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What worked and did not work on this week’s WWE Raw episode? PWTorch specialist Jon Mezzera breaks down the three-hour show with his weekly Hits & Misses column…
Opening Segment: The second straight good Raw (which might be a 2015 record) got off to a good start. Roman Reigns performed well in his show opening promo. It was brief and to the point which is the way to go for Reigns. He should not be doing long drawn out promos. Seth Rollins was also very good in his interruption. I appreciate how he acknowledged that Reigns is good, but he is better. The line about Reigns being remembered for once carrying Rollins’ bag was great. I also liked how Rollins didn’t back down from Reigns’ challenge and was walking to the ring for a fight when The Authority stopped him. Stephanie is good at playing her role, but I still question the role of a heel authority figure at all. The opening effectively set up the big main event and the idea that Rollins and Reigns would have to find teammates for it (though they didn’t do enough with that aspect of it as the show proceeded).
Owens vs. Ziggler: Other than the ending, this was a good match between Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler. I love Owens’s mannerisms in the ring when he mocks his opponents, here doing Ziggler’s gyrations. These two are very talented workers who put on a good match that went a good length of time. Owens got the win which was clearly the right move. With the building feud between Ziggler and Tyler Breeze, it made sense for Breeze to cost Ziggler the match. However, I have to question the booking of Ziggler to look so stupid. Breeze didn’t touch Ziggler. He didn’t get up on the ring apron. He was just standing by the ring posing with his selfie-stick when Ziggler took a swipe at him. I don’t want to root for an idiot who would turn his back on a dangerous opponent like that. JBL was right that Ziggler deserved to lose. It was still a good match, but they could have booked the ending better.
Survivor Series Hype: The hype for Survivor Series was pretty strong this week. They did a nice job of hyping Reigns vs. Rollins in the main event for the WWE World Title. By hyping the traditional style Survivor Series 5-on-5 elimination tag match main event for Raw, they also hyped those potential matches for the PPV too. That was clever in that they had the videos from past Survivor Series that served that double purpose of building anticipation for Raw’s main event and Survivor Series itself. Those videos were well done and fun trips down memory lane, though I would have done a different one than last year’s as while it was great at the time, it ended up going absolutely nowhere in terms of The Authority coming back so soon and failing to launch Ziggler into the next level.
Cesaro Wins: Cesaro had a solid, but short match against The Miz. Right now, WWE doesn’t seem to have anything for Cesaro (or Miz for that matter), but at least he got a win on Raw which has been rare for him lately.
Lucha Dragons vs. Barrett & Sheamus: When this match started, I was convinced that Wade Barrett and Sheamus would win, because of WWE’s even-steven booking where The Lucha Dragons got the win in a fatal four way tag match on Smackdown, so of course they are going to lose here. I figured it would be a way for WWE to get another multi-team Tag Title match at Survivor Series instead of focusing on one challenger to face The New Day. So I was very relieved when Lucha Dragons won and kept their momentum going. With the way that Barrett & Sheamus dominated much of the match, it did make it appear that the Dragons would win, but it was a good match. It was long without feeling too long. I liked how they built up to two hot tags during the match. All four performed well. Lucha Dragons are fun to watch so I hope to see more of them getting a push towards a Tag Title match.
Divas Fatal Four-Way: WWE did a nice job with the presentation of this match. They had Renee Young interview Becky Lynch early in the show which was interrupted by Brie Bella. Jo Jo interviewed Sasha Banks as well. These were good interviews to build up to this match and allow those three a chance to show off their personality. The match was good. It wasn’t great, but certainly Hit worthy. WWE needs to have a better balance of heels and babyfaces in the Divas Division. On the babyface side all you have is Charlotte, Lynch, and Natalya. All the other Divas are heels – The Bellas, Alicia Fox, Banks, Naomi, Tamina, and Paige. That is 7-to-3 and it was 3-to-1 in this match. That took away from the match a bit. I also am not a fan of the ridiculous tower of doom spots in these types of matches which always come across as way too choreographed. It got a nice pop from the live fans, but I still think they look stupid. In this one, Lynch hit the move and then fell over as if she had taken one of the huge bumps even though she hadn’t. That didn’t make sense and took the match down a bit. There was still plenty of good wrestling action here. There was still plenty to like in the match. And I liked the post-match interview with Byron Saxton talking to Paige about her big win and later we got the backstage interview with Charlotte reacting to that win. So this match had good hype and good follow up.
Main Event: The Survivor Series style elimination tag match main event delivered to cap off another good show. The Usos were a nice surprise as part of Team Reigns. I liked how they quickly eliminated Xavier Woods. I am not a fan of those types of quick eliminations in these matches, but this one was ok. While I want to see Lucha Dragons vs. New Day as the focus of the tag division right now, teasing the Usos getting two eliminations over New Day in this match to plant the seeds for a future Tag Title shot worked well. The match had a good pace as after the first four eliminations it settled nicely into a three on three situation. The match built well to come down to Reigns & Ambrose vs. Owens & Rollins. It appears that WWE is setting up Ambrose as Owens’ next opponent for the IC Title which is a good way to go. They could have a great feud over the next few months. WWE made Reigns look like a strong challenger to Rollins’ World Title which should make his fans want to see Survivor Series to see him not only get the Title but get revenge on Rollins for using the steel chair at the end of the match.
Team Finding: As I mentioned above, WWE had an opportunity to fill in some time with Rollins and Reigns finding their teams, but it turned into a missed opportunity as far as I’m concerned. You did get the very good scene with Rollins recruiting Kevin Owens. And then there was one more scene which wasn’t nearly as good with him recruiting The New Day. And that filled out his team. We never saw Reigns recruiting his team. I guess WWE wanted to keep his team a secret and they held out Ambrose until the end as if people wouldn’t know that he would be on Team Reigns. That seemed odd to me. I get wanting to have The Usos be a surprise, but a few brief scenes with him talking to Ambrose and then recruiting Ryback would have been good. This isn’t a big deal, but a minor Miss for the missed opportunity.
Wyatt Steals Taker’s Powers: Back in the lead up to WrestleMania, there was talk that Bray Wyatt might somehow steal The Undertaker’s magic powers. I was against this as Taker’s powers (and Kane’s too) should retire with them. I want to see a serious sports-like presentation to WWE. I don’t want to see supernatural elements in pro wrestling. While there was a lot that I enjoyed about Lucha Underground, the supernatural elements in that show were not among them. Bray Wyatt has a chance to be a great character as a cult leader. WWE has smartly given him his cult back. But why does a cult leader need supernatural powers? Why does he need to be able to make the lights flicker and lightning bolts appear? This is just not working for me at all.
Swagger and Colter: Jack Swagger is a pretty good wrestler. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him on Raw and Smackdown. And it makes perfect sense given the current storyline for him to question what Zeb Colter is doing with Alberto Del Rio with this whole Mexi-Merica deal. But, Swagger isn’t a very good talker. His performance was weak. And the storyline is weak. While I wouldn’t mind seeing Swagger back in the mix, you need to rebuild him some before moving him into a program for the United States Championship against Del Rio. So, I just wasn’t a fan of this bit.
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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