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Wildcard Rule – MISS: The idea of blurring the lines between the Raw and Smackdown rosters a few weeks after the Superstar Shakeup with this new Wildcard rule is stupid. Oh boy we get to see Roman Reigns on Raw… but we just saw him there three weeks ago. They are trying to fix their poor ratings without addressing the reason for that problem. The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough stars on Raw or Smackdown. The problem is terrible writing (there are multiple problems, but that’s the main one). So, the idea isn’t good and won’t fix the problem. The way that WWE presented the new rule was also poorly done. Having several Smackdown wrestlers show up to Raw without the rule hoping for a new rule was unbelievable. It was awkward how Vince McMahon came up with the idea on the spot. He clearly said three wrestlers (well he said Superstars) from each brand could show up on the other show. The announcers repeated that multiple times. Then we got five. Vince explained away the idea that Elias didn’t count since he was with Shane. That made no sense. Then, he said it was four because he was afraid of Lars Sullivan. He could have just not specified a number at the beginning of the show. This felt like they wrote a first draft of the show with three wrestlers in the Wildcard rule, but added Sullivan into the show later, and didn’t bother to go back and rewrite the first segment. This was a farce.
Opening Segment – MISS: Most of this Miss I’ve already covered with the Wildcard Rule. I will say that Daniel Bryan was a nice surprise, not because a Smackdown wrestler showed up on Raw, but because of the worry over Bryan’s injury from WrestleMania. It was good to know that he’s okay. There was more confusion over the Superstar Shakeup as Drew McIntyre accused Reigns of going to Smackdown to duck him, but the wrestlers supposedly didn’t have the power to decide which brand they ended up on in the Shakeup. It was too long and too confusing with too much hot shotting.
Rollins – Styles – HIT: A.J. Styles and Seth Rollins had a nice follow up to their contract signing from last week with their in ring segment with Vince this week. We got that pretty good verbal exchange which led to them being forced to team up against Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin. That was a good tag match. It was annoyingly interrupted by two commercias, but at 19 minutes, we still got to see a lot of good wrestling action. The ending with Styles’ accidental (or was it?) Phenomenal Forearm to Rollins was predictable, but worked well. The problem was Styles walking out on the match at that point. He’s walking a line with some heelish moments the last few weeks, but still mostly coming across as a babyface. But, that was clearly a heel move. So, it wasn’t all great. But, I did appreciate the fact that they both got a chance later in the show to talk about what had happened. Overall, this was a good Raw in terms of building anticipation for Styles vs. Rollins at Money in the Bank.
Zayn – Strowman – MISS: If last week was the week when Sami Zayn’s character ran out of steam, then this week felt like the week that WWE decided to kill it off for good. That might be fine, but the way they did it was not good. Fans have been trying to figure out which wrestler would finally shut Zayn up. I don’t think too many were hoping for Braun Strowman. It was a let down, because Zayn vs. Strowman isn’t a good match up. The chase through the crowd to the back was ok, but then suddenly there just happened to be a camera on the outside of the building right when the big door opened to reveal Zayn and Strowman. There was a camera right behind them. It would have been very easy to just have that cameraman follow them outside. And then the coincidence that a garbage truck would be there 30 seconds after Strowman threw Zayn into the dumpster was turn your brain off low IQ booking at its worst. Plus, when you have Strowman and a dumpster in the same shot, fans are going to expect a great feat of strength from Strowman like we’ve seen before. The fact that it didn’t happen is going to let down a lot of fans.
Ricochet Waits – MISS: WWE’s plan to have wrestlers make their ring entrance before a commercial break has been a problem for awhile now. But, it seems to be getting worse each week. This is more of a problem for the live crowd who have to sit through a bunch of stuff for several minutes after seeing a wrestlers’ entrance. How can they be expected to stay excited for Ricochet after his music is turned off for several minutes during a commercial break and then they come back and show video packages before the music starts again. It is killing the crowd’s enthusiasm. The worst this week was Ricochet. After the commercial, they showed a video about Make-A-Wish which was followed by the backstage vignette with Natalya, Naomi and Dana Brooke talking about the invitation they got from Lacey Evans (I did laugh at the fact that the invitations were peach cobbler scented – that was great!), then a shot of Miz waiting for Shane. So, you had Ricochet just standing in the ring for over 5 minutes. It is nuts.
