SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: I appreciated the fact that Raw started off with a narrator running down the big matches for the show. That is a simple thing that AEW does very well with Dynamite each week, but WWE doesn’t do enough. Beyond that, the rest of the Raw opening was not good with Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Ziggler was ice cold on Smackdown and I forgot entirely about his partner Robert Roode, so to see Ziggler on Raw talking about how they were traded to Raw for AJ Styles did not get me excited at all. How bad is the Raw roster if Ziggler who never wins actual wrestling matches can just walk onto the show and get a WWE Title match? Yes, he and McIntyre have history, but that feels like a lifetime ago before McIntyre really became the current McIntyre.
Jax – Flair – MISS: Charlotte Flair is hurt and needs surgery, so WWE came up with a storyline to explain that surgery. The problem is that Flair is a heel so she doesn’t have much sympathy even though she was injured by Nia Jax, another heel. Their early in ring encounter was not good. Neither is very good on the mic which was evident in this robotic segment. It set up the injury angle for Flair going into her Women’s Title match against Asuka later in the show, but that match was so anticlimactic (more later). The attack later when Jax kicked Charlotte when she was down was well executed, but again it was heel vs. heel. Maybe they want her to be a babyface after returning, but then later on, when Ric Flair was talking about how she’ll destroy Jax when she’s healthy, that didn’t help matters considering he is a heel too. So, this whole situation is kind of a mess.
Street Profits vs. Viking Raiders – MISS: I was fully expecting to enjoy this match and give it a Hit. I have been suffering through these terrible Whatever You Can Do, I Can Do Better segments and feel like I deserve a better payoff with a much longer match. This WWE Title match which they have been building to forever only lasted about 8 minutes, nearly half of which took place on the commercial break. The wrestling action that we did see was good. But, the storyline has been how The Street Profits can’t beat The Viking Raiders and the payoff to that angle is them getting a rather easy win in a short match? Fans deserved better than this.
Asuka vs. Charlotte – HIT: While the match was anticlimactic and should have been saved for a big PPV, I still enjoyed this match to give it a Hit. Asuka and Charlotte have good chemistry in the ring which was on display here. This is similar to the Tag Title match in that the storyline was Asuka’s long history of not being able to beat Charlotte. The problem is that she beat her here in an anticlimactic way considering the storyline was really about Jax injuring Charlotte. So, Asuka finally gets that monkey off her back, but did she really? That’s why it should have been saved. Just have Jax injure Charlotte and cancel the match if you want to go that route and save Asuka finally beating Charlotte for a PPV. Like I said, it was a good match, so it is a Hit, but the circumstances certainly weren’t Hit worthy.
Edge – HIT: This was the clear highlight of the show. The cinematography for this promo with Edge addressing his injury and what he will do to Randy Orton once he’s healthy was very cool. The black and white color scheme worked well as did the lighting and the shadows partially covering his face. I know most people are going to focus on Edge’s promo which was outstanding, but the filmmaker in me greatly appreciated how this was filmed. Edge was great in the actual promo and it should make fans long for him to return and finally get his revenge on Orton. Orton’s reaction to the promo was also good.
Flair, Orton, Show – HIT: Randy Orton was definitely the best part of this segment, but Ric Flair and Big Show also played their parts well. Show as a legend does fit in with Orton’s storyline of reclaiming his title as the legend killer. WWE needed to do something to fill in for Edge after his injury, and Show is a fine substitute. The problem is that Show is cold after turning heel on McIntyre after WrestleMania went off the air and then turned back babyface to fight ninjas last week. And, I don’t look forward to seeing Orton vs. Show. I don’t expect much from it. But, the set up was quite good.
Banks & Bayley vs. The IIConics – HIT: Sasha Banks and Bayley are both great in the ring. The IIConics are not. But, they were carried to a good Tag Title match here. They did perform well, so this isn’t just a case of them being elevated by the more talented team. It was another short match, but didn’t have the story behind it like the Raiders vs. the Profits did, so I don’t mind the match being this short. Giving the Tag Champs a strong win in this case made sense, and they continue to tell the story of Banks getting the big wins for the team. She’s being built up strong right now, so her challenging Asuka next makes sense. However, the swerve was silly. It might have worked if WWE didn’t do so many swerves. But, I would rather see swerves saved for other wrestlers, not the fans. In other words, Mark Henry swerved the fans when he pretended to retire, but the point was to swerve and injure John Cena. Here, she’s just trolling the fans like Alexa Bliss has done about a million times. The other issue is how a Smackdown wrestler can challenge the Raw Women’s Championship. Asuka vs. Banks should be a great match, but the storyline issues need to be addressed.
Closing Segment – HIT: Raw ended well with the segment involving Rey Mysterio, Dominic, The Messiah Complex, Aleister Black and Humberto Carillo. Mysterio did a nice job of playing the concerned father. Seth Rollins did a nice job of setting up to have Austin Theory and Buddy Murphy come out to attack Rey and Dominic. It was good to see their friends Black and Carillo come to their aid. The physicality worked well. The tease of injuring Dominic’s eye also worked well as Rollins came very close to getting his eye on the step corner before being chased off by Black and Carillo. This seems to be setting up a six man tag with Dominic in the babyface trio’s corner which has potential to be an outstanding match given all of that talent.
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.