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By Jon Mezzera, PWTorch Hits & Misses specialist
8/8 WWE RAW HITS
Cesaro vs. Sheamus: As you can see by the number of Misses below, I found this to be a very bad episode of Raw. I did like Cesaro vs. Sheamus. It was the first Hit of the show after well over an hour. This was better than their match last week which was solid. I don’t want to see more of these two in the ring. While I did enjoy this match, it wasn’t a match that left me wanting more especially since it was the second week in a row that we saw it.
Lesnar – Orton Video: This was by far the best part of Raw. I greatly enjoyed the video package of the Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton match at SummerSlam. I’ve said before that this is the type of situation where Lesnar is at his best on the mic. The same can be said about Orton too. This recapped the history of these two wrestlers very well going all the way back to OVW. It told that history and showed the parallels between Orton and Lesnar’s early years, while juxtaposing Lesnar leaving WWE while Orton stayed. I liked how Orton and Lesnar were scripted. I liked how they performed. It got across their personalities, their similarities, their differences, their history, and it made me want to see the match.
Balor Video: While not as good as the Lesnar-Orton video, the video focusing on Finn Balor was also good. Balor is another wrestler who benefits from this type of presentation as opposed to one of those long talking segments that we saw from Seth Rollins later in the show. I am not a big fan of talking about where a wrestler’s name comes from, and I didn’t like how it was set up by Rollins earlier in the show (more later). However I did enjoy it in this case. We got the mythological background behind the names Finn and Balor in an interesting and entertaining way. It also explained why he sometimes becomes that Demon King character when he needs to call upon that part of his personality in big matches. It was a nice way to tease that character for new fans and explain it better to the fans who already know and enjoy it.
Cesaro vs. Rusev: The main event was a good, but not great match. It was a fairly good ending to an otherwise terrible show. It apparently did not help in the ratings (as opposed to what Michael Cole said), but Cesaro and Rusev did put on a good main event. The ending wasn’t great, as it was predictable as they were not going to take the United States Championship off Rusev before his title defense against Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. And as I said above, while I did like Sheamus vs. Cesaro, I don’t need to keep seeing it. The ending clearly set us up to see more of it since Sheamus cost Cesaro the match. So, I will call it more of a marginal Hit that probably felt better than it was when compared to the rest of the show.
8/8 WWE RAW MISSES
Opening Segment: This week’s Raw got off to a poor start with the long talking segment with Enzo Amore and Big Cass starting off the show. I found last week’s interaction between Sasha Banks and Enzo to be a bit creepy. So I didn’t need to be reminded of it this week. Basically, Enzo is mad at Chris Jericho because he was trying to have sex with Banks. The references to Mike Trout and the Angels felt forced. They were kissing Anaheim’s ass early on, but after the match they were talking about wanting to fight Jericho and Kevin Owens back in their backyard of Brooklyn. Owens and Jericho were really good when they came out. But then the homosexual innuendo when Cass suggested that Jericho and Owens take baths together just wasn’t needed. The match that followed was solid, but the antics from Enzo and Cass had left a bad taste in my mouth.
Banks and Foley: I got a kick out of Mick Foley lying to Stephanie McMahon on the phone about using the tablet instead of his clipboard. And I liked the line that when he said the Boss had arrived that he corrected her that it was not her dad, but Sasha Banks. So the set-up to this scene was good, but the rest of it was bad. None of it made sense. I guess the idea is that Banks was supposed to look tough for wanting a handicap match against Charlotte and Dana Brooke, but then she got a match against Brooke where if she lost, she got the handicap match she wanted in the first place. Foley looked like a bad GM when he should have banned Brooke from ringside to begin with. Why did Banks have to earn that opportunity when it wasn’t even the stipulation she wanted in the first place? It was a convoluted mess.
Puff Daddy: I guess I shouldn’t complain that Puff Daddy’s role was so small, but when you announce a big guest star, I assumed he would have an important role. Instead, he was only on once in the back giving Foley concert tickets and interacting with New Day. It was a bad scene. It was annoying. I didn’t like any of the four men in the scene. It was all cringe-worthy.
