KELLER & MARTIN FLAGSHIP (11/28)
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Revival Wins Again: WWE is so set in their 50-50 booking that I was afraid that they would job The Revival out in week 2 to The New Day. It makes sense to have The Revival get another strong win. It seemed that this was a send off to New Day on Raw which we would find out that it was, so this worked well. The match was solid. I wish New Day had acted more upset over the fact that The Revival had injured Kofi Kingston’s leg last week. I mean, they take out one of your partners and your response is to make jokes with a blow up doll? New Day is so bad right now. I hope a switch to Smackdown will help give them a fresh start and maybe some edge. Maybe they will actually seem to want to be wrestlers and win matches now.
Perkins Heel Turn: I have written a few times lately about the need for TJ Perkins to turn heel. I have never been a big fan of his character. Anyone who dabs is automatically a heel in my book. He is fun to watch in the ring, but character wise he doesn’t connect well with the crowd. A heel turn was the right way to go. His match against Austin Aries was pretty good. I didn’t really like the way the ending went down with the distraction from Neville. It was a bit clumsily executed. But the attack by Perkins afterwards worked very well. It sets up a feud between them down the line after they rebuild Perkins more and get him some momentum and they get away from Neville vs. Aries.
Seth Rollins: This was a strong babyface promo from Seth Rollins. It was possibly the best promo he’s given as a babyface in that he actually came across as a babyface. It was the promo he should have cut last week, the night after his big win over Triple H at WrestleMania. I liked what he had to say about wanting to stay on Raw despite having to work for Stephanie McMahon. The Kurt Angle appearance worked well to underscore the fact that Rollins was indeed going to stay on Raw. I’m not sure it is the right move, but once that decision was made, this was a good way to present it to the fans. The attack from Samoa Joe from behind afterwards was well done and gave some advancement to their feud. I liked that Angle was in the ring actually breaking them up. I don’t want to see Angle wrestle ever again, but he certainly can get a little physical like this from time to time.
Strowman Kills Reigns: This was one of the best things I’ve seen in WWE in a long time and one of the worst. I am giving it a Hit even though I didn’t like it all. I was disappointed but not surprised at first, because this was clearly not a heel turn for Roman Reigns. He was not presenting himself in the sit down interview as a heel. The initial attack by Brawn Strowman was great. It was physical and intense and very memorable. It was believable. It looked like he destroyed Reigns. Of course, that was a scripted heel getting huge cheers and Thank You! chants for attacking a scripted babyface from behind and beating the crap out of him. This shows that the fans have utterly rejected Reigns as a face. I also loved when Strowman came back and attacked Reigns on the stretcher and threw him off the loading dock. I popped huge for that. That is why I called this one of the best things I’ve seen in WWE in a long time. Once they came back to it, it was not done very well because you could tell that the real Reigns on the stretcher was a few feet away from where the fake Reigns on the stretcher landed. That is just lazy. They could have easily matched up the location from one shot to the other. I did pop again when Strowman showed up when Reigns was in the ambulance. It was great when he yelled “I’m not done with you yet!” But, then I hated when he tipped over the ambulance. That was one of the worst moments in WWE in a long time. To me it was a credibility killer. I’m sorry, but I am not buying that he could physically do that. It took me totally out of the moment. I was expecting him to either hijack the ambulance or crash a car into the side of it. Either one of those would have been more believable. That almost ruined this segment for me.
Alexa Bliss: Alexa Bliss coming from Smackdown saved an otherwise Miss-worthy segment. I mean, it is amazing to me that Bayley is starting to get booed. That should not have happened. Even the most jaded adult male fans who you would think would have always booed a character like Bayley were always big fans of her. But, her character has been so botched this year, that she is now starting to get booed which is sad. Her little bit of a conversation with Sasha Banks was nauseating just like Bliss said it was. Bliss has a great presence about her. It was great that she put the fans in their place to cement herself as a heel in front of an audience that was cheering for her. She knows her role and she plays it to perfection. I wasn’t as excited about Mickie James’ interruption, but it was ok. Then she got jumped by Nia Jax who also destroyed Bayley and Banks too. I’m hopeful that now that we are past WrestleMania that WWE settles on a few 1-on-1 match ups with the women on Raw (and Smackdown too for that matter).
Ambrose vs. Owens: This match didn’t mean anything. It was thrown out there with very little hype. It was the main event of a big show, but it didn’t feel like a big deal. It was clearly a send off for Kevin Owens who was obviously going to go to Smackdown after this. This was a one night only type match to take advantage of this show’s format. I am giving it a minor Hit for the fact that Owens and Dean Ambrose put in a good effort and had a good match.
