SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Becky Lynch – HIT: The Man got Raw off to a good start with her promo. She comes across like a star and gets a huge babyface reaction, so WWE can’t say that the fans are “finicky” about every top babyface star who gets a push. I appreciate the fact that she seems above all the brand supremacy b.s. She looked like a badass when she wanted to take on the IIconics without Charlotte Flair. Charlotte was fine when she came out at that point. I liked how Becky shook her head yes and no in response to things that Charlotte was saying. It is good that WWE isn’t trying to pretend that they like each other. They still have tension. They really don’t want to be a team. But, then they need to do a better job of explaining why they are a team and who the “forces” are that are making them. The tag match that followed was short, but fine followed by the brawl with NXT Horsewomen and Becky punching out one of the security guards which was great.
AOP Beats up Ryder & Hawkins – HIT: WWE should have done something to establish Hawkins & Ryder as the challengers for The Viking Raiders’ Raw Tag Team Title. If they had won a string of matches lately to gain momentum and earn that Title match, the fans would have been upset that the Authors of Pain beat them up and took them out of the match. I am still giving it a Hit, since it is good to see the AOP moving onto something physical, beyond the good verbal vignettes they’ve been doing lately. They now need to squash Hawkins & Ryder as the start of their own string of squashes to back up all the things that they said in those vignettes.
Anderson vs. Carrillo – HIT: This was a good match to have Umberto Carrillo defeat Karl Anderson to earn a United States Championship match against AJ Styles next week. The Street Profits getting involved made sense to counter the rest of The OC at ringside.
Rollins Interview – MISS: I wasn’t a fan of Seth Rollins trying to compare himself to the New England Patriots to explain why half the fans are booing him at this point. This wasn’t a strong performance in general. It isn’t the type of performance that is going to get fans behind him.
Lana and Lashley – MISS: I can put this in the Miss column every week. Whatever Lana, Bobby Lashley and Rusev are involved in is going to be bad. Now we’ve hit the restraining order portion of the story. Yawn. Lana couldn’t even get through the promo without a big mistake saying miles instead of feet. She played it off ok when Lashley pointed out the mistake, but it was still part of a stupid segment and part of a stupid storyline.
Rollins vs. Andrade – HIT: There was a lot of good wrestling action on this show with some matches like this which were very good, but ended with an attack of some sort. Rollins and Andrade got 16 minutes to wrestle before they were attacked by Lucha House Party. I don’t like the fact that a babyface trio would attack Seth Rollins like that just because of brand supremacy. And why would they want to end the match when the winner would be in the Survivor Series match? Why pick Rollins to be in the match by giving him a disqualification win? Why not let them keep hurting each other and then attack the eventual winner? None of this makes any sense and hurt the end of what was otherwise a great match. I want to see more of Rollins vs. Andrade in the future.
Tozawa vs. Murphy – HIT: This was another good match which allowed Akira Tozawa a chance to show off his skills in the ring to a bigger audience in his Raw debut, while also continuing to build up Buddy Murphy for what now will be a match against Aleister Black. One spot I particularly want to praise was when Murphy caught the diving Tozawa on the outside for a suplex on the floor. That was very impressive.
Creature Cam – MISS: I forgot to mention last week how stupid it is to have Erick Rowan talking to a camera inside a cage point-of-view style. I don’t care about whatever critter he has in that cage. Whatever it is, we shouldn’t be able to see through its eyes.
Owens vs. McIntyre – HIT: If Drew McIntyre were to win the WWE Championship and get a long run as the heel Champion, and if Kevin Owens won the Royal Rumble and went on to challenge McIntyre for the WWE Title at WrestleMania, and if they put on this exact match with an actual ending, I don’t think anyone would have complained. That could easily be one of your top WM matches. This was a great stretch of wrestling. I had the feeling the whole time that it wouldn’t have a proper ending which took away from enjoying the match as much as I would have otherwise. But, I want to give Owens and McIntyre a huge amount of credit for what they did in this match.
Triple H – MISS: There was some good work by Triple H in this promo pitching to Owens the idea that he doesn’t belong on Raw or Smackdown and that he should return to NXT where he does belong. The performance was strong. A lot of what he said rang true. But, there were too many problems with it. First of all, just because he came out, they decided to end the match? Why did the match end? That was ridiculous. WWE has also established the fact that wrestlers are under contract to their brand and can’t switch brands (other than Brock Lesnar). So, even if Owens buys Triple H’s arguments, how would he be able to leave Raw to go to NXT? Also, what did WWE want the fans to think about that segment? Would leaving Raw for NXT be seen as a heel turn? Many fans would see it as a babyface move. I appreciate the fact that Triple H seemed upset that Undisputed Era jumped Owens. Like I said, there was some good in this segment. But, I can’t get worked up over the idea of Owens jumping to NXT at this point in this way, especially when it came at the expense of a real ending to a great match.
Miracle or Massacre – HIT: The promo from Paul Heyman followed by the interview reaction from Rey Mysterio was a major highlight of this show. I wrote recently that Mysterio was doing the best mic work of his career on behalf of someone else, Cain Velasquez. It has been good to hear him recently continue to give those good performances on the mic for himself in this feud against Brock Lesnar. Heyman was great in positioning the match as either a miracle or a massacre. That’s a great tagline that can help sell Survivor Series. That should be on a t-shirt. Mysterio’s come back was strong and believable to make fans think that the no DQ stipulation is going to benefit him. That makes a lot of sense. But, will it actually translate to a quality match?
Show Closing Brawl – MISS: The main event of the Viking Raiders vs. Orton & Ricochet didn’t get me excited. It was a weird face vs. face dynamic which didn’t work, plus you knew that the match would end with interference from either NXT, Smackdown or both. The big brawl was ok, but dragged and didn’t get me excited either. I didn’t even recognize some of the wrestlers like Cesaro in their Smackdown blue wearing hats. We can unfortunately expect more of the same on NXT and Smackdown. I can’t wait for next week when this will all be forgotten and all the brands will get back to promoting their individual heel vs. face match ups heading into the next PPV. Triple H’s open challenge to come to NXT might get viewers, so that makes sense, but at the same point we are only getting one voice from an authority figure and it isn’t even the authority figure who regularly appears on NXT. It feels out of balance to have Triple H advocating for NXT and nobody advocating for Raw or Smackdown. I don’t want authority figures to take up much time on the shows, but this (along with Charlotte’s earlier “the forces” remark) points to the fact that you do need someone to be that face of the brand to show who makes the matches, and makes trades and what not. Just be consistent across the brands.
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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