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Battle Royal: Raw got off to a decent start with The Miz and Kurt Angle. But it was just a set up for the battle royal to determine a #1 contender for Miz’s Intercontinental Title. WWE did a nice job of having some big name talent in the match which doesn’t always happen with these battle royals. By that I mean, there is often two legit contenders and then all the undercard guys filling it out. This one had the eventual winner Jeff Hardy, plus other potential winners like his brother Matt, Fin Balor, Jason Jordan, The Big Show, and Elias. So, it was a mystery as to who would win. Hardy was a nice “surprise” winner. I am looking forward to seeing what they do with him vs. Miz next week and how Matt and the Miz-tourage play into it and where they go from here. Plus, the wrestling action was good in this match. I just wish they would set some new rules. Yes, there is no disqualifications in a battle royal. But, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a rule that says that you must be eliminated by a legal wrestler who is part of the match. I’m also not looking forward to more of Balor vs. Bray Wyatt either.
Heyman and Lesnar: This wasn’t great, but it was good enough to get a Hit. It was far from the best mic work from Paul Heyman, but even a mediocre Heyman is good. It was a pretty simple and straightforward way to hype the upcoming Universal Title match between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman. We hardly ever hear from Lesnar himself, so even though he only said one sentence, it still stuck out. WWE is doing a nice job of making this off brand PPV main event feel like a mega fight.
Tag Title Singles Matches: Neither Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro, nor Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus were great matches. But, they were both good and when put together they filled a ton of Raw’s 3 hour time with some pretty good wrestling action. Being back to back, it almost felt like one 20+ minute match when we didn’t have to sit through interviews or video recaps or whatever in between. Of course, one member of each team had to get a win. I mean it is WWE, so they have to go with their typical 50-50 booking. It didn’t really advance the storyline at all. But, it was still fun to watch.
Cena – Reigns: Wow. That was quite the segment. Any speculation that it was a shoot should be put down considering Roman Reigns forgot his scripted lines. But, there were some shoot moments in the promo exchange like when John Cena pointed out that Reigns was having trouble remembering his lines. This is one of those segments that is meant to get people talking and I think it succeeded in that way. I am not a big fan of insider terms being used on Raw like Cena talking about a heel turn. But, the serious nature of the verbal encounter was so much better than the goofy demeanor we saw out of Cena last week that it was a big improvement on the presentation. This reminded me of Cena’s verbal smackdown of The Rock where he shocked a lot of people by more than holding his own against Rock in their verbal exchanges leading up to their WrestleMania match. I think WWE wanted the fans who boo both Cena and Reigns to back Cena. I’m not sure it will work. It was amazing to hear Cena say that Undertaker is an old broken down wrestler with a bad hip. He went on to basically say that he is still a part time wrestler because WWE needs him to be the top star since Reigns isn’t good enough as a top star. There is a lot of truth to what he had to say. He certainly came out looking better here. As I said, I’m not sure it will ultimately work. Last week, the fans rejected both wrestlers. It will be very interesting to see how the fans react to them when they wrestle next month. This did go on too long. It was too insider. But, it was buzz generating in the way they wanted and it felt like a must see moment. It felt like something you would have regretted if you missed seeing it live.
Banks vs. Bliss: I like seeing the Raw Women’s Championship match as the main event. WWE hyped this match a week in advance which is good and made it seem like a big deal. Both Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss got mic time with pre-match interviews to build up to the match. The match itself went 14 minutes and was fun to watch. Banks and Bliss worked well together and performed well in the ring. I did not like the ending of the match (more later), but other than the outcome, I enjoyed the main event.
Amore vs. Dar: I reluctantly watch 205 Live most weeks. I think I’ve missed two episodes since it debuted last year. But, it isn’t a great show. I continue to watch because there are often good matches despite the overall quality of the show not being that high. I enjoy watching a number of the cruiserweight wrestlers in the ring like Cedric Alexander, The Brian Kendrick, Rich Swan, Jack Gallagher, and Akira Tozawa. Neville has been very good as the Cruiserweight Champion. However, having Enzo Amore show up last week and the promise of more of him on future episodes make me even more reluctant to tune in. The guy is terrible. He was bad on the mic before the match. He was bad in the ring including trying to execute his new finishing move on Naom Dar. This was bad.
Mickie James vs. Emma: WWE needs to have undercard matches for the women not currently in the Title picture. I like the idea of having a feud between Mickie James and Emma. However, the basis of the feud is Twitter and claims from Emma that she started the Women’s Revolution. That isn’t a great start for a feud, especially when the announcers don’t explain what Emma means by that statement. She has a reason for it, but what is it? And using hashtags as part of a feud means nothing to me. And if you are going to use the wrestlers’ social media in order to advance angles and feuds, then they can’t be allowed to use those same accounts as personal accounts that don’t protect kayfabe. Then we get to the match itself and it wasn’t good. These are two talented workers. They should not have had that bad of a match. It was short which was probably a good thing considering how poorly they performed. I’m going to chalk it up to them having an off night, because I truly believe that both are capable of much better.
Cena & Reigns vs. Gallows & Anderson: I didn’t like going to a tag match where Cena and Reigns were forced to team with each other after verbally destroying each other a minute before. It didn’t make sense for Kurt Angle to book the match. It wasn’t something the fans wanted to see. After that big angle, I can see a lot of fans who were pumped up turning the channel at that point because they had no desire to see Reigns and Cena team together. The match itself was rudimentary. It wasn’t bad, but not good either. I would have left the program at the promo exchange this week.
Pelvis Wesley: Every time WWE comes to Memphis, the have to have an Elvis impersonator on the show and it never is good. This certainly wasn’t good. I don’t understand why Michael Cole loves Elias’ music. That makes no sense. It is like they have to keep Corey Graves as the Elias hater as a holdover from their time in NXT, but you have to have one of the announcers like his music, so it is Cole. Was I supposed to be cheering for Heath Slater as a cheesy Elvis impersonator? I wasn’t. Was I supposed to boo Elias for beating him up? I wasn’t.
New Women’s Champion: WWE has now painted Sasha Banks as being totally unable to defend the Women’s Championship. Alexa Bliss said that Banks can’t defend the Title. She was right. The Title ping-ponged back and forth last year between Banks and Charlotte Flair. Now, it is ping-ponging back and forth between Banks and Bliss. I don’t like having such a short Title reign. We just saw it with Neville losing the Cruiserweight Title to Tozawa only to win it back from him a week later. Once they put the Title on Banks, they should have kept it on her longer. If they wanted to have Nia Jax turn on Bliss to get the next Title shot, then have her help Bliss win and keep the Title on her. Don’t put the Title on Banks to begin with. And I’m not sure who I’m supposed to root for between Jax and Bliss.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 8/21: Seth & Dean vs. Hardys, Cena-Reigns-Miz-Joe, Enzo, Balor-Jordan
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.