SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Tozawa vs. Gulak: I wish this match would have been longer to show off more of Akira Tozawa’s skills. Plus, Drew Gulak is good in the ring. It makes sense to have Tozawa getting strong quick wins to build him up after he finally debuted last week on 205 Live. However, they should use jobbers for that role, not Gulak. They should have had Tozawa getting some squash wins over jobbers for a few weeks and then face Gulak. At that point, have the match go more like 6-8 minutes instead of 3. But, I did enjoy this match even at only 3 minutes. Tozawa has a chance to be a breakout babyface star. He stood out in the Cruiserweight Classic. The fans responded well to his barking. It is kind of weird, but if the fans enjoy doing it, then it can help him get over. He will have difficulties without speaking English, so anything that helps him connect with the audience beyond his skill in the ring is a bonus.
Jericho, Owens, and Goldberg: This was a long talking segment, but it was enjoyable. I loved when Chris Jericho put Tom Brady on…THE LIST! This gave Kevin Owens a chance to gloat about retaining the Universal Title against Brawn Strowman last week. It also gave more of a tease for a possible Owens vs. Jericho match at WrestleMania. I was genuinely surprised when Goldberg came out at this point to interrupt. He was much better on the mic this week than the last time when he really stumbled through his promo. I wish he had more of a reason to want to face Brock Lesnar again. Instead he accepted Lesnar’s challenge because he always accepts challenges. The face off between Goldberg and Owens worked well. I was not expecting Goldberg to have a match before WM, so again I was genuinely surprised by the challenge for the Universal Title at Fastlane. It was funny when he put himself on The List. Jericho could have milked the moment a little better to make it seem like he was going to face Goldberg, before twisting it to have it be Owens, but it still worked well. This was a very newsworthy segment which was fun to watch.
Hyping Next Week’s Raw: WWE did a better job than usual in hyping next week’s show from Las Vegas. They announced that Charlotte would defend her Women’s Title against Bayley. And Chris Jericho told Kevin Owens that he was throwing a Friendship Festival next week to celebrate their friendship. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but it should be fun. And as I’ve said many times before, it is such an easy thing to do to make the following week’s show feel important and give the fans a hook to tune in. Many episodic tv shows have previews at the end of the episode for next week’s show. You can’t show clips for wrestling, but it is easy to announce some matches and segments like this and WWE should do it more often.
Jericho vs. Zayn: This may seem hypocritical considering how I felt about the Tag Team Title match (more later), but while the outcome of this match was totally predictable, I still enjoyed it. Jericho and Sami Zayn are such talented workers that it isn’t surprising that they put on good matches against each other. I would love to see the match go longer than 10 minutes, but it was a very enjoyable 10 minutes.
Opening Segment: The contract signing for Samoa Joe didn’t do much for me. The focus of the segment was on the tension between the two authority figures Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley instead of on Joe himself. Joe’s character has been defined as Triple H’s lackey. He basically said he has blind loyalty to Triple H. That’s kind of weak. Joe wasn’t great on the mic, yelling his way through his promo. That’s been a problem of his at times throughout his career. It isn’t very effective. I understand why Roman Reigns would come out at that point, but that doesn’t mean it worked well. When the #1 babyface on the brand gets booed by a majority of the fans, you end up with a lot of segments like this where the fans have nobody to cheer for. Sure, Joe is going to get cheers from some fans, but it wasn’t a huge babyface reaction either. They did set up a big main event of Reigns vs. Joe, so that was something.
Bayley vs. Jax: I haven’t enjoyed Bayley and Nia Jax’s matches against each other going back to their days in NXT. Jax just isn’t good in the ring. She is slow and plodding. She always looks stupid because she runs into the post on the outside of the ring in every non-squash match. It is the only way the match is ever booked to give her opponent a chance. Big Show used to have this problem when he would try to do an elbow drop from the middle turnbuckle even though he never successfully hit that move. It was the only way they could come up with for someone his size to be taken off his feet by a smaller opponent. Jax has the same issue. They won’t let Bayley get a strong enough amount of offense against Jax to take her off her feet. So they always have Jax acting stupid by running at her in the corner even though Bayley always moves. Bayley looked stupid here for allowing Charlotte to distract her. She should have insisted that the referee keep counting Jax. Bayley looks bad for losing even though she’s getting a Women’s Title match next week. Jax looks weak for only winning because of help from Charlotte. This match didn’t do anything for either wrestler in it.
Tag Title Match: The Tag Team Title match with Gallows & Anderson defending against Sheamus & Cesaro was ruined as soon as I saw Enzo & Cass at ringside. This is not just because I hate Enzo & Cass. But as soon as you saw them at ringside, you knew how this match was going to end. You knew they would get involved when one of them would be bumped into by either Luke Gallows or Karl Anderson. You knew it would cause a disqualification which would tick off Sheamus & Cesaro. I don’t even know what happened before the ending as I wasn’t paying much attention since I knew nothing mattered until that ending. Now we are going to get a triple threat match which I’m not looking forward to.
Parade of Cruiserweights: I enjoyed Austin Aries’ attempt to continue his journalistic greatness by interviewing Cruiserweight Champion Neville. And I suppose the fact that WWE does these types of wrestler parades with their top stars going after a World or Universal Title is good news for the Cruiserweight division. But, it still does nothing to make any of those in the parade stand out. You got a few quick quips from some of them like Jack Gallagher and Noam Dar. But, TJ Perkins isn’t good enough on the mic to put the exclamation point on the talking portion of the parade. He is also a babyface, but he came across more like a heel here. The fight that followed was fine, but again didn’t do much for any of them. The 6 man tag that followed after the commercial break was also ok, but not good enough to get a Hit. As I said, Aries was great in reacting to the constant interruptions. My favorite line of the night was when Tony Nese came out and Aries said “here comes Tony Nese’s abs.” That was hilarious.
Reigns vs. Joe: I would not have had Samoa Joe on the verge of losing his first match on Raw only to win with the help of Brawn Strowman. The match itself until the end wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. Yes, Joe beat Reigns. But, it was far from a strong victory. Also, right away he was out of the ring to make room for Strowman to beat up Reigns more. So just like the opening segment put the focus on the authority figures over Joe, the main event put the focus on Strowman over Joe. This wasn’t the worst way to go with Joe after his debut last week, but it was not good. Maybe they had something better in mind until Seth Rollins’ injury.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: RAW HITS & MISSES 1/30: Triple H’s return promo, Lesnar & Heyman’s challenge, Jericho vs. Sami, Mick Foley, Strowman-Owens
OR CHECK OUT JASON POWELL’S HITLIST ARTICLES HERE.
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.
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