SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Orton – McIntyre – HIT: WWE did a good job with the saga between Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre throughout Raw. It started off well with the opening segment as Orton gave a promo about how he should be handed the WWE Championship if McIntyre isn’t able to defend it at Night of Champions. McIntyre returning in the ambulance was cheesy. But, it did lead to him getting the first of three Claymores onto Orton to mirror the three punts he took a few weeks ago. That storyline was woven throughout the show and worked well for the most part. I enjoyed McIntyre’s dry humor in pretending to be leaving the building even though he clearly had no plan to actually leave. The only issue I have is that it was clear that McIntyre is healthy, so they somewhat ruined the selling point that he might not be able to wrestle at the PPV.
Alexander Joins the Hurt Business – HIT: Cedric Alexander has a ton of talent which has been wasted. I am hopeful that this heel turn with him turning on Ricochet and Apollo Crews to join the Hurt Business will be a boost for him. The actual attack during their six man tag match was well done. He got a chance to cut a promo explaining himself later in the show in the VIP Lounge which was strong. He sold being convinced slowly by MVP why he should join them so it worked well. I was intrigued by the fact that Shelton Benjamin was suspicious of his motivations. Also, I am really looking forward to seeing Ricochet vs. Alexander.
Street Profits vs. Andrade & Garza – MISS: We’ve seen these two teams wrestle far too many times at this point. This match only lasted 2 minutes and was more of an angle with Angel Garza walking out on Andrade. This was a return of the tension between those two which has been on and off again for months now. It doesn’t ever seem to go anywhere. The fact that Montez Ford spun Andrade around in the middle of the three count was weird and made the referee look stupid. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura were good in their surprise appearance to challenge the Street Profits to a Raw Tag Team Title match which should be very good. But, what does it say about the Raw tag team division that they haven’t built up a challenger on this roster and have to go to a team from Smackdown?
Royce vs. Kaye – MISS: I didn’t understand this at all. The IIConics were forced to break up as a team. They didn’t choose to break up. There didn’t seem to be any reason why they were facing this week. I know not every match needs to have a storyline explanation, but there should be some reason why whoever is in charge made the match. These two have been a team for years, yet their first match against each other got no build up whatsoever. Neither Payton Royce nor Billie Kaye got a chance to talk about the match. This should have been a huge deal for them, so why not hear what it meant to them? Then the match only went 2 minutes and wasn’t good. They clearly want to give Royce a push as a singles wrestler and she is definitely better than Kaye, but this wasn’t a good first step.
Eight-Man Tag – MISS: Most of the wrestling in this eight-man tag match was fine. There was a lot of talent in the ring with Ricochet, Crews and The Viking Raiders teaming up against The Hurt Business. The problem starts with the fact that we had already seen six of those eight wrestlers in a match. Raw should have a deeper roster so that we don’t have to see those guys in multiple matches on one show which seems to happen every week. They don’t let anything breathe. Why not wait a week? The match was good for the most part, but had that very odd ending. I’m guessing it was an audible that was called after Ivar was injured. Maybe he was supposed to take the fall? If that is the case, then the referee needed to communicate the change to Ricochet so he doesn’t clearly kick out a full second before the 3 count. That wasn’t even close. I don’t think it was a planned referee botch either.
Orton vs. Lee – MISS: Kieth Lee has been in four matches so far on Raw, and had his hand raised in victory only once, over Dolph Ziggler. He lost via DQ against Orton. He didn’t win the triple threat match. And he lost via DQ against Orton again here when McIntyre made his “surprise” “return” to Claymore Orton a second time. The visual of Lee using his lower body strength to block the first RKO attempt was really cool, but the match wasn’t particularly good otherwise. It was only 7 minutes and it felt like half of that consisted of an Orton chin lock. Lee just hasn’t been given enough of an opportunity to show why he is so special in the ring yet. He and Orton don’t compliment each other. And in the end, he took the RKO and looked to be about to lose when McIntyre attacked Orton. This match should never have happened. Give Orton a match against anyone else. Stop booking matches that can’t have clean finishes.
Raw Underground – MISS: This whole thing was a big mess. We saw Kevin Owens arrive at the Underground door (he was hilarious in talking down to Shane – that part was Hit worthy!), but later we saw Aleister Black fighting someone else while they were waiting for Owens to show up. That made no sense. Then, they kept cutting away for several minutes at a time while they fought. I didn’t get that either. Were they fighting that entire time? Or did they stop their fight when they weren’t on tv? Or was it supposed to be filmed earlier in the night and edited into the “live” portion of the show? This didn’t feel like it belonged in Underground. And while trying to build up this big feud, they instead had Dabba-Kato squash them both in the end. I don’t get it.
Handicap Matches – MISS: I don’t get the booking of this at all. You have The Riott Squad (new name please!) who are clearly babyfaces, against two heels who don’t like each other or get along, and keep beating two other heels on Smackdown to gain and then keep the Tag Team Titles. So the dynamic is all off. Why should we root for the babyfaces in a handicap match? That is reverse psychology. You can’t have them lose the match. So to protect Shayna Baszler, you have her lose because she was distracted by her own partner. Then you have the second handicap match which only went a few minutes and end when the light went out from Retribution. The whole thing felt like a waste of time and filler.
Retribution Speaks – MISS: Like many fans, I have wanted to hear a mission statement from Retribution which we finally got this week. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, but the group has been so bad that by the time we got to this statement, I find it hard to care. It is supposed to be this outside invading group who don’t follow WWE’s rules, yet they only seem to be on Raw now. This group of outlaws fallows WWE’s brand split? Also, how do they have a graphic? How do they have music? How do they get access to the production truck? Why are they using WWE’s corporate speak in talking about Superstars and WWE Universe? It just isn’t good.
Mysterio vs. Murphy – HIT: A pretty bad episode of Raw had a feel good moment with the Mysterio family beating the crap out of Buddy Murphy with kendo sticks. The main event that led up to that point was solid with Dominick facing Murphy in a street fight. It featured a really cool spot with the sunset bump into the table. It makes some sense to use Murphy as a surrogate for Seth Rollins. But at some point you have to move this feud onto its final chapter as it has gone on too long.
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.