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By Jon Mezzera, PWTorch Hits & Misses specialist
7/18 RAW HITS
Opening Segment: This is a marginal Hit for the newsworthiness of the opening segment with Stephanie McMahon naming Mick Foley as her General Manager for Raw and Shane McMahon naming Daniel Bryan as his General Manager for Smackdown Live. We also finally learned the rules and specifics of the draft itself. Stephanie also announced that Raw would be bringing back an exclusive Cruiser Weight Division. Now I have mixed feelings about it (by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed the first week of the Cruiser Weight Classic, particularly the real sports like feel to the presentation). I have no faith in WWE using them in a strong way on Raw. There were some issues with the opening segment in terms of Stephanie and Shane talking over each other which got annoying as the segment proceeded. And while I do get tired of these types of long talking segments, especially involving authority figures, to start off Raws, this was a time to do it.
Cesaro & Zayn vs. Owens & Jericho: This was a good tag match involving four very talented wrestlers in Cesaro, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. The highlight for me was the way that Zayn and Owens played their parts in terms of playing into their feud as they were doing a lot of brawling and following their storyline of their feud getting in the way of their careers.
Rollins and Ambrose Pre-taped Promos: I don’t understand why WWE took so long to even mention the main event WWE World Title match between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. I think it was about 90 minutes into the show. But, I did like the pre-taped promos from Rollins and Ambrose about the match. Rollins was good to recreate The Shield’s entrance coming through the crowd. The promo was well scripted and well delivered by Rollins. I also liked Ambrose’s hand held video promo from the backstage recalling those great Shield promos of the past. This is how you hype a big match for later on Raw.
Development of the Women’s Matches: Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte & Dana Brooke was too short to amount to much, but it did allow WWE a chance to advance two feuds within the Women’s division. Natalya attacked Lynch to cause a disqualification and did a great job with her physical beat down of Lynch. That makes Lynch’s fans want to see her get revenge at Battleground. Afterwards, Charlotte and Brooke beat down Banks sending a message to her unknown partner for the PPV. It seems predictable that Bayley will be her partner which should get a big pop from the crowd.
Ambrose vs. Rollins (until the end): Up until the terrible ending of the main event, the WWE World Title match was great. This was 24 minutes of great wrestling action between two great wrestlers. It was a pleasure to watch. If this had been a PPV main event (no commercial breaks) with a clean finish, it would have been a Match of the Year contender. The counters and reversals and near falls were so well planned and executed. This was such a smooth match. I had a feeling that something goofy was going to happen, as it did, which was a bit of a black cloud hanging over the match. But, it was such a top level effort from Ambrose and Rollins that I still call it a great match despite the dippy ending.
7/18 RAW MISSES
Young vs. Del Rio: This did nothing for me. I appreciate the fact that Darren Young actually won a match, but he was only able to win when The Miz’s plan to interfere backfired on Alberto Del Rio who had Young pinned, but the referee was distracted by Miz. This has been a poor way to build up a repackaged wrestler to be a potential Intercontinental Champion.
Cena / Enzo & Cass / The Club / New Day: Man, this just kept going and going. We already got a long talking segment to start the show, and here we get another one to kick off the 2nd hour of Raw. Some of the mic work was good, but too much of it was bad. Enzo Amore was at his most annoying here. I am not a fan of the bit where he lists stuff off while Big Cass leads the fans in the “how you doin’?” line. I get what WWE is trying to do with John Cena not totally understanding his partners to juxtapose them with The Club who are a totally unified team. That’s all fine, but this went on too long and wasn’t good. The Club was ok, but not good enough to make up for it. And after the terrible segment last week with The New Day fighting The Wyatt Family at their compound, the follow up was not strong as New Day went right back to no selling fear of the Wyatts. At least before last week, Xavier Woods was taking things more seriously. Now they were all back to normal laughing things off. And then we get them listing off stupid Pokemon characters. At least that’s a very relevant reference, but it turns off viewers like me who are sick and tired of hearing about Pokemon Go. The tag match that followed was ok, but it was often a big mess. It did fit in with the narrative about Cena not being used to teaming with Enzo & Cass, but it still didn’t amount to a good match.
Hype for U.S. Title Match: Zack Ryder looked weak last week when he lost to Sheamus so quickly. WWE did nothing to get Ryder any momentum back this week. Even if it was his teammate who took the tap out loss to Rusev, he still lost the match. He didn’t get in enough of his own offense during the match to make up for the fact that his team was going to lose.
End of Show: The double pin was a stupid ending to a great main event. And the way they followed up on it was terrible with the four authority figures standing around in the ring not knowing what to do, other than Stephanie just declaring Rollins as the winner. They didn’t seem to do much to check on the disheveled referee in order to see what he actually called as the ending of the match. I mean, it is the referee’s decision who won. I found out later that WWE called it a draw, and Ambrose is still the Champion. If the Title isn’t going to be held up going into Battleground, then why do the stupid double pin? There are other ways to have a double count-out or DQ to have a non finish. I assumed they wanted no Champion going into the PPV, and maybe that still will happen depending on what happens in the rematch on Smackdown Live. But, this is all pointing to some sort of similar situation at the PPV with two of the three wrestlers having a claim to being the winner, thus bringing the championship to both rosters. I can see one wrestler being pinned and tapping out at the same time for instance. Anyway, that will be a stupid ending to the PPV if it is the direction they go in, just as this was a stupid ending to Raw.
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.