Rollins as Top Guy: This Hit is for the idea that WWE made it clear on this night that they are getting behind Seth Rollins as the top guy on Raw. This felt like a coronation. When I heard the long promo from Rollins to start the show, the first thing I thought of was “Rollins is going to win the Rumble and beat Lesnar at WrestleMania.” Rollins was positioned as the leader of the locker room which is the reason for the Hit. That doesn’t mean I like what he specifically had to say (more later).
McIntyre Interview: Drew McIntyre gave a good interview about losing for the first time since returning to WWE in his match against Dolph Ziggler last week. It was short and to the point and put the focus on his upcoming match against Finn Balor who was absent because he was injured by McIntyre after he cost him that match last week. I’m taking a wait and see approach with the new character for Ziggler. Their match that followed this good interview was solid, but not as good as last week’s. It was too short. I won’t give it a Hit, but it wasn’t a Miss either. But, McIntyre came out looking like a huge heel star.
Ambrose Interview: Dean Ambrose gave a good interview in the back with Charlie Caruso. I like how he doesn’t want to be called the Lunatic Fringe any more. He came across as a big jerk. This was a better way to bring up Roman Reigns where it didn’t feel like they were exploiting his illness. What I didn’t like about it was the ridiculously long video package that came in the middle of it. I get the idea of having a short clip to get Ambrose’s reaction to it. But, this was way too long. I appreciate the fact that Ambrose refused to comment on it at that point and just walked away. But after such a long video, it would have been better if he had already left and Caruso had to say “Dean walked away as he watch the video, so unfortunately, I can’t get his reaction to it.”
Jax – Rousey: This is a minor Hit. Nia Jax started off with a good promo about what she will do to Ronda Rousey at the PPV. She brought up Becky Lynch which makes sense to keep that heat on her. But, she went on too long. The screaming at the end wasn’t good. I see it as a positive step for her as a heel as she is improving in that role. But the writers didn’t do her any favors for the length of her promo; and she didn’t do any favors with her performance at the end. It was good that Rousey gave a very quick promo as she walked to the ring. Less is more with her and this worked well to get her into the ring quickly to get in Jax’s face. The help from Ember Moon made sense. The match that followed was solid. It was interesting that Rousey got the better physically of Jax on the outside during the match. WWE didn’t need to sell the idea that Rousey can handle Jax physically. So what was the point of making the challenger look weak? Or will Jax actually get the win on Sunday? Maybe Rousey goes on without the Title to win the Rumble and challenge Lynch (or Charlotte) at WrestleMania?
Rollins vs. Corbin: I don’t really understand giving away a TLC match less than a week before the TLC PPV. There was too much of Heath Slater in the match. The match ended without a referee to actually call for the bell when Rollins grabbed the belt. So, again I have to call this a minor Hit for the effort put on by Rollins and Corbin. It had a lot of good wrestling action. There were some big spots which were cool to see. They worked hard and performed well. I had issues with it, but it was a good main event.
Raw Sucks: Having your top babyface point out how much your show sucks was an interesting choice. I think the idea was to endear themselves to their fans as a message of “we hear you, we know we have problems to fix, and we are going to fix them.” That’s how I read Rollins’ opening promo. But, pointing out the flaws of your show is never a good idea. Much of what Rollins said didn’t make storyline sense as he was trying to transfer heat off of the creative team for something like the Drake Maverick peeing storyline onto Corbin. But, the character of Corbin had nothing to do with that. There was a way WWE could have done this with Rollins standing up against Corbin, but this was not the way to go about it. And pointing out all the problems without fixing any of them isn’t going to help.
AOP & Maverick vs. Roode & Gable: The Authors of Pain are a good tag team. They could have something great with Maverick as their manager, but WWE hasn’t done anything good with him in that role. They could be a monster heel team that holds on to that Tag Team Championship for months. Instead, they have been turned into a joke. Now, they lost the Tag Titles to another joke tag team. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable don’t mean much. They don’t come across well as a team. They rely solely on the one note Glorious gimmick. They only won by beating Maverick in the match, so they don’t really come across as strong new Champions.
Use of Neidhart: I don’t care if Natalya signed off on using her dad’s death as the central part of her feud with Ruby Riott. I don’t want to watch it. The performances from Natalya and Riott were strong. Natalya cut a longer in ring promo than I ever remember her doing before. She was good. But, WWE did them a disservice by having the start of the feud be so rushed with Riott destroying her dad’s sunglasses on the first night she wore them. I’d rather they not use his death for a storyline at all, but if they are going to, they should at least do it well. And then you get Riott with the reveal of the Jim Neidhart table which was creepy and made me want to stop watching. When she said she was going to make Natalya and her father become closer than ever before, my thought was “are you going to kill her so she can be with him?” I get having heels say terrible things to get heat, but this comes across as over the top cartoonish super villainy which takes me out of the moment.
Elias: On Wrestling Night in America, I was Greg Parks’ guest host this week (thank again for having me Greg!). During our conversation about the Elias vs. Bobby Lashley feud, we were talking about the effectiveness of both of their recent turns. Greg asked me which turn had been better so far and I said Lashley. Performances like this from Elias is why I said that. He has been underwhelming as a babyface so far. His heel character was so popular that a face turn should have been easy, but for some reason, he hasn’t clicked yet. This performance was weak. I am still a fan of his. I just want to see him do better than he’s been doing and get back to being more of what he was as a heel. The match against Lio Rush with the start of the Slater as a reluctant heel referee was ok. It got some heat on Rush and Lashley. It should make the fans want to see Elias get revenge at TLC, so hopefully something good comes out of it.
Overall Show: As I said above, they didn’t fix the problems. Corbin’s presence has been a problem, but he was all over this show, appearing in the opening segment, the main event, and multiple back stage segments. That didn’t fix the problem. Yes, I had 5 Hits, but there were reservations with all of them. There were too many video packages and replays. They didn’t do a great job with the final hard sell of the PPV on Sunday. They continue to exploit a man’s death. They needed to fix the Drake Maverick / AOP situation, but found a way to make it worse. There were things to like on this show, but WWE needs to do so much more to actually fix the issues that Rollins talked about in the opening 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.