SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
McIntyre vs. Owens – HIT: Smackdown got off to a decent start with the video from Shane McMahon and the follow up promo from Kevin Owens. Neither was good enough to get a Hit, but they weren’t bad enough to get a Miss either. That opening led to the match between Owens and Drew McIntyre which turned out to be very good. McIntyre is like Samoa Joe in that he can be a top heel star in the company, but he loses too often. Of course, WWE needed to keep Owens strong going into this match against Shane at SummerSlam so it made sense to give him the win. Either way, it was a very good 13 minute match.
Bayley & Moon vs. Bliss & Cross – MISS: This match was fine from a technical stand point, but the storyline around it was a Miss. Ember Moon didn’t really earn a Women’s Title match. She was gifted it by Bayley. So she needed to look strong from that point on until the title match at the PPV. Instead, she lost here. It seems like the only reason to give Alexa Bliss the win in this tag match is to add her to the title match which I don’t want to see. We’ve seen enough of Bliss vs. Bayley, that having her part of the match as a triple threat would be a mistake. Bayley attacking Moon afterwards wasn’t good. Bayley didn’t come across as a likable babyface here, just like Moon last week. WWE has the same issue on Raw and Smackdown. They are doing babyface vs. babyface for their two Women’s Championships and in order to create some feud between the two babyfaces, they are making all four of the women look bad.
Zayn Picks a Fight with Black – HIT: Aleister Black vs. Sami Zayn has a chance to steal the show at SS. Zayn’s interview where he picked a fight with Black in order to have a match at the PPV worked well. Zayn was very good in his performance. It fit in with his character and was a nice follow up from the promo from Black earlier in the show.
Bryan – MISS: Does anyone care about Daniel Bryan’s life changing announcement? If yes, will they still care by the time he gets around to actually making the announcement? I doubt it.
King’s Court – MISS: So last week, Charlotte Flair declared that she will face a better wrestler at SS than Bayley. Did she have Trish Stratus in mind? Did she know that Trish was going to randomly be a guest on the King’s Court this week? It was too convenient that Trish just happened to be on for no reason. What was the point of the interview? Why was she there? There had to be a better way of getting to this match. She could have challenged Charlotte, saying she heard Charlotte wanted to face a big star at SS and she was there to be that star. There are several other better ways they could go. The mic work from Trish and Charlotte wasn’t good. Charlotte saying that Trish being a mom isn’t a good excuse because everyone has a mom was totally illogical. Her robotic delivery isn’t good. It is too bad, because the match has a chance to be good and it should be a big deal. But, the segment setting it up was bad.
Ziggler vs. Balor – HIT: This is a marginal Hit for a pretty good match between Dolph Ziggler and Finn Balor which didn’t go very long before The Fiend showed up to distract Balor, allowing Ziggler to hit a superkick on him for the win. It fit in with Ziggler’s storyline with Shawn Michaels in how he used his Sweet Chin Music to win the match. It fit in with the budding Balor vs. Bray Wyatt feud to build to their PPV match.
Nakamura vs. Ali – MISS: Shinsuke Nakamura and Mustafa Ali executed what they were asked to do here perfectly well. But, having a 2 minute non-title match is ridiculous. Ali was only in this position because he walked in on a Nakamura interview a few weeks ago and looked at the Intercontinental Champion. That isn’t a good way to start a program over a Title. I have written before that I would abolish non-title matches if I were running WWE. I stand by that. Have Ali earn an IC Title opportunity with a series of wins leading up to a #1 contender match. This is such lazy writing and the 2 minute loss, even on a leverage pin, makes Nakamura look very weak.
Orton Promo / Video – HIT: This was well done with Randy Orton talking and showing video going back 9 years to his early history with Kofi Kingston. He was clearly the heel, but a lot of what he said rang true in terms of the differences between him and Kingston. Orton talking about injuring Ali worked well, because it also fits in with Ali’s character trying to make up for losing that major opportunity earlier this year. I wonder if it will lead eventually to an Ali vs. Orton feud. The “stupid, stupid, stupid” mantra worked well. The only problem was Orton’s lame corporate catchphrase about the 3 most dangerous letters in “sports entertainment” R-K-O.
Kingston vs. Styles – HIT: I have to give this match a Hit based on the quality of wrestling between Kingston and AJ Styles. However, having the United States Champion losing at all is a mistake. The match shouldn’t have happened. Neither should have lost. If one had to lose, Styles was the right choice, so at least the right guy won in the end. As I said, the wrestling action was very strong as you’d expect. The use of the rest of the OC and the New Day worked well to enhance the match. The final move with Kofi hitting Trouble in Paradise on a leaping Styles was pretty cool.
Someone Tries to Kill Reigns – MISS: This was a very odd way to end the show. We had been promised that Roman Reigns would have a challenge for SummerSlam on Smackdown. That was supposed to be a big moment, but instead of being ready for the moment after the main event, he wasn’t ready to go with Kayla Braxton who was waiting for him to show up. We saw him walking down the hallway towards her in a weird moment which we would never see on a WWE show unless something odd was just about to happen. The idea that the scaffolding would be pushed over onto Reigns was fine, but the fact that there appeared to be a camera on the scaffold itself was stupid. The idea that we would see him walking like that was also stupid. I guess the idea was that Reigns was shaken up but not hurt which is fine, but it still just left the ending of the show feeling empty and off more than intriguing to learn what happened.
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.
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.