SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: I appreciate the fact that Edge is waiting to pick which champion he will face at WrestleMania after winning the Royal Rumble. I get that WWE wants to build some tension between Edge and Drew McIntyre to tease that they may have a match. But, this felt forced. I wasn’t buying the idea that Edge would question McIntyre’s actions the way he did. The interruption from Sheamus also felt forced. The ending with Sheamus turning on McIntyre with the Brogue Kick was too soon. It was like they skipped three or four steps in the storyline that they’ve been building for the past few months. I can only assume that Keith Lee’s absence has made them change course on this angle or speed things up, because this came out of nowhere. It was disappointing considering how good the story has been so far.
Unhinged Lashley – HIT: I like the way that Bobby Lashley snapped on Matt Riddle. That type of edge can be a good addition to his character and it was interesting to see how MVP reacted to it in a shocked way trying to get him to stop the beating. The beating was well done and Riddle sold it well afterwards where he acted like he was concussed. The problem is that they announced a United States Championship match which they’ve been building to for several weeks and then they didn’t really deliver. Riddle had a strong showing in the Rumble where he looked stronger in the ring than he has recently, but he was destroyed the next night on Raw. So, I have mixed feelings about what they did here, but overall I liked it from Lashley’s standpoint.
Build to the Main Event – HIT: I would have rather had WWE make the Rumble match itself the blowoff to the Edge vs. Randy Orton feud. I didn’t need to see them fight again on Raw. They fought to start the Rumble in a punishing manner. Orton tried to trick Edge to win the Rumble, but Edge overcame it to win himself. For me, that was a good way to end their feud (at least for now – you can always go back to it down the line) and you already have Orton ready to continue his angle against Bray Wyatt and Edge choosing which champion to face at WrestleMania. The match wasn’t needed. That said, once WWE decided to do that match, it was well built throughout the show. Orton cut a good promo about it in the back and there was a very good video package on their history throughout the beginning of last year before Edge was out with an injury. Edge then followed with a strong promo himself.
Woods vs. Ali – MISS: Mustafa Ali and Retribution continue to be losers. They want to build to an eventual match between Ali and Kofi Kingston once Kofi is healthy, so why aren’t they doing anything to keep Ali strong in the meantime? Why is it that all of a sudden a wrestler from ringside can get into the ring and break up a pin right in front of the referee without that being a disqualification? It has happened a few times lately and it makes no sense. We’ve seen heel managers for decades slyly putting a wrestler’s foot on the rope and point it out to the referee. The ref doesn’t call for a DQ because he doesn’t see the manager doing it, but he sees the foot on the rope so he stops his count. I guess those managers didn’t have to be so sneaky since all they had to do was crawl into the ring and break up the pin.
Damien Priest – HIT: Damien Priest had a good showing in the Rumble and again here on Raw. I liked seeing him get an endorsement from Edge in the back. Having him being introduced in part by Bad Bunny works to give him a rub from a big star from the music world. Fans like to see Miz & Morrison get beat up, so having him come out to smack them around a little at the end of the Dirt Sheet (or was it Miz TV?) worked well as did giving him a strong win against Miz afterwards. The problem is that Miz continues to be a total loser as Mr. Money in the Bank. They need to get that briefcase off of him as soon as possible.
Hurt Business vs. Lucha House Party – MISS: I was expecting to give this match a hit as I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it fell far short of my expectations. Lucha House Party seemed off throughout the match. There were a ton of sloppy spots. There were multiple moments when they seemed to miscommunicate with each other when they’d go for a double Irish whip only to both reach for the same arm. It got better as it proceeded and played well into the continuing tension between Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, but it didn’t save the match after such a disappointing stretch.
Asuka – Charlotte – MISS: This team hasn’t worked from the beginning. It was hard to buy them as besties when Charlotte Flair returned as Asuka’s surprise teammate. WWE hasn’t done much to make me care about their team since. Instead of going for a break up, they are just moving Flair on to Lacey Evans which is fine. I don’t need to see Asuka vs. Flair right now. But, their pre-match interview underscored that they didn’t belong as a team and Asuka was worse than usual on the mic. The triple threat tag match that followed was ok. Having Flair walk out on her partner without it being a heel turn doesn’t work, because unlike with a turn, she’s still supposed to be liked by the fans. I just hope they move on from here and simply build a strong heel opponent for Asuka.
Bliss vs. Cross – MISS: I will always give a miss to matches with magic. Even without that, I’m not enjoying Alexa Bliss’ funhouse character. Watching her not take Nikki Cross seriously or doing hopscotch in the middle of the match took me out of the match. I just can’t get into her matches because of her antics. I’m also waiting for the next magic trick and therefore not really paying attention to the moves or the story of the match itself.
Edge vs. Orton – MISS: As I said, I didn’t want to see this match. We saw enough of it last year and then at the Rumble the night before. The match was ok, but then it ended with more magic from Bliss appearing on the top turnbuckle with blood coming out of her mouth. Don’t do a blow off match between two of your top stars who had a huge feud for months last year if you are going to have a ridiculous magic distraction finish. That hurts Edge right away after he just won the Royal Rumble.
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 REPORT: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 1/25: Goldberg faces off with McIntyre, Alexa’s playground, and Charlotte misses