SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Rollins & Balor vs. McIntyre & Ziggler: Most of the first two hours of Raw sucked. The few good things like some of the mic work from Kevin Owens was mixed with bad things like Jinder Mahal teaching breathing techniques to Brawn Strowman, so you get a “thumbs in the middle” segment, and not a Hit. Fortunately, we finally saw some very good wrestling starting with the Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor match. That match only lasted 8 minutes before Dolph Ziggler got involved and caused a disqualification. Once that happened, it was predictable that Seth Rollins would make the save to set up a tag match, but that tag match ended up being 13 minutes and was very good. Rollins was the star here, but all four performed well and looked good in the match. With such a poor long stretch of Raw for two hours, it was nice to have this long stretch of quality wrestling with these two matches and the fight in between.
Lashley vs. Reigns: The problem with WWE is how they are positioning some of their top talent, particularly Roman Reigns. However, Bobby Lashley isn’t exactly positioned well either. He seems more suited to play a heel too. So in this match, you had a babyface who is hated by many fans against a babyface who is met with a lot of indifference at this point. The wrestlers themselves are good. They had a very good main event match against each other. The outcome was predictable and the fans weren’t buying into either wrestler. Certainly many of the fans didn’t want to see Reigns win the match, but they weren’t that excited to see Lashley win instead. That hurt the match, but the quality of the action did sustain itself and helped get the fans into it as it lasted.
Evolution Announcement: This Miss is for the way the all women PPV Evolution was announced, not for WWE having Evolution. I’m all for an all women’s PPV. It should happen even without the Greatest Royal Rumble controversy, but especially after that tasteless show. I hope that the focus is on current wrestlers and past ones are only brought in for cameos and what not. I don’t need to see more nostalgia acts like we got in the first ever women’s Royal Rumble. They can fill out a PPV without tons of nostalgia acts in matches because they have plenty of top stars and very talented wrestlers like Sasha Banks, Bayley (not sure what to say about them at this point), Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, Asuka, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon, Mickie James, Natalya and Shayna Baszler, plus the finals of the Mae Young Classic, and solid wrestlers like Naomi, Nikki Cross (who should have been called up with the rest of Sanity), the IIconics, the Riott Squad, and Sonya Deville to fill out the card.
The announcement, however, was terrible. It was so self congratulatory and syrupy sweet that it made me sick to my stomach. Triple H faking tears of being so proud was terrible. I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t believe those were genuine tears. I don’t understand having Stephanie McMahon breaking her heel character for these types of announcements. She was right back to emasculating Kurt Angle and being a heel later in the show (more later). And they were breaking kayfabe talking about the fans and the wresters working together. Triple H should not be talking about the bond between the wrestlers since they have to put their lives in each others hands considering that makes it all sound fake and the anger that a Rollins feels towards Ziggler as being phony. And pointing out how matches were basically scripted to be 30 seconds long in the past, but now are scripted to be 20 minutes long because of how talented the women on the roster are, is further underlying how fake it all is. Yes, we already know it is fake. But, why point it out on the show? I know that zombies are fake, but while I’m watching “The Walking Dead” I don’t want the characters to remind me that they are just fighting stunt men in zombie make up, so I should’t be too worried about their characters getting bit. The whole announcement went on far too long. It was unfortunate how bad it was considering how historic it was.
B-Team vs. The Deleters of Worlds: This is more of the same. Both teams are not well defined. I don’t like having a mid-card comedy act as the Tag Team Champions. I don’t get how the fans are supposed to feel about Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt. Are they babyfaces or heels? Their Tag Team Title match was solid, but had a goofy ending. Then the Deleters of Worlds attacked the B-Team afterwards which seems to be a heel move, but without outrage from a babyface announcer, I honestly don’t know how WWE wants me to feel about it.
Summerslam Direction: Other than Rousey vs. Bliss, I’m not thrilled with the direction WWE is going with the SummerSlam card on the Raw end of things. I was hoping that Extreme Rules would lead to Rollins vs. McIntyre with a new challenger like Balor being brought in to take on Ziggler for the Intercontinental Title. Instead, we get another Rollins vs. Ziggler match which should be very good, but nothing new. We are getting more of Balor vs. Constable Corbin which is a waste of Balor’s in ring talent (a match isn’t certain yet, but it seems like they are heading in that direction). Their feud continued to suck this week with more short jokes from Corbin and more goofy unfunny humor from Balor (I did like how Kevin Owens no-sold Corbin’s joke about Balor being short). Where does that leave McIntyre? He doesn’t have a great opponent lined up. Lashley? We are getting another Owens vs. Strowman match which might be good, but again is nothing new. And I don’t like the stipulation where Strowman has to put the MITB briefcase on the line in the match. That is just more heel authority figure b.s. that I am so sick of. And of course, the main event will be the third match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns this year. Fans aren’t getting behind Lashley, but at least he would have been a new challenger for Lesnar before he leaves instead of more of the same. I’d me more interested in seeing Lesnar vs. Lashley and Reigns vs. McIntyre than what we are getting instead.
Reigns’s Interview: That was the most overtly heelish interview from Reigns that I can recall. That would make this a Hit if he were actually a heel, but he isn’t. He is the babyface in the match against Lesnar. That is clear. They want him to be cheered as the WWE guy against the part time UFC guy Lesnar. So, why piss off the fans by having him say that they should learn to like him or shut up?
Authors of Pain vs. Titus Worldwide: This was a bad segment. The Authors of Pain were not good on the mic in calling for some competition other than Titus World Wide. They miss Paul Ellering. I was happy when they said they wanted to face someone other than Titus World Wide, but then Titus O’Neal and Apollo Crews came out. That was disappointing. The talk about how great a person Titus is was odd. The scripting was more the problem with them than the delivery. And then they got the better of Authors of Pain because WWE has to have that 50-50 booking instead of just getting behind the new team and building them up as a strong team that eventually gets to the top of the card after ploughing through everyone else.
Angle-Stephanie/Corbin: As I mentioned above, having Stephanie McMahon being the babyface with this great historic Evolution announcement at the start of the show was a major disconnect when she was the heel authority figure emasculating Kurt Angle later in the show. I was so happy to see Angle playing a stronger authority figure last week. Unfortunately, he was back to being this wimpy half-man having to hold the door open for Stephanie and unable to stand up to her and Constable Corbin.
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.