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Lashley, Rusev, and Lana – MISS: I understand not wanting to start Raw off with Seth Rollins after Hell in a Cell. I’m not sure starting out with the Rusev, Lana and Bobby Lashley situation was the best alternative. To start things off, it was weird to start the show with Rusev already in the ring brawling with Randy Orton and Baron Corbin. Why would the show start with wrestlers already in the ring like that? Then you get the tawdry angle with Lashley and Lana in bed, going the Attitude Era route with the t-n-a stuff with her getting naked under the sheets. The reaction from Rusev was strong, and the way he kicked the hell out of Orton and Corbin at that point was good. But, overall this is a bad storyline, and Rusev and Lashley should both be involved in better things than this.
Natalya vs. Evans – MISS: This Miss is for the Last Woman Standing format which killed any sense of flow that this match could have had. Natalya and Lacey Evans executed the match well. The problem is that it dragged for 17 minutes with Evans hitting a big move on Natalya on the outside of the ring, followed by a 9 count, followed by Natalya barely beating the count. That formula was repeated over and over again. It was monotonous. It was too long. They should have had Natalya at least tease a few come backs to keep the match from dragging.
Draft Hype – MISS: I haven’t commented much about the use of The Street Profits as hype men on Raw. It is an odd role for them, but sometimes they are fun to watch. The problem is that they were hyping the draft by giving a scouting report on two losers and an underutilized wrestler – Apollo Crews, Drake Maverick and Buddy Murphy. How is that supposed to sell the draft? Why would we care which brand Maverick gets drafted to? I can’t think of anything that would have been worse to sell the importance of the draft. It is strange how they are selling the idea that it is the FOX and USA network executives who are going to be in charge of the draft. I don’t want there to be heel authority figures. The role of any authority figure should be minimal. But, it seems like the draft is one time when authority figures should be on. I’m not sure going to the opposite direction with no authority figures is the way to go. I want some structure and want to know who is making the decisions on Raw and Smackdown the way we know that William Regal is making them on NXT. The other issue is that it doesn’t matter what brand you end up on. I get that there are bragging rights if you are a top pick, but who cares? If you want to be on Raw, you want to impress the USA network executives, but what if you accidentally impress the FOX executives and they draft you to Smackdown instead? It is all so stupid.
Viking Raiders vs. Ziggler & Roode – HIT: Like the opening match, this match went 17 minutes which was too long. But, at least this one was fun to watch for most of it. I wish WWE would find new ways to have challengers earn Title matches instead of having them defeat the Champion in a non-title match. That being said, the match had good wrestling action. It built nicely to the Viking Raiders getting the win in the end. It was also nice to see them having some promo time later in the show to talk about the big win.
Black vs. The Singh Brothers – HIT: This was a good squash handicap match. The Singh Brothers are jokes on 205 Live so WWE wasn’t sacrificing a potentially important act by having them job in a minute to Aleister Black. Black is such a talent and hopefully this is the start of a nice push for him on whichever show he gets drafted to.
Mysterio Interview – HIT: This was a nice follow up to the big angle from the end of Smackdown with Cain Valesquez coming out with Rey Mysterio to get in Brock Lesnar’s face. Mysterio had a nice interview talking about his familial connection to Valesquez which was a good storyline advancement to connect their characters. It was a nice step in what should be a slow build to the eventual Lesnar vs. Valesquez match.
The OC vs. The Lucha House Party – HIT: I wish the Lucha House Party were treated like bigger deals. Sometimes they are on 205 Live, but sometimes they aren’t. They are talented wrestlers who are fun to watch with their luchador style. That style and their talent was on display here in this good six man tag match against the OC. I thought that Kalisto might get a win over AJ Styles here to set him up as a future United States Championship match. That could be a good match, but I can’t complain about Styles getting the clean win which The OC needed.
The Kabuki Warriors vs. Flair & Lynch – HIT: The MizTV segment with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair ultimately being interrupted by the Kabuki Warriors speaking in their native Japanese was solid. The match that followed was quite good. These are four talented wrestlers and it was good to see them wrestling each other. The problem is that you had four Champions in this match meaning that a Champion had to lose unless they went with a non-finish. I applaud them for not doing a non-finish. The Kabuki Warriors as the new Women’s Tag Team Champions needed the win here and Charlotte as the new Smackdown Women’s Champion needed to be protected more than Becky Lynch, so the ending made the most sense. Asuka is working to get the green mist over as a new aspect of her character and this should help.
Crews vs. Ricochet – MISS: This match was framed as being a showcase opportunity for Crews and Ricochet to impress the various network executives for the draft, but as I said above, that is a very flimsy excuse to have a match. For all the hype the match got with pre-match interviews with both Crews and Ricochet (seriously, that got more of a pre-match build than some Title matches get on Raw), they only went 4 minutes. It was underwhelming. I don’t really blame them for not having the match go longer considering the fans would not have the patience to sit around for a long match between these two.
Rollins vs. The Fiend – MISS: This Miss is for the specter that the Hell in a Cell main event cast on this episode of Raw. A Universal Title match PPV main event should be mentioned at some point in the first 2 hours and 45 minutes of the following night’s Raw. WWE obviously was doing feverish re-writing up until the last moment to try to figure out some type of damage control after that debacle. Shouldn’t we hear form Rollins or Bray Wyatt? If they hadn’t booked that terrible ending, we would have gotten an actual appearance from the Universal Champion, but they couldn’t have him on for fear of the fan reaction. That left everything for a relatively short video package late in the show. So, they didn’t totally ignore it, but they came very close.
The Announcers – MISS: I continue to not be impressed with this new trio of Vic Joseph, Jerry Lawler, and Dio Maddin. Joseph doesn’t always seem to know the names of the moves, especially the wrestler specific moves like the Machka Kick from Rusev. Maddin still hasn’t been properly introduced to the fans. Why should I care about what someone has to say who wasn’t a wrestler (as far as I know). I mean, was he a wrestler? He said he knew Ricochet and Crews for a long time. How? Where? Why? When? He needed way more seasoning before getting onto Raw. Lawler hasn’t been great either.
Fury – Strowman – HIT: This is a minor Hit. I wasn’t familiar with Tyson Fury. I am just now learning about some of the vile things that he has said in the past. It is disappointing to see WWE doing business with this guy. He doesn’t have that much name recognition. They have done a solid to good job with him so far. He carried himself well on Raw both in the interview earlier in the show and in the final segment. Braun Strowman was good in his role. The pull apart brawl could have been better, but it was ok. I liked how they eventually beat up the security guards to get at each other. Furry’s first few punches looked weak, but the rest looked good. The problem was when they were actually getting a chance to brawl with each other after getting away from the security or other wrestlers. They didn’t really look like they were trying to fight much at that point. So while the segment was good enough, it just barely got there.
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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 him on Twitter @JonMezzera