Bella vs. Riott: At some point, the Riott Squad has to get the better of the Bella Twins. They don’t look like a strong group right now, but I understand WWE wanting to keep the Bellas strong since they just returned to in ring action. And if you are going to have Nikki Bella face Ronda Rousey at Evolution, you need to keep her strong. The match itself was good enough to get a Hit. It was better than the tag match we saw last week. I wish the Riott Squad had done something afterwards to get more heat on them than just vandalizing the Bellas’ locker room earlier in the night.
McIntyre & Ziggler vs. The B-Team: Once the decision was made to take the Raw Tag Team Titles off of the joke B-Team and put them on the much more serious Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler, having the rematch be such a strong statement for the new Champions was the right way to go. Yes, The B-Team got in some offense so that they didn’t lack any credibility. But, McIntyre and Ziggler dominated for the most part and got the strong win in the rematch that they needed.
Owens’ Promo: I am not a fan of what WWE has done with the Kevin Owens quitting storyline. I am giving his promo a Hit for the fact that it at least addressed why he attacked Bobby Lashley last week. He connected it to his statements from a few weeks ago when he talked about missing having Sami Zayn by his side. I am a little intrigued by the idea that Baron Corbin has given him a free pass to do anything he wants without getting punished. So, it will be interesting to see where they go from here with him.
Bliss & James vs. Rousey & Natalya: Some people have criticized WWE for having Ronda Rousey in matches like this on Raw instead of saving her for more special appearances. However, she needs to wrestle to get better. She showed a lot of her promise in this match, but also showed that she still needs to keep improving and growing as an in ring performer. How is she going to be ready for a huge WrestleMania match against Charlotte next year if she doesn’t get more in ring time before then? She had to sell in this match more than she had to in her previous two singles matches. She had to sell against Nia Jax, but not against Alicia Fox or Alexa Bliss. She did a good job. She also looked to be in better control in doing the judo throws on Mickie James. Some of her strikes looked bad. She had looked better in the past throwing those rapid fire fists than she did here. But, overall it was a good tag match that allowed her to get the strong win, while also playing up how Bliss can attack her with her mind on Sunday. Plus they gave her the rib injury to give Bliss a target to make her seem like a more credible challenger.
Elias – Foley: It was good to see Mick Foley in a more serious role where he didn’t have to stooge for Stephanie McMahon like we saw him do several times in his last time in WWE as the GM of Raw. Elias worked well standing across from Foley and questioning him. Foley got to make the big announcement that he would be the special referee for the Universal Title match at Hell in a Cell. His performance was strong here and a reminder of how good he was on the mic during his in ring career. The idea that he was given the opportunity to make one match was laughable. I also question why Corbin hadn’t planned anything for the final long stretch of the show. I mean, Foley made the final match and then Braun Strowman came to the ring to call out Roman Reigns based only on an impromptu suggestion from a back-stage interviewer.
Elias vs. Balor: The match that Foley made ended up being the main event and a pretty good one with Elias taking on Finn Balor. It was good to see Balor getting a much-needed win. It wasn’t a great match, but at 12 minutes it went a good length and had enough good wrestling action to make it a Hit, even though these two could have a much better match. In fact, if I think about it, they probably have had better matches in the past.
Dogs of War: The opening segment of Raw was rough (pun intended). I’m hoping that “Dogs of War” isn’t the name of Strowman, McIntyre and Ziggler’s group. I Hope, it was a one time nick name that Strowman used to counter The Shield’s Hounds of Justice moniker. Other than the stupid name, the trio don’t go together. They don’t have chemistry as a group. They didn’t get a strong heel reaction from the crowd. The Shield didn’t get a great response either when they came out. There wasn’t a good explanation as to why the heels attacked The Shield last week, and WWE certainly didn’t address why other babyfaces didn’t come out to help. I don’t like seeing a top heel like Owens being dispatched by the axe wielding Shield along with the dregs of the heel roster. So, this opening segment didn’t really work for me at all.
