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McMahon Chooses Owens – MISS: This might be a pathway to get Kofi Kingston into the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania, by replacing him in the match at Fastlane with Kevin Owens. But, it was not well done. I have seen people defend this as being a parallel to Vince McMahon removing Becky Lynch from the Women’s Title match at WM. The difference is that there was a storyline reason for him to suspend her. She had refused to see a doctor. She beat up Stephanie. She attacked Triple H. She initially refused to apologize. What exactly did Kofi do? I did think about accusations of racism that have come up against McMahon for the way he has used black wrestlers over the years. The rest of the McMahons don’t seem upset that Vince keeps overturning their decisions. That doesn’t make sense. It does make me worried that we are headed for a power struggle angle which doesn’t interest me. This ignores Owens’ past when he injured Vince. Owens is a babyface (I assume based on the videos announcing his return and the fact that he is facing the heel Daniel Bryan). But, they set him up to get booed on his first night back by taking Kofi’s place. That makes no sense. There is hope that New Day comes out of this as a more serious act. There is hope that Kingston vs. Bryan happens at WM, but that means Owens losing his first match back. This also ignores Owens being injured by Bobby Lashley in the first place. If they decided to capitalize on KofiMania by saving his Title match for the biggest show of the year, there had to be a better way to do it. Why should fans get excited about that match when it gets announced when they’ve already pulled the plug on the match once? Also, Kofi should have just signed the contract when Vince told him he was out of the match.
The Hardy Boyz – HIT: I didn’t expect to see Matt Hardy back. I’m fine with him going away from the Woken character. I was never that high on it. He and Jeff are probably more valuable as a team at this point than as two singles wrestlers. So, it was good to see them back as a team. The fact that WWE smartly didn’t have them break up before means that this makes sense. I won’t give their match against The Bar a Hit, because their first match should have been against a lower team. The Bar are one of the top teams on Smackdown. Why have them lose again this week? Why not keep them strong and build to a match against The Hardys at Fastlane?
Truth vs. Mysterio vs. Andrade – HIT: I have to admit to getting a big kick out of R-Truth’s announcement for doing a US Title Open Challenge. His line about looking up to John Cena as a kid was hilarious. Carmella added to the act. They work well together. I like that Rey Mysterio ran over Andrade on the way to the ring. They have been feuding and it made perfect sense that he wouldn’t want Andrade to have a US Title match. It was also nice to see more than one wrestler come out for one of these open challenges. That doesn’t happen often. The match itself was good. It was another tease for a PPV match between Mysterio and Andrade which should be great. Truth got the win with a leverage pin which worked in the situation.
Charlotte’s Promo – HIT: This is further proof that WWE has been stupid in the past when trying to push Charlotte Flair as a babyface. She is so much better as a heel. I’m not a big fan of her speaking pattern. It is annoying to me. But, it isn’t nearly as annoying when she’s cast correctly like she was here. Her declaration that she will go to Raw and be handed the Raw Women’s Title made a good hook to tune in on Monday to see what happens. At some point, it would be nice if the Smackdown Women’s Title gets a little bit of attention on you know… Smackdown.
Black & Ricochet vs. Rusev & Nakamura – HIT: I don’t like either of these teams. WWE told a terrible story to explain why Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura are suddenly teaming after being bitter enemies. WWE hasn’t done much to show why Aleister Black and Ricochet are teaming. As I said in my Raw Hits & Misses, I don’t buy them as a team. So, this isn’t a match that I like from a storyline standpoint. But, the match itself was quite good. It went 13 minutes so it wasn’t too short like Black & Ricochet vs. The Revival on Raw. These are four talented workers, so there was plenty of good wrestling action throughout the match. WWE is doing a good job so far of getting the Black Mass over as a legit finisher.
Kingston & Owens vs. Bryan & Rowan – HIT: This wasn’t a great main event, but it was good enough to get a Hit. It featured three very good workers and Rowan, and they had a good long tag match. This was more about telling the story of Kingston reluctantly teaming with Owens to take on a common enemy, and they told that story well in the ring. Owens getting the win in his first match back after injury made the most sense. In other circumstances, having him getting the win over the WWE Champion would work in justifying him having that Title match at the PPV. But, Bryan lost in the first round of the gauntlet match a few weeks ago. He was pinned in the tag match last week. He was pinned here. Why hot have Owens pin Rowan? That gets him over still and can introduce the stunner as a new finishing move while protecting Bryan.
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.