SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
5/2 RAW HITS
Owens vs. Cesaro: While I didn’t like the set-up to this match, the #1 contender match for the Intercontinental Championship between Kevin Owens and Cesaro was very good. Owens and Cesaro are so good in the ring. They have great chemistry together. I would have loved to see the match go longer than the 11+ minutes that it went. You knew that with The Miz doing guest commentary and what happened at Payback that there was no way we were going to get an actual winner to this match. Clearly they are heading for a fatal four-way for the IC Title with those three and Sami Zayn. But while Owens and Cesaro clearly deserve another chance at the Title, what has Zayn done but lose to deserve the same shot?
Emma vs. Lynch: Becky Lynch and Emma had a good six-minute match on Raw. The set-up for the match was a little weak based on a few back-and-forth tweets from the two, but at least it gave some context to the match. I didn’t start watching NXT until it came on the Network which was after Emma had left for the main roster. I wasn’t impressed with her weird character and even weirder dance. I hadn’t connected with her at NXT or seen enough of her in the ring to really get behind her. Then I saw that great match she had with Paige on NXT and I started seeing potential in her. Once she returned to NXT for a long stretch and turned heel and started developing a new persona and working with Dana Brook, I really became a fan. So now, I am happy to see her back on the main roster. I am also a huge fan of Lynch and enjoyed this match.
Ambrose Asylum: I enjoyed what Dean Ambrose did trying to get under Stephanie McMahon’s skin to show that this new nice Stephanie is just an act. Stephanie played her part well in trying to put on that smile, but ultimately allowing Ambrose to upset herself so much that she canceled the Ambrose Asylum and brought back the Highlight Reel. They both were good here, particularly Ambrose when he no sold the cancelation and started to leave with his potted plant Mitch. The fight between him and Chris Jericho was good culminating with Jericho cracking Mitch over Ambrose’s head.
Battle Royal: This was a pretty good battle royal to determine Kalisto’s next opponent for the United States Championship. While I’m not a fan of an eliminated wrestler attacking a wrestler still in the match, what they did with Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler was good. After Ziggler eliminated Corbin, Corbin pulled Ziggler out of the ring and beat the crap out of him. I appreciate the fact that he didn’t just beat Ziggler up and leave. Instead, he threw the lifeless Ziggler back in the ring and told Rusev to throw him out. That worked well. The battle royal was pretty much standard fare otherwise until the end when it came down the the three former League of Nations members and Zack Ryder. The storyline was good from that point to the end with the League sort of trying to work together but stabbing each other in the back. The tease of Ryder winning worked well and got the crowd into it. But, ultimately Rusev was the right choice to go over here. There is more potential in a Rusev vs. Kalisto feud then there was with Ryback.
Main Event Six-Man Tag: Raw had a strong main event with A.J. Styles teaming with his old Club members Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson against Roman Reigns & The Usos. There was good wrestling action here. I liked the dynamic with Styles getting upset at some of the underhanded tactics by Gallows during the match. The match was exciting and had that great ending with Gallows & Anderson taking Reigns out on the outside which allowed Styles to get the Phenomenal Forearm on an Uso for the win. The aftermath worked well also as Gallows & Anderson tried to get Styles to back a helpless Reigns with a chair. Clearly they are going for Styles as a babyface trying to remain friends with his old heel buddies. Where they go from here, only time will tell. The execution was strong of Styles attacking the Usos with the chair for attacking him which Reigns then snapped at to destroy Styles. It was a good ending to Raw.
5/2 RAW MISSES
Opening Segment: Going into Payback, I was hoping somehow that Vince McMahon would decide against both of his kids to run Raw. I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but I had to hope. Instead, we end up with both of them running Raw. The only thing worse than a McMahon as the on air authority figure, is two McMahons as the on air authority figures. Despite some great mic work from Owens, it was still a long talking segment to start Raw with two authority figures. And Owens should have gotten his re-match for the IC Title right after WrestleMania, but Shane wouldn’t give it to him. Why doesn’t get get one here? Just because he is a jerk, doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to get what he is contractually obligated to get.
Truth and Goldust Mess: At some point a month or so ago, I commented to someone (I don’t think I wrote it, but I may have) that I wanted the storyline between R-Truth and Goldust to go one forever with them never actually teaming up. But, I wasn’t really serious. Apparently WWE has that same idea and they are serious as they are going to stretch this thing on forever. Now, they’ve each found new partners with Fandango and Tyler Breeze getting into the act. This belongs on Main Event or Superstars at best. It does not belong on Raw. This is just more evidence that three hours is way too long for Raw.
Long Talking Tag Team Segment: This did nothing for me. It was nice to get an update on Enzo Amore’s condition after suffering a concussion at Payback, but I don’t think The New Day was good in their role as giving us that update. Big E messed up a line and then joked about messing up the line for awhile in the middle of giving a serious real life health update. That was bad. The Vaudevillians were bad. The Dudleys were okay, but they were making a ridiculous argument, although I suppose that’s ok since they are heels. But, they were heeling on another heel team whom they ended up teaming with in the end. Then Big Cass came out to further drag things out. He was terrible with some lame humor mocking Bubba Ray Dudley’s stuttering from like 18 years ago. This made me want to change the channel. The 8 man tag that followed was okay. It wasn’t good enough to get a Hit as it dragged on too long, but I did enjoy some of Bubba Ray’s antics yelling at the Vaudevillians trying to show them what to do in the match. That fit in with his bully personality perfectly as well as his disrespect towards them before the match.
Montreal Screwjob Again?: Part of this is a retro Miss for the ending of the Women’s Championship match at Payback. My wife, who started watching wrestling in 2004 and is just a casual fan, had ZERO idea what was going on, even though she has seen replays and heard me talk about the Montreal Screwjob before. She was confused and I’m sure she wasn’t alone. That was 1997. Just stop with it already. I don’t like building storylines around referees like bringing up Little Naitch Charles Robinson. There is an old saying in real sports that fans don’t come to the stadiums and arenas to watch the umpires or referees. The same is true in wrestling. I hated the ending to that match and WWE did nothing to make me change my mind with the follow up on Raw. The talent level of the new women’s division is so high that they don’t need these types of gimmicks. The problem is that they don’t know how to get Charlotte cheap wins without having Ric Flair cheat for her. It is just lazy booking. This is all leading to a submission match between them with Flair being banned from ringside at Extreme Rules which should be a good match, but I don’t have any faith in WWE to not do some other new screwy finish to that match.
Too Much McMahons: So, Raw started off with a long video package on the Payback main event focusing on how Shane and Stephanie McMahon got involved as they are now having to work together to run Raw (or all of WWE I guess?). We got the long opening segment with both McMahons. We got a backstage scene with Dean Ambrose talking to Stephanie. We got a replay of that long opening video package. Then we got the long Ambrose Asylum with Stephanie as Dean’s guess. We got a replay of Stephanie canceling the Ambrose Asylum. And finally, we got Stephanie’s scene in the back with Ric and Charlotte Flair about Extreme Rules. Now, things certainly could have been worse. But when you are hoping for a William Regal-style authority figure who doesn’t even have to appear every week, and instead you get two authority figures sort of working together appearing this many times on Raw, of course you are going to be disappointed. Therefore, I am disappointed, but not surprised.
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.