SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening with Heyman and Lesnar – HIT: Raw got off to a hot start with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman coming out to address their situation with Rey Mysterio. I appreciate the fact that Heyman at least tried to justify how Lesnar could quit Smackdown but other wrestlers can’t. It seems that WWE heard the criticism of that from Smackdown and addressed it. It wasn’t very good, but at least they tried. Otherwise, the opening was good. Heyman was on fire calling out Mysterio. It set up Lesnar being on a rampage looking for Mysterio, taking out several workers in the back. That gave the fans something to continue to watch the show to see.
Kabuki Warriors vs. Charlotte & Natalya – MISS: This match should have been a Hit. These women have too much talent to have a match like this. It wasn’t terrible. But, it should have been so much better. There was plenty of good wrestling action, but at 18 minutes it may have been too long. It was sloppy at times. Charlotte Flair needs to stop doing the moonsault. She overshot Kairi Sane and only hit Asuka. But, it was Sane she had to pin and it looked bad where Sane had to sell it even though she wasn’t touched on the move. The way Asuka broke up the pin at that point looked very odd. At one point, Charlotte was going for a hot tag to Natalya, but Sane was so late coming to stop the tag, that Natalya looked bad by not actually reaching out to tag Charlotte. She had to pull her hand back a bit to explain the lack of a tag. I also don’t like having the Champions lose in a non-title match. That’s a tired angle that WWE does far too often. I’m not thrilled with Asuka tapping out either.
Lesnar – Mysterio – HIT: It is arguable that Mysterio took too long to confront Lesnar, causing multiple employees including Dio Madden to get beat up in the meantime. But, the intensity of Lesnar and the attack from Mysterio were very memorable. If Mysterio is going to be believable against Lesnar, having him injure Lesnar’s knee is a good way to go. The attack was well done. Mysterio’s impassioned challenge in the back afterwards also was well done. It also makes me happy that it appears WWE is going with Lesnar vs. Mysterio at Survivor Series instead of a champions triple threat with Lesnar vs. Cole vs. Fiend.
Alexander vs. Murphy – MISS: It is unfortunate that a match between Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy was used as a buffer segment after the hot angle with Lesnar and Mysterio. It sends a terrible message to have the match start with the wrestlers already in the ring, not getting entrances on tv. They weren’t treated as big deals. They weren’t treated as stars. They both have so much talent, it is a shame that they get this kind of treatment. The match was fine, but at 6 minutes, they didn’t have much time to show off what makes them so special in the ring.
Triple H – Rollins – NXT Angle – MISS: WWE has to do something with Seth Rollins. He either needs to go away, turn heel, find a new mission, or something. WWE realized that with this segment, but it didn’t accomplish much. Sad Rollins doesn’t do it for me. It is not a good idea to have him point out that after all of his hard work, he is right back to where he was earlier this year with Lesnar as Champion on Raw. It reminds the fans that WWE is in a creative rut, putting us right back to where we were before WrestleMania. The talking lasted too long with Rollins and Triple H going down memory lane. It was meant to set up the notion that Rollins might jump to NXT, but we were told by Heyman earlier that wrestlers not named Brock Lesnar can’t quit one show to go to another. We got more of the invasion angle with Undisputed Era coming out to threaten Rollins only to have the OC come out to chase them away, leading to a bunch of other NXT wrestlers attacking them, leading to a bunch of low card Raw wrestlers chasing them away. This wasn’t nearly as exciting as Smackdown. The advantage should have been that unlike on Friday, Raw had a full roster to defend itself against NXT, yet it was guys like Zach Ryder and Kurt Hawkins coming out. I was thinking at least they sent out one higher card wrestler with Erick Rowan, but realized quickly that he wasn’t there as part of Raw’s upper card, but had been lowered down the card to Ryder, Hawkins and R-Truth’s level. I’m not high on Rowan, but it is a waste of what they did with him on Smackdown with Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns. Also, I’m not sure why The OC would come out to defend Rollins. It is another example of why these brand vs. brand feuds don’t make sense.
Andrade & Vega vs. Cara & Carolina – MISS: After the hot start that Andrade got after being drafted to Raw, he has gone way down with this feud against Sin Cara. He hasn’t looked very strong even in victory over the jobber Cara. I’m not sure that using the ultra talented and possible top stars Andrade and Zalina Vega to introduce Carolina is a good idea. Carolina did not look impressive. That was probably the worst cross body of all time when she landed on Vega’s knees. It is good that the heels won, but I have a feeling that this feud isn’t over which is going to continue to harm Andrade. On a bit of an aside, wasn’t her name Catalina? I actually thought it was Catalina, but wasn’t sure, so I looked it up on WWE’s website and it is Carolina.
McIntyre vs. Rusev – MISS: The wrestling between Drew McIntyre and Rusev was fine, but the match is a Miss for having McIntyre involved in the Rusev/Lana/Bobby Lashley angle at all. That storyline has been so terrible that I wouldn’t want McIntyre anywhere close to it. It was predictable that Lashley was faking his injury to attack Rusev. So again, we get a non-finish in a match which happens too much in WWE. At least McIntyre looked disgusted and walked away after Lashley attacked Rusev. Continuing the Team Hogan vs. Team Flair story with Randy Orton and Ricochet getting involved didn’t make sense either. At least Ricochet acted like a babyface in coming to Rusev’s aid, but why Orton got involved escapes me. They also had the tacked on bit with Lana getting accidentally hurt at the end.
Lynch – Baszler – HIT: This was the highlight of the show. It started off well with Charlie Caruso doing a sit down interview with Becky Lynch. That part was good, but it really got going with Shayna Baszler kicking Caruso out to take her seat. The mic work from both Lynch and Baszler was very strong. They both looked like stars. It made me want to watch them fight. I wish it was one-on-one, but am curious to see how Bayley responds on Smackdown. The only problem I had with it is that it felt overproduced with a few too many cuts.
OC vs. Street Profits & Carrillo – MISS: There was certainly good wrestling action in this 6 man tag, but the set up for it was so bad that the crowd felt totally dead for it. AJ Styles’ pre-match promo was ok, but not particularly good in how he was talking more about NXT than about The Street Profits. They weren’t good either. They usually are, but this was a major swing and a miss for them. They tried to hype Umberto Carrillo at the same time as bragging about beating The OC, but it didn’t work. It was met by crickets, in part because WWE hasn’t done a good job of introducing Carrillo or making the fans care about him. He loses all of his matches. It also made me wonder where Kevin Owens was. He was the surprise wrestler to have the Street Profits’ back in their debut. So why wasn’t he teaming with them here?
Cole vs. Rollins – HIT: This wasn’t nearly as good as Adam Cole’s match against Daniel Bryan on Smackdown, but it was still good enough while it lasted to get a Hit. Cole and Rollins are obviously two very good workers, so it was going to be fun to watch them show off their skills for 12 minutes. The match was sold more on which wrestler Triple H wanted to win, as opposed to being for the NXT Championship. That brought it down a bit as did the predictable run in for the disqualification ending.
Final Brawl – MISS: Like the invasion angle earlier in the show, this failed to get me excited. It did have a little more star power than the brawl earlier in the show, but it felt like a brawl for the sake of a brawl. I kept waiting for someone like Braun Strowman to show up to create a strong ending, but it never came. With the show going off the air in the middle of the brawl, it didn’t feel like anything was settled. Again, having guys like Matt Riddle and Kieth Lee coming to the aid of Undisputed Era goes against their War Games storyline from NXT tv. Who were we supposed to be rooting for? I just hate Survivor Series. It is the worst event of the year, because of how WWE chooses to promote it.
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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