SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: This opening segment was too long. But, it was good. The best part was Brock Lesnar celebrating with the Money in the Bank briefcase. It was great how he was holding it up to his ear like it was a boombox and bobbing his head to the beat of his own music. Paul Heyman did a nice job with the promo about how Lesnar ended up getting in the MITB match to begin with. Seth Rollins was good in his interruption setting himself apart from Lesnar as a real Champion. Kofi Kingston was fine in his interruption also. The tease at the end worked well to hook the audience to stick around, knowing that Kingston and Rollins would be in a match later in the show with Lesnar and the briefcase still hanging around. The idea that Lesnar can cash in on either champion due to the Wildcard Rule does make some sense.
Better Than WrestleMania? – MISS: I find it insulting that these Saudi Arabia shows exist. The fact that WWE is promoting Super Showdown as being as good if not better than WrestleMania is terrible. The fact that Undertaker and Goldberg would take this blood money to be on this show instead of WrestleMania makes me sad. I have no interest in seeing either of them wrestle anyone at this point, much less each other, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not watching the show. I cancelled my WWE Network subscription on Monday morning. I don’t understand fans like me who criticize WWE for doing these Saudi Arabia shows, but don’t cancel their subscription. Many won’t watch, but WWE has their money, so it isn’t much of a statement.
Strowman vs. Zayn – MISS: After a very long opening segment, I was waiting for a good wrestling match. Instead, we got Mick Foley walking into the building, a Super Showdown video, a commercial, a backstage scene with Sami Zayn trying to get Bobby Lashley to help him, Sami’s entrance, a scene in the back with Rollins and Kingston finding out about their main event match from Triple H, and then Zayn running away from Strowman before we finally got to a match. Then that match had a fight outside the ring before it started, but the match itself was only a minute long. There was a lot more (the Lars Sullivan segment, a Styles vs. Rollins video, a commercial, more replay videos, and a video from earlier in the show setting up the match) before we finally got to the second match of the show.
Lars Sullivan – MISS: One of the issues with the Wildcard Rule is how arbitrary it is. Why would they want an interview with a Smackdown wrestler like Lars Sullivan on Raw? It is debatable what WWE should do with Sullivan given his horrible statements in the past and not just ten years ago like some have portrayed it. Some of these statements were 3-4 years ago, when he was well into his 20s, not “a kid.” I don’t think he should be in WWE. I understand if others disagree. But, what upsets me is that WWE has him destroying a group of Luchadores. Kalisto is one of two WWE wrestlers to say something about Sullivan on social media and now he seems to be getting punished for it. WWE feels that a Mexican complaining about a bigot who said terrible things about Mexican immigrants is worse than the actual bigot who said the terrible things about Mexican immigrants. Really, what the hell is wrong with these people?
Ricochet vs. Cesaro – MISS: The wrestling quality that I saw seemed Hit worthy for this match between Ricochet and Cesaro. However, the match only lasted 7 minutes (again, on a show that needed more wrestling content at this point), was interrupted by a commercial break, so we only saw half the match, and then some of what we actually saw was on a split screen with a movie promo. When the match is treated like that, it doesn’t matter how hard the wrestlers work, the match is meaningless in WWE’s own view point.
Styles Interview – HIT: Charlie Caruso’s interview with AJ Styles following up on his loss the night before to Rollins in the Universal Title match worked well. There have been some predictions that Styles was going to turn heel. This interview clearly sent the message that he is staying babyface for now. Styles was good in his statement that while he lost, he knows he can win, and that he has to work hard to get back into the Title picture. Baron Corbin was also good in mocking Styles for losing and complaining about not getting that Title shot instead. The slap at the end also worked well.
Reigns – Shane – MISS: WWE reeks of desperation when they have Roman Reigns on Raw every week now. Why move him in the first place? I don’t care about Reigns vs. Shane McMahon. Shane brought Drew McIntyre out for no apparent reason. I thought he was going to make another match between McIntyre and Reigns, but he didn’t. It was odd and not clear. The whole segment was awkward. The final line from Reigns was good, but not good enough to save the segment.
