SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: This is a minor Hit. Drew McIntyre was good in his promo addressing his jaw injury and the potential for further injury. I could have done without the silly Photoshopped image of his Claymore victims which was the same problem as when Randy Orton did it last week. This did set up actual stakes for his match against Keith Lee which made sense, but it was still a match that shouldn’t have been happening yet.
Street Profits vs. Cesaro & Nakamura – HIT: I wish this match had gone longer than just ten minutes, but it was really good while it lasted. I was also sure that Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura would win this match so it was a pleasant surprise to see the Street Profits pick up the victory. I’m curious to see on Smackdown if they follow up with the Profits coming over to challenge Cesaro & Nakamura. I wouldn’t mind seeing more matches between these two teams.
Garza/Andrade/Vega Break Up – MISS: WWE has clearly been working towards a break up for Angel Garza and Andrade which is fine, but while clearly setting up Garza as the heel in the situation, they haven’t done anything to make Andrade the babyface. So, once they face in a match it will still feel like a heel vs. heel match up which isn’t a good situation. And I assumed one of them would still be with Zelina Vega, but apparently she is going away from being a manager where she shines to being a wrestler where she isn’t nearly as good. So, that was disappointing. It didn’t make sense that she would suddenly be in a position to challenge Asuka for a Women’s Title match since she hasn’t been wrestling much at all, and she has never been positioned as a successful wrestler in the past.
Alexander Turn Follow Up – HIT: We got to hear more from Cedric Alexander, a week after turning on his friends and joining The Hurt Business. We also got to hear from Apollo Crews and Ricochet. None of the mic work was great, but it was all pretty good, just good enough to get a Hit as it set up Ricochet vs. Alexander.
Ricochet vs. Alexander – MISS: That match ended up being disappointing as it was very short and had a commercial break so we barely got to see any of it. There isn’t much else to say about it.
Asuka vs. James – MISS: This was also a big disappointment. I had high hopes for a very good Women’s Title match with Asuka defending against Mickie James. These two should have had a much better match, but it didn’t work. They seemed off. There were sloppy spots throughout. They seemed to go for far too many leverage pin attempts, and somehow none of them were crisply executed. I think if I had to pick one phrase to describe this match, it would be “not crisp.” And that was all before the strange ending where the referee inexplicably called for the bell despite the fact that James was not tapping out and then claimed she couldn’t continue. Either that was a big mistake by the ref, or he was told to cut the match short for some reason, but it was clear that wasn’t planned and James and Asuka were clearly confused and upset.
”Coming Up Next”: Miss: After the first time that WWE claimed that the steel cage match was coming up next, it was 21 minutes before the bell actually sounded to start the match. After the announcement that it next, there was a commercial, the Braun Strowman arriving at Raw Underground scene, a shot of the cage being set up, a video on the Mysterio family vs. Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy feud, the scene in the back between Rollins and Murphy, a second commercial where we were again promised the match was coming up next, the R-Truth Kit-Kat skit, the announcers talking about the Mandy Rose trade, Rollins’ ring entrance, the interview with Dominik and his family, then his entrance followed by the bell finally ringing. I get that in this setting they have to do the cage construction old school and set it up, but this was crazy amount of time killing. And to make things worse, they literally cut to a commercial break 90 seconds into the match after a 21 minute wait!
Dominik vs. Rollins – HIT: At least the cage match did end up being worth the wait as Dominik continues to look impressive in his young career. There were some issues like Rey Mysterio trying to pull his son out of the ring. I didn’t like that look and the heel announcer MVP was right in pointing it out. But, the wrestling action was good and it built well to Rollins getting the strong clean victory in the ring with the two stomps. At some point WWE needs to move on to something new. Rollins beat up Murphy, but he isn’t exactly sympathetic. So, I don’t need to see Rollins vs. Murphy. They had the tease of Rey’s daughter looking with concern towards Murphy as she got in the ring to check on her brother. It seems like all these people will still be involved together moving forward, but that means the story continues to get dragged out.
Raw Underground – MISS: I want to see a map of the Raw Underground area where Kevin Owens last week and Braun Strowman this week can enter the door with Shane McMahon on the outside, and yet not reach the ring before Shane. They keep trying to get Riddick Moss over in this environment and I continue to not care. They continue to think that for some reason Dolph Ziggler makes sense in this environment and I continue to not see him as being a fighter who would do well or even want to be there. They continue to do far too many cuts in these fights. The second segment with Strowman fighting lasted 66 seconds and consisted of 34 shots (yes I timed it and counted!). That means each shot lasted on average less than two seconds. That’s nuts. I get a headache watching this crap.
Black vs. Owens – MISS: Yet another disappointing match. They have been building to this match for a few weeks and these guys fought in Underground last week, but when the match actually comes, they only get seven minutes, half of which took place on a commercial break. Then, they built to a finish involving blinking lights distracting the heel and allowing the babyface to take advantage and get the win. That seems like reverse wrestling psychology to me.
Lee vs. McIntyre – HIT: I reluctantly give this match a Hit considering that it did have plenty of good wrestling action before the lame Retribution ending. Once again, Kieth Lee is in a match on Raw which doesn’t end with his hand being raised. But, at least he didn’t lose this time. After they got beat up by Retribution, The Hurt Business came to their aid which is just odd, although I understand it was set up earlier in the show and it did allow for the cool show ending spot with Lee and McIntyre doing the stereo leap over the top rope. But, can someone please explain to me why I should boo The Hurt Business? They are presented as badasses. They look like stars. They always win. They make bold claims, and then they back them up. They are entertaining. And they are the only ones on the Raw roster to stand up to Retribution. They even came out to help these two babyfaces one of whom they’ve feuded with in the past just to make a stand against this invading group. That’s a group I want to cheer for, but I don’t think that’s what WWE is going for.
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.