SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: Raw got off to a good start with Seth Rollins and ultimately Damian Priest selling their main event World Title match. It wasn’t all great, but it was good enough to get a HIT. I was intrigued by Priest agreeing to come to the ring alone, without any member of Judgment Day being in his corner. That would play out in the main event (more later). Unfortunately, this does point back to a sort of retroactive Miss from last week in Priest taking the loss in the tag match. Why not think ahead a week and protect Priest? The main event would have meant more if Priest had been protected.
Lynch vs. Deville – HIT: I enjoyed this match. There was too much interference on this show. It started off here with the opening match. However, it his case the interference didn’t lead to the finish which was good. Becky Lynch was able to overcome interference and distractions from Chelsea Green at ring side as well as Trish Stratus and Zoey Stark on the entrance ramp to get the win to qualify for Money in the Bank. Having Lynch in the match adds a ton of star power and allows for her story with Stratus & Stark to stretch out in a natural way without going right to a match vs. Stark at the next PLE.
Owens vs. Gunther – HIT: There is an argument to be made that this match should not have happened this week. You don’t give away Kevin Owens vs. Gunther without any advanced notice. In this case, it fit in perfectly well with Owens’ current hot head character which I am thoroughly enjoying. The impromptu match adds to the idea that anything can happen on Raw so you have to tune in each week. So, it didn’t bother me as much as it did some people. But, I certainly get the criticism. However, the match itself was great. I enjoyed it from start to just before the finish, with the distraction from the rest of Imperium allowing Gunther to get the cheap win. That brings the quality down a bit. But, the quality was so hight to begin with, that it was still a very good match. And it makes me want to see more of these two down the line.
Matt Riddle – HIT: Please keep giving the fans this Matt Riddle. He is more serious. He is a badass. I really hope he faces Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship at Money in the Bank. I don’t want to see him in the MITB match itself. I don’t want to see him win and cash in on the IC Title. There is a storyline in place for him to get that IC Title shot, so make it happen.
Rousey & Baszler vs. Chance & Carter – HIT: WWE needs to come up with a name for Katana Chance & Kayden Carter. I love that they are an actual tag team, well established from NXT, not just two random wrestlers thrown together. They can help boost the tag division. I enjoyed the video package introducing them to the Raw audience. But why did that video happen right before their in ring debut? This is another example of WWE rushing things which has been a problem the last few months (it certainly seems to have coincided with Vince McMahon’s return to creative – probably just a coincidence). I am still giving this match against the Tag Champs a Hit, because the work was Hit-worthy. It should have happened next week, but it was a good match. Normally I would complain about a debuting team losing their first match, but they are going to be an underdog babyface team. They were facing the new Champs. It feels like they gained from the loss more than they would have gained from a win over a jobber team. But, they need to get on the winning track soon.
Gargano Video – MISS: I would have given this video a Hit if it had been on a year ago. Unfortunately, Johnny Gargano has been defined down and hasn’t given good performances during his entire Run on Raw since returning to WWE. So, this is too little, too late. It was good, but I don’t know that it will have the desired outcome. I am also not a fan of having The Way as part of his presentation at this point (even though I was a fan of the group in NXT). Have him interact with Candace LeRae. But, keep the rest of the group away from him. So, his closing line has me worried that they are keeping him with Dexter Lumis which is a mistake.
Nakamura vs. Ricochet – MISS: As I said above, there was too much interference on this show. While I could ignore it for some of the matches, this one bothered me. It was clearly a case of WWE not wanting to have a loser in this match. So, why make the match at all? It was odd to have this babyface vs. babyface match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Ricochet in the first place. While I liked their interaction with Bronson Reed earlier in the show, having him interfere to cause a no context was disappointing. Either have Reed attack them both before the match starts, or pick a winner, and have Reed attack them after the match. Don’t do this wishy-washy non-finish crap.
MizTV – HIT: I enjoyed this episode of MizTV with guest star Cody Rhodes, plus surprise guests Dominik Mysterio & Rhea Ripley. Dom Dom keeps getting crazy heat from the live fans which is a joy to watch. I liked Cody encouraging the fans with his sarcastic request that they don’t boo him. Setting up a Cody vs. Dominik program makes sense to bridge the gap before going back to Cody vs. Brock Lesnar, presumably at SummerSlam.
Rollins vs. Priest – HIT: The main event was predictable. I knew that Finn Balor would show up despite Priest saying he would face Rollins on his own. But, was the whole thing a trick to fool Rollins into thinking Balor would stay away? What we got instead was Balor trying to interfere without Priest knowing about it. I appreciate the fact that the interference didn’t lead to the ending either way. This was a good main event World Title match. It lasted over 20 minutes which was a good length. It had good action throughout. Rollins is being painted as a fighting Champion and his next challenger was strongly hinted at with Balor’s appearance here. Now, what does this mean for Judgement Day? It seems too soon to break them up, but there was certainly tension teased in this episode.
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.