SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Cena: This was definitely an interesting promo from John Cena. I still am not a fan of the storyline, and I don’t want to watch Undertaker ever wrestle again. But man, did Cena have that crowd right where he wanted them. The whole first half of the promo with him going into the crowd and talking about being a spectator at WrestleMania worked well. It was amusing, even if you weren’t buying it. The second half of the promo fit in with what Cena said somewhat cryptically a few weeks ago about how he had been told that a match against Undertaker at WM was impossible. I did not see him going the route that he did in terms of calling Taker’s manhood into question, and for that reason it was very effective. I got the feeling that the live fans were surprised as well. They certainly want to see Cena vs. Undertaker a lot more than I do, so it worked very well.
Balor vs. Rollins: This was a good 15 minute match between Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. While I wasn’t a fan of the MizTV which set this match up (more later), the match itself delivered well. WWE has been doing too many face vs. face matches lately, so the fans don’t have a clear choice of whom to cheer for. I’m not going to complain too much in this case as these are two great wrestlers putting on a good match that was clearly the highlight of the night from an in ring stand point. But as I said a few weeks ago, we are going to get too many matches involving these three wrestlers before WM and we are well on our way to that point.
Bliss/James/Jax: I was not a fan of what WWE did with Alexa Bliss and Asuka (more later). And I did have some problems with how this angle played out. However, it was good enough to get a marginal Hit. I thoroughly appreciated the fact WWE actually had a reasonable and believable explanation as to why Bliss and Mickie James would talk about Nia Jax on camera. They didn’t know the camera was working or that the microphone was recording. They were waiting for Charlie Caruso to come in and do an interview. They thought it was candid. That worked. I was also assuming that they would be clueless for the next week and not know that Jax knew what they said. I pictured Jax coming out to be in in Bliss’ corner next week with Bliss unaware of what was about to happen. So, I was also very pleased that Charlie told them what happened. This was a breath of fresh air. Some of the scripting was a bit over the top. Jax crying and throwing a bit of a temper tantrum wasn’t good. But, it was still good enough and is pointing towards Bliss vs. Jax for the Raw Women’s Title at WM which is the right way to go. There has been some speculation that Sasha Banks and Bayley would be added to that match, but they deserve a singles match and Bliss and Jax do too.
Reigns – McMahon: This worked shoot stuff isn’t working well. Some of what WWE has done lately to get the fans to turn on Brock Lesnar in favor of Roman Reigns has been good. That doesn’t mean I think that it will work in the end, but at least the effort has been there. This week, it wasn’t good. I laughed out loud when Reigns called Lesnar “Vince’s boy.” The fans whom WWE wants to turn around know that Reigns is Vince’s boy. So, this isn’t going to work. Some of what Reigns said was good about Lesnar’s disrespect, but once the opening segment started to focus on Vince McMahon, the segment went downhill quickly. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to cry about the prospect of Reigns losing his job and not being able to feed his family. I wasn’t thrilled with how Reigns stormed off and talked to Vince in the back as if it were real. But, who was buying that? Vince was actually pretty good in his interview talking about the situation. But, the script left a lot to be desired.
Miz TV: This didn’t work for me. The idea was that The Miz was trying to stir trouble between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor so that they don’t work together during the Triple Threat Intercontinental Championship match at WM. However, there hasn’t been any indication that they were going to work together before MizTV. I particularly hated how Rollins and Balor were scripted to say that they knew what Miz was doing and it wasn’t going to work, but then it did. They should have said something more like “Miz, you are trying to make it so that we don’t work together at WrestleMania, but we aren’t planning to work together. We know that it is every man for himself and regardless of what you say tonight, we were already going to fight each other that night.” Something like that. They ended up fighting each other just like Miz wanted them to after saying that his plan wouldn’t work, so they were wrong. It did work. It did lead to the good match, but they could have gotten there in a better way.
Asuka – Bliss: Obviously, WWE doesn’t trust Asuka to speak much, which might be smart. She was poor in her last long interview. So it is going to become standard operating procedure to have a heel interrupt her every time she starts to talk. It is going to get old. Alexa Bliss going with the “Asuka can’t speak English” route is cheap. WWE hasn’t done a good job of explaining why Mickie James is 100% with Bliss at this point. Asuka was yelling way too much. So, I really wasn’t a fan of any of this. The James vs. Asuka match that followed was pretty good, but the way Bliss walked out right afterwards made Mickie look bad later for still being chummy with her later on. Shouldn’t she have been upset about it?
Tag Team Battle Royal: This is more of a Miss for the sad state of the tag team division on Raw at this point. While The Revival and Gallows & Anderson are very talented teams, they haven’t been positioned well. The others are just jobbers, even if they have some talent. But, The Bar are right when they said that they can’t find competition on Raw. I am glad that none of those sorry five teams are getting a Tag Team Title match at WM. I am intrigued by Braun Strowman winning the match. Will he face The Bar in a handicap match? Will he be forced to find a partner? I hope so, as there are some fun possibilities. So, I do like that aspect of it. However, the wrestling here wasn’t very good. The teams aren’t good. The division is weak. They could have gotten to the interesting result in a better way.
No Lesnar or Rousey: I never expected Ronda Rousey to be on every Raw before WM. However, when WWE announced that she would be, I sort of took their word for it. I understand that WWE is trying to turn the fans against Lesnar so they are scripting him to no show Raws. However, he is a huge star who was advertised for the show and wasn’t there. That’s two big part time special attraction stars who were advertised for the show, but weren’t on. And when you are trying to paint Lesnar as a heel for not showing up to Raw every week, then it is a bad thing to have Rousey, a babyface, also no show in the same week. I mean, someone in WWE should have thought of that.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 3/5: Rousey segment, Asuka vs. Jax, Bayley-Banks, Paul Heyman, Mizzies, Elias-Strowman