Ricochet vs. Roode – HIT: I said last week that Robert Roode should be upset that Ricochet got to be in MITB instead of him. Apparently WWE read my Hits & Misses and put this match together with Roode complaining about it and getting this match against Ricochet where he could take Ricochet’s place in MITB. That story made sense (it still would have been better to not have Ricochet lose to Roode two weeks ago, but that ship has sailed). The match was short, but good while it lasted. The Hit is mostly for having the match in the first place, plus the right guy won this time.
Dominic Mysterio – MISS: I wish I could give Samoa Joe a Hit for his performance with Dominic. He was very good in threatening Dominic and sending a message to Rey Mysterio through his son. However, I can’t because Dominic was so bad in getting threatened. He no sold it. He didn’t act scared or intimidated at all. He just stood there. If he was trying to act scared, then this was bad acting. If he wasn’t trying to act scared, then this was bad directing or writing.
Evans – Lynch – HIT: From the scented invitations, to the squash match, to the promo cut to the Raw women in MITB, this was a good week for Lacey Evans, both from a character standpoint, and from a performance standpoint. The invitations fit her character perfectly. She should get a squash win every week before the PPV. This shouldn’t have been her first. The promo was good in threatening the potential MITB winners to not try to cash in the contract on her. The attack from Becky Lynch worked well too. She got the better of Evans, but Evans got away so fans will still want to see Becky get her revenge on her.
Hawkins & Ryder vs. The Viking Raiders – MISS: The fans in the building didn’t care about this match as they sat silently for the entire time. A new act like the Viking Raiders need to be built up and properly introduced to the audience to make them care about them before getting this type of non-title match against the Tag Team Champions. The Champions should ideally be treated like a big deal also, but Hawkins & Ryder are treated like a joke. So, that doesn’t make for a good combination. If the plan is to get the Titles on Viking Raiders asap, that will be ok. But, you still need to do a better job of establishing their team.
Reigns vs. McIntyre – HIT: This was a much better match than their WM match. It went longer, and was better put together. It was hard hitting, intense and well executed. I thoroughly enjoyed it until the ending. I don’t mind having a disqualification in this match. It makes sense. But, you could protect McIntyre more if the interference from Shane happened before it was clear that Reigns was going to get the 1-2-3. Otherwise, this was a good match.
Miz – Shane – HIT: Miz chasing Shane away with a chair worked well. Charlie Caruso trying to interview Shane as he ran away in the back was hilarious. The camera work following Shane to his limo with Miz attacking him there was so much more natural than what we saw earlier in the show with Strowman and Zayn. That was all well done. The problem is that Shane got away by using a low blow on Miz. That would be 100% fine if Rollins hadn’t been held up as a hero for using a low blow on Brock Lesnar at WM.
Ucey Hot – MISS: I thought last week’s back shaving was bad, but WWE hit a new low with this Ucey Hot crap. After the negative reaction this got, I was hoping WWE would move on and forget what happened last week. Instead, WWE doubled down on the childish humor. WWE is trying to ruin the Revival with this crap, but they are ruining the Usos instead. They are the best tag team in the company and the coolest act they have. But, they don’t look cool anymore. They look like goofs. This doesn’t help anyone. It is putting heat on the company for the way they treat Revival, not on the actual Revival.
Kingston vs. Bryan – HIT: Not only did this match get set up in the opening segment, but Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan both got a chance to cut a promo in the back as the show proceeded. That was good. The main event WWE Title match was also good. WWE already has the Kevin Owens – Kofi Kingston feud going on Smackdown, so getting a rematch with Bryan here made some sense. Owens vs. Kingston can last a few months, so WWE will need to find something else for Bryan now that he’s back. Obviously this wasn’t nearly as good as their WM match, but it was still a good main event and a strong way to end the show.
For another viewpoint, check out Jason Powell’s original “Hitlist” column on ProWrestling.net covering this episode 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 me on Twitter @JonMezzera(pretty clever handle right?). Just be aware that I don’t live tweet Raw, I don’t tweet much about wrestling, and I don’t tweet much at all.