SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: This was like an odd twist on WWE’s standard parade of challengers segments, only this time they already have established the next challenger for Becky Lynch’s Women’s Championship. It still had the same issues that those segments have, feeling very contrived and scripted. “Doo Doo” seems beneath Lynch as a nickname for Doudrop. The fans still want to cheer for her, so WWE continues to fight an uphill battle with her as a heel. Nobody stood out here. And it all led into an already booked match with Doudrop teaming up with Becky which made no sense. Why would the Champion and her top challenger be booked to team together? The match that followed was too short to amount to anything, although Doudrop had a solid showing.
KO Show – HIT: I continue to get a kick out of Kevin Owens’ friendship with Seth Rollins. With Rollins facing Roman Reigns at The Royal Rumble for the Universal Title, it allows Owens to focus on the Rumble itself without them being potential foes in the match. This is working to set up the (admittedly unlikely) idea that Rollins can become the Champion, Owens can win the Rumble, and then they can face at WrestleMania.
Priest vs. Owens – MISS: This match featured good wrestling action which isn’t surprising considering the talent of Owens and Damian Priest. I would like to see a feud between them. The problem is the booking of the ending. Priest has largely been protected, but here he lost clean to Owens. Owens has been treated fairly well, but it was still disappointing to see Priest lose. The other issue is that he lost after he fell for Owens’ lame fake injury bit. That is meant to protect Priest, but all it really does is make him look stupid. This will likely bring out the Damian in Priest to get revenge on Owens, but there has to be a better way to get to that point. I still contend (for over a decade now!) that WWE should get rid of all non-title matches. They have to find other ways to build up a title challenger without having the Champion lose before the title match.
Alpha Academy Graduation – MISS: I like Chad Gable’s line about booing education being gross. I love his pronunciation of “shoosh” when shushing the crowd. There was some good humor here, but the whole thing was far too Sports Entertainment for my tastes. Matt Riddle can be entertaining, but he wasn’t here. I enjoy RK-Bro more when Randy Orton is annoyed by Riddle, so seeing him go along with the game by dressing up like a graduate in the end didn’t work for me. I am not looking forward to the Academic Challenge next week.
Balor vs. Theory – HIT: This was too short at 6 minutes, especially when over half of that was spent on a commercial break. This could have been a much better match if it went twice as long which also would have been a better use of time than a lot of the poor filler that was seen throughout the show. I am still giving it a minor Hit for the quality of the wrestling and the fact that Theory needed a good win here. I mean, I’d hate to see him get bludgeoned by Vince McMahon.
Maryse – Phoenix – MISS: This continues to drag. Every time any combination of Maryse, The Miz, Edge and Beth Phoenix are on, it feels like a rerun. The performances were fine, but as I wrote last week, we’ve already seen Maryse pretend to be mad at Miz to try and trick Edge. Here she did it again to trick Beth. Rinse and repeat. Edge was able to easily fend off Miz (who isn’t treated like anything close to a physical threat), so why was Beth so concerned? She was looking at Edge beating up Miz which allowed Maryse to hit her from behind with her brick loaded purse. It once again made the babyface look like an idiot.
8 Man Tag – HIT: This was a fun, action packed match with The Street Profits & The Mysterios taking on The Dirty Dawgs & Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez. Montez Ford’s frog splash is consistently one of the most impressive things in all of wrestling each week. The bit at the end with The Mysterios dumping The Street Profits out of the ring to remind them that its every man for himself at the Rumble worked well, as did Rey Mysterio doing the same to Dominic afterwards.
Lashley vs. Lesnar Video – HIT: This was the best part of Raw. This was such a great video to highlight how important both Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley are. It built them up as top stars and great fighters while also making their WWE Title match at the PLE feel like a huge deal. WWE is so good at this type of thing.
Lashley vs. Rollins – MISS: From my Raw Hits & Misses last week “I continue to be sick and tired of writing something like “it was a good match with a bad ending.”” WWE does a disservice to their wrestlers when Bobby Lashley and Seth Rollins go out there and have a very good performance, putting on a match that is certainly Hit-worthy in terms of the action, but a Miss due to the booking. I didn’t care about this match. I didn’t get invested in it as I was just waiting to see who would come out to interfere first, The Usos or the Hurt Business. This didn’t make me want to see either Lashley vs. Lesnar or Rollins vs. Reigns more than I did before. In the end, it was a waste of time which is a shame considering it involved the two top challengers for the two top titles in WWE.
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.