Opening Segment: While this segment featuring new Raw Superstars The Miz and Maryse along with Dean Ambrose was entertaining, it was a segment that could have just as easily happened on Smackdown last week. You don’t start the Superstar Shakeup episode of Raw with a segment featuring all former Smackdown wrestlers who have recently feuded over the Intercontinental Championship. Ambrose won the IC Title from Miz earlier this year. This isn’t a fresh match up. It is an old match up on a new night. That doesn’t count as a Shakeup. Yes, Miz and Maryse are funny doing their John Cena and Nikki Bella bit. Yes, it was amusing how Ambrose acted like they really were Cena and Nikki. Under other circumstances, this would have been a Hit. But, I don’t understand how WWE could think this was a good way to start off this show. It was a bad message about the Superstar Shakeup right at the start.
Annoying Sami Zayn: I am not enjoying the character that Sami Zayn has been playing lately as the annoying overbearing man who is not self aware at all as to how annoying and overbearing he is. That is a terrible character for him to play. When Kurt Angle thinks you are annoying, that’s bad. I hope in retrospect with the move to Smackdown, he drops this character.
Curt Hawkins: When WWE used to do that terrible Draft Lottery, it never made sense to me that if the draft was random as they claimed, then why did only bigger stars end up getting picked? A guy like Kurt Hawkins was just as likely to get picked by the random computer as a big star like John Cena, yet his type of wrester never got randomly picked. But, now they aren’t random. Everyone who switches sides should be someone that a General Manager would want to get in a trade. Why would Angle want Hawkins in a trade? He was the third wrestler shown in the Shakeup and it was not a great way to get fans excited for it. And then he is just out there to get KO’d by The Big Show. Boring.
Charlotte vs. Jax: This was a heel vs. heel match which does not work very well. Who were we supposed to root for here? I’m not going to root for Charlotte or Nia Jax. There was also that very sloppy move early on. That is just one bad move in the match, but over all, it wasn’t a great match otherwise. The moonsaults from Charlotte are cool and impressive looking. But, should a heel be doing those types of moves that get big babyface pops from the crowd? Also, she is a very good wrestler. She doesn’t need to do those moves.
Superstar Shakeup Night 1: I wrote a long Miss last week for the announcement of this Superstar Shakeup. I feel vindicated in my viewpoint. This is just for what happened on Raw without looking at what happened on Smackdown the next night. And I’m mostly looking at this in a kayfabe type of way. What exactly was the format of this shakeup? It was some type of deals or trades made between the authority figures of Raw and Smackdown, but it wasn’t clear how they were doing it. A bunch of wrestlers were sent to Raw from Smackdown and we were told that many were sent from Raw to Smackdown. The issue is that we were told by Kurt Angle that he was still negotiating with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon on some trades during the show when he was talking to Sami Zayn. So did they send a bunch of wrestlers to Raw without knowing who was going to come back in the trades? That makes no sense. But, that’s how it seemed. Raw wrestlers who were traded to Smackdown were on Raw as if they hadn’t been traded, so how did Smackdown know they were getting something in return for their wrestlers? Also, the graphic that was used last week to hype this week’s show made it look like Bryan and Shane would be on. I guess they didn’t announce that they would be on, but that was strongly hinted at, so it was borderline false advertisement. I would have liked to see them on to make the format of the Shakeup a little clearer.
As far as specifics go, why would Bryan and Shane send their top draft pick from the brand split last year and the current IC Champion to Raw? Why would they want a heel Kevin Owens instead of Dean Ambrose? We didn’t know that was going to happen during the show, but it was pretty obvious to trade the IC Champ for the US Champ. It does make sense for them to want to get rid of Miz. Unfortunately, Miz has been on the rise on Smackdown and I’m not sure he’ll continue to rise on Raw. I already talked about the lack of excitement over Hawkins. I don’t understand why Bryan and Shane would send the #1 contender for the WWE Title to Raw. If Bray Wyatt wins the Title at Payback, then Smackdown will lose their top Championship. That makes no sense. They looked stupid for this move. Why would they allow their Champion to defend his Title at a Raw PPV? None of this makes sense to me. I am not that interested in a Wyatt vs. Finn Balor possibility. There wasn’t much about the new wrestlers coming to Raw that got me excited about new match ups. I still highly question having this Shakeup at all, especially right after WrestleMania when as I said last week you already have new blood being injected onto both shows with NXT call ups and returns like the Hardys and Balor.
CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN HERE: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 4/3: Roman vs. The Universe, Hardys defense, Revival’s debut, Lesnar & Heyman, Vince McMahon, more
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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.