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Women’s Fatal Four-Way: There were a couple of scary bumps involving Sasha Banks in this match, but it was very good. Even one of those bumps with Banks being driven hard into the ringside barrier was probably safer than in looked, which is sort of the point of wrestling. Banks, Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon and Natalya worked hard and put on a very good match that lasted over 20 minutes. It was centered around Natalya’s injured leg and she sold that injury very well throughout the match. She was able to fight through the injury to get the tap out win over Bliss. WWE is trying to make everyone think that Natalya is going to win Money in the Bank to ultimately cash in on Ronda Rousey. We will see if it goes that route.
Reigns-Mahal: This is a minor Hit for the fact that WWE got a pretty good reaction for Roman Reigns this week. The bait-and-switch with promising Reigns vs. Mahal didn’t bother me much, but they really need to be careful about announcing matches that aren’t going to happen. Jinder Mahal was good in his mic work. Reigns was ok in his. The match was kept short which was obviously the way to go and the attack by Mahal afterwards worked to get him some heat and make the Reigns fans want to see him get revenge at the PPV.
Rousey-Jax Face Off: There were some issues with this segment, but it was much better than what they did with these two last week and ultimately good enough to get a Hit. I like this role for Jonathan Coachman much more than as the third announcer. Too bad he did both on this show. Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey were both off at times during this face off, but were good at other times. Jax’s issue is that WWE doesn’t seem to know if they want her to play a heel or not. Two weeks ago, she was a heel. Last week, she was a babyface. This week, she was somewhere in the middle. She should have been going 100% heel, even if she is more comfortable playing a face. I like the idea of her listing off things that she can do in a WWE ring that one of Rousey’s opponents couldn’t do inside a UFC octagon. Rousey’s laughing at everything Jax said wasn’t good. She no-sold too much of what Jax was saying. However, her strong promo at the end worked well. It was good to list all of those times in her life when she was told that she wasn’t ready for a challenge only to prove that she was. “I was born ready” could be a good slogan to sell some t-shirts (and something she could say to Asuka before WrestleMania next year). The physicality was interesting in that they seemed to be trying to sell what Jax had said, showing how she can use moves like a head butt and her size advantage in ways that Rousey isn’t used to. But then, Rousey forced her to tap to the arm bar to prove she can win. This seemed to give away too much, but if the idea is to sell that Rousey can win the Women’s Title, they did a good job.
Obstacle Course: I can’t believe that I am giving this a Hit. Maybe I’m being too easy on this show since it was quite a bit better than last week’s terrible show. This was definitely the best segment WWE has had so far involving Bobby Lashley and Sami Zayn’s feud. Part of the reason for this Hit is the fact that it was better than what they’ve been doing and the live crowd reacted to it way more than they’ve been reacting to what WWE had been doing prior to this. Lashley got to show off his impressive athleticism without having to talk much. Zayn was fun in his schtick this week and didn’t bore me like he has been lately. The ambush was predictable but worked well to put heat on Zayn and make fans want to see Lashley get his hands on him on Sunday.
Men’s Fatal Four-Way: The scenes with Kevin Owens trying to convince Bobby Roode and Finn Balor that they should team up in the main event to take Braun Strowman out of the match were pretty good. Owens was great in his performances, but these scenes didn’t make Balor and Roode look like strong faces. I got a kick out of the last one when Strowman told them that they should gang up on him. The match was a good way to sell MITB with the 3 working together and the announcers talking about how there will be 4 more Smackdown wrestlers in the mix on Sunday too. The match was physical and centered around the huge spot with Owens frog splashing Strowman from a ladder through the announce table. This may have been giving away too much with that big bump before the PPV. What can they do to top it on Sunday? The work that happened afterwards was fun to watch with Roode, Balor and Owens working a triple threat at that point until Strowman made his return. WWE keeps doing a good job of making Strowman a star. Fans love him and I suspect that many are going to be rooting for him to win the briefcase.
Opening Segment: It doesn’t get much more WWE corporate than starting off Raw with 8 wrestlers already standing on top of ladders in the ring. The fact that someone like Strowman would go along with some plan to be up on the ladder in that situation totally kills his character’s credibility. I hated that start. The scripting was bad. The performances were poor. We got a quick reminder of the terrible Constable Corbin character. None of it made me want to keep watching Raw or watch Money in the Bank on Sunday.
The B-Team – Deleters of Worlds: I’m not into the tag division on Raw right now. The Deleters of Worlds can be fun, but they are mostly just a goofy act that is a weird combination of two goofy singles acts which don’t really go together well. The fans have been getting behind The B-Team as a babyface act, but they were put down and belittled by the Tag Team Champions here who are also babyfaces. The chemistry is off to me. And while it isn’t a big deal, hearing Corey Graves yelling about The B-Team being undefeated without a pushback from one of the other announcers saying that they are only undefeated for a few weeks since they changed their team name, but have a very poor overall win-loss record. It is just one more case where he gets away with saying things that aren’t true, but seldom gets called out for it.
Ruby Riott Presentation: I don’t understand why WWE produces its announcers the way that it does. I don’t understand why Ruby Riott and the Riott Squad are trying to get heel heat by cheating and using their numbers games to get unfair advantages and acting like bullies in the backstage area if the announcers aren’t going to sell that heat. Michael Cole praises Riott and her preparation, toughness and do it yourself attitude far more than he criticizes how she only wins when she cheats. It was laughable to hear the announcers talking up her DIY attitude when she has two helpers. She literally never does anything herself. Riott talking about a DIY attitude is supposed to be ironic, but WWE doesn’t present it that way. She has talent. Her match against Bayley was solid. The Riott Squad act has potential, but where is the outrage from the babyface announcer towards their branding Bayley with the R after the match? Or acting like bullies to random backstage workers?
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. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.