SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Superstar Shakeup Still Going – MISS: WWE had a bad week last week on both Raw and Smackdown with how poorly they executed the Superstar Shakeup. But, at least it was over, or so we thought. Having more wrestlers like Cesaro and Samoa Joe show up this week without any explanation wasn’t good. We know that they switched some wrestlers back to Smackdown after they had been moved to Raw last week. WWE should have had its act together last week, so fans weren’t confused this week. It points to a company that doesn’t have a clue as to what it is doing.
Opening Segment – MISS: Why did Michael Cole know that there were going to be two triple threat matches with the winners facing in the main event to earn a Universal Title shot against Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank, but Rollins didn’t know? That was a very awkward start to the show. I’m not a fan of the parade of wrestlers coming out and wanting a title shot. I didn’t mind as much here because all six of those wrestlers had already been named for those two triple threat matches. So, there was a reason why they came out but nobody else did (one of the things that always bothers me in these segments is why other wrestlers don’t also come out to demand a title shot). The problem is that the mic work was generic and not particularly good from most of the wrestlers. It didn’t get me excited for the triple threat matches. It dragged on too long. It was a bit of a mess. It just didn’t work.
Joe vs. Styles vs. Mysterio – HIT: The first of the two triple threat matches was very good. When you looked at the talent in the two matches, you had to know that this would be the better match. It went 18 minutes and while we missed quite a bit on two commercial breaks, what we saw was entertaining. It was definitely the best match of the night. The ending sequence with AJ Styles catching Rey Mysterio and hitting him with a Style Clash on top of Samoa Joe was very cool. The only issue is that on the first week after the Superstar Shakeup, this big match featured three former Smackdown wrestlers. What is fresh about seeing Styles and Joe in the ring together? Or Joe and Mysterio?
Corbin vs. Miz vs. McIntyre – HIT: While not nearly as good as the first triple threat match, the second one was still good enough to get a Hit. At least Miz got to be part of a fresh match up. It also seems to be the end of an alliance between Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin which is a good thing. Hopefully that sticks and McIntyre can just shine on his own. Of course, it was a little odd to see Miz not involved with Shane McMahon. The announcers didn’t really address it. Given the fact that Styles was going to win the main event, having Corbin win here was the right way to go.
Sami Zayn – MISS: I’ve enjoyed Sami Zayn the last few weeks since his return from injury with the way that he has trolled the fans. But, this week’s segment didn’t work for me. Zayn is playing his part very well, but this felt like more of the same without it going anywhere. I kept expecting something to happen, but nothing did. It doesn’t feel like it is going anywhere at this point.
Cesaro vs. Alexander – HIT: WWE needed to do a better job of using jobbers this week. You have two wrestlers making their Raw debuts after the Superstar Shakeup facing each other. Both Cesaro and Cedric Alexander needed wins on this show. The match was really good. It was fun to watch and it was nice to see a 7 minute match not get interrupted by a commercial break. It was certainly Hit worthy. But, Alexander shouldn’t have lost. Cesaro shouldn’t have lost either. So, the match shouldn’t have happened.
Usos – Revival – HIT: The backstage encounter between The Usos and The Revival worked well. It was something fresh after the Shakeup. The first match that most fans probably wanted to see when The Usos went to Raw was The Revival. The Usos were particularly good in their interview before the Revival interrupted. The Revival Reformatory is a good counter to the Uso Penitentiary. I laughed when the Usos fell asleep. Hopefully we get to see a nice long feud between these two as they can have a great series of matches against each other.
The Viking Raiders – HIT: I complained like everyone else about the name The Viking Experience. So while The Viking Raiders also sucks (seriously, every name they’ve ever had sucks), it doesn’t suck nearly as much as the Viking Experience. So, I have to give it a Hit. As long as they still make their own Viking weapons, that’s all that really matters.
Becky – Lacey – HIT: The mic work from Becky Two Belts and Lacey Evans was strong. Evan has certainly found herself in this character. She plays it very well and is totally committs to being the Sassy Southern Belle. Becky Lynch is so much fun to watch. It was good to hear the two of them going back and forth to help build to their Raw Women’s Title match at MITB.
Lynch vs. Fox – MISS: This was a bad match. Alicia Fox has never been very good in the ring, but she can certainly be better than this. Lynch is great, but she couldn’t overcome the sloppiness of Fox. Fox is so far below Lynch on the ladder, than Becky should have squashed her in half the time. The two Women’s Rights from Evans after the match worked well to sell the move and put heat on her for attacking Becky form behind.
Roode Defeats Ricochet – MISS: The match between Robert Roode and Ricochet was good. But, having Ricochet lose to Roode made no sense. This was not a case of Cesaro and Alexander both being on the show for the first time. Just changing a name from Bobby to Robert and growing a mustache isn’t enough to justify a push. Roode has been defined as a lower mid-card act. Yes, he has been a United States Champion and a Tag Team Champion. But, the last few months he’s been defined down. Ricochet has been mostly protected as part of a team with Aleister Black. With Black moving to Smackdown in the post-Shakeup Shakeup, this became the first chance to showcase Ricochet as a singles star. And he lost? And to Roode? Give me a break. I’ve been worried about Mustafa Ali being the super talented jobber on Smackdown. Alexander and Ricochet may both end up in a similar role to Ali on Raw.
Firefly Funhouse – MISS: I sat looking at the screen for a long time trying to decide whether to type HIT or MISS. Bray Wyatt was super stale as a cult leader without a cult. He then joined Matt Hardy in a team that never made any sense. He then disappeared for a long time. Having him come back with a new gimmick makes sense. But, this didn’t work for me. I was amused at times, but this was way too much Sports Entertainment for my tastes. I like characters in pro wrestling, but these types of over the top cartoonish not realistic at all characters take me out of the action. Nobody in real life acts like Bray Wyatt. I am taking a bit of a wait and see approach as I acknowledge the fact that I may change my mind on this gimmick. I may end up liking it in the end. But, my initial reaction was negative enough so I have to give it a Miss.
Corbin vs. Styles – HIT: WWE played up the idea that Styles had potentially suffered a leg injury in the triple threat match. He played that well during the match. He also performed well overall to help elevate Corbin to a good singles match. It also felt fresh as a new match after the Shakeup. I expected Corbin would win to capitalize on beating Kurt Angle at WrestleMania. It would have made sense to go to a short program for Rollins to face Corbin at MITB. It would just be the one match before moving onto something else. With Becky defending her title and presumably Kofi Kingston defending the WWE Title, and two MITB Ladder Matches, you don’t have to have a top level opponent for the Universal Title. Someone like Corbin would have made sense and they could have saved Styles. But, I certainly won’t complain about the chance to see Rollins vs. Styles.
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