SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE Draft – MISS: This goes back to Smackdown too. It is hard to get excited about the WWE Draft when it seems like fans put more thought into it than WWE creative does. I am not a fan of this format. I wish WWE would do something more along the lines of an expansion draft, where both Raw and Smackdown have their own GM who can protect a certain number of wrestlers and the other gets to pick a certain number from the other show. Roman Reigns wasn’t drafted “to” Smackdown. He was already on Smackdown. Just highlight the names changing, not the names staying the same. This nebulous idea of certain people making these decisions doesn’t make for an intriguing process. I don’t want to go into all the head scratching moves, but there are too many picks that don’t make sense (from a Kayfabe standpoint). The result of the draft is that Smackdown has no credible opponent for Roman Reigns after Drew McIntyre. Plus, you have this silly idea that the draft doesn’t take effect until after Crown Jewel, yet several newly drafted Raw wrestlers appeared on this week’s show. How were they on, if the draft hasn’t actually taken effect?
Opening Segment – HIT: This is a marginal Hit. I get a kick out of Becky Lynch’s heel act even though I disagree with her being a heel in the first place. However, she was getting more of a babyface reaction from the crowd. She was entertaining here, particularly in playing Bianca Bel Air and Charlotte Flair against each other. Flair and Bel Air were fine, but they’ve both been better than they were here. It wasn’t a great segment, but had the big surprise appearance by The Man and set up the big main event of Bel Air vs. Flair.
Usos Draft Announcement – MISS: On Wrestling Night in America this week, I had the chance to co-host with Greg Parks and we spent quite a bit of time coming up with scenarios for what WWE could do with The Usos in terms of them staying on Smackdown or moving to Raw to create some intrigue. Assuming they would stay on Smackdown, I suggested having them not get drafted for a few rounds to build tension between them and Paul Heyman. It would have been short term, but at least a fun little story to follow on Raw. Greg gave a great argument for moving them to Raw. Having them stay on Smackdown is fine, but the fact that it just got announced with no hype or story in the first set of draft picks was anticlimactic.
Austin Theory – HIT: Jeff Hardy vs. Damian Priest probably should get a Miss. It was ok, but short for a United States Title match where half of it took place on the commercial break. I am slightly intrigued to see what Jeff Hardy has in mind in terms of a new ego as he moves to Smackdown. But, what made the post match interview a Hit was the re-debut of Austin Theory. I liked his gimmick of kissing up to Hardy and asking for a selfie, only to beat him up and pose for a selfie with his unconscious body on the mat. I am hoping for a good run for Theory now that he is back on the Raw roster after being prematurely called up due to the lack of depth during the early days of the pandemic era.
Big E, McIntyre, Ziggler & Roode – HIT: This is another marginal Hit. After a stretch of Raw that felt inconsequential, it was good to see a meaningful segment with Big E addressing Drew McIntyre. Big E was good here, but McIntyre was a bit silly. I didn’t like him playing to the goofy side of Big E’s character than the more serious recent presentation of it. This was solid way to build towards their WWE Title match at Blood Money. The Dirty Dogs interruption was a surprise. It was interesting to see Dolph Ziggler bring up his history with both E and McIntyre. That worked to set up the tag match. The match itself was good, but nothing special. It ultimately got to the point afterwards where E accepted McIntyre’s challenge, which worked well.
Inconsequential Segments – MISS: The more I think about it, there were far too many of these meaningless segments and matches on Raw. I usually ignore them as not being a Hit or a Miss, but it feels like WWE creative spent all their time thinking about the draft (but not enough) and not much time putting the rest of the show together. They thought the draft would carry Raw. Baszler vs. Brooke was a decent squash, but Doudrop coming out for the save is meaningless considering she and Shayna Baszler were drafted to different shows. We got another short and meaningless match with Mansoor & Ali vs. Carrillo & Garza. We got the 24/7 silliness. We got Kevin Owens stunning Akira Tozawa for no reason. Even the Women’s Tag Team Title match didn’t feel important as nobody was buying into a Title change and WWE didn’t think it was important enough to give it more than 5 minutes of time.
Goldberg Still Planning on Killing Lashley – MISS: After the backlash last week to Bill Goldberg casually saying that he was hoping that he killed Bobby Lashley, I was surprised that WWE double downed on it this week. He just kept talking about killing Lashley and leaving his lifeless body in the ring. It isn’t needed at all. They also managed to make Alexander & Benjamin look totally ineffective now that they are back to being Lashley’s back up.
Benjamin & Alexander vs. Kingston & Woods – MISS: I could have included this in the inconsequential segments Miss, but I wanted to highlight it for the same reason that I mentioned what happened between The Hurt Business and Goldberg. WWE added them back to Lashley’s act last week, and here they were ineffective in trying to hurt Goldberg and then afterwards, they lost to The New Day in about 2 minutes. I see why MVP and Lashley fired them in the first place. Why did Lashley want them back when they are such losers? Just give them a credibility boosting win here. New Day can absorb it, especially moving to Smackdown.
Orton vs. Omos – MISS: WWE spent a lot amount of time hyping the possibility of a singles match between Randy Orton and Omos. Orton made the challenge early in the show. The announcers brought it up multiple times as they anticipated whether or not Omos would accept the challenge. When they finally got to the encounter, there was very little to it. They did more talking than fighting. The match didn’t actually happen. It turned out that it was all just a plot by RKBro to give AJ Styles an RKO.
Flair vs. Belair – HIT: An argument can certainly be made that the first match between Flair and Belair should have been saved for a bigger show down the line. The argument can be made that it was far too predictable that Becky Lynch would get involved to cause a non finish to the match. WWE does this far too often. Don’t book matches if you can’t give the match a finish. That being said, I enjoyed the match itself enough to give it a Hit. Lynch was a lot of fun on guest commentary. The attack by Sasha Banks on both Lynch and Belair afterwards to stand tall over her two opponents at the PPV was a strong finish as well.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at email@example.com.