SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Ambrose and Rollins: I know many people thought that WWE missed their opportunity to reunite the two former Shield brothers last week when Seth Rollins walked away from Dean Ambrose despite the hot crowd really wanting to see that fist bump. Last week, I wrote that I had mixed feelings about it. While I liked the idea of stretching it out further like they did, I feared they may have missed their best possible crowd reaction last week. However, the Boston crowd was just as excited to see the eventual fist bump, so WWE did not turn off fans by waiting an extra week. This was well done as has been the entire storyline leading up to Ambrose and Rollins teaming together once again to face Cesaro & Sheamus for the Tag Team Titles at SummerSlam which should be a great match.
Jax vs. Banks: This was probably Nia Jax’s best match so far. I wish we could have seen the entire match, or at least only had one commercial interruption. But at nearly 15 minutes long, we still got to see a good amount of wrestling action. Jax has been improving in the ring and Sasha Banks was great to carry her to this very good match to determine who would face Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam for the Women’s Championship. I was fearing some sort of interference from Bliss leading to a triple threat match, so the fact that we got a clean tap out victory from a very strong closing sequence was welcome. But at some point, Jax has to win more matches if the announcers are going to keep calling her the most dominant woman on Raw. She isn’t that dominant if she doesn’t win.
Big Cass: This was Big Cass’ best work on the mic in WWE. He is starting to find his voice as a heel, although he had been more sympathetic in this feud against Enzo Amore and The Big Show before this week. Cass handled himself well trying to get in his promo while the hot crowd was booing him out of the building. What could have rattled him turned out to be a positive in the way that he responded to it, soaked up the boos, and turned it around on the crowd and got through it strong. The fighting afterwards was needed to get Big Show some sympathy. It was a little to random with Gallows & Anderson attacking Show for no apparent reason. I wish the announcers had questioned why they were getting involved. It worked to give Show an injury heading into SummerSlam, but that part of it could have been better.
Neville vs. Tozawa: This was a good Cruiserweight Championship match, but I’m not sure why they had it on Raw instead of saving it for SummerSlam. Now, we’ll get a rematch at SS, but it won’t feel that important since we saw Akira Tozawa become the new Cruiserweight Champion on Raw. The match itself was fun to watch. It only lasted 11 minutes, so I would have liked to see it go a little longer. It would have been nice if it had gone at least 15 minutes. But, Neville and Tozawa worked hard and put on a good match in that time. I thought we might hear some news about Neville getting suspended, which would explain the sudden Title switch, but instead we are just getting the rematch at the PPV on Sunday.
Miz & The Miz-tourage vs. The Hardys & Jordan: Jason Jordan’s problems are on the mic and with his character and with this poor storyline that he has been saddled with. He can still go in the ring which is why I hope he can get the rest of his act together. He is a good wrestler. He worked more in the background here with The Hardys doing most of the work in this six man tag match against The Miz and his Miz-tourage, but when he was in the ring, he performed well. This was a fun tag match to watch. The injury to The Revival made WWE change their short term plans for the Hardys and having them come to Jordan’s rescue from a three on one beating made sense. I thought this match would be announced for SummerSlam, but we got it right away instead. Jordan wasn’t getting over with the live audiences in the past few weeks, so having him team with the super popular Hardys was a good idea. It will be interesting to see if he can capitalize on that positive reaction going forward.
Closing Segment: Raw continued its streak of good to very good episodes with one of the best episodes in the last few months. It had a very strong ending with the encounter between Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns. It started off very well with Paul Heyman’s long promo about the situation with Lesnar and the threat to leave WWE if he loses the Universal Championship at SummerSlam. Heyman was good on the mic as always and Lesnar is fun to watch as he reacts to what Heyman says. The interruptions that followed were solid. I appreciated the fact that Joe took credit for Strowman’s win over Reigns last week. The physicality at the end worked well to tease the match with the ultimate tease being what will happen when Strowman and Lesnar finally get their hands on each other. It was a strong hard final sell for the PPV.
Balor vs. Wyatt: I understand that the point of having this match on Raw instead of waiting for SummerSlam was to give Finn Balor a reason to bring out the Demon gimmick at SS itself. However, there were many other ways that WWE could have gone to have Bray Wyatt humiliate Balor like he did after the match to get Balor to say that while Wyatt has demons, he will find out on Sunday that Balor has his demons also. They didn’t need to give away the match like they did. They didn’t need to keep up this “SummerSlam comes early” theme for Raw. The match only lasted 11 minutes and ended in a rather anti-climactic fashion with Wyatt getting the clean victory over Balor. That doesn’t make me want to see more of them in the ring on Sunday, regardless of Balor’s cool Demon ring entrance or the fact that he will have some body paint on. The announcers were way over the top in saying how they had never seen anything like this before when Wyatt poured the acidic liquid on Balor. After Balor later delivered the tease of the Demon, Corey Graves acted like a kid on Christmas morning “could it be!” The announcing made a bad situation even worse. And as I said above, the match wasn’t needed to get to the same exact place.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 8/7: Miz TV with Lesnar and Heyman, Seth-Dean, Reigns-Strowman, Bayley Boos, Jordan Apathy
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.