Seth Rollins: The first hour of Raw was pretty bad (more later). The second hour got off to a much better start with the promo from Seth Rollins. I didn’t like how he brought up Roman Reigns’s illness to put heat on Baron Corbin, but I liked the rest of the promo. I was intrigued by the fact that it teased a possible match against Brock Lesnar down the line. That is something many fan are hoping for. He addressed Dean Ambrose not answering his question last week. He also addressed what will happen with the Tag Team Championship since Ambrose won’t defend the titles with him. This led to the Authors of Pain being named his challenger for those Titles and a pretty good match that followed. It doesn’t do a lot of good to AOP for them to barely beat one man when they had what amounted to a three-on-one advantage. But, at least they are the Raw Tag Champs now. All three wrestlers performed well in the match. Rollins looked great despite the predictable loss. Then you got the great post-match appearance from Ambrose talking a little, without actually saying why he betrayed Rollins, and getting more physicality. This wall all mostly well done, and this one Hit encompasses multiple segments on the show.
Ziggler – Elias: This is a minor Hit. Dolph Ziggler was good in his performance talking about the conspiracy from Crown Jewel allowing Shane McMahon to win the World Cup. The problem is that he sounded reasonable, like a babyface, but he was supposed to be a heel. But, if the show you are attending is the babyface show, then on this show, Raw is the babyface show, but he was a heel complaining about the heel move by the authority figure from the heel brand (in this context). So, this was a mess. Elias saved the segment. He was much better in his second week as an official babyface than his first week. I liked how he improvised playing the tune to “Seven Nation Army” to go along with the “Oooh Walk With Elias” chant from the fans. He definitely connected well with the crowd. It was a good set up for their match.
Rousey: Ronda Rousey continues to shine in WWE. This was a good promo talking about her upcoming match against Becky Lynch. This does have a different feel from her other recent matches, and I like how WWE is handling it so far. It was smart to have Rousey put Lynch over at the start of the segment. Despite being a heel, Lynch is arguably the most popular woman in WWE right now. She and Rousey are certainly 1 and 2 in some order. You don’t want fans who love Lynch to turn on Rousey after this match, so having her talk about all the respect for Lynch was a good move. She got more serious and intense as the promo proceeded which worked well. I didn’t like the personal digs that she took later on during the promo, making fun of Lynch for being a stewardess in the past. That took away some of the good she did at the beginning of it. She should keep it focused on having respect for her opponent, but proving that she’s better.
Lashley vs. Balor: This is another minor Hit. The mic work from Lio Rush before the match was good. The posing bit with Bobby Lashley was amusing (I may be in the minority of people who got a kick out of that). The fact that Rush didn’t have a mic during Lashley’s match against Finn Balor was Hit worthy in and of itself. I liked the concept when he first started doing it as a way to help turn Lashley heel, but it served its purpose and overstayed its welcome. So doing away with it now is a smart move. The match itself was solid to good, but too short to amount to much. I particularly liked the action on the outside when Balor attacked Rush for getting involved and tried to charge him, only to have Lashley cut him off which led to his loss. But, we’ve seen these guys too many times recently which took away from the match. I was intrigued by McIntryre’s appearance at that point and the way he stared down Lashley. It was a bit odd in a heel vs. heel way, but still interesting. The attack on Balor at that point worked to get that heat back on McIntyre. I’m also hoping that it will set up a Balor vs. McIntyre feud to give them both a new opponent going forward.
McIntyre vs. Angle: This was a very interesting way to end Raw. Kurt Angle was portrayed as having a disadvantage going into this match since he was supposed to face Corbin, who changed the opponent to McIntyre at the last minute. So, he had a built in excuse for losing, but it was still stark how dominating McIntyre was in this match. Angle got in some offense here and there, but it was clear that McIntyre would have pinned him fairly easily after the Clamor Kick if he hadn’t toyed with Angle at that point. Even his toying with Angle only allowed Angle a last ditch effort with an Ankle Lock that didn’t last long before McIntyre escaped. The fact that he then got that tap out victory over Angle with Angle’s own moves pointed to the dominating nature of the win for McIntyre. McIntyre was great. To me, this cemented him as the top heel on Raw since Brock Lesnar isn’t around very often. Angle performed well too. What does this mean for Angle going forward? What does it mean for McIntyre? I really want to know the answer to those questions which is another reason why this was a Hit.
