SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Enzo Opens Show: This is a minor Hit. Enzo Amore has been much better than usual lately getting past his stupid catch phrases, moving beyond being a caricature and just starting to talk like a human being. He was great last week, and was good here. The promo was too long. It was odd how he ended it and then seemed to realize that he hadn’t said everything in the script, so he stopped his music and started talking again. That was awkward. That and the length made what was a good segment, simply a minor Hit. The response from Big Cass was solid and then the attack that came from Enzo was good to bring the segment to a strong conclusion.
Miz vs. Slater: The fans in Phoenix were actually buying into Heath Slater which was good. They were popping for his near falls as he tried to defeat The Miz to become the new Intercontinental Champion. This was a good 12 minute match which teased that we might see a Title change and helped sell the Miz-tourage as a big gain for Miz’s act.
Joe – Lesnar: This was a good final sell for what has been a great overall sell job for the next PPV main event of Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. It was good to hear Lesnar speak more in a live setting, even if he wasn’t in the ring. He and Joe both did a good job here. I liked how Lesnar reminded Joe that he isn’t fighting Paul Heyman, he is fighting Brock Lesnar. They both got in good lines. It was a nice juxtaposition between the heated and angry Joe and the calm, cool and collected Lesnar. It was a bit odd since Joe got the better of Lesnar last week, so you’d think Lesnar would have been more fired up. The tease of physicality at the end worked well. We have seen enough physicality between them already, so it was smart to not have then touch each other here. I am greatly looking forward to this match.
Neville vs. Ali: The crowed seemed more engaged in this match than they often are for a Cruiserweight match. Neville and Mustafa Ali put on a really good 6 minute match. It wasn’t long, but worked for what it was supposed to do. It had good action, gave Ali’s fans a tease of an upset victory with a few very close and believable near falls, and gave Neville the strong clean victory.
Balor vs. Cesaro: This was very good. You knew it wouldn’t end until Sheamus, the Hardys and Elias Sampson got involved, but it was still fun to watch from start to finish. It went 15 minutes and had plenty of great wrestling action. Finn Balor and Cesaro are both very good workers. They worked well together here. Matt Hardy did a nice job on guest commentary. Jeff hardly spoke, but was fine when he did. Their presence added to the enjoyment of the match. The fight at ringside towards the end of the match was very fun, even if it felt too choreographed. I loved when Cesaro hit that running uppercut on Jeff only to turn around right into the dropkick from Balor pushing him into the barrier. That led to the Coup De Gras for the win.
Strowman vs. Crews: The problem of the Titus Brand still remains. Everyone who is involved with Titus O’Neil is taken down a level. I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be a heel or a face. I think a heel, but his wrestlers are faces? So, this wasn’t a great set up. But, Strowman and Apollo Crews actually had a good main event. Strowman got to show off his size and power. Crews got in more offense than a lot of people probably expected him to. He even was able to knock Strowman off his feet. But, the real Hit here is for that sick move when Crews attempted the standing moonsault only to be kicked out of the air by Strowman. That was awesome and Crews took a great bump. Strowman reinforced his heel character by refusing to pin Crews until after three power slams. The fight afterwards with Titus was ok. But, again I don’t care about him. Then came the predictable ending with Roman Reigns surprising Strowman by coming out of the ambulance. Their fight was also ok. The bump at the end with Reigns spearing Strowman off the stage was big, but not nearly as memorable as what happened last week when Strowman threw Reigns into the side of the ambulance.
Banks & Bayley vs. Jax & Bliss: I didn’t like how this match was booked. I guess it was supposed to make me have some sympathy for Bayley for being injured by Nia Jax and having to therefore leave the match. It was supposed to make Sasha Banks look strong for winning what turned into a handicap match. However, I was thinking more about how weak it made Alexa Bliss the Women’s Champion look. Bliss’ later claim that she let Banks win to give her a false sense of security was stupid because if that really was her plan, she just announced her plan to everyone including Banks.
Miz TV: WWE would have been better served to ignore the terrible Miz TV with the Ball family from last week. Instead, they double downed on it with Miz talking about it on this week’s Miz TV. He was saying what most fans agree with about the Balls. So, why should I boo him? Then we went on with talking about Dean Ambrose. I continue to not care about this feud. It has gone on far too long and continues after three months to make a joke out of the Superstar Shakeup when we are just continuing to get an old Smackdown feud on Raw. When are we going to see a new opponent for Miz or Ambrose? And pointing out Ambrose’s legitimate flaws isn’t a good idea. There are reasons that Ambrose hasn’t gotten over as a main event talent in WWE and Miz talked about them, and not in a storyline type way. WWE too often focuses on a wrestler’s flaws instead of their strengths. That’s bad enough behind the scenes. But having it on the broadcast is a bigger deal. The bit with Ambrose and Slater at the end was fine to set up the match, but it was a bad segment otherwise.
Rollins – Wyatt: I have liked some of what WWE has been doing lately with the build up to Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt. This week, it wasn’t nearly as good. Seth Rollins’ promo was solid, but not great. But, Wyatt’s was not good at all. It was back to having more of a rambling feel to it. What these two promos basically boiled down to is that Wyatt says that he is a god, and Rollins says that he isn’t a god. That isn’t an interesting wrestling storyline. And while that has been part of the feud all along, it wasn’t so much in the forefront when they’ve done the better promos in recent weeks.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 6/26: Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Titus Brand, Miz TV with Ball Family, Sasha Banks-Nia Jax, Heyman/Lesnar-Joe
For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell’s views to mine by visiting ProWrestling.net’s “Hitlist” section 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.