WKPWP - Flagship w/Keller & Powell talking Super Showdown, AEW PPV Preview, WrestleMania line-up, 10 Years of NXT
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Lashley the Heel: Bobby Lashley should have been a heel from the time he returned to WWE after WrestleMania. Lio Rush was a heel on 205 Live, so it was odd to see him as a babyface cheerleader for a babyface Lashley on Raw. I was really hoping that WWE understood how obnoxious and heelish Rush was coming across doing his hype job during Lashley’s match against Kevin Owens, but I wasn’t sure. Therefore, I was relieved when Lashley clearly turned heel in the way he attacked Owens after the match. This is a heel duo that is now properly booked as a heel duo. I do worry that Rush’s mic work during the matches will become go away heat as he can be too over the top to the point where you might just want to change the channel.
Bellas Heel Turn: This was predictable, but still very well done. The match that came first was solid. I like how physical and intense Ronda Rousey is from the moment she gets tagged into the match. She continues to grow as an all around performer. Her hurt look in the corner after the Bellas had attacked her after the match was very strong. The physicality with her fighting back, only to have the Bellas use the numbers game to get the advantage worked really well. It was good how we didn’t hear from the Bellas afterwards. Let that sit for a week so that the fans want to tune in next week to find out why they attacked Rousey like that. I don’t know that Rousey vs. Nikki Bella is going to be a very good match at Evolution, but it has a chance to have a good build to it, and that build got off to a very nice start here.
The Conquistador: This was a fun segment with Baron Corbin getting his comeuppance at the hands of Kurt Angle. I wish there had been a little bit of a backstory to Corbin having this international battle royal to put himself into the World Cup tournament. How did Angle know that this was happening, so he could travel all the way to Chicago to dress up in a mask to beat Corbin and get into the World Cup? That was way too convenient on a show which had multiple moments that felt way too convenient. But, despite these issues, it was still fun to watch Angle outsmart Corbin for a change. His line in the interview afterwards about still being on vacation was amusing. So, I’ll call this a minor Hit.
The Shield vs. Strowman & Ziggler & McIntyre: This was a good main event. It played into the frustration with Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre from earlier in the show. It featured plenty of good wrestling action. These are all talented workers with some of them being great workers. It was fun to watch from start to finish. It was interesting to see the tension with Strowman getting upset at his partners during the match. There were some call backs to the Super Showdown match with various Shield members saving each other like they did in the previous match. The chaos at the end was well done leading to McIntyre getting the win. This was a great night for McIntyre with his mic work in the locker room scene, and then standing up to Strowman during this match, and getting the clean 1-2-3 on Dean Ambrose for the win. The way Ambrose walked out after losing was intriguing, so I want to watch what happens next.
DX Reunion: This was bad on so many levels. I wrote about how disappointed I am with Shawn Michaels for coming out of retirement for a Saudi Arabian pay day last week. I don’t want to rehash that here or dive too deep into politics and world events, but I will say that this show is such a disgrace. The fact that Michaels would come out of retirement for his first match in years for this disgrace is disheartening to me. Even if the show were happening in America, I would still have issues with the segment. Triple H was the heel at Super Showdown for making his match against Undertaker no DQ at the last minute. Michaels interfered in the match more than Kane did. They came across as bigger heels than Undertaker & Kane. Then after doing all those underhanded things to win the match, they wanted to act like they were all friends and had all this respect for The Brothers of Destruction. I don’t blame Undertaker & Kane for attacking them afterwards. That was totally justified to me. But on Raw, Michaels and Triple H were framed as the faces. They acted like they didn’t do anything wrong and the announcers backed that up. So that was a mess. The announcement that Michaels was returning to the ring, framed as a Degeneration X reunion was flat. It came across more like a commercial for their new DX t-shirt than an announcement of a WWE Hall of Famer having a return match. It was too convenient that they just happened to already have new DX shirts to show off so quickly after what happened in Australia. I appreciate the fact that Michaels and Triple H were serious here, but that was undercut later on when WWE showed a DX video package that focused on their silliness. I would not have done this at all, but if I had to, I would not play it up as a DX reunion.
Bayley and Balor: I missed the idea that the Mixed Match Challenge is a round robin tournament. I thought it was single elimination. I don’t care either way. Bayley and Finn Balor now only serve the purpose of advertising the MMC. They aren’t doing anything else. Bayley has nothing going right now for Evolution. I’m worried that she will end up facing Alicia Fox which will be a disappointment considering how important she was to the Women’s Evolution in the first place. And Balor should be a main event talent, but he is far from that at this point.
Stratus/Bliss/James/Lita: When Evolution was first announced, I expected a big match to be Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James. So, I was a little surprised when the two singles matches were announced instead. So it does make some sense, especially since Bliss isn’t 100% at this point, that they turned it into a tag match. I have no problem with that. The problem was how it was done. Trish was not good on the mic. Bliss and James were ok, but the way they suddenly challenged her to a tag match was awkward and poorly scripted. And then Lita just happened to be there ready to go in case it got turned into a tag match? That was way too convenient just like DX’s new shirts and Angle being there. They could have gotten to this match in a much more natural way. If they hadn’t already announced Lita would face James, they could have had Bliss and James attack Trish this week. Then have her on next week interrupting the heel duo while they bragged about taking her out. Then Trish could say that she brought some back up and then have Lita come out with her. Then after that you can change it to a tag match in a much more natural way. This was like telling three weeks of the story in one segment.
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.