SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Orton’s Celebration – MISS: I had mixed feelings about this opening Raw segment, but it ultimately gets a minor Miss. I did like the opening video package celebrating Randy Orton’s WWE career. I wasn’t a fan of having all the wrestlers gathered around the ring. It wasn’t as bad as when they’ve done similar things in the past before a McMahon comes out to talk down to the entire roster, but I don’t understand why a bunch of these heel wrestlers would agree to come out to honor Orton. It felt forced. I got a kick out of some of the bits. It was interesting how they had Cody Rhodes involved given his Legacy past with Orton. But, Ezekiel felt out of place with these main event wrestlers. I was hoping that Kevin Owens was moving on from him after the lame lie detecter bit last week, with Ezekiel feuding with Chad Gable instead. But, I was wrong, so I was disappointed to see Owens still complaining about Ezekiel / Elias. It did set up the big 8 man tag main event, which provided a solid hook for the rest of the show.
Belair vs. Deville – MISS: I was disappointed (but I shouldn’t have expected anything else) with the Sports Entertainment direction WWE took for this Women’s Title match instead of having a good wrestling match which Bianca Belair and Sonya Deville could have. It is one thing to accept that Deville could keep her job as an authority figure after naming herself Belair’s challenger. But, it is ridiculous that she won’t be fired for abusing her power during the match. We’ve seen authority figures restart matches like this many times in the past, but usually not when they are in the match. Deville looked weak by losing easily despite all the cheating and rules changes. How do we take her seriously as a wrestler moving forward? There isn’t a good challenger for Belair right now. I assume Deville continues, but after this match I don’t need to see a rematch. It was also odd how Zelina Vega and Carmella who just broke up were working together here. Having them both slapped by Deville later on hurts their credibility as they just took it. And, how does an authority figure keep her job after physically assaulting employees?
Arm Wrestling – MISS: This was just boring as all arm wrestling segments in WWE are. It gave Omos a chance to be physically dominant over Bobby Lashley in the end, but they could have done it in an entertaining way.
24/7 – MISS: I suppose I should be content with the fact that the 24/7 title has basically turned into this R-Truth, Dana Brooke, Reggie, Tozawa, Tamina universe without all the other geeks involved. It is just these 5 over and over again in an unending loop like purgatory. What’s frustrating is that for about 30 seconds in this mixed tag match, Tozawa showed off a reminder that his a very good wrestler who could be used in a meaningful way instead of this silly crap. I have to admit to getting a kick out of R-Truth being his own referee when he tried to pin Brooke.
Becky Lynch – HIT: After a bad first half of Raw, the second half got off to a good start with Becky Lynch making her first appearance since losing the Women’s Championship. She was good in showing how devastated she is without the Title, before firing up talking about her eventual comeback. Asuka interrupting her was a nice surprise. She has been greatly missed. A feud between these two has so much potential that a lot of this Hit is for the promise of great things to come.
Balor vs. Priest – MISS: This was another disappointing match. We’ve seen Damian Priest and Finn Balor in the past and they should have good matches. They certainly could have had a match at WrestleMania. Instead, we get this somewhat random match with Judgement Day wanting to pass judgement on Balor. The match was too short at 7 minutes, half of which took place on a commercial break. So, we didn’t get to see much of a match at all. Then the ending was very weak as Balor got distracted by Edge standing up from his throne 100 feet away from the ring. That made him look stupid.
Return of Mustafa Ali – HIT: MizTV was pretty good with The Miz interviewing (not The) Theory. They had nice chemistry playing off of each other in an obnoxiously heelish way. Mustafa Ali was also a nice surprise. I have always been a huge fan of Ali and I have hoped for a long time that WWE would actually get behind him. It was interesting how they had veiled references to the real life issue of him asking for his WWE release. I’m curious to see if that is part of his character/story moving forward. He was good on the mic. He and Miz had a good match afterwards. I was assuming this was setting up Ali to face Theory for the United States Championship, but then Ali was attacked by Tommaso Ciampa afterwards. I am fine with Ciampa as a heel going forward. A feud between him and Ali also has a huge amount of potential.
Ripley Interview – HIT: This was a short backstage segment, but I wanted to lift it up as a Hit, because short and to the point interviews are more effective than long rambling promos. Rhea Ripley had a succinct reason why she turned on Liv Morgan and talked about how she was done with carrying inferior tag team partners. It made sense, but in a heelish manner. It was also good to see Morgan attack her as she would want revenge for last week.
8 Man Tag – HIT: This was a fun match to cap off the 20th Anniversary of Orton’s debut episode of Raw. It wasn’t serious, and was predictable with Orton hitting an RKO on all four of his opponents to end the match. It did sort of advance RK-Bro vs. The Usos and Seth Rollins vs. Cody Rhodes. It featured solid to good wrestling action and had the feel good ending.
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.
Follow me on Twitter @JonMezzera (pretty clever handle right?). Just be aware that I don’t live tweet Raw, I don’t tweet much about wrestling, and I don’t tweet much at all.