SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Sheamus vs. Lashley – HIT: It was a nice change of pace to start off Raw with a long match instead of a long talking segment. It was a heel vs. heel match and I wish WWE would do more to protect their gimmick matches by giving both Sheamus and Drew McIntyre a night off after their no disqualification match at Fastlane the night before. That said, both had matches on Raw starting with Sheamus in this non-title match against Bobby Lashley. The match was good, intense, and hard hitting. It was enjoyable to watch despite my reservations about it. The idea that Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin would be interfering against Lashley’s wishes was interesting. I am curious where they go from here, but I’d rather see The Hurt Business stay on the same page longer. I was alto intrigued by McIntyre coming to Sheamus’ aid afterwards. I am hoping Sheamus gets something for WrestleMania, presumably a United States Championship match.
Asuka vs. Royce – MISS: The wrestling action in this match was solid. It wasn’t bad enough to get a Miss, but not quite good enough to get a Hit either. What landed it in the Miss column is that Peyton Royce hasn’t been used much at all lately and when she has, she hasn’t been treated like a serious threat. She can’t just cut a serious promo on Raw Talk, which relatively few fans actually watch, and expect to seem like a legit threat to the Women’s Champion Asuka. Have some foresight and cut that promo five or six weeks ago, then give her a series of matches where she beats lower card wrestlers before moving up to some tougher competition. Instead, she was ice cold going into this match yet she lasted over 10 minutes and got more offense than she should have. That did more to make Asuka look bad than to build Royce up.
Ripley’s Debut – MISS: Obviously, Charlotte Flair’s COVID-19 diagnosis caused WWE to call an audible and go to Rhea Ripley against Asuka at WrestleMania. I won’t complain about seeing Ripley vs. Asuka as it should be a very good match. It does feels rushed, though. They can’t help that and I suspect that if healthy and cleared, Charlotte will be added to make it a triple threat. She has a claim considering she has defeated both Ripley and Asuka at past WrestleMania events. I like that WWE has been introducing Ripley via vignettes over the past several weeks, but this still feels too soon to be getting the big championship match at WrestleMania.
MizTV – MISS: I continue to be bored by the antics of Miz & Morrison. This did not make me want to see the debut of their new video next week. If anything, it makes me less likely to tune in. The Miz vs. Jeff Hardy was ok, but it is sad that Hardy is doing 4 minute jobs to Miz. I get that they want to make Miz strong going into this match against a celebrity, but why didn’t they keep him strong going into his run as WWE Champion? I’d much rather see Miz & Morrison vs. Bad Bunny & Damian Priest, so the one-on-one match isn’t exciting for me. Perhaps we will see a change to the match in the next few weeks.
Styles vs. Kingston – HIT: It isn’t surprising that AJ Styles and Kofi Kingston would have a good match against each other given they had 13 minutes to perform. These are two good wrestlers who are fun to watch in the ring. They worked well together. But, I find myself siding more with Styles and Omos than with The New Day. Xavier Woods distracting Styles with the trombone is a heel move. It led to a cool ending with Kingston countering a Phenomenal Forearm into the SOS for the win. Plus, it is good to see a champion win a non-title match for a change. Overall, there are issues with how New Day is being presented.
Sheamus – Riddle – MISS: A United States Championship match at WrestleMania between Sheamus and Matt Riddle certainly has potential to be a good match. That said, I question the presentation of these two. Sheamus recently turned heel and had this intense feud with McIntyre, but he was more of a sympathetic babyface in the opening match against Lashley considering the outside interference and the beating afterwards. McIntyre saving him made him seem like a face, too. In this segment he was acting like a heel in the interview. I’m sure WWE wants us to be upset that he attacked Riddle with his scooter, but Riddle is purposefully presented as an annoying act. They want the fans to think he’s annoying so they have other babyfaces avoid and even hide from him.
McIntyre vs. Hurt Business – HIT: The wrestling action in this handicap match was good. The stipulation made sense and gave McIntyre a reason to accept the challenge for the match in the first place. This further advanced the issues in the Hurt Business, and as I said, I’m weary of that angle.
Choo Choo! – MISS: Adding sound effects during a match to highlight a wrestler’s move is perhaps the silliest thing I’ve ever seen. Not just in WWE. Not just in professional wrestling. In all of life.
Orton/Bliss/Fiend – MISS: I’m so sick and tired of complaining about this angle. It has been going on for several months and it has been bad from the start. I don’t want to dwell on it too much, but I will comment that I love the fact that characters like Alexa Bliss and The Fiend still point to the WrestleMania sign.
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.
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