O’Neil vs. Young: I honestly don’t know who I’m supposed to root for or what I’m supposed to think about the feud between Darren Young and Titus O’Neil. It is two lower-card wrestlers whom I don’t care much about to begin with acting like jerks and heels, making me care even less about them.
Rollins Promo: There were some good moments from Seth Rollins addressing Finn Balor in the ring. However, it went on far too long. Rollins’s delivery wasn’t nearly as good as you’d expect. I wasn’t a fan of him bringing up the fact that Balor isn’t his real name. I get why they did it in retrospect with the video package on Balor later in the show, but in the moment it didn’t work for me. It is a case where the payoff was good, but the set up was clumsy.
Rusev and Lana Wedding: I was waiting for some good wrestling action after two hours of a mostly crappy show. Instead, the third hour of Raw kicked off with this overly-long segment with Rusev and Lana recreating their wedding only to be interrupted by Roman Reigns. I said last week that Reigns going after Rusev as a pro-USA wrestler reeked of desperation by WWE trying to get cheap pops for Reigns. This was worse here where they set this up purposefully to be as bad as possible, to elicit “boring!” chants from the fans, and to make the viewers want to cheer anyone who happens to come out to put a stop to it. Reigns was okay here, but again it all went on too long and ended with the predictable way with Lana ending up face first in the cake.
Doc Anderson and Gallows: I have noticed WWE pushing some PG boundaries lately like last week when The New Day used a banana and two oranges to make a visual penis reference. Here they had Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson playing doctors talking about injuring Big E. last week making several penis puns. I appreciate the fact that WWE was selling the injury to Big E. by keeping him off Raw this week. However, everything else surrounding the injury was turned into a joke. New Day should have had a stronger reaction to the injury than just playing along. The infantile humor from Gallows & Anderson wasn’t entertaining. It was bad enough when Puff Dady asked about Big E.’s nuts, but these stupid jokes made things worse. And the match between Gallows and Kingston was a joke, where Kingston lost after only one move from Gallows. None of this has been good for the WWE Tag Team Championship match at SummerSlam.
The GM Meeting: This was a huge waste of time. Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan were supposed to be having a summit to talk about the situation between Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar. Instead, they just sniped at each other while acting in a disingenuous manner. I am a huge fan of both of their careers and think that both can do good work in their current roles. However, hearing them speak in those syrupy sweet voices pretending to kiss each others asses is not good TV. They need to do a better job of keeping the brands separate. We are getting too much interaction too soon. And while I agree with Bryan’s assessment of the name Universal Championship, I don’t get allowing a popular figure like him to make fun of what is an essential selling point for a PPV and Raw going forward. So WWE is undercutting itself just to make a fake rivalry between Raw and Smackdown Live seem real. And what exactly did Foley have planned for the Raw main event? Was he really just planning on ending the show with some silly back and forth with Bryan?
The Announcing: The announcing was atrocious this week. I can’t go into every bad moment that they had, but I will highlight some specifics. Cole sounded like an idiot when he said that Cass had no choice but to get in the ring and attack Jericho during his match against Amore. I forget when it happened, but at some point when a match was announced, Byron Saxton robotically said “I would like to see that.” It was such a bad delivery and made me want to see that match less. They were terrible in hyping the new WWE Scooby Doo movie. I didn’t like how Cole said that last week’s match between Cesaro and Sheamus didn’t matter considering that they had a brawl afterwards. This is more of a comment on the scripting of this particular angle, but it was Cole who drove that story forward. Corey Graves is supposed to be the cool announcer. He is supposed to bring the cool in a way that JBL never could. The cool announcer should not be acting like a dork comparing Rusev and Lana’s wedding to a Disneyland princess wedding and acting all lovey dovey over this cheesy bit. And Saxton once again got in a super lame line when he said he would rather re-watch the wedding of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggie. What? And then Cole lost any credibility that he might have had left at this point when he suggested that Rusev vs. Cesaro was going to be this huge ratings draw as the main event.
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.