Video Packages: This week was one of those weeks where WWE had way more video packages than a typical Raw, which is a lot to begin with. During the opening segment, they had a long recap of what happened between Strowman’s group and The Shield last week. They had the long video on the Conor’s Cure kids which was well done, along with having The Big Show introduce the kids on the stage afterwards (but I did question why he was in his wrestling gear for that?). They had a recap of the great Shawm Michaels – Undertaker confrontation from last week. Then they started a series of highlight packages focusing on Smackdown matches for the Hell in a Cell PPV. We saw them on Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton, Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles, and Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch. It was odd to me. They explained them away saying that it is a duel brand PPV, but it muddies the waters on the brand split. Of course, there were multiple recap videos of events that had happened earlier in the show like always. There was another long video focusing on the 20th anniversary of Mick Foley’s Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker. This was very well done. It probably deserves a Hit, but on a show with so many other videos, it was too much. They had a video on the E! People’s Choice Awards. That one was weirdly placed at the top of the third hour. Over all, the video packages were often well done, but there were far too many of them on this show.
Triple H’s Promo: This wasn’t nearly as good as his promo from two weeks ago, or the follow up HBK-Undertaker segment last week. The delivery was fine from Triple H, but the content wasn’t strong. I didn’t buy into his argument that Undertaker had lost respect for himself. He also basically took credit for ending The Streak by saying that the matches against Michaels and himself took so much out of Undertaker that he wasn’t the same any more. That is a stretch and takes away from anything they may have gotten out of Brock Lesnar actually ending it. This didn’t make me want to see the match more than I did before either.
Renee Young: I’m sorry, but Renee Young isn’t good at this job. I know a lot of people loved hearing that she was replacing The Coach as part of the Raw announce team. And while I was thrilled with having Coach replaced, I would have liked to see him replaced with someone better. She is great at the backstage interviews. She might make a good play-by-play announcer if given a chance to do so. I’d rather her do that on 205 Live to get the experience on a smaller show. What qualifies her to be an analyst? In real sports, I don’t like it when a color commentator didn’t play the sport. Beth Phoenix has the gravitas and in ring experience to do commentary. Neither Coach nor Young do. She just sort of roots for the babyfaces. It is good to have a strong babyface voice on the Raw announce team. But, can’t we get one who actually knows more about wrestling? And can someone explain to me why she keeps saying that she loves Elias? What about him does she love? The way he spit in the face of a backstage worker? The way he makes fun of the audience? Is it his terrible singing? Is it how he cheats to win matches? No matter who is put in that position, if they aren’t produced better and aren’t given better direction, unless they have better natural instincts for the job (like knowing that her character shouldn’t keep saying how much she loves Elias), then the announce team is going to remain poor.
Law and Order: First, we get cops in cheesy looking fake uniforms being stared down by The Shield. The way that Reigns glared at one of the cops as he waked passed him is one of those dick moves that makes a lot of fans hate him. The storyline of how Seth Rollins used a Louisiana sheriff to accuse Corbin of making false accusations against The Shield last week in order to get a Tag Team Title match at the PPV was silly. The way Triple H laughed at the cops when he arrived at the building made him look like a dick also. Why was that needed? What was that supposed to accomplish? How did that add to his match against Undertaker? And then you have Strowman physically assaulting a worker in a way that should get him arrested. The worker should press charges. He should sue Strowman and WWE. But, I’m sure that won’t happen. They shouldn’t have the cops in so many segments of the show when they actually have a moment that calls for police involvement when they aren’t actually going to get involved.
Reigns Stands Tall: Based on WWE’s 50-50 booking, it was predictable that Reigns would get the better of Strowman this week, since he and the rest of The Shield were beat down at the end of last week’s show. But on the go home show where you are trying to sell the idea that Vince McMahon’s chosen Champion has a chance to lose at the PPV, maybe they should make him look to be in more peril. I didn’t understand the idea of having the show end with Reigns standing tall.
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.
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