SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
OC – Judgement Day – MISS: This was the worst Raw in the Triple H era. It did not get off to a good start. I was not a fan of what they did with The OC and The Judgement Day this week. I keep hoping that Mexican wrestlers will stop going for cheap reactions by referencing Eddie Guerrero, but Dominik Mysterio doubled down on it this week. The talk between Finn Balor and Karl Anderson wasn’t good. As I discussed last week, the vailed references to the Bullet Club aren’t good enough. None of this made me want to see Anderson vs. Balor. That match was perfectly fine, but it was the first in a long line of matches on this week’s show which involved interference. I was not enjoying the match as I was waiting for the other wrestlers at ringside to get involved. It ended with Rhea Ripley giving Anderson a low blow. Afterwards, we got two brief scenes in the back that were dominated by attempts at humor by The OC in talking about what Ripley did to both Anderson and Luke Gallows. The tone was off going for humor after the low blows. If they aren’t talking things seriously, why should the fans?
Johnny Gargano – MISS: I am a big fan of Johnny Gargano, and he can do humor well. But, this week he was just acting like a goof, not taking anything seriously. I was intrigued last week by his getting involved in the Miz vs. Dexter Lumis story. This week, things were treading water, without any type of story advancement. They ultimately announced that Gargano would tell the truth about what is happening between Miz and Lumis next week, so that’s a decent hook, but getting to that point was uninspired. Gargano was a total goof in dealing with JBL and Baron Corbin in the back and then during his match against Corbin. Like the opening match, this was fine, but it had the specter hanging over it of JBL’s inevitable interference. JBL continues to be a bad edition to Raw as does Corbin. After the match, Gargano wasn’t upset about losing, or JBL cheating but was right back to only caring about Miz and Lumis. And they ended the whole thing with another joke about how Miz’s sympathy card for Candace LeRae was not signed. Gargano didn’t come across well this week.
R-Truth – MISS: I already gave Gargano a Miss and talked about how frivolous his night on Raw came across, but I have to specifically bring up R-Truth’s involvement. Truth can certainly be entertaining, but it didn’t work here at all. He brought Gargano down. His match against Miz wasn’t anything special, and ended with Gargano distracting Miz by pretending to be Lumis, another example of outside interference.
Elias – MISS: WWE had something with the new version of Matt Riddle, both with Randy Orton and after Orton’s injury. But now they have nothing. It has taken just two weeks of having him interact with Elias to ruin his character. I don’t have any interest in seeing Riddle right now. I don’t have interest in Elias. I don’t want to see them together, or against each other as might happen as they teased Elias being upset at being interrupted by Riddle last week. Being angry over getting interrupted all the time Elias’ new character, which isn’t interesting. I wasn’t interested in his interaction with Alpha Academy either. His match against Chad Gable wasn’t good which says something about Elias considering how good Gable is. It was yet another match with outside interference as Otis got involved. So, this was another case of a wrestler being involved in multiple segments, none of which were good.
Theory vs. Ali – HIT: Like every match on this show, this involved outside interference as Seth Rollins left the announce table where he was doing guest commentary to distract Mustafa Ali long enough for Austin Theory to recover enough to kick the top rope, knocking Ali down, leading to him hitting A-Town Down for the win. This wasn’t a good ending, but the match itself was very good before that point. Theory needed a win, so I suppose I can excuse the ending, but Ali needs to get wins too. At least he had a chance to stand tall after the post-match attack from Rollins. He is getting a push and I continue to look forward to his eventual US Title match against Rollins down the line.
Nikki Cross Returns – HIT: I wasn’t sure how to rate the main event of Bianca Belair vs. Bayley. It was a good match. It went 23 minutes and was fun to watch. However, the fact that it was a non-title match brought it down some. The fact that it was the main event on a show where every other match had already ended with outside interference brought it down too as you knew it wouldn’t end until the rest of Damage CTRL got involved. I enjoyed the wrestling, but I can’t give the match a Hit. After Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai got involved and were caught but the referee, I certainly did not see Nikki Cross getting involved to take out all three. It was great to finally see Cross back without the stupid Almost a Superhero gimmick. She was acting deranged, going after everyone involved, Damage CTRL, Belair and the referee. I am looking forward to seeing where they go from here with Cross who has a lot of talent and can mean so much more than she has over the past year or so. But, if you are going to have this amount of interference in the main event, maybe try to keep the interference to a minimum on the rest of the show instead of having it in every match (not counting the Omos handicap match).
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.