SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: A much better Raw got off to a good start with the WWE legends and Drew McIntyre coming out to talk about the Ambulance Match from Clash of Champions the night before. It was far from perfect, but it did a solid job of making McIntyre look better for the way he beat Randy Orton with the help of Big Show, Christian, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. I would think that McIntyre would still be upset at Big Show for trying to take advantage of him right after beating Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. I would think that Christian would still be upset at Flair for low blowing him to help Orton punt him in the first place. But, they all played their parts well here as did Orton. This set up the idea of Orton getting a rematch at Hell in a Cell and set up the open challenge for a hook to see who would face McIntyre for the WWE Championship in the main event.
Asuka vs. Vega – MISS: The wrestling action that we saw was solid here. It certainly wasn’t bad. But, the match only went 8 minutes and half of that was on a commercial break. So, we only saw about 4 minutes of wrestling for a Women’s Title match which is a disservice to the Champion and her challenger. The other issue I had is that there was nothing to explain why Zelina Vega was getting another Title match. She barely had earned the first match which she lost clean. Title matches should mean more than this. The way the match was booked also put some sympathy onto Vega as did the post-match verbal attack from Andrade. I wonder if they are going to have her turn babyface. Are they opening the door for Andrade and Charlotte to team?
Andrade vs. Lee – HIT: It would be hypocritical of me to not give this match a Hit considering I have complained for weeks about Kieth Lee not getting his hand raised in victory in almost all of his Raw matches. He got the strong win over Andrade here, so I will give the match a Hit. I was excited about this match, because in addition to needing a win, Lee also needs a chance to show off why he is special in the ring. This 2 minute match didn’t give him that chance. I am also high on Andrade and would have liked to see him treated better than this. This is a case where a strong win could still have come after 10 minutes of action to protect Andrade some, show off more of Lee’s great skill in the ring, and still ended with Lee’s hand raised.
King’s Court – MISS: At some point during Jerry “the King” Lawler’s interview with the Mysterio family, Dominik said that this had gone on far too long. Amen to that! While I was intrigued by Aaliyah and Buddy Murphy at first, it just means that this storyline has to continue to drag on and on forever. At some point, will we ever see Dominik in a match against someone other than Murphy or Seth Rollins? Dominik seemed to overreact when he attacked Murphy. Rey and Dominik are being very disrespectful to Aaliyah. This isn’t making me like either of them. Plus, it won’t end. The match we eventually got between Dominik and Murphy was good, but it ended with shenanigans with Aaliyah getting involved, so while it was too good overall to be a Miss, I can’t quite give it a Hit either.
Rose and Brooke – MISS: WWE has made a big deal about Mandy Rose for awhile. She was in a long feud with her former partner and best friend Sonya DeVille on Smackdown which got a lot of air time. She and Otis as a couple were also featured heavily. They made a big deal about her being traded to Raw in terms of Otis’ feud against The Miz, and they framed it as a big pick up for Raw. When she finally made her debut, they saddled her with the perennial loser Dana Brooke. Brooke has always been defined as a wrestler who whines about not getting opportunities, but always loses when she does. I’m not saying that Mandy should be positioned as a top singles star in the Raw women’s division, but the division needs more star power right now, so she could at least be more than just part of a tag team with a loser like Brooke.
Black vs. Owens – HIT: I appreciate the fact that Aleister Black actually gave an explanation as to why he has turned on Kevin Owens. I’m not a big fan of his new music. But, they did have a better match against each other than they did a few weeks ago. These are two very talented workers and it was fun to watch them wrestle each other. The end of the match wasn’t good with the cheesy disqualification when Black clearly accidentally made contact with the referee. I guess that protects him and sets up a rematch, but it was still a let down.
24/7 Title – MISS: This is a total waste of time, and now it is a waste of the talented Drew Gulak who had something very good going on Smackdown working with Daniel Bryan not that long ago.
The Hurt Business vs. Crews & Ricochet & Ali – HIT: I struggled with where this should fall on the list. I was happy to see Mustafa Ali back on Raw as I am a huge fan of his work. I enjoyed the Hurt Business’s pre-match promo talking about how Apollo Crews keeps doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome. Most of the match itself was good. The tease of Retribution coming out was not as good. The formulaic way the match was booked wasn’t as good. The action was all crisp, but I wish we could see more offense from the babyfaces, just because of how much fun their offense is to watch. I liked how the match started hot and how Ali kept that intensity up later in the match when he finally got the hot tag. He also got the win which was nice. But, ultimately that was probably just setting him up to lose a bunch of matches to Bobby Lashley in the near future.
Bianca Bel Air – HIT: I continue to enjoy these vignettes which are also giving me fond memories of the Mr. Perfect introduction from like 30 years ago.
McIntyre vs. Roode – HIT: Bobby Roode was a yawn of a reveal as McIntyre’s mystery opponent for the WWE Title. Raw does need bodies and it was good to see anyone new facing McIntyre. And, Roode is talented, so it was good to see him back. It just wasn’t exciting. The match itself was good. The outcome was never in doubt, but that’s ok. It was competitive and gave McIntyre a chance to get a strong win in the end.
Night Vision Attack – MISS: The night vision goggles attack by Orton on the legends to end the show was weak. It was cheesy. It was predictable. Who thought Orton had actually left the building? Who thought the legends were really safe just hanging out and playing cards? And they had to get their revenge on Orton once, so now don’t they have to get revenge on him again? They should have built the Hell in a Cell match around Orton vs. McIntyre without the legends after what happened in the Ambulance Match.
No Raw Underground – HIT: If I give Raw Underground a Miss every week, you know I have to give it a Hit for not being on this week. I didn’t miss it at all.
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 Twitter @JonMezzera.