SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: I like the fact that there was a positive consequence for Team Raw for sweeping Team Smackdown at Survivor Series. The fact that that win got them all consideration for a future WWE Title match was smart. But, the rest of the segment wasn’t any good. I don’t like the idea that Adam Pearce would give each individual team member a chance to make their case for why they should get that Title shot. The bickering that happened at that point was reminiscent of the terrible plot that built to the PPV. It didn’t make me want to see any of them getting that match against Drew McIntyre. Braun Strowman looked like a complete idiot for not being familiar with the phrase “last but not least.” I appreciate how Pearce sold the head butt, but Byron Saxton oversold it with his outrage. This wasn’t a good way to start the show.
New Day vs. Hurt Business – HIT: I had some issues with this match, but overall it was a very good long stretch of wrestling. I liked the set up, particularly the mic work from Cedric Alexander when he challenged New Day and got into it verbally with Xavier Woods. It was interesting to see Kofi Kingston not being happy with Woods for accepting the challenge. The count out wasn’t great. The ring announcer said that it was a double count out, but the referee raised Hurt Business’ hands like they won. That was awkward. I would have had a straight up match. That didn’t make New Day look very strong. They won in the end, so I guess that made up for it. Luckily, these are four talented wrestlers who got a ton of time to have a good match despite the issues with it. I thought Hurt Business was going to win here to keep them strong.
Sheamus vs. Riddle – HIT: This was a very good match, one of Sheamus’ best that I can remember. It was long, without feeling too long. Sheamus and Matt Riddle have very good chemistry in the ring. Riddle seems to bring out the best in Sheamus. They worked different styles. It was interesting to see Sheamus doing some more mat work and submission holds in addition to the more straightforward power moves that he usually does. I thought Sheamus would win here to advance his storyline with McIntyre, but Riddle needed the win more and Sheamus’ relationship with McIntyre can take longer to develop which is good.
Lana – MISS: The Lana character is bad. Are we supposed to think she did something great at Survivor Series? She is delusional which is a heel trait, but she is a babyface. I’m not interested in her feud with Nia Jax. It is sad that Asuka is now involved with their feud as she is being wasted as the Women’s Champion. She is too good for this. She needs a strong challenger which could be Jax or better yet, Shayna Baszler, but this storyline is ruining all of them.
Firefly Funhouse – MISS: This was everything that is wrong with these segments. I complained before about the eating their cake and wanting it too aspect of the bleeped swear words which happened again here. I don’t understand a supposedly babyface character like Bray Wyatt talking about how bad friendship is. If he was being a 100 percent heel, then I would understand it more as it fits in with the evil Mr. Rogers character, but that doesn’t work for a face. The violence towards the frog puppet was stupid. And on a wrestling show, what does it have to do with wrestling? This didn’t make me want to see Wyatt or Alexa Bliss in a wrestling match. I am really confused by why fans like this crap.
Lee vs. Lashley – HIT: No matter what happened in this match, I figured that it would lead to a feud between Keith Lee and Bobby Lashley over the United States Championship. It is too early to know for sure if that’s the case, but it certainly is a possibility. It certainly has some strong potential based on this match. I enjoyed this quite a bit with the power vs. power aspect to it, plus the overall athleticism of both wrestlers on display. They worked well together with Lashley failing early on to overpower Lee, but ultimately able to do some of that as the match proceeded. The fact that he did hit some power moves later in the match made it seem that he might actually be able to get the Hurt Lock on Lee, but he still couldn’t in the end. The attack by MVP was odd and took away from the match, but it did give Lee the win and teased a future match between them. But with Alexander & Benjamin losing earlier in the show, and with MVP costing Lashley here, I wonder what they have in mind for Hurt Business going forward.
Styles vs. Orton – MISS: I enjoyed this match until the end, but the end ruined it for me. I particularly liked the great facial look that Randy Orton gave after poking AJ Styles in the eye. This had good wrestling action as it built towards the ending, but then the Fiend got involved and it ruined it in the end. Orton is clearly a heel and has been the top heel on Raw all year. So, should we like The Fiend for distracting him and costing him this match against another heel? Are we supposed to cheer for him? Alexa Bliss was clearly a heel against Nikki Cross. But, I have a feeling that WWE creative wants us to like her. This all fits into how stupid the Wyatt/Fiend character is, especially when going up against a total heel.
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 .