By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Mick Foley, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks segment: After presenting Hell in a Cell as a feel good reward for the women, WWE finally had someone put over the danger of the Hell in a Cell match. And that someone was the perfect person to put over the match. Mick Foley’s HIAC history and his passion for the women’s division led to him delivering his best promo since returning to television. Foley was great as played on his own health while telling the women to look at him and see what could be their own futures while blaming it all on the HIAC structure. This was the highlight of the night and, on a personal note, it was a real treat to see one more great Foley promo in person.
Kevin Owens attacks Seth Rollins: Where has this been all month? WWE made a last ditch effort to create a real issue between Owens and Rollins and to put some heat on the heel heading into the HIAC match. It was really the only effective push we’ve seen for the Universal Championship match. I assumed that they were going to add Chris Jericho to the HIAC match by having him win the Triple Threat, which would have helped explain why they gave so much attention to the Jericho and Owens friendship. And as entertaining as those segments have been, none of them left me anxious to see Owens and Rollins fight over the Universal Championship, and their feud does not feel HIAC ready. In other words, this was a good post-match angle, but it was too little, too late as far as HIAC is concerned.
Enzo Amore vs. Karl Anderson: WWE took a couple of risks with the Minneapolis crowd and this one paid off. It would have been disastrous if the crowd didn’t chant along with Enzo and Big Cass’s pre-match routine once they cut Enzo’s mic, but the live crowd ate it up and most fans in the building knew every word. The pre-match routine was strong and the match was entertaining. Enzo getting the win pleased the crowd, but it didn’t leave me anxious to see the tag match at HIAC.
New Day vs. Sheamus and Cesaro: A minor Hit in that WWE spent most of the month playing up the differences between Sheamus and Cesaro rather than making them look like credible challengers. Their non-title win over New Day was their answer, yet the whole thing felt too formula with the challengers winning a non-title match. It would have been cool if Sheamus and Cesaro had an epiphany afterward to show that they are on the same page now that they recognize they can be a badass team together. Instead, the bickering mid-card comedy involving reluctant tag partners continues.
Rich Swann vs. Brian Kendrick: A number of fans cheered as they watched a Swann video package. Oddly enough, those same fans sat on their hands when he made his entrance. The fans got into the match and the high spots, and they were pleased by the finish. Again, it was a finish didn’t do much for me given that Kendrick is challenging for the championship on Sunday, and it certainly wasn’t worth having him lose just to make the eye rolling plea to TJ Perkins in the backstage segment. On a positive note, the Perkins entrance really stood out as one of the cooler visuals in person. TV doesn’t do it justice.
Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn: A good segment that left me looking forward to the next chapter. The live crowd was into Zayn’s stick and move strategy with the monster. Strowman walking away told the story that he still doesn’t respect Zayn as a competitor, and the live crowd ate it up.
WWE Raw Misses
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman segment: WWE took an odd risk in Lesnar’s hometown where he was positioned as the main attraction, but there was a brief stretch where they got the mixed reaction they were hoping for. Some fans chanted Goldberg while others chanted Suplex City. Unfortunately for WWE, Brock’s hometown faithful won out, as they started chanting “Goldberg sucks” while the pro-Goldberg fans were silent with no comeback. I also attended the Lesnar “homecoming” show in August 2015, and I must say that WWE is doing some serious damage to Lesnar in his adopted hometown. As hot as the fans were for Lesnar’s homecoming, he ended up being attacked by Undertaker and never delivered any meaningful offense. This time around, he simply stood there as Heyman spoke. Why not reward the hometown fans with a simple dark segment during the commercial break where Lesnar takes out a mouthy undercard wrestler with an F5? The Minnesota fans love Lesnar, but there’s only so many times they will pay good money to see him do little more than make his entrance and stand by while Heyman does the talking.
Bayley and Dana Brooke: The live crowd crapped all over this segment once they realized they were getting an arm wrestling match rather than an actual wrestling match. Make no mistake about it, the loud “we want wrestling” chant was not heat for Brooke, it was the crowd telling WWE that they weren’t playing along.
Bo Dallas vs. Curtis Axel: The Minnesota fans always show native son Axel love. The problem is the rest of the world doesn’t seem to care. Insert my weekly complaint about the ridiculousness of asking fans to take Bo seriously when he carries a giant campaign sign to the ring with him.
Golden Truth vs. The Shining Stars: I found myself checking the time for the first time in the evening. That said, I did get a kick out of Titus O’Neil working the ringside fans as a heel during this match and his WWE Superstars match.
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...