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PWTorch specialist Jon Mezzera covers Raw with his weekly Hits & Misses column. What worked and did not work on the October 26 Raw following the Hell in a Cell PPV?
Kingston vs. Reigns: There was some good in ring action on this week’s Raw. The focus on the wrestling definitely helped make this the best Raw in quite awhile. The first of the good matches was Kofi Kingston vs. Roman Reigns in the first of four qualifying matches for the fatal four way main event to determine the new #1 contender for Seth Rollins’ WWE World Championship. Both Kingston and Reigns performed well in the match. They worked well together and this felt like a fresh match up. It lasted over 12 minutes and was fun to watch from start to finish. And it was a sign of things to come in terms of the strong in ring work.
Owens’s Promo: I loved it last week when Kevin Owens said that as far as he is concerned, he is the first Intercontinental Champion. I loved in this brief inset promo that as far as he is concerned, WWE history started with him, so the greatest moment in WWE history hasn’t yet happened. This attitude is a great addition to his already good character. It can really go in a number of different directions and lead to a number of different feuds, and I’m looking forward to seeing where WWE goes with Owens as the IC Champ going forward.
Owens vs. Cesaro: This was the second of the qualifying matches and the best. We’ve seen Owens vs. Cesaro fairly recently, so it wasn’t a fresh match up like Kingston vs. Reigns, but it was still very good. Plus, I would pay to watch these two wrestle multiple times without getting tired of it. This match went just over 10 minutes and I would have loved to see it go longer. Owens and Cesaro are both so great in the ring and they are great together. It was fun to watch. Give me more of this type of wrestling on Raw each week and I will be happy.
Paige’s Heel Turn: We already saw a heel turn from Paige after Night of Champions, but WWE has done a decent job of telling her story of trying to apologize and get back in the good graces of her Team PCB teammates. Paige was good in the backstage segment acting full of herself for her appearance on “Conan” and then quickly trying to act like a good person when Becky Lynch and Charlotte came into the room. Their six Diva tag match against Team Bella was solid, but short. Paige’s attack of Charlotte and Becky afterwards was well done. I’m sure a lot of people saw it coming, but I’m guessing enough casual fans were surprised. Ultimately, even though it wasn’t great, I am giving it a Hit as I think a Paige vs. Charlotte feud over the Divas Championship has a lot of potential and should lead to a very good Title match.
Del Rio vs. Neville: This was the third qualifying match, and the third good match of Raw. Alberto Del Rio returning after over a year away from WWE does help to add some freshness to the product. We certainly have never seen him wrestle Neville before. This match had a nice pace with Neville adding his usual high energy and excitement to it. Again, it went over 10 minutes and was fun to watch. It went back and forth nicely. I really liked that finishing sequence. Some people complained about the move that Del Rio defeated John Cena with, but he had used that move as a finisher in the past. He also has the cross arm breaker which he teased here, and he got a win with a different move over Neville. I’d like to see Del Rio make winning matches in different ways part of his signature in the ring. It will make his matches less predictable and stand out in WWE if he has multiple ways that actually finish matches. I always laugh when Dolph Ziggler acts surprised when his opponent kicks out of the Famouser even though he never wins with that move. Ziggler could learn something from Del Rio.
Ziggler vs. Big E. The fourth and final qualifying match was the fourth good qualifying match. Ziggler seems reinvigorated no longer being part of the terrible storyline with Rusev and Lana. Big E has shown a lot of improvement in the ring as of late and he certainly carried his part of the match very well. They have wrestled in the past, but I don’t remember them having any good matches which points to Big E’s improvement here. And I liked Tyler Breeze and Summer Rae’s presence at ring side and look forward to the Ziggler vs. Breeze feud.
Fatal Four-Way: While I believe this match should have been saved for next week’s Raw (more later), it was a good main event for Roman Reigns to become the #1 contender for the WWE World Title. The good 15-minute match capped off a night of good wrestling action. I greatly enjoyed this match. Reigns was the predictable winner, but that didn’t take away from the quality of the match. There was an energy to the match that we haven’t seen a lot of lately. The crowd was super hyped for it. The buzz and pop when it came down to Owens vs. Reigns was very impressive. Seth Rollins did a nice job doing guest commentary trying to act like he didn’t care who won the match, when he was obviously concerned about the prospect of Reigns winning. He added to the enjoyment of the match instead of distracting from it as can happen in these situations. It was a very good main event to finish off a good Raw.
