SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Owens vs. Rollins: This was a good match, but didn’t feel important. We’ve seen these two wrestle enough, so it doesn’t mean much. There has been so much interference in matches lately, that building a match around who could or could not interfere in a match later in the show, didn’t get me excited about it. Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins work well together. They did put on a good match, but the ending wasn’t great with Owens getting himself disqualified for using the ring bell as a weapon. So, I will call this a marginal Hit.
Cesaro vs. Anderson: I advocated a few years ago for WWE to do away with non-title matches. Champions should only wrestle when they defend their title. Challengers should be built up by beating other wrestlers and earning a shot at the Title, sometimes after winning a #1 contender match. That keeps both Champion and challenger strong. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows have had a few wins lately, but not enough to feel like legit contenders for the Tag Team Championship. But for some reason, Anderson got a singles match against Cesaro. With the win, I’m sure they will get a title shot in the near future. But, they haven’t been built up enough, and their wins are going to come at the expense of Cesaro and Sheamus like this, making the Champions look weak. All that being said, Cesaro and Anderson put on a really good match. They are talented workers and while Cesaro has had many chances to show off those skills, Anderson hasn’t. So it was good to see him in a long singles match. So, I liked the match and the effort put in by Cesaro and Anderson despite reservations about having the match at all.
The Kevin Owens Show: While the closing segment got messy as it proceeded, it was still good. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho were better here with Owens hosting his own talk show for the first time than they were in the opening segment. I liked the bit where they teased Goldberg as the guest, only to have it be Jericho himself. I guess the winner of The Royal Rumble has to face his own brand’s Champion? I assumed Jericho was going to say he would win the Rumble and take on the WWE Champion from Smackdown, but that wasn’t the case. So will the winner not get to challenge either Champ? The timing of Goldberg’s interruption was good as it didn’t allow for too much bickering between Jericho and Owens. Goldberg was ok. He yells too much, but he is on in small doses so it doesn’t bother me that much. Owens got in a strong response which was good. Paul Heyman’s interruption was a nice surprise to remind people of Brock Lesnar’s involvement. Reigns standing face-to-face with Goldberg should have gotten a huge pop and should have felt like a huge moment. But, WWE has failed with Reigns so it wasn’t. By the time Braun Strowman’s music hit, I was tired of the segment. The double spear at the end was fun, but still wasn’t as big a moment as it could have been.
Opening Segment: The opening segment of Raw was pretty bad. Mick Foley made a joke about forgetting what city they were in a few weeks ago, but here he forgot who was actually in the match when he said Owens should be banned from ringside for a match that Owens was in. That was on Foley. But he also answered the complaints of Owens and Jericho about him abusing his power by giving Owens his own talk show. How did that answer their complaints? They complained about specific moments like Rollins attacking Jericho in the parking lot and not being disciplined, and Foley’s answer was to give Owens a talk show? That made no sense. JeriKO had some good lines, but they weren’t as good as they usually are. Stephanie McMahon comes out and isn’t better whining about the ratings. Who cares?
Strowman vs. Zayn: I’m not a fan of the Last Man Standing gimmick. A 10 count is not nearly as exciting as a three count. Plus, the wrestling action grinds to a halt several times during the match to wait for the 10 count. That is boring. Those are problems with all of these matches. This one also suffered from the fact that it is a reminder that WWE sees Braun Strowman as someone to push instead of Sami Zayn. And I disagree with that approach. Yes, Zayn got in a good amount of offense, but only with weapons. It underscored the fact that he can’t do anything offensive to Strowman without a weapon. He hits him with weapons and moves out of the way when Strowman charges at him. That’s all he can do. And that isn’t even enough for Strowman who easily won this match without having to use weapons. This was a case of a Last Man Standing match with the sole purpose of making Strowman look strong, and I’m not interested in him as a character or performer at all. So this match didn’t work for me.
Jericho vs. Reigns: This was a bad match. Jericho is capable of elevating Reigns to a good match. He didn’t do it here. The leaping Drive By attempt which Jericho avoided to put Reigns into the ring post was forced. Reigns never goes for that move in that situation in that position. The near count out wasn’t good. It came after a Last Man Standing match, so the close 10 count had already been done to death on this show. Having the stipulation that Reigns would lose the United States Title if he got counted out didn’t help. And Reigns took my least favorite part of John Cena’s in ring performances in his over selling for a nine count and then miraculously healing himself to suddenly jump to his feet and dive into the ring. It is not realistic at all. Plus, I swear the referee had to pause to slow his count because of how long Reigns took to milk the moment. Later on, Jericho aimed for Reigns’s legs on the Lionsault so even if Reigns hadn’t lifted his knee, it wouldn’t have hurt hat match. That has been a problem in probably 33 percent of Jericho’s matches over the years. His aim on that move for someone as good as he is has been poor. They also botched the Superman Punch. Jericho jumped off the top rope, without positioning his body in a way as to suggest he was actually attempting a move. Then Reigns jumped too late, so instead of knocking Jericho out of the air, Jericho landed on his feet three feet away and then got Superman Punched. Both were to blame. The Eddie Guerrero inspired spot at the end was okay, but was another example of cute booking which WWE is doing too much.
Rusev and Mahal: Rusev is too good to be dragged down by a guy like Jindar Mahal who has nothing to offer. Their feud against Enzo & Cass has been terrible from the start. The announcers sounded stupid for talking about how Rusev needed Mahal because he forgot about Big Cass after beating up Enzo Amore, while ignoring the fact that it was Enzo who deserved to get beat up. What a mess.
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.