back to being a badass to undo the rest. Having him play for sympathy doesn't make sense to me. And Cena did look weak for not being able to put Rusev away after the long and grueling match that Rusev had just been in. The Owens attack was predictable and got WWE out of the match without a clean winner. But, WWE seems to be booking themselves into too many of these situations lately.
The Divas Segment: I'm sure there will be plenty of disagreement from readers about my giving this a Miss, but hopefully I will be clear enough to explain my position. Let me start by saying why I understand why people are likely excited about this segment. I am happy to see some new life breathed into the Divas Division. I'm happy that there is at least a sign that WWE is planning on treating the Divas (or Women's Division) with more respect and presenting them in a more serious way. I was definitely happy to see Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Sasha Banks making their Raw debuts (we'll ignore Charlotte's appearance losing to Natalya several months ago). These three are very talented wrestlers who clearly deserve this promotion. I even see some potential in multiple three Divas factions.
However, I just didn't like how WWE got there. To me, Stephanie McMahon's presence ruined this segment. This came across as Stephanie trying to pat herself on the back and promote herself more than anything else. She had to come out and remind everyone that she owns WWE. She is going to make the difference, not the actual women wrestlers. Paige wanted to make a difference, but couldn't. But you know who could? Stephanie McMahon to the rescue. So, was this segment about a rejuvenated Divas Division? Or was it about Stephanie rejuvenating the Divas Division? And to me, those are two very different things. Just like Triple H has far too often taken too much focus away from WWE Superstars, here Stephanie did the same thing. And her presence wasn't needed at all.
This would have been much better and would have accomplished the same exact goal without her. Last week on Raw, Paige should have promised to have back up this week. That would have built anticipation for whom she would finally get to come to her aid against Team Bella. Then have the segment start the same with Nikki cutting her promo and then calling out Paige and saying something like "I know you can't get any Diva on the roster to team with you." Paige then comes out and says "you are right, I couldn't get any Diva on the roster to team with me... so I had to go to the NXT roster." Then have Paige introduce Becky Lynch and Charlotte instead of the heel trying to play babyface, Stephanie. After that, Naomi and Tamina could have come out and say that they had unfinished business with both Team Nikki and Paige, and that they guessed what Paige was up to, so they decided to recruit someone for their own team, and have them introduce Sasha Banks. Then let the physicality play out the same way, with Team Paige standing tall, and you have a better segment, putting the emphasis on the actual wrestlers and not on the authority figure. This is maybe the most I've ever written about a Divas segment!
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.
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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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