By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: A Hit for match quality, yet this easily could go down as a Miss for the presentation. Their last televised match was billed as their final match. Why not build up to it by having Owens use that as an excuse to duck Zayn, and then force Sami to jump through hoops to get him back in the ring? Heck, I would have played this out by having Zayn win the Royal Rumble just to get Owens in the ring again. Of course, I have no idea what their long term plans are and whether Owens is a long term champion. Nevertheless, there should have been more to this than Mick Foley simply announcing the match. It was also disappointing that one of the best talkers in the industry had to share the spotlight and the mic with so many others. Again, though, Owens and Zayn can always be counted on to deliver a strong match and this was no exception.
Sasha Banks retirement speech: More of a mixed bag than a real Hit or Miss, but it has to go somewhere on this list. Sasha claiming that she collected cans to save money for WWE tickets humanized her. Sure, her cousin is Snoop Dogg, but I have successful cousins, albeit not at the Snoop level, and it’s not like I expect them to share their money with me (okay, so maybe a really, really cool birthday present one year, you cheap asses!). The point is that she ditched The Boss act for a night and was more relatable as a babyface. The negative is that it seemed odd for her to basically do a retirement swerve. It seems rather cold for her character to play into the genuine emotions of the Edge and Daniel Bryan retirements and even the Finn Balor injury announcement just to swerve Charlotte and Dana Brooke.
Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho: A strong match. In fact, it was much more competitive than I assumed it would be given that this seemed to be Seth’s first match as a babyface. WWE is in a tough spot with Rollins. He was more than willing to accept Triple H’s help last week, and he’s only a babyface because Hunter decided to help Kevin Owens instead of him. I was hoping to hear some type of turning point promo from Rollins, but the important thing is that the fans were behind despite the fact that he seemed more petulant over not getting his way than anything.
Bayley vs. Charlotte: I have made it more than clear that I am not a big fan of positioning Bayley as a confident star right out of the gate. I have also noted that it’s too late to hit the reset button on her NXT character. She is not the lovable underdog to fans who didn’t watch her in NXT. After all, they have watched her win every match she’s had on the main roster, including getting a non-title clean pin on the women’s champion in her third Raw match. This is great for fans who went on Bayley’s journey with her throughout her run in NXT. And hopefully their passion for her combined with the tremendous skills of Bayley herself will be enough to make the non-NXT followers get invested in her character. Like Rollins, the important thing is that the fans seem to be embracing her. All of that said, I have no idea why they had her beat the women’s champion in a non-title match only to announce that Sasha would be getting the title shot. Are they setting up a Triple Threat?
Sheamus vs. Cesaro: It’s always logical to have the babyfaces fall behind early and have to scrap their way back into a seventh match scenario. I also like that the tide should turn quickly with the fourth match of the series taking place in London tomorrow night (correspondents needed via firstname.lastname@example.org), meaning Cesaro could only be down a match assuming he wins in London and again on Raw.
Braun Strowman and Nia Jax: A minor Hit for Strowman beating someone on the active roster, and Jax having issues with Alicia Fox. I’m all for squash matches, but the presentation of their squash wins was too similar. My guess is that they are giving Strowman and Jax some main roster competition so they can get them both on the Night of Champions card, perhaps in Kickoff Show matches. By the way, Alicia Fox’s freakout routine felt really forced and phony this time around.
WWE Raw Misses
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon followup: One of the big questions coming out of last week’s Raw was why Hunter turned on Seth Rollins and helped Kevin Owens win the championship. This week it became more about whether Stephanie was in on the plan. Does anyone really care about what Stephanie knew? It’s okay that WWE didn’t have Hunter explain everything last night, but they really cooled things down by not offering an indication as to when he might explain himself. At the very least, I was hoping he would make a non-talking appearance late in the show to keep his actions fresh on the minds of viewers.
New Day, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, and Old Day: An atrocious segment. WWE has a badass heel team in Anderson and Gallows, yet they continue to showcase them in bad comedy angles rather than simply giving them in-ring credibility. It’s a testament to the popularity of New Day that the live crowd was still behind them by the end of this mess.
Bo Dallas vs. Tyler Roberts: There was a time when I was all for giving Dallas a secondary title reign and having him play the role of the vulnerable and/or flukey heel champion. After watching him play the role of an enhancement wrestler for the last two years, even I have lost hope. The campaign sign bit was more groan inducing silliness and my guess is that they are giving him squash wins so that Strowman or even Jax can destroy him. I’ll be shocked if this leads to a substantial push for Dallas, especially coming off his recent arrest.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Shining Stars: The Stars get a win to launch a feud with Enzo and Cass. The problem is that the vast majority of fans have no interest in seeing this program. Cass went from challenging for the WWE Universal Championship last week, and now he’s on the losing end (Enzo was pinned) of a match against the Shining Stars? Strange.
Darren Young vs. Jinder Mahal: The weekly Darren Young and Titus O’Neil segment featured Young showing better intensity than usual. Too much damage was done. I still have no desire to see this program, and there’s still no sign that fans actually like the Young and Bob Backlund act. The entire feud just screams of filler content for the three hour marathon that is Raw.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features guest Eli Drake talking about signing with the NWA, his departure from Impact Wrestling, rejecting an intergender match with Tessa Blanchard, his WWE developmental run, and much more...