Opening Segment: After a PPV where you had the return of Del Rio, the loss of the U.S. Championship by John Cena (where was he by the way? Shouldn’t they have made a big deal about him not being on the show?), a successful World Title defense by Rollins, the huge Hell in a Cell match between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker, and the destruction of Undertaker by The Wyatt Family, I would have preferred seeing Raw start off with a wrestler involved in one of those big moments of the PPV, instead of The Authority. I groaned when they came out and their performance was poor. I am only giving this a marginal Miss. They did a nice job of recapping some of those big moments from the PPV and did a nice job with Rollins of moving on to what will come next. I like that The Authority put a focus on this week’s Raw. I appreciate how they made the Hell in a Cell matches matter after the fact by rewarding the victors of those matches with a chance to earn the #1 contendership for the WWE World Title. But, it was a little bit convoluted. And, I don’t understand why they had the fatal four way on this week’s show. Why not announce the four qualifying matches for this week, but the actual fatal four way for next week? That would give fans a reason to stick around this week, but also a reason to tune in next week. So, while I did like some of the opening segment, I am still giving it a slight Miss.
New Day: The New Day isn’t as entertaining without Xavier Woods. And in general, they haven’t been nearly as entertaining over the last few weeks even before Woods was injured by The Dudley Boyz. They’re pre-match speeches have been more grating and nonsensical to me. I don’t get the unicorn thing. Did I miss something? I honestly have no idea why they are calling themselves unicorns, or what that even means. These guys have been great at times and been at least good most of the time. They are entertaining, but in a very heelish manner (I don’t agree with those who say they are really babyfaces because they are funny). I hope this is just a hick-up, and they will get back on track once Woods returns.
Mex-Americans: Ugh. I was happy to see Alberto Del Rio return at the PPV as John Cena’s surprise challenger for the U.S. Title (despite the arguable hypocrisy of Del Rio returning to a company he called racist). But, I was confused by everything about his return. It didn’t make sense to have him return with Zeb Colter. Colter’s introduction of Del Rio was odd. The match against Cena was too short and didn’t work well considering the epic matches that Cena has had recently. I’m also happy to see Colter return as he is a good manager, but I don’t like what they are doing with the pair. Del Rio doesn’t seem to like it either as he didn’t look comfortable standing next to Colter talking about a combined America and Mexico nation. They missed an opportunity to have Colter in a similar role as before with his new find James Storm. It was a chance to introduce a new wrestler onto the main roster and give him a big push right out of the box. And Storm doesn’t need time in NXT. He can go right to the main roster. Plus, Storm and Colter would make a good combination. Storm doesn’t need a mouth piece, but neither does Del Rio. And they could have had Del Rio return under different circumstances. And we wouldn’t have had to be stuck with this strange and awkward pairing that doesn’t work for me at all.
The Miz: I’m not as much of a stickler for protecting kayfabe as some others at the Torch when it comes to things like “Tough Enough” or “Total Divas.” However, it would be nice if WWE kept everything kayfabe when it comes to the three hours of Raw and the two hours of Smackdown, plus the Twitter accounts of their wrestlers (since they promote those as being in character on TV). So, please don’t show a heel like The Miz doing a Be a Star anti-bullying event on Raw. How does that go along with his on-screen character? Mike Mizanin might be against bullying, but I doubt The Miz would be. I’m all for WWE supporting Be a Star, but find a babyface spokesman, or don’t show the footage on Raw. They did the same thing in the past with guys like Mark Henry and Del Rio and it makes no sense. And I don’t understand casting the heel Miz as the guy promoting your new video game. And how long was he playing for before Stone Cold Steve Austin showed up? That was cheesy, and poorly placed right after the breast cancer awareness in-ring moment. This was a case where WWE had Miz mis-used twice on one Raw.
The Dudleys: I don’t understand why WWE brought The Dudley Boyz back if this is how they were planning on using them. They might as well be any team on the roster. They might as well be Los Matadores at this point. They haven’t been treated as special. They are not the type of team to tall a long story about how they are on a journey to once again become the WWE Tag Team Champions. They should have won the Titles right away. The ultimate goal of the Dudleys should be to help a new generation of tag teams get over. But, you have to establish them first as a great championship team before you can have wins against them elevate other teams. Now they lose every week, and not just because of cheating from New Day. I will say that I loved how King Barrett and his team celebrated after their win. That was truly awesome.
Bray Wyatt: I don’t know. I’m just not that into Bray Wyatt at the moment. Part of it is that we already saw him wrestle The Undertaker at WrestleMania and while the match was good, the program over all didn’t leave me wanting to see more. Part of it is that the Wyatt Family beat down and kidnapping of Undertaker at the end of Hell in a Cell was problematic as it called into question the entire babyface roster not coming out to try to help Taker. Part of it is that Wyatt’s promos have grown more nonsensical to me. He talks and I try to focus on what he is saying, but after some gobbledygook about eating souls, my mind starts to wonder. He has been compared in the past to Jake Roberts, but I don’t remember Roberts ever being this nonsensical. Part of it is that while it makes sense to have Kane try to get revenge for his brother, it raises the question of where was he the previous night? We saw a Kane vs. Wyatt feud when Wyatt first debuted which lead to a terrible match in a poor storyline. I’m guessing this will lead to some type of Survivor Series traditional elimination match, but I’m not looking forward to it at all at this point.
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.