SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Samoa Joe – HIT: I was happy to not see Jerry Lawler on commentary this week as he hasn’t been good and he doesn’t need to be sitting next to two other announcers who may be carrying the virus without realizing it. Samoa Joe did a nice job when he was on commentary the first time while out with an injury. Now that he is back from suspension, this is a good role for him, assuming he can’t wrestle (I was thinking he was injured too, but can’t recall for sure). Joe is good in this role. I was disappointed later in the show to find out that Lawler was there, just not for commentary.
VIP Lounge – Miss: There were parts of this opening segment that I liked, particularly when Zelina Vega was on the mic, but overall it didn’t work. I do like seeing MVP in this roll more than as a wrestler at this point, but his VIP Lounge segment wasn’t good. It felt like the same segment we’ve seen so many times over the years when a heel won’t let Rey Mysterio talk. Over the past several months starting last fall, Mysterio has done the best mic work of his career. So to see MVP do the old snatch away the microphone bit to Mysterio was disappointing. Then if you are trying to get Apollo Crews over, which it seems like they are, why not let him talk? I was also worried that WWE would make the babyface trio look like idiots for putting their spots in Money in the Bank on the line. Thankfully they didn’t do that. It did set up the big 6 man tag for after the commercial, so it wasn’t all bad. And, Vega was good. So, I’ll call it a marginal Miss.
Six-Man Tag – HIT: This is a marginal Hit. It went on far too long at 25 minutes. But, it was good otherwise. It gave Crews a nice big win in the end to continue his push and set up the United States Title match later in the show. But, with he and Andrade featured in this long match and then again in that match, it really showed how WWE’s roster is being stretched too thin. I can forgive it a little given the circumstances. But, it wasn’t great. So the quality action from six talented wrestlers in this match was enough to overcome issues, but barely.
Triple H’s Top 10 – MISS: After that awful segment on Smackdown last week, I would not have done anything on Raw to remind fans of Triple H. The idea of continuing his 25 years in WWE celebration was ok and doing so with the top 10 moments of his career was a fine idea. But, some of the choices were quite suspect like his scene with Trish Stratus and Stephanie McMahon. That was really one of his top 10 moments? Reforming DX after WrestleMania 14? Yes. His match against Sting? Maybe (I was there for it which was cool). The first Smackdown main event against The Rock? Yes. Winning King of the Ring? Yes. He and Shawn Michaels doing the Vince and Shane McMahon impressions? God no. Triple H had enough other actually funny moments to include anything from that era of DX. Forming Evolution? Yes. DX invading Nitro? Sure. His return from injury? Ok. But, he won so many Championships in his career. A ridiculous number. They couldn’t have included one of his World Title wins? That would have made much more sense than some of the frivolous and not funny moments that they did include.
Jax-Asuka-Baszler – MISS: There were so many problems with this match. First of all, it was the only advertised thing for this show and WWE didn’t deliver an actual match. Second of all, the reason the match was called off was due to a pre-match brawl which happens all the time which still take place. So why was this one canceled? Third of all, where was the referee? They never showed one. It was as if they already knew that the match wasn’t going to happen. Fourth of all, the announcers who were otherwise good on the show were acting like the match had started. They even commented that everything that was happening in the brawl was legal in a triple threat match. So that created confusion. Finally, fifth of all and most importantly, why are you sacrificing Shayna Baszler for Nia Jax? It was bad enough the last two weeks when the ultra talented Kairi Sane was sacrificed for her. It was bad enough that Asuka had to sell for her here. But, Baszler has a chance to be a huge star and having her on the ground after this brawl with Jax standing over her in the ring was a very bad look.
Liv Morgan – MISS: I don’t know what WWE is doing with Liv Morgan. I was worried that they would do their typical 50-50 booking and have her lose to Ruby Riott after beating her last week. I thought having her beat Riott last week was a mistake, but once they did that, they need to keep going with Morgan, so it was good to see her get another win this week. However, the match wasn’t long enough. The bigger issue was her interview. Her delivery was ok at best, but the scripting was bad. She still needs to find herself? She left for several months and came back as this generic sexy blonde character. Then she teased a lesbian affair with Lana which went nowhere. They presented her in this Riott Squad break up angle which was poorly written from the start. She has vanquished Riott, but apparently she still has to find herself? Is she reinventing herself again? I still think she has talent and has improved in the ring, but her booking over the past few months doesn’t give me any hope that WWE actually has a strong plan for her and they seem to want to give her a big push.
Jax Interview – MISS: Having Nia Jax yelling in Charlie Carusos’ face was not good. It was very unpleasant, but not in a heel heat type of way. It was more change the channel bad.
The Viking Raiders – MISS: Right after we had Jax just screaming in her interview, they cut to this promo from The Viking Raiders where they were mostly yelling. This was a complete 180 from their weird car singing segment last week. This was more in line with the cosplay viking bit that they’ve mostly done on the main roster. This does nothing for them either. WWE needs to find something else for them in terms of character, because neither of these approaches has worked. They are great in the ring, but are dippy characters.
Mahal vs. Tozawa – MISS: This was way worse than Akira Tozawa losing to Andrade last week. At least that was a bit competitive and a good match. But, having him get demolished in this total squash by Jinder Mahal was terrible. Nobody was missing Mahal. I hate to be rude, and I don’t want to see people lose their jobs, but the fact that WWE got rid of several wrestlers but kept Mahal makes no sense to me. He has zero talent. He isn’t good in the ring. He doesn’t have a personality. He can’t cut a good promo. So I was going to give him being back a Miss to begin with, but having him destroy such a talented wrestler like Tozawa who was 1-0 in the NXT Cruiserweight Title tournament just continues to send the signal that NXT in inferior to Raw and that the cruiserweighs can’t compete with the bigger wrestlers.
Andrade vs. Crews – HIT: I was certainly getting tired of seeing these two on, but Andrade and Crews did have a good US Title match. They told the story of Crews injuring his knee early in the match and trying valiantly to fight through the pain to come close to winning, only to still lose in the end. This set up the angle where Crews has been pulled from MITB. I don’t understand going so strong on giving him a push only to pull him at this point, but I will take a wait and see approach to find out where WWE goes with him long term.
Contract Signing – HIT: Jerry Lawler wasn’t needed to host this contract signing. But, the mic work from both Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre was really strong. They both defined their characters and their goals right now, one as the WWE Champion and one as his challenger. It was a good way to build anticipation for their Title match at the MITB PPV. The physicality at the end was good with Buddy Murphy getting involved to show that he is still part of the Messiah Complex and might play a roll in the Title match.
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.
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