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Heyman and Lesnar: This wasn’t great, but it was good. Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar started off Raw. Goldberg has dominated Lesnar, first at Survivor Series and second at The Royal Rumble. Throw in the fact that he defeated Lesnar at WrestleMania 20 all those years ago, and there isn’t much reason to think that Lesnar has a chance against him at WM this year. So you have to do something to make the fans think he has that chance and having him hit Goldberg with an F5 last week was a good first step. This strong promo accentuating what happened last week was a good second step. The “Down Goes Goldberg” mantra worked well. It makes the fans start to think about what would happen if he is able to hit the F5 in the match itself. It was also not overly long which these opening talking segments often are.
Perkins & Tozawa vs. Kendrick & Nese: This was a fun match. This was the best reaction from the fans that TJ Perkins has received in a long time. He, Akira Tozawa, The Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese worked hard and put on a good match. It was a preview for the five way match on 205 Live to determine the #1 contender for Neville’s Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania. Most people are going to suspect that Austin Aries is going to win that match. And nobody is going to suspect that a heel like Nese is going to face the heel Champ. For that reason, I would have had one of the babyfaces go over to make the fans think someone other than Aires has a chance to win that match. They also seemed to hint at possible tension between Perkins and Tozawa, so we will see if that goes anywhere.
Owens Promo: Kevin Owens has done good work on the mic since turning on Chris Jericho last month. This was another example of a strong promo from Owens talking about how Jericho was never really his best friend and that Jericho was using him as much as he was using Jericho. This made the fans want to see Jericho get revenge on Owens even more than they did before. It also built anticipation for the tag match that was to follow which was too short to amount to much.
Reigns and Michaels: It was a legit nice surprise to see Shawn Michaels come out to talk to Roman Reigns about this upcoming match against The Undertaker at WM. The only reason I am looking forward to that match is the slight hope that it was cement Reigns as a heel and that WWE won’t go back to him being a babyface afterwards. This segment certainly made Reigns feel like a heel. I like seeing Michaels in a more serious role than when he often returns and does too much goofy stuff. He was trying to get Reigns to listen to his advice about not allowing Undertaker to get into his head. Reigns’ line about Undertaker retiring Michaels but he will retire Undertaker was a great heel line to end the segment. Strowman’s attack afterwards worked well and that bump on the ramp was very memorable.
Jericho and Tom Phillips: I have mixed feelings about this, because part of me wants to see Jericho be more serious after the turn by Owens. It is more important for Owens to be serious than Jericho and he has been. Because of that, I am more forgiving of Jericho continuing with his goofy comedy like he did here. And, it was funny. I loved how he refused to believe that the interviewer wasn’t really Tom Phillips. And of course, when you insult Jericho’s intelligence like that, you know what happens… You just made the list!
Who Will Foley Fire?: The theme of Raw was who will Mick Foley fire? This was set up in the opening segment after the in ring promo from Heyman. Stephanie McMahon informed Foley that he had to fire someone by the end of the show to learn a lesson about management or something. In fact, she had to tell him twice in that scene that he had until the end of the show since she said it once and then he later asked her. I don’t think that was scripted. I appreciate a theme like this for Raw that connects the show together. However, I don’t like the idea that the theme would be about the authority figures. We got too much of Foley and Stephanie this week. I got my hopes up that Foley would fire Enzo, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen, so no matter who he would fire, it was going to be a disappointment. I just didn’t care about it. I knew for a fact that nobody was going to actually get fired in the end, so it was a meaningless question.
Dana Brooke Turn: I question the timing of this turn from Dana Brooke snapping on Charlotte. The execution was well done and got a good response from the live crowd. So, I will call this a minor Miss. It seems to muddy the waters too much too close to WrestleMania when you already have a triple threat Women’s Championship match and a fourth woman in Nia Jax who wants to be part of that match. Now you have Brooke in the mix too as possibly wanting a match against Charlotte. Also, there have been times in the past when it looked like Brooke would turn on Charlotte and they didn’t go that route. Here it felt too random. Brooke hasn’t been as big a part of Charlotte’s act in the last few months as she was in the previous few months. There was no build up to this moment. It could have been saved for after WM after a better build when it would have made more of an impact.
Disqualifications: Three out of the eight matches on Raw ended in a disqualification. Give me a break. Twice, the heel or heels in the match got themselves purposefully DQ’d by continuing to beat on the babyface while disregarding the order from the referee to stop. It happened the first time with Owens and Samoa Joe beating down Sami Zayn. That worked well in the moment as did the beat down that continued on Zayn and Jericho after the match. It would have worked a lot better if there weren’t two more DQ endings as the show proceeded. You had Gallows & Anderson attacking both Ezno & Cass and Cesaro & Sheamus to create a double DQ (or a no contest or whatever they called it). That was predictable and lame and is leading to a predictable and lame triple threat tag match at WM. Later, we got Jax getting herself DQ’d for continuing to beat on Bayley when she was hanging in the corner. WWE’s treatment of Bayley as a weak Champion also continues to be Miss worthy.
New Day: I’m just over them. That’s all.
Enzo & Cass: I’d say I was over them too, but I was never into them in the first place (unlike The New Day). Now they are starting to go the shameless merchandise plug route that has been a major problem with New Day recently. So that is just one more obnoxious aspect to an act that was already the most obnoxious and annoying act in WWE history.
Closing Segment: I’m guessing that I’m in the minority on this big segment on Raw. But, I did not like the closing segment. Everyone did play their parts well. The fans did finally give a big pop for Seth Rollins and chanted his hame. He was more over as a babyface than he has been in his entire face run. These are all Hit worthy aspects to the segment, so I understand why people like it. However, this felt like a movie where the actors gave great performances but the screenplay is weak. This was the case of good performances in a bad segment.
It was too long. It had too much talking from Stephanie and Foley who had already been in several backstage segments on the show. This is far too much involvement from the authority figures. It is too much time devoted to two people who never wrestle and one who wrestles once a year. Foley should have fired Samoa Joe. He hates what Joe has become and it would piss off Stephanie and Triple H. It could have led to Joe coming out to beat him up and set up Finn Balor to make the save to set up a match at WM (since Stephanie could rehire him). Maybe we won’t get that match, but shouldn’t Joe be in some match at WM? It would have been a better plan for Foley than trying to fire Stephanie whom he knows he can’t actually fire. Of course, the point was to reintroduce Rollins, but that could have been saved for next week in other circumstances.
I understand using Foley to generate heat on Triple H to transfer Foley’s babyface pop onto Rollins. But, Rollins should have stood tall to end the show. WWE finally got that great face reaction for Rollins. Why not end it with Triple H running away? He keeps calling Rollins a loser and by having him stand tall in the end, the heel was proven correct. Rollins is a loser. A few weeks ago, it was lame when we were left with the idea that Rollins may be at WM to call Triple H out for a fight (he promised to show up, but a moment later Michael Cole said that he would only be there if he was medically cleared). Having him drop the crutch was cool. Having him get the better of Triple H needed to happen. But why does Triple H get to be the only heel in WWE to get back in the ring in that circumstance? It was a long way to go to get that moment for Rollins. But, at least you had that moment. Once Triple H returned and attacked his knee with the crutch, it turned into a long way to go to end up exactly where you were before it started. If Rollins stood tall, you could announce that match. But with his knee being re-injured, it makes it feel like him being cleared is up in the air again. You could say that this gives Rollins a reason for revenge on Triple H, but he had enough reason for revenge already.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 3/5: Triple H claims he didn’t give himself his nicknames, Goldberg-Lesnar, Aries, Strowman-Undertaker-Reigns
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.