SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Big E vs. Kevin Owens – HIT: Raw got off to a very good start this week. There was a quick video recap of the Big E, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins followed by the short promos from them to set the stage for the steel cage match between E and Owens. The match itself was a good, but not great 20 minute match. Rollins’ presence added to the match, but I’m not a fan of a babyface winning a cage match by escaping through the door.
Lashley Attacks Everyone – MISS: I am a fan of Bobby Lashley, and if this is to plant the seeds for him being the top challenger to whichever of the three wrestlers comes out of Day One as the WWE Champion, then I’ll be ok with it. WWE has been doing a nice job of telling a story with E, Owens and Rollins. Interjecting Lashley into the situation and turning it into a fatal four way is a mistake. I hope it sets up Lashley as the challenger at The Royal Rumble. But, I’m worried we will get that title match change next week. The other issue is that the attack happened on the commercial break which made it feel less important. If the attack has to happen, it should have been before the commercial. I liked the follow up interview later on with Lashley and MVP.
RK-Bro – MISS: I have no problem with RK-Bro coming up with a tournament to determine their next challengers for the Raw Tag Team Championship. I don’t even mind the silly name. The problem is that the humor fell flat this week. It is always hit or miss, but I tend to enjoy their act. But, this week it just wasn’t funny. I think it is better when Orton is not going along with the more goofy aspects of what Matt Riddle is doing.
Styles & Omos vs. Street Profits – HIT: WWE has far too many good matches with bad endings. This ending could be seen a mile away as WWE wants to protect Omos, continue to set up an eventual split between him and AJ Styles, while also giving The Street Profits a win to advance in the tournament. That all led to the count out victory as Omos lost focus on the match. I am still giving the match a Hit for the good wrestling action before the lame finish.
Becky Lynch Promo – HIT: Becky Lynch was great as usual on the mic in talking about her main event Women’s Title defense against Liv Morgan. Liv has done some good work in this feud too, but Becky really carried her in the build.
Priest vs. Roode – HIT: I like the US Title Open Challenge from Damian Priest. It allows him to get some strong wins over established wrestlers who aren’t hurt by the loss. Priest doesn’t gain that much by defeating Robert Roode, but the concept of the Open Challenge does help him and the sum of the parts adds up to a fun run as the United States Champion. Plus, it was a good match.
Bel Air vs. Doudrop – MISS: WWE has been building to this match since before Survivor Series. But, they didn’t do anything to make the match feel special during this Raw. They did give them a long time for their match, but they booked another copout finish. So while I was forgiving of the count out in the tag match earlier, I am not as forgiving for them going to another count out ending on the same show. Plus, this one is a payoff to a mini-feud, so it feels like it needed an actual ending more. Obviously, they aren’t done with the feud between Doudrop and Bianca Bel Air. This ending with Doudrop walking out to get purposefully counted out will lead to a rematch, perhaps at the PPV. But, WWE keeps sending the message that there is no reason to invest in a match no matter now good the wrestling action is, because the ending will make the match meaningless.
Miz TV – HIT: This was a good way to follow up on the strong confrontation between The Miz and Edge last week. It wasn’t as good as that first encounter, but it was still good with both of them going further back into their history to when The Miz first came into WWE after making a name for himself on The Real World. Miz flinching at the end and falling down was a little too comical for the tone of the rest of the segment. So, I wasn’t a big fan of the ending. But, the rest of the segment was good to build anticipation for a match, presumably at the PPV.
Theory Attacks Balor – HIT: The backstage scenes between Vince McMahon and Austin theory weren’t good this week, but I am still intrigued by what they are going to do with Theory as McMahon is trying to mentor him. Finn Balor vs. T-Bar was a good, but very short match. That worked ok to give Balor a much needed win. I liked Theory attacking Balor after the match to try to make a statement and impress McMahon. A feud between those two has a lot of potential as Balor can really help to elevate the talented Theory to a very good match.
Liv Morgan Video – MISS: This was a perfectly good video package and under other circumstances, it should be a Hit. It was well produced and told a great story about Liv Morgan. We really got to learn something about her in terms of her life before becoming a wrestler. It painted in her in a way that should get a lot of fans to invest in her, hoping to see her beat Lynch to become the Women’s Champion. The reason that this good video is getting a Miss is for the timing of it. How is it that we are just seeing this video right before the match? This is the type of video that you play a week in advance as part of the hype. They’ve known this match is coming. They announced it a week in advance. They don’t have any excuse to not play it to make fans want to tune in this week for that main event. They didn’t even play it early in the night as a hook. They played it right before the match.
Lynch vs. Morgan – HIT: That match at least was a good main event. This was probably Morgan’s best match. She performed well. They were telling the story that the spotlight might be too big for her at this point in her career. That was certainly the case that Becky was making in the build up for the match. She played that up in the match, questioning herself at times and taking too long to execute big moves which allowed Becky to take advantage. It was highly doubtful that she would win, but the fans in the building were behind her. Becky cheating to win leaves the door open for another rematch.
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.