SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment: This is a minor Hit. It was a nice surprise when Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came out and interrupted Kurt Angle as he was touting all the big things planned for this week’s show. It was an odd reason for Angle to be out there in the first place, but it got him in the ring for Lesnar and Heyman to interrupt. Heyman was good in his delivery, but I had mixed feelings about the content of his promo. It was a smart way to play into the rumors about Lesnar fighting again for UFC in the fairly near future. The idea that he might leave WWE after SummerSlam is going to ring true to a lot of fans. That’s a good hook for the PPV. It opens up the possibility that he will lose and gives him an out with Heyman complaining about the fatal four way rules where he can lose the Universal Title without being part of the fall. However, my issue with the promo is that it made Lesnar look too whinny. He is such a badass, I don’t like him complaining about anything. None of the four wrestlers in the match are looking like full fledged babyfaces. Lesnar is sort of a babyface, but came across more as a heel here. Samoa Joe is certainly a heel. Braun Strowman is a heel, but he gets a good babyface reaction from many fans. Roman Reigns is a babyface, but he gets a strong heel reaction from most of the fans. I wish WWE would position Lesnar as the clear fan favorite babyface heading into this match.
Hardys vs. Gallows & Anderson: WWE seems to be setting up a triple threat match for SummerSlam between The Hardys, The Revival and Gallows & Anderson. Perhaps they can make it a #1 contender match. For now, we got a good tag match between the Hardy and Gallows & Anderson with The Revival doing guest commentary. The Hardys needed a win to get momentum back after losing some matches recently, so it was good to see them get the win. However, Gallows & Anderson now have lost two weeks in a row, so they aren’t looking strong either. Maybe WWE should have these teams beating jobbers to all get momentum. The don’t have to face each other every week. The brawl afterwards was well done.
Ambrose – Rollins: WWE smartly is moving away from the Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz feud and onto an Ambrose & Rollins vs. Sheamus & Cesaro one. I was hoping this would be where they headed after last week, so I was glad to see it start this week. They are also telling a compelling story and taking their time with the story of Seth Rollins having to win over Ambrose and convince him that he is now trustworthy. They had multiple scenes together with Sheamus & Cesaro interjecting themselves into their story to make fun of Rollins for not having a friend. This all worked well. Even after Ambrose came to Rollins’ aid later in the show, he still wasn’t sold on it and said he was just doing it so he didn’t look like the bad guy in the situation.
Rollins vs. Sheamus: This was a pretty good match as the first part of this feud. Rollins and Sheamus worked well together with Cesaro also playing into the match at ringside. I felt that under the circumstances, Sheamus should have gotten the win. I get that WWE wanted Rollins to win, since Sheamus & Cesaro would beat him up afterwards, but that’s too much of that 50-50 booking for my tastes. He had an out for losing due to outside interference, but Sheamus looked weak for losing despite having help on the outside. The beat down afterwards with the eventual run in from Ambrose worked to fit in with the storyline I talked about above.
Triple Threat Vignettes: These pre-taped vignettes featuring Reigns, Joe and Strowman hyping their triple threat non-main event were well done. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to put these types of videos together (or short backstage interviews) to help hype a big match and add something to the presentation.
Wyatt – Balor: The promo from Bray Wyatt about Finn Balor was ok. It wasn’t good, but not bad either. But, the mind games from Balor at that point worked very well. It was nice to see him mimic the “powers” of Wyatt by appearing in the ring with his back to Wyatt after the lights went out. I appreciate that Wyatt was laughing at it. It fits into his character to no sell the mind games at that point, and then Balor got the better of him physically to get revenge for Wyatt costing him in the No DQ match last week.
Reigns vs. Joe vs. Strowman: The triple threat delivered a good match that should have been the main event. I’m not sure why it wasn’t. It killed the crowd who were hyped for this match, but then died for the final hour of the show. This was a good tease of what will happen at SummerSlam when Brock Lesnar will be added to the equation. The announcers really drove that point home. It should be very physical. This match was. It went a good length and since the commercial break was very early in the match, we got to see a long stretch of it at the end without interruption.
Miz TV: As I said above, I was happy to see WWE moving away from Ambrose vs. Miz and we found out that Ambrose is moving on to a feud with the Tag Team Champions. We also found out that it appears that Miz is moving on to a feud with Jason Jordan. That can be okay, but this was not a good first step. I wrote last week that Jordan needed Chad Gable to bring out his personality. He was dull and vanilla before teaming with Gable and it took time for Gable to help bring that out of him. This was his first real chance to talk as a singles wrestler and he was not good. Miz did his best to bring something out of him and he played his part well enough, but Jordan wasn’t good. He didn’t step up. And I don’t like the idea that Miz would point out that some fans are booing Jordan. Why even bring that up? The physicality at the end was exciting and helped to keep this from being a total disaster. But, I’m not sure that Jordan really should be in an Intercontinental Championship feud right away on Raw.
Bye Bye Samson: I don’t know why WWE insists on getting rid of wrestlers’ first or last names after they’ve established them. Rusev and Cesaro have lost their first names. Big E lost his last name and now Elias Samson has too. Booker T didn’t get the memo, but obviously was told in his headset to stop using Samson during the match because after the commercial break, he really hammered home Elias being the sole name. Elias Samson is a good name. Elias is ok on its own, but not as good. His song before his match was amusing, and his match against Kalisto was ok. But, I missed his last name.
Bayley vs. Jax: WWE has botched Bayley so much this year, but lately they have been doing better with her. She is starting to get better reactions after the bad ones she was getting for awhile. But, instead of capitalizing on her momentum after winning the #1 contender match last week against Sasha Banks, they had her barely win via count out over Nia Jax. It wasn’t a particularly good match. It wasn’t a strong babyface reaction for her from the live crowd. I don’t understand why a wrestler can try to cheat and just because the babyface ducks, there isn’t a disqualification. I also don’t understand why sometimes a 10 count is broken when one wrestler rolls into the ring, but in a case like this, it doesn’t. It is those types of inconsistencies with the refereeing of the matches that drives me crazy.
Cass vs. Big Show: Enzo Amore got crickets when he cut his promo. That is more evidence that WWE made a mistake with having this as the main event instead of the triple threat with you know, the biggest stars on Raw. The match itself was dull. We saw much better Big Show matches earlier in the year with Strowman. Enzo continues to look like a heel for jumping Cass from behind and getting Show DQd. He also continues to look like a loser. This wasn’t a strong ending to an otherwise pretty good show.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES: Jordan-Angle, Strowman-Reigns-Joe, Sasha vs. Bayley, Dean and Seth as a team, Revival
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.