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Opening Segment – HIT: This was a marginal Hit. Bayley’s character seems to be a heel who doesn’t think she’s a heel. That can work. Her mic work was pretty good. I like the idea that she came out the same way she came out when she was still a babyface. I’d like to see more changes to her character and presentation, but they should be gradual changes over time. The fans were certainly treating her as a heel and wanting to see Becky Lynch, which is a good thing. But, Bayley is facing Charlotte Flair who is a heel. I’m guessing that WWE knows she will get a babyface reaction in her hometown at the PPV, so she will basically be the babyface in this match, but go back to being a heel afterwards. I hope so as that is her natural role. Charlotte was ok on the mic, but I’m not a fan of her robotic monotone speaking pattern. Bayley needs to get better at the chair shots. Those look pretty weak.
Ali vs. Elias – HIT: If WWE is going to go with an obnoxious heel as the winner of the King of the Ring tournament, I would rather see Elias than Baron Corbin. WWE might go with a babyface vs. babyface match in the tournament, but they aren’t going to go with a heel vs. heel match, so once Elias won, it made the outcome of the 2nd tournament match later in the show predictable with Chad Gable going over Andrade. Also, I don’t understand taking away Buddy Murphy’s momentum last week by having him lose to Mustafa Ali only to turn around and have Ali lose the next week. I wanted to see Andrade vs. Ali next week. So, there was a lot about this in terms of Elias winning that falls more into the Miss column, but the match itself was good. This was one of Elias’ best matches and Ali deserves praise for helping to elevate Elias to this quality of a match.
Cross & Bliss vs. Fire & Desire – MISS: The wrestling in this match was fine. The problem was the match up. I guess we can call Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross tweeners at this point as they seem to wrestle as heels against faces and vice-versa. They certainly were the heels in their match on Raw against Bayley and Lynch. They were the faces here against Fire & Desire. WWE needs babyfaces in the women’s division, so I wish they would put Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross in that role and keep them there. I like the team of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. But, I wish they had earned a Women’s Tag Team Championship match by winning a series of matches, instead of getting a random non-title match like this.
Joe and Gable – HIT: This is a surprising Hit as I don’t like the short jokes towards Gable at all. However, I appreciated the twist that Samoa Joe put on the joke. He wasn’t actually making fun of Gable for being short. He acknowledged that his jokes were tired and old. His point is that the jokes shouldn’t bother Gable, but they do. His point was that Gable is weak minded. Now that is not a good attribute for a pro wrestler, but it is something that Gable has a chance to overcome. He can show that he is strong minded, where he can’t show that he isn’t short. He will now be able to prove that he isn’t weak minded and that he can win big matches. This also teases one of the possible KOTR finals matches of Joe vs. Gable which would be very good. So again, while I would rather not see them do short jokes at all, the context of this was better than usual. Unfortunately, too much damage may have been done to Gable with the short jokes and his lack of a response to them to overcome in the end.
Orton and Kingston – HIT: WWE continues to paint Kofi Kingston as the underdog against Randy Orton despite being the WWE Champion. We continue to see Orton outsmart Kingston. We continue to see a good use of The Revival as Orton’s partners while the rest of The New Day are out with injuries. This continues to build well to two Title matches at Clash of Champions. It may be going too far in the direction of Orton dominating Kingston, but it should make the fans really want to see him get revenge and pop big for when he wins at the PPV.
Gable vs. Andrade – HIT: I already talked about being disappointed in the fact that Andrade won’t be the King (and by extension that Zelina Vega won’t be the Queen). Like the previous KOTR match, I would have rather seen the loser win, but it was still a good enough match to get a Hit. It was predictable that Gable would win and the match was a bit on the short side at 8 minutes. However, the quality of the wrestling was high and the ending sequence was particularly strong. So I will give it a marginal Hit.
Sami Zayn – HIT: Lio Rush was not able to do this gimmick with Bobby Lashley, having a live mic to hype him during his match without it becoming go away heat. It was a fine line to walk between legit heat where the fans want to see someone shut Rush up, verses the type of heat where the fans just want him to go away. He didn’t walk that line well enough and WWE put an end to it. This was the first week where we’ve seen Sami Zayn doing the same during a Shinsuke Nakamura match and so far so good. He walked that line, but didn’t cross it. This was fun. Part of why it worked is that it was in a 2 minute squash match, so the gimmick didn’t overstay its welcome and it didn’t distract from an Intercontinental Championship match. Will it work as well in a 10+ minute IC Title match against The Miz at the PPV? I don’t know.
Rowan – MISS: I’m assuming there is more to this story that just Rowan trying to kill Roman Reigns to set up a match at a PPV. Were they trying to turn Daniel Bryan face? Do they just want them to go their separate ways but both stay heels? Or did Bryan sacrifice himself here, to throw people off from the fact that he was actually behind it? I’m not really sure what to think of this show closing segment. Rowan isn’t good enough to get as much mic time as he got here. I don’t think Rowan actually gave an explanation for why he was trying to kill Reigns. But, I guess I don’t care that much anyway.
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. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera
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