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7/11 RAW HITS
Ambrose’s Promo: After a bad first hour of Raw which included two bad matches and a bunch of crap filler, Raw finally got going with the Rollins Report. I’m not giving the Rollins Report a Hit, because until Dean Ambrose came out it was not a Hit-worthy segment. It was not a Miss either. The edited “interview” with Rollins and Roman Reigns was okay. It was slightly amusing, but not good enough to get a Hit. But, I liked the strong promo from Ambrose. He was passionate and intense. This led to him challenging Rollins for a singles match for the WWE World Championship which gives a big hook for next week’s Raw.
Owens vs. Cesaro: I enjoyed the set up for this match with Kevin Owens refusing to go to the ring as long as Sami Zayn was at the commentary table because Zayn creates an unsafe work environment. That was great. The match was also good. Owens and Cesaro are so good and work well together in the ring. The match went over 12 minutes and was fun to watch from start to finish. I particularly like the fact that Owens won with a move other than the pop up power bomb. He does so many high impact moves that look like they could finish off his opponent, but they never do. This should help his opponents get bigger pops for kicking out of some of his moves in the future since he got a win with this one here. The attack from Zayn afterwards was also well done.
The Club Interview: I enjoyed Renee Young’s backstage interview with The Club. It was a good way to hype up their tag match against Enzo & Cass later in the show and the fact that John Cena was in L.A. for rehearsals for the ESPYs. A.J. Styles has really embraced his role as a heel. And I like the “Beat Up John Cena!” catchphrase that The Club has been gleefully using as of late.
Enzo & Cass vs. The Club: The match which that interview set up also turned out to be a Hit. While I find Enzo Amore to be particularly annoying, I appreciated the promo from Big Cass about how they were like The Club in wanting John Cena’s spot on the roster, but that if they were going to get it, they were going to earn it. The match itself was fun. I like watching Enzo & Cass wrestle so much more than I like hearing them talk (seriously, why don’t they know how to spell “soft”?). This was a good match that ended with a disqualification when Styles got involved on the outside. WWE did a nice job of making it seem like John Cena wasn’t in Detroit since he had been in L.A. earlier in the day by talking about it and even showing tweets and pics from Cena at the ESPY rehearsal. When he showed up, it worked as a nice surprise. The fans were certainly hot for the segment start to finish and came across as a very pro-Cena crowd. And Cena got to show that The Club was wrong about him when it comes to supporting Enzo & Cass.
Banks vs. Brooke: This was a pretty good match. Dana Brooke has a big upside, but I still think she needed more time in NXT, especially after taking time off with an injury right before being called up. She isn’t quite ready for the main roster yet, but Sasha Banks was able to carry her here to a good match. It was well booked. It went back and forth nicely. And Banks got the strong win in the end forcing Brooke to tap out to the Banks Statement. The mic work from Charlotte afterwards was a bit awkward, but continued to build anticipation for the eventual Charlotte vs. Banks match for the Women’s Championship.
7/11 RAW MISSES
Battle Royal: I appreciate Raw starting off with a match instead of a talking segment like we get almost every week. Unfortunately, this battle royal to start off Raw to become #1 contender for Miz’s Intercontinental Championship was poor. It started as a jumbled mess with everyone already in the match with only Apollo Crews getting a ring entrance. The wrestling action was not very good. With a few exceptions, it felt like a D List battle royal that belonged more on Superstars than on Raw. And if you are going to give Darren Young the win in his first match back with his new life coach Bob Backlund, why have such an anti-climactic introduction of the duo? We didn’t even know that Backlund was there for the first few minutes of the match. Also, this was a very weak way to have Young become the #1 contender for the IC Title to have him win a battle royal while on his back in the corner as other wrestlers eliminated themselves.
Ryder Loses to Sheamus: After a weak way to build up the #1 contender for the IC Title, WWE followed up by having Zack Ryder lose quickly to Sheamus despite the fact that he wants to challenge Rusev for the United States Championship. The 50-50 booking does nobody any good. It is like they panicked after having Ryder get the upset victory over Sheamus on Smackdown, so they had to give Sheamus his win back as soon as possible. But, that hurts Ryder. It takes away the momentum that he built up last week with two big wins which could have helped to elevate him into a strong position heading into a U.S. Title match against Rusev. Instead, he looks like he got lucky last week and then lost big and got beat up this week.
