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The Draft – MISS: I won’t repeat what I wrote about Draft night 1 in my Smackdown Hits & Misses, but most of the problems with it continued into night 2 on Raw. Here, I will focus on just how stupid the actual picks were. There are so many examples of picks that made no sense. Raw has a chance to pick the Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, who would not only be an asset to Raw, but also bring a Title with him. Instead they picked guys like Cedric Alexander and Rusev. They could pick tag teams together, but only picked Erick Rowan and not Luke Harper. How did Humberto Carrillo, Buddy Murphy, Ali, Jinder Mahal and R-Truth all get picked before Samoa Joe? I could go on, but with these and other stupid picks, piled onto the stupidity of the draft itself and so many bad things WWE did with it, it was another big Miss.
Lynch vs. Charlotte – HIT: There was plenty of good wrestling on Raw starting with the opening match. The pre-match angle with Charlotte Flair appearing to turn heel was odd. I mean, she is better as a heel, but she just turned babyface a few weeks ago. Becky Lynch’s promo to start Raw was good, but I was confused by that Charlotte turn and am curious to see what they do with her going forward. But, this was a very good match. The outcome based on the stupid draft format seemed obvious, but there were still some very believable near falls for Flair. This is where her earlier work getting secondary moves over as possible finishers pays off. She has won plenty of matches with Natural Selection and a few with a spear too. So when she hit those on Lynch here, it was believable that she might actually win. That’s such simple attention to detail that works. The fact that Becky took advantage of her being upset at the referee for a quick leverage pin worked well.
Andrade vs. Ali – HIT: I would have loved to see this match go longer than 6 minutes given how talented Andrade and Ali are, but in this case it made sense to not have the match go longer. This was more about getting Andrade over as a high Raw draft pick than Ali which is ok. I’m a huge Ali fan and hope that he gets a push at some point. But, I say the same about Andrade. He got the strong win in a good match where Ali got enough offense in to keep it from being a total squash. It was fun to watch and hopefully is the start of a renewed push for Andrade.
The Viking Raiders vs. Ziggler & Roode – HIT: This was a very good Tag Team Title match with the Viking Raiders winning to become the new Champs. I hoped that the match would end very early after the big splash onto Dolph Ziggler. That type of squash would have sent a big message to get behind the VRs. But, the longer very good match that we got was probably the better way to go. The VRs have gotten over with their wrestling ability. They were getting strong reactions despite the dippy cosplay gimmick. All four performed well leading to the Title change. It also was nice to hear from the new Champions in the back stage promo they gave a little while later. That promo wasn’t great because of the gimmick, but it was still a good idea to hear them talk about the importance of winning the title and to actually acknowledge their past title reigns in New Japan and Ring of Honor.
Black vs. Young – HIT: Eric Young is basically a jobber so I don’t mind him losing in a 2 minute squash to Aleister Black. Black should be a major star so starting his post-draft run off with such a strong win was a great way to go.
Street Profits – The OC – HIT: I am a fan of the NXT version of The Street Profits. The Raw version has been hit or miss, but more miss. I’m hoping that this is the start of the in ring portion of their main roster run. AJ Styles was good in at first acting like he liked the Street Profits, before putting them down. The attack from him, Gallows & Anderson worked well. I liked the more serious version of the Steen Profits we saw later in the show reacting to it. They even gave a hook of finding a mystery partner. I like the fact that they were actually smart and didn’t give away that secret and WWE didn’t go to that match on this show. So often, they rush into these matches, but here they are letting it go a week which is smart.
Ricochet vs. Benjamin – MISS: This is a minor Miss. The wrestling action between Ricochet and Shelton Benjamin was good, but it felt like a replay of what they did with Andrade and Ali earlier in the show. Like Andrade, Ricochet was positioned as trying to justify his position in the draft, while Benjamin like Ali was positioned as trying to impress the network executives since he hadn’t been drafted yet. Throw in the over the top talk about real life superheroes and this ends up in the Miss column.
Lana – Lashley – MISS: This salacious storyline with Lana, Bobby Lashley and Rusev is so bad. It is uncomfortable to watch. It doesn’t make me want to see Lashley vs. Rusev which should be the goal.
Murphy vs. Alexander – HIT: This was another good match. At 9 minutes with a commercial break, we didn’t see much of it. However, what we saw was fun to watch. These two worked together multiple times on 205 Live so it was not surprising that they would work so well together to have this good match. Buddy Murphy does seem to have the bigger overall upside to me, so I was happy to see him go over here.
Kabuki Warriors vs. Natalya & Evans – MISS: When Natalya introduced Lacey Evans as her surprise guest partner, I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a babyface turn for Evans or a heel turn for Natalya. The fans were not happy to see Evans teaming with Natalya. The Kabuki Warriors are recently turned heels, I think. Asuka has embraced a heel persona which we saw at times in NXT and she can be great in this role. Kairi Sane not so much. She is so talented, but I’m not a fan of her Pirate Princess character. However, she just screams babyface. That’s why I’d love to see them break up and get a heel Asuka vs. face Sane feud which could be awesome. On the other side, you have this great natural heel in Evans miscast as a face with a good face in Natalya who fans aren’t happy with for picking Evans as her partner. The match dragged at 15 minutes even though there was some good wrestling action in it. But, the bigger problem was the dynamic with the wrestlers involved.
Rollins Burns It Down – MISS: Seth Rollins was okay in his early interview about finding The Fiend, but it was totally idiotic to have him say that he doesn’t know if The Fiend is a person or not. I want to see a more realistic sports like presentation to pro wrestling which is why I like the New Japan stuff that I do watch and am hopeful for AEW. This super natural stuff doesn’t interest me as a 40 year old 30+ year fan. The fans seemed to be booing Rollins which I don’t think was the purpose. The scene that ended the show was odd. I guess the idea was to cement the fact that Bray Wyatt has split personality or something, but that didn’t work well. The Firefly Funhouse has been sort of separate from the rest of the show. So it seemed to be disconnected from every Funhouse episode that came before it in the way that Rollins was able to just walk onto the set. Why didn’t he do that before?
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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
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