SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: This wasn’t great, but Goldberg did better in a long promo than I expected him to. MVP was good as usual in his opening promo before Goldberg came out, although he shouldn’t call Goldberg “a GOAT.” Is this a new thing? A GOAT? You are either THE GOAT or not. There can’t be multiple GOATs. That aside, this was a pretty simple way to get to Bobby Lashley accepting Goldberg’s challenge for a WWE title match at Summerslam. The bit at the end with Goldberg’s son in the front row getting yelled at by MVP and then Goldberg spearing him was interesting. We’ll see if his son stays a part of the angle.
McIntyre vs. Veer & Shanky – MISS: I don’t mind Drew McIntyre having a sword which he uses as part of his entrance, but he shouldn’t be swinging it around and threatening to use it on someone. Is he really going to stab or slice Veer or Shanky with the sword? I’m not buying that. This continues to bring McIntyre down. I really hope they have something better in mind for him after Summerslam.
Jax vs. Ripley – HIT: This was a pretty good match with an odd ending. I enjoyed the match, but I didn’t get the finish. I think someone made a mistake. Shayna Baszler got off the apron long before Nia Jax charged at Rhea Ripley, so Baszler’s presence really had nothing to do with Jax losing. I am happy that they started the ball rolling on a split between Baszler and Jax. But, Jax didn’t seem to have a legit reason for being upset. The fans in attendance certainly were behind the idea of Baszler splitting with Jax.
Mace & T-Bar vs. Ali & Mansoor – MISS: It is ok for a new team like Mustafa Ali & Mansoor to have some early problems getting on the same page. That is exactly the story that WWE is telling with these two. So, I am more forgiving of a new team like that losing a match like this early in their run. The issue is that WWE has such a terrible history of 50/50 booking the last several years that this feels too familiar with them defeating Mace & T-Bar last week only to lose to them this week. Mace & T-Bar got nothing from winning since they just lost last week. This is a case where Ali & Mansoor could and should have lost to a different team. We are likely to see a third match between these teams next week which is silly.
Flair – Nikki – MISS: I had mixed feelings about this segment. I liked a lot of Charlotte Flair’s promo. She did a nice job, particularly in responding to the Becky chants. The problem is that the way she was pulling weapons out from under the ring killed any sense of flow to her promo. It became a little jumbled. She was trying to do too much. Then, having the babyface attack her from behind with a chair after losing clean last week felt weak. Nikki Cross didn’t seem like a babyface or a superhero at that point.
Doudrop vs. Tamina – MISS: Doudrop has talent and can be a new star which Raw desperately needs in the women’s division. Having her teaming with Eva Marie hurts from the start, but is made worse by how Doudrop seems upset about her treatment but she never does anything about it. The match itself wasn’t very good, although not that bad I suppose. Doudrop losing and not doing anything about Eva Marie costing her the match hurts her.
Miz TV – MISS: We saw enough of any interaction between Damian Priest and The Miz & Morrison before and after WrestleMania. I don’t need to see it again. WWE did not do enough for Priest to capitalize on his teaming with Bad Bunny. At least they are finally starting to move him onto something better with a feud against Sheamus over the United States Championship. So, it was disappointing to see him here as a guest on MizTV. This was not good and it went on too long. The fans rightfully grew restless. The writing was bad and the performances weren’t much better. The two matches that followed were pretty good and it makes some sense to have Ricochet coming to Priest’s aid considering his history against Sheamus.
Lilly Stands – MISS: I wrote last week that WWE could have something good with Alexa Bliss and Lilly if they took away all the supernatural elements to it which was how it was presented last week. That tone was how they were presented for most of this week, until the very end of the segment in the back after Doudrop attacked Bliss and Marie threw Lilly on the ground. Lilly stood up on her own. That crap takes me out of the situation and makes me realize that WWE isn’t going to do what they should do which would please the fans who like the Lilly bit allowing them to sell the dolls, while not angering fans like me who don’t want supernatural nonsense in professional wrestling.
Cross vs. Lee – MISS: The wrestling action was perfectly fine in this match with a cool ending with Kieth Lee hitting a pop up Spirit Bomb on Karrion Kross for the win. It is good to see Lee getting a win for a change. The problem is that it came at the expense of Kross, who is now 1-2 on Raw despite being the undefeated NXT Champion. It is more of the WWE 50/50 booking philosophy. It continues to define down the NXT Championship and hurt their ability to sell Kross vs. Samoa Joe at the next NXT Takeover. Kross didn’t need to get called up to Raw until after he lost his title.
Reggie vs. Tozawa – MISS: It is one thing for Reggie to use his acrobatic skill to avoid the 24/7 geeks and escape from them. But, for him to actually win wrestling matches in under 2 minutes with a rather simple move that should not be enough to finish off any opponent is terrible. I don’t care if that opponent is a jobber like Akira Tozawa. On Smackdown last week, he would have pinned Chad Gable if Otis hadn’t caused a disqualification.
Flair vs. Cross – MISS: Charlotte and Nikki performed well here. The problem stems from the booking. Yes, Nikki won the match, but she was dominated by Charlotte for the vast majority of it. She would have lost twice if Charlotte hadn’t pulled her shoulders off the mat. She also would have lost a third time if Charlotte hadn’t pinned her with just a boot on her chest. The message was clear in that Charlotte is far better than Nikki. Nikki only wins because of luck. She did hit a finishing move to win, but it was after a lucky break when Charlotte went head first into the table. Also, she hasn’t won a match in months with anything other than a roll up, so fans didn’t even recognize that as a finisher. The Women’s Champion should look stronger than Nikki did. I get that her character is on a journey to being something bigger and better than it is now, but you shouldn’t make her the champion during the journey as it makes the title look weak and makes her look like an undeserving champion in the meantime.
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.