SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The Kevin Owens Show: The 1st hour + of Raw was bad (see below). The one segment before The Kevin Owens Show that wasn’t a Miss was the Elias – Bobby Lashley encounter. And while it wasn’t a Miss, it was not a Hit either. It was just ok. Raw finally had a good segment with Kevin Owens interviewing Jinder Mahal. Yes, the platform for the set of the interview was conspicuously placed to be tipped over by Braun Strowman at some point. But, it was still a fun moment. Plus, I thoroughly enjoyed Owens constantly answering his own questions and not letting Mahal talk. That’s the type of thing you would expect him to do with a babyface guest like a Lashley, not a heel who he is working with like Mahal. That made it even better. This set up the Mahal vs. Strowman rematch which wasn’t great. Again, it was not a Miss, but not a Hit either. It was WWE hitting the fans over the head with the idea that Strowman can lose the Money in the Bank briefcase at SummerSlam by getting disqualified like they did with the count out last week.
Reigns Interview: The sit down interview with the video clips with Corey Graves and Roman Reigns worked very well. Reigns came across way better here than he usually does. He certainly came across better than he did earlier in the show (more later). It effectively told the story of his long feud against Brock Lesnar and allowed him to make a strong statement about being ready to defeat Lesnar at the PPV.
B-Team Music: This may be the most polarizing or controversial statement that I’ve ever made in over 10 years of writing Hits & Misses for The Torch. I liked the B-Team’s new cheesy music. The rest of what WWE is doing with the tag team division on Raw… not so much.
Paul Heyman Interview: Paul Heyman gave the performance of a lifetime in his sit down interview with Renee Young. Renee Young was really good here too and her part should not be forgotten which is easy to do considering how great Heyman was in talking about where he stands with Brock Lesnar. It was totally believable. It was raw and emotional. It was one of the best segments on WWE tv in a long time. And in the end, it put the emphasis right where it should be. The emphasis should not be on the relationship between Heyman and Lesnar. The emphasis should be on the Universal Title match at SummerSlam. Heyman put that emphasis back there where it belonged when he said at the end of the interview that with everything he is seeing from Lesnar, that Reigns doesn’t stand a chance.
Rousey vs. Fox: WWE could have done a better job hyping Ronda Rousey’s first Raw match throughout the show. They did hype it, but they didn’t give Rousey a chance to talk which would have been nice. The pre-match mic work from Alicia Fox and Alexa Bliss would have been better earlier on to help build that anticipation. It made Rousey want to get her hands on Fox more than she did before, which worked well the way they did it. But, if it had happened earlier in the show, it would have built more anticipation for her actually fighting Fox. This is a relatively minor complaint as WWE did a nice job with this match. Everyone played their parts very well here. Fox and Bliss were great as antagonists getting under Rousey’s skin. Rousey gave a good performance as well before the match started and in the early portion of the match when Fox was doing her delay tactics. The physicality was exactly what it needed to be. Fox got an early advantage after some distraction from Bliss. Rousey came back with her determined “I’m going to kick your ass” look to dominate and get the strong quick win at that point. Most of her offense looked very good, although the throw she gave Fox before the arm bar was clumsy. The physicality afterwards with Bliss trying to jump her from behind worked well too. I’m not sure what will happen at SummerSlam. It seems like WWE has this special commodity and they have to put the Championship on her. Rousey defending her Raw Women’s Championship against her former friend Natalya at Evolution would make sense. But, WWE may want to put it off. They could have Natalya turn on her and cost her against Bliss (who could defend against Ember Moon next), to set up Rousey vs. Natalya in a non-title situation. But, that would be a mistake.
Opening Segment: WWE is doing good work with Roman Reigns for the most part. The opening segment was not an example of this work. I don’t understand why they think it is a good idea to have Reigns interrupt a babyface like Kurt Angle. It has happened before and it makes him look like a dick which is part of why many fans have rejected him as a top babyface. Angle says that he had something important to say, but he couldn’t say it because Reigns interrupted right at that moment. The writing after that point wasn’t good. It did a nice job at the end of setting up the opening match with Reigns taking on Constable Corbin, so it wasn’t all bad, but still a Miss over all.
Corbin vs. Reigns: Speaking of that opening match, it was not good. If Finn Balor couldn’t get a good long match out of Corbin last week, what made WWE think that Reigns could get a good long match out of him this week? Both were too long and dragged. Both had two commercial breaks which both came back to find Corbin with his opponent in the same boring rest hold. Both had very similar choreography with Corbin dominating most of the match and fending off multiple come back attempts by his opponent. This one had Reigns ultimately getting the win as opposed to last week when Corbin beat Balor. Otherwise, they were very similar in both how they were put together and in their poor quality. Having Balor help Reigns by keeping Corbin from walking out on the match was ok, but it set up a third match between them for the PPV which fails to get me excited considering their matches haven’t been good.
Roode Beats Rawley: Mojo Rawley has been doing some really good work with his heel character lately. I don’t see him as ever being anything more than just a mid-card act, but that’s ok. WWE needs good mid-card acts like him. Bobby Roode on the other hand has been stuck in a major rut since coming to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup in April. The Glorious gimmick has played itself out. He needs his own superstar shakeup to go in a new direction as a character, as either a babyface or a heel (preferably a heel, but a change could work for him as a face too). Either way, he needs to ditch the Glorious gimmick and music. At this point, a win for Rawley over Roode would have meant something for both of them. It would have given Rawley momentum which he deserves and could use in this early development of his character. The loss could have been a catalyst for some type of change for Roode’s character. By having Roode win, both wrestlers are sort of back to where they were already which doesn’t help either.
Rollins vs. McIntyre & Ziggler: The idea that Seth Rollins wouldn’t be allowed a few minutes to find a replacement partner for Reigns who wasn’t allowed to team up with him didn’t make any sense. So, I didn’t like the fact that this match happened at all. Why didn’t he at least get Tyler Breeze? Seriously, Reigns and Rollins looked like jerks towards Breeze for no reason. He’s a likable babyface low-card wrestler. That wasn’t needed. The match itself was fine for the most part, but had an anticlimactic ending. It didn’t seem like Rollins would really lose at that point in a relatively short match even with the handicap situation. I don’t think the fans were buying into it as a near fall situation, so when the actual fall occurred, it was a let down.
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.
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