SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: WWE did a nice job overall with the build to the triple threat Women’s Championship match at Hell in a Cell starting with this opening segment. Becky Lynch started it off nicely with her show opening promo. The interruptions from Asuka and Bianca Bel Air were also good. They built anticipation nicely for their PLE match as well as the opening match between Bel Air and Asuka.
Bel Air vs. Asuka – HIT: Speaking of that opening match, it was also good. Lynch was fun on guest commentary, and amazingly didn’t play into the result of the match. That was a nice break from the norm in WWE. They gave Bel Air and Asuka a good amount of time for their match and let them go out there and perform which they did well. I enjoyed this match quite a lot and was pleasantly surprised by the clean finish. The post-match attack from Lynch was well done and a good way to end this nice stretch with these three before their Title match on Sunday.
Ezekiel and The Mysterios vs. Owens and Alpha Academy – HIT: This was a fun six man tag. There was plenty of talent in the ring with some top workers like Rey Mysterio, Kevin Owens and Chad Gable. While I still feel like this whole Ezekiel storyline is beneath Owens after his WrestleMania main event against Steve Austin, he is doing a great job of making it work. He is very entertaining in his obsession over proving that Ezekiel is really Elias. I loved his KO Show with Sammy Zayn on Smackdown last week. I’m not sure what the end game of this feud and story is. I’m guessing that Ezekiel vs. Owens at HIAC won’t answer that question either.
Rhodes – Rollins – HIT: I loved this. This was one of my favorite WWE segments in a long time. Cody Rhodes gave a good promo about his return to WWE and his feud with Seth Rollins while pointing to their huge match inside the Cell at the PLE. Seth Rollins was also good in his interruption. The bit where Rollins pretended to come to the ring to accept Rhodes’ challenge to a fight was predictable. Often in these situations, the babyface shrugs off the heel’s fake out and we have to wait until Sunday to see them fight. I loved that Rhodes went into the crowd to attack Rollins. The brawl through the crowd was well done. As they got back to the ring side area and the referees and agents came out to try to break up the fight, it just got better and better. I appreciate the fact that WWE didn’t sacrifice the credibility of any wrestlers who often look like weaklings in these pull apart brawls. The physicality was very memorable. I loved how they were able to keep the fight going a few times when they had been separated without it being too cliche. I thoroughly enjoyed this start to finish.
Bliss vs. Doudrop – MISS: The match itself was ok, but I’m not really into any of these characters right now. I am thrilled that Alexa Bliss isn’t doing the stupid magic gimmick any more. I don’t mind her still bringing Lilly to the ring. But, she doesn’t have an actual character at the moment. I don’t want to complain as I fear WWE will go back to her being Miss Fiend again, but they need to give her something and make the doll relevant in a way if she’s still going to have it. Doudrop and Nikki ASH were supposed to get serious and I had hoped that each of them would be elevated. So far, there has been no change to either of their characters or names, and they keep losing each week. So if WWE does eventually make some type of change or try to give them a push, it will be too late as they have continued to be defined down.
MizTV – MISS: I don’t know what to say about this. It was like the writers got to the end of the script and realized that they only had one more segment to fill, but wanted to get The Miz on to plug his reality show, The Street Profits on to keep them in the minds of the audience, and they had totally forgotten about the 24/7 title. So, they shoved them all together here. I’d like to see the Street Profits given something important to do to eventually build them to a Tag Team Title match against the Usos. But, this was a waste of their time and talent. I don’t care about anything the Miz does. I don’t care about the 24/ 7 silliness. That added up to a big Miss.
Ali vs. Ciampa – MISS: This was well on its way to being a Hit with Mustafa Ali and Tomasso Ciampa putting in a good effort before Theory got involved to cause the DQ. But it ended up being a disappointment when it ended in a DQ after only 4 minutes of good wrestling action. I want to see more of Ali vs. Ciampa. Theory was ok on guest commentary. His evil plot to give Ali a United States Title match right away when Ali was hurt was a good story to tell. We will finally get a legit Ali vs. Theory match at the PLE, but Ali has been screwed in every step of this feud, so I have no faith that WWE won’t do something screwy with this match also.
Usos vs. Riddle & Nakamura – HIT: I had mixed feelings about this match. I’m not a fan in general of new teams getting this type of opportunity in their very first match as a team. But, an argument can be made that RK-Bro deserved a rematch against the Usos for the Unified Tag Team Championship, but with the injury to Randy Orton, Riddle deserved this opportunity with a new partner. The match was very good which isn’t surprising given the talent in the ring. But, it also had a cheesy DQ finish with Jey Uso hitting Riddle with his scooter. The aftermath with Riddle & Shinsuke Nakamura standing tall was fun. Hopefully the next time they wrestle, we get a clean ending.
Wait for Morgan vs. Ripley – MISS: It has gotten beyond ridiculous how WWE is having these super long pauses between wrestler A’s ring entrance and wrestler B’s. It was 19 minutes between Liv Morgan coming out and the start of her match against Rhea Ripley. There was a commercial, a replay video, a backstage vignette with Ali and Theory, a run down of the HIAC line up and a ticket plug, Ripley’s ring entrance, another commercial, and a Memorial Day video. It is nuts. I guess they think they’ll lose viewers if they do it some other way. Maybe it shows faith in Morgan’s drawing power that fans will sit and eagerly wait in anticipation of her match. But, it is so stupid.
Morgan vs. Ripley – HIT: The actual match was good and a nice way to continue the feud between Judgement Day and Morgan, AJ Styles & Finn Balor. The physicality at the end to give the babyface trio a chance to stand tall worked well. But, I’d be fibbing if I said that I was enthusiastic about the Judgement Day faction.
Contract Signing – MISS: I kept trying to think of what the Main Event of Raw would be, and it turned out to be a lame contract signing between Bobby Lashley and Omos & MVP. I didn’t want to see Omos vs. Lashley the first time. I certainly don’t have any interest in seeing it yet again. I like Lashley on his own as a babyface and MVP can do good things for Omos. But, they need to get the two sides away from each other. Lashley is being brought down by this and doesn’t look like a strong contender to dethrone Roman Reigns any time soon. Although, it appears that Reigns won’t be on for 3 months, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
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.