SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
•Orton – Edge – HIT: Other than the ridiculously stupid marketing decision to try to build up Randy Orton vs. Edge as the greatest wrestling match ever, I am enjoying the build to this match. The mic work from both Orton and Edge remains strong. The way their talk got more heated as it went and you had each interrupt each other made this opening segment feel more real and less scripted to me than typical for WWE. The way Orton slyly smiled as he got out of the ring after getting what he wanted with Edge accepting the challenge was a good way to end the segment.
•Carillo vs. Murphy – MISS: Seth Rollins’ promo and the interruption from Humberto Carillo was one of those “thumbs in the middle” type segments which wasn’t quite good enough to get a Hit, but not bad enough to get a Miss. There was some good mic work, but the fact that they totally ignored Rollins as a new father made the fact that they made a big deal out of it last week all the more puzzling. Carillo showed good fire in coming to get revenge for Rey Mysterio, but it felt like something that should have been setting up a match for next week, instead of this match with Buddy Murphy who was already scheduled for a match later in the show. As it turned out, we got a 2 minute match between two very good wrestlers which ended too quickly after only a very short amount of distraction from Rollins.
•Lashley – MVP – HIT: I like what WWE has been doing with Bobby Lashley and MVP. MVP has finally convinced Lashley to listen to him as he can get him the WWE Championship match which he deserves. WWE is keeping Lashley strong with a series of squash wins over guys like R-Truth. At the same time, they are keeping Drew McIntyre strong as the WWE Champion. He had another good interview later too. It is a pretty easy formula that has worked for years in pro wrestling and it is working here.
•Jax – Asuka Build – HIT: This is a marginal Hit. Nia Jax is an ok choice to be Asuka’s first challenger for her Women’s Title. She is physically dominating, but Asuka showed in a few instances on this show that she can handle Jax in the physical department. Jax got to show off a sadistic side in the way she attacked Kairi Sane in the back when all poor Kairi wanted to do was play her flute. But, WWE should have protected Jax more than they did. Let her attack on Kairi end her portion of the show to build anticipation for Asuka to want to get revenge next week.
•Bliss & Cross vs. The IIconics – MISS: WWE spent a good amount of time last week building up to this Tag Team Title match, but only gave the match 3 minutes. That didn’t make sense. The idea of Payton Royce snapping on Alexa Bliss to cause a disqualification came out of nowhere. I am intrigued a little by the post-match angle with her and Billy Kaye, but the same thing could have happened after a longer more competitive match. Although considering the quality of the action wasn’t very good while it lasted, maybe I shouldn’t complain about it being so short? Seriously, Bliss has to stop doing that double knee spot. The first knee before rolling over her opponent never looks like it actually lands on her opponent. It could be a cool spot, but it isn’t worth it if you can’t make it look good which she can’t.
•Baszler vs. Natalya – HIT: This match was also short at 4 minutes long, but it was good while it lasted. Shayna Baszler and Natalya are talented workers who put on a match that felt like a real fight. It was hard hitting and intense. They worked well with the submission match format. Baszler was obviously going to get the win and it worked well how she was able to force Natalya to tap out. The fit Natalya threw afterwards points to a heel turn, although Samoa Joe was the most critical of it, and I can’t quite figure him out as an announcer. At times he feels like a heel, but at other times he feels like a babyface. Kevin Owens certainly didn’t seem upset at her for destroying his set.
•Intertwining Storylines – HIT: WWE did a nice job of intertwining multiple storylines in several segments throughout this show. They told the story of how the growing frustration at Austin Theory ultimately led to Andrade and Angel Garza kicking him (literally) out of Zelina Vega’s faction. This played out nicely in a backstage segment, the KO Show, and the tag match with Owens & Apollo Crews beating Andrade & Garza due to a mistake made by Theory. This also told the story of Crews’ return from the injury that kept him out of Money in the Bank and built towards his United States Championship match against Andrade next week. Crews is doing good in his role. We learned where Owens has been since WrestleMania. And after this attack, we got Theory joining the Messiah Complex after Rollins came to him as he recovered at during Murphy’s match against Aleister Black. They were also continuing to follow up on the attack against Rey Mysterio last week. This seems to be setting up Mysterio, Black and Carillo vs. The Messiah Complex in the future.
•Axe Throwing Competition – MISS: WWE continues to do silly crap with the Viking Raiders and The Street Profits. This is the Raw Tag Team Champions and the top contenders for their Titles. Why go this route? Why can’t they be presented in a serious manner? If they have to be presented as comedic figures, why can’t they actually make them funny? The best option is to present the two teams in a serious way which doesn’t mean they can’t be fun and entertaining at times, but not goofy. If they are going to go a comedic route, then at least actually make it funny which this wasn’t. Some fans are giving WWE a pass for trying to do something creative in this time of empty arena shows, but they’ve been doing silly goofy crap like this for years.
•McIntyre vs. Corbin – HIT: This was a solid to good main event match as part of the Brand to Brand Invitational. It wasn’t a match that I was looking forward to, but it delivered well enough. The bigger issue was Lashley’s presence at ringside and the way McIntyre addressed him after beating King Corbin. That was a simple way to end the show in a way to make a potential Title match feel like a big deal.
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 Jon on Twitter @JonMezzera.