SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: The opening segment didn’t do much for me. Randy Orton has done some very good mic work in 2020, but this was not an example. It was more of the boring, plodding Orton like we’ve heard too many times in the past. Part of the problem is that he was not his more sadistic self because he can’t seem too sadistic going up against The Fiend. The dynamic between these two doesn’t work. Alexa Bliss coming out and laughing and saying that Fiend might be here wasn’t interesting. Drew McIntyre didn’t look very heroic by attacking Orton from behind. I get that they want to put the Money in the Bank briefcase in the minds of the fans, but the teased cash in is overplayed, even if it is new for this year.
Hardy vs. Elias – HIT: I am giving this a Hit mostly just because WWE went away from their usual troupe of having the wrestler who obtains the weapon on the pole, quickly lose that weapon to his opponent. This was more straightforward than I was expecting with Jeff Hardy getting the guitar and jumping off the top turnbuckle to smash the guitar over Elias’ back to get the win. The wrestling action before that was solid. The big problem is Elias’ character. It reminds me of the Miz when he started making those direct to DVD Marine movies where his character as a heel was a delusional wannabe movie star, but babyfaces couldn’t point that out because WWE wanted fans to buy those DVDs. Elias is a delusional wannabe musician, but WWE wants fans to buy his album off iTunes. So, the character is a mess. The feud hasn’t been good since the start. So, I am also partly giving this a Hit for the decisive Hardy victory in the hopes that he moves on to something else.
Baszler & Jax vs. Rose & Brooke – MISS: This wasn’t a good Tag Team Title match. Lana’s involvement took away from the match instead of adding to it. She came across poorly trying to interfere on behalf of Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke. The ability of the women in the ring wasn’t very good apart from Shayna Baszler. The other three are ok at best.
Lee vs. Sheamus vs. Strowman – HIT: The set up for this match was not very good. It wasn’t quite bad enough to give it a Miss, but it certainly wasn’t a Hit. The post-match angle with the fighting and bickering among the Team Raw members was similar. I suppose it is good that these wrestlers don’t just put their differences behind themselves to band together for brand loyalty. At least the triple threat match itself was good. It was hard hitting and physical. Braun Strowman winning was predictable, but at least he got the pin on Sheamus than Kieth Lee.
Firefly Funhouse – MISS: WWE wants to look edgy with segments like this which are darker where the characters use bad language. The problem is that WWE also wants to be cartoonish to appeal to children. That juxtaposition doesn’t work. When you hear wrestlers on Dynamite each week saying “shit” without it getting censored, hearing Bray Wyatt saying it while getting bleeped just reminds the audience that this is the corporate show aimed at kids while AEW comes across as the legit show for adults. This segment also reminded the fans of the horrible Wyatt vs. Orton feud from a few years ago. And the silly evil tongue bit from the end with Alexa Bliss was just stupid.
Jax vs. Lana – MISS: I did get a guilty pleasure out of seeing Nia Jax put Lana through the announce table each week, but I am over it now. Watching Jax yell and berate Lana during her match didn’t get me behind Lana as a character. I guess we were supposed to root for her because she refused to give up, but she still got squashed by Jax in about 3 minutes.
VIP Lounge – HIT: I enjoyed the mic work from The Hurt Business and New Day here. Hurt Business continued their storyline of wanting to be rewarded with championship matches for helping Raw end the problem of Retribution. The New Day running down Kofi Kingston’s accomplishments was strong. The end of the segment which turned into a bit too much bickering and silliness hurt the overall product, but I still enjoyed it enough to give it a marginal Hit.
New Day vs. Hurt Business – HIT: This non-title match between New Day and Hurt Business’ Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin was good. I could complain about the Champs losing a non-title match, but WWE has been better about that lately. Considering the talent of the four men in this match, it is not surprising at all that they would put on such a good match, especially given 13 minutes to wrestle. MVP added to my enjoyment with the good work he did on guest commentary. Hurt Business continues to be this strong heel faction who talk trash, but back it up. They don’t cheat to win. In an era with fans, I have to think they would be getting far more cheers than WWE intends. So, that is something WWE needs to keep in mind as we head to an eventual Tag Team Title match.
Ricochet vs. Tucker – MISS: I honestly forgot about Ricochet. It took me a moment or two to realize who Tucker was. I don’t understand breaking up Heavy Machinery if you had nothing in mind for both wrestlers. They presumably have plans for Otis on Smackdown, but having Tucker in the ring without an entrance, wearing tights with his long defunct last name on it shows they have no plans for him. I was glad to see Ricochet pick up the strong quick win, but after Tucker turned on Otis at the last PPV, you’d think they would have something more in mind for him. Watching both of them get destroyed by Retribution didn’t help either. That team has been defined down by their losing efforts each week to the Hurt Business, so I can’t take them seriously beating up a jobber and someone who should mean more than he does.
McIntyre vs. Miz & Morrison – MISS: The wrestling action in this handicap match was perfectly fine. It was actually Hit worthy. The problem is that I didn’t care. I didn’t get worked up wanting to see Drew beat up Miz & Morrison, considering they haven’t been presented as any type of physical threat to anyone in a long time. He got the better of them earlier in the show, so why did I need to see it again? And if you are going to put MITB on Miz, why make him look so bad afterwards? Miz lost here despite having a partner. I felt for sure WWE would at least protect Miz by having Morrison take the loss, but not only did Miz lose, but McIntyre kicked out of his finishing move, the Skull Crushing Finale. Why not protect Mr. MITB by at least protecting his finisher? The RKO out of nowhere at the end felt justified by the heel based on McIntyre’s actions in the opening segment. And going off the air with a tease of the Fiend didn’t get me excited to see where they go with this next week.
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.