SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment: Jeri-KO continue to be very entertaining while now showing more and more signs of having issues with each other, especially as this episode proceeded. However, Bruce Mitchell made some convincing arguments in his VIP audio show last week about how this is very entertaining, but doesn’t really belong in the main event picture. He gave me a lot to think about. Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins are going to be facing inside Hell in a Cell in a few weeks, yet their feud is more comical than seems appropriate heading into that type of match. I am still thoroughly entertained by Owens and Chris Jericho. I love The List. Rollins was ok in his interruption, but I wasn’t a big fan of sparkle crotch. So I am still giving it a Hit, but they definitely need to turn up the intensity next week. The match that followed was solid, but not as good as last week’s. Jericho and Rollins seemed a bit off at times and it suffered from the law of diminishing returns. We just saw it last week.
Goldberg Hype: WWE did a very nice job of hyping Bill Goldberg’s appearance at the end of Raw. They talked about it a lot. They showed multiple videos of Goldberg’s past, in both WCW and WWE. Those videos were a great trip down memory lane for long time fans, but also were a good way to introduce Goldberg and his history to newer and younger fans who might not be familiar with him. They also had Paul Heyman on via satellite to get his thoughts on what Goldberg would say in response to his challenge from last week. I liked how Heyman didn’t try to play it off as if we all didn’t know Goldberg was going to say “yes.” He didn’t insult our intelligence which I appreciated. All in all, WWE presented Goldberg as a huge deal and should have made the fans want to stick around for that final segment.
Charlotte and Banks Interviews: I like when WWE does something a little different in their presentation and these two segments with Lita interviewing Charlotte and then Sasha Banks worked well. Both interviews were good. All three of them played their parts well. They were well scripted and well delivered. Both had a chance to get across their personalities and hyped their match at Hell in a Cell. They should do more to show their nervousness over being inside the Cell, but otherwise these interviews were well done.
Six Man Cruiserweight Tag: I liked that WWE had a backstage scene to help set up this six man tag. It established that Brian Kendrick was trying to use Drew Gulak and Tony Nese to soften up TJ Perkins before their Cruiser Weight Championship match in a few weeks, while Perkins had gotten back up in Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann. But, Perkins really needs to step up that side of his game to match his in ring abilities. The match itself was fun. There was plenty of high energy offense from the babyfaces. I liked how Kendrick would tag himself into the match at times to underscore his character. The ending was strong with Kendrick getting over the Captain’s Hook, while Perkins fell just a bit short of being able to make the save.
Goldberg: The payoff of all the hype turned out to be pretty good. The live fans definitely seemed excited to see Goldberg back in a WWE ring for the first time in over 12 years. He seemed genuinely moved by the response. His promo was simple, but well done. He was intense as usual. He covered everything nicely and hit his high points in terms of the spear, the Jackhammer and telling Brock Lesnar that he is next. I was intrigued by the idea that he is making it clear that this will be his one final match which is why he said that Lesnar would not only be next, but last. That was a good final line. I still don’t want to see the match itself, but WWE is doing as good a job as possible in selling it so far. They also did a nice job of quickly saying that Lesnar would be on Raw next week to answer Goldberg. Throw in the fact that they actually announced two matches for next week’s show and they should have some excitement built up for fans to tune in.
Bo Dallas vs. Neville: When I first started watching NXT as the WWE Network launched, Bo Dallas was the NXT Champion, feuding with Adrian Neville over the Title. I had heard such great things about NXT, so I was surprised that Dallas of all people was the Champion. I didn’t see much in him. He wasn’t bad. But he was only decent in the ring and on the mic. I wasn’t part of his Bo-Leave! journey, so that might have played a part in it. Regardless, I didn’t see him as top star material. However, I was super impressed with Neville in the ring. He does have limitations on the mic, but he is so fun to watch wrestle, I could see him having a future despite his size. Now here we are a few years later and after being on the bottom of the card for pretty much his entire WWE career, Dallas is starting to get a fresh push as a more serious and intense character. That’s fine, but I still don’t buy him as being worth it as a performer. Again, despite his drawbacks, I would rather see Neville protected and pushed over Dallas. And I’m not looking forward to any type of feud between Dallas and Curtis Axel.
Bayley vs. Brooke: WWE went to this match too quickly after Bayley and Dana Brooke’s altercations the previous two weeks. They were starting to do a good job of building to the match, and then it just happened this week. The idea was to give Brooke a cheating win over Bayley to continue the program, but since Brooke totally botched the end by being too far away from the ropes to get her feet on them, she got a very bad looking win over Bayley which hurts Bayley’s credibility. I have been more supportive of Brooke than a lot of others on the Torch staff. While I have said that they called her up too soon especially after she lost time due to injury in NXT, I have also felt she had potential to be more than just a sexy Diva. But, she isn’t progressing on the big stage. I don’t see much improvement from her in the ring. And this was a badly blown spot.
Lana, Rusev, and Reigns: WWE scripted Lana and Rusev to be as boring as possible so that whoever came out to interrupt them would get a big pop, even Roman Reigns. That might work in the short term, but it isn’t a solution to the problem of the fans utterly rejecting Reigns as a top babyface. And I would argue that any plan that includes purposefully trying to be as boring as possible, is probably not a good plan. The idea is to have the fans cheer for the end of the boredom, but not all fans get to that second stage. Some just change the channel, especially knowing who is ultimately going to come out to stop it.
Cass beats Anderson in 2 Minutes: WWE was finally getting some heat on Gallows & Anderson by presenting them in a more serious manner. They got a ton of heat for jumping and beating the crap out of Enzo & Cass last week. For whatever reason I can’t quite comprehend, Enzo Amore and Big Cass are hugely over with the fans. So, did they really need to get back at Gallows & Anderson one week later? WWE killed whatever momentum they had given to them when they had Cass beat Karl Anderson in about 2 minutes this week. You need to build the heel team up and the face team is over and can take a few weeks of being down. It makes no sense.
NOW COMPARE MY HITS & MISSES TO JASON POWELL’S ORIGINAL HITLIST ARTICLE ON THIS WEEK’S RAW: Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: The return of Goldberg, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Seth Rollins, Rusev and Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman vs. The Mile High Trio
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. Act now and become my 68th Twitter follower @JonMezzera (pretty clever handle right?). Just be aware that I don’t live tweet Raw, I don’t tweet much about wrestling, and I don’t tweet much at all.