SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: Raw got off to a good start with Cody Rhodes coming out to introduce his War Games teammates, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso and Seth Rollins. It was interesting to see that he was about to address his history against Rollins when Judgment Day interrupted. Luckily, we saw a backstage scene later in the show between Rollins and Rhodes which was good in the way in played into their history while allowing them to form a “one night only” type alliance. Getting back to the opening segment, Judgment Day was good here. The build to Damian Priest claiming to be their leader was very strong, with Rhodes goading them on about being leaderless without Rhea Ripley. This led to the impromptu tag match of Rollins & Zayn vs. Dominik Mysterio & JD McDonagh.
Rollins & Sami vs. Mysterio & McDonagh – HIT: That impromptu match turned out to be a good tag match that ended in a disqualification when the rest of Judgment Day attacked Rollins and Zayn, leading to another big brawl. I can’t praise the match that much given that ending, but it was still good while it lasted, and the brawl afterwards led to two advancements in the story. The first was that the rest of Judgment Day would be banned from the building for the main event. The second is that it gave McDonagh another chance to save Priest which ultimately led to him finally becoming an official member of the group. The following segment with Ripley and Zoey Stark was solid. Not good enough to get a Hit, but not a Miss either.
Tegan Nox Video – HIT: WWE needs to do more of these vignettes for their newer wrestlers. This should have been done when Nox first returned. She has a good story. She should have sympathy in a way that can connect her to the audience. She should have multiple vignettes like this in the next few weeks before we see her in another match. Unfortunately, this was right before her match against Piper Niven, which didn’t give the live fans a chance to really connect with her before she came out for her match. The match was fine, but the crowd was quiet. I hope she gets a chance to connect with the audience as I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time.
Kaiser vs. Ciampa – MISS: This Miss is for the story of this match, not for the work between Ludwig Kaiser and Tomasso Ciampa. You can’t build a main event Tag Team Title match around the idea that the heel Champions’ faction is banned from the arena on a show where a corner man is kicked out of the ringside area during this match only to return and help his partner cheat to win. The idea that Giovani Vinci could return at all without any punishment was a joke. It would be bad on any show. It was worse on this show because of the Judgment Day stipulation.
Xia Li vs. Hartwell – MISS: I appreciate that WWE is trying to build up Xia Li as a killer with a great knock out kick. I am not a fan of the referee stoppage. Have Li pin her opponents. Or do a 10 count for an actual Knock Out finish. That would at least be better than the referee stopping the match. And if you are going to sell a kick as a knock out kick, she needs to actually land the kick on the head, not on the shoulder like she did with Indi Hartwell here.
Ivar vs. Miz – MISS: I am fine with The Miz keeping some of his heel tactics in getting a win over Ivar. It makes sense that he wouldn’t suddenly be a great person after all these years of being a bad person. That is a more realistic babyface turn. The match was fine overall. But, the fact that Miz had to cheat after Ivar was distracted by Bronson Reed doesn’t exactly paint him as a legit contender to beat Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship. It was already hard to buy him, and I guess they are playing up the fact that he’s willing to fight dirty and do whatever it takes to win. But, that message would have been stronger if Reed hadn’t gotten involved at all. And, isn’t Reed a heel? Why is he starting a feud with fellow heel Ivar?
Tag Team Goofiness – MISS: I am not a fan of anything that Alpha Academy and The New Day are doing outside of the ring. They have a lot of talent in the ring, and I guess fans find their antics to be amusing. But, to me they are just annoying as can be. I have been annoyed by these backstage scenes lately, but this one was particularly bad because it involved Diamond Mine. Please keep the Creed Brothers away from this goofy crap. I don’t want to see Ivy Nile team up with Maxine Dupree either. Diamond Mine needs to continue to be built up as a strong, even dangerous tag team. Nile can be a good serious addition to the Raw women’s roster. But, these things can’t happen if they are interacting like this with Alpha Academy in particular.
Priest & Balor vs. Rhodes & Uso – HIT: The Tag Team Championship main event was a very good match which isn’t surprising. It was nice that the stipulation of Judgement Day being banned was actually upheld. They were given plenty of time to have a nice long match. It is always disappointing to have two commercial breaks in a match, so that brought it down a little, but it was still a definite Hit. The attack from Drew McIntyre costing Rhodes & Uso the match worked well. His handshake with Ripley to close the show was a great ending. Is he joining Judgment Day? Is he just working with Ripley? Will he be added to their War Games team? If so, who will the babyfaces get to join their team?
(Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Raw Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw each week. Email him at email@example.com. Follow Jon on Twitter/X @JonMezzera.)
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