KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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Opening Segment – MISS: The opening segment had its moments, but Raw didn’t get off to a very good start. Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar were good in gloating about Lesnar casing in Money in the Bank and beating Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship. Where things got bad (actually they started out bad when Lesnar’s music first hit and Michael Cole yelled something about a Brock Party which instantly made it uncool), was when Heyman made the match to determine Lesnar’s challenger at SummerSlam. Either have Heyman be the official on air authority figure for Raw, or don’t acknowledge it at all. Having Heyman give a wink-wink comment about having the power wasn’t the way to go. The way he was able to make the match didn’t make sense. The reveal of the 10 wrestlers in the All Star Inter-brand Battle Royal was underwhelming. I would have liked to see some of Lesnar’s facial reactions to the individual wrestlers being announced. And then you had the actual wrestlers, some of whom didn’t deserve to be in that match at all. How was Cesaro in the match, but not Aleister Black who beat Cesaro the night before? How was Rey Mysterio in the match after he got squashed in his only match since returning from injury? Baron Corbin has had multiple chances to win the Universal Title lately, and has come up short each time, so why was he in it? Sami Zayn never wins. Lashley lost the night before. It was not an impressive lineup.
Usos & Ricochet vs. Revival & Roode – MISS: This is yet another match that probably would have been a Hit in terms of wrestling quality and the effort put in by the wrestlers themselves if not for the stupid 2-out-of-3 falls format and the two idiotically short falls that started the match off so that they could take a commercial break.
Post-match Attack – HIT: The follow up to that match was good with The Club coming out to confront Ricochet as he celebrated with The Usos. This continued the A.J. Styles vs. Ricochet feud over the United States Championship which worked, and moves the Usos onto a new feud against Gallows & Anderson which hopefully also allows for a new team to move into a program against The Revival for the Raw Tag Team Championship. The highlight of the attack was the way Ricochet bumped for the Phenomenal Forearm. That was awesome. The follow up later in the show with The Club vs. The Lucha House Party was fine, but not quite Hit worthy.
McIntyre vs. Alexander – HIT: I struggled with where to put this match. When that happens, I often leave it off if it doesn’t seem like a clear Hit or Miss. This is a case where I’ve been rooting for Cedric Alexander to get a push and be something more than one of the losers chasing after the 24/7 title. He is finally getting an actual program with Drew McIntyre where he got a chance to talk with him in the back earlier in the show, and then to be in an actual singles match. The match was only 3 minutes and ended with Alexander getting a surprise leverage pin. The problem is that McIntyre should be a bigger star. He’s been damaged by his involvement with Shane McMahon. It seemed like WWE was setting up a match against Undertaker at SummerSlam, but this loss certainly doesn’t make him look like a potential Taker opponent. So, he shouldn’t be put in this situation. From McIntyre’s point of view, this was a Miss.
Joe vs. Balor – MISS: So one of the ways that WWE is getting around having wrestling action taking place during a commercial break is by having short matches. That is fine for the Viking Raiders squashing two local jobbers. But, you also got back-to-back 3 minute matches involving some big stars whose matches should be longer. Watching Samoa Joe get a leverage pin win over Finn Balor in such a short match right after we saw a similar match with McIntyre vs. Alexander wasn’t good. Then they tried to get Balor his momentum back by fending off the post-match attack by Joe, but that took the momentum away from Joe who won the match. This 50-50 booking didn’t do anyone a favor.
The Fiend – MISS: I just don’t like Bray Wyatt. I seemed to be one of the few fans who didn’t like the Firefly Funhouse scenes. I don’t like the hocus-pocus stuff from Wyatt where he can appear in the ring after the lights go out. Yes, the mask is scary. But, we know who is under the mask. It is the same guy who seldom won his feuds and who was last seen as a tag team subordinate to Matt Hardy before resurfacing with these silly Pee Wee’s Playhouse knockoff videos. I can’t take him seriously as a fiend who is supposed to be scary just because of a mask. The fans chanting “holy shit” at that point made me sad.
Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Bliss vs. Carmella – MISS: Even though Hits & Misses is my opinion, and I don’t always agree with the majority of wrestling fans on everything, I can’t possibly give a match a Hit when it elicits a “This Is Awful” chant from the fans in attendance, plus a “Boring” chant, and a “Let’s Go Cena – Cena Sucks” battle chant. I’m surprised we didn’t get a “CM Punk” chant. At some point, you’d think they would start an “A-E-W” chant, but they shouldn’t do that during a women’s match since the women’s matches in AEW have also been bad so far. This match started off well and I liked the fact that it didn’t go the recent formulaic way with a commercial after each elimination. We actually got a commercial at a random point in the match like we used to always get. That felt fresh in an odd way. But, the match went 23 minutes and had no business going that long. There wasn’t the talent in this match to stretch it out that long. The fans turned on it when Alexa Bliss went to two long rest hold chin locks, when she had sat at ringside for the majority of the match up to that point so she shouldn’t have needed a rest yet. After a second commercial, they tried to get some heat back by having Nikki Cross yelling at the fans, which may have worked a little to get them booing her instead of booing the bad match, but that didn’t save the match. The match was still bad and way too long.
Natalya – Lynch – HIT: I was sure that Bliss would win the fatal four way elimination match to earn the Raw Women’s Title match against Becky Lynch at SS. That would have been ok, but I am more intrigued by the actual winner, Natalya. I wish WWE had done something with her the last few weeks. They could have her win a few matches lately to show her having some momentum going into this qualifying match. But, they don’t think that far ahead. However, the post-match verbal encounter between her and Lynch was fun and worked well to build some tension between them. I certainly wanted to see the match more after this bit than when the match first ended, so job well done.
24/7 Crap – MISS: Some of the 24/7 title scenes are funny and don’t take away too much from the rest of the show. Some of the scenes are funny, but they do take away a lot from the rest of the show. And sometimes, the scenes are just terrible. That was the case here with R-Truth attacking Drake Maverick in his hotel room right before he had sex with his wife. WWE wouldn’t have a camera in that room. They would not film two people having sex. It takes everything to such a level of stupidity beyond what they typically do with the 24/7 title that it does hurt the credibility of the rest of the show.
Battle Royal Main Event – HIT: While I wasn’t that fond of the line up for this match, the match itself delivered. It was only 10 minutes, but with all the short matches on this show (and one overly long one), 10 minutes actually felt right. The match was well booked and well executed. It was fun to watch. The wrestlers got a chance to shine before being eliminated. There were some really good moments like Sami Zayn over gloating for eliminating Big E only to turn around and take an RKO, or when Baron Corbin realized he was in the ring with Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman. The tease that Randy Orton would win since he had been out of the ring without actually being eliminated worked ok. I’m not sure about Seth Rollins getting the win. I don’t want WrestleMania rematches for SummerSlam. But, I’m not sure who would have been a better option at this point. At least Rollins’ promo afterwards was very good.
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.