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5/30 RAW HITS
A.J. Styles Turns Heel: After two hours of terrible television, Raw finally had a good moment when A.J. Styles turned heel by attacking John Cena and joining up again with his Club buddies, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. I’m guessing that what they did last week was just a ruse which sort of makes up for the bad execution of their angle on last week’s Raw. Styles can make a great heel and hopefully this will lead to better things for him. As long as Roman Reigns is going to be positioned as the top face in the company, Styles was never going to be a top babyface in WWE even with the upcoming brand split. (I’m not going to call it an “extension” or whatever other corporate speak they want to call it.) Cena is going to be right there also. So, at least here we get a great and memorable heel turn and a set up for what has potential to be a very strong feud between Styles and Cena. I’m curious to see if Cena gets some back-up, but I hope that it isn’t The New Day as I don’t like the dynamic of them being involved against The Club (more later). And the announcers deserve credit for helping to make this feel like a huge deal. Cena and Styles did a great job of milking the dueling chant, then the announcers sold the blind side attack in a way that they seldom sell anything.
Main Event: This is a marginal Hit. The main event six-man tag match did go nearly 18 minutes and featured pretty good wrestling, but I expect more when you are talking about the talents of Sami Zayn, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Alberto Del Rio. The match was like two formulaic tag team matches put together with a prolonged beat down of Cesaro followed by a hot tag to Zayn, followed by a prolonged beat down of Zayn, followed by a hot tag to Ambrose, and then some chaos and everyone hits a big move on each other leading to the last man getting the win with Ambrose pinning Owens. There was no back and forth action at all. There was no tagging in and out by the babyface trio. I want some better wrestling for a Raw main event, especially after sitting through such a crappy show. Now, I am giving it a Hit as the match was well executed, the wrestlers worked hard despite the poor way the match was put together, and the final few minutes were fun enough to save it from being a Miss.
5/30 RAW MISSES
Opening Segment: The only thing worse than a McMahon starting off Raw is two McMahons starting off Raw (I’ve probably said that before, but it is true). I do like the fact that the authority figures are playing babyfaces at this point, but I find both Shane and Stephanie McMahon to be so annoying even as babyfaces. This was a terrible start to Raw. I appreciate the fact that WWE acknowledged the big live Smackdown and roster split news, but this was very boring. It didn’t get me excited for the big news or the rest of Raw. The New Day were bad. The long slideshow of media coverage was boring. There aren’t enough tag teams in WWE right now to split some up. The powers that be sounded like a bunch of chumps with their corporate speak and the fact that they have no idea what is actually going to happen. I don’t need to see Shane dancing. Thank God for The Vaudevillians for interrupting the crappy start to the show.
The Club Attacks New Day: I see too much of a bad mix of styles between The Club and The New Day. It wasn’t bad and they made a statement, and later they explained that they were just getting started in their destructive path on Raw. So, if the idea was that they were targeting multiple people to make that statement, that would be one thing. However, New Day should want to get revenge and as I said, I don’t have much interest in that match up. And later in the show, we found out that The Club was still working with Styles to attack Cena. So, are we going to get New Day teaming with Cena? Ugh. So, this Miss is more about the prospects of things to come.
Rusev’s New Accolade: When Rusev put the Accolade on Kalisto recently and then wrenched it back, making it look like he was bending Kalisto in half, it looked incredibly painful. The regular Accolade looks painful to me based on the angle of the opponent’s back. But, when Rusev put Zack Ryder into his new version of the Accolade, it didn’t look as painful to me. Most of the torque on Ryder’s body was at his knees which are meant to bend exactly like that. It doesn’t look like Ryder’s back was nearly as bent out of shape as it usually does in the normal version of the hold. So, something that is meant to look more devastating, to me looks way less devastating. On a side note, I have zero interest in a Titus O’Neil vs. Rusev feud for the United States Championship.
Stephanie – Charlotte: Didn’t Stephanie just slap Ric Flair in the face like two weeks ago? And now she’s so upset over what Charlotte did to Ric last week that she would yell at her like that. I didn’t like Stephanie demeaning the babyface talent when she was a heel authority figure. Now I don’t like Stephanie demeaning heel talent now that she is sort of a babyface authority figure.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass: These guys are like nails on a chalkboard to me. They are so grating. I hate their characters. I don’t understand why they don’t know how to spell “soft.” I don’t understand why people love them so much. They listed a bunch of types of cheeses (although they never got to Venezuelan Beaver Cheese or Camembert which was a bit too runny) while saying “how you doin’?” in between each cheese. Riveting television.
Cena’s Speech: I’m sorry, but I don’t get as all rah-rah “U-S-A! U-S-A!” as a lot of people. I have respect for the military. My father was in the Army and served a year in Vietnam. Both of my grandfathers served, one in the Army (stationed in Hawaii during WWII where he met my grandmother who worked for the army in Honolulu and had to go into work during the chaos of the morning when Pearl Harbor was bombed), and the other in the Air Force. My nephew just finished a four-year term in the Marines. It is great to honor the military and remember those who have fallen in battle like WWE did at the beginning of Raw. But, John Cena’s speech was so heavy-handed. He basically thanked those military personnel who have died which allowed him to stand in the ring and say that he’s back on Raw. What? Like if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, he wouldn’t have come back from shoulder surgery? I have no doubt that his respect and love for the military is real, but sometimes it comes across like pandering to me, which it did here. By the time he finally got around to talking about wrestling I had lost interest. And haven’t we heard this speech about new wrestlers having to go through him before? Luckily Styles showed up to save the segment.
Natalya vs. Brooke: So I guess Natalya is still an idiot easily distracted by someone at ringside. She always allows herself to be distracted by Ric Flair, Dana Brooke, and now Charlotte herself. It is good to build up Brooke, but doing so at the expense of Natalya in a match that goes under two minutes is a mistake, even if Natalya has an out of the distraction from Charlotte. And while I like Becky Lynch, she seems to have gotten enough opportunities against Charlotte lately. I know there are some injuries on the women’s roster right now, but I would have liked to seen someone other than Lynch come to Natalya’s aid.
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.