SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
PWTorch specialist Jon Mezzera reviews the November 23 edition of Raw with his Hits & Misses column.
Paige vs. Charlotte: I’m not sure if Charlotte’s slip at the end of her match against Paige at Survivor Series was planned, or if WWE noticed it afterwards and decided to run with it. I suspect it was the plan. So, there was a storyline reason for this rematch, although it was a bit flimsy. Paige and Charlotte were both good in their prematch promos in the back. And after nearly two hours of a very boring show it was good to see a pretty good match. I enjoyed this match more than their PPV match. It wasn’t great. These two have had great matches in NXT. Why can’t they have great matches on the main roster? A lot of it has to do with the creative presentation where the fans haven’t been given a reason to invest in the match (unlike at NXT). So even if the execution is there like it was in this match, the match doesn’t feel as good as it should. I do appreciate the intensity that Paige is showing. The post match beating was well done, although Michael Cole loses whatever credibility he has when he yells “not on the table!” for a submission move that doesn’t hurt any more on a table than in the ring.
Reigns vs. Rusev: This main event went on too long. Like the Divas Championship match, it wasn’t great. But, it was good enough to get a Hit. Maybe on such a bad show I am being forgiving to this match just because it was better than the vast majority of the rest of a terrible show. But, I did like the match. Roman Reigns has improved in the ring, although he still has a long way to go. I liked some of the little things he did here. When they were fighting outside the ring and Rusev was starting to whip him into the corner, Reigns reached over to try to grab the barrier to stop his momentum. That was a nice touch. One of Reigns’ biggest areas to improve upon is his body movements as he starts his big come backs. I don’t like how he gyrates and shakes like he’s having a seizure as he gets hyped. It is over the top and needs some tweaking. It makes me want to boo him and not cheer him. But, he did get a good babyface reaction from the crowd, so that’s something.
Opening Segment: Man was this a boring episode of Raw. It had plenty of flaws, but the biggest issue is how amazingly dull it was! And it started off dull with The Authority coming out to recap Survivor Series, bad mouth Roman Reigns and introduce the new WWE World Champion Sheamus. Yawn. It got a bit better after Reigns came out. Reigns gave a pretty good performance in challenging Sheamus to a rematch and calling out Triple H for hiding behind Stephanie McMahon. But the segment just dragged on and on. It was too long. It was dull. It put too much attention on The Authority. The formula isn’t working. They had a chance to turn Reigns after Dean Ambrose won the Title that would have shaken things up and given a push to a wrestler whom the fans actually want to see get one. Instead, this is what we get.
New Day: I have been a fan of a lot of what The New Day has done since turning heel earlier this year. But I think they are at their best in matches. When you mix their antics, particularly Xavier Woods’s trombone playing and yelling at ring side, with an actual wrestling match, you get a good balance. Whenever they are given longer times to talk, I find myself more annoyed and wanting to change the channel than anything else. That was certainly the case here where they were way too annoying and grating. This didn’t make me want to see them get beat up. It made me want to fast forward the DVR (which is my version of changing the channel). Throw in Kofi Kingston’s horribly ridiculous comment about how this isn’t his character talking, but he himself, and this was one of the worst segments in a long time. Why are you bringing up your character at all? I don’t get it. And then you promise a Tag Team Championship match that you don’t deliver.
Neville vs. Henry: I am fine with a veteran like Mark Henry putting over a new wrestler like Neville. But, Henry hasn’t won a match in months, has he? At some point, those veterans have to be kept somewhat strong and relevant so that when a guy like Neville beats them it actually means something. This just came across as total filler and didn’t really accomplish what it was supposed to accomplish.
MexAmericans: This continues to be a terrible use of both Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter. When Colter starts to talk about their new great nation and run down all the haters, I start to tune him out. It is very boring to me. And while Jack Swagger is a talented in ring worker, he fails to get the fans excited. Yes, they like to say “we the people!” with him. But, he has to connect with the fans in a bigger way than that to get me excited about him interrupting an otherwise boring segment.
Heath Slater: Why does WWE think these regional “comedy” segments are a good idea? Even if it gets a reaction from the live crowd (which this didn’t!), what about the people watching all around the world who don’t care about Nashville being the country music capital of the world? When was the last time Heath Slater was on Raw? Who thought putting him out there to do a concert or whatever and get beat up by Ryback was a good idea? It is so bad.
Ambrose & Ziggler vs. Owens & Breeze: This Miss isn’t for the quality of the match or the effort put in by Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens and Tyler Breeze. This Miss is for the fact that this five-minute match with no build up, no hype, and no mic time for any of the wrestlers involved was the only use of Ambrose, Ziggler, Owens, and Breeze on this terribly dull show. All four of these guys have talent. Ambrose and Owens would be more interesting in the main event than Reigns and Sheamus. Ziggler isn’t as over as he once was, and he has been damaged by the feud against Rusev, but he still should be a bigger part of a three-hour Raw. Breeze is an entertaining heel with solid in ring skills. So use him more. Having him get the loss one night after the biggest win of his career undoes the positives that were gained by that win. What a waste of these four talented wrestlers.
Carl’s Junior Commercial: WTF? This was worse than the Payday commercials with Paige and Dean Ambrose. Product placement is one thing. Having this type of horribly cheesy pre-taped skit which makes the fans hate the product (both WWE and Carl’s) does nobody any good. I guess it is desperation to get some added ad revenue, but the money isn’t worth it.
New Authority Faction: It is refreshing to see some new heels at the top of the card. However, those new heels – Sheamus, King Barrett and Rusev have been defined down so much over the past few months that they don’t feel worthy of being at the top of the card. I also don’t want to see a new Authority heel faction. Sheamus didn’t look like a worthy WWE World Champion when he was dancing and making an ass out of himself with The New Day at Survivor Series. Barrett has been stuck in 50/50 booking with lower card guys like Neville ever since he won the King of the Ring tournament. Recently, he and Sheamus have been on the losing side of tag matches against The Lucha Dragons. Rusev has been greatly hurt by the long storyline with Lana, Ziggler and Summer Rae. So, The Authority has hired themselves three losers. I was wondering who would come to Reigns’ aid at the end. Ambrose would make sense, but I knew it wouldn’t be him since he is involved in a feud with Owens over the Intercontinental Championship. Little did I know that Reigns would do his Super Cena impression and easily fight off the three heels. So, that just underscored that these three are big losers.
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.