SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: The opening segment set up the idea that Seth Rollins was going to take out anyone who might get picked by Baron Corbin to be the special guest referee in their Universal Title match at Stomping Ground. I was a fan of that angle overall (more later). But, the rest of the opening segment didn’t work. The beginning was fine with Elias making the first of too many Lakers references on the show and got hit by a chair by Rollins. But the issue was that they had all the wrestlers in the opening fatal five way match come out for their match and also beat up Elias. That might have worked for The Miz who has had issues with Elias as part of Shane McMahon’s stable. But, why would the heels Cesaro and Bobby Lashley also beat him up? Why pop the audience with a babyface reaction for those heels right before their match? That didn’t make any sense.
Fatal Five Way – MISS: The match was also a Miss. Why was this match an elimination match? I understand why a regular fatal five way would be no disqualification (I don’t agree with that policy, but I understand it). But why is an elimination match also no DQ? Why can’t one wrestler be DQd for his elimination? They made a mockery of the rules when the two eliminated heels were able to beat up Braun Strowman just because it was no DQ. It made Ricochet look like a chump for allowing the heels to cheat for him and help him pin Strowman. The final part of the match when it came down to Ricochet vs. Miz was fine, but not good enough. Miz is solid in the ring and can have very good matches under the right circumstances, but when he’s in the ring with someone like Ricochet, it underscores that he isn’t that good. Ricochet winning is cool, but I have a feeling that his US Title match against Samoa Joe is going to go about 5 minutes.
Lynch – Evans – MISS: This felt more of the same. It felt repetitive, like we’ve heard Becky Lynch and Lacey Evans say the same thing to and about each other, over and over again. It wasn’t new. It wasn’t original. It was like they were trying to think of new ways to say the same thing again and again. Evans did bring up the fact that she was a Marine which was a reminder that they hadn’t used in awhile, so that was ok. Their performances were good, it was just the script. Then, we had Becky attacking Evans which seemed to be more of a heel move. I get it, but it could have been done better.
Slater in the VIP Room – HIT: This was a nice scene. Heath Slater has a connection with the fans based largely on his longevity with the company. He had a good performance trying to get a raise from Shane McMahon since he has kids. The callback to 3MB worked well as the new very successful Drew McIntyre pretended to feel bad for his old friend. The beating that followed cemented McIntyre as a jerk heel. It worked well. Having Scott Dawson pocket the money after the beating was hilarious.
The KO and Sami Show – HIT: This nicely advanced the storyline of Rollins taking out potential special referees which was the theme for this show. We found out that both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens withdrew consideration. Their performances along with Corbin’s were strong here. ECIII didn’t make much sense as Corbin’s pick, but it felt like he was running out of options, so it was ok. The attack from Rollins worked well. The New Day’s interruption was solid. It is nice to see the trio back together with Big E finally returning from injury. The bit they did with ECIII as a puppet was a fun moment to set up the six man tag match.
Six-Man Tag – MISS: Why was this match 2 out of 3 falls? What purpose did that fill? What was the reason for it? I don’t get it. It made Zayn look weak for losing so quickly in the first fall to Xavier Woods. The ending gave a comeuppance to Corbin, when Zayn and Owens got mad at him and left him to take the loss to New Day. But, this was a second example on the show where heels were set up to be cheered by the audience. I don’t get that. It also handed a loss to the #1 contender for the Universal Title less than a week before he is getting that Title match.
Bliss – Cross – HIT: I’ve been enjoying the storyline with Alexa Bliss manipulating Nikki Cross into thinking that Bayley is a bad person. The story has been well told and well performed. I have to get past the fact that Cross is a totally different character from when she was in NXT. She is playing the character well even if it isn’t the same good character she used to play. Their match against the IIconics wasn’t anything special, but the way that Bayley got involved to further Cross becoming angry at her and siding with Bliss worked well.
Rollins – Young – MISS: While the overall theme of the show with Rollins attacking potential guest referees with a chair worked well, this scene didn’t. It was too random with Eric Young not being utilized at all since coming to Raw and the end of Sanity to be someone Corbin might actually consider picking. Then, we found out randomly that he and Rollins are old friends. What? Where did that come from? Rollins came across as the heel in the situation when he attacked his old friend who had already told him that he wasn’t going to consider it.
Anderson & Gallows – HIT: This felt like the first step in what can be a very good redemption story for Gallows & Anderson. They had a nice scene with AJ Styles where they were goofing around pretending to be doctors and he gave them a pep talk to stop being silly and start getting serious. He made wins and losses seem important in a way that WWE seldom does. He tried to light a fire under them and it seemed to work. But, in their match against the Usos, while they started out intense like Style wanted them to be, they got cocky and played to the crowd too much and it cost them the win. Now, I want to see where they go with them and Styles moving forward.
Reigns – HIT: We didn’t hear much from Roman Reigns this week as he was quickly interrupted on the screen by Shane and McIntyre. The way that Reigns left the ring to go attack them was good. That’s what a badass babyface would do. He wouldn’t just stand there listening to the heels make fun of him and his family like babyfaces so often do. The physicality with him taking out McIntyre in the VIP room and chasing Shane back to the ring worked well. The issue is that Reigns got his revenge on Shane. He beat him up and hit his two big moves on him. That should be the end of it, but it won’t be.
Bryan vs. Rollins – HIT: This is a marginal Hit. There wasn’t nearly enough hype and build to what could be a PPV main event. Also, the way the match ended with a DQ about a minute into it which led to a big brawl with several wrestlers coming out to fight for awhile wasn’t good. All of that took away from the match. However, the final 10 minutes or so once the match restarted was really good. It was a good stretch of wrestling from two great workers. It was fun to watch and a tease of what could happen if they faced in a more meaningful match down the line. Corbin hitting Rollins with a chair after the match worked well to give him some heat back after he had been a loser for the entire show. They had a hook for this show to find out who would be the special referee at the PPV. We never learned which is another in a long line of bait and switches from WWE. Now they have carried that hook over to the PPV itself, but who really cares at this point?
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 email@example.com.