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PWTorch specialist Jon Mezzera breaks down this week’s Raw episode with his Hits & Misses column, including the WWE Title tournament, Charlotte-Paige contract signing, The Undertaker & Kane, and more.
Opening Segment: I had mixed feelings about this opening of Raw. I think WWE is simply going for selling Survivor Series on the basis of seeing The Brothers of Destruction back together one last time. I mean, they aren’t going to say that it is one last time, but I have to think that it will be. They aren’t doing much to make it seem like they are going to be in jeopardy. They destroyed all four Wyatt Family members last week, and in this match, it will be 2 on 2, not a handicap match, so why would I think the Wyatts would have a chance on Sunday? The idea of Bray Wyatt taking control over the druids is better to me than stealing some mystic powers. That was ok. I don’t think it is the best way to go in terms of hyping the match, but I did enjoy the nostalgia of seeing Undertaker and Kane together, so I will give this a minor Hit.
Neville vs. Owens: The WWE World Title tournament has given us some good wrestling matches over the last two weeks. This was the first of three on the night. It was predictable that Kevin Owens would defeat Neville, but it was still very fun to watch. The match went over 10 minutes and was exciting from the start. Neville and Owens work very well together. They were able to counter each other well. They had some nice teases of their finishing move until Owens finally was able to hit the pop-up power bomb for the win.
Ambrose vs. Ziggler: To me, this was the best match of the show. I loved the early feeling out process that they had. It wasn’t as fast paced as some might like with a match between these two, but it felt more cerebral and stood out to me in a good way. It was very interesting to watch. I liked the frustration that Dean Ambrose showed early on. I appreciate the fact that they didn’t try to have either Dolph Ziggler or Ambrose wrestling more as a heel in this face vs. face match. They just wrestled each other and let the fans cheer for either of them. I don’t want to see that all the time, but in special occasions like this tournament match, it can be good. WWE matches can often feel formulaic, but this one did not.
Reigns vs. Cesaro: After a bad promo before the match, Roman Reigns had a better performance in the ring, and Cesaro clearly helped to elevate him to a good 20 minute match. Cesaro is so good right now that it is a shame that he is losing far more often than winning. I loved the cartwheel off the top rope to avoid Reigns. Reigns did a nice job throughout the match of selling the shoulder injury. The announcers were good in discussing how the shoulder injury might cause him to not be able to hit the Super Man Punch to set up the spear. Cesaro also played into his arm injury from the week before which was a nice touch. I wonder if Reigns will still be selling his shoulder at Survivor Series. The match was physical and well executed and I don’t necessarily expect to enjoy such a long singles match involving Roman Reigns.
Contract Signing: I like the idea of making a Divas Championship match a big deal. WWE spent time throughout Raw showing clips of the storyline between Champion Charlotte and challenger Paige building up to their contract signing in the final segment of the show. I would be happy about that if it didn’t feel like it was too little too late. It seemed like they waited until the last moment possible to try to make this feel important and then they went overboard with it. The storyline has been ok, but it hasn’t been pushed to such a degree as to seem worthy of ending Raw with their contract signing. Now, this Miss isn’t for that attempt but for the actual contract signing and the disgusting use of the death of Reid Flair to try to sell a PPV match. I know people will say that if Charlotte was okay with it, who am I to question it? Well, I don’t know that Charlotte was okay with it. Ric Flair is apparently upset about it and said that Charlotte wasn’t in the position to say no. It felt like a desperate attempt to get heat on Paige and was so inappropriate that it made me very uncomfortable to watch. It got more heat on WWE for doing something so terrible than on Paige’s character. I don’t see any upside to it and there is a huge downside.
Triple H Recruiting: This was actually pretty well done. First we saw Triple H talking to Kevin Owens in the back and we were left to assume he was trying to recruit him to be the new man for The Authority. Later on, we got to actually hear his conversations with Cesaro and then later Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter. This followed his attempt to recruit Roman Reigns last week. It was well done to continue this story of Triple H wanting to control “the man” with the WWE World Title by recruiting someone like Owens or Del Rio. I’m giving it a Miss since I don’t like that storyline. They may be telling the story well, but it isn’t a good story to tell. I would like to see The Authority away from the World Title picture for awhile after they were so overbearing on the last Champion. It also worries me that they tried to recruit everyone but Dean Ambrose which points to the fact that he will be the surprise recruitment for them. I don’t want to see Ambrose turn. Fans actually like him. Why turn him? Reigns is the one who needs to turn, but not to join The Authority, but out of jealousy over his friend beating him in the finals.
Survivor Series Hype: They have some intriguing matches for the final two rounds of the WWE World Title tournament. They did hype the hell out of the Divas Title match as I talked about. They only had the opening segment which didn’t do a lot to hype the Brothers of Destruction vs. The Wyatts. But, that was it. They don’t have a traditional Survivor Series tag team elimination match announced. They don’t have a Tag Team Title match announced. They don’t have anything going for any of the stars who have lost in the tournament like Cesaro and Sheamus. They had been building towards Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze, but went away from it the last two Raws. I was sure that we would get a scene in the back after Ziggler’s loss with Breeze attacking him after taunting him to set up their match. But, it didn’t happen. I thought there would be a follow up to the New Day vs. Usos & Ryback match where they would each get to pick two more partners to face in that traditional Survivor Series elimination tag match. The babyfaces could pick Neville and Cesaro and the heels Sheamus and Wade Barrett. But, that six man tag had zero follow up. So what are any of these guys doing at the PPV?
Kalisto vs. Del Rio: This was the only tournament match that didn’t end up as a Hit this week. There were parts of the match that worked well. Kalisto does do some exciting moves. There were some sloppy spots, but the real problem is Del Rio’s finishing move. I praised it the first time he did it in his second match back as I didn’t realize at the time that it would become his new finisher. He has now used it in every match back other than the first when he beat John Cena for the U.S. Championship. The first time he used it, it seemed natural and flowed well in the match. But, it requires his opponent being in such a strange place in the ring in a tree of woe position that it can make the match awkward as he tries to get his opponent into that position. I like the idea of Del Rio using different moves as his finisher. He can get tap out wins with the cross arm breaker. He can get wins with the super kick with his opponent on his knees. He can use the back stabber. And if it works naturally, he can do this to stomp down on his opponent in the corner. But here, to me it greatly interrupted the flow of the match as he kept trying to put Kalisto in the tree of woe and Kalisto would fight out of it. It just didn’t work for me.
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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For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell’s views to mine by visiting prowrestling.NET’s “Hitlist” section HERE.