SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: I’m fine with having an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship at the PPV. But, I don’t get why Shane McMahon was there for the announcement, as he didn’t add anything. I don’t want to see him involved in a match for WrestleMania and his random and seemingly meaningless appearance here makes me worried that this was somehow the first step in laying the groundwork for a potential match. I also wish WWE would put the most deserving wrestlers in the Elimination Chamber and not just any former champion. Jeff Hardy and Miz don’t deserve to be in.
Styles vs. Hardy – HIT: This was a good match to fill 14 minutes of TV time. It was fun to watch and it continued to build up Styles as a strong competitor who wins far more often than he loses. That’s a good thing. It also continued to reinforce the notion that Hardy can only beat Elias. I would be weary of putting Elimination Chamber participants in matches against each other as it means that one of them loses going into the PPV. Why not keep them all strong?
New Day vs. Retribution – MISS: Despite having bad material to work with, Mustafa Ali usually at least gives good performances on the mic. Here he was very annoying while doing guest commentary for this tag match between New Day and Retribution members Slapjack & T-Bar. He yelled far too much and it didn’t fit in with the quiet intensity which he usually brings to his promos. He took away from my enjoyment of the match which was solid otherwise. I don’t understand why we are ever supposed to take Retribution seriously when they lose every week.
Evans – Flair – MISS: There were some parts of this that I liked. The relationship between Lacey Evans and Ric Flair was better defined than it has been and they made it seem more like a professional mentor/mentee relationship than a sexual one which it should have been from the start. The problem is that Charlotte Flair continues to often come off too much like a heel in this program. It’s hard to get behind either of them in the feud. The match that followed on Monday wasn’t good either.
Edge – Miz – HIT: Edge continues to do very good work on the mic. It makes perfect sense for him to wait until after the PPV to decide which championship to challenge for at WrestleMania. Why not wait and see who all the champions are? They are doing the same with Bianca Belair. The work at the end with Edge telling The Miz why they are different was very strong. I wouldn’t mind seeing Edge vs. Miz at Fastlane. I don’t want to see Miz win the WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber to face Edge at WrestleMania, but a short program in between can work well.
Priest vs. Garza – MISS: The match was fine and given Damian Priest a series of strong wins in his early time on Raw is 100% the right thing to do. I like that Bad Bunny is being presented as being smarter than Miz & Morrison, so I liked the way he used the Money in the Bank briefcase to distract them when they were trying to cheat during this match. I am curious to see what the end game is for him in WWE. The problem is that it all came at the expense of Angel Garza who is far too talented to be a jobber.
Riddle vs. Lee – HIT: This was a good match and the type of match I want to see from Kieth Lee. It is unfortunate that Matt Riddle has been turned into a joke, but at least he looked strong here despite the loss. Unlike Ali, MVP added to the quality of the match while doing guest commentary. The attack from Bobby Lashley made sense, too. I like how Lee looked like he was going to be able to stand up to Lashley, but Lashley overpowered him. It was smart to make him look dominant by getting the better of Lee here. That said, I’m a little confused about the triple threat match for the United States Championship. I suppose Riddle got a win via DQ over Lashley last week to earn a rematch, but having Lee beat him here certainly doesn’t make him look like a deserving challenger.
Jax vs. Lana – MISS: Not that it matters, but tables matches shouldn’t be thrown out on TV without any type of build or hype. After what Nia Jax put Lana through (literally) in the fall, a tables match between them does make sense, but without any context given here, this felt like it came out of nowhere. The real problem was the match itself which was so predictable. They gave Jax 90% off the offense because Lana was going to get a fluke win in the end. It wasn’t quite as flukey as I expected it to be, but the goal in mind was to still keep Jax strong even in losing.
McIntyre vs. Orton – MISS: The wrestling action between Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton was perfectly fine here. There were two issues, though. The first is that we’ve seen these two far too often over the past few months for this to mean anything. It is a great example of the law of diminishing returns. The second issue is that you knew the match wouldn’t end until either Sheamus or Alexa Bliss (or both) got involved. Once Sheamus came out, it made it all the more obvious, though I still expected to see some hint of Bliss or The Fiend. The finish, which saw Sheamus kick Orton didn’t make sense to me either. It certainly looked like Orton pushed McIntyre out of the way. Did I miss something? Why did Orton push McIntyre out of the way to take the Brogue Kick?
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: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 2/1: Edge vs. Orton, Bliss magic, and Priest’s debut