SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Rollins’ Promo – HIT: Raw got off to a good start with the promo from Seth Rollins talking about how Rey Mysterio was a necessary sacrifice for the greater good. Rollins gave a good performance. It set up his match against Aleister Black, and it built anticipation for hearing from Mysterio himself later in the show.
Rollins vs. Black – HIT: The opening match ended up being very good. It was a very long match, but never dragged. It was fun to watch from start to finish. Rollins and Black are two of the most talented workers in WWE so it isn’t surprising that they would have such a good match. The participation from the rest of The Messiah Complex and Humberto Carillo at ringside was kept fairly small, so it didn’t take away from the quality of the match. Black got the win, but Rollins and his group got their heat back with the beatdown afterwards which is typical WWE 50-50 booking which isn’t the best way to go.
Lana – MVP – MISS: I like the use of MVP as Bobby Lashley’s new manager. He is playing that role well and adding to Lashley’s act. The problem is his contentious relationship with Lana. I just don’t care about it. They haven’t made me care about it. They are both heels. They are both unlikable. So, whose side am I supposed to take? Am I supposed to feel bad for the horrible horrible Lana for being pushed aside by MVP? Am I supposed to feel bad for MVP for having to put up with her? Their interactions proceeded to the point where she unexpectedly came out of the main event of MVP taking on Drew McIntyre, but then she didn’t play a role at ringside. So, what was the point?
Apollo Crews – HIT: This was a good night for Apollo Crews. He looked good in picking his own opponent for his first United States Championship defense. His mic work was good, but not great. I won’t give his match against Kevin Owens a Hit for the expected outside interference from Andrade and Angel Garza, but the work in the match was certainly Hit worthy. Of course, after the interference, it turned into a tag match which also featured good wrestling action. I particularly appreciated the fact that the new Champion actually got the win in that tag match. So often in these situations, the new Champion loses to build up a potential challenger. After Garza pulled Owens off the ring apron to prevent Crews from tagging out, I felt sure he was about to lose. So I give WWE credit for not following their regular formula.
Rey and Dominic – HIT: This is a marginal Hit for a strong performance from Mysterio being marred a bit by the scripting. It seemed wishy washy in how he said he had to find out if he is going to be cleared to wrestle again which made it sound like he would not choose to retire if healthy, but then later hinted that he might just retire anyway. Like I said, the actual performance from Mysterio was really good. He continues to do the best mic work of his career. Dominic was better than he usually is in his part when he interrupted to also address Rollins. The other issue I had is that people have been speculating about Dominic turning on Rey for like a year. He was going to join Samoa Joe. He was going to join Brock Lesnar. Now he’s going to join Rollins. I’m over it already.
Jax vs. Sane – MISS: Did we really need to see another match between Nia Jax and Kairi Sane? Did we really need to see another 3 minute match between them? The action was ok, but Sane is so good in the ring and has so much personality (coming from a person who was not a fan of her Pirate Princess persona), that it is a shame that she isn’t given more of a push. And it looks like Jax may have injured Sane in the push into the steps. She has injured wresters in the past and doesn’t seem to know how to control her own strength.
Orton’s Promo – HIT: I didn’t think this was quite as good as Edge’s promo from last week, but it was still good. The talking point coming out of it was Randy Orton admitting that he’s been phoning it in his entire career. That works on a few levels, as a signal to his critics on a meta level, but also in basically saying that he is so good, he doesn’t have to try like Edge does to be very successful. That worked as a nice juxtaposition to Edge’s more doubt filled promo last week. Other than the stupid Greatest Wrestling Match ever bs, I continue to enjoy everything WWE is doing with the build to this match, much like I did with the build to their first match. Hopefully match #2 will be much better.
Charlotte vs. Asuka – MISS: This match was pretty much guaranteed to be a Miss just for the fact that it existed. Enough with Champion vs. Champion matches. Enough of matches that are predictably not going to have a finish. We already got one of those in Crews vs. Owens earlier in the show. There was no way that either Asuka who has to defend her Raw Title against Jax in two weeks was going to lose and there was no way that Charlotte Flair who has to defend her NXT Title in one week against Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai was going to lose. I give nothing but praise to Asuka and Charlotte for the effort that they put into this match. They delivered 100%. But, I couldn’t enjoy the work they were putting into the mach as I was just waiting for Jax, Ripley or Shirai to get involved. I did laugh when Jax came out doing an Asuka impression and Byron Saxton said “its Nia Jax” and Samoa Joe responded “you think?”
End of Raw – MISS: The McIntyre vs. MVP main event was just ok, neither a Hit nor a Miss. But as I said earlier, Lana didn’t play a role at all which was weird. And what was even weirder is how the show ended about 10 seconds after Lashley put McIntyre into the full nelson. I am thankful that WWE isn’t doing an overrun so I don’t want to advocate for the show to go longer than it did. However, that part of the show needed to be longer. Lashley is just getting this hold over as a legit submission finisher, and we needed to see how it could dominate McIntyre. Cutting away so quickly after the attack felt very anticlimactic.
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.