SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The New Day: New Day’s rematch for the WWE Tag Team Championship was a good match. I like the dynamic of Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston teaming together. We didn’t see much of that during their record breaking title run. Big E was almost always in the match. There were a few botched spots, but I think they covered fairly well. Otherwise, this was a good match. They all have chemistry together in the ring. They put together a well booked match that was fun to watch with a strong ending. It will be interesting to see where they go with New Day presumably being out of the title picture for awhile.
Neville: I am definitely a fan of moving Neville into the Cruiserweight Division and turning him heel. Those were good moves for Neville and the division itself. His match against TJ Perkins was good. I wish he had gotten a clean win to better establish himself as the King of the Cruiserweights. But, I liked his promo after the match where he called out the fans for making fun of his accent, his face and his lack of charisma. And then he challenged Rich Swann. Later, after Swann got the strong win over Ariya Daivari, I liked how Neville attacked him from behind. That set up a potential back injury for Swann heading into their non-title match on 205 Live the next night.
Smackdown Hype: WWE really went out of their way to hype this week’s Smackdown. They started on last week’s Smackdown looking ahead to this week. On Raw they continued with multiple videos and the announcers talking about it throughout the show. It doesn’t make much sense considering they are supposed to be rivals. Why would Stephanie allow her announcers to hype her hated brother’s show? It makes good business sense, so I am giving it a Hit. But it makes zero storyline sense, so it is a marginal one.
Gallagher Challenged Daivari to a Duel: I love Jack Gallagher. Daivari is playing a solid heel as well. I like the idea of having a losing wrestler interviewed after the fact (winners too). I liked how he blamed the possibility of Gallagher interfering for his loss. Gallagher was funny in challenging him to a duel. I even liked Daivari’s line at the end after getting slapped in the face by the glove, when he simply said “what the hell was that?”
Owens vs. Reigns: This was a good main event. It makes sense to keep the United States Championship on Roman Reigns. Kevin Owens is so great in the ring. He is able to carry Reigns to good matches. Reigns held up his part pretty well, but I don’t like how he does the lazy cover hooking the near leg and not putting any weight on the opposite shoulder. I get the idea of selling being hurt and not being able to do a strong pin, but he goes to that too often, multiple times in this match. And by the time we see their match at The Royal Rumble, we are going to be sick and tired of seeing Owens vs. Reigns. We’ve seen it enough already and undoubtedly we will see more of them wrestle, at least in some tag matches in the upcoming weeks. And we’ve seen too many of these matches ending after distraction from Chris Jericho and / or Seth Rollins. So I had some issues with the main event. However, it was still good enough to get a marginal Hit.
Opening Segment: Stephanie McMahon had a good scripted line on hand to counteract the inevitable “CM Punk” chant. Otherwise, I didn’t like the opening segment. A lukewarm Rollins was the only “popular” person in the ring along with Stephanie and Reigns. This was not a great way to get the Chicago crowd into current WWE superstars instead of Punk. It was too long. It felt too scripted. The two promised matches, Rollins vs. Braun Strowman and Reigns defending the United States Championship against an opponent of Stephanie’s choosing (doesn’t she choose all the opponents?) didn’t get me excited to watch the rest of the show.
Strowman, Jericho, Owens: Strowman is supposed to be this monster. Everyone is afraid of him and WWE is playing that up which is fine. But they are playing it up in this over the top cartoonish way in how backstage hands run away from him. Playing it for comedy isn’t the right move. And then came some lame holiday pun comedy from the usually great Jericho and Owens. Those felt forced. There were some good lines later in the exchange, so it wasn’t all bad. But on the whole, I wasn’t a fan of this backstage encounter.
Dusty Rhodes Bear: I don’t know about anyone else, but I was offended by WWE using the memory of Dusty Rhodes in this way. First of all, I didn’t like Bayley trying to get a cheap babyface reaction by giving Goldust a Bayley Bear dressed up like his father. Look at me, I’m so sweet, I gave him a bear dressed like his dead dad. And then of course they had to get a heel team like Gallows & Anderson to come in and ruin it and get cheap heel heat by destroying the bear. We’re so big and mean we tore up a bear dressed like someone’s dead dad. It is offensive. It is cheap. It doesn’t do anything in the long run to get anyone over. I don’t think they should use Dusty Rhodes’ memory (or any other dead wrestler for that matter) for any storyline. But if they have to, shouldn’t it be saved for something more important?
Bayley vs. Charlotte: First of all, I’m not a fan of any mention of lawyers in a WWE storyline. So I groaned when Charlotte said that her lawyer had contacted Stephanie McMahon and they had worked out a deal where her loss to Bayley the week before had been expunged from the record. Was her shoulder supposed to be up? Or was it a mistake that they are now using? Either way, going the lawyer route is stupid. After the loss this week, shouldn’t Bayley get her lawyer involved and get her loss expunged too? WWE had too many matches between Charlotte and Sasha Banks over the past few months. Now they are doing the same with Bayley. We’ve seen back to back Raws with them facing each other. They will obviously continue to face each other going forward. It is going to get old. The deal with Dana Brooks as guest referee didn’t make much sense. Once she came to, shouldn’t she have disqualified Bayley? The whole thing was a mess. And as I tweeted out after watching the match, the fact that the biggest loser in WWE Byron Saxton loves Bayley so much, makes me like her a lot less.
Sami Zayn: So the babyface wrestler interrupts a match, attacks a foe from behind, and then when the attack doesn’t work, he runs away. Strowman is getting babyface reactions for interrupting matches the fans don’t want to see. Matching him up against a lukewarm Rollins isn’t going to get the fans against him. Now those fans did pop huge for Sami Zayn when his music played and he attacked him. But in the end, it was a heel move all the way. How is that going to channel into Strowman getting heel heat?
CHECK OUT JASON POWELL’S RAW HITLIST: Braun Strowman vs. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens for the U.S. Championship, Stephanie McMahon jabs CM Punk, Sheamus and Cesaro vs. New Day for the Raw Tag Titles
OR CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS RAW HITS & MISSES: New Day, Gallagher, The Rollins Report, Roadblock Hype, Sami Zayn-Braun Strowman
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.