WWE RAW HITS & MISSES (2/26): Judgment Day-Imperium confrontation, New Day vs. Kaiser & Vinci, Sami vs. Nakamura, Drew-Seth interaction, Jax-Becky angle

By Jon Mezzera, PWTorch contributor


Opening Segment – HIT: WWE did a nice job of catching the fans up on Elimination Chamber and making the show feel like a big deal. After the video package, the show got started with Dominik Mysterio introducing Rhea Ripley to celebrate her victory over Nia Jax to retain the Women’s World Championship at the PLE. Becky Lynch eventually interrupted to start the build towards her challenging Ripley at WrestleMania. The segment ended when Jax attacked Becky. There was a lot going on. A babyface vs. babyface Title match is fine. But, WWE has been walking the line with Ripley for too long. Her character isn’t as well defined as it should be. She gets babyface reactions and was positioned as the clear face at EC. But, she’s still part of the heel faction Judgment Day and dating the heel with the most heat in the company. I’m also not a fan of the Rhea Bloody Ripley moniker and her calling it Monday Night Mami, which is all too similar to Seth Freakin Rollins. Plus, Mami Night Raw rolls off the tongue so much better. But, the mic work here from Ripley and Becky was strong. WWE is trying to get Becky cheered by her talking down to Dom and starting a mini-feud against Jax. I am giving this a Hit, but I am also worried about the direction of this match going into WM.

Sami vs. Nakamura – HIT: This was a good rematch between Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura. It is too bad that the match got interrupted by two commercial breaks so we only saw about half of the match. But, what we saw was very good. Sami clearly needed the win as part of his redemption story, so the match went the way it needed to go. The follow up interview was also strong, particularly the dismissive way that Imperium interrupted by just walking past Zayn.

Judgment Day – Imperium – MISS: Clearly WWE is setting up the idea that there are a bunch of potential challengers for Gunther’s Intercontinental Championship. Some of those are going to be heels. I am very hopeful that we will get either a tournament or some type of multi-man match to determine a #1 contender for the IC Title. I don’t want to see a multi-man Title match at WM. Having Dominik be part of that match is fine. My issue is that this heel faction vs. heel faction face off fell flat. It didn’t work as it was not focused enough on Dominik. I thought the initial point was teasing a Money in the Bank cash in for Damian Priest, which would be stupid. You want to keep the strong heel heat on Imperium before their match against The New Day, so why have them potentially getting cheers right before that match in going face to face with the most hated guy in the company?

Imperium vs. New Day – HIT: This was a very good no disqualification tag match. I have greatly enjoyed the more serious role that Imperium has brought out of New Day. The physicality of this match was great. I loved how Imperium teased getting out a table to the delight of the fans, but then remembered that they are heels so they put the table back under the ring. That was a great moment. I wasn’t sure who would win. Both teams seemed to need the win here. The unpredictability added to the match. Where do both teams go from here?

McIntyre – Rollins – HIT: I am enjoying Drew McIntyre being the ultimate troll towards C.M. Punk. Assuming McIntyre is still in WWE when Punk is healthy, that is going to be a big feud. It is interesting how The Bloodline is still part of his story with Rollins. Everything is complex right now between Cody Rhodes, The Rock, Roman Reigns, Rollins and McIntyre, along with both Usos. It is working well. The interchange between Rollins and McIntyre was strong here. There is a lot of time between EC and WM, so you have to have these types of stories to draw everything out. You can’t just have Rollins and McIntyre cutting promos on each other 5 weeks in a row.

Jax – Lynch – HIT: Having Lynch lose to Jax on Raw several weeks ago makes more sense now, as they are going to have a small feud to bridge the gap between EC and WM. The attack was strong at the start of the show. The mic work from Jax later was good too. It made perfect sense for Lynch to get some revenge by attacking Jax during her match against Liv Morgan. I would rather see an actual end to that match with Lynch attacking Jax afterwards, but clearly WWE wants Morgan to be part of this story going forward. The scene after with Lynch challenging Jax and Adam Pearce making the match for next week worked well. This gives her another mountain to climb on her way to Ripley. But, what role will Morgan play?

Closing Segment – HIT: Having a main event of Cody Rhodes vs. Grayson Waller was odd, given there were two matches which culminated longer stories earlier in the show which would have made more sense as the main event. Once Michael Cole announced the breaking news that Paul Heyman had arrived backstage, it made sense. I believe wrestling should be booked as if it were real and the people setting up the matches don’t know what is going to happen. If that was the case, this would never have been the main event. The match was what it should be. Waller shouldn’t be close to Rhodes’ level at this point, so having a 20 minute ultra competitive match wouldn’t have been right. I am looking past all of that because it was a strong enough ending to the show. The back and forth between Rhodes and Heyman was good. The physicality with Heyman’s hired goons worked well. It culminated wonderfully with Rhodes’ closing line that the Bloodline isn’t hunting him, he is hunting the Bloodline (reminding me of my favorite part of Watchman when Rorschach yells at the inmates that he isn’t locked up with them, they are locked up with him). I also liked how Heyman was calling both Reigns and Rock at the same time on their own dedicated phone, telling them that it hadn’t gone the way he planned. The set up for Smackdown was very good and there should be a high amount of anticipation for the show on Friday.

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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