SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
McIntyre vs. Lesnar Replay – MISS: This Miss is for the match itself at WrestleMania. When your WM main event is short enough where a video highlight package is basically a replay of the entire match, you know that the match was too short. They pretty much had the same match that Braun Strowman and Goldberg had on night 1, but Drew McIntyre and Brock Lesnar should be able to have a much longer and better match than Strowman and Goldberg. I’m not saying I wanted a 25 minute epic, but they could have gone 10 and done more than what they did. Watching a replay of the match to start Raw and then again before the main event segment later in the show just reminded me of how disappointing that was.
Asuka vs. Morgan – HIT: The opening match was pretty good. Liv Morgan has shown some improvement in the ring. Asuka is great. She is also one of the best on the WWE roster of bringing their own energy to the empty arena matches. They took advantage of the Lynch vs. Baszler finish from night 1 of WM to tease Morgan pinning Asuka while in the Asuka Lock, but Asuka escaped and got the win a moment later.
Lynch Interview – HIT: This was the first in a series of interviews or promos from wrestlers after their WM matches which were all pretty good. This was a nice follow up to her physical match against Shayna Baszler. I liked how she put Baszler over while saying Baszler underestimated her. Lynch came across naturally here, with her bravado, but without the over the top part which can sometimes be a turnoff. Speaking of turnoffs, the way Charlie Caruso smiled and stood there for a ridiculously long time after Lynch left was bad. I wasn’t as big a fan of the Baszler promo that followed it, but it was ok.
Street Profits & Belair vs. Garza & Theory & Vega – MISS: There were good parts of this saga, but it was too much of these six wrestlers. Part of the problem was having the match in the first place. Why did Garza & Theory deserve a rematch from the WM Tag Team Title match? That Tag Title match should not have happened at WM. It should have happened here first. Then, they could have had Bianca Bel Air make her debut on the Raw after Mania. Then, you have her match against Zelina Vega next week, which could be short and set up the 6 person tag for the same night and you don’t have the added 12 minutes of the initial tag match here. It wouldn’t have dragged as much on this episode. The Tag Title match was solid. But, 30+ minutes of tv time (not sure the exact number) for these six really tested my patience and I lost interest by the end, which is a shame as they are all talented performers.
Black vs. Crews – MISS: Under other circumstances, this match certainly could have been a Hit. The effort put in my Aleister Black and Apollo Crews was very good. The problem was the length under the circumstances. 27 minutes was far too long for just about any empty arena match. The fact that Crews has been a joke on tv and not a legit threat as a wrestler made Black look bad for not being able to beat him in a third of the time. This did more damage to Black instead of uplifting Crews as it was supposed to do. It felt like WWE trying too hard to stretch out the show to fill 3 hours. Why did it take Black 20 more minutes to beat Crews than Bobby Lashley? This was longer than all the in ring matches from two nights of WM other than the Orton vs. Edge Last Man Standing match which was way too long and hardly “in ring.” By comparison, the Women’s Tag Title match was 15 minutes, the Intercontinental Title match was 10, the ladder match was 19, Rollins vs. Owens was 17, the NXT Women’s Title match was 21, and the fatal five way Smackdown Women’s Title match was 19. If Crews had been presented as a threat with some actual victories on his resume, and if the match had been shorter, it would have been a Hit as the action was very good and the match was well executed throughout.
Nia Jax Return – MISS: Nia Jax’s return after a year away with multiple knee surgeries was very underwhelming. They basically announced she’d be back in action once right before her return match against Deonna Purrazzo. They should have made a much bigger deal about it. This seems like the time when a video package on her would have been better than a match. They could build up some anticipation for her in ring return with a video this week, a sit down style interview, or just a promo next week, and then have her return match the week after. The announcers did a nice job of talking about how she will disrupt the women’s division now that she’s back, but it would have been much better if the anticipation for that disruption had been hyped for a few weeks. On a side note, am I the only one who feels that Purrazzo has more skill than her push on NXT would suggest?
Stretch of Squashes – MISS: I like the idea of having a few squash matches on each episode of Raw and Smackdown. Shorter matches are probably better overall in the empty arena setting than longer ones. But, WWE needs to do a better job of spacing these out throughout the show, instead of having them come one after another. The show started with a perfect length match with Asuka vs. Morgan. Then you had the long stretch of the Street Profits, etc. saga. Then they had the 27 minute way too long match. That was followed by Ricochet & Alexander vs. Lorcan & Birch which was under 4 minutes (but good), the Seth Rollins 2 minute squash (perfectly good), the Jax squash (fine for what it was, but shouldn’t have happened on this show), then Carillo vs. Vink (ok at best). Four short squashes in a row after some much longer matches earlier in the show was way out of balance.
Charlotte Interview – HIT: This was another good post-WM match interview, with Charlotte Flair. Flair came across as a heel, but as a real person heel, not a cartoonish robotic heel like she often does. Like the Lynch interview earlier, it felt like she was much more natural here than we often see her. I’m curious to see what they do with Charlotte as the NXT Women’s Champion going forward.
McIntyre vs. Big Show – MISS: This was goofy. Why would McIntyre leave the ring after beating Lesnar for the WWE Championship, only to return to the ring 20 minutes later for an interview? It was weird that this wasn’t just the final segment on Raw. It would make sense for him to be interviewed in the main event slot on the Raw after winning the WWE Title at WM. Staging it that way would have made more sense. But, I also had trouble with The Big Show making his 53rd career heel turn. The last time we saw him, he was working with Owens and Samoa Joe against The Messiah Complex. Here he was just a straight up heel trying to take advantage of McIntyre. I guess this part of it made sense to come right after the Lesnar match to make McIntyre’s hesitance to accept his challenge make sense. The mic work from Show and McIntyre was good. The match itself was solid. So this was far from terrible, but the way it was presented took it away from the marginal Hit column and landed it in the marginal Miss one.
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 Jon on Twitter @JonMezzera.