SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: This wasn’t a great opening segment, but it was good enough to get a Hit. It is surprising to see WWE just announce that Drew McIntyre would face Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. I had assumed there’d be a #1 contenders match against Sheamus at Fastlane. McIntyre will face Sheamus, but with nothing on the line. I’m actually ok with this as McIntyre shouldn’t have to earn a rematch after the way he lost to the Miz in the first place. Miz got a rematch he didn’t deserve. I wasn’t thrilled to see Miz & Morrison involved here either. They need to get away from the WWE Championship picture entirely. Hopefully this is the last week of their involvement in it. I did like the McIntyre promo. The mic work in general was strong all around. This set up some matches for Fastlane, WrestleMania, and this episode of Raw, so it accomplished quite a lot.
McIntyre vs. Miz – HIT: McIntyre should have defeated the Miz quicker, but like with last week’s match against Lashley, Miz was pretty much dominated here. I’m a big proponent of wrestlers winning matches with secondary moves from time to time and this felt like a perfect time for McIntyre to get a win with the future shock DDT. However, I understand why they went with this ending with him sending a message to Lashley by winning with the Hurt Lock.
Shane / Braun – MISS: The Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman will be a special attraction at WM, but I don’t want to see it. The build towards it has been terrible and this week was no exception. We got another bad talking segment between them with Shane making fun of Braun for being stupid. Then we got a tease for a match on the show which didn’t happen. Instead, we got a bit of a brawl leading to Shane emulating 1980s Nickelodeon by dumping a bucket of green slime on him.
New Day vs. Hurt Business – HIT: I was disappointed that Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander lost the Raw Tag Team Championship. I liked what WWE had going with the Hurt Business with the Tag Team Champions and WWE Champion in the group. New Day as the Champions is played out, but the match itself was good. I enjoyed it from start to finish, which isn’t surprising considering the talent of these four wrestlers. I am intrigued by AJ Styles and Omos debuting as a team at WM, but it’s silly that a new team would get a championship shot in their first match.
Bad Bunny Gives Truth the 24/7 Title – HIT: I like that WWE is trying to do something with Bad Bunny. He is a legit big star who might bring some new eyes to Raw and WrestleMania. Having him win the 24/7 title was silly as it’s such a minor little title. He looked bad for walking around acting tough for having that belt on his shoulder. I wish it would go away, but at least him giving it to R-Truth moves him away from it and hopefully he will look more like a babyface moving forward in his friendship with Damian Priest as they go up against Miz & Morrison at WrestleMania. The guitar shot later in the show was terrible, but that wasn’t his fault.
Asuka vs. Baszler – MISS: This is a match that should be on a PPV. They have a chance to re-establish Shayna Baszler as a badass who knocked Asuka’s teeth out. Instead, she loses in 2 minutes. Yes, she had her sleeper hold on Asuka at the time, but that roll up loss for her has been done far too many times. I did appreciate that they seem to be giving Asuka an edge. They may be positioning her as a heel to face Charlotte Flair as a babyface. Those roles should be reversed. I don’t mind Asuka as a heel, but Flair as a face doesn’t work well at all.
Ali vs. Riddle – HIT: These are two very talented wrestlers who I don’t care about. I don’t care about Matt Riddle because of the way he is presented. I hate his character. Mustafa Ali is great all around, but Retribution is ruining him. Then you watch them wrestle for 8 minutes (although half of that was on a commercial) and you remember why they are so special as workers. What we saw of this was very good. Hopefully Ali’s anger at the rest of the group leads to it going away for good sooner rather than later.
Sheamus vs. Lashley – HIT: This was a good, hard hitting, and intense main event. It was a little odd being heel vs. heel and I never fully understood Sheamus’ decision to attack Lashley at the start of the show. That said, it worked for what it was. It built towards both Fastlane and WrestleMania. Why have Fastlane at all? It would be much better if WWE put their focus on WM entirely at this point. I also have to say that I am enjoying Sheamus’ matches much more than I expected to at this point in his career. I enjoyed his run a few years ago as part of The Bar with Cesaro on Smackdown. They had some really good matches against New Day and the Usos. Seeing Sheamus as a top singles act and delivering as well as he is has been a nice surprise.
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 3/8: Lashley stars in champion role, move over Miz, why Fastlane, more