SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Last week was very hectic and busy for me, thus I was late in watching Raw and Smackdown. And I was dismayed by how awful each of them was in the same exact ways. This build to Survivor Series has been terrible for the most part, with the PPV itself having a stupid concept.
October also marked my 10th Anniversary of doing Hits & Misses for PWTorch, which is crazy! But as I watched both Raw and Smackdown, it struck me as impossible to review them. After ten years, how many times can I complain about Raw being three hours? About the ineffectiveness of heel authority figures? About authority figures in general taking up too much time and taking away from the actual wrestlers? About the McMahon family, particularly Stephanie, sucking the life out of the shows that they are on? About a meaningless brand split? About 50-50 booking? About how horribly they use their secondary titles? About undeserving wrestlers getting pushed at the expense of deserving ones? About their lack of ability to successfully introduce new acts? About terrible announcers? About top babyfaces being rejected by the fans? And others being constantly miscast? After ten years, I don’t know what to say anymore. But, this week’s Raw was better. And I am going to try to do my job to cover Raw by presenting my Hits & Misses:
Owens & Reigns vs. Cesaro & Sheamus: This was a pretty good 13 minute tag match to start the in ring portion of the show. There was good wrestling action and they all played their parts well with Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns showing signs of not being able to work together, but ultimately coming together in the end to win the match. The problem is that is the theme for all three of the Raw vs. Smackdown elimination tag matches at Survivor Series. How many times can we see angry blind tags and similar shenanigans on one show? There were too many to count in multiple matches on this Raw and this match was just the beginning of it.
New Day vs. Jericho & Rollins & Strowman: This was another pretty good tag match, this one going 14 minutes. It was similar in quality to the previous one, and also had the same issues with one team not getting along well. Again, you had more angry blind tags. On the positive side of things, the wrestling action was all well executed. WWE is trying to build up Brawn Strowman as an unstoppable monster and while I may not agree with that strategy, this match was a good step. This helped make Strowman look unstoppable at when he dominated all three members of New Day at the end of the match.
Goldberg – Lesnar: This was definitely the highlight of Raw to me. With the exception of that terrible week in Minnesota when the fans rejected the notion that they were going to cheer for Goldberg over Brock Lesnar, the build up for Goldberg vs. Lesnar has been very good. It started off well with Goldberg’s appearance on SportsCenter. It continued well the next week on Raw with Paul Heyman’s challenge. The following week was great with Goldberg’s first appearance back on Raw. Then came the off the rails week. Then came the good segment with Goldberg, Heyman and the surprise of Rusev. Last week two of the few good parts of a terrible terrible Raw where the videos about this match. I loved when Lesnar said that his advice to Goldberg’s wife and son was to not watch Survivor Series. What a great line. And it all culminated with this great segment with Goldberg and Lesnar finally sharing a ring together. The crowd was super hot for this segment, and they responded the way WWE wanted them to. That is a big part of why this was a success. The mic work from both Heyman and Goldberg was good. Goldberg was super intense. Everything seemed natural to me. And the physicality at the end was kept to just the security guards getting beat up. They didn’t have Lesnar and Goldberg touch each other which was the way to go. I still don’t think this will be a good match and I’m not sure that the Toronto fans will end up reacting the same way that the fans in Buffalo did.
Closing Segment: I wasn’t a fan of the talking that started off this segment between Mick Foley, Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, and Daniel Bryan. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All of that sniping back and forth made me want to turn the show off early. I could give that half of the segment at Miss. I did like the ending of the show with the face off between teams Raw and Smackdown. It did have some problems which are rooted in the main problem with these Survivor Series matches which is wrestlers putting their heated rivalries aside to work together for some type of non-existent brand loyalty. I have issues with Dean Ambrose standing next to AJ Styles, or with Rollins standing next to Owens. However, I did enjoy the mic work here at the end. Styles was good. Owens was good. Jericho was hilarious. I liked that they had Bray Wyatt acknowledge his past with Strowman. And I appreciated the fact that Ambrose started to talk, but then fought instead. The fight that ensued was fun to watch. Smackdown got in a good shot in terms of being able to ultimately knock Strowman out of the match. But, Raw was able to finish on top which makes some sense as Smackdown was the invading group here. I still don’t care about the match at the PPV, but at least this was fun to watch.
Opening Segment: This better Raw did not get off to a good start. I am sick and tired of these types of segments with Stephanie McMahon dressing down the locker room, or in this case, a portion of the locker room. I know she was mostly positive here and acting more like a babyface, but she still had to end the whole thing with a threat to the various Raw wrestlers who will be representing the brand at Survivor Series. And if you are trying to get the wrestlers on the same page as they said, why book matches where teammates would still be facing each other like the women’s tag match or the 8 man tag? It doesn’t make sense to me. Mick Foley seemed to mess up at one point, jumping the gun on announcing one of the matches. It is good that they announced several matches for the rest of the show, but I wasn’t excited about any of them.
Scarves: This felt overly scripted to me. I did chuckle a few times during this skit with Jericho trying to make amends to Rollins and Strowman by giving them scarves. However, Rollins seemed to be acting out of character to me. His line about Jericho stealing clothes from Lady Gaga was terrible. It didn’t work for me, despite a few funny moments.
Banks & Charlotte vs. Fox & Jax: This was the third tag team match on this show featuring members of one of the Survivor Series tag matches. And while I liked the first two, I did not like the third. I was very tired of the angry tags at this point. Alicia Fox and Nia Jax aren’t very good in the ring, so the quality of the action wasn’t as good either. And the idea that Charlotte and Sasha Banks were ultimately able to work together reluctantly to win didn’t work, because they were beating their own teammates. So yes they worked together in the end to win, but Fox and Jax didn’t. And Bayley was not good on guest commentary. I appreciated that she backed Charlotte as their team captain, but she should have stopped at praising her success on PPV. I didn’t like what she had to say about them working together in the past at NXT. And I didn’t like how she said it was important to prove that they were a better women’s division than Smackdown. They shouldn’t want to prove that they have the best division. They should want to prove that they are the best within that division. That’s how wrestling is supposed to work.
Enzo & Cass / Gallows & Anderson vs. Golden Truth / Shinning Stars: Here we got the fourth tag match with some members of Survivor Series teams. I don’t get the point. In order to build team unity between Enzo & Cass and Gallows & Anderson, they had to fight their other teammates in The Shinning Stars? That doesn’t make sense. And if you are trying to win a match, why wouldn’t Golden Truth attack Enzo & Cass right before the commercial break? They were opponents in this match and aren’t going to be teammates on Sunday, so fight each other! Instead, Golden Truth attacked their own partners later in the match. It was a mess. And again, you got silly tags and teams one upping each other for the fourth time on the show.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS HITS & MISSES COLUMN: SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 11/1: Ellsworth, Miz TV with Daniel Bryan, Styles vs. Ambrose main event, Orton-Wyatt Family, Tag Match Qualifiers
OR CHECK OUT JASON POWELL’S HITLIST ON THIS SAME SHOW: Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: The final push for Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar, Team Smackdown shows up and fights Team Raw, Charlotte and Sasha Banks bicker, tag team trade proposal
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. 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.
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