SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
VIP Lounge – MISS: I have enjoyed MVP’s return to WWE, but he is on the verge of being overexposed when he is managing Bobby Lashley and appearing with him in multiple segments while also trying to recruit Cedric Alexander, while also feuding with Apollo Crews over the United States Championship, and on a show like this, still hosting the VIP Lounge on a totally different topic like Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Beyond that, this didn’t do much for me. I don’t buy Ziggler as a legit threat to take the WWE Championship from McIntyre. I don’t care about the mystery stipulation. The performances were fine all around, but nothing particularly good. This didn’t sell me on a major match at the PPV which was the point.
Andrade & Garza vs. The Viking Raiders – MISS: I don’t understand why this was an elimination match. That stipulation hurt the match as the first two eliminations were too quick and unbelievable to finish someone off. Overall, the match was pretty short for three falls. This made the Viking Raiders look really weak. The focus here was on Andrade and Angel Garza actually working well together for a change which is a fine story to tell, but it could have been told in a much better match considering how good these two teams are.
Bianca Bel Air – HIT: It was very nice to see Bianca Bel Air back on Raw. She has too much talent to be relegated to Main Event like she has been lately. I’m not sure about her sudden friendship with Ruby Riott, but at least it got her back on tv. I loved her promo quickly and succinctly defining what it means to be the EST of WWE. Those details are often lost when a wrestler gets called up from NXT. The tag team match against The IIConics was short, but gave her a chance to shine in the ring. It didn’t do much for Riott who continues to be misused, but at least she was on the winning team this week.
Shayna Baszler – HIT: I can cut and paste part of the last Hit for Shayna Baszler. It was very nice to see her back on Raw. I’m not sure I would use her in any way with the horrible silliness of R-Truth, Akira Tozawa and the ninjas. But, at least she kicked a lot of ass and looked like the intimidating badass that she is. Her promo wasn’t that strong. She delivered it in an intense way which was good, but it was too long and felt a little over scripted. But overall, seeing her back and looking strong and having her threaten the rest of the roster was all good to see.
Eye for an Eye – MISS: There was a lot of good work done here by Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens. Rollins’ performance on the mic during addressing Rey Mysterio’s Eye for an Eye stipulation from last week was good. The problem is the stipulation is so over the top, that his promo was telling the truth about how stupid the stipulation is. It just isn’t believable. Owens was fine in his promo. The Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy match was good while it lasted, but it was short and we’ve seen these two too many times in the ring already. Did I miss something? After that, why was Murphy gone for Rollins vs. Owens? That match was also very good (a Hit in terms of wrestling quality), but it was odd storytelling in the way that the heel was in a four-on-one situation with Mysterio, Black and Dominic helping Owens. We saw the heel lose here, which takes away some of the desire to see him lose again at the PPV, and considering I don’t want to see anyone get their eye gouged out, then this did nothing for my anticipation for that show. Under other circumstances, and with a more believable story and some tweaks, there could have been multiple Hits in this long stretch of Raw. Instead, it was one big Miss largely for them ridiculously doubling down on this Eye for an Eye stipulation.
Show, Flair, Orton – HIT: This is multiple Hits rolled into one. The backstage encounter between Big Show and Ric Flair was very good. Both of them performed very well on the mic. They did a nice job of playing into their history. Flair put over Show and Orton in what he said. Later on, we got a very good and Hit worthy video package on Orton’s history of being The Legend Killer. WWE’s history is one if its greatest strengths and using that history to put over the present like this is a great move. Orton’s promo which followed was also strong with a hint that he might turn on Flair if he feels like Flair isn’t being a totally loyal friend. They played into that later on when Flair seemed to be trying to talk Orton out of punting R-Truth. I liked how Orton said he wasn’t actually planning on kicking Truth, but using him as bait to get Show to come out to the ring, but still threatening that Punt to protect him self from Show. The challenge for a match next week worked well as a hook to get people to tune in. This was all well done.
Kabuki Warriors vs. Banks & Bayley – HIT: It was not surprising that these four would put on a very good main event Tag Team Championship match. It went 18 minutes and was fun to watch from start to finish. I’m not sure where Kairi Sane stands with the company. Is she back for the long term, or is she just back for a few matches on her way to returning to Japan? Casual fans aren’t likely to know and considering all the stories WWE is telling with Bayley and Sasha Banks right now, having them lose the Titles here was certainly a believable possibility. The fact that we might see a Title change added to the intrigue of the match. The wrestling action was great throughout. There were some believable near falls as the match built to the climax with Banks ultimately getting the tap out win over Sane. It will be interesting to see what happens in her Raw Women’s Title match against Asuka on Sunday, along with Bayley’s Smackdown Title defense against Nikki Cross.
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 on Twitter @JonMezzera.