By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Goldberg, Paul Heyman, and Rusev: Goldberg slipped. I’m over it. It wasn’t so egregious that fans who were excited about his return are going to look at him differently. Granted, it didn’t provide confidence that he’s ready to hold up his end of a high profile match, but the match quality question mark is actually a selling point for this viewer. Rusev was the right guy to take the Jackhammer. Obviously, it looked physically impressive for Goldberg to perform the move someone that size. And I’m all for making Rusev a monster heel, he’s more comedic than he is a monster these days, and he’s coming off yet another loss to Roman Reigns. Getting roughed up by Goldberg isn’t going to damage him any more than he was already was coming into the segment. It was also wise to have Heyman interrupt Goldberg before he could say more. Yes, Goldberg was really good on the mic in his return to television, but that was him feeding off the crowd and being genuine. Goldberg was never a great promo, so why take chances when they have one of the best talkers in pro wrestling history who can step in and handle that end of things?
Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho for the U.S. Championship: A strong television main event with the even better post match angle with Seth Rollins coming out to save his former Shield teammate. It’s odd that this came one night after Reigns referred to Rollins as his “little brother” in The Shield, but it also produced the most positive reaction the fans have had for anything involving Reigns on Raw in quite some time. It will be a nice hook if they save their first time teaming together for Survivor Series. I still don’t believe this or anything else Vince McMahon can come up with is going to lead to the anti-Reigns crowd changing their minds about him once he goes back to working singles matches, but it still makes for interesting television. Hey, what if Reigns turned on Rollins and cost Team Raw the match, which would screw over his enemy Stephanie McMahon as well? Yeah, I’ve pretty much given up on a turn too. On a positive note, it was good to see Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens working harder to get heat rather than laughs.
Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: This wasn’t the best cruiserweight division match we’ve seen and it did feature the “near miss” with Perkins landing on his head while trying to perform a huracanrana over the top rope. The positive of the night as far as this feud is concerned is that Kendrick was finally given an opportunity to heel on the fans. It didn’t lead to much crowd enthusiasm during the the match, but it was a step forward. The finish was also solid in that it helped drive home that Kendrick is willing to take whatever shortcuts he can to remain on top of the division.
Charlotte promo: A strong gloating promo over her win at Hell in a Cell followed by a nice exchange with her revisiting the role of the mean girl picking on poor Bayley. That’s the formula that worked for Bayley in NXT, and it’s nice to see them getting back to it on the main roster. One change I would have made is replacing Bayley’s speech about not wanting to be like Charlotte with her simply looking sheepish after Charlotte tore her down. Bayley’s response didn’t get much of a reaction, but the crowd would have popped big if they had built to a future moment when Bayley finally stands up for herself.
Nia Jax vs. Bayley: A strong return for Jax as a big gun for the Raw women’s team at Survivor Series. WWE hasn’t done a great job with Bayley since they called her up, but the mean girl approach followed by her loss to Jax should go a long way toward helping reposition her as the lovable underdog.
New Day: The joke of the three members dressing as Kama Mustafa, Papa Shango, and The Godfather (all played by the same guy) was a fun joke for longtime fans.
WWE Raw Misses
Enzo Amore vs. Luke Gallows in a Trick or Treat Fight: WWE opened with the Goldberg segment and then showed us Byron Saxton in footie pajamas before going to this Halloween themed sports entertainment silliness. I can honestly say that I would have turned the channel at this point in the show had I not been covering it. The Goldberg segment was the only thing they made feel newsworthy coming into the show, so once it was over and they broke into Halloween mode, I would have assumed that this was going to be yet another night of sports entertainment style holiday nonsense. Fortunately, the rest of the show was lighter on the holiday content, but I wonder how many viewers checked out at this point.
Byron Saxton: Why does WWE always feel the need to have one of their broadcast team members act like a dorky jackass? Jonathan Coachman did it. Michael Cole did it. And now Byron is carrying on the tradition. This could be a weekly miss, but they really took it to a new level by having him wear footie pajamas and then acting scared when Cole surprised him after they watched the worthless footage of Goldust and R-Truth walking through a haunted house. I feel bad for Saxton in that they’ve destroyed his credibility and he’s nothing more than a punching bag for Graves. Worse yet, you don’t feel like Graves is bullying Saxton when he heels on him, you feel like the heel color commentator is right to pick on the guy.
Battle Royal: The match was all about Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn, which was fine given most of the other talent involved. It was a decent showcase for Strowman. Still, I couldn’t help but think that Mick Foley looked bad as a general manager for giving some of the other guys a shot to represent his brand in the Survivor Series match that only the authority figures and heels who want to be captains seem to care about.
Rich Swann, Lince Dorado, and Cedric Alexander vs. Ariya Daivari, Drew Gulak, and Tony Nese: Another good six-man tag match from the cruiserweights. The in-ring action isn’t the issue. Rather, it’s a case of everything other than the cruiserweight champion and his challenger feeling like filler. I like that some attempt is being made to establish Swann. The rest of the guys just feel like extras performing high spots. Character development is the key.