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5/23 RAW HITS
MITB Focus: I like that WWE had a series of qualifying matches for Money in the Bank. The participants in that match should have to qualify for it. I also think that the winners of each of the qualifying matches were the right choices to win. We also got some interviews before the matches to preview them. They found a way to continue two recent feuds, Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho. They set up a feud between two of the losers, Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus which has potential. And they made the fans anticipate two more qualifying matches to come. They also started off the show announcing the MITB main event WWE World Title match of Seth Rollins challenging Roman Reigns.
Zayn vs. Sheamus: The first qualifying match was good. Sheamus needs something new to make fans care about him. Having him snap after losing to one of the New Era wrestlers and attack Crews later on might be the thing to get him going. And he is a well established star even if he is cold, who can hopefully help get Crews over as he needs something to help get his main roster career going. As for the match itself, it was fun, went a decent length without overstaying its welcome, and I particularly liked the surprise Helluva Kick at the end.
Cesaro vs. Miz: This was another good MITB qualifier. I thought we might get some type of double count-out or no contest to set up an Intercontinental Championship at the PPV as neither would be in the actual MITB match. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Cesaro won clean. Instead, we are going to get their IC Title mach on Smackdown this week. I’m not sure what to expect there, but presumably Miz will keep the title, but who will he defend it against at the PPV? Cesaro and Miz work well together in the ring. Cesaro has been great since his return from the shoulder injury and Miz has been great ever since Maryse made her return.
Charlotte: This wasn’t a great segment “firing” her dad Ric Flair. Charlotte didn’t handle the heckling very well. I like Dana Brooke and she probably does need to be playing a sidekick character at this point, but her teaming with Charlotte feels forced to me. But, I think it does have potential. The acting from Charlotte and Ric Flair was okay. They both over-acted some. But, I am giving it a Hit for the fact that the fans always want to cheer for Ric and in order to keep Charlotte a heel and to freshen up her heel act, having her no longer with Ric makes the most sense. This was a great way to get heat on Charlotte. And hopefully moving forward, her Title matches won’t be as formulaic, although Brooke might just take the same role.
Styles vs. Owens: This was a good main event. It did suffer from some of the same issues that a few other matches suffered from (more later), specifically A.J. Styles looking like he needed a night off after Extreme Rules. Part of that might have been selling, but I’m sure he could have used a day off after that physical match the night before. I do think that he was able to push through better than Dean Ambrose or Chris Jericho did in their matches (again, more later). Working with Kevin Owens obviously helped. The crowd was tired and I think a bit deflated after the talking segment with Styles and The Club (and yet again, more later), so they weren’t really into the match, but I think Owens and Styles were able to get them into it by the end. They certainly worked very hard and put in a great effort to have a good match in the end. I assumed coming into the night that Owens would win MITB, so I figured he would win this match. However, I was surprised that The Club didn’t get involved or that Owens didn’t cheat somehow to win.
5/23 RAW MISSES
Heel Rollins: While Seth Rollins did a great job as a heel, I was one of the many fans hoping he would come back as a babyface. This is one of the situations where the fans would love a babyface turn without having to write an actual turn. But, they missed that opportunity. WWE is so set on having Roman Reigns as the lead babyface that they aren’t going to do something like turn Rollins. At this point it seems that their plan is to have their top babyface who does have children, women and some other casual fans behind him against someone whom the more die hard fans are behind like AJ Styles and now Rollins. But, if that’s the case then why have Rollins running down the fans? It isn’t going to work.
Crews vs. Jericho: That failed kip up from Crews trying to avoid the Lionsault from Jericho was a bit of a scary moment. Now one botched spot isn’t enough to make an otherwise good match a Miss. But, I didn’t find the rest of the match to be otherwise good. I liked how it started with Crews slapping the bandages on Jericho’s body from the thumbtacks the night before. I actually really liked the cinematic reveal of those bandages how the camera was in front of him as he walked to the ring, then panned around behind him to reveal all the bandages. That was well done. But after the early part of the match, I didn’t find Jericho and Crews to have much chemistry in the ring. It looked like Jericho needed a night off which makes sense. He shouldn’t have had to wrestle the night after Extreme Rules. The match just didn’t click for me.
Corbin – Ziggler: This was painful to watch. I liked a lot of the mic work from Baron Corbin in NXT, but most of what I liked was in very well produced video packages. It wasn’t him talking live like this. He was bad here in his interview. I also don’t like the content in terms of him having do defend himself for doing a low blow in a no DQ match. He didn’t cheat. Dolph Ziggler wasn’t much better either talking about wanting to face Corbin in a technical wrestling match. I am tired of this feud and would have been fine with it being over after the Extreme Rules pre-show. So, I don’t need to see another match between them next week.
Enzo & Cass vs. The Dudley Boyz: This has been a totally one-sided feud so far, and the side that has dominated the feud has only had one person the entire time. The Dudleys should have been dominating Big Cass without Enzo Amore. He could have shown great fight and held his own, only to lose because of the numbers game. I don’t mind him winning as part of a team with The New Day, but when he’s faced the Dudleys individually, he should not have won easily. So, why does he need Enzo? He should have been losing so that now that Enzo is back, he finally gets that win. The Dudleys have not been positioned as any type of credible threat. I’ve made it clear that I am not a fan of Enzo’s character and his return was no different.
Ambrose vs. Ziggler: The ending of this match was strong, but it was still not a good match. The face vs. face dynamic didn’t work here. Like Jericho, Ambrose looked like he needed a night off. The crowd was dead for this match. Part of it was being tired after already watching over two hours of Raw, part of it was the heel vs. heel match up, and part of it was just the fact that they didn’t do anything to get the crowd invested in it.
Styles and The Club: This was a very anti-climactic ending to the relationship between Styles and Gallows & Anderson. They’ve had a chance to do something interesting with The Club turning on Styles or whatever, but they haven’t done it. Instead, we got a pretty watered-down Styles promo where he had to first put over how great Roman Reigns is, with just an afterthought mention that he would have defeated Reigns if it weren’t for the Usos… and Anderson & Gallows. The mic work wasn’t strong from any of the three involved. The timing was off as it actually seemed to hurt Styles in the eyes of some fans and give sympathy to The Club. They were trying to help him. And he did say he wanted their help, even though at first he said that he didn’t. If they had Styles all along trying to get them to stop helping him, then the story would have been different. However, Styles went away from that position early in this angle. If they had done something at Extreme Rules to accidentally cost him the match, then things might be different. To me, the storytelling was poor here. The performances were not great. And the timing wasn’t good either. We don’t know where they will go from here, but none of the three wrestlers are in a better place now than they were at the start of the show.
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.