New Day – Wyatt Family: I absolutely hated this segment. It was cheesy. It was unbelievable. Why were there several camera operators on the Wyatt Family compound to film this? And what type of ancient film cameras were they using? Who edited it? It should have had one handheld camera filming it going back and forth to the various places they were fighting to give it more of a realistic style. The style was so annoying that it took me out of the action from the start. And even if I hadn’t been taken out, the fight itself didn’t feel real and there were too many unbelievable moments in it. I mean, Bray Wyatt tried to murder Xavier Woods with an axe. It was so bad, and then it just sort of ended on a fizzle. Why did they stop fighting at that point after all of that? And after all of that, why would anyone care about seeing them in a regular six-man tag wrestling match?
McMahon Family: Nothing gets me excited for the final segment of Raw than the promise of a bunch of McMahons talking in the ring. Yeah! I just wasn’t waiting on the edge of my seat for Vince McMahon’s big announcement about who would be the Commissioner of Smackdown Live. I don’t care. I assumed one sibling McMahon would get Raw and the other would get Smackdown. I guess I was hoping for something different to shake things up, but that’s exactly what we got. None of the three were good in their performances, although I guess Stephanie was the best playing her annoying heel character. And then the big announcement was that both Shane and Stephanie have to name a General Manager for their brands to help run things in terms of day to day operations. I guess that’s good as hopefully it means that we will see less of the McMahons on each show going forward. However, to me it is more corporate bureaucracy creating more authority figures. Hopefully they have good people in mind, but more authority figures is a bad thing as far as I’m concerned. And Vince’s threat that if Shane and Stephanie don’t pick a GM, he will pick one for them was stupid. Why wouldn’t they pick someone?
Hyping the Draft: This is a cumulative Miss for the effort that WWE has put out since announcing the draft on Raw several weeks ago. They have come across as not knowing what they were doing in terms of saying they didn’t know what they were doing. They have too often made generic statements like “this is a chance for this wrestler to improve their draft stock” as if there was a reason why any wrestler would want to increase their draft stock. You can improve your draft stock only to get drafted as a high pick on the show you didn’t want to end up on. And everyone is going to get drafted at some point. This week they addressed this by saying that higher picks could leverage it for contract negotiations to get more money. I commend WWE for explaining that, yet I don’t care how much money the wrestlers are making. As interesting at it can be to see Kevin Durant sign with the Warriors and what players had to leave from the existing roster to make salary cap room to sign him, I still just want to see them play games.
They have also too often teased teams being split up. I don’t see why that is a selling point. The shock value of a team being split up in the draft is lessened the next week when those teams are singles wrestlers who nobody cares about as they are better as a team. John Bradshaw Layfield presented revisionist history about how he felt bad about being split up from Ron Simmons in the draft, but it allowed him to go on to become a bigger star as a singles wrestler. That ignores the fact that their careers when nowhere as singles acts and they eventually were reunited as the APA. It wasn’t until they had been reunited and then Simmons was fired and Bradshaw refused to quit to support his best friend, that he was reborn as JBL and went on to become the WWE Champion. But why let facts get in the way of a good story? It didn’t work when the Dudley Boyz were split up in the draft. Remember Reverend Devon? I see value in breaking Luke Harper away from the Wyatts. I would be ok with Kalisto and Sin Cara going separate ways. But the tag team depth is too shallow for two separate brands to start splitting up teams at this point.
I did like some of the talk about draft strategy this week, but it was too much of the same thing over and over again. And talk of strategy in terms of part time stars like Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker vs. every day wrestlers like Kevin Owens or Cesaro only goes to point to the fact that none of this makes sense. And with all of that talk, none of the announcers thought to bring up the fact that the #1 draft pick has to be the WWE World Champion, either Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins after next week’s Raw. You have to pick the Champion #1 so that your brand has the Championship. Why didn’t any of the announcers say that? Probably because the fans aren’t supposed to be thinking about that, but they were. And probably because they have something in mind for a floating champion (which would be my preference) or adding another world championship for the other brand which is stupid.
Add in the terrible job that WWE did for so long with the brand split in the past and the poor job creative has done with so many aspects of WWE programming over the past few years, and I have zero faith that this is going to work well at all. And how will they fill three hours of Raw with half the roster? They are already using too much filler talent on this week’s show without diluting the talent pool further.
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.