SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment: Raw got off to a good start with Miz TV. It started out ok with The Miz talking about Jason Jordan, but it really picked up once Kurt Angle came out and introduced Brock Lesnar as the surprise guest for Miz TV. I loved the plan and the execution of when Miz interrupted Paul Heyman when he was about to introduce himself. That was great. Miz played his part very well. Heyman and Lesnar were also good. The physicality at the end got a huge pop and was a strong ending to a very good opening segment.
Rollins vs. Sheamus: This was a good, but somewhat short match between Seth Rollins and Sheamus. It was not great, but good enough to get a Hit. The real story was for what happened afterwards with Sheamus & Cesaro beating down Rollins to build anticipation for when Dean Ambrose would come out and make the save. Of course, that didn’t happen which built well on what happened between them last week. Their backstage encounter to follow up on it also worked well to set the stage for what would happen later on after Ambrose vs. Cesaro.
Banks vs. Emma vs. Fox: This is a minor Hit. This first of two triple threat matches to set up the #1 contender match next week for the Raw Women’s Championship was clearly the better of the two (not that the second was bad, but it didn’t amount to much). The outcome of both matches were totally predictable. Sasha Banks and Nia Jax were obviously going to win their matches. However, Emma was so good in this match in her short time on offense, and the match was well booked to give a glimmer of a possibility that she would win instead. You knew she wasn’t going to win, but it was something. And the wrestling was good in the match even though it was short at only about 5 minutes.
Cesaro vs. Ambrose: This was a good long match. It may have been a little too long, but I still enjoyed it. Ambrose and Cesaro are very talented workers. It is fun to watch them together in the ring. The Booker T commentary went off the rails in this match (much more later), so it was a bit distracting. And like the first match, I kept waiting for outside interference. So, I knew we weren’t going to get the ending until that interference. Those issues brought the match down a little, but it was still a good match. Once again, the real story was what happened afterwards with Rollins making the save as opposed to what Ambrose did earlier. The live crowd was super excited at the possibility of a Shield fist bump after the save. Ambrose eventually reached out his fist which got a huge pop. Then, the fans were angry when Rollins left without reciprocating. I have mixed feelings about this. That may have been their best crowd reaction possible for the eventual fist bump. I wonder if in hindsight, given that response, if WWE is regretting the decision to keep the story going. At the same time, the story has been very good lately, and I don’t mind it stretching out more. I can see Rollins wanting to do the right thing, but still being ticked off at Ambrose and not wanting to give him the fist bump.
Reigns vs. Strowman: The last man standing match between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman was a good main event. Reigns and Strowman work well together. They tend to bring out the best in each other. I have enjoyed most if not all of their matches. However, I am getting numb to their matches at this point. We’ve seen them too many times and their matches always include these types of outside the ring brawls. I’m not that impressed any more at their physicality. But, it was still a good match. I just don’t want to see it ever again after the fatal four way at SummerSlam.
However, I had a major problem with the ending. It was predictable that Samoa Joe would get involved, and a little too convenient that he would be waiting in the crowd, right where Reigns would stand after getting up after delivering that running spear on Strowman on the ramp. But, I can look past that. It made sense for him to want to get revenge on Reigns for defeating him in the triple threat match last week. The real problem is that the referee was counting to 10 on both Reigns and Strowman. Reigns got up at about the 7 count, with Strowman still on the ground having not moved since the spear. That’s when Joe attacked and for some reason, the referee stopped counting. Why? Strowman was still down. As Michael Cole was quick to point out, there are no disqualifications in a last man standing match, so the ref should have ignored what was happening with Joe and Reigns and finished the 10 count on Strowman which he easily would have done given how long Strowman stayed down. The double count at that point which Strowman got up at the last minute on was ridiculous. It never should have happened, and given the combined time that Strowman was down for, it sort of ruined his gimmick of being this super unstoppable monster among men. He got speared and was down for what would have likely been the equivalent of at least a 20 count. This ending probably deserved a Miss.
Booker T: Booker T is always bad. But, this week was probably the worst. He was so bad with contradicting himself in the Ambrose/Rollins vs. Cesaro/Sheamus matches that Corey Graves kept calling him out on it. He blurted out a bunch of gibberish. He seemed to go totally off script talking about how Cesaro doesn’t really want to be the Tag Team Champion but wants to be a singles Champion. It was so bad, he should be fired. Period. While I have never been a big fan of Davin Otunga, he had improved quite a lot on Smackdown and would be so much better than Booker T at this point.
Jordan vs. Pierre Goulet: I like structure to my television shows. I get structure in most of them. I don’t often get it, at least not enough of it, on WWE. They should have had a reason why a random jobber just happened to be standing around backstage for Kurt Angle to find to replace the injured Curtis Axel. Why was he there? It would have been very easy for Angle to find Jean Pierre Goulet and recognize him, call him by name, and say something along the lines of “hey, you met with me earlier hoping to get a try out and I told you I probably wouldn’t be able to use you tonight, but I was wrong, I need you to fill in for an injured wrestler right now.” That would have provided a bit of context for him being there. The match itself was nothing to write home about. The story at that point is that Jordan was met with total indifference from the crowd and I can’t blame them. WWE hasn’t done a good job with him since they called him and Chad Gable up to Smackdown last year. The fans felt he was a let down to the Angle dilemma mystery. And he has been vanilla since then. What did WWE expect?
Bayley: I felt bad for Bayley at first when she started to get some boos from the crowd. I understood booing her awhile back when the storyline for her was so bad. But, WWE has been doing a better job with her lately. She is legitimately injured and I don’t like fans booing a wrestler who has to go away because of a real injury. But then, she brought it on herself by acknowledging them. She shouldn’t have done that. She acted hurt that she was getting booed, which is understandable, but that just egged on more boos.
Enzo / Cass / Show: I’m already so sick of the Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass feud with or without The Big Show’s involvement. The tag match with Enzo and Show teaming against Gallows & Anderson was ok at best. But, this is such backwards booking. The babyfaces are the ones who double team the heel. Cass was perfectly reasonable as a heel in requesting that Angle book him in a match against Show with Enzo banned from the building. Angle was incredulous as if he can’t do that. It was like, I can’t possibly have Enzo not in the arena unless he is in a shark cage or something. It was terribly written and poorly acted. I don’t remember ever having a babyface in a shark cage like this.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 7/31: Lesnar and Heyman, Rollins vs. Sheamus, Miz TV with Jordan, Elias, Big Show vs. Big Cass
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.