WWE RAW HITS & MISSES (2/12): New Day & Usos vs. Imperium, Lynch-Ripley-Jax, Cody-Seth, Sami-Nakamura, Lashley-Bronson, Andrade

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


New Day & Uso vs. Imperium – HIT: As I’ve written multiple times in the past, it is always nice when WWE shakes up their traditional Raw format. So many shows start with long talking segments, so it was good to see this week’s show start in the ring with this good 6 man tag match. WWE has done a nice job with this story, with Jey Uso starting to work with his long time nemesis The New Day in their feud against Imperium. This is also building to his match next week for the Intercontinental Championship against Gunther. That should be a really good match. This was a good match, part of a good story, and went nearly 20 minutes to start the show. So, all around a nice start.

Andrade – HIT: Andrade has been gone for three years. That isn’t a lifetime. I’m sure most fans remember him, but doing some re-introductory vignettes like this is a good idea. It is a simple formula, similar to what they’ve done with others like Drew McIntyre. He was good before and had success in NXT and WWE. He left to find himself, has found himself, and has returned even better than before. He had a nice showing in the Royal Rumble. Hopefully, these vignettes with build anticipation for his full time in-ring return soon.

Lashley vs. Reed – HIT: In a vacuum, I would fully expect Bobby Lashley to qualify for the Elimination Chamber over Bronson Reed. But, with Lashley’s faction’s (do they have a name?) ongoing feud against Carrion Cross and his faction (I know they have a name), there was a strong chance for Cross to interfere in this match and cost Lashley. So, the outcome wasn’t as predictable as it could have been otherwise. I’m glad that WWE kept it clean and put Lashley over, although Reed has a ton of talent and I wouldn’t have complained about him winning either. The match wasn’t particularly long, but what we saw of it was good and a chance for Lashley to show off his great power against someone the size of Reed.

Sami-Nakamura – MISS: While I certainly have enjoyed the presentation of Shinsuke Nakamura over the last few months, you have to stretch believability some when it comes to his subtitles. I haven’t had a problem with it in the past, as the videos have either been stand alone, or have interrupted a live segment in the ring, where Nakamura would clearly have the ability to produce a video knowing that his opponent was going to be in the ring later in the show and be ready with it to interrupt. That just wasn’t the case with this pre-taped empty arena interview with Sami Zayn. This felt more forced and took me totally out of the moment. The content was fine, but the context made it a Miss. I am curious about what the ultimate storyline is for Zayn with his growing frustration (more later).

Rhodes – Rollins – HIT: WWE should have Cody Rhodes explain his post-Rumble actions at some point. I was disappointed that he didn’t do that here. The implication is that The Rock convinced him to give up facing Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, but then before the official decision was made, he changed his mind, maybe even during the WM kickoff, and then he chose Reigns. If that’s the story, tell it. I won’t give it a Miss yet, because they have time. For now, this Hit is for Seth Rollins’ very strong promo talking about the WWE Championship. He did a great job of presenting the importance of Rhodes winning that Title at WM. The scripting and the performance were top notch. It feels like they are going to do Rock & Reigns vs. Rhodes & Rollins at Night 1, with the Title matches both being Night 2. Time will tell what they do. But, these types of great talking segments will help build anticipation for all of the matches regardless of how it all plays out. Cody is going to have himself a little faction of protection going into WM with Rollins, and maybe Zayn too (and others?). Will they help him finally defeat Reigns and finish the story? Or will one of them turn on him to keep the story going?

Lynch, Ripley, Jax – HIT: WWE is running the risk of having absolutely no suspense in the Women’s Elimination Chamber match with blatantly promoting Becky Lynch vs. Rhea Ripley at WM for the Women’s Title. They are trying to sell the idea of Liv Morgan getting her revenge against Ripley (she won a solid, but not quite Hit-worthy EC qualifier over Zoey Stark earlier), but nobody is buying it. These are good segments. Becky was very good here in talking about her life in wrestling and how it has effected her family life in terms of the sacrifices she’s made to get back to the top. She nicely acknowledged that many fans love Ripley too. It is smart of WWE to not ignore the obvious. Ripley will get the huge babyface reaction against Nia Jax at EC. Will they try to pivot her to a full heel afterwards? Will Lynch turn? Or do they just go star vs. star? That’s my guess. Jax was also good in her role here, and the physicality worked too.

Zayn vs. Nakamura – HIT: This was a good main event. Nakamura needed the win, and they are telling a story of Zayn’s frustrations over his recent losses, so the ending made the most sense. Drew McIntyre getting involved and distracting Zayn to cost him the match was ok. It gave WWE an excuse to have McIntyre in the ring at the end of the show for Cody to make the save to help hype their big main event match next week (overall, WWE did a great job on this show of hyping both Smackdown and next week’s Raw). I am curious what the end game is for Zayn in general and against McIntyre. They won’t face at EC as McIntyre is in the Chamber match. I am assuming that McIntyre wins the Chamber to face Rollins at WM. He is by far the most likely opponent. So they won’t face at WM either. What will Zayn end up doing?

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.

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