SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: This opening segment is a good metaphor for Raw as a whole. It had some good points to it, some bad points to it, but was ultimately too long and a little boring. This opening segment with Nikki Cross, Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley felt like it lasted forever. There was definitely some good mic work here, particularly from Flair and Ripley. But, Flair was asked to talk far too long. She was mostly good, but she also slipped into her old monotone voice at times. It also felt overly scripted. The crowd reacted the way you want to see and that’s good for Ripley who doesn’t always come across like a babyface, but now that WWE has settled on that role for her, it was good to hear her get a strong reaction. This also set up the main event, but I can’t really get excited about anything Nikki Cross is involved in right now.
Championship Contender Matches – MISS: If WWE wants to copy AEW by coming up with a new name for non-title matches, I wish they’d come up with something better, because Championship Contender match makes it sound like the challenger will become the contender with a win, but that isn’t the case. This is better than AEW’s really lame “eliminator” match or whatever they call them. That’s worse, but WWE should do better. Or just call them non-title matches. Or stop doing non-title matches all together which I’ve advocated through Hits & Misses for probably over 10 years.
Sheamus vs. Priest – HIT: This was a good match as I expected it would be. WWE was clearly setting up Damian Priest to be the next challenger for Sheamus’ United States Title. It made sense to give Priest the victory, but they protected Sheamus in the way his face mask came off during the match. He sold concern over losing the mask well. The problem is the same thing that happens far too often in WWE. Instead of building up a challenger for a title with a series of wins, they have them defeat the champion in non-title matches. That hurts the champion. Sheamus has looked like a strong badass. I don’t mind them painting him more like a heel hiding behind his mask, but that doesn’t mean he should lose. I liked this match and look forward to their eventual US title match at SummerSlam presumably, but they could get there by building up Priest with a series of wins while Sheamus ducks him until he ultimately earns that title shot.
McIntyre – Mahal – MISS: This is better than story time with Drew as a presentation for Drew McIntyre. I always give a miss to any storyline that involves a lawyer. McIntyre can’t always be in the main event, but when he isn’t, he needs to be involved in something bigger than a feud with Jinder Mahal. It continues to bring McIntyre down. It makes McIntyre look like too much of a jerk. The lawyer hadn’t really done anything to deserve getting beat up either.
Lilly-Lution – HIT: I hate having Alexa Bliss having supernatural powers. But, Al Snow talked to a mannequin head and there was nothing supernatural about it. Alexa Bliss can be a creepy character who talks to a doll without any supernatural element to it. She plays the role well. She can continue to do a good job with it without hypnosis or telekinesis or any other super powers. I got a genuine kick out of the Lilly-Lution video parody of Eva-Lution. The match that it interrupted wasn’t particularly good and unfortunately Natalya was injured in it. Hopefully, she will be ok. WWE needs to do a better job of picking a lane for her & Tamina and sticking with it. I also look forward to seeing Doudrop getting away from Eva Marie.
Kross vs. Lee – MISS: Karrion Kross had to get a win this week after the inexplicable and inexcusable loss to Jeff Hardy on his Raw debut last week. Keith Lee also needed a win. This is a case where this match should not have happened. Kross winning was the right way to go once this match was made, but why make it in the first place? Also, Kross and Lee don’t compliment each other in the ring, so the match wasn’t very good.
Ali & Mansoor – HIT: The match of Mustafa Ali & Mansoor vs. Mace & T-Bar was ok, but this Hit is for the pairing of Ali & Mansoor. I am enjoying their chemistry and their dynamic as a team with Mansoor being the naive but talented rookie teaming with Ali who doesn’t really want to team with him, is exasperated by his rookie mistakes, but also impressed with his ability.
Lashley vs. Alexander & Benjamin – MISS: The mic work from Bobby Lashley and MVP was strong to start this segment, but the interruptions from Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin made the segment go downhill. Lashley came across like a strong badass which is good, but this presentation makes me want to cheer him which I don’t think is the goal of WWE. Alexander was annoying and Benjamin wasn’t much better. They haven’t been treated like a big deal at all since being kicked out of the Hurt Business. So, Lashley didn’t gain much from this win. Plus, Alexander could mean something if he wasn’t presented this way.
Riddle vs. Morrison – HIT: This was a good match between Matt Riddle and John Morrison. These are two good workers who have nice chemistry in the ring together. I liked how Riddle kicked The Miz over at ringside. I enjoyed this match until the end with the distraction finish as Styles and Omos came out and Omos snapped Riddle’s scooter in half. The attack afterwards does seem to be setting up a return for Randy Orton.
Flair vs. Cross – MISS: The match was fine, but WWE should not treat a champion like this. If you don’t want Nikki Cross to be taken as a serious champion, then don’t make her the champion in the first place. She was dominated by Flair and then she lost in a flukey way, which is her trademark. She wins all of her matches including Money in the Bank in weak ways. She won the women’s title in a weak way. She brags about winning matches where all she had to do to win was not get beat in two minutes. She then loses and brags about how she almost won. Is that supposed to be an uplifting message? You can take her on a longer journey of learning to believe in herself while ultimately having her win with a finishing move instead of a surprise rollup. You can make her an actual title contender. Then you can give her a big win after a long build up to finally become WWE Champion. WWE skipped most of those steps to make her a totally undeserving champion which doesn’t do her any favors. I don’t look forward to seeing the rematch next week. And I’m also tired of Ripley vs. Flair (despite the great match they had at the PPV), so I’m not looking forward to their triple threat match at SummerSlam either.
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.