WWE RAW HITS & MISSES (11/27): CM Punk’s return promo, Randy Orton’s return, Bronson vs. Ivar, Gunther-Miz exchange, Nia Jax vs. Zoey Stark, Cody-Nakamura angle

By Jon Mezzera, PWTorch contributor


Opening Segment – HIT: Assuming that his back is fine and he won’t do further long-term damage by returning to the ring, it was good to see Randy Orton return at Survivor Series. It made sense to start off Raw with him and hold CM Punk back for the end of the show. Orton was good here, showing a sincerity with the fans that we haven’t always seen with him. They clearly want to keep him a babyface after his very fun run in that role teaming with Matt Riddle before his injury. I liked how he talked about having unfinished business with The Bloodline (does that include Jey Uso? We got that answer later in the show, but in the moment it was an intriguing thought) but Rhea Ripley’s interruption pivoted him to The Judgment Day for the time being. There is some definite potential with him working against Judgment Day while still wanting revenge on the Bloodline down the line.

Tag Team Turmoil – MISS: I am not a fan of gauntlet matches in general. This match took up 27 commercial free minutes of Raw. Some of it was certainly good, especially the final segment. But, there was more negative than good for sure. Having such short segments hurts the wrestlers who lose so quickly. That was the case for Otis & Tozawa losing a 4 minute match to start off. Indus Sher just returned and they are jobbing out in 2 minutes? They have potential, but they were defined down as total losers here. The Creed Brothers vs. DIY was good and at least DIY had been wrestling for 7 or 8 minutes already, so they don’t look bad for losing at that point. There was certainly good wrestling action with the Creeds going up against DIY, New Day and Imperium. And I get that they want to continue to tell the story of Imperium upsetting Gunther. But again, they look bad for losing to the Creeds who had already had two matches. That’s the problem with these types of matches. This doesn’t make the Raw tag division look strong.

Cody – Shinsuke – HIT: We’ve been wondering who Shinsuke Nakamura has been referencing in his strong promos lately, and we got the answer here that he’s going after Cody Rhodes. This is a good feud for Rhodes to be in to bridge the gap between now and The Royal Rumble. Having him declare himself for the Rumble this early made sense. He was good in his role as was Nakamura. I’m not sure about having Nakamura use the mist. WWE doesn’t need two wrestlers doing the mist gimmick at the same time. Otherwise, I liked what they did here to kick off this program.

Reed vs. Ivar – MISS: The action in this match was perfectly fine, but the presentation is lacking. I am not interested in a heel vs. heel fight. If you are going to do it, at least give the fans a reason to pick one. I think WWE expects the fans to just cheer for Bronson Reed over Ivar in this case, but they seemed quiet to me. I get not wanting to have a winner, so the double count out made some sense, but it is still lame. They clearly want the fans to want to see more of it in a rematch down the line, but you have to do more to invest them in the feud.

Stark vs. Jax – MISS: I don’t understand jobbing out Zoey Stark right after she lost to Rhea Ripley at the PLE. Having a good, strong showing against a dominant World Champion like Ripley can help boost Stark. She needs a character reset to clearly paint her as a babyface which I think WWE wants her to be. But, Ripley is a popular heel so she wasn’t going to get a strong reaction against her. Clearly Nia Jax is a heel, so the matchup made sense. But, Stark lost. So any momentum that she might have picked up at Survivor Series is gone.

Gunther – Miz – MISS: I was not enthused about The Miz going after Gunther and the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series. The match was ok, but not particularly good, and far below what we are used to seeing from Gunther’s Title defenses. I was hoping we would see Gunther pivot immediately to a new challenger, so I was disappointed when they had their backstage encounter. Now, Miz doesn’t have a rematch yet, but clearly WWE was planting the seeds for it. It is ok to have a one and done Title feud.

Rollins – McIntyre – HIT: WWE should not be going right to a Seth Rollins vs. CM Punk feud. It was good how Rollins acknowledged the Punk chants given his viral reaction to Punk’s return on Saturday, without dwelling on him. Drew McIntyre continues to do great work in this role. He still is playing a reasonable character. He was acting more like a babyface in taking blame for his loss to Rollins at Crown Jewel. He had understandable anger at Jey Uso being named as Rollins’ challenger for the World Championship next week. This segment set up that Title match as well as starting the ball rolling on what would happen between McIntyre and Sami Zayn later to set up their match for next week. That’s two pretty good matches to look forward to. Plus, another Rollins vs. McIntyre match is on the horizon.

Orton vs. Dominik – HIT: This was pretty much exactly what it needed to be. We want to see Orton doing his greatest hits, giving Michael Cole multiple opportunities to say “Vintage Orton” if he wanted to. Dominik Mysterio and JD McDonagh played their parts perfectly, taking bumps for the Viper. Obviously, Dominik isn’t hurt by a loss to Orton. McDonagh running around with a neck brace won’t be as good as Roddy Strong, but it has potential.

Punk’s Promo – HIT: I have seen a lot of criticism for C.M. Punk’s first promo back in WWE in 10 years. I’m not sure what people were expecting. He has moved on. Why would he, or more importantly WWE want to, bury AEW? He came and made a strong mission statement. He is the Best in the World. He has been gone for 10 years and, during that time, several wrestlers have made a claim to being the best. But now that he’s back, he is going to prove that he was the best all along. I get if you were let down when he didn’t talk about AEW, but I really think that was an unreasonable expectation. I was much more into this Punk than the one who debuted in AEW with an “aw, shucks, I’m just happy to be back, I don’t even know if I can still wrestle any more” type attitude. At least he came across as an alpha who will prove himself, as opposed to a beta who was hoping to prove himself. Plus, it is too early to establish his first storyline. So this worked for me, even if it wasn’t the most memorable moment of the year.

Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Raw Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw each week. Email him at jmezz_torch@yahoo.com.

RECOMMENDED NEXT: WWE Raw Results (11/27): Pomares’s alt-perspective report on return of CM Punk, Randy Orton’s promo, Cody addressing WarGames win, more

OR CHECK THIS OUT AT PROWRESTLING.NET: Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: CM Punk’s return promo, Randy Orton vs. Dominik Mysterio, Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre, Cody Rhodes and Shinsuke Nakamura, Bronson Reed vs. Ivar

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