SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS
I’m over Miz. You can’t spend several months presenting a wrestler as a comedic loser, have him win the WWE Championship in the least deserving victory of all time, have him duck a challenger multiple times, and then eventually lose in his first title defense in a very short squash match, but also expect him to be taken seriously. Miz cuts this promo acting like he’s some serious wrestler and nobody is buying it. The idea that he would get a rematch made no sense considering that Drew McIntyre didn’t get one when he was clearly so much more deserving. They need to get Miz away from the title picture entirely.
Lashley vs. The Miz – HIT
This match shouldn’t have happened, but the strong presentation of Bobby Lashley as the new WWE Champion was very strong this week. We got a good promo from Lashley and a nice video package on Lashley’s championship victory. He could have defeated Miz in a shorter match, but he never sold much for Miz and was never in danger of losing this match. I did have an issue with the fact that WWE will let Miz talk on and on without interrupting his promo for a commercial break, but then they cut to a commercial a few minutes into a WWE Championship match. The fact that it was the only match in the first hour of the show was problematic too.
Strowman – McMahon – MISS
The biggest problem with this whole program happened in the second in-ring encounter between Shane McMahon and Braun Strowman. But the issues started with Strowman’s lame backstage encounter with R-Truth. That led to Strowman calling Shane out to demand an apology. That encounter was strange with Shane quickly apologizing and running away. He then looked back as if he was going to say something else which created the “hook” of finding out what Shane almost said. I didn’t care. We got more backstage scenes with them and it dragged on leading to one of the most bizarre segments I can remember when Shane eventually tried to explain himself. He stumbled through this overly long promo. The way he stopped using a microphone which obviously worked fine was odd. The entire point was to call Strowman stupid, which is a total waste of time. What’s the end game? I guess they are trying to cement Shane as a heel, but there are way better ways to do it.
Sheamus vs. McIntyre – HIT
Sheamus and Drew McIntyre had another good, physical, and intense match like last week. This time it was a no DQ match which ended when neither could continue the match. You don’t see that ending in WWE very often, so it worked well. It was believable that they couldn’t get up after that match. This is clearly setting up another match, likely at Fastlane with an even bigger stipulation. I’m guessing it’ll be an Ambulance Match.
Women’s Tag Title Match – MISS
This was an ugly match. Lana may have improved in the ring, but she still isn’t good. Naomi is very athletic and can have good matches, but it would be a stretch to call her a good worker. Nia Jax isn’t a very good worker either. So, the talent just wasn’t there for this match. There were lots of sloppy spots, too. Shayna Baszler had to take multiple steps to the side for absolutely no reason at all other than she was supposed to get hit by Naomi along with Jax on her dive to the outside. She also sold like she was hit by a bullet when Naomi barely made contact on a rear view. Jax and Baszler should have won strong without any type of interference from Reginald. I don’t like seeing him added to their act even if there is some comedy potential in Baszler being annoyed by Jax’s crush on him.
Orton vs. Styles – MISS
The work from Randy Orton and AJ Styles was certainly “hit” worthy in this main event. The backstage encounters that built up to the match were too random with Styles commenting on the Orton – Fiend storyline for no real reason. It also was a heel vs. heel match, which left the fans with nobody to root for. You also knew that the match couldn’t end until there was some type of appearance from Alexa Bliss. So, despite the good wrestling action, I was not engaged in the match at all. The ending with the voodoo curse was more of the nonsense that some fans don’t care about. Shouldn’t putting a voodoo curse on a wrestler during a match cause a disqualification?
Why Is Fastlane Happening? – MISS
This week’s Raw had a WWE Championship match, a no disqualification match between two wrestlers in the middle of a major feud, a Women’s Tag Team Championship match, and a “WrestleMania worthy” match between Styles and Orton. Next week, we will see a Raw Tag Team Championship match between New Day and The Hurt Business, as well as Matt Riddle defending his United States Championship against Mustafa Ali. Put all that together with some big matches from Smackdown and you get a major PPV. Why are they doing these matches on Raw if they have a PPV in a few weeks? Or more to the point, why are they doing a PPV in a few weeks when they are doing these matches right before on Raw? The bottom line is, they should not have a PPV between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at email@example.com.