SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: I thought I was going to give the opening segment a Hit. It started well with The Usos (and Solo Sikoa) talking about beating The Brawling Brutes at Crown Jewel and moving on to The New Day on Smackdown. WWE is doing a good job of building to that Tag Team Championship match where New Day is trying to stop The Usos from breaking their record length Title reign. Jimmy & Jey were both very good on the mic here. Xavier Woods was also good when he and Kofi Kingston came out to interrupt. Then Kofi started talking and it went downhill. Don’t talk about being saddled with a gimmick. There was a little bit of that insider talk in Woods’ promo too, but it was more subtle. Kingston broke character to admit that they were pretending to be positive people. That’s their whole thing. So, they aren’t really about the power of positivity? The segment could have been saved if it hadn’t been for the random and terrible appearance by Matt Riddle, continuing to be his old stoner gimmick. It is disappointing. Now all he does is the lame bong hit joke over and over again. What happened? Ugh.
New Day & Riddle vs. The Bloodline – HIT: At least that disappointing opening segment led to a good, long opening six man tag match. There was a ton of talent in the ring with these six given over 20 minutes to have a good match. It was fun to watch from start to finish. Sikoa getting the pin on Riddle made the most sense. It kept Sikoa strong. It kept any of the Usos or New Day from taking the loss. And Riddle can be sacrificed at this point.
Mia Yim Returns – HIT: I am surprised that Mia Yim was never hired by AEW. The OC has needed a woman to team with them to counter Rhea Ripley in their feud against Judgement Day. I didn’t know who WWE would use to fill that role and was happy to see it be Yim as she was underutilized in her brief first run with WWE’s main roster as part of Retribution. The scene when she returned was solid with The OC stopping Judgement Day from answering Seth Rollins’ United States Championship Open Challenge. Rollins was hilarious in slyly leaving the ring as the two sides were squaring off against each other. There were also good follow ups to this segment with two backstage interview segments later in the show.
Otis vs. Elias – HIT: The match between Otis and Elias was ok, but too short to amount to much. But, I will give it a Hit for Otis getting a much needed win as Alpha Academy has lost far too often. Elias isn’t someone I would protect either, so I was good with him taking the loss.
War Games Set Up – MISS: It makes sense to culminate the feud between Damage CTRL and Bianca Belair’s group at War Games. The problem is that the feud hasn’t been good. Neither team goes together well. Both groups are less than the sum of their parts. I am happy to see Nikki Cross in this role, but I don’t know that she feels like she goes with Damage CTRL any more than the other three random women do. I guess we are going to get some mystery as both teams still need one or two more members before the PLE. The issue is that I don’t care enough about the existing teams to care about who will be added to them.
Miz – Gargano – MISS: I had mixed feelings about what happened between The Miz and Johnny Gargano. I was happy that they seemed to confirm what Gargano said about Miz and Dexter Lumis’ relationship last week. The problem is that Gargano is unlikable. If WWE wanted to confirm what happened between Miz and Lumis, why open up the question of the validity of the Gargano’s video by having him fast forward through part of it? Corey Graves immediately questioned the video because of that and Kevin Patrick agreed with him. The match between them wasn’t very good. It went on too long. It should say something about Miz’s ability in the ring that he had the worst match with Gargano in WWE. They both get some of the blame for all of the kicks that showed so much light. When Graves even has to admit that a super kick was more like an above average kick, you know those strikes weren’t landing. The way Miz won suggests we will get a rematch which I’m not looking forward to. And at some point, they have to move the program along to get Miz vs. Lumis, but Lumis still isn’t officially part of WWE yet.
Cross Trashes the 24/7 Title – HIT: I would have been fine with WWE just ignoring the 24/7 title. I had almost forgotten about it. But, the fact that Cross won it from Dana Brooke and then tried to throw it in the trash was great. Now hopefully Hornswoggle doesn’t find it in the trash and bring in back in a few years.
Lashley Destroys Rollins – HIT: I assume WWE wants Bobby Lashley to be a heel at this point and Seth Rollins a babyface. If that’s the case, then mission accomplished. Lashley was a heel in the way he attacked Mustafa Ali in the back when Ali was trying to claim the US Open Challenge spot. Rollins was acting more like a babyface all night long, in a continuation of what we saw last week. And the beatdown was definitely what you would expect to see from a heel taking out a babyface. The beating itself was physical and memorable. WWE wants a Lashley vs. Rollins feud and that can certainly be good. I’m not sure how Lashley attacking Austin Theory in the following match fits in with him being a heel. Maybe he will have an explanation that makes sense like he wants to beat Rollins to regain the US Title.
Rollins vs. Theory – MISS: Way to kill a gimmick WWE. I know some fans are totally over the Money in the Bank gimmick, so if WWE wants to get rid of it entirely, then fine. But, if they plan on doing it again next year, this was a mistake. I don’t like the idea that Theory would cash in for the US Title instead of the World Title. I get that the opportunity presented itself, he is a former US Champ and often brags about being the youngest ever. He has tension with Rollins. Plus, who wants to try to beat Roman Reigns? So, an argument can be made for this cash in. The bigger issue is that he failed. Not only did he try to win the lesser title, but he couldn’t get the job done. Why not have him win? It would have been poetic to have him win the title from Rollins after Lashley destroyed Rollins, after Rollins had won it from Lashley after he was attacked by Brock Lesnar. Theory needs the title more than Rollins. He can have a feud with some babyface over the title while Rollins and Lashley have a personal feud before one or both eventually go back after the US Title. And as I noted above, Lashley looked more like a babyface in stopping Theory from winning which seems to muddy the waters unnecessarily.
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.