SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Hot Opening – HIT: Raw has been a pretty good show (with some problems for sure), but it has felt largely inconsequential without Roman Reigns or a World Title. Austin Theory shouldn’t be the top champion on a WWE brand (with all due respect). Starting off the show with Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns (even in a pre-taped backstage vignette) immediately sent the signal that this week’s show was going to be different. They went right from there to the first of multiple scenes of The Bloodline wreaking havoc on the Raw roster. All of that got Raw off to a very hot start. I won’t give all the segments with the Bloodline individual Hits, but everything they were involved in was really good this week.
The Street Profits vs. Judgement Day – HIT: This was a good, but not great match that only lasted 9 minutes. I will call it a marginal Hit for the fact that we didn’t see that much of it. But, what we did see was well done in part following up on Dominik’s eye injury from last week. It also set up Rhea Ripley to challenge Akira Tozawa for a match.
Ripley vs. Tozawa – HIT: Speaking of that match, the show continued to roll with this match. As a general rule, I’m not a fan of women and men wrestling each other. But, this was a rare example of when it can work as Ripley is legitimately bigger than Tozawa. The show had good flow with many little hooks before commercials. Fans presumably stuck around to see this novelty match.
Miz vs. Lumis – MISS: This may have been the most boring ladder match in WWE history. I literally fell asleep during the match and had to go back and watch it the next day. It was slow and plodding. The fans were dead for it which isn’t unexpected. I didn’t care at all about who would end up getting all that money. I am happy to see Bronson Reed back in WWE as I was very confused why he was let go when he was without getting a chance on the main roster. But, to see him come back and team up with The Miz was very disappointing. Miz is super cold right now. How will anyone take him seriously as a heavy for Miz? How did that work out for Tommaso Ciampa? It immediately defines Reed down. And now at a time when Johnny Sports Entertainment needs to get as far away from Miz as he can to be Johnny Wrestling again, we are likely to get a long tag team feud with Reed & Miz vs. Lumis & Gargano.
Zayn vs. Styles – HIT: I liked the set up for this match earlier in the show as it was nice to see AJ Styles jump Sami Zayn to show he wasn’t just going to let the Bloodline run over the entire Raw roster. The match was very good as you’d expect with these two. Zayn needed the win, so it wasn’t surprising to see him get the victory. Of course, there was interference from Solo Sikoa which continues to be a problem in WWE. I am feeling charitable this Christmas season, so I will ignore the bad endings this week as long as the match was good like this until that point.
Rollins – Theory – HIT: As I said above, I don’t want Austin Theory to be the top Champion on Raw, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not enjoying his work right now. He continues to improve and shine as the United States Champion. This scene worked well to advance his feud with Seth Rollins over that US Title and continue to establish him as a scumbag in the way that he left Rollins by himself to fight off the Usos. Both Rollins and Theory performed well here, but Rollins still needs some character tweaks. Kevin Owens coming to save Rollins made sense and worked to set up the big main event. I also liked the backstage scene later on between Owens and Rollins which went back to their relationship from earlier this year.
Bayley vs. Lynch – HIT: It feels like this match should have been a bigger deal than it was. Clearly, we are going to get a rematch as Becky Lynch was screwed by Damage CTRL leading to Bayley getting the win. Again, another distraction finish, but also another good match until that point. Bayley and Lynch are very good workers and they showed it here. I would love to see this match at a PLE where both characters are red hot and we get a clean finish. That just wasn’t the case here, so this was another marginal Hit.
The Usos vs. Owens & Rollins – HIT: The main event delivered. You have a great tag team facing two great singles wrestlers. That’s a ton of talent in the ring as part of a well told story woven throughout the show (which is part of a much larger story which WWE is telling across Raw and Smackdown). Sikoa was going to get involved but luckily that interference was stopped by The OC coming out to get revenge for earlier in the show. That was good storytelling. I liked how Rollins hit Jey Uso with the stomp on the outside of the ring and that took Uso out of the match entirely as it should. We got more interference as Theory hit Rollins from behind with his US Title belt. Again, I appreciate that it kept Rollins out of the rest of the match. Those spots should be sold like they were. It also didn’t play into the finish of the match, as Jey was also out, leaving it a one-on-one match at the end between Jimmy and KO. The final few moments of the match were strong with KO getting the win with the pop-up power bomb. I greatly appreciate him winning with this old finisher which he hasn’t won with in awhile. He doesn’t need to win with the stunner. Having multiple moves that are established as finishers is a great idea. The little encounter between Owens and Zayn at the end also was well done to continue to hype the big tag match coming up in a few weeks on Smackdown with Zayn & Reigns vs. Owens & Cena.
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.