KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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The KO Show – HIT: I was amused enough by the Kevin Owens Show to give it a Hit. With Big E out for an extended time with the knee injury, and with Kofi Kingston being the WWE Champion, it will be interesting to see what WWE does with New Day. This week, they had Kevin Owens as an honorary member as Big O. That was a fun segment. It was good for this week, but I hope that it was a one week only thing. We don’t need Big O as part of New Day until Big E returns.
Main Event Set Up – MISS: The set up for the main event was clunky. They had a tag match set up with Kofi & Woods vs. Nakamura & Rusev. That was ok. It is two established teams and you could see both Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev wanting to be in the WWE Title picture, so it could potentially be used to set up an opponent for Kofi. Big O said that he would be in their corner for the tag match since they were used to having Big E there. That caused Cesaro to randomly join in with Nakamura & Rusev. There wasn’t a reason given. There wasn’t any mention of Sheamus, so why was Cesaro by himself? And he was going to be in their corner to balance out Big O being in New Day’s corner, but that’s a babyface move. The heels should have had someone in their corner, and then have the babyfaces get someone to balance it out. This was backwards. Then, it got turned into a six man tag for some reason.
Balor vs. Ali – HIT: I am confused why the McMahons moved the Intercontinental Champion from Raw to Smackdown without also moving the United States Champion from Smackdown to Raw. I don’t know why the announcers didn’t talk about it. I’ve hard that there were some travel issues (perhaps that’s why Sheamus wasn’t on?). I heard that Samoa Joe was sick, so he couldn’t be on either show, but that’s not a good excuse. So, I am curious to see what happens next. Leaving that aside, the match that we got with Finn Balor taking on Mustafa Ali was very good. I was looking forward to more of Balor vs. Andrade on Raw, and maybe Balor vs. Styles down the line, but there are certainly good match ups for Balor on Smackdown too and we got one here. The sign of respect for Ali at the end was a nice touch. I hope Ali gets a push and doesn’t just end up the guy who has good matches but always loses.
Carmella vs. Flair – HIT: Charlotte needed a strong win after losing the Smackdown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. I would have expected Charlotte to beat Carmella quicker here, but Carmella is over with the crowds. She is a former Champion and just won the Women’s Battle Royal at WM, so she has some credibility. It was a good match. Charlotte took some time to win, but in the end it was a clean strong tap out victory over Carmella.
Lars Sullivan to Smackdown – MISS: I don’t really care which brand Lars Sullivan ends up on. But, Raw was so confusing with how poorly WWE handled the Superstar Shakeup that it was nice that they actually had a list of wrestlers on their website who ended up on Raw, either moving from Smackdown or 205 Live, or being assigned to Raw from NXT. Sullivan was one of those wrestlers. So, why did WWE move him the next night? Did they change their minds the next day? Or was this the plan all along?
Big Women’s Segment – HIT: This is a marginal Hit. There were things to like and dislike in this segment where WWE crammed all the women on the show into one moment. It had too many of Smackdown’s new wrestlers put into one segment with several segments during the show that had nothing to do with the Shakeup. Raw did a better job of spreading out the new arrivals throughout the show. I did like Becky’s promo to start it off. Ember Moon has talent, so hopefully a move to Smackdown will be good for her. But, why have her playing more of a heel character here, when she was about to be on the babyface team? I didn’t like her mic work much. Bayley was also a good move. I loved how she said that she had gotten enough hugs on Raw. I hope that this means at least a slight shift in her character which is needed. The IIconics are Hit or Miss, and have been more Miss than Hit lately. But, I enjoyed their act this week. I liked their mocking of Bayley and Moon for not having any belts, playing off of Becky Two Belts. The former Absolution had a nice moment assuming they were the team that Paige was introducing. I was expecting her new team to be Kairi Sane & Io Shirai. I was half right. They are established as a team on NXT and have been presented as best friends from before coming to America. That doesn’t feel forced like Sane and Asuka. Asuka & Sane should be a great team, but it feels like a slap in her face to have her in a team at all at this point. Was she put with Sane because they are both Japanese? Having Paige to talk for her is probably a good idea. So, I have mixed feelings about it. The tag match that followed was fine, but not quite Hit worthy.
Buddy Murphy to Smackdown – HIT: Like I said for Cedric Alexander going from 205 Live to Raw, it is s shame that 205 Live is a feeder semi-developmental territory. But, given that it is, Buddy Murphy deserves to be on a bigger stage than 205 Live. It was predictable that he would end up on Smackdown which isn’t a complaint. It was the right move. Having him start out with a short introductory promo vignette was a good idea. I hope he has several weeks of similar videos before debuting in front of a Smackdown audience.
Main Event – HIT: Despite the clunky set up, the six man tag main event was a fun match. Obviously, there was a lot of talent in the ring. WWE hasn’t yet shown its hand when it comes to a potential challenger for Kofi’s WWE Title. This could have set up something, but with the New New Day getting the strong win, none of these heels look like that challenger. Daniel Bryan hasn’t been on since WM. Randy Orton had a brief RKO out of nowhere last week, but wasn’t on this week. None of the new arrivals via the Shakeup came out to challenge him. Unless the Big O stays with New Day for a long time, this match didn’t feel like anything but filler. But, it was a good match.
McMahon, Elias, Reigns – HIT: Just like in my Raw Hits & Misses, part of this Hit is for the fact that I predicted that Roman Reigns would move to Smackdown on Wrestling Night in America this week. I felt like Seth Rollins needed a “Reigns free Raw” to be a strong long term Universal Champion, so moving Reigns was the way to go. Of course, he can overshadow Kofi too, but we’ll see. The way they did it with Vince McMahon teasing the biggest acquisition in Smackdown history was smart. Fans were anticipating someone like Reigns for that spot and were disappointed by Elias being the announcement. So, they set up Reigns to get a good babyface reaction by having him come out to cheer up the fans who were disappointed in that Elias announcement. They were happy to see someone bigger than Elias, and to see that person beat up Elias and Vince. My only question is why didn’t Vince know that Reigns had also been moved to Smackdown? Who was making these decisions?
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