SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
3/14 RAW HITS
A Match Starts Raw: I liked that WWE broke their formula and started Raw with a match instead of a promo. I don’t mind long talking segments to start Raw, but not every week. Variety makes these three-hour shows easier to get through, so it was refreshing to see Raw start with a match. While I was happy to see any match start Raw, I was pleased when it turned out to be a good Tag Team Title match. This wasn’t great and WWE needs to do a better job with having New Day actually turn babyface instead of just sort of being a babyface because they are facing a heel team. WWE has blurred the lines between face and heel too much so we get New Day acting like heels by cheating at Roadblock and here, but the babyface announcers praised them for those tactics. WWE needs to address this. But, the wrestling action with Big E & Xavier Woods vs. Alberto Del Rio & Rusev was good. The match went over 13 minutes and was fun to watch. The beat down afterwards was also well done.
Ambrose-Lesnar: After the hype for Roadblock put the hype for Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar on hold for a few weeks, WWE needed to get back to that hype and they started that off well here. Ambrose was good, but not great in his promo. I wish he had been more upset about losing to Triple H, but I guess I understand why they have to move on from that quickly. Paul Heyman did a nice job with talking about the WrestleMania match and why he was holding Lesnar back from fighting Ambrose right now. I like how Heyman left at that point, expecting Lesnar to follow him, only to have Lesnar ignore Heyman and start walking to the ring. I wasn’t a huge fan of how the segment ended with Ambrose pulling out a crowbar and Lesnar backing down, but it was okay. WWE still has to do some work to get back to where they were when they first announced this match after the Roadblock interruption.
Charlotte Interview: This was a good short interview with Divas Champion Charlotte talking about her early past in NXT with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. It was well written and well performed by Charlotte. Ric Flair was good in his line making a point in a natural way about hearing from Charlotte about the other two when they were first in NXT together. It was well done.
Ambrose – Foley: I had mixed feelings about this segment, so I am giving it a marginal Hit. The performances from Ambrose and Mick Foley were good. Foley was a nice surprise. I definitely had a nostalgic feeling seeing Foley give Ambrose the barbed wire baseball bat. But, I want to see a regular wrestling match between Ambrose and Lesnar. I wasn’t thrilled with it being a street fight to begin with. They can have a great wrestling match. I also don’t know why Foley is involved in this match without much (any?) background against Lesnar. It seems like he should be more commenting on the Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker Hell in a Cell match. That would have been a better use of Foley, but this was still good enough to just get a Hit.
Triple H vs. Ziggler: While I didn’t have any hope that Dolph Ziggler would actually beat Triple H, they still put on a very good match. I have a feeling that Triple H fears that his match against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania will be a stinker and he wants to remind the fans how good a worker he is by having some matches beforehand against other good workers. So, we got his very good matches against Ambrose at Roadblock and Ziggler on Raw. They did make the fans buy into some of those close near falls for Ziggler towards the end of the match. That is a testament to the talents of Ziggler and Triple H. I really enjoyed this match.
Reigns’s Beat Down of Triple H: The only way that I saw that Ziggler could beat Triple H was if there was some type of interference from Roman Reigns. But when he didn’t show up during the match, I assumed he wasn’t going to be there. But, then he was. So, why didn’t he help Ziggler? And beating up a man who had just been through a hellish match doesn’t make you admirable. But after what Triple H did to him a few weeks back, I can look past that. The beating was physical and intense. You believed the anger from Reigns. The visual of Triple H bleeding from the side of the head when they were in the back was memorable. I appreciate the fact that Triple H tried to fight back a few times, but was never able to do so. He didn’t play the Super Triple H character. At one point, you saw Triple H pick up a weapon (I think it was a chair) to ambush Reigns, only to have Reigns sling a garbage can at him. That was cool. I also liked how it was the Usos and a few other babyfaces who ultimately held Reigns back.
3/14 RAW MISSES
Ryback vs. Sin Cara: I wasn’t interested in this match. I’m not really interested in a Ryback vs. Kalisto United States Championship match. They had a solid match a while back on Smackdown, so it might be good. I’m just not into this current Ryback heel character and the David vs. Goliath match up isn’t that interesting to me. I am worried that we are going to get some type of multi-wrestler Intercontinental Championship match when Kevin Owens should be in a singles match at WrestleMania. If WWE wants to do a multi-wrestler Title match at WM, make it the U.S. Title where most of the same wrestlers could be in it along with Ryback, Kalisto, and even Sin Cara to play off of what Ryback has been saying about Kalisto needing to go away from his tag team partner. Throw in The Miz and Dolph Ziggler and Neville (or someone else if his injury will keep him out) and have that match to leave Owens vs. Sami Zayn.
Triple H, Stephanie, Ziggler: WWE made up for not having the McMahons start off Raw with this segment where Triple H and Stephanie McMahon went on and on about how great they are and how sad all the fans are. This did nothing for me. I wasn’t expecting Ziggler to interrupt, so that was a nice surprise. I will give Ziggler credit for putting on an impassioned performance. He did deliver. However, we’ve seen Ziggler defined down way too often since his huge win at Survivor Series 2014 (16 months ago!) so it is impossible to take him seriously as a threat to The Authority. I hoped this was a chance to turn Ziggler heel so they could do something different with him. I did like the idea of Ziggler vs. Triple H, but the outcome of that match was clearly going to be a victory for Triple H, so I knew this wouldn’t lead to anything for Ziggler. Now a heel turn is still in the cards if Ziggler takes this loss hard and ends up “playing ball” with The Authority. But overall, this segment didn’t work for me.
IC Title Picture: I already addressed this Miss above, but let me add that WWE hasn’t done Sami Zayn any favors with his last two matches, particularly the horribly conceived and booked match up against Stardust at Roadblock. Now we are getting this muddy picture with The Miz involved in what should be a singles feud of Zayn vs. Owens. I suspect it will turn into a big ladder match or something, although maybe it will only be a triple threat. But, I would still rather see Owens vs. Zayn one-on-one. Owens could have been an opponent for Brock Lesnar or The Undertaker or A.J. Styles at WM. I would have been very excited for any of those matches and more excited about them than the matches that Lesnar, Taker, and Styles are going to be in at WM. Instead, we are going to get something disappointing for Owens and the IC Title.
Social Outcasts Burger King Commercial: This was stupid. Why would I go to Burger King after this crap? If I’m Burger King, I want my sponsorship money back.
Jericho – Styles: I liked what WWE did with Chris Jericho and A.J. Styles last week. The turn with the three Codebreakers worked well. I loved Jericho’s promo from Smackdown. That was a great visual with him burning the Y2AJ t-shirt. Jericho’s mic work has been very strong. But, I was let down with the follow up on Raw. Jericho was fine in his initial promo. Obviously, the injury to Neville changed the plans for the match, but the audible was awkward. Then Jericho got back on the mic and seemed to just be repeating himself with nothing new to say before Styles came out to interrupt him. The Phenomenal Forearm was a good start to a beating for Styles to get revenge on Jericho. But, the beating didn’t come. After being stabbed in the back, hit with three Code Breakers, and having all the horrible things said about him, I would think that Styles would want more revenge than merely hitting one big move and then standing there oddly as WWE showed the replays of it.
Vince – Undertaker – Shane: And of course since we got the match to start Raw, we weren’t going to get a match to end it. So we ended up with this talking segment with a bit of physicality at the end when we got Vince McMahon, The Undertaker and Shane McMahon talking about WM. I don’t care about McMahon talking about how Shane is no longer his son. Then Shane came out and things got worse. His pop has gotten smaller each time he’s appeared since that huge pop for his return. I have a feeling that pattern is going to continue to the point where he isn’t getting a good reaction at all at WM. That will especially be the case if he keeps messing up his lines like he did here. That will be the case if he keeps reminding fans how bad his punches look. That will be the case if he keeps doing stupid things like landing a few body shots to Undertaker and then dancing around like a fool. That will be the case if he stupidly lays out his entire plan for defeating Undertaker. And Undertaker isn’t giving a reason why he is going to want to beat up Shane. Shane called him some names here and accused him of dancing on Vince’s strings. Is that supposed to be Taker’s motivation? If so, what was his motivation before this segment? He should want to win any match that he is in and certainly at WM. But, I want to hear more from him than just having fists that he likes to use to hit people.
– I have DISH Network, so I might lose USA and not be able to see Raw next week. I should be very worried and angry about the possibility of missing a Raw right before WM32. Instead, I’m like “whatever.”
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.