SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: This is a marginal Hit for some pretty good mic work from Drew McIntyre and MVP to start off Raw. They followed up nicely on the end of last week’s show when Mace & T-Bar attacked McIntyre. MVP is still claiming that he and Bobby Lashley have nothing to do with the former Retribution members. The attack set up the handicap match for later in the show and continued the mystery about the relationships. The problem remains that Retribution was such a joke that it is hard to take these two seriously, and being involved with McIntyre and MVP seems to bring the later down instead of elevating the former.
Charlotte – Asuka – HIT: This is another marginal Hit. WWE continues to position Charlotte Flair as a heel. She is doing a good job with the slight tweaks to her character, going away from all of Ric Flair’s mannerisms. She comes across like a top star without the robotic performances which too often hurt her presentation in the past. I could have done without her racist slow talk to Asuka acting like she won’t understand her since she’s Japanese. I get that she’s a heel, but find some other ways to get heat.
Riddle vs. Orton – HIT: WWE continues to present Matt Riddle as the most annoying man in the world. I did get a kick out of Randy Orton complaining to Adam Pearce about the lack of respect he gets and not actually knowing Riddle’s name. So the set up for this match was okay, but the match itself was quite good. It was good to see Riddle actually getting a win for a change. Giving him that win over Orton is a sign that WWE might actually get behind Riddle. I just wish it came with a change to his character. Plus, he will likely lose in a rematch next week.
Jax & Baszler vs. Naomi & Lana – MISS: This was one of the worst matches ever. It was atrocious. It hurt everyone involved in this match when Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke interrupted it in order to play a series of videos on the big screen. Why would WWE officials let them do that? It makes the company look bad. It made Nia Jax look bad for allowing herself to be distracted by that. It made Shayna Baszler look bad for losing another non-Title match for any reason. It actually made Naomi & Lana look bad for not trying to fight and make a comeback during the series of videos. It made a joke out of the Women’s Tag Team Championship. It made Rose & Brooke look like sore losers. Last week’s match was so bad with them walking out on it and WWE is doubling down with the slip and fall stuff. They need to change the topic ASAP.
Priest and Bad Bunny – HIT: I’d like to see WWE using subtitles for more of their foreign wrestlers whose English isn’t that strong. It won’t work in a live promo or interview, but these types of segments are strong. We’ve seen them do things like this in NXT with Io Shirai and Kushida. This worked with Damian Priest and Bad Bunny speaking in Spanish after their WrestleMania win over Miz & Morrison. I do wish WWE had played this last week to help capitalize on the momentum for Priest.
Kingston vs. Elias – MISS: I don’t understand the decision to have Elias beat Kofi Kingston. New Day as a team and Kofi as a singles wrestler have far too much star power to lose to Elias in any circumstances when he has been defined down at the bottom of the card for far too long.
Mace and T-Bar Unmasked – MISS: I feel bad giving something a Miss which I have advocated for. It is good to see Mace & T-Bar finally unmasked after their time with Retribution. The problem is how the unmasking happened. The situation around the handicap match wasn’t well done. I get that they want McIntyre to look like a badass by not wanting a partner. But, that made Pearce look weak for not enforcing his own edict. It was too convenient that they would get disqualified to set up Braun Strowman making the save to set up a tag match which is what it was supposed to be in the first place. Just make it a tag from the stat without the awkward DQ in the middle. The wrestling action in the two matches was perfectly fine. But, having the faces unmask the heels emasculated them. It starts their time without the masks on a low point. It is like when a heel faction kicks a member out who becomes a babyface but looks weak for getting kicked out of the group instead of quitting. I hope that they go back to their NXT names, but the fact that we don’t know if that’s going to happen is part of the Miss. The announcers playing dumb and not recognizing them was stupid. They were also made fun of for having the masks by Strowman and McIntyre. I get that they are heels, but they need a total rebirth and this wasn’t it. They needed a chance to unmask themselves and rename themselves at the very least.
Miz vs. Priest – HIT: This was a solid match with the correct result with Priest defeating The Miz to get something back after losing in the handicap match last week. But he shouldn’t have been in a position to need to get something back.
Sheamus – HIT: I like the idea of Sheamus issuing an open challenge only to beat up the challenger Humberto Carillo before the match could start. The beating was physical and well done. Carillo has a ton of talent in the ring and a good look and nice charisma. It was nice to see him back on Raw after a long absence, but then he was destroyed by Sheamus. I am hopeful that they get an actual match next week where fans can be reminded of how good Carillo is.
Asuka vs. Flair – MISS: The effort by Asuka and Flair was certainly Hit worthy, but the booking brought the match down. Flair just returned with this new heel character which she is doing a good job with, but still establishing it. She needs to be kept strong, but she lost her first match back. WWE wanted to protect her, so she only lost because of outside interference from Rhea Ripley. But, that didn’t exactly make Asuka look strong either and she needed a strong win after recently losing the Women’s Title. Ripley looked like a heel for interfering and I think she is a heel. But, she was costing another heel. So, some of the face/heel dynamics weren’t well defined here either. It is hard to get a handle on exactly what WWE wants the fans to think of Ripley. She hasn’t been used very well since getting called up to Raw which is a bit odd to say considering she’s the Women’s Champion.
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. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.