KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
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Ric Flair – MISS: While it is true that Ric Flair came across as being unscripted which is refreshing in this WWE landscape, he also came across as being drunk and totally unprepared. Seriously, he was slurring his words, had trouble getting the name Ricochet out, and forgot what city he was in, and then got mad when the interviewer seemed to point out that he didn’t know what city he was in. He also made this big deal about how his team has the advantage because he knew all five members of Team Hogan two days longer than Hulk Hogan knew all five members of Team Flair. That was his big advantage, that somehow revealing that Drew McIntyre was on his team a few days after Hogan revealed the final members of his team. That made no sense. Also, why is WWE trying to get Flair booed? Fans want to cheer him for the legend that he is. They want to boo Hogan for the racist that he is. They have Flair getting cheered while presenting a heel team. It is a mess.
McIntyre vs. Ricochet – HIT: This was a very good long match between Ricochet and McIntyre. McIntyre got the clean win in the end which was the way to go. I was concerned that Flair might cheat to help him win, but he needed the clean win here more than Ricochet needed to be protected. Ricochet got in plenty of offense to look strong despite the loss. The beatdown that happened afterwards was also well done to put more heat on McIntyre.
The OC and Street Profits Mic Work – HIT: This was a short interviews with The OC about their program with The Street Profits, followed by a promo from the Street Profits later on. These are examples (like last week’s Smackdown with Daniel Bryan talking about his main event tag match) of good, short segments to hype a big match for later in the show. It is an easy thing to do to follow up on last week’s beating and build towards this week’s match.
Instant Impact – HIT: This is another example of something simple that doesn’t take up a lot of time, but that has a positive impact. This video highlighting three wrestlers who made their Raw debuts last week, Andrade, Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy was well done. Each one got a few moments to shine and to show why they are special and why the fans should pay attention to them post-draft.
The King’s Court – MISS: I continue to not be a fan of this infidelity story between Rusev, Lana and Bobby Lashley. Jerry Lawler didn’t seem to know how to properly pronounce Lana’s name. Moving past that, Rusev continued to be too mild mannered about his wife having an affair and flaunting it in his face. He just doesn’t seem that upset about it. The whole idea that Lashley has brainwashed Lana is stupid. The fact that a restaurant would allow a WWE camera crew into their dinning room didn’t make much sense either. The later segment when Rusev went to the restaurant and attacked Lashley wasn’t any better. This whole thing is a big mess.
Andrade vs. Sin Cara – MISS: Under other circumstances, this could have been a Hit. It was a nice long match. It had plenty of good wrestling action. There were a few sloppy spots and the referee was clearly looking at Zalina Vega when she was beating up Sin Cara on the outside, but he had to pretend not to see. Those issues brought the quality of the match down. However, the Miss is for how this match undid a lot of good that was done for Andrade last week. Sin Cara hasn’t been on tv in months and months. If you want him to have a strong competitive match against Andrade, you have to have him back for a long time reestablishing himself. He needed to be reintroduced and win a series of matches. They needed to do a better job of telling the story about them having history going back to Mexico, which I vaguely recall from when Andrade first got called up to Smackdown like last year. This was all about the timing which was totally off.
Mysterio and Benjamin – HIT: It is odd that Rey Mysterio is doing some of his best mic work for a program which he is only partially involved it. He is doing a good job of talking for Cain Velasquez about his upcoming WWE Title match against Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman also did a nice job of interrupting from the screen. I was not expecting to see Shelton Benjamin also make an appearance to interrupt at that point. But, he did a nice job of reminding the fans about his long history with Lesnar. His bullying tactics towards Mysterio were strong. It is a shame that he hasn’t been better used since his return to WWE. This could have meant more. But, Benjamin gave one of his best performances.
Velasquez – MISS: That confrontation led to Velasquez coming out to help his injured friend Mysterio. That part of the segment wasn’t nearly as good. I had heard that Velasquez looked good in his few AAA matches. He didn’t look good here. His take downs and punches on Benjamin looked weak. He didn’t get a strong reaction, but it was better when he first came out and got worse as fans saw what he was doing in the ring. That didn’t leave me expecting much from his WWE Title match against Lesnar.
Rollins vs. Carrillo – HIT: The set up for this match wasn’t great. Humberto Carrillo was bad in his interview earlier in the show, and the shot he took at Seth Rollins felt totally out of place. The interview that Rollins later gave talking about burning down the Firefly Funhouse wasn’t that good either. His confrontation with Carrillo was better than either interview. Their performances were better and the encounter give a reason for the match that followed which was very strong. It was a good showcase for Carrillo in his Raw debut. This is one of those matches where the loser comes out looking great despite the loss. It was a great effort in the ring from both wrestlers. The announcers did a nice job talking about the match in terms of Carrillo trying to prove himself and Rollins in the context of his feud against Bray Wyatt. This felt like a good step in a long storyline of Rollins slowly going to the dark side in response to The Fiend living in his head. He definitely showed some heelish tendencies in the match, but the handshake at the end showed that he isn’t too far down that dark road yet.
OC vs. Street Profits – HIT: This was confusing. WWE seemed to have promoted this as a 6 man tag match. They should have made it clear that it was a regular tag with the SPs taking on Gallows & Anderson. They needed someone in their corner to counteract AJ Styles, instead of needing a tag team partner. That wasn’t clear and I know a lot of fans were confused. It is interesting to see the SPs first match on the main roster be a Raw main event. They certainly felt like they belonged on the big stage. They got a good reaction from the crowd and really owned their ring entrance with their unique style going through the fans. The match itself was a good, but not great tag team match. Kevin Owens eventually coming out as their surprise back up worked well to counter Styles. This presumably sets up a 6 man tag match for next week, and eventually a feud between Styles and Owens over the United States Championship.
No Women – MISS: Where was Becky Lynch? She’s the Man. She’s the top draft pick for either brand. She’s the Raw Women’s Champion. Where was she? For that matter, where were any other women wrestlers on this show? The only women were interviewers, a manager and a cheating wife. What about the Women’s Tag Team Champions, the Kabuki Warriors? Ric Flair was there, but where was his daughter? I get that WWE’s focus right now is on Crown Jewel. They were hyping Team Flair vs. Team Hogan, Rollins vs. Wyatt, and Velasquez vs. Lesnar. That makes sense, but it points to the bigger problem of having a big show like Blood Money where women aren’t allowed to wrestle. If they were also promoting a second Evolution PPV at the same time, they would have maybe had some women on this show. This is a real disgrace on what was a pretty good show overall.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera
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