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By Jon Mezzera, PWTorch Hits & Misses specialist
8/29 RAW HITS
Opening Segment: I didn’t love the opening segment, but it was good enough to get a Hit. It gave some mic time to the four wrestlers who would be in the main event to crown a new Universal Champion. Kevin Owens was great. Seth Rollins was good. Big Cass was okay. He felt out of place, probably because he was out of place. Corey Graves was fine as the moderator. It was a good way to start the show to build anticipation for the big main event. It also didn’t drag which these segments often do, so that was good.
Neville vs. Jericho: I’m not sure having Neville losing matches at this point is a great way to go and now he has lost two weeks in a row on Raw. Hopefully he will get back on track soon. He has a lot of talent in the ring. He and Chris Jericho had a good match ending with more of a Liontamer than the Walls of Jericho. But, I do want to point out something that drives me crazy. When was the last time a WWE wrestler got disqualified for either raking his opponent’s eyes or for the dreaded thumb to the eye? For a heel like Jericho to get heat by cheating, that method of cheating has to have actual consequences if he gets caught. WWE does this a lot where a heel goes to the eyes behind the referee’s back. However, I don’t buy into the idea that if he had been caught, the would be DQ’ed. So, WWE needs to set more of a precedent of what happens when a wrestler is caught breaking this type of rule, so that he actually appears to get away with something when he doesn’t get caught.
Main Event Videos: WWE did a good job throughout Raw of building anticipation for the main event. In addition to the opening segment, we got to see videos on Big Cass, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens. It made each feel like a potential winner and helped to fill three hours in a meaningful way that made the fans more invested in the Universal Championship match.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus: I don’t want to give the Cesaro vs. Sheamus matches Hits, because I am not a fan of the Best of Seven format, especially when it comes on the heels of the two wrestlers just having faced twice, meaning we are inevitably going to get nine matches between them in a relatively short time. But, the matches have been good. And they have all felt different from one another. This one had that amazing bump on the outside when Sheamus backdropped Cesaro into the ringpost. That was wicked and I loved the fact that it led to the ending when Sheamus was able to quickly force a tap out from Cesaro with his Cloverleaf submission. Big bumps like that should lead to the finish more often.
Owens vs. Cass vs. Rollins vs. Reigns: After all the build, the main event fatal four-way was a long and strong ending to the show. I appreciate the fact that it was an elimination match instead of being one fall. In these situations I wish the first two eliminations could happen via count out or disqualification. I understand that the Title should only be won via pin fall or submission, so having the final fall be no count-out, no DQ makes sense. But, I don’t feel that way about the first two falls. Everyone delivered well in the ring. No one thought Cass was going to win, so getting him eliminated first was the smart albeit predictable move. You could see it coming once he hit all of his signature moves in rapid fire. Once it got down to the final three it became a very good match. I could see all three of them winning, making the outcome less predictable and thus more exciting. I figured Reigns would have to be one of the final two (even though he wasn’t), but I honestly wasn’t sure if it would be Owens or Rollins at that point. It was exiting to watch. I like Owens as Champion, but I’m not sure about how they got there.
8/29 RAW MISSES
The Club and Dana Brooke: After showing a more serious and intense version of The Club last week when they destroyed the Dudley Boys on their way out of WWE, I was hoping we were going to move away from the silliness that we saw with them pretending to be doctors in the feud against The New Day. But, we were in store for more silliness with Dana Brooke joining them pretending to be a nurse. That bit talking about the Dudleys and then transitioning back the New Day was bad. Brooke doesn’t work with them especially since she is still working with Charlotte. The six-person mixed tag match that followed was okay. It did have some good wrestling and was fun to watch for the most part. But, it didn’t make me buy into Gallows & Anderson as a legit threat to New Day. Bayley does seem to fit in nicely with New Day and she needs wins to build her up since WWE is rushing her into a title match despite the truth that Charlotte spoke when she said that Bayley hasn’t done anything in WWE to deserve a title shot.
Stephanie and Heyman: I wasn’t a fan of this segment, although I got a kick out of Paul Heyman trying to pay Brock Lesnar’s $500 fine with one dollar bills. Stephanie McMahon’s character is ill-defined right now. She is a heel for only fining Lesnar $500, yet she demands a big apology and is upset about what he did to her brother at Summerslam. Is she pretending to be upset? Is she really upset? And then you get all of this talk from Heyman about the Board of Directors, Vince McMahon, Stephanie being put in a bad situation, and female empowerment, and I started to drift off. Boring! I don’t want to hear about a board of directors. I was confused. It felt like a waste of time and a continued waste of that killer moment when Lesnar defeated Randy Orton via TKO after that vicious elbow to the head drew so much blood that the referee had to stop the match.
Triple H’s Interference: It was a good shock to have Triple H interfere in the main event. I didn’t see it coming. And the first bit made sense where he wouldn’t want Roman Reigns to become the Universal Champion. And I like the fact that Stephanie sold shock at seeing her husband interfere. However, I don’t like the idea of crowning a new champion this way. Kevin Owens was great also in selling shock over what Triple H did to Seth Rollins, but to me it cheapens his title reign right from the start. And I know that he is a heel, but Raw needs a signature top babyface and Reigns isn’t it. Maybe this will turn Rollins. I don’t know. But, I think Owens would have been a better choice and overcoming the odds and winning despite Triple H’s involvement would have been a way to turn Owens and start his Title reign in a strong manner. Even though Triple H isn’t an official authority figure on Raw, he is still an authority figure within WWE, and this makes me think about how overly involved the authority figures have been in the title picture over the last few years going back to the formation of The Authority and their hand-picking of Randy Orton over Daniel Bryan (or John Cena) as the Face of WWE. I don’t want to see a return to that crap, and I don’t want to see some McMahon-Helmsley family fight. So, while I was glad to see Owens getting a chance to become Universal Champion, I wasn’t a fan of how they got there.
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.