Opening Segment – HIT: Raw got off to a good start with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar talking about Seth Rollins challenging for the Universal Title at WrestleMania. I loved when Heyman put himself over Shakespeare. He compared Rollins to the other smaller wrestlers who had given Lesnar problems in the past, while pointing out that despite that, Lesnar still beat each of them. He questioned why Rollins would want to face Drew McIntyre so close to having to face Lesnar. It was surprising that it was McIntyre who came out to interrupt, not Rollins. This was a good way to capitalize on McIntyre’s dominating week last week. The attack from behind by Rollins was an interesting way to go to end the segment.
Strowman & Balor vs. Lashley & Rush – HIT: This was a good tag match. I generally enjoy the matches where Braun Strowman and Finn Balor team up. Bobby Lashley continued to look like a jerk for the way he abandoned Lio Rush in the end. That relationship has to head somewhere new because it is going to be unbelievable how Rush would continue to help the man who is so abusive towards him. With Strowman announcing that he would be in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal later in the show, it points to Balor getting the Intercontinental Title match at WM, but nothing has been announced yet.
Moment of Bliss – MISS: Alexa Bliss is good, but I’m not a fan of her flirting with the wrestlers the way she did with Balor awhile back or here with Elias. I don’t care about WM hosts or WM musical guests, so the announcements from Bliss last week and Elias this week weren’t that important. The interruption by No Way Jose’s conga line with Heavy Machinery leading the line didn’t work. It is low card filler and Jose deserves better. WM deserves better than to have a “big” announcement from a wrestler who is so low on the card that he is involved with the conga line. Elias should be above it at this point. The match that followed was ok, but who cares?
Angle’s Announcement – MISS: Like everyone live in Chicago, I groaned when Kurt Angle announced that his final match ever would be against Baron Corbin. It sort of makes sense from a storyline standpoint in that Corbin was Angle’s big antagonist for the second half of last year. However, Angle already got his revenge against Corbin. He made a surprise appearance at TLC to help put the exclamation point on everyone helping to end Corbin’s run as the Raw GM. That was three months ago. It should have been put to bed. Angle deserves a more skilled opponent and a bigger name for his final match. I don’t care to see Angle wrestle at all. But if he is going to, at least give the fans a chance to see a good opponent. Angle’s match that followed against Chad Gable was solid, but not good enough to get a Hit. It was likely better quality that what we are going to see from Angle vs. Corbin.
Women’s Tag Title Picture – MISS: The Women’s Tag Team Championship is new. Bayley & Sasha Banks became the first Champions as part of a multi-team match. I don’t like the idea that their second Title match will also be multi-team. I liked the idea of having the returning Beth Phoenix team up with Natalya to face Nia Jax & Tamina while Bayley & Banks defend the Title against another team. I was disappointed with last week’s developments which pointed to a triple threat. This segment certainly did as well. There were good things about it, but not enough. I am ok with Phoenix and Natalya interrupting the Champs to challenge them for a Title match at WM. However, talking was never Phoenix’s strong point. She was ok, but not good enough. I didn’t like how Bayley and Banks came across as disrespectful to a WWE Hall of Famer. Once we got the match of Nataly vs. Banks, the physicality with Tamina attacking them from behind as Jax distracted them worked well. But, the direction they are going in is disappointing.
Ricochet vs. Mahal – MISS: Leave it to Jinder Mahal to make a Ricochet match boring. They are presumably going to continue with Ricochet and Aleister Black as a team. But, we still don’t know anything about who Ricochet is. This would have been a better week to have some type of feature on Ricochet to get to know him better instead of this meaningless match. Mahal basically dominated the match with a series of headlocks which got so boring pretty quickly. We got a few big moves from Ricochet at the end, but it was too little too late.
Unhinged Rousey – HIT: I am curious to see where WWE goes with Ronda Rousey’s husband Travis Browne. I liked the idea that they would show up late and be chastised for it, but the scene was not well done. The referee who did the scolding wasn’t good, and it was weird how he reminded Ronda that she had been fined an undisclosed amount of money. She knows how much it was, so why say “undisclosed”? Just remind her that she’s already been fined and move on. Otherwise, the way that Ronda presented herself was great this week. She continues to shine as a heel. I loved how she destroyed Dana Brooke in about 20 seconds. She presented herself as totally unhinged this week which worked very well. The abuse she gives the referees is great and the way that her husband at ringside was utilized worked well too. This is the Rousey that we need going into WM.
Batista – HIT: The interview with Batista was so much better than last week’s yelling match with Triple H. Here, his performance was very good. He explained why he wanted this match against Triple H. He went over their history well and told the story in a way that actually made me side with Batista. A lot of what he said rang true. As much as I liked the segment, it may have gone too far in making him the sympathetic character. However, his rude behavior at the end when he stormed off was definitely more of a heel move so it ended strong in that way.
McIntyre Promo – HIT: McIntyre should have sold the chair attack from Rollins at the start of the show when he came out to challenge Roman Reigns to a match at WM. It was like it never happened. Other than that, his performance was strong. He presents himself as a badass no nonsense heel and it works for him. I didn’t like the way Rollins responded. He started to respond but then threw to a video of what happened last week. That was so awkward. Why would Rollins set that up? He would just want to talk to McIntyre and then fight him. He wouldn’t want to take the time to talk to the director to have a replay queued up. So I didn’t like how the segment ended, but the McIntyre promo was a Hit.
McIntyre vs. Rollins – HIT: This was a good main event. Like so often happens, WWE painted itself into a corner where they can’t have a clean winner. Or more accurately, I should say they can’t have a clean loser. You can’t have the #1 contender to the Universal Title lose clean. You can’t have Roman Reigns’ WM opponent lose clean. So you keep telling the story of McIntyre beating the Shield members, while protecting Rollins in how he was distracted by the presence of Heyman and Lesnar. Of course, this made Rollins look stupid for getting distracted in the first place. This is part of the problem with having this match. But, that was the end. The match until that point was very good. It made me want to see more of them in the ring and I suspect that we will see them face for the Universal Title down the line.
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 email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera