SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Inspired by the McMahon family and the New Year, I have decided that it is time to freshen things up here on the Raw Hits & Misses (and I will be returning later in the week with the same new format to the Smackdown Hits & Misses). This is a whole fresh new start for Hits & Misses. I hope you enjoy!
RAW HITS AND MISSES
Ziggler vs. McIntyre – HIT: It was refreshing to see Raw start off with a nice long match instead of a dull long talking segment. The steel cage match that kicked off the show between Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre was good. I didn’t like the idea that either of these guys would try to escape the cage, because Ziggler wants revenge on McIntyre, and McIntyre is too much of a badass to try to escape. I didn’t like that aspect of it. But, I liked the rest. It had good wrestling action throughout. It gave McIntyre the strong win in the end which was the right way to go. He also looked vicious in the post-match attack and beat down of Ziggler. Hopefully, 2019 will be a big year for McIntyre.
New Year’s Resolutions – MISS: This is a minor Miss. It was better than the Christmas wishes from last week. I like the idea of giving wrestlers the chance to cut these short promos talking about their goals for the new year. Some of them were well done. Some of them were silly and not particularly good. They would have been better if each one only had featured one wrestler (or tag team) giving their resolutions with a little more time to talk. We didn’t need to see ones from guys like The Ascension, Lucha House Party or Zack Ryder. Longer better ones from people like Finn Balor, Ember Moon and The Revival would have been better.
Rollins, Triple H, Shane – MISS: This was a big Miss. First of all, if the McMahons as a group are running Raw and Smackdown, without anyone to help them, then they should probably be at the show from the start. The idea that Triple H and Shane McMahon would show up 30 minutes into the show was stupid. Showing them arrive at the show underscores the idea that they are more important than the wrestlers which is not a fresh new start. Getting to the segment, Triple H trying to fire up Seth Rollins into getting his inner aggression out was basically the same scene we saw on Smackdown last week with Vince McMahon slapping AJ Styles. I don’t get the idea of taking the most popular male babyface on each brand and having a McMahon yell at them to get them to have more aggression. They aren’t the problems. Then Rollins’ come back was that he’s had good matches this year including with Mojo Rawley? What kind of come back was that? Wrestlers should not be bragging about the quality of their matches, they should be bragging about winning those matches. That was terrible. Shane McMahon’s appearance was odd too. It seems like the McMahon family aren’t actually talking about the show together. Having him just come out to announce the battle royal was odd. Once you introduce structure like four people running the show, then you have to actually define that structure as to how the power works behind the scenes. Like why are they running this show, but not Stephanie or Vince? What if they disagree on a decision? I can’t be the only one thinking about these questions. So I really didn’t like any of this.
Apollo Crews – HIT: Apollo Crews is good enough in the ring to get a better push. He showed in his post-battle royal interview that he has a long way to go on the mic. He needs to work on that part of his game. But, I’m in favor of WWE getting behind Crews for a bigger push. He had a good night with a strong showing in the battle royal to earn a shot at Dean Ambrose’s Intercontinental Championship later on. The battle royal itself was solid, but not good enough to get a Hit on its own (not bad enough to get a Miss either). I got the feeling that he was getting the Kane treatment where he was going to have a good showing in the match, but still lose. So, I was relieved when he won as that meant more than just having a great showing in a losing effort. He also had a strong showing in the IC Title match despite losing. Again, that match won’t be a Hit or Miss. It was good in that it was well executed and helped to cap off the night for Crews. But, at the same time it didn’t do much for Ambrose. He hit like two moves the entire time and the fact that Crews could lose after only taking two moves wasn’t great either. If that match had gone back and forth a little more, it would have been a Hit, but it was still a good night for Crews and hopefully WWE does a good job of following up on it in the upcoming weeks.
Moon & Bayley & Banks vs. The Riott Squad – HIT: This was a good six woman tag match. With the announcement from Vince McMahon that there will be Women’s Tag Team Titles in 2019, Bayley & Sasha Banks are going to be top contenders to become the first Champions. So, having them in more tag team matches and winning those matches made sense. Add in the quality of this match, and you get a Hit.
Rollins vs. Lashley – MISS: While I didn’t like the set up for this match, it did have some good wrestling action. In fact, I liked quite a lot of it. However, it made me want to watch Lio Rush vs. Seth Rollins more than seeing more of Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins. Plus, the end was a cop out with Rollins getting frustrated and getting himself disqualified by hitting Lashley with a chair. This is one of those cases where WWE books themselves into a corner where they don’t want to have either wrestler lose, so they give Lashley the DQ win, but have Rollins stand tall. 50-50 booking isn’t a fresh new start. Rollins was trying to prove that he has the aggression that Triple H wanted to earn an IC Title match, but he did it in a losing effort. Losing to Lashley even via DQ should not be a way to earn an IC Title match.
Mahal & The Singhs vs. Slater & Rhyno – MISS: So WWE brings back Rhyno for a surprise return last week after being fired by Baron Corbin awhile back, only to have him and Heath Slater lose the following week to a joke group of wrestlers? That doesn’t make much sense. This is the type of meaningless filler which isn’t that bad, but wouldn’t be on if Raw were 2 hours like it should be.
Tamina & Jax vs. Rousey & Natalya – HIT: This was a good main event. This was a case where two babyface wrestlers changed their style and attitude to be much more aggressive early on in order to match the natural storyline that is being told. I loved the early intensity from Natalya and Ronda Rousey where they showed more aggression without having gone through a pep talk from a McMahon. Losing to Ambrose at TLC, especially in the manner that he lost, should have been the kick in the pants that Rollins needed to show more aggression in the ring (if the writers really wanted that). Ok, back to the match. Everyone performed well in the match. It was well booked and well executed. It fit in with their storyline. I was impressed with the timing of the spots. I really enjoyed this and I appreciate how WWE is playing a long game with the Rousey – Natalya friendship. I expected it to be over already and I hope it won’t be for a long time so when it does end, it will have all the more impact.
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 12/17: Vince McMahon, Angle vs. Corbin, Antiquated Title Rematch Clause, Gauntlet Match