SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: I don’t want difficult to pronounce medical terms at the heart of wrestling angles. This continues to be a terrible storyline with Rey Mysterio’s eye coming out of its socket at the PPV, but luckily the optical nerve was not severed and he won’t lose his vision. A big problem for me with this angle is that it was Mysterio, not Seth Rollins, who came up with the Eye for an Eye stipulation for their match. What was Rollins supposed to do, let Mysterio pluck out his eye? I don’t have that much sympathy for the guy who came up with this sick stipulation. The segment did set up the opening match with Aleister Black against Rollins, but it was still too much of a part of this horrible story.
Black vs. Rollins – HIT: At least the match ended up being good. It isn’t surprising considering how good Black and Rollins are in the ring. The match went 12 minutes and was fun to watch from start to finish as it told the story of Rollins working on Black’s arm which let him ultimately get the win. Buddy Murphy’s interference was limited to the early part of the match and he sold the Black Mass very well so he couldn’t interfere later on. I do wish WWE was more consistent with the rules. Murphy runs into the ring multiple times and the referee doesn’t do anything because he never touches Black. But he certainly was trying to cheat. Other times, a referee might think a manager or wrestler at ringside has cheated and they will be ejected from ringside. WWE is purposefully inconsistent to be able to tell each individual story they want to tell, even if it hurts the overall credibility of the product.
Black Beatdown – MISS: This post-match beating was certainly a Hit in terms of the physicality and the execution as Murphy and Rollins beat the crap out of Black and destroyed his already injured arm. The issue is that Black is fighting for the honor of Mysterio, yet nobody came to his aide? I think that Humberto Carillo was injured. Obviously Mysterio and Dominic weren’t going to be there. But where was Kevin Owens? He has been part of this storyline also and even faced Murphy the night before. If Owens wasn’t available, all it would have taken was a line from the announcers saying something like “normally, Kevin Owens would have Aleister Black’s back, but we understand that he isn’t here tonight because of a family emergency.” Then the fans aren’t thinking that Owens is a jerk for not helping Black. The other issue is that it went on too long before the officials came out to stop it.
Alexander & Ricochet & Ali vs. Lashley & MVP & Benjamin – HIT: The segment that set up this match was solid. I do wonder why WWE has to have almost all of their male wrestlers of color in one storyline when you consider these six, plus R-Truth and the absent Apollo Crews. I won’t complain about getting this good six man tag match. I assumed that Shelton Benjamin had been brought in to do the job, but MVP losing wasn’t too much of a surprise. It is great to see Mustafa Ali back. I have long been a big fan of his work, inside and outside of the ring. I hope to see and hear a lot more from him now that he’s on Raw. It was good to see him getting the strong win here and I am curious to see where they go with these guys going forward.
Set up for the Main Event – HIT: WWE did a great job on Raw building anticipation for Randy Orton vs. The Big Show in an unsanctioned match. In fact, they’ve done a great job in the past few weeks with this story. Here, we got very strong promos from both Orton and Big Show, as well as an interview with Christian setting up Orton as the Legend Killer, the danger of Orton, and the hope that Big Show gets revenge on Orton on behalf of Edge and Christian.
The Street Profits vs. Garza & Andrade – HIT: It was refreshing to see the Tag Team Champions actually win a non-Title match. I was so convinced that Angel Garza & Andrade would beat The Street Profits that I was genuinely pleasantly surprised when the Champions won. The fact that it came at the end of a good tag team match with that amazing spinning frog splash from Montez Ford just cemented it in the Hit column.
Women’s Championship Situation – MISS: This whole storyline with Asuka and Sasha Banks and Bayley is a big mess. Sasha was pretty good in her role talking about it and claiming to be the Raw Women’s Champion, but Bayley was a bit off. She even seemed to lose her place at one point and repeated herself almost verbatim in the line about how she has to be a good role model. That was off. Stephanie McMahon suddenly back via the big screen didn’t work. They haven’t really established who is in charge of Raw lately, so it was a bit jarring to have her back and matter of factly making decisions. So, is Asuka still the Champion? Or is the Title vacant? I don’t think that was totally clear. The announcement of the Title match next week fell a little flat due to that and the overly wordy explanation of the rules from Stephanie.
Sane vs. Bayley – HIT: Of course, WWE can’t go an entire Raw without a Champion losing a non-Title match. Since The Street Profits won theirs, Bayley had to lose hers. At least it came in a very good match against Kairi Sane. The Rumors around Sane continue to swirl, so it will be interesting to see what they do with her if she is indeed soon to be returning to Japan, especially given her win over Bayley here. Either way, I certainly have enjoyed seeing her recently much more than earlier this year when she was constantly getting squashed by Nia Jax.
Shayna Baszler Interview – MISS: I hate the idea of these mid-match interviews. They take away from the wrestling that is happening in the ring. A post-match interview would be much better. This particular interview started off well and I liked it at first, but by the end it had unfortunately gone downhill. The closing line about the shark seeing prey in the water was so overly scripted and forced that it ruined the rest of the interview which had been strong.
McIntyre / Ziggler – MISS: The performance from Drew McIntyre was really good here. I liked how he tried to just walk away from Dolph Ziggler when he came out to interrupt. The problem is that he beat Ziggler clean despite Ziggler’s stipulation putting him at such a huge disadvantage. This was almost setting up a way for McIntyre to get revenge on Ziggler, but for what? I was excited to see McIntyre come out and start to talk about possible opponents for SummerSlam, so I was very disappointed when Ziggler came out. I am glad that their re-match is next week, so that he can move on to something better fairly quickly (Randy Orton?), but I am totally uninterested in the match or the mystery stipulation.
Orton vs. Big Show – HIT: This was never going to be a five star classic. It was slow and plodding, but also hard hitting and intense. I suspect that there were a last minute change due to Ric Flair not being available, but whatever shenanigans he was supposed to be involved in was replaced with a straight up fight with one wrestler getting the better of the other. It wasn’t great, but it worked well for what it was supposed to be, a match to continue getting Orton over as the Legend Killer. Big Show can go away for a long time to sell the punt after the match and Orton can move on to something new, possibly McIntyre. I’m wondering if bringing back the Legend Killer moniker is a way to ultimately build up an NXT wrestler to get called up and go after Orton right away to kill his legend and take the Legend Killer name.
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 (pretty clever handle right?).