SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment: I didn’t love the opening segment, but it was good enough to get a Hit. Daniel Bryan got a great reaction from his “home town” fans in Seattle. The Miz was good in his interruption. Everyone loved Bryan’s line that not being able to wrestle never stopped Miz from getting in a WWE ring. Baron Corbin was good in his interruption too. He was better on the mic here than he was on guest commentary for last week’s main event. But, it is odd for him to be focused on making fun of another heel. Dean Ambrose was fine. Poor AJ Styles. He’s doing his best to be a heel and the fans still cheer for him. He has embraced his heel character and has done a good job with it. But, the fans want to cheer for him. This set up the big fatal four way for after the first commercial break, so it worked well even though I am not a huge fan of these parade of wrestlers type segments.
Fatal Four-Way: And that fatal four-way was a good match. It went a good length. It featured plenty of good wrestling action throughout. I liked the bit with one school boy after another school boy, but I wish it would have ended with Corbin coming into the ring and physically squashing everyone at that point to put an end to it. Maryse once again saved Miz from taking a pin advancing her value to him. And Corbin got the win on a distracted Styles.
Nikki and Natalya: I enjoyed this split screen interview with Nikki Bella and Natalya. Natalya is doing a great job with her character right now. I liked when Nikki called her a crazy cat woman. I am not a big fan of bringing reality show plots into actual Raw or Smackdown storylines. However, in this case they are doing a pretty good job with it. Natalya is coming off as very bitter, but at the same time you can kind of see her point. But she won’t get sympathy because of her comments about her own uncle Bret Hart. On a bit of an aside, rumors have John Cena teaming up with Nikki to face Miz & Maryse at WrestleMania. But Nikki is feuding with Natalya who can actually wrestle, unlike Maryse. It makes more sense for her to be in that match I think. Of course, after being in a match of the year candidate WWE Title match at Royal Rumble and then a PPV main event WWE Title Elimination Chamber match, there is no way in Hell that Cena should be in a mixed tag match at WM. That is freakin crazy.
Contract Signings: This was another fun segment with the women wrestlers. We got the double contract signings for Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch and the Smackdown Women’s Title match of Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi. I still say that it makes ZERO sense to have contract signings at all. There was no contract for the opening fatal four way, so why do these matches need contracts? I wish WWE would totally go away from them as they are totally illogical and should not happen at all. Just because there are good ones like this doesn’t matter. This segment could have been presented as an interview. They do interviews like that in the ring all the time. It was a good segment. All four did well on the mic. James was better than last week. Bliss is always good on the mic and has a great understanding of who she is. Lynch also has a nice track record of cutting good babyface promos as she did here. Naomi wasn’t as good as the others, but she was fine. They all got a chance to show off their personalities and it worked well. It is interesting that WWE is doing a PPV with 3 women’s matches.
Harper Promo: This was pretty weak. I’ve felt for a long time that Luke Harper could be a good star on his own if he broke away from The Wyatt Family. I think he has something more in him on the mic than he showed here. But, a big part of the problem was the clunkiness of the scripting of this promo. It wasn’t focused. Some of the phrasing didn’t make much sense. It was just poorly written.
Ziggler, Crews, Kalisto: This whole situation with Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews and Kalisto is such a mess. I am not a fan of any of these three right now even though they all have talent and should be in much better positions on the roster. We keep getting very short matches involving Ziggler and either of these two opponents. Here we had about a minute long match with Crews picking up a roll up victory. And then he was stupid for turning his back on Ziggler who wasn’t hurt after the match. If he had been KOd by a great finishing move, you could excuse Crews, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t understand having the babyfaces getting the 2-on-1 handicap match over the heel. I’m not interested in it.
Tag Team Turmoil: So no team deserves to be the #1 contender to American Alpha’s Tag Team Championship, so they all get a Title match. That is basically what John Bradshaw Layfield said during the 6 team tag match on Smackdown. None of them is good enough to get a Title shot, but they are all getting one. Tag Team Turmoil is a stupid format to begin with as it is too based on luck of the draw. Most of these teams are not good. I’m sure the Turmoil match at Elimination Chamber will have several quick falls which kill credibility of teams that have none to begin with. I don’t understand giving a win to The Ascension in the six team match. With this many losers, American Alpha should have won.
John Cena vs. Randy Orton: I am glad that we are likely to get a WWE Title change at Elimination Chamber just so we don’t get another Cena vs. Orton match at WrestleMania. I wish someone else had won the Rumble. Orton vs. Wyatt is not interesting to me. I don’t think they will go with Styles vs. Orton which would at least be something new and would be a chance for a better match. I guess we’ll find out on Sunday. As for this match, these two just don’t bring out the best in each other. This didn’t feel as epic as they tried to make it feel. It felt like any other match. When I think about the positives of Cena’s in ring career, I can think fondly of some great matches that he was in against opponents like AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Shawn Michaels. I don’t remember any of his many many many matches against Orton at all. I remember that they happened over and over again, but I don’t remember any of them. I didn’t like the ending of this match. Orton tapped out to the STF way too quickly to be believable. Cena knew that the referee was knocked out of the ring and didn’t hear a ring bell signifying the end of the match, so he was stupid for letting Orton go. WWE was doing a decent job of building anticipation for when Harper finally broke Bray Wyatt’s spell over him. But they haven’t been building that notion up for very long. It happened this week, which felt too soon. And just like I have often been critical of WWE for jobbing out Mr. Money in the Bank before the cash in, I have to be critical of having the Rumble winner lose. Orton should not lose at all before WM. I get not wanting to have Cena lose either, so maybe not booking the match in the first place would have been the right move.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE: SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 1/31: Ambrose vs. Styles, Elimination Chamber hype, American Alpha, Cena & harper vs. Wyatt & Orton
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 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.