SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Miz TV – MISS: I had a lot of problems with the WWE Championship change that happened at Elimination Chamber. I won’t go into all of those here, but if The Miz had been built up well and protected over the past three months instead of being presented as a total joke, having him as the title might feel important at this point. I quickly lost interest in the show as soon as he opened his mouth in this opening segment. MVP and Bobby Lashley were good in their roles, but I’m not interested in heel vs. heel match ups. I also wasn’t hooked by the idea that Miz had to make a decision about giving Lashley a title match within the first hour of Raw.
Riddle vs. Morrison – HIT: Riddle hadn’t been built up well leading into him becoming the United States Champion at the PPV (much like Miz). Plans may have changed due to Keith Lee’s injury as he would have made more sense to come out of the triple threat match with Lashley as the new champ. He needed a strong win on his first night as champion and he got a win. It should have been stronger against an opponent like John Morrison, but it was a good match. So while a stronger win would have been better, I won’t complain about the good in ring action.
End of Retribution? – HIT: This is an optimistic hit for the tantrum that Mustafa Ali threw after Retribution lost its match against The New Day. The match itself was fine, but underscored the total ineffectiveness of Retribution. They haven’t yet put a stop to this terrible faction, but I am hopeful that this is the first step.
Miz/Lashley/Shane/Strowman – MISS: Like in the first segment, some of the mic work here was strong and it did setup a big main event, plus the main event for next week. We knew that Lashley would get his WWE title shot against Miz next week, which might turn into a triple threat if Strowman beat Lashley. There was a lot of newsworthiness in that segment, but again I’m not into the heel vs. heel dynamic. Lashley winning to eventually take on Drew McIntyre makes sense, but having him feel like more of a babyface isn’t a good idea. This further teased the inevitable Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman match at WrestleMania which I’m not interested in at all.
Hurt Business vs. Lucha House Party – HIT: This was a pretty good tornado style tag match. What I particularly appreciated is that WWE seemed to be moving past the tension between Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. They got the strong, clean win here to put Lucha House Party in the rearview mirror. That was what needed to happen. Now, WWE needs to build a strong challenger for their championship. It looks like it is going to be New Day which is ok, but that has a “been there, done that” feeling to it.
Rhea Ripley Vignettes – HIT: Rhea Ripley should make a big difference on the Raw roster. She is very talented and had done everything she could do on NXT. It was past time for her to move up to one of the other two rosters. WWE needs to do a better job in general of introducing NXT talent to Raw and Smackdown, so starting this week with some vignettes was a good idea.
Orton Coughs Up Black Goop – MISS: I don’t feel like I need to really justify this miss. I’ll just repeat the title of the miss – Orton Coughs Up Black Goop.”
Charlotte – Asuka – MISS: The match with Charlotte & Asuka taking on Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax was fine. Having the babyface duo lose because of a miscommunication and leading to one of them getting mad at the other felt lazy. Time will tell how the rest of the story plays out, but the way it looks now has Asuka going heel and Charlotte staying babyface which is the opposite was what should happen. The following backstage encounter between Charlotte and her dad was odd. They are obviously changing plans due to Lacey Evans’ pregnancy, but none of this made me invested in a possible Asuka vs. Charlotte Women’s Championship match or anything else involving any of them.
Sheamus vs. Hardy – HIT: WWE is more invested in Sheamus right now than Jeff Hardy, so having him get a strong clean win makes sense. I would have rather seen them kept off TV the night after the EC to help sell that match, but Sheamus and Hardy put on a good match against each other. It all built well to a very strong closing sequence.
Lashley vs. Strowman – HIT: While I wasn’t a fan of the heel vs. heel dynamic, the match itself paid off well for the build to it. WWE loves to go with triple threat matches, so you could see them giving the win to Strowman, although I assumed Lashley would win. This was similar to the Goldberg vs. Lesnar formula of a short, intense, and hard hitting match between two big wrestlers. This felt fresher. It was well executed and the right guy won in the end. Lashley vs. Miz is better than a triple threat and they are really making it seem inevitable that Lashley will win next week.
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 2/15: Gauntlet trouble, Miz vs. Kingston, and Lacey’s announcement