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WWE RAW HITS & MISSES
Fatal Five-Way – HIT: The opening segment of Raw was ok. The parade of challengers coming out to talk to the Champion is played out, but at least in this case, the #1 contenders match had already been made and they were coming out to talk about that match. So often in these situations, the Champion would talk about needing a challenger leading to the parade of potential challengers coming out leading to Teddy Long coming out to make a multi-person match. So while this wasn’t great, it at least broke from the formula. Moving on to the actual match which was a clear Hit, Carmella was an interesting choice for the victory. It makes sense given that they didn’t want to change the plans for the Women’s Money in the Bank, so they wouldn’t put someone like Liv Morgan in the Title match against Bianca Bel Air. Carmella can have a solid match, giving Bel Air a strong win before moving on to whatever is next depending on the severity of Rhea Ripley’s injury. I also liked that Carmella won with a strong surprise kick to Morgan’s head. She didn’t “steal” the victory like heels so often do in these types of matches.
Vince McMahon – MISS: This appearance made much more sense than his random appearance on Smackdown last week. At least he sort of had an actual reason for being there, to hype the return of John Cena next week. But, given the current scandal and what’s happening behind the scenes with the corporate side of WWE, and McMahon’s alleged behavior, he should not be on tv at all right now.
Riddle vs. Omos – MISS: No. You can’t have Matt Riddle losing to Omos under any circumstances. This is a guy who WWE could build Raw around as the top babyface. He has been doing great work for a long time, first as part of RKBro and now as a singles star with Randy Orton out with a serious injury. Riddle has been so strong showing a more serious side of himself, without losing the lovable side that is such a big part of his personality. I wouldn’t have bet on that happening. He has a strong connection with the fans. He is great in the ring. He just had a very good main event World Title match against Roman Reigns on Smackdown. I don’t care what journey they have planned for him. He can’t lose to Omos. Period.
Uso vs. Dawkins – MISS: The wrestling action between Jey Uso and Angelo Dawkins was perfectly fine. But, this fell far short of last week’s match between Jimmy Uso and Montez Ford. WWE gave them twice the amount of time that they gave Jey and Angelo this week. Half of this week’s match came on a commercial break. And knowing WWE’s way of booking, the match outcome was never in doubt unlike last week where I assumed incorrectly that Ford would get the win. This is a case where WWE’s way of booking gets in the way of the wrestlers’ ability to have a good match.
Elias and Ezekiel – HIT: I hate to admit that I did get a kick out of what WWE did with Elias, Ezekiel and Kevin Owens this week. Like I said last week, I usually do enjoy Owens’ role in this angle, but I was so tired of it despite the job he does. At least they did something new with it this week with Elias’ return. WWE did a nice job from a technical standpoint with Elias and Ezekiel together, with good make up for Elias’ beard. This could have easily been cheesy from both a scripting and production stand point, but it wasn’t. It was enjoyable, backed once again by a very strong performance by Owens. But, I still wish he was involved in something meaningful. I also don’t have any clue what the end game in all of this is going to be, which is fine, but I don’t really care which is not fine.
Lashley Runs the Gauntlet – HIT: WWE did a pretty good job presenting this gauntlet challenge for Bobby Lashley to earn a United States Championship match against Theory at MITB. Lashley vs. Chad Gable was a little longer than it probably needed to be. I would have likely just had Lashley plow through Gable, but it was good. Lashley vs. Otis was also good. Lashley had to come through despite the ankle injury from Gable and the strong challenge from Otis. I’m not sure I would have had the disqualification ending. Lashley should have pinned Otis, but that’s a minor complaint. Theory being the final opponent was predictable, but it made sense. Giving Lashley a surprise quick leverage pin fall victory worked well. It seemed somewhat flukey to protect Theory. I have a feeling that Lashley will not win the Title at the PLE, as they want to run with Theory which I understand. But, Lashley needs a strong push coming out of the Omos feud. I’m also not sure what role John Cena is going to play with Theory going forward.
Use of Ciampa – MISS: WWE continues to use Ciampa as this weird protector of The Miz, but he continues to lose the matches after he attacks MizTV guests. The actual MizTV segment was fine. It wasn’t good enough to get a Hit, but the performances from Miz and AJ Styles were good enough to keep it from being a Miss. It just didn’t feel like it was advancing anything important for Styles, and setting up Styles vs. Miz isn’t something I’m particularly interested in. It feels like they were setting up a Styles vs. Seth Rollins feud, but this week decided to shift Rollins to a feud against Riddle, so they needed to call an audible for Styles. I would be much more interested in a long feud between Styles and Ciampa. They had a good match, but Ciampa continues to look like a loser who can only be effective in jumping someone from behind. How am I supposed to care about him the next time he jumps one of Miz’s guests? It feels like he will just lose to that guest after the commercial break.
Lynch vs. Asuka – HIT: The main event of WWE Raw this week delivered which isn’t surprising given the talent of Becky Lynch and Asuka. They have a nice chemistry in the ring together. The match was well put together and they executed it well. It was also nice to see Asuka get a strong win after hitting that vicious looking round house kick to the head. In my mind, I thought “that should really end the match, but it won’t.” I fully expected Becky to kick out, so it was nice that she didn’t. The downward spiral continues. Where will it go next?
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.