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Fiend/Retribution/Hurt Business Start the Show – MISS: This was a mess. I don’t understand the dynamic between Retribution, The Hurt Business and the Fiend, all of whom are heels. I am not a fan of Alexa Bliss in this role. I don’t get why the Fiend came to the ring to begin with. He wasn’t having a match, or talking as far as I could tell, so why was he there? Are we supposed to cheer for him? I hate his hocus-pocus schtick with the disappearing act. The injection of Fiend into the Retribution vs. Hurt Business didn’t make sense. The eight man tag was ok, but ended quickly and anti-climactically with T-Bar tapping out to Bobby Lashley’s full nelson. I’m not a fan of the Retribution gimmick, but Mustafa Ali, Dominic Dijacovic, and Mia Yim are too talented to be jobbed out and treated like jokes. After losing the match, they were totally destroyed by Fiend. So, they are supposed to be physically imposing and threatening, yet they lost rather easily in the match and then got beat up by one guy in a stupid clown mask. I would say that Hurt Business was positioned as babyfaces here, but later in the show, they clearly were heels when they beat up Titus O’Neil. So as I said, the whole thing was a big bess.
Styles vs. Riddle – MISS: Of course the wrestling action in a match between AJ Styles and Matt Riddle is going to be good. They are two very talented workers. I am also intrigued by Styles having Jordon Omogbehin in his corner. But, I didn’t like the whole intimidating the referee bit. That was too prolonged. I get that the point was to make the ref look like a wimp, so in that way it worked, but that was a stupid goal. Having Riddle intimidated by him at the end of the match wasn’t good either. That hurt his credibility on his first night on Raw. Of course, the fact that we got this matchup that we’ve already seen before on the first post-Raw draft was a problem too (more later).
Women’s Fatal Four Way – MISS: The action in this match was fine. The issue was the match itself and how it came about. The idea of a string of teams coming out to challenge Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler was lame. It wasn’t clear that there was going to be a match and it seemed impromptu which makes me wonder who has the power to make matches? I didn’t understand why Payton Royce and Lacey Evans were a team and I hope that it is a one week thing. I didn’t understand how the Riott Squad was back on Raw after getting shifted to Smackdown last week (another example of no selling the draft). The announcers didn’t seem to know if this was a Title match or not. I appreciate the fact that the Champions stood tall, but in doing so, they basically buried three potential challengers in one go. They hurt the credibility of potential challengers for Asuka’s Women’s Title in the process, particularly someone new to Raw like Evans.
Elias Concert – MISS: I was actually impressed by the concert from Elias, but that’s the problem. He is a heel. So why present him as a talented musician having piped in crowd noise sounding more positive than negative for him? He wasn’t doing his normal heel trolling. They want his album to sell, so they presented him well here, but that hurts the actual storytelling in the wrestling world. He just came back. He could have come back as a babyface to help sell his album. The storyline with Jeff Hardy doesn’t make sense as we know it was Sheamus who actually ran him over. So why have him be a heel?
Sheamus vs. Kingston – HIT: On a very bad show, it was nice to finally get to a Hit with this good match between Sheamus and Kofi Kingston. The mic work from New Day beforehand was strong. I like the idea of them still being friends with Big E and talking about how he’ll hold up his part of New Day on Smackdown. I liked how Big E was on one of the Thunder Dome screens (the use of legends watching the show on the screens has been good overall) and how Xavier Woods pointed it out to Kingston to spur on a come back. And it was a good match that went 13 minutes and was fun to watch throughout. It was nice to see Kofi getting the win, although where do they go from here with Sheamus?
Ali Promo – HIT: This was the promo that we should have gotten from Mustafa Ali last week. He can talk and he showed it here. It was interesting that he admitted to being the hacker from Smackdown and it actually fit in with his mission statement and threats as the head of Retribution. I liked this quite a bit, but the fact that it followed the terrible beginning of the show hurt it. It lacked the punch it would have had last week. It is hard to take them seriously despite this strong promo.
El Gran Gordo – MISS: It is a shame that the Money in the Bank gimmick has been ruined by all of this silliness. That is sort of the point that The Miz and John Morrison are making, but the heels shouldn’t be making good points. There were a few funny moments, but that’s not the point. We can’t take Otis seriously, but we can’t take Miz seriously either. He’s a loser. He’s a goof. He’s a joke too. So no matter what happens with this idiotic court case angle, I’m not interested in who has the MITB briefcase. It is hurting the concept to have the briefcase / lunchbox in this situation. They can’t even have the match happen without interjecting R-Truth and the 24/7 stupidity into it to up the silliness quotient.
Lee vs. Strowman – MISS: This is unfortunate because it is the only fresh matchup that we are getting post-draft. There is definitely potential in a longer Keith Lee vs. Braun Strowman match, but WWE isn’t ready to give that match to us yet, so last week we got an abbreviated match ending in a brawl, and this week we got a very short match which ended after a low blow from Strowman. I didn’t get this at all. Were we supposed to think that the referee thought it was an accident? The announcers said that he was out of position to see it, so maybe not. But it certainly seemed like he could see it. It didn’t seem accidental to me. They’ve been doing something similar with Roman Reigns recently, so having Strowman mimic the bit here wasn’t a good idea. I do appreciate the fact that a low blow and a kick to the face was enough to beat someone, but that didn’t do anything for Lee who hasn’t been presented as a big enough deal for most of his run on Raw. He got his revenge by kicking Strowman low after the match which will lead to another match, but why should I have faith that the third match will be any different than the first two?
Orton – McIntyre – HIT: This is a marginal Hit for strong mic work from Randy Orton. I liked the idea of him going over his history in Hell in a Cell as a way of juxtaposing his experience to McIntyre’s lack of experience. He was able to tie it into his status as the legend killer. McIntyre also continues to do well in his role. This has been a good feud overall. The problem is that they killed the Cell gimmick by having McIntyre remind the audience of how easy it is to get into the cage. And then the show ended without an ending. What happened? This was still a Hit, but it would have been much better if it had just ended with McIntyre outside of the cage glaring at Orton inside it.
Draft “Shakes Things Up” – MISS: Almost every match on this first post-draft Raw was a match between wrestlers who were already on the same show. So, it didn’t feel like things were really shaken up. Hurt Business vs. Retribution were already feuding on Raw. Thank God for the draft so we can finally see Styles vs. Riddle… oh wait, they have faced before on Smackdown. We saw Smackdown women on Raw which undercuts the draft. We are getting Hardy vs. Elias who were on Smackdown together. While I enjoyed Kingston vs. Sheamus, we’ve seen so many matches (mostly tag) involving those two over the last few years on Smackdown, that it wasn’t new or fresh. We were also treated to the fresh match up of Miz & Morrison vs. Heavy Machinery. Other than Lee vs. Strowman, nothing feels new as a result of the draft. And we know after the PPV, they will be right on to the lame Raw vs. Smackdown theme for Survivor Series which makes zero sense coming right after the draft.
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.