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3/21 RAW HITS
Opening Segment: Part of why I liked this opening segment was the fact that it was kept short. Whenever Stephanie McMahon comes out to start Raw, I’m expecting it to be much worse, so maybe this Hit is for exceeding my very low expectations. I liked that Stephanie made excuses for why Tripe H wasn’t at Raw instead of the obvious that he was beaten up last week by Roman Reigns. I liked how Reigns turned Stephanie’s words around on her. She is always talking about how this is her arena and her ring and I liked how he said he would enter her arena, enter her ring and take his title. That was well written. Reigns’ delivery was good. But, I’m still not that interested in seeing the match.
Styles vs. Owens: Before it became obvious that A.J. Styles would be facing Chris Jericho again at WrestleMania, I was hoping for a match between Kevin Owens and Styles (going back all the way to the Royal Rumble). Instead we got their first televised WWE match unannounced and un-hyped on Smackdown last week. Now it was a good match. But, I still don’t understand that approach to booking. Now we got the rematch once again without any hype on Raw. Again, I don’t understand that at all. But, at least it was a good match that went nearly 20 minutes. I would have liked to see more of the match as it was interrupted by two commercial breaks. It isn’t surprising that Owens and Styles would put on such a good match given the time. I just wish it meant more.
Styles’s Challenge: I like that Styles got some time to talk on Raw to challenge Jericho to a match at WM. He performed well on the mic. He isn’t a great talker, but he is good enough to get more mic time to help him connect with the fans beyond his great performances in the ring. I didn’t like that he has been made to look somewhat stupid by allowing Jericho to distract him twice in his matches against Owens. But he did have the excuse on Smackdown that anyone would be distracted by pyro shooting off behind you and on Raw he didn’t allow the initial distraction to cost him, but he did get distracted after Jericho actually got onto the ring apron. Later on, when he had a chance to get some revenge by distracting Jericho against Fandango (didn’t know he was still in the company, good for him), Jericho wasn’t stupid enough to let it cost him the match. So, I didn’t like all of that. But, I did like the fact that Styles got that mic time and delivered a strong challenge for what could very well end up being the best match at WM. Unfortunately, he did not do a good job of getting the fans to chant his name afterwards. I get the idea of doing it to taunt Jericho as the main basis of this feud, but it failed.
3/21 RAW MISSES
Intercontinental Title Picture: I have been saying how much I want to see Owens defending the IC Title in a singles match at WM. He has been the best heel in WWE for a long time now. He could have been a good opponent for The Undertaker. He could have had a great singles match against Styles. He could have a great singles match against Sami Zayn. Kalisto vs. Ryback isn’t a strong singles match. With the rhetoric from Ryback about Kalisto being on his own, Sin Cara being added to their match as part of a multi man ladder match for the United States Championship would have made sense. You could have a feud between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler move into the U.S. Title Picture instead and someone like Stardust could have been added as well. That would have left Owens vs. Zayn for the IC Title which would be better and you still get the multi man ladder match that WWE apparently has to have since everyone has to be in a match at WM. With all the injuries, are they even going to have 20 men for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal? And I’m pissed that they would tease a triple threat #1 contender match between Ziggler, Miz and Zayn to make it seem like we would get that singles match. I didn’t fully trust WWE. I assumed something funny would happen causing the match to end up being a fatal four way at WM. Even if it was derivative of what they have done recently in NXT and with the Divas Championship, but I would have still taken that match over a seven0man ladder match for the IC Title with Stardust, Sin Cara, and Zack Ryder of all people. I can’t believe they have Ryder in a match at WM and not Bray Wyatt. What is going on?
