SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: On the go home show before one of the biggest PPVs, having your WWE Champion interrupted by technical difficulties caused by Retribution while he’s talking about his Championship match is a big mistake. It sends the message that Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton isn’t as important as a bunch of juvenile delinquents running around and causing some chaos on the show. This was an absolutely terrible way to start the show.
Crews – MVP – HIT: I get a kick out of MVP being more angry about Retribution than anyone else on the WWE roster. I like the fact that he is accusing Apollo Crews and his crew of being Retribution. He did a nice job. What I particularly liked about it was Crews’ response. He isn’t great on the mic. In fact, he isn’t often even good on the mic, but he was better than usual here. He got some good lines in mocking MVP for paying thousands of dollars for the new United States Title belt only to lose it to him right away. What was even better was that he actually provided himself with a mission statement. He said that he needs to fight as hard as he can to keep the US Title in order to continue to be relevant and not go back to where he was in catering waiting around for a chance like he had been for so long in his career. That was a short statement that clearly defined the importance of the Title to him and his career in a way that is often left off WWE tv.
Crews vs. Benjamin – MISS: The idea that Crews would have to win a match to get Shelton Benjamin and Bobby Lashley banned from ringside for his Title defense at SummerSlam is stupid. The fact that MVP would agree to that stipulation when he gained nothing if Benjamin won made no sense and made him look like a dope. Then what could have been a good match turned into a 2 minute match that ended after 24/7 silliness caused a distraction. The physicality with the Hurt Business, Ricochet, Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali getting involved worked well to set up the six man elimination tag later on.
Magic Turkey Leg – MISS: Who is that woman hanging out in the back and why should I care? They need to go totally away from the terrible whatever you can do I can do better crap from earlier this year with The Viking Raiders and The Street Profits, so going back to one of the silly gags by having Ivar magically make a turkey leg appear to impress this woman was stupid. The match that followed wasn’t much to write home about either. They didn’t have chemistry together in the ring and the ending left a lot to be desired as the drop kick to the side of the head didn’t seem like nearly enough to finish Ivar off after such a short match.
Poisoning Angle – MISS: This was bad when it started. It somehow got worse. The whole angle surrounding the video of what appeared to be Zelina Vega poisoning Montez Ford’s cup was anti-climactic. Maybe they have something else planned, but if this was the big reveal, it didn’t feel like a big enough deal. Angelo Dawkins played it up for laughs too much. Samoa Joe was just weird in talking about the video and his sources. Later on we got the reveal of the video and the return of Ford. Then when it came for his match against Andrade, Ford was acting far too much like business as usual instead of being intense and eager to get revenge for being poisoned. And it was good to see him get his revenge with that vicious roll up from behind. Bianca Bel Air showed more fire when she THOUGHT Vega had poisoned her husband than she did when she KNEW Vega had done it. This didn’t make me want to see what should be a very good Tag Team Title match at the PPV which is the point.
James vs. Natalya – MISS: Mickie James and Natalya are two talented workers. They had a backstage encounter last week in James’ return from a long injury hiatus which set up this match. Instead of paying off that set up with a good match which they certainly can easily have, they were given 3 minutes to work, most of which was focused on Seth Rollins talking to Samoa Joe at the announce table about the rumors that Rey Mysterio was in the building. That stuff was horrible to begin with and didn’t make any sense, and the fact that it took away from an in ring match was horrible. I honestly missed the distraction from Lana which allowed Natalya to knock James off the top turnbuckle to get the count out victory.
Bayley & Banks vs. Asuka & Baszler – HIT: This was a pretty good tag match. The set up with Bayley and Sasha Banks talking beforehand was strong. I liked Shayna Baszler telling Asuka that she has next after SummerSlam. Nia Jax’s interruption worked well to put Asuka in a handicap situation while advancing the Jax vs. Baszler feud. It was cool how Jax broke through the plexiglass barrier to attack her. It also happened early in the match to give Baszler a chance to return later in the ring and help Asuka and ultimately get the tap out win over Bayley to possibly hint at a future Title match.
Royce vs. Riott – MISS: This could be a good program with Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan having to learn to work together again and grow to trust each other while being being tormented by the IIConics. The execution has been poor. Are we to believe that Riott and Morgan are incapable of talking to each other in between shows? The idea that they would somehow mistrust each other after Riott was shoved from behind into Morgan is idiotic. The redemption storyline might work, but if you wait too long to start the winning, you lose the fans and they are in danger of that right now. Also, someone please tell Tom Phillips what “incidental contact” means. He uses it in place of “accidental contact.” The contact between Riott and Morgan cost Riott the match, so it clearly wasn’t incidental. But, it was accidental.
Raw Underground – MISS: This continues to suck. Ivar is involved in silly turkey leg magic on this show, but we are supposed to take him seriously on Raw Underground next week? I still don’t understand why Dolph Ziggler is suddenly a great fighter. This is underground fighting which apparently can end in a draw? How do you do a draw in a street fight situation? Later on we got the promise of a fight, only to have a non-fight with Jax walking out after teasing the fight, but that goes against her character. She isn’t a chicken heel. She is upset about not being able to fight due to her suspension, so here’s a chance for her to fight on Raw Underground, and she walks away? This is just terrible.
Mysterios – Rollins/Murphy – HIT: The mic work from Rey and Dominik Mysterio was fine. I liked how Dominik was selling the injuries from the kendo stick. It wasn’t a good look when they got out of the ring once Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy got in the ring, but it turned out to be a set up to attack them with kendo sticks of their own. It is always nice to see babyfaces outsmarting heels. They had a plan and it worked. The problem is that they got too much revenge here which makes me have less desire to see Domink get his revenge on Sunday.
Six-Man Tag – MISS: The first two eliminations in this match came way too quickly as Ali and Ricochet were both eliminated almost right away to make Crews face a three-on-one situation. Ali has so much talent (I’d argue he’s the best all around performer out of himself, Crews, Ricochet and Alexander) that it is a real shame WWE doesn’t do something with him. It was odd that Crews would eliminate MVP but then lose to Lashley in the end. The injection of the 24/7 Title didn’t help.
Shawn Michaels – HIT: This was a very good use of Shawn Michaels. It was nice to see him in a serious role instead of the silly goofy DX stuff that he usually does in his occasional appearances. His backstage encounter with McIntyre was very strong playing into their history together from when McIntyre first returned to WWE as part of NXT. It also continued to paint McIntyre as a locker room leader while showing exactly why he has major issues with what Orton has done to legends like Ric Flair and Christian. The closing segment was predictable with Micheals cutting a strong promo only to have Orton hit an RKO out of nowhere followed by a quick punt. But, predictable is ok when it is effective like it was here. McIntyre showed great fire in attacking Orton. The physicality was kept short so that we didn’t get too much before their big match on the PPV. Orton standing tall at the end made the most sense.
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 or follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.