SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Main Event Hype – HIT: WWE did a good job throughout the show of hyping the main event WWE Title match between Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre. It started with the opening segment where we got strong promos from both McIntyre who kicked off the show in the ring and Orton who interrupted from the screen. This built anticipation while also teasing a possible Money in the Bank cash in from The Miz, although that part of the opening wasn’t as good. The announcers made a big deal about this match, calling it a WrestleMania worthy main event. Later in the show, we got a short interview with Orton and the scene with Sheamus giving the trunk of mementos to McIntyre. Before the match, we also got the nice video package on the beginning, middle and end of the long careers of these two leading to this match. That was very well done.
Baszler & Jax & Lana vs. Asuka & Rose & Brooke – MISS: There wasn’t enough talent in the ring in this match despite the presence of Asuka and Shayna Baszler. The match wasn’t very long which is good, but the bigger issue is the continued storyline of Lana trying to prove that she belongs on Team Raw for Survivor Series. I’m not a fan of this story. I’m not a fan of Lana. This is wasting Baszler’s talent. WWE has spent the several weeks trying to make us care about Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke as a team in general and being part of Team Raw, only to replace them in the last week due to injury with Lacey Evans & Payton Royce who haven’t been on tv. They are sort of a team, but not really established at all. So, this was just a big mess.
Team Raw Backstage – HIT: I am not a fan of what WWE is doing with the men’s or women’s Team Raws. But, I have to admit to getting a kick out of this backstage encounter with AJ Styles trying to continue to claim the captainship of the team while stopping Sheamus, Kieth Lee, Brawn Strowman, and Matt Riddle from fighting each other. They played their parts well and the bit with the t-shirts from Styles was amusing. But, what really landed this in the Hit column was the fact that Styles didn’t realize that his large associate actually speaks English. That bit at the end of the segment made me laugh out loud.
Firefly Funhouse – MISS: I just hate these segments.
Hurt Business vs. New Day – HIT: The pre-match mic work was Miss worthy. I enjoy The Hurt Business on the mic, but this wasn’t their best work. They were fine, but New Day has been poor since the draft to Raw. Maybe the three of them together somehow created the magic which can’t be duplicated with one member missing. The Jerk Business joke was terrible. Thankfully, the match was way better than the mic work. This was a great Tag Team Title match. It went 16 minutes and never dragged from start to finish. It was very fun to watch. Cedric Alexander particularly stood out with those dives through the ropes. I had assumed that Hurt Business would win to take on The Street Profits at Survivor Series. So I was surprised by the outcome which was good.
McIntyre – Sheamus – HIT: I haven’t commented on these short little scenes between Sheamus and McIntyre yet, but I am intrigued by them. They are doing good work in them building up the idea that they are very old friends and are still on good terms, despite Sheamus being a heel, while building to something down the line. I’m curious to see what happens.
Team Raw vs. Retribution – MISS: This was more of an angle than a match. While I did enjoy the bit in the back with Team Raw bickering, I am not a fan of the storyline overall. This was more of the same as the team kept angering each other by tagging themselves into the match over and over again, before Mustafa Ali got the surprise roll up win. I guess it is good that Retribution finally got a win, but who cares at this point?
Hardy – Elias – MISS: I assumed that the guitar on the pole match between Jeff Hardy and Elias a few weeks ago was the end of the feud. Unfortunately, I was wrong. For reasons that make no sense to me, WWE has decided to continue this terrible feud with Elias still claiming that it was Hardy who ran him over all those months ago.
Miz vs. Wyatt – MISS: I keep hearing praise for Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss, but I continue to not see it. Bliss laughs and then looks evil. That’s the “acting” that she gets praised for which isn’t working for me. Wyatt is positioned as a babyface against The Miz and we are supposed to cheer for Bliss attacking John Morrison at ringside, but she attacked her former best friend Nikki Cross right before the match started. This is a split personality situation. I don’t understand why I should cheer for these two. The match itself was ok overall, but not very good. It had a few sloppy spots. I honestly don’t think Wyatt is very good in the ring. He gets the gift of no selling for his opponents which doesn’t do anyone any good. I did not believe that the 90 pound Bliss could actually knock Morrison over the ringside barrier. And once again, Mr. Money in the Bank is the biggest loser in the company.
McIntyre vs. Orton – HIT: The main event ended up delivering very well. I would have done without the part near the beginning when Orton started to walk out on the match to take a cheap count out loss to hold onto his Title. Adam Pearce having to stop him by making the match no count out / no disqualification wasn’t great. This didn’t fit into Orton’s persona. Nothing about him suggests he would take that easy way out. So, I wasn’t a fan of the start of the match. However, the match got better and better as it proceeded. They used the no DQ stipulation without over doing it. It was hart hitting and physical. It told a story of McIntyre failing multiple times to hit the Claymore throughout the match only to finally hit it for the 1-2-3 victory. I’m not sure why WWE took the WWE Championship off of McIntyre only to put it back on his a few weeks later. Some people thought that they took it off of him to save a match against Roman Reigns for a more meaningful place down the line, perhaps WM. I guess not. So, why take the Title off him in the first place? It was good to see this match end clean without any of the bells and whistles that were teased. There was no run in by Miz or Wyatt or Sheamus for that matter.
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 him on Twitter @JonMezzera.