SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Randy Orton – HIT: This was a good way to follow up on the major heat generating angle that closed out last week’s Raw. Randy Orton was great here in selling the fact that he was too overwhelmed by emotion to address what he did to his old friend Edge. He drew it out without overdrawing it out. The fans clearly reacted negatively to him as you would want and expect. Now you have the added layer of heat with Orton not actually talking about what happened last week which should build more animosity towards him when he eventually does tell his side of the story.
Riott – Morgan – MISS: I don’t understand why we got another match with Liv Morgan taking on Lana after she beat her easily last week. She beat her easily again in a match that was thankfully kept very short. Then we got the return of Ruby Riott. I am a fan of Riott and was happy to see her return from injury. She can definitely inject some life into the women’s division. The problem is that her return mirrored what happened between Edge and Orton last week. Former partners are reunited, they hug, then one turns on the other. Again, it was predictable. Riott was a heel when she left, so why would she be a babyface now? Riott is a much better opponent to really see what Morgan can do in a match against a good wrestler. But, the timing was the big problem. They could have spent a few weeks re-establishing Riott with Morgan before the turn and it would have had more impact at that point.
Drew McIntyre – HIT: Drew McIntyre continues to do a great job as the winner of the Royal Rumble. His pre-match promo about facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania was great. The way he addressed his opponent Mojo Rawley to start and then again at the end after forgetting he was there was very funny. He is showing great personality and getting a chance to back up his strong talk with quick squash matches. My only issue is that it doesn’t make sense why WWE had him do this against Rawley. I’m not a fan of Rawley nor the 24/7 title. But, I don’t understand why they would put the title on Rawley, play up his toughness as being juxtaposed to the silliness of R-Truth, and give him Riddick Moss to help protect that title, only to have him in this position this week. Was EC3 busy?
Six-Man Tag – HIT: The first 45 minutes or so of Raw was pretty good overall, but light on wrestling with a 1 minute and a five second match. Here towards the end of that first hour, we finally got a long stretch of good wrestling action with this match. The match was well booked to have Kevin Owens and the Viking Raiders getting a strong amount of offense early on, only to have the Raiders eliminated quickly due to outside interference and a fluke injury. That was all well done. The next stretch bordered on going on too long with Owens taking the prolonged beating from Buddy Murphy and the Authors of Pain. He did just enough with some come backs and hope spots to keep things interesting. The closing moments of the match with his ultimate comeback being able to eliminate Murphy and Akam before losing in the end was very strong and left him looking good despite the loss.
Aleister Black – MISS: After another good squash match over Erick Young, Aleister Black cut a promo that didn’t seem to make any sense. I didn’t get what he was saying at all. I like the mood with him sitting down at the end with the lights changing in the ring, but what he had to say was all over the place. It seemed like he forgot a line in the middle of the promo which would have made it more clear what he was actually talking about.
Angel Garza Debut – HIT: It was smart of WWE to have Zelina Vega bring in Angel Garza to work with her while Andrade is gone for a month on a Wellness Policy suspension. Garza has a great upside and it makes sense for him to work with his cousin Humberto Carillo. The mic work from all three was strong. I didn’t know what Carillo was saying as I don’t speak Spanish, but it didn’t matter. You could tell the sense of what he was saying due to his strong and intense delivery. The physicality as Garza got the better of Carillo and teased the hammerlock DDT on the concrete was good. The Rey Mysterio save worked well. Garza vs. Mysterio was a really good 13 minute match. It was interesting to see Garza hit that DDT on Mysterio to end the match. They have established that the recovery time for that injury is a month, and we know it will be again for Andrade, so they need to have Mysterio out for at least a month too. With him and Andrad out for 3-4 weeks at this point, they could possibly draw this out to WM with a big tag match which would be a lot of fun to watch with these four.
Charlotte – Ripley – HIT: I was disappointed with Charlotte Flair winning the Royal Rumble. I was not looking forward to her facing either Becky Lynch or Bayley at WM. I was much more intrigued by the rumors last week that she would face Rea Ripley so I was thrilled to see Ripley come out here to interrupt and basically challenge Charlotte to challenge her. I have mixed feelings about having the Rumble winner challenge an NXT Champion. I still believe that having Shayna Baszler win the Rumble would have been a better route to go. But, at least they are setting up the best possible match for Charlotte once they decided to give her the victory.
Asuka vs. Natalya – HIT: This was a good match with Asuka getting a much needed bounce back win over a credible opponent in Natalya. However, this is a case where the heel needed to win clean. Asuka shouldn’t have had to rely on a distraction from Kairi Sane to beat Natalya at this point. That brought down the match to a marginal Hit, but the wrestling action was good.
Asuka – Lynch – HIT: This was a strong performance with Becky Lynch continuing to play up how she has regained her confidence after beating Asuka at the Rumble. I love seeing her swagger back with her talking about gaining super powers after beating Asuka and wanting to feel more of that, so that she happily accepted the challenge for her Championship next week.
Rollins vs. Lashley vs. Ricochet – MISS: This triple threat match never clicked for me. Like often happens (and happened on Smackdown with the tag teams last week), WWE had a multi-person match to determine a #1 contender for a Championship with one wrestler as the clear predictable winner. They weren’t going to go with a heel against Lesnar. Ricochet was the only one in the match with a storyline involving Lesnar as he interacted with him before the Rumble and gave him the low blow to set up McIntyre to eliminate him. The mic work from all three in the match earlier on was not good. I applaud WWE for having them all interviewed to hype the main event, but none of it was good. Seth Rollins sounded like a babyface in some ways in his pre-match promo talking about Lesnar. The match had some good stuff in it, but it was also predictable how the rest of the Messiah Complex (is that name catching on yet?) interfered only to be chased off by Owens and Erick to even the odds. As an aside, Byron Saxton is an idiot. As Owens went after the AOP with a chair, he yelled out something like “chairs are perfectly legal in a triple threat match!” about wrestlers who weren’t in the match at all. No matter the rules of the match, wrestlers not in the match aren’t going to be disqualified for fighting other wrestlers not in the match. I mean seriously, that was so stupid! Once the match got going again, it was pretty good, but the ending felt like it came out of nowhere. Like I said, it never really clicked. The surprise with Lesnar attacking Ricochet after the match was at least a good way to end the show.
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.
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