SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Becky Lynch Promo – HIT: Raw started off well with Becky Lynch’s Raw return, talking about coming back from her injury at War Games. Obviously, the plan for Lynch after SummerSlam was to be a babyface working with Bianca Belair against Damage CTRL, but her injury sidelined those plans for four months. Now she’s back and they can pick that up. I liked how she went into the crowd and was playing the babyface again. Bayley’s interruption was also good, leading to the brawl with the rest of Damage CTRL attacking Becky through the crowd. But, that’s when the opening segment went downhill.
Lynch – Damage CTRL – MISS: How did Dakota Kai & Iyo Sky know that Becky would go into the crowd where she did, in order to be able to come from behind to try to ambush her? It doesn’t seem like they would have had time to run around the arena to get to that spot after seeing her go into the crowd shortly before they came out. But, that is a smaller point. The larger point is how cheesy it was that they fought up to the concourse and happened to brawl into a totally empty merchandise stand. Where were the workers? Where were the shoppers? How did security know that there would be a brawl right there to clear out all the fans? This just felt fake.
Judgement Day vs. The OC & Mia Yim – HIT: Mia Yim vs. Rhea Ripley was pretty good while it lasted, but it was too short to amount to much, plus it ended with a non-finish. It did set up this Teddy Long special with the match turning into what would end up being a good 8 person tag match. WWE went commercial free for this first hour of Raw and filling that time with a longer match (after the 7 minute match that preceded it) was a good idea. The match was particularly strong in the final few minutes as Ripley ultimately got the win for Judgement Day over Yim. Where do these teams go from here?
Bloodline – Kevin Owens – HIT: The Bloodline continue to shine on every show. The main event War Games match from Survivor Series moved the story into a new direction with Sami Zayn finally being fully accepted by the entire Bloodline. They seem more formidable than ever. WWE followed up nicely on Raw with this segment as Zayn, The Usos & Solo Sikoa were talking about where they all stand and solidifying their relationship when they were interrupted by Kevin Owens. I enjoyed this segment as Owens and Zayn promised to put their relationship (for good or bad) behind them and move on. They won’t wrestler anymore, either together or against each other. I’m sure that won’t last forever, but for now we have Owens going after the other members of the Bloodline. It was good how Jey Uso stood up for Zayn which led to the match against Owens for the main event.
Street Profits vs. Alpha Academy – HIT: It was good to see the Street Profits back after Montez Ford’s injury. We’ve seen them face Alpha Academy multiple times in the past, so the match isn’t going to feel fresh even if they haven’t faced in awhile. But, the matches between them are always good which isn’t surprising given the talent involved. There isn’t much tag team depth on Raw, so what else is there for the Profits to do moving forward after this win?
Theory – Rollins – HIT: Austin Theory feels more confident as a performer and more important as a character than he had as Mr. Money in the Bank. Now he’s back to being the United States Champion after a somewhat cheap win over Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley at the PLE. He was good here, moving on from the idea of him being the future of WWE, to being the now. I like that shift. Rollins was also good in his interruption. This points towards a US Title rematch down the line. But, what about Lashley? Where does he fit in?
Miz vs. Lumis – MISS: This match and all that surrounded it took up far too much time on this week’s Raw. We had a video recap of what led to the match, a backstage segment of The Miz trying to again weasel his way out of the match due to a fake hand injury, the 10 minute match which felt like 20, and then the aftermath with Lumis getting his money and his contract, with Miz stealing the money, only to have Johnny Gargano stopping him and getting the money back. I wasn’t a fan of any of this, which isn’t surprising considering I haven’t been a fan of any of this storyline. The match was boring and dragged. Lumis isn’t good enough to have a good match with Miz. Can we all move on now please?
Kai vs. LaRae – MISS: This Miss is more about context than match quality, which wasn’t bad at all. Dakota Kai and Candace LaRae worked hard and performed well. The issue is that LaRae hasn’t had a chance to establish herself on Raw. Kai has in terms of being around for 4 months as part of Damage CTRL, but she isn’t seen as a top wrestler in the women’s division. If she was higher on the card, a long spirited hard fought victory would boost LaRae. Here, it felt like LaRae would have benefited more from a stronger win in a shorter match against a different opponent. Having her more established after a few matches like that, while they built up Kai stronger as a singles wrestler would have made this match make more sense.
Owens vs. Uso – HIT: Raw ended strong with the main event between KO and Jey Uso. I kept wondering if Matt Riddle & Elias would come out to even the odds against The Bloodline. Given the backstage interaction between them and The Usos earlier in the show setting up a Tag Team Championship match next week, I would not have been surprised to see them. However, I was happy that they didn’t go that route. Owens was able to overcome some distractions and interference from the Bloodline to get that big win over Uso in the end. The wrestling was good throughout. And I continue to want to see where WWE goes from here with Owens and the Bloodline. I assume we haven’t heard the last of Sheamus’ crew against them on Smackdown either. I could definitely see a Sheamus vs. Reigns World Title match at the Royal Rumble.
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.