Usos vs. Revival – HIT: I feel bad for the Usos for having to stand in the ring for so long before The Revival came out for their match. There was a commercial break, a Smackdown hype video, the backstage scene with Shane, Drew and The Miz, a video recap of their stupid antics with Revival the last few weeks, and a pre-taped video of Revival answering those antics. That was another example of WWE having way too much going on after a wrestler comes to the ring for a match, before the opponent. Moving past that and past the terrible way this match has been hyped, the match ended up being very good. It isn’t surprising. These are the two best teams in WWE right now. After the Superstar Shakeup, this was one of the matches that was most eagerly anticipated with the Usos coming to Raw. The teams did not disappoint with their in ring effort. The way the match ended sets up a reason for a rematch and I can’t imagine anyone complaining about seeing this again on a bigger stage.
Moment of Bliss – HIT: I’m not sure about the relationship between Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. It has potential, but I miss Nikki’s crazy character. Now she is going in this new direction where she acts shy and sweet when not wrestling, but still has a bit of crazy in her in the ring. The Moment of Bliss was fun. The IIcontics were their usual annoying self, but that’s the point. I loved Becky Lynch’s line about how Becky Three Belts sounds good to her as she wanted to face them in a handicap match. She owned this segment and is the main reason why this was a Hit. I did like how Cross volunteered to be her partner. The interchange between Bliss and Lynch after Lynch picked her to be their third partner was good how Becky told Bliss just to stand there looking pretty while she does all the work. The match that followed was solid too.
24/7 – MISS: This was terrible. There was a total disconnect between what Mick Foley said about Raw needing to be raw and the importance of Championships and the actual reality of the 24/7 Title. The 24/7 Title is not raw, it is goofy. It is not an important championship, it is frivolous. He got no reaction at all. The scramble to name the first champion set the title up to be meaningless when it was the bottom of the card who came out to fight for it. Robert Rude won the title after Titus O’Neil got the belt first, and ran away without actually taking the belt with him. That was sort of a perfect analogy for how unimportant it is. Later on, all the losers ran past higher card wrestlers like Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin, who showed zero interest in trying to win the title. Again, that paints the title as nothing but lower card comedy bit. I wish WWE would at least give some reason why wrestlers would want this belt. Why would you want something that gets you attacked 24/7?
Miz vs. McIntyre – HIT: This was a good match. Miz continues to do well in his new babyface role. Shane played the antagonist at ringside well. The match built nicely with Miz working on McIntyre’s knee to set up the figure four. McIntyre sold well, but also showed his own toughness by chopping out of the submission hold. Shane got involved and helped McIntyre win which makes sense to continue his feud with Miz, even though he said he was done with him. Reigns making the save after the match worked too.
Joe’s Promo – HIT: Samoa Joe continues to shine on the mic with his promos, coming across as the baddest badass in the world. It is unfortunate that he isn’t portrayed that way in the ring. This promo directed at Rey Mysterio for winning the United States Championship in the way that he did worked well. WWE had a nice tease for what would happen with the US Title in terms of the controversial outcome and the injury to Mysterio.
Closing Angle – MISS: The main event was solid, but the overly long beatdown of both Rollins and Kingston made the match feel more like an angle, to set up a Lesnar MITB cash in, than an actual match. So, I won’t give it a Hit or a Miss. The problem is that this show was sold on the idea that Lesnar was going to stick around to cash in on one of these two Champions. The tease came across as a waste of time. Michael Cole basically admitted in the end that the entire show was a waste of time. Having your lead announcer make a statement like that is probably not a good idea. They have something potentially good with Lesnar hanging over the head of both Rollins and Kingston. Instead, we found out at the very end that we will find out which Champion he will cash in on next week. So after making fans wait around for something for three hours this week and not delivering, they are making the fans wait around for a week to find out the same thing next week. If it just turns out to be Lesnar challenging one of them in Saudi Arabia, I will be very disappointed.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.