Jon Mezzera, PWTorch Hits & Misses specialist
After taking some time off for a nice long vacation to Hawaii for my 10th Anniversary, I am finally caught up on the last few weeks of wrestling and ready to start up the Raw Hits & Misses again. My overall reaction to those weeks that I missed is that WWE seems to have given up entirely on the concept of the singles match. Now, on to Raw…
9/26 RAW HITS
New Day vs. Anderson & Gallows: Unlike the United States Championship match, which was much better at Clash of Champions than the re-match on Raw, the Tag Team title match was better on Raw than at the PPV. I am not a fan of the babyface announcers looking the other way when a babyface wrestler or team cheats to win. Byron Saxton didn’t exactly turn his cheek at the PPV, but he didn’t condemn The New Day for cheating the way he does when heels do. I was glad to see New Day win clean here. And as I said, this was definitely a better match than the night before. There were some very believable near falls in the closing moments and it had the strong ending reestablishing the Trouble in Paradise as a legit finisher for Kofi Kingston.
Bayley vs. Jobber: More jobbers need to be used on Raw and Smackdown especially with depleted rosters on both shows. It isn’t just something they should use for big dominant wrestlers like Brawn Strowman and Nia Jax. All new wrestlers should establish themselves with a series of wins over jobbers. And certain divisions which aren’t deep like the women rosters on both shows should use jobbers more often even for established wrestlers.
Presentation of the Cruiserweights: This is a minor Hit. So far, WWE has done a solid-to-good job for the most part of presenting the Cruiserweight division. I like changing the ropes to give their matches a different feel. It makes it seem like they are keeping the division separate which is good. I don’t want to suddenly see a cruiserweight getting beat up by Big Show. I don’t like the handshakes to start the matches. I liked them in the context of the Cruiserweight Classic, but now that it is a division on Raw, it feels out of place. They are wrestlers who happen to be smaller than other wrestlers. The presentation of their matches shouldn’t be that different from other matches. WWE has the problem of trying to introduce too many new wrestlers on the show over a short amount of time. They are doing an okay job with the vignettes introducing the wrestlers, but they aren’t good enough. They need to do a better job of introducing characters, not just showing cool moves. So far, Brian Kendrick is the only wrestler of the eight that have debuted in two weeks who has played a clear heel role. Some have played clear babyfaces, but the rest are just sort of generic wrestlers. I am not being too hard on them since it is a difficult task and they are only two weeks into it. The matches have all been good, though not great. I don’t want to see four wrestlers randomly assigned to teams for a tag team match like we got on Raw, but it was a good match. So again, they are doing a good enough job to get this minor Hit, but they need to improve the presentation in the weeks to come.
Perkins vs. Kendrick: I’m giving this budding feud over the Cruiserweight Title its own Hit. As I said above, Kendrick is the only one playing a heel so far and he is doing a good job of it. They are playing well into the past where Kendrick helped T.J. Perkins out early in his training to become a wrestler. They are telling a story of Kendrick attempting to resurrect his career. They are doing a decent job of introducing Perkins to Raw and reintroducing Kendrick. I loved the head butt after their Title match at the PPV and while Perkins has a long way to go on the mic, Kendrick was good in his interruption. We also got to see Perkins’s in-ring debut on Raw. I thought he and Tony Nese had a good match, despite the live crowd growing restless. On an aside, I have to say that fans who chant “C.M. Punk” at WWE shows are just jerks at this point. I’m glad that they are booed by the rest of the fans. Seriously, get over yourselves already. Moving back to this match, Nese has a chance to be another strong heel in this division, so hopefully WWE gives him a chance to develop as a heel character going forward.
Charlotte – Banks: WWE should not have interjected Bayley into the Women’s Title picture between Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Now that they are moving past that, they are getting back to the one on one situation of Charlotte vs. Banks which is nice. Charlotte did a good job of gloating over defending her title at the PPV. I enjoyed her heel promo. I also loved her line saying that Banks is a legend in her own mind. Banks was also good, though not as good in her interruption. The tease of a match only to put it off a week is a smart way to get some cheap heat on Charlotte while also building anticipation for next week’s show.
Highlight Reel: I love the best friendship between the Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. They are great together. They play off each other so well. I loved everything they did together from talking about how expensive the Jeritron 5000 is, to talking about Dean Ambrose owing Jericho money, to Owens’s very strong promo about being the man instead of Seth Rollins. Rollins’s attempt at interrupting the show was okay, but underscored the fact that he got hurt the night before and couldn’t get physical. I am not a fan of Enzo & Cass so I wasn’t thrilled to see them come out to end the segment to set up the main event tag match, but the segment was still good.
9/26 RAW MISSES
Reigns vs. Rusev: I enjoyed the U.S. Championship match at Clash of Champions. It was one of several matches that had various types of shenanigans in terms of interference and distractions from third parties, but it was still a good match. It was also the only one where those distractions didn’t help the cheater win. Unfortunately, Roman Reigns and Rusev followed up their good PPV match with this rematch that was not nearly as good to open up Raw. At over 25 minutes, this was far too long. The action dragged. It wasn’t nearly as well executed or booked as the PPV match. And it ended in a lame double-count out. The brawl was well done and the use of the chair afterwards was okay. And Reigns got a better reaction from the crowd than he usually gets. But, it was still a Miss.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus Follow-Up: When WWE started the Best of Seven series between Cesaro and Sheamus, I groaned. They had already had a few solid matches, but I wasn’t looking forward to seeing seven more. I will give them credit for having solid to good matches. They also found a way to have good variety in those matches so it didn’t feel like we were seeing the same match over and over again. And the culmination at Clash of Champions was very good (other than that scary moment when Cesaro landed on his head) and the fans were into the match and responding how you want them to respond by cheering the face and booing the heel. Then you ended up with that lame referee stoppage when the doctor said neither could continue. I thought we might get a Hell in a Cell match to finally determine the winner. After the reaction to the match at the PPV, I think fans might have bought into that match and been excited for it. Instead, we get Mick Foley announcing that he can’t have them wrestle an eighth time and instead is going to force them to tag together for a future Tag Team Championship match. What? You have Cesaro over as a face and Sheamus over as a heel. Keep going with that. Don’t muddy the waters by forcing them to become a tag team.
Stephanie Berates Foley: I hated this segment with Foley starting to question Stephanie McMahon for her actions at the end and after Clash of Champions that turned into her verbally smacking him down about not doing his job. I don’t watch wrestling to view an owner screaming at and putting down an employee, whether it is a wrestler or an authority figure. Really, an authority figure is worse. Focus on the wrestlers and their issues with each other. I wasn’t happy when Vince McMahon told Shane and Stephanie that they would have to hire general managers to help run their brands for this reason. I don’t need to see arguments between authority figures. And I have been done with Stephanie showing she is the alpha of WWE for a long time.
Owens & Jericho vs. Enzo & Cass: I wasn’t a fan of the main event. Enzo & Cass have been losing every week recently to The Shinning Stars, so I wasn’t buying into them as a legit threat to Owens and Jericho. Where was Sami Zayn? I would have preferred to see him with a partner in this situation given his long history against Owens and his recent history against Jericho. I’m not sure who that partner could have been, but even someone like Neville teaming with Zayn would have been better than Enzo & Cass. The match went on far too long with Jericho and Owens beating down Enzo Amore. They dragged out the beating before the hot tag to Big Cass too long. After that, it was a bit of a chaotic mess. I did like that Owens got the clean win over Enzo. But I didn’t like much else about the Raw 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.