SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: I liked the more serious tone from The New Day as they interrupted the championship celebration of Bobby Lashley. However, the serious tone didn’t last long. They still had their usual silliness in the end. If the criticism against you is that you don’t take your wrestling career seriously because you play too many video games, your response probably shouldn’t be that your video game show on YouTube has 2 million subscribers. What does that have to do with your ability to win a match? I was annoyed by the way Kofi Kingston kept referring to Lashley as Bob. New Day didn’t come across well here. The idea that WWE would just happen to have the Hell in a Cell structure over the ring in order to get an impromptu HIAC match was idiotic. Later on, one of the announcers said something like “nobody could see a HIAC match coming tonight.” My reaction was “someone must have seen it coming or they wouldn’t have had the cell ready to go!” I also question having four HIAC matches in four days.
Ricochet vs. Styles – HIT: This was a good Money in the Bank qualifying match with the first of a string of upsets as Ricochet defeated AJ Styles. Ricochet is very talented in the ring and he and Styles predictably had a good match. The problem is that he has been so defined down as a loser, recently being booked terribly with Humberto Carrillo in their feud against Sheamus (which I guess is over now?) that I can’t get excited about him at all. Sure, he will add some great athleticism and have some really cool moments in the MITB match, but who thinks he actually has a chance to win?
Orton – Riddle – HIT: I am intrigued by what WWE is doing with Randy Orton and Matt Riddle. They haven’t even fully cemented them as a full fledged team, so I hope they aren’t breaking up already. But, I liked the backstage encounter between them with more tension than we’ve seen the last few weeks. Orton certainly wasn’t looking as fond of Riddle as he had been. The idea that Orton lost his qualifier while Riddle won his is an interesting twist. I’m curious to see what happens next.
Naomi & Asuka vs. Marie & Doudrop – MISS: Did WWE introduce Piper Niven as Eva Marie’s protege last week, give her a new name which Marie came up with on the spot this week, and then have them break up 5 minutes later? And how did everyone know that Doudrop was the right spelling instead of Dew Drop? And if she doesn’t actually work with Marie going forward (which she shouldn’t), then she better not keep the dippy name that Marie gave her. With so few spots in the Women’s MITB match from Raw, why would Adam Pearce and Sonya DeVille give Marie, who hasn’t wrestled in 5 years, and Doudrop, who has only had one match on Raw a chance to get into the match? It makes no sense. At least Naomi and Asuka won.
Flair – Ripley – MISS: This miss flows out of the ridiculous disqualification finish from the Women’s Title match between Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley at the PPV. I will never understand how that was a DQ, or how they could say it was a case of Ripley getting herself purposefully DQ’d in the match. There were wrestlers throwing each other onto the announce table during this show which didn’t cause a DQ. It was so stupid. And if the storyline is that Ripley got herself DQ’d on purpose, why would I cheer for her? She continues to come across more like a heel than a babyface. So, I have nobody to cheer in their rematch. The other issue is that they clearly had a reason to have a stipulation for the rematch to keep Ripley from getting DQ’d again, but they didn’t make one. So many matches in WWE have needless stipulations, yet here is a case where they need one, but they don’t have one (it could get added).
Orton vs. Morrison – MISS: It is to the point where I am surprised when any match happens without someone from the back walking out in the middle of it. WWE does it far too often. This match had plenty of good wrestling action between two good wrestlers. But, the annoying guest commentary from The Miz brought it down (they need to give him time off while he recovers). The drip stick distractions are stupid. Orton being so easily distracted hurts him. I’m fine with Morrison in MITB, but like Ricochet, he has been defined down as a goofy loser, so I can’t take him seriously as a possible winner. While I did like what WWE did with Orton and Riddle on the show, this distraction finish was not good.
Baszler & Jax vs. Cross & Bliss – MISS: I don’t even know what to say about Nikki Cross’ new super hero persona. I am certainly not a fan, but at least she isn’t pretending to be someone else. The bigger issue for me is that she and Alexa Bliss had a big feud as Bliss became part of The Fiend’s act and afterwards. There has been no reconciliation after Bliss dumped her former best friend. So why would Cross happily team with her here? That makes me lose any respect I had left for Cross (which wasn’t much). The hypnosis from Bliss has to go. Her being impervious to pain has to go. Any supernatural element to her has to go.
McIntyre vs. Riddle – HIT: This was a very good match which played perfectly into the wounds that Drew McIntyre received the night before at the hands of Lashley inside HIAC. He was great in selling the back pain throughout the match. They both performed well here in a nice long match which built well to an eventual leverage pin fall victory for Riddle. He needed that credibility booster, and it played into his storyline with Orton. I still think they could have gotten there better without the distraction finish earlier in the show, but I am intrigued to see where they go from here with Riddle and Orton, as well as McIntyre.
Last Chance Qualifying Match – MISS: WWE built this show around MITB qualifying matches which creates stakes for most of the matches on the show. So, it was disappointing when those stakes were weakened by the announcement that the three losers would have a 2nd chance to qualify against each other next week. Why do they get two chances, while wrestlers like Jeff Hardy, Cedric Alexander, Jinder Mahal, Sheamus and Mustafa Ali don’t even get one? Those guys all complained about the situation in two backstage scenes and they made good points. This night made Pearce and DeVille look bad in a number of ways.
Hell in a Cell – HIT: While I wasn’t a fan of having a HIAC match on Raw, it was a good match. It was a nice main event, but what will be remembered more will be what happened afterwards. This was a great way to end the show with Lashley continuing to punish Xavier Woods in the Hurt Lock against the side of the cage while Kingston pleaded with him to stop. It was a very strong way to build towards the WWE Title match between Kingston and Lashley at the MITB PPV. Fans should want to see Kingston get his hands on Lashley to get revenge for his friend and partner. I continue to want to see what WWE does with New Day going forward since MVP and Lashley got involved.
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.