SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: This was a fun opening segment involving The Usos, The New Day and Miz & Morrison before their 8 man tag match which also included Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. The mic work was mostly good. The Usos started it off very well and got a strong reaction. The New Day were also good, with the focus being momentarily shifted from a united front against the heels to a hint at wanting to wrestle The Usos one more time. It worked on multiple levels to make fans want to see the 8 man tag, New Day vs. Miz & Morrison at Blood Money and a possible Tag Team Title match of New Day vs. the Usos down the line.
Eight-Man Tag – HIT: This is a minor Hit for what could have been a better tag match. These are talented wrestlers who given 10 minutes should have had a better match. It was still good enough to get a Hit. There was good wrestling action, but the isolation on Kofi Kingston lasted a little too long and started to drag before he finally got the hot tag. There were exciting spots in the match, but there was also that terrible ZigZag/spine buster double team move that probably sounded better on paper than in execution. If they want to make that their double team finisher, they need to work on it. It was not surprising that neither the Champions nor the challengers were involved in the finish, but after losing last week, Miz & Morrison needed this win. That finish along with a few other negatives took away from an otherwise good match.
Gulak, Bryan, Slater – HIT: I got a kick out of this backstage scene where Drew Gulak tried to convince Daniel Bryan to watch his power point presentation to show him the holes that he has noticed in his game. Heath Slater was the best part of this. I laughed out loud when he said that he wasn’t ready to fight Bryan when they had their match a few weeks ago, to have Bryan ask him if he’s ready to fight tonight, and he answered “I’m always ready!” That was great. Gulak has a lot of untapped potential. The match between Bryan and Slater that this set up with Gulak doing guest commentary was a fine squash to keep killing time before Bryan moves on to whatever he will be involved in for WrestleMania (possibly Sheamus).
Lacey Evans Interview – MISS: It was good that WWE did this, but it is a shame that it came a month too late. We needed this to explain Lacey Evans’ babyface turn and her campaign against bullies before she actually faced Bayley for the Women’s Championship at The Royal Rumble, not several weeks later. She performed well, but the nasties talk didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the focus of the interview. That should have been cut. And if she’s focusing more and more on her time in the Marines, her motherhood and her anti-bullying crusade, then they need to go even further away from her sassy southern belle gimmick which screams heel.
Symphony of Destruction – MISS: There was admittedly a lot of fun in this silly gimmick match with Braun Strowman teaming up with Elias to face Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. The nunchuck gimmick was amusing and there were some other fun spots. But I was disconnected from the start when you have a no DQ, falls count anywhere tag match which has to have the wrestlers tag in and out. The match devolved to where it should have been from the start with tornado rules. It started out like too normal of a match. And the biggest problem is that Sami Zayn’s crew keep losing. With the no DQ gimmick they could have had the heel duo go over here without taking away from the babyfaces, but instead they keep making Zayn’s group look terrible and totally ineffective.
Moment of Bliss – MISS: I have no problem with the Bellas being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Based on the rather loose criteria, they certainly belong. But, did we need to see them on WWE tv before then? I know they were in their home town so they were available to be on, but they didn’t add to the quality of the show as guests on the Moment of Bliss. This didn’t advance any storylines. It wasn’t entertaining enough on its own to justify being on the show.
How Many Elimination Chamber Matches Are There Going to Be? – MISS: There is a women’s Chamber match from Raw which makes no sense considering Shayna Baszler should just be Becky Lynch’s opponent at WrestleMania. In her interview, Lacey Evans said that she had to go to the back of the line to earn another Title match which means entering Elimination Chamber. So I guess that means there will be a Smackdown women’s chamber match too? Later, Sheamus said that he would be in the Elimination Chamber. So we are getting at least one men’s Chamber match too (presumably Roman Reigns will win to earn a Title shot against The Fiend). 3 Chambers is a mistake!
Naomi vs. Carmella – HIT: I applaud WWE for not doing what many fans expected and have a non-finish to this match to set up a triple threat Title with Naomi vs. Carmella vs. Bayley. This match was far from great, but at least neither of the wrestlers thinks that they are an alien and they didn’t spend half the match poking each other in the nose (seriously, AEW Dynamite was the best of the big four shows this week, but the women’s division is still so far below WWE that even with WWE’s talent spread over four shows, bad booking, and pushing some of their less talented wrestlers like Carmella, it is going to take a lot for AEW to come close to catching up with WWE). Also, this is an example of how good announcing can help a match when Naomi clearly overshot her springboard kick attempt and went over Carmella’s head. It looked bad, but the announcers didn’t pretend like it hit. They covered for the miss well and moved on.
Goldberg – Fiend – HIT: I have zero interest in watching Bill Goldberg wrestle any more. I have very little interest in watching Bray Wyatt wrestle as The Fiend. I don’t expect that their match will be any good at all. But, this show closing go home segment was exactly what it should be given the storyline and characters involved. We got some of The Fiend’s hocus pocus followed by a spear from Goldberg to tease that he has what it takes to avoid Fiend’s mind games and physically dominate in the match to give fans hope that he will win.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.