SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
“Stone Cold” Kevin Owens – HIT: I had mixed feelings about this, but I enjoyed Kevin Owens’ performances throughout the show to give him a Hit. I look forward to seeing a babyface Owens character. It should be fun. It was nice to hear someone unleash on Shane McMahon in terms of voicing the frustrations of the fans. It was like, “hey, Owens is speaking for me.” But, I know he is being scripted to manipulate me that way. Just because he said all those things and WWE creative acknowledged the criticisms through his voice, that doesn’t mean that anything is going to change. Also, I don’t want to see Shane on my tv and this clearly points to a Shane vs. KO feud coming out of Shane’s current feud with Roman Reigns and The Undertaker, so those two aren’t going to put Shane down the way they should. Shortly before KO made his expected return in the main event, there was a fan dressed as Hulk Hogan in the front row right where Owens was likely to come through the crowd. It made me wish that it was actually Owens with the Hogan outfit being his disguise to get back into the arena which would have been awesome.
Balor vs. Nakamura – HIT: If you read my Hits & Misses regularly, you know that I am not happy with the way that WWE keeps jobbing out their Champions in non-Title matches (other than Kofi Kingston who usually gets protected). But, this was such a good match, and such a strong showing for Shinsuke Nakamura that I have to give his win over Finn Balor a Hit. I would have rather seen this dominating win come against another opponent to help earn an Intercontinental Championship. But again, Nakamura’s dominance and intensity which we haven’t seen from him in so long was so good to see, that it makes me optimistic about him for the first time in a long time.
Joe’s Promo – HIT: Samoa Joe continues to shine on the mic as the best heel in the company. Will his great mic work finally translate into an actual push? We know he is great in the ring and I fully expect his WWE Title match against Kingston to be very good. But, will he actually win and get a sustained push as the WWE Champion? At some point, he has to do more than just cut these great promos, beat people up outside of a match context, and have strong showings in the ring while losing in the end.
Cross – Bayley – MISS: Again, this once good storyline continues to go down hill. It continues to sound repetitive with Nikki Cross and Bayley both sounding like they said the same exact thing that they said on Monday (and the previous Tuesday too). Bayley continues to not come across as very likable. Neither does Cross. The fans were not into this contract signing at all. I hope that Extreme Rules is the end of the storyline, or at least Bayley’s end in it, and they can move her on to a new challenger, with Cross having her feud with Alexa Bliss next.
“See ya, sweetie” – MISS: What was Roman Reigns thinking when he said that to the woman interviewing him at the end of the interview? That made him look like a total jerk. The interview before that was good, much better than his interview from Raw. Then he had to interject that sexist salutation. She has a name. I don’t know what it is, but he should.
New Day vs. Bryan & Rowan vs. Heavy Machinery – MISS: The verbal encounter between these three teams wasn’t good. There were some good parts, but overall it lasted too long and really started to drag. Heavy Machinery and New Day are too similar in terms of some of the goofy comedy, so they feel redundant in terms of their juxtaposition against the Planet’s Tag Team Champions. This is a case where a regular tag match would be much better than the forced triple threat. The match that followed with Bryan vs. Ottis vs. Woods was strong. It was fun to watch. But, unfortunately it came after a bad talking segment to set it up and it was hyping a match that shouldn’t be happening, so it didn’t do much for me despite being good in a bubble.
Ali Video – HIT: I continue to be a fan of these videos from Mustafa Ali which remind me of the ones he did on social media while a member of the 205 Live roster. I hope that fans are as fond of them as I am, and when we see him make his return to the ring at some point soon, he will get a good reception. Hopefully, he gets a nice push as he is very talented and his voice sounds different than other babyfaces on the roster.
Cesaro Reveal – HIT: I really hadn’t thought too much about who might have knocked on Aleister Black’s door. I was enjoying the build to someone finally picking a fight with Black, only to have that tease a few weeks ago. Cesaro didn’t get a great reaction as the opponent for Black at Extreme Rules, but this has the potential to be a great match. It is the type of match where Black has to win as this is basically his re-debut to the main roster, but Cesaro should have a strong enough showing that he should come out of the match even stronger than before despite the loss.
Ziggler vs. Reigns – HIT: This match was just good enough match to get a marginal Hit as the main event. It played into the storylines of Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens, and Reigns vs. Shane & Drew McIntyre. Owens had a predictable but fun run in to get the stunner on Shane. Then, Reigns stood tall with the spear for the win over Ziggler to end the show.
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.