SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
PWTorch specialist Jon Mezzera breaks down Monday’s Raw episode with his Hits & Misses column looking at a very newsworthy show from Philadelphia following Sunday’s TLC PPV…
NOTE FROM JON: After a few weeks of being overwhelmed personally and professionally where I got way backed up in my WWE viewing, I am finally back on track. So, I didn’t have a chance to voice my displeasure at those very poor episodes of Raw the previous two weeks. Now, I’m back after a very newsworthy episode for the return of the Raw Hits & Misses.
Opening Segment: WWE did a good job of following up on the very memorable end to the TLC PPV at the start of Raw. They effectively caught the audience up on what happened at TLC while moving on to focus on Roman Reigns vs. The Authority on Raw. Reigns and Stephanie McMahon played their parts well. It was a little flimsy why Stephanie didn’t just fire Reigns. She said something about Triple H not wanting her to, so at least it was covered. And then she got in the big tease for Vince McMahon coming later in the show which is a big deal considering he hadn’t appeared on Raw in over the year.
Ambrose vs. Ziggler: New Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose was having a good match against Dolph Ziggler when the former Champion Kevin Owens interrupted. After the talking segment to start Raw, we got a 12+ minute match here which was nice. Ambrose and Ziggler are talented workers and they worked well together here. This sets up Ziggler vs. Owens for Smackdown and possibly a triple threat match down the line which I have mixed feelings about. The back stage interview with Owens to follow up on his attack was also good. Owens gave a good performance. It was an example of how easy it is to do something simple to follow up on an angle and make it feel more important.
Vince and Roman: I didn’t like this segment as much as the opening segment, but it was still a Hit. This felt like a big deal with Vince McMahon interacting with Roman Reigns, particularly when it has been so long since we saw him last. I particularly liked some of Reigns’s facial reactions to McMahon’s boasting. Sheamus wasn’t as good when he interrupted, but was fine. Like the opening segment which teased this segment, this one teased the huge main event WWE World Title match, Sheamus vs. Reigns, where Reigns would be fired if he lost.
The Miz: I have to admit that I was entertained by The Miz this week. I’m not sure where they are ultimately going with him trying to become Neville’s agent. I don’t like it when WWE talks on Raw about a wrestlers’ charisma (or in this case his lack thereof). I get it in the context of “Tough Enough” or “Breaking Ground.” But, on Raw the focus should just be on the wrestlers’s talent and their abilities and how well they perform in their matches. So, I’m not a fan of this angle. However on this individual Raw, I did laugh at a lot of Miz’s antics “directing” Neville’s match against Tyler Breeze. I especially laughed when he told Summer Rae to get away from him because she is an extra. The follow up with Miz admitting that he wants to help Neville so that Neville will help him with his English accent so he can land the role of James Bond was ridiculous. But, I laughed at it. This is my guilty pleasure of the week.
Reigns vs. Sheamus: This was a major hot-shot moment, or two hot-shot moments including Reigns beating the snot out of Triple H at TLC. Then on Raw, he not only fought off Rusev and Alberto Del Rio, but also knocked out Vince McMahon with a Super Man Punch and ultimately defeated Sheamus to become the new WWE World Champion. There had been some thoughts about Reigns vs. Triple H at WrestleMania, but that can’t be for the Title. I don’t want to see the Title change again before then, so hopefully they have another plan in mind. Brock Lesnar winning the Royal Rumble is a possibility to face Reigns, but I’m not sure that makes sense with a babyface Reigns. That would have made more sense if he had won the Title by turning heel on his best friend Dean Ambrose.
I’ve gotten off on a tangent. This was a good main event. It was dramatic. I assumed Reigns would win, but I could see him getting fired only to get rehired later to face Triple H. I also had an idea that Vince might turn on Sheamus and help Reigns win as a turn against The Authority. Would that have turned Reigns heel or Vince face? I was intrigued by the possibilities and didn’t know what was going to happen which added to my enjoyment of the match. Overcoming all obstacles to finally win is a strong pro wrestling formula and was executed very well here. WWE found a way to get way more cheers for Reigns over those two shows. But the babyface vs. McMahons has been done to death. I don’t know that this is sustainable. It was a good match. It was an exciting Title change. It has helped pop a rating. But, where will they be with Reigns, McMahon, Triple H and the World Title a month from now?
Vince McMahon Interrupts a Match: In the first hour of Raw we only got two matches. The first was a Hit, but ended in a no contest. The second was barely going when McMahon showed up and interrupted it and told the wrestlers involved to get out of his ring. I get why WWE did this, but it underscores how McMahon feels in real life (not just his character) about matches in general. It sends the message that the lower card doesn’t matter which is a mistake.
The Wyatts vs. Team ECW: I know that Raw was in Philadelphia, but when the selling point for a match is that it is 1997 again, I’m not sure it is the best idea for a match in the first place. I know that the live crowd appeared to love this. They certainly seemed hot for the match, but I’m the one writing this and I wasn’t into the match. It was a mess. It felt like old guys past their prime taking stupid risks in a garbage match. The reason it felt like that is that it was like that. It also fell the night after TLC where we saw a lot of similar spots from the same wrestlers in an elimination tables tag match. I’m glad The Wyatt Family got the win, but I didn’t need to see it again after the PPV.
Tag Team Forum: This went on too long and didn’t really go anywhere. At the end of the day, the tag teams were all in the same spot as they were when New Day came out to start this overly long segment. I will say that it was good to put a focus on these three teams after their performance at TLC. WWE acknowledged the crazy spots that these guys went through in their triple threat ladder match. All of them sold the pain of that match which was good. Kofi Kingston, in what turned out to be a disingenuous babyface promo, gave a better babyface promo than he ever did as a real babyface. So there were some positives about it, but it was still not good on the whole. As I said, it went on too long. It was boring. It was weird. It had an odd ending with New Day dancing and then getting jumped by the two babyface teams. It didn’t really make me want to cheer or boo any of these teams.
Divas: I don’t understand turning Charlotte heel so soon after WWE turned Paige heel. The heel vs. heel dynamic ruined what was an otherwise good match at TLC. Team Bella are heels. Team Bad are heels. Paige is a heel. Charlotte is acting like a heel. Natalya is a babyface but after returning from a long hiatus, has been missing for awhile again. That only leaves Becky Lynch as the babyface Diva. And she is being booked to be too wishy washy in her relationship with Charlotte so she doesn’t come across as a strong enough babyface especially when you consider that she is the only babyface in the division. In the micro, the story that they are telling with Charlotte, Ric Flair and Becky is a good one. Charlotte should be a heel as she is better as a heel than a babyface. A feud between a hot babyface Becky Lynch and a fully heel Charlotte over the Divas Title has a lot of promise. But, I wish they were telling this same story under other circumstances where we didn’t just have a heel turn from Paige and where you have some other babyfaces in the Division. And they have to do something better at some point with Team Bad. Sasha Banks deserves better than this and there should be some consistency with Naomi and her husbands’s characters.
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.