SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Brock Party – MISS: Last week, I wrote that Brock Lesnar was amusing when he used the Money in the Bank briefcase as a boombox as he bopped his head to his music. I thought it was a fun little moment which wouldn’t be brought up again. I was wrong. WWE decided to turn it into a new character for Lesnar. A bit of humor here are there for Lesnar is ok, but making the entire character a joke isn’t good. Turning it into a chance for merchandising is disappointing as it takes away the menace of him having that MITB briefcase which is supposed to be this huge threat to Kofi Kingston and Seth Rollins. So, the opening segment didn’t work for me because of this aspect of it, even though the mic work from both Rollins and Kingston was strong.
Woods – Ziggler Fight – HIT: In an hour of no real wrestling, we at least got to see some physicality in the brawl between Xavier Woods and Dolph Ziggler. I would like to see Woods getting a storyline of some sort where he isn’t just defending Kingston. But while this is his role, this is a good use of him to fight Ziggler on Kofi’s behalf. The fight was well done and Ziggler getting the better of Woods at the end was the right way to go so that Kofi could make the save.
Ziggler’s Promo – HIT: Even though that was a nice fight, it wasn’t a wrestling match. When the show came back from the commercial after the brawl, I thought we might get a match. Instead we got a promo from Ziggler about his WWE Title match at Super Showdown. I really wanted a match at this point, but I guess WWE officials hadn’t planned any matches for the first hour of the show. All that being said, the promo from Ziggler was good. I liked how he talked up Kofi. It was nice to hear one of Kofi’s opponents not calling him a B+ player. Talk up your opponents. That was all well done, as it set up a huge victory for Ziggler if he wins.
Usos Block Party – MISS: Vince McMahon can’t help himself when it comes to a holiday edition of Raw. It is Memorial Day, so the wrestlers have to have a barbecue. There were several segments at the Usos’ Block Party and none of them were good. They were a waste of time. The early ones continued to draw out the first hour of the show without any matches. Are we supposed to care about Naomi hugging Tamina? Why would The Usos and The Revival bury the hatchet, just to play some corn hole? Why was it important to Naomi that they do? It all ended up in another silly 24/7 bit. These bits weren’t enjoyable to watch and they didn’t advance any storylines in a meaningful way. So they were just a major waste of time.
McMahon vs. Anoa’i – MISS: This was the only “match” in the 1st hour of the Raw, but it wasn’t a real match. It followed another long segment with Shane McMahon talking about the history of the McMahons and the Samoan wrestling dynasty. I don’t care. Having him “wrestle” one of Roman Reigns’ cousins was ok, but where was Reigns while McIntyre was beating the crap out of his cousin before the match? He came out to make the save afterwards, but it made him look bad for waiting so long. The match wasn’t a real match. It is nuts that Shane is the only sports entertainer in WWE to get an enhancement match against a jobber. Also, this match led to the first “A-E-W” chant and a “This is Awful” chant. That should tell WWE something.
Lesnar’s Second Appearance – HIT: After the first hour of the show had no real matches and only 2 minutes of a fake match, the 2nd hour of the show started with another long talking segment. But again, it was good. This was much better than the opening segment. I like the idea that Lesnar is hanging over the head of Rollins and Kingston, so I was good with the fact that he didn’t make an announcement over which Champion he would cash in on. It was also good that he isn’t cashing in to get a rematch at Super Showdown like many of us had speculated. Plus, the way they got there was amusing with Lesnar suddenly learning that he had a full year to cash in MITB. I know I already wrote that less humor is better for Lesnar, but this is the type of humor that can work. It played into his character perfectly. I can believe that Lesnar wouldn’t know that. That humor worked. The humor at the start of the show didn’t.
Lynch & Cross vs. The IIconics – HIT: I’m giving this a Hit, just because it was a real wrestling match after 75 minutes without one. It went 10 minutes with solid wrestling action. Under other circumstances, I may not give it a Hit. It wasn’t that good of a match. It wouldn’t be a Miss either as it wasn’t bad. I wish the IIconics didn’t lose every match. The Women’s Tag Team Champions should be treated better than this. But, at least this one came to Becky Lynch. I’m not sure about her new finishing move. It didn’t look that devastating, but the Man Handle Slam is a good name.
Ricochet vs. Cesaro – HIT: What do you know, when you start having 10 minute matches in close relation to each other, the show quality goes up. When the second of those matches has two very talented wrestlers in Ricochet and Cesaro, the quality goes up even more. This was a really good match. There were multiple stand out moments like when Cesaro hit that massive European Uppercut on Ricochet into the turnbuckle for a believable near fall and the ending sequence with Ricochet getting the win. I’ve seen some people suggest that this should turn into a best of 7 series. I won’t complain about that as they will be good matches. But, the best of 7 format does play into WWE’s 50-50 booking that we also criticize, so maybe it isn’t the best thing to do.
Four-Way Elimination – MISS: There was some good wrestling action in this fatal four way to determining the #1 contender for the Universal Title. However, none of the four in the match are great workers. The Miz and Bobby Lashley are good, and Braun Strowman and Baron Corbin are ok. But when I think of wrestlers in WWE who I want to see in a 17 minute match, these are not the names I would come up with. That being said, it was fine. It had solid to good action. The problem came at the end. This was an elimination match for some reason, but neither Strowman nor Lashley were eliminated. They fought off, but there wasn’t an announcement that they had been counted out. The wrestlers were outside of the ring longer earlier in the match, but were not counted out. The announcers tried to cover for it, but it wasn’t good enough. There was only one fall in this elimination match which should have had three. If this had been a traditional fatal four way, then it wouldn’t have been a problem. Why did they make it elimination if they were going to go this route? It makes no sense.
Electric Chair – MISS: What is going on? Why was Sami Zayn sitting in an electric chair for this audience Q&A? That made no sense. Having boring fans asking dull questions to Zayn while Corey Graves “hosted” by just standing there didn’t make for good tv. Zayn did his best and got some good lines making fun of the fans answering the questions. But the segment dragged. It seemed like WWE was hoping that a fan would ask about AEW for some reason and that Zayn had a good answer to that question, but it never came. I don’t understand having him say AEW on Raw. There are tons of Raw viewers who don’t know what AEW is. At least they didn’t know. That was free advertising. I don’t get it. This whole thing came across as another waste of time.
Rollins vs. Zayn – HIT: I guess the Electric Chair segment was a set up for this main event, but what did the McMahons have in mind for it before this impromptu match? Something that stood out at the start of AEW’s Double Or Nothing was the way they laid out the entire card in order for the show. It gave it a sports like feel. It made it seem like those putting the show together actually knew what they were doing. We’ll see in a few months if that is the norm on their weekly show, or if they go to more of WWE’s model. I hope not, because WWE’s model makes it seem like the company doesn’t know what it is doing.
Moving past that to the actual main event, Rollins and Zayn had a good match. It was long and well executed. They did a nice job of telling the story of Rollins injuring his knee early on which gave Zayn a chance to capitalize on it. The selling of the injury was believable. The announcers were good in how they brought up how the injury could lead to Lesnar cashing in MITB. The way that Rollins was able to fight through the pain to hit the two stomps at the end for the win was strong. Unfortunately, while Zayn is a good character, he loses every match. So, now he is starting to turn into a joke.
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.
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.