Rousey-Bliss: Ronda Rousey gave a good verbal tribute to Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart in expressing her sorrow and thoughts for Natalya and the entire Hart family. This made sense in the storyline given Rousey’s friendship with Natalya. It was important to do at the start of the show, although they would also do a very nice video tribute later on. After the heartfelt words, they moved on to her Women’s Title match against Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam. Bliss was really good in her promo talking down to Rousey and making fun of the face that she always makes. Ember Moon was a fine choice to fill in for Natalya. The physicality with Rousey taking out Bliss’ security guards was great, especially the final one who just ran away from her. The match that followed was solid. It wasn’t quite Hit worthy as a match, but worked well overall as part of the larger storyline. The terrible save at the end from Alicia Fox took it down a bit. But, it did allow for more physicality from Rousey in taking out Fox as a tease of what she will do to Bliss at the PPV. This was a long stretch to start Raw that was well booked, and mostly well executed and was a continuation of the good work WWE has been doing with Rousey, and the fans are super behind her.
Balor & Strowman vs. Mahal & Owens: It was good that Kurt Angle showed authority in adding Braun Strowman to this match which Baron Corbin had made as a handicap match. Angle needs to be higher in authority than Corbin. I enjoyed the past tag team matches with Finn Balor and Strowman teaming up. I enjoyed this match too. They have nice chemistry together and Strowman and Kevin Owens have nice chemistry against each other. Jinder Mahal’s character is terrible right now, but he did some nice work in the match, especially in showing frustration at not being able to knock Strowman off his feet. I loved the twist on Strowman’s running-over-Owens-on-the-outside-of-the-ring spot when he picked up Sunil Singh on the way and used him as a battering ram on Owens. That was great. After the match, Strowman running off the heels allowed for a vulnerable Balor to be attacked from behind by Corbin to add heat to their match at SummerSlam. But, I’m still not looking forward to that match.
Return of Ambrose: I didn’t love everything that WWE did in building up to the final segment, but most of it was pretty good with the tease that Seth Rollins might not make it to the show because of travel problems. I appreciate the fact that there was actually a storyline reason for him not to be at the show from the beginning due to coming back from China where he was doing a promotional tour for WWE. However, I never bought into the fact that there might not actually be an Intercontinental Championship match at the PPV if Rollins never showed up to sign the contract. Why couldn’t he simply sign the contract off screen? None of the six men in the tag team championship match on this show were shown signing a contract. If we are to believe that they had a contract for that tag title match, (and there are far too many impromptu matches that don’t have contracts to believe that all matches have them – clearly Owens and Mahal hadn’t signed a contract for a match with Strowman involved) they clearly didn’t sign it on tv. So why would Rollins have to sign his contract on tv? That made no sense and was a big negative in what was otherwise a Hit.
Getting back to the actual angle at the end, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre were ok in their promos talking about the potential match and the fact that it wasn’t actually going to happen. They weren’t great and McIntyre was better than Ziggler. But, I did appreciate the fact that Ziggler talked up Rollins instead of just making fun of him or putting him down. The segment really got going once Rollins actually showed up. He gave a very good promo in setting up the return of Dean Ambrose. He was missed in the past 9 months. It was a good way to sell the IC Title match which should be great, but is something we’ve seen multiple times recently. Knowing that Ambrose will be in Rollins’ corner adds a dimension to the match to make it different from the other matches between them. I think many fans are expecting Ambrose to turn on Rollins during the match. That would set up their long feud while allowing Ziggler and McIntyre to move on to something new.
Lashley – Elias: This was just boring. The fake country music star was silly. Elias was just doing the same thing he does every week. Bobby Lashley showed no fire in his mic work. He sounds so awkward. This didn’t make me want to see Lashley vs. Elias at the PPV. It didn’t make me like Lashley more or Elias less. It did nothing.
Deleters of Worlds vs. The Revival vs. The B-Team: This wasn’t a terrible match by any means, but it did point to some problems with the tag team division on Raw. The B-Team are a fun mid-card act. Before the match, I loved it when Curtis Axel said that you can’t spell Raw Tag Team Champions without The B-Team. But, should a fun goofy joke of a team really be the Tag Team Champions? Maybe so if there is no other good choice which seems to be the case. The Deleters of Worlds are already done. Matt Hardy does still gets good “Delete!” reactions, but I don’t get the sense that the fans care about the team. Hardy also shouldn’t be doing a superplex off the top rope to the outside of the ring when he has just come out with the fact that his spine and hip bones are fusing. That made me uncomfortable as a viewer. The Revival have a ton of talent, but don’t come across as stars on the main roster. The match didn’t work. They came out of the match with The Revival vs. The B-Team on Sunday, which I just don’t care about at all.
Reigns – Heyman – Lesnar: This should have been a Hit. Roman Reigns started it off very well with his promo about sending Brock Lesnar back to UFC. Paul Heyman was great in his interruption. I still don’t understand why the end of his interview with Renee Young last week wasn’t shown on Raw. That makes no sense at all and took away from the enjoyment of the storyline to me. But, Heyman did a nice job of trying to sell Reigns on signing with him to be his advocate. The sales pitch worked very well and most of what Reigns said in return did too, other than his brag about being groomed for this business. That’s part of the problem that so many fans have with him. That line should have been cut, but wasn’t a huge deal. Heyman’s final pitch in talking about Reigns’ family and speaking to him in Samoan before giving him the paper to read was great. It fit in perfectly with what WWE has done the previous two weeks. It was intriguing and left open some interesting possibilities for the SummerSlam main event. If the segment ended there, it would have been a Hit. But, it didn’t. Heyman attacked Reigns with pepper spray to leave him vulnerable to a surprise attack from Lesnar. This took away the only thing that is intriguing about their Universal Title match. I wasn’t looking forward to that match already, but at least there was some interest in the possible roles that Heyman could take during and after the match. It also takes away some of the magic of Heyman’s performances from the previous two Raws, especially his tearful interview last week. That all means less now that we’ve gotten the payoff for them before the PPV when the payoff should come.
Roode & Titus Worldwide vs. AOP & Rawley: I don’t understand what WWE is doing with Mojo Rawley losing twice in a row to the cold Bobby Roode. I don’t understand why the Authors of Pain keep losing in various ways to Titus Worldwide who are the biggest jokes on the roster.
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 email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 8/6: The Kevin Owens Show, B-Team’s entrance theme, Paul Heyman interview, Rousey vs. Fox, Seth vs. Drew & Dolph