SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT
This wasn’t great, but just good enough. Drew McIntyre cut a good promo about losing his WWE title at Elimination Chamber. He came across well here. It made sense to have The Miz come out to try and convince McIntyre that Bobby Lashley is the real villain in the situation. This built anticipation for the WWE Championship match as well as the opening match between McIntyre and Sheamus. However, it was also the start of the night of the bait-and-switches (more later) and left me questioning why Sheamus and McIntyre were facing off on this show with no advanced hype instead of a PPV where it belonged.
Sheamus vs. McIntyre – HIT
While I question having this match at this point, it was a great match. I enjoyed it from start to finish. It was what I had hoped we would get between these two when they started this program several months ago. This easily could have headlined a PPV and fans would have gotten their money’s worth. It was hard hitting and intense. There were believable near falls as it built to the ending with the cool spot where McIntyre avoided the Brogue Kick while hitting Sheamus with the Claymore. Where does McIntyre go from here for Fastlane? Maybe the Miz in a #1 contenders match?
Naomi vs. Jax – MISS
In other circumstances, I would be perfectly fine with one half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions getting a 3 minute squash match. I’m all in favor of keeping the champions strong in these non-title match situations. The problem is that they have made Naomi and her partner Lana the top contenders on Raw for that championship. You need to keep the challengers strong too. It would have been much better to have Jax send a message to Naomi & Lana by having her get a squash over anyone else on the roster.
Bait-and-Switches – MISS
You knew something had to be up when WWE announced that the WWE Championship match on the show would take place at the start of the second hour. You knew they were going to have shenanigans to put the match off until the end. So, we get Miz faking stomach cramps and having to wait an hour to get the match. Then, we get the actual match where Miz runs away and gets counted out right away. That “worked” in terms of Miz’s character and to set up what ended up being the Lumberjack stipulation for the main event. It was still another bait-and-switch though. At some point, you are trying the patience of your fans which isn’t a good idea.
Alexander & Benjamin vs. Strowman & Pearce – MISS
The set up for this match was wonky and I’m not a fan of the budding feud between Braun Strowman and Shane McMahon. I didn’t understand why Shane would put Adam Pearce in the match. That didn’t seem to fit in with what else Shane has been doing on Raw lately. Strowman looked dominant during the Tag Team Championship match which made Alexander & Benjamin look weak as champions. Then, Strowman looked sill for listening to Shane and tagging out to Pearce. Shane didn’t look good either. So to me, everyone in these two segments came out worse than they came in.
Priest vs. Elias – MISS
The fact that it took 15 minutes for Damian Priest to beat Elias made this match Miss worthy. The fact that it wasn’t a very good match is also Miss worthy. There were some sloppy spots leading to the ending. I think Priest did more arm bars in this match than he has in his entire NXT and WWE run combined. He had to stretch it out too much. This wasn’t good and Bad Bunny is already wearing out his welcome.
Orton’s Doppelgänger – MISS
Rinse and repeat my complaints about the hocus-pocus nonsense with Randy Orton, The Fiend, and Alexa Bliss. This is beyond comprehension at this point.
Charlotte’s Promo – HIT
Charlotte Flair sounded much more natural this week on the mic than she often does. This worked well to move her away from the Lacey Evans / Ric Flair storyline and to continue to tease a match against Asuka for the Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. I liked this approach where she’s showing respect and possibly setting up a babyface vs. babyface match up which could go in other directions still. They also set up some different possibilities with Asuka coming back from the injury that she received at the foot of Shayna Baszler last week.
Flair vs. Baszler – MISS
Unfortunately, the follow up from that promo was this match which could have been a major PPV match once upon a time, but now is a 3 minute mostly throwaway match on Raw. They had a chance to capitalize on a real life injury by playing up Baszler’s bad ass character who knocked out Asuka’s tooth. Instead, she looked very weak in losing quickly. While they protected her partner earlier in the show, they hurt her here which does damage to the Tag Team Championship.
Ali vs. Riddle – MISS
Riddle needs to be protected and built up as the United States Champion. Losing to Mustafa Ali, even with the distraction of Retribution is the opposite of what should happen. I was hoping that Retribution was starting to break up, but this win by Ali points to the fact that they are likely going to be around longer than I wish. Also, that ending was bad with what looked to be some type of botched move that could have caused an injury. It looked very dangerous, so luckily nobody was hurt.
New WWE Champion – HIT
I wasn’t a fan of the bait-and-switches leading to the main event. The lumberjack stipulation made sense, but half of the lumberjacks (Retribution and Strowman for instance) should not have been out there. It was a squash match which underscores how undeserving of the WWE Championship Miz is. In the end, once this route was chosen, getting the championship on Bobby Lashley was the right way to go. Last week would have actually been better, but at least they only went one week and didn’t put it off any more. Lashley is certainly deserving of being the WWE Champion and I’m looking forward to the presumed WrestleMania championship defense against Drew McIntyre too.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S RAW HITS & MISSES: WWE RAW HITS & MISSES 2/22: Bobby Lashley shines, strong Rhea Ripley vignettes, and The Miz misses