Opening Segment: I was almost falling asleep from the boring Survivor Series Raw vs. Smackdown talk at the start of Raw. I lost total interest in the show during that segment with Baron Corbin talking about the different matches and Team Raw and being captain and getting Alexa Bliss as the captain of the women’s team. It was so boring. Corbin isn’t good in the role. The whole concept of Survivor Series is idiotic. The idea that Braun Strowman would be willing to team up with Ziggler and McIntyre for team red is stupid. What has WWE done to establish a sense of brand loyalty with a guy like Strowman? Why would any babyface woman on the roster agree to work for Bliss after what she’s done to them in the past, just to prove that Raw is better than Smackdown? The whole concept is stupid, and when you put together a very long segment that is focused almost entirely on that stupid concept, and execute it in a very boring manner, you are going to end up with a very large Miss.
Natalya’s Sunglasses: The six woman tag match with Sasha Banks, Bayley & Natalya vs. The Riott Squad was ruined by the terrible ending. It was a good long match until that point. If WWE wants us to take the sunglasses gimmick seriously, they have to have it set up for a long time before Ruby Riott destroys it. Natalya should have been wearing those sunglasses as a tribute to her late father for months to really establish it as important, before getting to this point. Introducing it on the same night as it got destroyed was short sighted and telegraphed what was going to happen. So, I didn’t feel bad for Natalya like I was supposed to. Plus, there was no ending to the match. Was it a double count out? The winning team was supposed to be part of Team Raw, but there wasn’t one and the fact that there wasn’t one wasn’t even a big deal.
Oddly Timed Videos: WWE has been doing more of these oddly timed videos lately. It seems like it is getting worse and this week was particularly bad. I’m talking about when one, or both wrestlers have already made their way to the ring and are about to wrestle, only to have to stand in the ring while something totally unrelated plays on the video screen (a video package or something appearing to happen live backstage). As Jinder Mahal makes his way to the ring, a video package plays on DX vs. The Brothers of Destruction while he just stands there waiting for Apollo Crews to come out. Their match was totally forgettable at that point. Later, with Ziggler and Elias both in the ring waiting through a commercial break (which is awkward enough), instead of going right to the match they had to continue standing in the ring during a Lucha House Party video and a selfie promo from The Revival. Later, with Nia Jax and Ember Moon in the ring ready to wrestle, they cut to a long video on their new partnership with Girls Up. It is annoying as a tv viewer to have to sit through these videos, but I have to assume it is even worse for the wrestlers themselves and the fans in the arena.
Ziggler vs. Elias: While I liked the set up to this match, I was disappointed in the match itself. Ziggler is a very good worker. Elias has been solid to good in the ring. This should have been a good match. It wasn’t. There was something that didn’t click with the chemistry between them. It wasn’t terrible. I appreciate that Elias got the win. I was just disappointed in the match, so it landed in the Miss column.
Girls Up: I really do hate to give a Miss to WWE promoting a very good cause like Girls Up. I had just taken a big drink of water when the video started and I literally did a spit take (seriously, I choked a little) at the idea of WWE promoting an organization that works for gender equality in sports around the world three days after doing a big show where their own women were not allowed to appear. Evolution came across as an apology to the women on the roster for their deal with Saudi Arabia. This came across as an apology for Crown Jewel specifically. After Stephanie McMahon’s own words about WWE doing charity for marketing purposes, it is hard to not be cynical in general at the videos that they show throughout the year for Make a Wish, Special Olympics, Conor’s Cure and Susan G Komen. But, it was impossible to not be cynical at the timing of this Girls Up partnership three days after Crown Jewel.
Jax – Tamina: Jax vs. Moon was an ok match. Not quite a Hit, but not a Miss either. But, the storyline with Jax turning heel and teaming up with Tamina has not been good. It had a few decent moments to it, but Tamina was out for so long with an injury and it seemed like the last time she was on, she was only around for a short time after a previous injury. She hasn’t been well established enough as a credible or important character to serve as the linchpin in a heel turn for Jax. This felt rushed. And Jax hasn’t been a babyface long enough for the heel turn to mean as much as it could have. And her “I Won!” yell at the end was terrible. What was that?
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.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 10/31: Cringe-Inducing Reigns follow-up, DX-Brothers of Destruction, Balor vs. Lashley, Rollins-Ambrose, Ten-Woman Tag, Elias babyface turn follow-up, more