SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Summerslam Follow Up – HIT: WWE did a nice job of following up on Summerslam. They featured several video packages on the big matches to make it seem like if you missed the PPV, you missed a big show. They effectively recapped the show while moving quickly onto Payback which isn’t as good since it is too soon for another big show. They also made a huge deal about Roman Reigns’ return which should make more fans tune into Smackdown on Friday.
Opening Segment – HIT: A very bad Raw did at least get off to a good start with Drew McIntyre’s opening promo talking about beating Randy Orton the night before. He had fun with the Thunderdome crowd which was fine. The video screens are ok, but I have to say that I miss the actual noise created by the “fans” around the ring. McIntyre’s promo was short and to the point, but it set up a rematch which I wasn’t going to get excited about. The attack from Orton worked well and was physical and memorable. It ended with the back-to-back punts to the head which worked in the moment, but I had problems with later in the show.
Jax – Baszler – MISS: This was a HUGE MISS! I hated everything that Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were involved in on this show. The storyline didn’t make any sense starting with Jax only having to apologize to get her suspension lifted. She was suspended and still showed up and attacked another wrestler. That should have extended her suspension. She also acted like she hadn’t been around. Baszler even sarcastically said “welcome back” to her. She was there last week. The scene between them was one of the worst in WWE history. They both came across terribly here and the scripting was horrible. Haystacks Calhoun and the Adams Family? What? Later on, after brawling throughout the building last week, they were fighting again and all it took was a little bit of laughter from Sasha Banks and Bayley and they were suddenly all buddy buddy to team up? That made no sense. And what exactly did they do to earn a Tag Team Title match? They’ve never had a match together. And then Baszler agreed to team with Jax if Jax will get off her back. That was the least badass thing a badass could possibly say. To me, this was and unforgivable presentation of Shayna Baszler.
Non Finishes – MISS: Some of these non-finishes will get Misses on their own, but I wanted to point out how bad it was on this show. The first match of the show, Bayley vs. Baszler ended with the Jax run in and was foreshadowing for the night to come. The 24/7 match had a finish, but why do the actual 24/7 matches end in roll ups, just like the impromptu ones do? You could use that time to get over Akira Tozawa’s finishing move which is impressive. Angel Garza vs. Montez Ford had a finish, but only after the distraction at ringside with Ivar coming out to give that woman a turkey leg. We got the non-finish in Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton (more later). That is a huge match to not pay off, but they did even worse in the main event (more later).
Keith Lee Debut – MISS: I like the fact that Kieth Lee got into Randy Orton’s face. WWE seems to be making a big deal out of Lee by having him involved with Orton right away. So, there are some definite positives in the initial presentation, but there were too many problems with it. His new music and ring attire left a lot to be desired. He looked silly. They should have done a much longer and better video package on his NXT career to make him look even bigger and better than they did. Having him in a non-finish in his first Raw match is idiotic. I get that they wanted to protect him and Orton, but then they shouldn’t book the match in the first place. Lee is so good in the ring, but he looked mediocre in the ring against Orton. He just didn’t look special. If you don’t watch NXT, you won’t be all that impressed with him. I can’t get too excited about him facing Orton again at Payback since I have zero faith that they will actually do a real finish in that match either. This was a bid disappointment.
Arm Wrestling – MISS: I don’t know that I’ve ever given a Hit to an arm wrestling contest. This isn’t a good way to build towards Apollo Crews defending the United States Championship against Bobby Lashley on Sunday. It was just lame.
Raw Underground – MISS: This continues to not work for me. I did like the idea that the Hurt Business would storm Underground to let out their frustrations over what had happened to them earlier in the show. But, the motivations of everyone else involved haven’t been defined at all. For the first time, WWE announced an Underground fight ahead of time for Ivar vs. Dolph Ziggler, but they didn’t deliver that. Why would Ziggler step up to fight Lashley? That is totally out of character and didn’t make storyline sense. It was a mess.
Three Punts – MISS: WWE has protected the punt from Orton as being a move that can end a career, or at the very least, cause a wrester to miss significant time. I was weary when McIntyre took two punts at the start of the show, because how could he come back in less than a week? It turns out, a few hours later he was perfectly fine to come out and attack Orton during his match against Lee. That made McIntyre look too much like a super man. But, then he took a third punt after that. First of all, he looked like an idiot for being attacked by Orton from behind for the second time in the same show. Get a clue Drew. That’s what Randy does. And now they go from him barely selling two punts, to possibly having a cracked skull and bleeding in the brain after a third. That seemed like a big jump. At this point, he shouldn’t be wrestling for months and I’m afraid that he will do another run in on Sunday.
Asuka vs. Banks – MISS: There is no way that a match between Asuka and Banks should be a Miss. These are the two best women wrestlers in WWE as far as I’m concerned and that’s saying something considering the amazing amount of talented women under contract. They were only given 8 minutes for their Title match nearly half of which took place on a commercial break. And the lumberjacks were the least effective lumberjacks in WWE history. Why were they even there? Did they ever once throw either wrestler back in the ring? That’s their purpose. Yes, this did have an ending, but again it only came after shenanigans from outside of the ring.
Rollins & Murphy vs. Mysterios – MISS: I didn’t understand why this match happened on Raw. This seems like the type of big match that should have been saved for Payback. The wrestling action and the story that was told in the ring for the majority of the match was certainly Hit worthy, but having this huge match end with a non-finish after Retribution interference was a big Miss. I’m guessing we get a rematch on Payback, but there are enough rematches on Payback already. And where were the babyfaces to come to Rey and Dominick Mysterio’s aid? Did Kieth Lee leave the building? One kick to the head certainly hurt Kevin Owens, but not so much that he wouldn’t have recovered by the end of the show. What about Humberto Carillo who has given them help in the past? Cedric Alexander got beat up in Underground, but where was Ricochet or Apollo Crews? This was just the perfect way to end such a crappy crappy show.
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.