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Masked Orton – MISS: I believe that this pre-recorded promo from a masked Randy Orton about getting a fireball thrown in his face last week just ended a few minutes ago (two days after it started!). This was overly long and dull. The visual of Orton wearing the mask was comical. It was the start of a night that focused on Orton, The Fiend, and Alexa Bliss with none of it being particularly good.
Flair vs. Royce – MISS: The wrestling action in this match between Charlotte Flair and Payton Royce was fine. There were some sloppy spots, but I did appreciate the fact that Flair won despite her Dad and Lacey Evans trying to distract her. I hate what they are doing with Ric Flair right now. We are supposed to side with Charlotte against Evans, but then she acted like a heel two weeks ago. Here she refused to release Royce from the Figure 8 long after she got the tap out victory. That is a heel move. So, the whole thing leaves me not wanting to cheer for anyone involved in this feud.
Ali’s Promo – HIT: Mustafa Ali continues to do his best under a bad situation. He is very talented and this promo shows what a shame it is that such a good talker is wasting those abilities. I appreciate the fact that WWE went back to the storyline from two years ago when he lost his spot to Kofi Kingston in the Elimination Chamber which led to Kofi-Mania while he sat at home. That was a nice touch to show why he was having Retribution target Kofi’s partner Xavier Woods.
The WrestleMania Report – MISS: I don’t usually include these types of advertisement segments in the Hits & Misses, but this one was so poor that I had to comment on it. The big problem is that Roman Reigns should be so far above being involved with stuff like this. This hurts his credibility. It’s fine for Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and John Cena to be part of this promo for future WrestleManias, but keep serious strong heels out of it.
Alexa’s Playground – MISS: So was that Bray Wyatt’s ghost making the rocking horse rock at the end of this segment? I thought The Fiend was a babyface in his feud against the clearly heel Orton. If that’s the case, shouldn’t Alexa Bliss be a babyface? So, why is she a heel in this segment and later on against Asuka? Didn’t WWE learn its lesson when they did major damage to Seth Rollins when he cowered in fear at the Fiend? AEW didn’t learn that lesson when they had their Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida cowering in fear at Abadon. Maybe WWE wasn’t happy that Abadon was obviously stealing the Fiend’s gimmick and so they wanted their own female version? This was bad on so many levels and didn’t leave me wanting to see the main event which felt forced to begin with.
Styles vs. Ricochet – HIT: This was clearly the highlight of the night. I like the idea that Adam Pearce keeps making lower card wrestlers beat AJ Styles to earn a spot in the Royal Rumble. I’m wondering if someone will beat Styles next week to earn that spot and set up a feud going forward against Styles after Drew Gulak and now Ricochet have failed to do so. If they go that route, who would it be? The match itself was very good. The ending with Ricochet bounding off the top rope and being caught by Styles in the perfect position for the Styles Clash was excellent. I also want to bring up the really nice spot earlier in the match when Ricochet rolled through a somersault into the German suplex for a nice near fall.
The Dirt Sheet – MISS: It has seemed for years that members of WWE creative have known how bad the humor on the show is, so they often script the wrestlers to acknowledge how bad the jokes they tell are. Its as if they believe that by acknowledging on-air how bad these segments are that it’s ok to present such bad segments. The better option is to not present such terrible segments in the first place. Having Miz & Morrison argue at the end of this segment about whose fault it was that it was so bad didn’t save it. WWE should not spend two hours clearly advertising that Goldberg would be on the show only to do a bait and switch with Gillberg instead. None of this was funny. The thought of The Miz cashing in Money in the Bank at the Royal Rumble doesn’t make me look forward to the PPV. The idea of Miz getting involved in any way fills me with dread.
Hurt Business vs. Lucha House Party & Riddle – HIT: I had mixed feelings about this match, but I am giving it a marginal Hit. WWE is telling the story of Cedric Alexander getting a big head and upsetting the rest of the Hurt Business. This is a bad idea and far too soon in the evolution of the group. I do like the way Alexander is performing his role in it, though. The angry blind tags from them throughout the match worked well for awhile, but got very redundant in the end. The prolonged beating of Lince Dorado before an eventual hot tag was too long. I did like the energy that Matt Riddle and Gran Metalik brought to the match in the end. I also liked how Bobby Lashley stood up at the end to be the adult in the room and put an end to the match. He needed to put his stamp on the match and he did so emphatically.
Bliss vs. Asuka – MISS: As you may have guessed, I’m not a fan of Bliss somehow now having Bray Wyatt’s magic powers. The hocus-pocus was on full display in this main event and distracted from anything else in the match. The idea that Bliss can have a costume or makeup change in the middle of a match is ridiculous. She isn’t as scary as Wyatt when she’s doing his hanging upside down in the corner routine. I’m just not buying it. She is very good in the more bubbly creepy role, but I wasn’t buying her in the evil no-selling role. I don’t like that role for anyone as it hurts their opponents and seldom makes for a good match. Asuka has been wasted as the Raw Women’s Champion as she has mostly been featured in the tag team with Charlotte and when she finally gets a singles match away from the tag title situation, she loses. That was disappointing. Can’t they keep their champions strong? And, just like I didn’t want to see a supernatural Fiend as WWE Champion, I don’t want to see a supernatural Bliss as Women’s Champion either. I am worried that is the direction they are headed in now.
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.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S RAW HITS & MISSES COLUMN: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 1/11: McIntyre’s COVID-19 PSA, Charlotte vs. Evans, Lee vs. Sheamus, shenanigans from The Fiend, and more