SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Sheamus vs. Lee – HIT: The opening segment with Drew McIntyre, Sheamus and Kieth Lee which set the stage for this match (to happen earlier in the night than originally scheduled) was fine. I won’t give it a Hit or a Miss. Overall, the storyline has been strong and the match itself to determine McIntyre’s WWE Title challenger for next week was too. Sheamus and Lee had a hard hitting match. It was better than some of Lee’s other recent matches. It wasn’t great, but certainly Hit worthy. And I’m curious to see where these three go from here, so I’m looking forward to the Lee vs. McIntyre Championship match next week.
Baszler vs. Brooke – HIT: This match was solid from an action and execution point. So it wasn’t particularly good. But, I am giving it a Hit simply for the fact that Shayna Baszler got a strong clean victory which she desperately needed. She also beat up Mandy Rose afterwards to continue to make her look dominant. It is sad that Baszler has been used so poorly that simply getting a win over Dana Brooke is progress for her.
Styles vs. Elias – MISS: I rarely give AJ Styles matches Misses considering how talented he is in the ring. But, this wasn’t good. A big part of it is that it was a heel vs. heel matchup and one of those heels is ice cold. They want us to take Elias as a serious threat (I’m assuming?) as they have now given him Jackson Ryker as a cornerman. So, why undermine Ryker’s physical presence by having him shrink away from the much larger Omos, especially so early in his pairing with Elias? Elias isn’t good enough in the ring for such a long match under these circumstances.
Ricochet vs. Ali – HIT: The wrestling action between Ricochet and Mustafa Ali was so good that I have to give it a Hit despite my reservations about it. The problem is the storyline is so bad. Why would Ricochet even think about joining Retribution when they lose all the time? Retribution could have been good. If the wrestlers involved had continued to totally hide their faces, were given better names, and were protected in the booking to make them threats to the Raw roster, we might think better of them. If their first big opponents hadn’t been a heel faction who dominated their feud, and they were kept strong, Ali revealing himself as their leader would have been better. Once he revealed the purpose behind their faction, he could have unmasked them and they could have revealed their real identities, so the talented wrestlers in the group would not be saddled with this terrible act. Then, a story involving Ali trying to recruit his friend Ricochet into the group would have had meant more. Then when you pair that story with this quality of a match, it could have been a great moment.
Interviews – HIT: WWE seemed to do a better job this week with interviews promoting matches for later in the show. We got the opening segment with Lee, Sheamus and McIntyre. We got an inset interview with Lucha House Party before Gran Metalik’s match against The Miz. We got interviews with both Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax before their match. We saw the Raw Talk clip of Ricochet talking about Retribution, followed by a promo from Ali. It wasn’t for this week, but we did get a reaction from McIntyre to having to face Lee next week. We got to hear from the Hurt Business before their 8 man tag. None of these individual interviews or promos was strong enough to get a Hit, but each one added to the overall quality of the show.
Jax vs. Flair – MISS: This was a pretty good match. I wish Baszler and Jax were not a team any more. They were only teaming up reluctantly in the first place as they wanted to keep their Women’s Tag Team Championship. But now that that is over, they should both move on to focus on their singles careers. They shouldn’t be a team any more. So, I was disappointed by Baszler being in Jax’s corner here. It was also disappointing that she got involved in the match at the end, causing the disqualification. They’ve got a clear storyline here with Charlotte vs. Jax, and they delivered good performances in this match. So, it is a shame that the match didn’t mean as much as it should have because of the poor ending and the clear indication that WWE is continuing the team of Jax & Baszler.
Hurt Business vs. New Day & Riddle & Hardy – HIT: This was a fun, action packed 8 man tag match with The Hurt Business continuing to dominate Raw with this win over The New Day, Matt Riddle and Jeff Hardy. Bobby Lashley is one of the few wrestlers in all of WWE who has been very well protected, so it was good to see him continue to get big wins as he forced Hardy to tap out to the Hurt Lock. There was so much talent in the ring, that it was a joy to watch them wrestle. What they need to do now, is build up Riddle with some wins against non Hurt Business wrestlers to make him a worthy challenger to Lashley’s United States Championship.
Mr. Money in the Bank Again – MISS: One of the best things to come out of the TLC PPV was that Miz failed in his Money in the Bank cash in and was no longer Mr. MITB. Now, a few weeks later, he gets the briefcase back again. The whole storyline of him using some stupid legal action to get the briefcase in the first place was idiotic. Now he gets it back for some other legal technicality. Having Mr. Money in the Bank lose in about 3 minutes to Gran Metalik (who is very talented but has been presented as a 24/7 joke wrestler) makes the briefcase even more of a joke than it was before John Morrison cashed in at TLC. Miz was a loser with the briefcase. Now he is an even bigger loser with the briefcase. This is greatly hurting the MITB concept.
Bliss – Orton – MISS: I have to admit to getting a kick out of Randy Orton destroying the puppets on the set of the Firefly Funhouse. Whatever WWE does with Bray Wyatt upon his return from being murdered, I hope this is an end to the puppet show part of the act. But, much of the show was built around how this segment set up the end of the show where Orton would “face” Alexa Bliss in the ring as he thought it would be a trap set up by Bliss and The Fiend. Instead, we got Bliss pouring gasoline all over herself and begging Orton to set her on fire like he did Fiend. This is sensationalistic crap. It is not appropriate for a show which is promoted as family friendly entertainment. It crosses a line in pro wrestling which shouldn’t be crossed. It is not entertaining. They still haven’t solved the problem of nobody being worthy of cheers from the fans in this feud. And to end on a cliffhanger and act like we won’t know for a week whether or not Orton lit Bliss on fire is a total insult to the intelligence of all of the fans. Overall, this was a pretty good show, but the ending totally ruined it.
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 on Twitter @JonMezzera.