SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Triple H vs. Undertaker Videos: I don’t care about this match at all and don’t want to see it (seriously, I would pay double for my WWE Network subscription if WWE would guarantee that neither Triple H nor Undertaker ever wrestle again). However, I liked the videos that WWE had on Raw with legends and Hall of Famers like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ric Flair, DDP, Mick Foley and Christian talking about the match. It is a cool concept and they all did a good job with their roles. I wish WWE would do similar videos for matches involving current wrestlers.
Rollins – Owens: This Hit is for the promos that led to their match. Seth Rollins started off well in talking about how the expected to be involved with Drew McIntyre or Dolph Ziggler, but since they were already busy, he was free to have a US Title open challenge. Owens was even better in coming out to take the challenge. His promo about missing Sami Zayn and losing to Braun Strowman at SummerSlam was very good. He also nicely turned the Canadian fans against him. It was all well done.
Rollins vs. Owens: I would take that match as a PPV main event. It went 23 minutes and was great from start to finish. These are two great workers and that work was clearly on display here. Rollins has arguably been the best wrestler in WWE in 2018. Owens is one of the best in and out of the ring. The match built well with counters and near falls throughout until Rollins finally was able to hit the Stomp for the 1-2-3. It was fun to watch. The fans were clearly into it. It was great.
Owens Quits: This was a very good long stretch of Raw from the pre-match promos, to the great match for the Intercontinental Championship, culminating in the post-match angle with Kevin Owens quitting. I’m very curious to see where WWE goes from here with Owens. There is a lot of potential for this to lead to something very good for him in the future.
Trish Stratus: The appearance by Trish Stratus was a nice surprise. The fans popped huge for the home town hero. Her back and forth with Elias was fun. She got in some good comebacks on Elias leading to the big slap. The stuff that followed with the rest of the women was all solid to good too. It was nice to see Ronda Rousey and Natalya share some screen time with Stratus. Alexa Bliss was good in her promo, although she messed up the line about “revoking” her rematch. She made the fans want to see her match against Stratus at Evolution. We have a lot of time before that, but this planted the seeds for that match while also putting some focus on the PPV that comes before Evolution. The bit in the back with the Bellas was a little odd. But, if the rumors about Nikki vs. Rousey at Evolution are true, they need to start moving in that direction and I’m guessing that’s going to start next week.
Hyping Next Week: WWE did a nice job of making next week’s Raw feel like a big deal. They announced multiple times that Shawn Michaels would be back to talk about Triple H vs. Undertaker. They announced a Tag Team Championship match. They announced that The Bellas would return to in ring action. And they had a big plot twist at the end of the show which is a hook for next week, even if I didn’t like that particular plot twist (more later).
Opening Segment: Raw had a big newsworthy and exciting ending last week. In order to capitalize on that ending, they should have had a hot start to this week’s show. Instead, they had Roman Reigns coming out with his slow walk to the ring. It was boring. The Shield as a whole coming out would have been more exciting to hear from the group one week after they reunited. Instead, we got this weird exchange between Reigns and Braun Strowman where Reigns seemed upset that Strowman didn’t come out to the ring 30 seconds after he did, and then coined the terrible phrase “Shield workhorse open challenge”, and then once Strowman came to the ring, he called him “son.” And he wonders why fans don’t like him when he comes across like an entitled jerk like that? The challenge for Hell in a Cell was ok. It made some sense to explain why the match would happen inside the Cell. The interruption from Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre was ok too, but not good enough. It did set up the main event, but it wasn’t a good segment.
Acting General Manager Baron Corbin: One week into the new heel authority figure running Raw, and I’m already sick of it. The announcers were good at times in calling Corbin’s decisions unfair. But, they also praised him for not doing anything. He didn’t have a choice in making the Universal Title match at Hell in a Cell. Strowman cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. He didn’t need approval. You get the cheesy match restart with new stipulations and not announcing opponents ahead of time to stick it to certain wrestlers. To me, it is go away heat. It brings up the question as to why Corbin doesn’t do more? He has all the power on Raw, why doesn’t he give himself a Title shot? Why doesn’t he stack the deck even more in his favor? I’m already over this specific angle, because I’ve been over the general idea for years. Plus, Corbin just isn’t that good.
Corbin vs. Balor: I just complained about Corbin abusing his power, but before he could even do that in this match, he basically dominated it before hitting Balor with the chair. WWE seems to be moving on to Corbin vs. Lashley, so this may be the end of his feud with Balor. But, I’m guessing it continues.
Strowman Heel Turn: Under other circumstances, this would be a Hit. The execution of the heel turn with Strowman apparently teaming with Ziggler and McIntyre was solid. It was a classic angle with Strowman refusing to take the tag from Reigns, allowing Ziggler and McIntyre to beat him up more. They triple teamed Reigns, and did the same to Rollins and Dean Ambrose when they tried to make the save. And if Reigns is going to be the top babyface on Raw, he needs a top heel to play off of, and there wasn’t one. In general, there is a disparity between the heels and faces on Raw. So, it makes sense to have the babyface Champion at a major disadvantage against a monster heel challenger. However, I have to give it a Miss due to the unbelievable level of tone deafness from WWE. The fans love Strowman and want to cheer him, so he gets turned heel. We just saw the same thing on Smackdwon with Becky Lynch. The fans hate Reigns and want to boo him, but WWE refuses to turn him heel. Lashley and Bobby Roode are miscast as babyfaces. Elias would be more effective as a babyface at this point, where he can do the things that the fans love about him, without the cheesy trolling. WWE touts how they listen to their fans and have the best immediate focus group of any television show. But, that just isn’t true.
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.