SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Contract Signing – MISS: I give WWE credit for starting Raw off with a bang with Asuka brawling against Sasha Banks and Bayley. My problem is that WWE almost never starts a show with wrestlers already in the ring without their introductions, so I found it hard to believe that their plan was to start Raw off with those women already in the ring for their contract signing. And why would they have the women already in the ring when the show started, but not the men? It was scheduled to be all of them at the same time, so why would the show be planned to start with the women already in the ring, but the men getting introductions? The logic of this opening was flawed from the start. Once things settled down, the segment was standard contract signing stuff and ok, but nothing particularly good. It also wasn’t believable that after all that fighting, that Asuka would just sit there for the rest of the segment. I did like how Banks used her stamp for her autograph on the contract which was a cool touch of her Boss persona from NXT.
Extreme Rules: The Horror Show – MISS: The fact that WWE shoehorns its storylines into having several extreme rules matches each July just because that is the name of the months’ PPV is bad enough. Giving the PPV a cheesy subtitle like The Horror Show is bad enough. What makes it even worse is how the wrestlers become corporate stooges when they are scripted to constantly refer to the PPV as Extreme Rules: The Horror Show.
Big Show, etc. – HIT: This is a marginal Hit. Big Show gave a good performance, but I wasn’t that fond of his scripting. Smurfette? Really? Making fun of Angel Garza and Andrade for being short? Really? I am intrigued by what they are doing in building up to an eventual Show vs. Randy Orton match. Ric Flair was much better here than he has been in his other recent appearances. His promo on Show threatening him on behalf of Orton was strong. It made sense to have the Viking Raiders come out to stop Garza & Andrade from attacking Big Show.
Andrade & Garza vs. Viking Raiders – HIT: This was a good match, despite the problem with the tension between Andrade and Garza. The wrestling action was good to very good throughout this match which isn’t surprising given the talent in the ring. Garza and Andrade needed the win more here, so the finish made sense. Zelina Vega was also really good on guest commentary, especially dealing with the tension between her wrestlers.
Rollins & Murphy vs. Black & Carillo – HIT: The segment that set up this match felt like more of the same with Seth Rollins addressing the Rey Mysterio situation. His promo was fine. Mysterio’s response was fine. Nothing about it was Hit worthy, but it wasn’t Miss worthy either. But the match itself was good. Again, it isn’t surprising considering how great these four wrestlers are. The post match figh was actually the highlight here with Rollins putting Mysterio’s mask on Humberto Carillo and trying to blind him. He wasn’t able to due to Aleister Black coming to his aid, but he was able to put the exclamation point on the segment with the big stomp onto Carillo on the steps. That was a nice touch as you can’t have Rollins blinding people, but the threat has to be there.
Big Show vs. Andrade & Garza – MISS: I know that the virus situation has caused WWE to do things with their booking that they wouldn’t otherwise do. They may have an excuse for having Garza and Andrade doing double duty this week, and featuring Big Show in several segments too. But, that doesn’t mean that I enjoyed seeing it or have to forgive them for having a thin roster to begin with. This handicap match was more about playing into the tension between Andrade and Garza than putting Big Show over which doesn’t work considering that is a bad storyline which is coming far too soon, especially after they kicked Austin Theory out of the group so recently.
MVP and Lashley – HIT: The mic work from MVP continues to be one of the highlights of Raw in this pandemic era. Bobby Lashley also was good here as they addressed Apollo Crews’ refusal to allow MVP help him out during his reigns as United States Champion. Overall, this storyline has been very well done.
MVP vs. Crews – MISS: While I liked what WWE did overall with these characters, having a Champion lose a non-Title match with a distraction finish plays into two troupes which WWE uses far too often. The match was fine in terms of action, but at only 7 minutes half of which were on a commercial break, it certainly didn’t amount to much. They are setting up Lashley as Crews’ opponent, but they gave the win to MVP. So that hurts the Champion without really helping the challenger, who didn’t need help to begin with considering how well he’s been built up lately.
Lashley vs. Ricochet – HIT: The MVP vs. Crews match was the only problem in what was otherwise a really good night for Bobby Lashley. I wish WWE had done this storyline to build him up before he got the WWE Title match against Drew McIntyre as it would have made him a much better challenger. Ricochet was a perfect opponent for Lashley here. He did a great job of bumping for Lashley and making him look like a monster. The hope spots with him as the match proceeded were also well done and he had a chance to show off what makes him look so special in the ring even in a losing effort. Lashley continues to do a great job of making the full nelson a top finishing move. He used it to dominate Ricochet and then Cedric Alexander at the end, plus Crews before this match.
McIntyre & Asuka vs. Ziggler & Banks – MISS: I had a lot of problems with this main event. The backstage scene right before it was bad because you had Bayley and Banks pointing out what a loser Dolph Ziggler was on Smackdown before being traded to Raw, which reminds the audience that he’s not worthy of getting this WWE Title match against McIntyre. The thought of Asuka vs. Banks is so exciting, but I wanted their first interaction in a match to be the actual Title match. Why can’t WWE ever save anything for a big match? You water it down by having them wrestle so much here. I don’t care as much about Ziggler and McIntyre interacting ruining their eventual Title match, but I also didn’t care about it in any way either. This didn’t interest me. There was plenty of good action, but the mixed tag match format isn’t a good one to begin with. And once again you have a Champion losing a non-title match for the 2nd time on the same show. You also had the point in the middle of the match where Bayley distracted Asuka allowing Banks to get the upper hand and then made fun of her for falling for the trick. So WWE scripts Asuka to look stupid, and then drives the point home with the commentary. And then she loses the match. Why should I get behind her as the babyface Champion?
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.