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3/7 RAW HITS
Owens vs. Neville: The announcers positioned this match as Kevin Owens looking for a deserving opponent to face him for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania with Neville having a chance to prove he should be that opponent. That gave some meaning to an otherwise random match. Owens and Neville certainly delivered a good match. These two have faced before in NXT and WWE and they always put on good matches with each other. This one went 10 minutes and was fun to watch from start to finish. The angle afterwards was also strong with Owens attacking Neville to dish out more punishment only to have Sami Zayn make his surprise return for the save. Owens vs. Zayn for the IC Title at WM would certainly add to the quality of and excitement for the show.
Ambrose – Triple H: This was a pretty good segment. Dean Ambrose got off to a good start with a strong promo about winning the WWE World Title from Triple H at Roadblock. The idea is that if Ambrose wins, it throws the WM main event into chaos and they want the fans who aren’t satisfied with Roman Reigns vs. Triple H to think a change is coming. Ambrose did a better job with that idea on Smackdown last week, than here on Raw, but it was okay. Triple H had some good lines in his interruption. I liked Ambrose’s “suck it” line. In simple wrestling storytelling, the babyface challenged the heel to a fight, but the heel backed down. Triple H also set up the main event, although I wasn’t really looking forward to Ambrose facing Bray Wyatt.
Shane O’Mac Video: While I don’t want to see Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon, there are fans who do. Those fans have a fond memory of some of the crazy stunt bumps that Shane used to do back when he was a semi-regular wrestler (I have those same fond memories, but I don’t want to see him wrestling again, especially against Undertaker). So, it makes sense to give us a nice trip down memory lane to make some of us anticipate Shane vs. Undertaker more. It also helps to sell the idea that Shane has a chance against Undertaker and introduce him some to those fans who have started watching over the past seven years since Shane left the company.
Y2AJ vs. The New Day: This was a great Tag Team Championship match between Y2AJ and The New Day. New Day was entertaining in their opening promo which was thankfully kept short. It was good, but they tend to go on too long. The match itself was only 11 minutes long, but felt longer. It could have gone on for another five minutes or more and not outstayed its welcome. AJ Styles, Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston, and Big E. all performed well in the match, as did Xavier Woods at ringside. The final few minutes with those convincing near falls (especially after Styles hit that awesome springboard 450 splash) was great. I liked that the distraction from Woods allowed Big E to take Styles out of the match at the end which gave New Day the advantage, but it was actually Big E out wrestling Jericho and hitting his finishing move for the win. The post match angle with Jericho turning on Styles was predictable, but well executed. WWE certainly got the reaction they wanted from the Chicago crowd. This will set up their match at WM which should be good and will have a different dynamic than their previous matches which were face vs. face. However, I’m not a fan of having a WM match be the 4th in a recent series of matches. I’m curious if they add some type of loser leaves WWE stipulation where Jericho retires (or at least takes another long hiatus), while selling the idea that Jericho was trying to rid WWE of Styles before he can really get his WWE career going.
End of Raw: The main event of Wyatt vs. Ambrose was pretty good. It went over 11 minutes and featured solid to good wrestling throughout. It wasn’t great and ended with the Wyatt Family attacking Ambrose causing a disqualification. That worked okay to keep both Wyatt and Ambrose strong going into their matches this Saturday at Roadblock. I liked what happened afterwards more than the match itself. I like that Bray Wyatt actually got in Triple H’s face when Triple H came to the ring. It fit in with the Wyatt Family dynamic that they would not just be doing the Authority’s bidding. It was a nice moment that got a good reaction from the crowd when Wyatt touched the World Title belt on Triple H’s shoulder. However, Triple H no sold it, which isn’t surprising since he no-sells everything. I liked the earlier segment with Triple H and Ambrose, but it would have been better if Triple H didn’t refuse to sell any of Ambrose’s verbal attacks. It worked here for him to take Dirty Deeds to sell the idea that Ambrose has a chance at Roadblock. Ambrose needed to stand tall at the end of this Raw. But, Triple H needs to show some concern about an opponent at some point.
3/7 RAW MISSES
Opening Segment: This Miss is partially due to my general opposition to a storyline involving the McMahon family and their squabbles. Shane McMahon didn’t do anything to change my mind about not wanting to see him wrestle Undertaker in Hell in a Cell at WM32. It didn’t matter what Vince McMahon said when he interrupted, because I don’t care if he has disowned his son. It just dragged on and didn’t get me excited for the rest of the show. I get the idea of having Shane fight off Vince’s security guards to make him look tough, but to me it just reminded me that Shane doesn’t look good when he’s fighting. He was never good in the ring at much other than doing the big stunt bumps. Now, WWE did a nice job with that video later in the show, but to start with I was left thinking that Shane looks bad doing simple things like throwing punches.
What About Miz?: Last week on Raw, The Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler in a very quick surprise fashion. Then in the re-match on Smackdown, Ziggler got his win back with a similar quick roll-up. I was not particularly interested in this storyline, but I was at least a bit curious to see where they were going. Instead, Miz wasn’t featured on Raw at all, and Ziggler was moved into a match against The League of Nations. It made what happened last week feel like nothing but time filler. I didn’t care about Ziggler vs. League of Nations, but the match was okay.
Ryback: I like the more aggressive side of Ryback’s character in the way he just pounds his opponents on the mat setting up Shell Shock, but man was he boring when he interrupted Kalisto’s backstage interview. What a snooze fest. It was too borderline tweener with him talking about how much respect he has for Kalisto, but then making fun of his size. He is saying some heel things, but then beating up The Social Outcasts who are also heels. So, I don’t even know what the fans are supposed to think of Ryback at this point. He isn’t doing the “Feed Me More!” stuff which says heel. But, he is a bland heel and the “Feed Me More” stuff is the only thing that has really gotten over with Ryback in his entire WWE career. His last heel run didn’t go well. I’m not sure this one will either, especially with these bland promos where he is not going nearly far enough as a heel.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at 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.