RAW HITS AND MISSES
Opening Segment – MISS: There were good parts of the opening segment, but it went on for far too long and had too many bad things too. Paul Heyman was good in his performance talking about Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble, but it was a very long promo. The segment definitely went downhill when Vince McMahon came out. He wasn’t nearly as good on the mic. The idea of playing up the David vs. Goliath aspect of this match isn’t a good one. Fans don’t think about Balor being small, so why keep reminding them of his size? A heel McMahon isn’t a fresh new start. How is McMahon as the authority figure making fun of Balor’s size any different from Baron Corbin as the authority figure doing the same? Braun Strowman coming out at that point instead of Balor sent the wrong message. I don’t understand setting two babyfaces against each other like this. Balor was good on the mic in talking about believing in himself and the fans believing in him. But, then McMahon messed up and started to make the match before Balor’s lines were over. So, it was messy in the end.
Balor vs. Strowman – HIT: While I don’t like the idea of the babyface vs. babyface match up here, I do understand the idea of making Balor prove himself against a much larger opponent. The match itself was good and gave Balor a chance to shine and get in some offense against Lesnar who was at ringside. I don’t get why Strowman wasn’t disqualified when Lesnar suplexed Balor on the outside. But, otherwise the match worked well to show off Balor’s skills. I would have loved to actually see Balor getting the pin over Strowman to really send a message, but I understand why they were protecting Strowman. My other question is why did Strowman get pulled from the Lesnar match? I thought it was because he wasn’t medically cleared. But here, he wrestled Balor, so he is cleared. So what’s the deal?
Lashley – Crews – MISS: The last few weeks have been much better for Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush where they’ve gotten away from the silly posing stuff and have been positioned in a much more serious way. Why go back to the posing this week? Apollo Crews was amusing in making fun of Lashley in the way he did the posing and got a decent reaction from the live crowd, but this wasn’t the time for silliness like that. This wasn’t a good way to follow up on Lashley winning the Intercontinental Championship last week. The match that followed wasn’t good either.
Rollins and McIntyre Promos – HIT: These back to back promos from Seth Rollins and Drew McIntrye were both very good. Rollins’ promo was a great example of a babyface promo where he connected with the audience and issued a straight forward mission statement, in this case talking about winning the Royal Rumble and going on to main event WrestleMania. McIntyre gave a great heel response showing why Rollins won’t win, and separating himself from Rollins. I assume Rollins is going to win the Rumble, but McIntyre is my 2nd choice.
Rollins vs. McIntyre – HIT: This is a match that could headline SummerSlam. Having it on Raw for 14 minutes doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it was a good match as expected. They protected McIntyre a little by having it be a roll up pin instead of Rollins hitting the stomp, but I still question having McIntyre lose at all. As I said above, these are the two most likely male Rumble winners from Raw or Smackdown, so why hurt one of them here? But, I am still giving it a Hit considering the quality of the match. It was fun to watch from start to finish. If Rollins wins the Rumble, then McIntyre losing will be better.
Elias – Corbin – MISS: Admittedly, this Elias vs. Baron Corbin match was better than the last time they faced, but this whole encounter felt like a rerun to me. I liked Elias’ line about Corbin still wearing a vest, but otherwise this was rinse and repeat from multiple segments in the past.
Moment of Bliss – MISS: This was a jumbled mess. It was not a good way to promote the women’s Royal Rumble. I liked Alexa Bliss’ performance trying to keep control of her talk show, but the cattiness of the women involved didn’t make for good tv. The end of the segment was good with Bliss announcing that she will be in the Rumble (which is actual news) and then Lacey Evans coming out for her Raw debut to make the same announcement. She came across so much better than the rest of the roster which is good for her, but still points to how bad the start of this segment was.
Heavy Machinery – HIT: This was a better way to introduce Heavy Machinery to the Raw audience than what they did last week on the Moment of Bliss. They got an effective squash over the Ascension showing off their power moves and cool double teams, plus their personality. Otis Dozovic came across more like he was in NXT — a goof, but not a mentally handicapped barely functioning adult like he did last week.
Roode & Gable vs. The Revival – MISS: These are two talented teams. The Revival are a great team. Chad Gable is a very good wrestler and Bobby Roode is solid and they’ve made a lot of strides as a team. They could have a very good feud over the Raw Tag Team Titles. There was good wrestling here. But the storyline continues to be so poor. What was the announcing all about? Why is Renee Young on the side of the Revival? Why was she defending them cheating last week? Why did she defend them cheating this week and get upset over the referee actually enforcing the rules? This didn’t make any sense. The ultimate goal of the match was apparently to have a reunion between Zach Ryder and Kurt Hawkins. That would have fit in better on Main Event than Raw.
Rousey’s Interview – HIT: Yes, Ronda Rousey stumbled over one of her lines. She had trouble with two seconds vs. two sentences. But, she came across as being very emotional and amped up in the moment and that mistake actually felt more authentic than Vince McMahon’s mistake in the opening segment where he skipped Balor’s line to say his own. Otherwise, this was a very strong promo. I liked what she had to say about not owing Sasha Banks an apology. Everything she said backed up the feeling last week that she was the reasonable one in their post match argument. Rousey came across like the babyface here and the crowd seemed to react that way when she came out for the tag team main event.
Rousey & Natalya vs. Banks & Bayley – HIT: That tag team main event was a good match. Banks did a great job of getting under Rousey’s skin and Rousey was good in her reactions. The match had good wrestling action and told a good story. They didn’t give away too much of Rousey vs. Banks to take away from their Women’s Title match at the PPV. There was one awkward spot with Rousey and Bayley, but they recovered well and otherwise it was a well executed match. Having Banks get the tap out win over Natalya was the perfect ending to give Banks that strong credible win.
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.