SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: Raw got off to a good start with Seth Rollins coming out to apologize for his words to the Raw locker room last week. Rollins was good in his role, saying the right things, but in a way where the fans don’t believe he’s being sincere. Kevin Owens was great in his role. It was nice to see a babyface acting smart for a change. The fact that Owens didn’t buy into Rollins’ BS was great. How often in a similar situation would the babyface agree to team with the Rollins’ character to take on the tag team, only to get screwed in the end? It was nice to see them go in a different direction here. It also set up a hook to see what would happen after the break with Owens in the ring wanting to have a match.
Owens vs. Lashley – HIT: The set up for this match was fun with Owens saying all the things that the fans want to hear a face say to Lana. I liked Lana’s claim that Bobby Lashley is the only man she’s ever been with. The match itself was solid to good. We didn’t see a lot of it due to the commercial interruption, but what we saw was good. The attack from the Authors of Pain was expected, but well done. The idea that they dragged him away at the end worked well to create intrigue to see what happened to Owens at that point.
What Did Happen To Owens? – MISS: I expected to actually get an answer to that question during the rest of the show. I liked the hook, but then we never got an answer. That would be fine at the end, but this happened with more than 2 hours left in the show. We should have gotten some type of update as to Owens’ status. If we weren’t going to win, at the very least we should have gotten more questions and conjecture and concern from the announcers as to what AOP did with Owens throughout the show.
Drew McIntyre – HIT: I was leaning towards giving Drew McIntyre’s match against Akira Tozawa a Miss. Tozawa is so talented that it is a mistake to have him as a jobber a week after getting a Cruiserweight Title match on NXT, especially to someone as big as McIntyre. I like giving a strong win to McIntyre and the way that Tozawa bumped for the Claymore Kick was awesome. McIntyre looked like a star, and it was interesting to hear him call out Randy Orton afterwards, especially given his expected feud against AJ Styles. McIntyre gave a very strong performance on the mic getting in Orton’s face and declaring Orton the past and himself the future. The rest of the segment was fine with The OC coming out to interrupt and ultimately attack Orton, leading to the three babyfaces making the save to set up the main event six-man tag. But before the attack could happen, McIntyre got in one more good line saying that this matter doesn’t concern him, so he left. It was a good night for McIntyre.
Orton – HIT: Orton also had a good night. In fact, he’s in the middle of a string of good nights. He has been doing great work lately. He seems far more engaged in what he’s doing, even if he’s acting like he doesn’t give a damn about anything. I liked his interaction with McIntyre as I talked about above. What was even better was when he addressed Ricochet, Umberto Carrillo and Rey Mysterio in the back saying that he appreciated them coming to his aid, but that he didn’t need their help. He also stood tall at the end of the show after the RKO to Styles to continue to build to their presumed match at TLC.
Nese vs. Black – MISS: The action was perfectly fine for an enhancement match to get over Aleister Black. The problem is the timing. Black should have been having these matches for a while now at the same time as his backstage vignettes asking for someone to knock on his door. Those vignettes should have been fazed out and transferred into squash matches as he would force wrestlers to fight him while still waiting for someone to actually challenge him. Now that Buddy Murphy has knocked on his door, it is too late to finally feature this type of match.
Andrade vs. Young – MISS: I have no problem with enhancement matches, especially while building up a wrestler like Andrade. The problem is that Eric Young has meant absolutely nothing for his entire WWE run. He got far too much offense and Andrade took too long (even only 5 minutes) to beat him. This is why actual jobbers like we saw in the Viking Raiders match later is so important. Young could have actually gotten a few wins agains those jobbers just to build him up a little while Andrade is doing the same. Then, you have this match to put Andrade over and it means more and doesn’t hurt Andrade in how much he had to sell for a total loser.
Street Profits – MISS: It wasn’t that long ago that The Street Profits were in the Raw main event. They were feuding with the OC and had some ring time with stars like Owens. They haven’t been on as much lately, and this week they were just doing the Shop WWE plug with No Way Jose and his conga line. A team like the Street Profits should have some street credibility and this creates the exact opposite.
Charlotte vs. The Kabuki Warriors – HIT: I had a problem with this match happening at all. I had a problem with any one wrestler giving so much trouble to the Women’s Tag Team Champions like this. It would be bad enough if it was a team like the IIconics, but when it is two potential top singles stars like Asuka and Kairi Sane, it is even worse. However, the action was good throughout the match. It did go on too long, but the Kabuki Warriors did dominate long stretches and the comebacks from Charlotte were well done and believable despite the 2-on-1 situation. The match built well to Charlotte having Asuka in the figure 8, not realizing that Sane was the legal competitor in the match, allowing her to hit the Insane Elbow for the win. The follow up interview with Charlotte was good, but where is it all leading?
Mysterio, Ricochet, Carrillo – MISS: The promo these three cut before their main event was bad. The whole “superheroes are real” bit for Ricochet has got to go. That is terrible. He has not been good on the mic in general and this was another poor performance. Carrillo wasn’t good either. Mysterio has been so strong with his mic work lately, but this was just ok. It wasn’t as good as he’s been doing lately, so it wasn’t good enough to help this bad segment. It didn’t get me excited for the match or the trio.
Six-Man Tag – HIT: The main event did deliver a strong stretch of wrestling for 16 minutes. These are six talented wrestlers so it isn’t surprising to see them have a good match like this. It got particularly exciting as it built towards the end where Styles hit a Super Styles Clash on Ricochet for the 1-2-3 win. While there was some distraction from the rest of The OC, it was still a relatively clean win for the heel team. Styles needed the win to help rebound after losing the United States Championship to Mysterio last week and to build him up for the upcoming match against Orton.
Is There a PPV in Two Weeks? – MISS: Has WWE announced a single match for the TLC PPV yet? If they have, I have missed it. They seem to be building towards Charlotte and a partner against the Kabuki Warriors, but they haven’t done anything to hint at someone like Becky Lynch as that partner the last two weeks. They are building to Orton vs. Styles, but no announcement yet. Rollins vs. Owens? Rusev vs. Lashley? They have some things in the works, but it seems like a mistake to have all the matches announced on the final week before the PPV.
Jerry Lawler – MISS: For some reason, Jerry Lawler was more of a heel announcer on Raw last week. I didn’t like it at the time, but this week it particularly stood out as Samoa Joe joined the commentary team. Joe was a heel, and so was Lawler (for the most part, but he wasn’t 100%). So you had the weak Vick Joseph as the only babyface voice on the announce team. It was totally unbalanced. He also had several cringe worthy lines throughout the show. I like Joe’s addition while he is still out with his hand injury. But, there has to be a better face announcer on the other side to balance him out.
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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