SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Riddle as Orton – HIT: I got a kick throughout the night of Matt Riddle trying to help his “friend” Randy Orton by taking his place on the show. It will be interesting to see going forward why Orton was a no show on this week’s Raw. I enjoyed Riddle making his initial pitch with his fake note from Orton to Adam Pearce and Sonya DeVille to enter himself into the battle royal to get Orton back his spot in the triple threat match. His performance was good throughout the show as he tried to emulate Orton and use his music and what not. He was the glue that held the show together and it worked well.
Battle Royal – HIT: The battle royal showed the lack of depth on the Raw roster. Most of these guys didn’t belong anywhere near the opportunity to get into Money in the Bank. It was good to see some of the more deserving wrestlers who were shut out last week getting a chance this week. It was also good to see Damian Priest back on TV after being gone for several weeks. He was in a strong place as one of the final two in the battle royal before ultimately losing to Riddle Orton. He also got a nice scene with Riddle later in the show which may point to him getting more involved in the Riddle – Orton storyline going forward, which is intriguing.
Almost A Superhero – MISS: This gimmick for Nikki Cross is lame. It doesn’t make me want to cheer for her at all. She comes across more delusional than anything. Her match against Shayna Baszler wasn’t good. I’m sick of wrestlers’ entrance music interrupting a match about a minute or two into it. It is a tired trope which WWE has gone too far with, too often. I’m clearly not a fan of Alexa Bliss’ current character. She led to another distraction finish with a roll up victory for Cross over Baszler. The damage done to Baszler is crazy.
Kingston – MVP – HIT: It was great to see Kofi Kingston finally showing a serious side after what Bobby Lashley and MVP did to Xavier Woods last week. He cut a great promo to start things off. MVP was also very good in his interruption. It was a strong back and forth with both guys coming off well to help sell the Kingston vs. Lashley WWE Title match at MITB. Fans need to take Kofi seriously going into that match, so this was a good step in that direction.
Doudrop & Marie vs. Asuka & Naomi – MISS: Doudrop as a new wrestler on Raw needs to be winning matches like this to help establish herself with the fans. The problem is that she easily defeated Asuka who should be protected. Asuka and Naomi are in the MITB match, so they should not lose in the weeks heading into the PPV, especially to someone not in the match. This is a case where Doudrop and Eva Marie should have been in a match against two lower card wrestlers to do the job. Also, it is hard to respect Doudrop when she is still working with Eva Marie after what happened last week. The same will be true when she’s still with her next week.
Ricochet vs. Morrison – HIT: This is a minor hit for the good wrestling action and the very impressive final spot when Ricochet leaped from the top rope onto John Morrison on the ringside barrier. That looked awesome even if it wasn’t believable in the way Morrison waited so long for Ricochet to jump on him. This is a case where a double count out worked well after that move and I’m ok with protecting these guys from taking a loss going into MITB. The drip stick stuff and Miz’s antics at ringside and guest commentary brought the match down.
Flair & Natalya & Tamina vs. Ripley & Brooke & Rose – MISS: The problem with this match is that nobody is likable. WWE had been positioning Natalya & Tamina as babyface Tag Team Champions. They were clearly heels happily teaming with Charlotte Flair here. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke have acted more like brats than anything lately, but they were positioned as the babyfaces teaming with Rhea Ripley. But, she doesn’t exactly come across as a babyface most of the time either, especially when she attacks her opponent from behind after the match which makes her look like a sore loser.
Strap Match – MISS: I get the idea that Elias runs away from Jackson Ryker so here he has no way to run away since they are strapped together. In that way, the stipulation for this match made sense. The problem is that it is hard to care about Ryker as a face. It is hard to take Elias seriously after he kept running away. So, because I’m not connected to Ryker in any way, I wasn’t going to get excited about seeing him get his revenge on Elias. In the end, they made a big deal about this match which they have been building to for several weeks, only to give it just 3 minutes.
McIntyre vs. Riddle vs. Styles – HIT: I was disappointed that Drew McIntyre won this second chance triple threat to get into MITB. Riddle winning to cap off his attempt to get Orton into the match made more sense to me, but I guess WWE has other plans to presumably build towards Orton vs. Riddle. AJ Styles was not going to win given that they are building towards he & Omos defending the Tag Titles against the Viking Raiders. Regardless of the winner, the match was very good. It isn’t surprising given the talent in the ring. It was a long match at 27 minutes, but it never felt overly long. It was fun to watch from start to finish. The bit where Riddle injured his foot and had to be taken out only to return worked well, but he was still not able to quite get the win. I do hope that McIntyre doesn’t win MITB, but we will find out in a few weeks.
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.