SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Balor vs. Sampson: This was a good match. WWE has been building to this match for a few weeks and it makes some sense for it to pay off on Raw instead of a PPV as it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. It was a mini feud that allowed Elias Sampson a chance to work with a bigger star right away without having him get the better of Finn Balor who needed this win to hopefully move on to something bigger and better. Sampson is doing good work and deserves to also move on to something else. I just hope he doesn’t attack Balor in the back next week to keep this going after what was a clear strong victory for Balor here.
Hardys: Matt and Jeff cut good promos following up on their loss in the Iron Man match the night before to Sheamus & Cesaro. They certainly hinted at the Broken universe. They had a short, but solid match against Gallows & Anderson. They were beat up and in no way 100% after the PPV match, so they had an out for losing to Gallows & Anderson. Gallows & Anderson got a much needed victory. It seemed like it was a set up to a feud between the two teams which would have been fine, but instead, it shifted into a presumed feud with The Revival when they came out to pick the bones of the Hardys. That is a feud that has a lot of potential to elevate The Revival with some great matches.
Bayley & Banks vs. Bliss & Jax: This was a pretty good 9 minute tag match. I’m guessing WWE is setting up a fatal four way for the Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam with these four. Sasha Banks has a claim to being #1 contender after beating Alexa Bliss via count out at the PPV. Now, Bayley has a claim to it as well after pinning the Champion in a tag match. It won’t take much to get Nia Jax in the mix also.
Angle, Lesnar, Heyman, Reigns, Joe: This was an outstanding segment with good to great mic work from everyone involved. Samoa Joe was the star to me. He was great. I loved how he made Brock Lesnar nervous. I also liked how he pointed out that Paul Heyman is afraid of him and protecting Lesnar from him. It was great that Lesnar actually took the mic from Paul Heyman and got in a good amount of his own talking. The swear word from him worked in the moment, but shouldn’t be something WWE goes to very often. I mean, probably not again this year. Roman Reigns still comes across like a dick, but he does it well. My only issue is that Kurt Angle needed to have a stronger response to what Reigns did to Braun Strowman the night before. Their exchange at first when Reigns talked about the Attitude Era was lame. They should not have gone to that angle if this is what they had planned for the aftermath. I’m not sure that two losers at the PPV really deserve to be in a #1 contender match next week. However, this was so strong otherwise and did such a good job of building anticipation for Reigns vs. Joe, that I can overlook that and look forward to that big match next week.
Wyatt vs. Rollins: This was a better match than they had at the PPV the night before. That match was fine, but I hate the thumb to the eye ending more than just about any other ending. As I have said multiple times, until you start to see wrestlers getting disqualified for going to his opponent’s eyes, then the illegal behind the back of the referee thumb to the eye or raking of the eyes just doesn’t feel like a dastardly way for a heel to cheat. But, that was Sunday night. On Monday night, they played into an existing eye injury very well. Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins have good chemistry in the ring together which was on display here in the main event. I was expecting the Miz-tourage to get involved, so I was pleased that they didn’t get involved until after the match. With this being the apparent end of the feud, it makes sense to give Wyatt a clean victory where he took advantage of the injury in a vicious way. Now, Wyatt finally gets a win in a feud while Rollins had an out and can move on to a new feud himself (although one, that I’m not looking forward to – more later).
Cass Starts the Show: The Raw after a good PPV with some big developments needed a bigger way to start the show than Big Cass coming out to talk about beating up Enzo Amore the night before. You had Brock Lesnar’s first Universal Title defense. You had Roman Reigns attempting to kill Braun Strowman. You had other Title defenses as well. I was expecting a big start to the show and was disappointed. This would have been a fine (not Hit worthy, but not a Miss either) if it happened later in the show. It wasn’t good. Cass was yelling far too much by the end of the segment, but his performance was fine otherwise. His lines at the end were overly scripted to telegraph that The Big Show was going to come out. But, that did make sense. And the physicality at the end worked well. So as I said, it was fine. But, this opening segment needed to be more important.
Miz TV: The Mizzy Awards were lame. It wasn’t entertaining. The Miz and Maryse are back to being totally on the same page and supportive of each other without any explanation as to how they got past their marital issues that they’ve been having the past several weeks. It was unfortunately a continuation of the never ending feud between Miz and Dean Ambrose. Adding Seth Rollins into the mix didn’t get me excited. Ambrose & Rollins vs. The Miz-tourage doesn’t get me excited. It wasn’t good.
Angle Mystery: I know that a lot of people are excited about this. A lot of people are speculating as to what Kurt Angle’s mystery personal problem is going to be. Is he having an affair? Is the mystery woman Dixie Carter? Is one of the wrestlers on the roster his secret son? I get why people like these types of mysteries, but this one doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t care about storylines revolving around the authority figures. I don’t care about power plays. I don’t care about their personal problems. I don’t care about a secret love child or an extramarital affair. Angle isn’t a good enough actor for this. Corey Graves’ involvement is just odd to me. Unless it is leading to a big PPV match, then I don’t care.
Alexander & Tozawa vs. Dar & Neville: The whole point of the Cruiserweight Title match during the PPV pre-show was that Neville cheated to win by giving Akira Tozawa a low blow in a way by kicking the ropes while Tozawa was straddling them. Tozawa was so upset over that dirty tactic that he wanted a rematch and demanded that Titus O’Neil work to get him one. So, here he does the same thing to Neville to win this tag match and it was supposed to be some type of vindication. But, he wasn’t disqualified for doing it right in front of the referee’s face. So, it isn’t an illegal move. So, Neville didn’t cheat to win. It may not have been nice, but if it was in the rules, then Tozawa comes across as a whiner. So, I didn’t like this match because it reinforced that what Neville did to retain the Cruiserweight Title wasn’t against the rules, which went against the story that they seemed to be telling on Sunday night.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 7/3: Enzo’s promo, Joe-Lesnar, Balor vs. Cesaro, Strowman vs. Crews, Miz TV, Seth vs. Bray
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.