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PWTorch specialist Jon Mezzera breaks down this week’s WWE Raw episode with the Hits & Misses – did anything get a Hit besides John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler?
Cena vs. Ziggler: Now I had some issues with this match (more later), but for now I will concentrate on the positives of it. This was a good match. John Cena and Dolph Ziggler work well together in the ring. They were given over 17 minutes to work and the match only had one commercial break which was nice. The match went back and forth nicely and had some very good close near falls. After such a bad first hour of Raw, it was good to finally see something good at the start of the second hour. I’m curious who will face Cena for the United States Championship at Hell in a Cell before he leaves. Will it be Ziggler again? Unfortunately, this was really the only highlight on a terrible show. Some of the short matches were fine, but not good enough to get a Hit on such a bad show.
Opening Segment: This was just boring. There were good performers who are usually entertaining, but this dragged on and on. WWE is telling the story that Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton are reluctantly partnering up to take on The Wyatt Family. They want us to care about their match, yet why should I care if they don’t really want to team together? Tell me the story of how these two are going to get their revenge against the heels. This makes it look like The Wyatts are going to win, and why would I want to see that? So, I don’t like this storyline. Plus, The New Day who were given this sort of serious new look at the end of last week’s show were just back to doing their old schtick which is normally at least entertaining, but it wasn’t here. They went on too long just like Ambrose and Orton had already. Then we get the smiling lame Corporate Kane making a match. This was not a good way to hype Ambrose & Orton vs. The Wyatts. This was not a good way to follow up on The New Day’s big night last week. The match that followed was solid, but with two commercial interruptions, it was hard to get into.
Undertaker vs. Lesnar Video: This was a fine video to play on the Hell in a Cell pre-show. But with only a few Raws left before the PPV, you need to do something better to build up to what should be one of the biggest matches of the year with The Undertaker taking on Brock Lesnar in Hell in a Cell. WWE watered this match down by having Lesnar vs. Big Show at that MSG televised house show. That gave them less time to work with leading up to this match. And last week they kept too much focus on Big Show. Here, we didn’t get Lesnar, Paul Heyman or Undertaker. We just got this good video played twice. The problem isn’t the video itself. The problem is that the video isn’t enough.
Presenting Sasha Banks: The match itself between Nikki Bella and Naomi was okay. But the overall presentation is so poor. I get wanting to hype the NXT Takeover special after the fact and to talk about what a good show it was. The problem with how they do it is that there needs to be a better separation between NXT and the main roster. Here they show Bayley beating Sasha Banks, but Banks being on Raw. If Bayley is good enough to beat Banks, then why isn’t she good enough to be on Raw? WWE should not be encouraging their fans to chant for Banks. She is a great heel and should not be presented as a fan favorite. Part of what made Banks vs. Bayley (both times) so good is how strong of a heel Banks is and how strong of a babyface Bayley is. I’m so sick of how WWE goes with this idea of getting the fans to cheer or boo for whomever they want. Create babyfaces who actually get cheered. Create heels who actually get booed. Plus, WWE has already told the story of how Team PCB broke up. Now they are starting to tell the story of how Team BAD is going to break up. Teams breaking up don’t mean much when the teams haven’t been together for very long and when one break up follows closely on the heels of another. So, I don’t like this idea of the Bellas playing into the chants for Sasha Banks to make Naomi or Tamina jealous.
Payday: The answer to making Raw better isn’t doing these cheesy sponsored segments. I don’t care whom the WWE Universe thinks is the most unconventional Superstar or Diva. And who cares about watching Paige interviewed about that pre-taped segment? That did nothing for Paige and having her steal a candy bar just to remind everyone about the sponsor of that terrible segment was stupid.
Cena vs. Ziggler: While I did like this match, I had a few problems with it. The first problem was that last week, The New Day beat up Dolph Ziggler to take away his shot at the US Open Challenge. Then after the match with Big E taking on Cena, they beat up Cena and beat up Ziggler some more. They also beat up The Dudley Boyz. They beat these four guys down. So, where was the follow up? Where was Ziggler’s outrage at what New Day had done? Where was Cena’s outrage? Cena came out and talked about how great the Chicago crowd is and did his usual spiel like he would as if last week didn’t happen. New Day gained nothing in the end from standing tall to end last week’s Raw. The other problem I had was how Ziggler raked Cena’s eyes. Now if the story is that this is the first step in a heel turn for Ziggler, then I am ok with it. If they are telling the story that Ziggler is getting frustrated and went with the cheap shot, then fine. But, you have to have Michael Cole be upset about it. Cole was so upset about Kevin Owens doing the same thing at Night of Champions to defeat Ryback for the Intercontinental Championship. Why wasn’t he upset at Ziggler? I said the same thing last week with Orton poking an opponent in the eye. You have to have consistency. And if you don’t want Cole too upset at Ziggler yet as it is just the first step of a longer story heel turn, then at least have him question the action and express some disappointment in it. The lead announcer has to be more consistent that this.
Reigns vs. Strowman: This was a boring match. Roman Reigns was boring during his pre-match promo and the Chicago fans were right to point it out (though seriously, give the What? chants a rest already everyone please). Then the match itself was boring. Reigns can have good matches but he needs to be in the ring with a dynamic opponent. He can’t bring the dynamic quality to his matches against slow plodding wrestlers like Brawn Strowman. WWE was trying to make the fact that Strowman hadn’t been knocked off his feet a big deal, but if you are going to tell that story, you need to make it a bigger deal before the match where he gets knocked off of his feet. I didn’t realize he hadn’t been knocked down until the announcers were talking about it in this match and then he was knocked down in the end. And why would you make such a big deal about Cena not wanting to win with a count out over Ziggler if Reigns was going to later win via a count out over Strowman? The implication was that a count out victory is cheap. I don’t get that because if you beat up your opponents so bad that the can’t get back into the ring after a 10 count, that should be seen as an accomplishment. It is an accomplishment if it happens in a Last Man Standing match, but not in a real match. So if it is a cheap win for Cena, they sent the message that it was a cheap win for Reigns.
Rusev – Lana Situation: I don’t get what WWE is doing at all with Rusev, Lana and Summer Rae. I do want to see Rusev and Lana get back together, but this seems like a very lazy way to get there. Real life situations should have zero connection to the storylines in WWE. Just because Rusev and Lana got engaged in real life doesn’t mean it should be part of a WWE angle. This makes everyone involved look bad. Ziggler didn’t address his beat down at the hands of New Day and he didn’t address his girlfriend getting engaged to another man. Rusev looked stupid for coming to the ring with Summer as if she wouldn’t have known what had happened. It was bad.
The Authority on the Phone: The scenes in the back with Corporate Kane talking to The Authority on a bad cell phone connection were terrible. They were supposed to be funny, but they weren’t. After playing a babyface for the most part last week, Stephanie was heard berating people and acting like a total bitch while on the phone with Kane. It was bad. It was a poor set up for Demon Kane to take Corporate Kane’s place in the main event against Seth Rollins in a cheesy continuation of that terrible storyline. And if everyone watching at home knew for sure that Demon Kane was going to be the replacement, why are the announcers so stupid to act surprised when he came out? The main event itself was ok, but did nothing for me to make me want to see more of it at Hell in a Cell.
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 – email@example.com.
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