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By Jon Mezzera, PWTorch Hits & Misses specialist
8/22 RAW HITS
Rollins vs. Zayn: The first of the series of matches to determine who would go on to next week’s fatal-four way to crown a new Universal Champion was a very good match between Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn. The match went nearly 13 minutes and was very well done with Zayn having to fight through an ankle injury suffered early on. It feeds into the idea that Rollins is dangerous and always injures his opponents after what happened to Finn Balor in their SummerSlam match. Zayn was great in selling the ankle injury while continuing to show fire and fight back. I particularly liked the spot late in the match when Zayn was able to fight through the pain to get to his feet and stomp the hell out of Rollins. And ultimately the weakened ankle caused him to lose as it allowed Rollins to hit the Pedigree for the win.
Owens vs. Neville: The second qualifying match was also good. It was shorter at only eight minutes and no one was going to buy into Neville as a legit contender since he wasn’t even in the ring in the terrible opening segment (more later) to try to claim a chance to win the Universal Title. But given those circumstances, Kevin Owens and Neville worked very hard to put on a good match. That show of power from Neville on the slow lift into the German suplex was awesome. He is great in the ring, but unfortunately doesn’t have much in terms of mic skills or charisma to match.
Charlotte Segment: This was a good segment, although I had a few issues with it. Charlotte was great in gloating over beating Sasha Banks to regain her Women’s Championship. I loved Dana Brooke trying to get a “You Deserve It!” chant going. I didn’t love Mick Foley’s interruption. It delayed Bayley’s debut too long. WWE should have known that that crowd would have been chanting for her and anticipated that and brought her out before the chant started which was possible. But, it wasn’t that bad. I did like when Foley said that Banks would be back and would be owed a rematch that Charlotte said she hoped Banks had a miracle and does come back so that she can break her back again. She was great here. The crowd popped huge for Bayley. It is about time. I liked how Charlotte called her out for being left behind last year. I also liked that the fans met Bayley with a “You Deserve It!” chant. I like that chant for a call-up more than for winning a title, because of course they deserve the title, they beat the Champion. Anyway, the match that followed with Bayley vs. Brooke was a solid in-ring debut for Bayley. I do have to say that Bayley’s fans sometimes annoy me trying to get in all of their Bayley chants and songs and it means they don’t pay attention to the actual match.
Dudley Farewell: I wasn’t sure what WWE was setting up with this farewell address for The Dudley Boyz. I kept thinking of that great Mark Henry fake retirement promo a few years back which was the highlight of his career and launched him into a very strong heel run. Where are they going? And I didn’t know if this was really it for the Dudleys or what. But assuming it was a goodbye, it was well done. Both Bubba Rey and Devon were strong in saying goodbye and thanking the fans. The interruption by the Shining Stars was good. They were amusing in trying to get the Dudleys to retire to Puerto Rico. This allowed the Dudleys one last chance (presumably) to beat up a team and hit their signature spots. It was also a good tease for putting one last wrestler through a table. Then we got the interruption from The Club which I did not see coming. After the terrible bits they were involved in earlier in the show (more later), maybe this is finally the start of treating them as a more serious team who are actually a physical threat in the tag team division.
8/22 RAW MISSES
Opening Segment: It really sucks that Finn Balor got injured during his match against Seth Rollins at Summerslam for a number of reasons. For now, instead of focusing on what it means for Balor or the future, I am going to focus on what it meant for this week’s Raw and the crappy opening segment. It started out okay. Balor did a fine job in relinquishing his newly won Universal Championship and vowing to return to get it back. The problem was the parade of stars coming out to I guess say they should be the new champion. Rollins was the only one who got any mic time. Did the others want to be handed the title like Rollins? Or did they want a chance to earn it? Either way it was boring. It was lame. The announcement of the series of matches to determine who would go on to next week’s show for another match to crown another new Champion was a dud. If I had been drinking, I would have done a spit take when Foley said that all of the wrestlers in the ring were deserving of an opportunity to earn the Title. All of them? Even Big Cass and Enzo Amore who haven’t done anything yet and just lost the night before? Give me a break. I hated that the announcement was so vague. They didn’t explain all of the specifics of how the matches would work leading to a fatal four way next week until much later in the show. It set up a series of matches, but I still wasn’t a fan of the opening segment.
New Day – Club: Ugh. These were two bad back-to-back segments. New Day had a long talking segment going celebrating Big E’s return at SummerSlam from ringpostitis. They were also celebrating a year as Tag Team Champions. The Club interrupted and rightfully called New Day stupid. Of course, it is hard to take them as the serious act to juxtapose the goofy New Day when they are wearing lab coats and pretending to be doctors. But the heels should not be right when talking about a babyface team not having a reason to celebrate. This was following up on one of the worst parts of SummerSlam with the Tag Team Championship with Jon Stewart getting involved. The follow up was just as bad. And after the strong statement from Anderson & Gallows, Anderson lost to Big E in the next segment in a match that lasted less than four minutes. WWE has done such a poor job of making them feel like a top team or a threat of any sort. We did get them attacking the Dudleys later in the show, but it was maybe too little too late.
Titus O’Neil: This is in the running for worst promo of the year. Titus O’Neil has never been very good. I know some people including some on the Torch staff were once upon a time clamoring for a bigger push for him. I never understood it then and I guess I never will. I think I just quoted Everclear. He was terrible here. He stumbled over his words. He sounded like he’d never cut a promo before. His charisma and mic skills are supposed to be his strength. I know it isn’t wrestling. It wasn’t that long, but it felt like it lasted forever before Bob Backlund came out. I didn’t care about the O’Neil vs. Darren Young feud before this, and I still don’t.
Jericho vs. Reigns: The big problem with this main event was that everyone knew that Roman Reigns was going to win, and nobody wanted to see that. The fans crapped on this match and that is part of why I’m giving it a Miss. WWE is in a difficult position where the new top babyface of Raw just got hurt and will be out six months. So now they need a new top face for the brand and they don’t have any strong contender. Unfortunately, since they still have never turned Reigns heel and since they haven’t built any other faces up (like Zayn for instance), they are stuck back with Reigns as the defacto top babyface on Raw and the fans continue to reject him in that roll. There were things to like in this match and the execution was perfectly fine, yet it felt like just a build to the inevitable Super Reigns Spear. And when you add in Kevin Owens cheating to help Chris Jericho and Super Reigns still was able to kick out of the Codebreaker, it makes the whole match feel like a joke.
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.