Shane vs. Undertaker Hype: I appreciated some of what WWE did with the two videos about Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker in Hell in a Cell. Showing Shane doing MMA training makes sense to try to show that he is trying to be a legit fighter. I appreciate any time when WWE uses these talking head videos with WWE legends talking about a match. It makes it feel important. But, with two videos and the over the top words from these legends, it was too much. Someone (I think it was Jericho) said that this was going to be the biggest main event in WM history. Sure. They were over compensating for Shane not being a worthy opponent for Undertaker. And I mean WAY over compensating. Vince McMahon even called Shane the toughest challenge for Undertaker ever at WM. What? Shawn Michaels. Triple H. Brock freaking Lesnar. Are you kidding me? I understand the importance of hype and accept the fact that hyperbole is always going to be part of WWE’s rhetoric. But, this was ridiculous. And the announcement from Vince that if Undertaker loses to Shane, he will never be able to wrestle at WM again fell totally flat on that audience. The delivery was weak. Nobody cares about those stipulations as they never stand. It is adding to the muddiness of this program where the fans want both guys to win, so WWE is further frustrating the fans to have to choose one over the other. This just isn’t working.
League of Nations vs. New Day: I don’t care about this feud at all as it is between weak heel team The League of Nations and recently sort-of-but-not-really turned babyface sort-of-still heel team The New Day. The mic work from all seven of these guys before the match was bad. The fans were sitting on their hands and not responding at all to anything that was being said. So, I guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t care about this feud. Big E and Rusev had a good match. But, I can’t pay much attention to it as it was just a backdrop for eventual interference from the rest of their teams. Unless I’ve missed it, WWE hasn’t done the fans the courtesy of specifying the actual match participants at WM. Will it be two-on-two, and if so, who? Will it be three-on-three? Or will it be a four-on-three handicap match? That is my guess, but does WWE even know at this point?
Big Show is Stupid: Winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal did nothing for Cesaro’s career two years ago. Winning it last year did nothing for The Big Show’s career last year. He just recently became a babyface again for the 1,079th turn in his WWE career. I don’t care about him. Having him sell the Battle Royal isn’t working. Selling the Battle Royal in general isn’t working when they haven’t done any follow up to the first two. Having the Social Outcasts come out to attack Show wasn’t working. They have go away / change the channel heat. And I was very excited to see Kane again. Yay! But this Miss is not so much for all of that crap, but for the stupid way that Big Show got up after Kane made the save. I can’t believe he hugged Kane at that point and then started celebrating on the turnbuckle for no reason. He must have been the only person in that arena who didn’t know that Kane was going to beat him up too.
Parking Garage Attack: So, Stephanie McMahon doesn’t get her own car to go to Raw? She has to wait to be picked up by Triple H? Does she not know that the cameras on on her recording her talking to Triple H and saying to the world, including Roman Reigns, that he was going to pick her up? Wasn’t that just announcing to Reigns where to go to get his hands on her husband? And then why didn’t Triple H lock the door? Part of me wonders why The Authority didn’t have the driver drive towards Reigns when he was blocking the garage door, but I can look past that as not wanting to commit attempted murder. But when he takes so long standing there and then walking towards the car, why not lock your door? Just lock it. The beating was ok, but Stephanie shrieking in the background was annoying. And the crowd didn’t care.
Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman: I can’t believe this was the main event of Raw. Why was this match happening? I don’t think there has to be a strong given reason for every match, but there should be something behind the Raw main events. And the main event should be treated like a main event. So they should pay it more attention. We got a garbled random Wyatt Family video talking about the match and how they were going to sacrifice Ambrose’s soul to the war god or some other b.s., but there was nothing from Ambrose about it. The match itself wasn’t good at all in terms of helping to build towards Ambrose vs. Lesnar at WM. All they are doing with that match is suggesting the violence that Ambrose will bring using the murder weapons that he has been given from Mick Foley and now Terry Funk. But, I don’t care about that. In the end, this match was selling the idea that Ambrose has no chance against a larger stronger opponent whether it is Brawn Strowman or Brock Lesnar without using weapons. How is that a good way to sell Ambrose? This match was so bad that it got a much deserved “Boring!” chant from the crowd. That has to have been the deadest crowd I’ve ever heard in Philadelphia and I can’t blame them after this terrible show was capped off by this terrible match. And why did the rest of the Wyatt Family just watch as Ambrose kept beating on Strowman with the chair? What happened to their brotherhood? Were they bored like the crowd and decided to just let the show end without offering assistance?
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at 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.