Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: John Cena and AJ Styles, New Day vs. The Club, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins video packages, Teddy Long returns, Stephanie McMahon’s character has a mood disorder

Logo_Raw_dnBy Jason Powell

WWE Raw Hits

Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins video packages: WWE made good use of their excellent production team’s work. They are trying to sell us on the Reigns vs. Rollins match having a “big fight feel” and these video packages were far more effective in setting that tone than the broadcast team telling us that repeatedly. The Rollins piece was basically an abbreviated version of the WWE 24 documentary with some Reigns specific lines added. Roman always comes off well in sit-down interviews and this was no exception. I still feel strongly that WWE would be better off if Reigns was slotted as the top heel and Rollins was slotted as the babyface, but I am curious to see whether the Seth dynamic will change if he and Reigns end up on opposite brands.

John Cena and The Club: A minor Hit for Styles delivering his best mic work in WWE. I must question the logic of having Cena point out the failures of the Styles character. Cena vs. Styles is a big match to fans who have followed the career of Styles. How does Cena pointing out that Styles failed to win the Rumble and lost two matches to Reigns help make the match feel big for fans who only know Styles from his WWE run? And Cena didn’t help make his opponent feel important when he brought up the obvious question of why anyone should think Styles can beat Cena when he couldn’t beat Reigns. This should feel like a showdown match for everyone, but I suspect there is a portion of the audience that sees this as being more about Cena and whether can overcome the threat of The Club’s interference.

The Club vs. New Day: Cena took a beatdown from The Club in his television return, so it was logical to assume that he was going to be standing tall at the end of the night. The key was making sure that the babyfaces didn’t damage Styles heading into MITB or The Club overall. They succeeded by having The Club take out Xavier Woods and win a handicap match over Kofi Kingston and Big E, and then by having Cena and the New Day duo get the better of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows afterward.

Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho: This came off like a big win for Cesaro in that we don’t see Jericho tap out on television very often. I also liked that the serious approach they took to the match after the cutesy opening segment.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Sami Zayn: I really liked the finish with Del Rio slamming Zayn’s head into the top of the ring post as he was tied up in the tree of woe. I’m also fine with Del Rio beating Zayn. Sami is the underdog and it makes sense that he doesn’t beat former champions or elite talent on his first try. Del Rio clearly needed the win more and it would be nice if they could make his character feel meaningful for the first time since he first returned.

WWE Raw Misses

Stephanie McMahon and Teddy Long: Is it really a good idea to tell viewers that “man of the people” Shane McMahon is on vacation just two months into his run as an on-air authority figure? Tell us he is away on business. Anyway, I have no idea what they want us to think about Stephanie other than to assume that her character has some type of mood disorder. She ripped into heel heel Charlotte last week to continue her nice girl routine only to abruptly act like heel Stephanie this week by tearing into Teddy Long. On the same show, it’s announced that the Ambrose Asylum will be returning next week even though Stephanie previously cancelled the show. They can easily write their way out of the Stephanie and Asylum logic gap, but the problem is that they continue to send mixed messages about Stephanie and none are particularly compelling. Meanwhile, the thrill of seeing Teddy Long lasted about as long as his introductory dance number. He wasn’t exactly sympathetic given that I don’t think anyone actually wants his character to take control of the Smackdown brand again.

Money in the Bank opening segment: The positive was the unique opening with Dean Ambrose coming to the ring as the other Money in the Bank participants were standing on ladders in the ring. It peaked with the visual, though, as the tone was way too tongue in cheek. The banter over Chris Jericho claiming he won a Money in the Bank match was cute, but cute isn’t selling me on a Money in the Bank ladder match.

Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains: Big Cass has become a one man Road Warriors tag team. He destroyed The Dudley Boyz in handicap situations while Enzo was sidelined, and now he beat the hell out of the Vaudevillains while Enzo was selling at ringside.

Charlotte, Dana Brooke, Natalya, and Becky Lynch segment: I’m not sure what we were supposed to think about Charlotte seemingly softening her stance on her father yet still sorta heeling on him. I’m not sure where Brooke fits in with Charlotte aside from giving WWE the luxury of booking cheap interference finishes. The thing I do know is that this was a really flat segment that didn’t make anyone look particularly good.

Tyler Breeze vs. R-Truth: The weekly Goldust and R-Truth shenanigans were limited to a one-minute match. Perhaps I should be encouraged that they are starting to pay more attention to Breeze and Fandango, but I’m still not sure where the humor was in watching Breeze shave the back of his tag partner.


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