SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Big E Opens the Show – HIT: After winning the WWE Championship after a successful MITB cash in last week, it made perfect sense to start off Raw with Big E. It was nice to see him with the rest of New Day. I’m glad that WWE had them remain friends and occasionally refer to each other and interact on PPVs since they were broken up in the draft (which still doesn’t make any sense). They can be friends and work together without going back to their constant teaming and doing a lot of six-man tag matches. Big E was very good here, showing a much more serious persona than we are used to seeing from him. He still had fun, but wasn’t as silly or goofy as he’s been on Smackdown with the MITB briefcase. It set the stage for the opening match against The Blood Line.
New Day vs. Blood Line – HIT: Speaking of that opening match, the six man tag was good. There was a ton of talent in the ring and it showed. I didn’t understand why the attack by Bobby Lashley on the wrestlers on the outside of the ring right in front of the referee didn’t cause a no contest or double disqualification. That was my only complaint in an otherwise good match. It was nice to see Lashley getting that dominating performance and taking out everyone in the match, either during or right after when he speared Roman Reigns after Reigns had got the win for his team. This set up the triple threat tag match and also teased two potential Survivor Series matches for Reigns as you could see WWE going with Reigns vs. E or Reigns vs. Lashley if Lashley gets the Title back.
RKBro – HIT: This was just a short skit in the back with Matt Riddle and Rainy Orton, but it made me laugh and I continue to enjoy the interplay between these unlikely teammates.
Styles vs. Orton – HIT: We’ve seen a lot of matches involving A.J. Styles and Randy Orton. The announcers even pointed out how they once faced off at WrestleMania. We’ve seen multiple matches between them in singles and tag situations lately. I’m not complaining as the matches are always good. This one was certainly strong and filled a good 15 minutes of TV time. With MVP’s injury, WWE is possibly going back to Styles & Omos as the next challengers to RKBro’s tag titles, but I’d like to see some new team getting elevated.
Shayna Baszler – HIT: I have no sympathy for Nia Jax and ideally, fans would connect and want to cheer for her in her situation. I don’t think that’ll happen here. But, at least this was the closest that Shayna Baszler has been on Raw to her great character and presentation in NXT. This “Hit” is in part the hope that she finally gets on track moving forward.
Ripley & Cross vs. Natalya & Tamina – MISS: I hated everything about this match. As I feared, Tegan Nox & Shotzi Blackheart have been forgotten about on Smackdown after winning several non-title matches against the Women’s Tag Team Champs on Smackdown. I’m a fan of both of them and want to see them featured more than this silly team of Rhea Ripley & Nikki Cross. The A.S.H. character is so bad that it is ruining Ripley for me via association. Plus, it is a copycat gimmick of RKBro. They also should’t have Title matches that last under 3 minutes. One of the problems with Nikki in her current role is that she never feels like she deserves the wins that she gets. They are all flukes, and that happened again here as she was dominated the entire match until Natalya stupidly let herself get distracted for like 30 seconds when she stopped trying to apply the Sharpshooter. I know she’s a heel, but I’d rather not see such stupidity in any wrestler. We were supposed to take the Riptide on the outside seriously as a dangerous spot, but Ripley dropped Tamina about 6 inches onto the ring apron, so it didn’t look impressive or painful at all. And while I wasn’t happy to see a title change here, if you are going to do it, let it sink in and give the new champs a chance to celebrate. They barely had their hands raised when WWE cut to a video package on Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair.
Alexa’s Playground – HIT: As I’ve said before, I enjoy Bliss’ character so much more when she isn’t doing magic, voodoo, or hocus-pocus BS. This was a much more straightforward presentation of her character. Flair was good in not buying into the head games. She should be above all of that crap (I’m hoping that they aren’t just putting the magic on hold for this feud). There were a few times when she fell back into her more robotic tone, but overall her mic work was strong. The doll worked well here. Bliss was good too. I’m not sure about the shoot elements of the interchange. Flair had a great comeback to Bliss about originality, but the heel shouldn’t be winning the verbal exchange and reminding the audience about Bray Wyatt is not a good idea. I felt the same during Dynamite last week when Britt Baker pointed out that Ruby Soho was fired by WWE which got a good reaction from the crowd, but why remind people about that? So, I had a few issues with this, put the presentation of these two characters was strong here and I’ll take this version of Bliss every week over the other version.
Dancing with the Stars – HIT: Please, everyone vote for The Miz to keep him off of Raw for as long as possible!
Hardy Added to Extreme Rules – MISS: Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus was fine. Damian Priest did a nice job on commentary. But, I’m not a fan of adding Hardy to the United States Championship match at Extreme Rules. The issue between Priest and Sheamus doesn’t need a third wheel. Hardy recently had a US Title opportunity which he lost. So, it is hard for me to get excited about him being to the match. Also, I fear he’s just being added to take the fall.
Lashley vs. Reigns vs. Big E – HIT: The triple threat match main event that was set up at the start of the show did not disappoint. It felt like a big deal and the wresters stepped up and put on a very good match. The dynamic between the three was interesting. It was hard to imagine who would get the win and the loss. Lashley taking the pin makes the most sense and Reigns getting the win does too. But, you could see WWE going a different direction considering they often don’t protect their Champions. I give WWE credit for having an actual ending which wasn’t a given considering their recent history, and for making the right move with that ending. Again, will we see Reigns vs. Lashley or Reigns vs. Big E down the line? It will be interesting to see what they do with the draft and the titles before the eventual Champion vs. Champion silliness of Survivor Series.
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.