SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Retribution – MISS: A terrible mess of a show started off with a terrible mess of an opening segment. From the start it didn’t make sense. It made no sense that Retribution would be given contracts. Tom Phillips made a big deal about how now that they are under contract, they can do whatever they want to whomever they want. But, they were already doing that. I don’t get why having contracts would allow them to do whatever they want. Doesn’t WWE have rules for their contracted wrestlers? Or are the Retribution contracts different? And if so, why do they get more freedom than the other wrestlers? And they were very clear that the five core members of Retribution had contracts, yet all the other minions were still doing whatever they wanted to do, so what difference does the contract make? This is a waste of Dominic Dijacovic and Mia Yim. Are we supposed to pretend that it isn’t them? How can we take the announcers seriously when they just ignore what is obvious to every viewer? And they have created a total mess with the Hurt Business as babyfaces against Retribution, but heels against Apollo Crews and Ricochet.
Triple Threat Tag Match – MISS: I appreciate the fact that this triple threat tag match had proper rules, with one member from each team in the ring at the same time, instead of the long standing idiotic rules, with only two teams represented where you can tag out to any team. I also appreciate the level of talent in the ring. However, the storyline didn’t make sense. The last time we saw two of these three teams, they were beating the crap out of each other. There was no reason why Andrade went from fighting with Angel Garza to re-teaming with him this week. We got no explanation as to why Buddy Murphy would still team with Seth Rollins after getting destroyed last week. The match didn’t last long and got to the very yawn inducing conclusion of Andrade & Garza earning yet another in what seems like an endless stream of Tag Title matches against The Street Profits.
McIntyre vs. Lee – HIT: This is a very minor Hit. The wrestling action was much better than the other Raw matches for Kieth Lee so far. It felt like he was finally getting to show off what makes him special in the ring which I didn’t feel last week or his Raw match against Randy Orton. Of course, it ended with him losing once again via disqualification when he looked like he was going to lose via a pin fall anyway after taking a Claymore from Drew McIntyre. The punt made some sense to possibly set up a match against Orton after Orton vs. McIntyre at Clash of Champions, but that doesn’t get me excited either. The promo from Orton afterwards about the ambulance match stipulation was ok, but not quite good enough to be a Hit.
James vs. Vega – MISS: The action in this match was ok, but a #1 contenders match going 3 minutes doesn’t do much for the new #1 contender, which is especially bad when that wrestler hasn’t been established yet. Mickie James is cold, so getting a win over her doesn’t do much for Zelina Vega. Vega doesn’t seem like a worthy challenger to Asuka at this point.
Bianca Bel Air Video – HIT: I enjoyed this vignette highlighting the strength of Bianca Bel Air. We will likely get a series of these fun videos highlighting the various ways that Bel Air is the EST of WWE. The only issue is that these should have been used 5 or 6 months ago, before she had actually been on Raw.
Cedric vs. Crews – MISS: It is hard to give a Hit to a 6 minute match with a commercial break, even if what little wrestling action we saw in the match was good. Throw in the fact that the storyline is broken due to Retribution as I already addressed, and the match ends up a Miss. The pre-match mic work was strong in a vacuum, but again, it didn’t exist in a vacuum.
I’m Your Papi – MISS: I guess I should be happy that WWE at least acknowledged that Seth Rollins was re-treading an old storyline with the claim that Dominik isn’t Rey Mysterio’s biological son. But, this was so stupid. It was such a long winded and round about way of getting to the fact that Aaliyah showed concern for Buddy Murphy last week. I am slightly intrigued by that angle, but this storyline just won’t end. I would love to see Dominik vs. Mustafa Ali next week. Why not? The ongoing Mysterio family melodrama isn’t that interesting to me.
Raw Underground – MISS: This continues to have the same problems every week. None of the concerns about it have been addressed yet. I don’t understand why someone on WWE creative thinks this is a good environment for Dolph Ziggler. Arturo Ruas has something which can make him stand out in this environment and eventually be shifted to Raw Overground, but not when he’s losing to Ziggler. Punches are legal in a WWE wrestling match, so why hasn’t Riddick Moss ever tried to knock someone out like he did Erick when he has been in regular matches in the past? The big issue this week is Dabba-Kato who has been the pick from most people as the one guy who could legitimately break out as a star from Underground lost pretty easily to Braun Strowman, who didn’t need to be part of this at all.
Retribution vs. Hurt Business – MISS: As a male child of the 80s, I grew up on GI Joe. When I heard Slap Jack, T-Bar and Mace, my immediate thought was reject Dreadnoks. I guess Buzzer, Ripper and Torch were taken. Again, the wrestling action was fine here, but the story is a mess. Of course, there had to be a screwy finish, with Retribution getting DQd for doing what happens fairly frequently in tag matches without an immediate DQ. The brawl that happened afterwards was ok with McIntyre leading some babyfaces (finally) out to fight Retribution only to take an RKO out of nowhere to end the show. That part was fine.
Go Home Show – MISS: WWE did a decent job of hyping McIntyre vs. Orton for the PPV, but the rest of the show focused too heavily on things like Retribution, Raw Underground and the Rollins vs. Mysterio saga which have nothing to do with Clash of Champions. I don’t care about the Women’s Title match, the Women’s Tag Title match or the United States Title match.
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. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonMezzera.