Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: Undertaker, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman, Mick Foley fired, Chris Jericho’s real Kevin Owens segment, Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw Hits

Mick Foley firing: Foley opening the show with his prepared statement and then lashing out made for a strong start to Raw. Foley’s character has been inconsistent at times, but the story of him standing up for himself prior to his storyline firing was really well done. It will be interesting to see whether he plays a role at WrestleMania or if he had to be written out before then due to surgery. It will also be interesting to see if Seth Rollins stands up for Foley next week by tying in Foley’s future with the company into his own match. After all, Foley could always return to television following surgery. If that’s not the plan, then who is next in line to play the role of general manager to Stephanie McMahon’s commissioner role? I listed Kurt Angle as my pick before they gave the role to Foley. At this point, though, it feels like it would actually be more logical if Stephanie hired a push over character rather than someone else who might stand up to her, so they will need a good excuse if she hires Angle.

Chris Jericho’s Real Kevin Owens segment: The tease for Jericho interviewing the “real Kevin Owens” left me somewhat fearful that this was going to be more of a comedic angle. Instead, Jericho nailed it by positioning Owens as someone who worshipped him. The only minor issue with the approach Jericho took is that it further pushes the idea that WWE wrestlers look down on young fans for “marking out” in the manner that 16 year-old Owens did. It’s one thing when heel Charlotte looks down on young fangirl Bayley, but it seemed a little odd for the babyface to be mocking fandom. They got it back on track by having Samoa Joe provide the distraction that led to Owens getting the better of Jericho yet again. The build to Jericho vs. Owens has been really good. The only thing missing is making the U.S. Championship feel like it matters.

Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn: Another very good television match from Joe and Zayn. The push of Joe on the main roster continues to be terrific. He’s a remorseless assassin who continues to destroy his opponents. Zayn put up his usual good fight and had a strong night overall. His verbal exchange with Stephanie McMahon was a pleasant surprise. He’s that rare wrestler who can lose more than he wins, yet when it’s done right, he manages to maintain his popularity. There will come a time when WWE will have a chance to capitalize on the Zayn’s character’s struggles with a huge payoff if they play it right.

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman with Undertaker: The Reigns vs. Strowman match was not as good as their Fastlane battle, but it was still an entertaining television main event. The appearance of Undertaker got them out of a finish in a way that the live crowd didn’t seem to mind. Reigns spearing a distracted Taker seemed to give him the edge this week, but Taker sitting up and staring him down also made Taker look strong. It will be interesting to see what they have in mind for the final show and how Strowman plays into that or even their WrestleMania match.

Triple H interview: This feud started with Hunter delivering a promo that made me feel like he wanted to be the babyface. Ever since then, Hunter has done a great job of being the obnoxious heel, and his performance in the sit-down interview with Michael Cole was no exception. Hunter giving Rollins a chance to sign a legal document that will make this an unsanctioned match was a nice touch and sets the stage for one more confrontation between the two on next week’s go-home show.

Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass in a handicap match: A minor Hit. The match was brief, but the angle of Stephanie punishing Sheamus and Cesaro for thanking Mick Foley put them in the sympathetic position of trying to keep their spot in the tag title match. It turned out to be a decent hook for the segment involving the tag title match participants.

Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese: A minor Hit for another showcase win for Aries heading into his title match with Neville. By the way, does WWE realize the tease of “Aries delivers a message to Neville” on 205 Live is the pretty much the same hype they gave the show just two weeks ago? The post match angle with Aries standing his ground and telling Neville that he knows he fears him was well done.

WWE Raw Misses

Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke: The Brooke babyface turn led to her being pinned clean in forgettable fashion just one week later. I didn’t expect this to be a spotlighted feud so close to WrestleMania, but why not keep them apart until after WrestleMania and try to get a little more out of it?

TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick: A match involving two former WWE Cruiserweight Champions was given less than 90 seconds. If I didn’t know better I would think that WWE was contractually obligated to air two cruiserweight matches per week and this was their way of begrudgingly honoring a commitment. I understand that it’s WrestleMania season and these guys don’t really factor into their plans, but why not just limit them to one segment that actually matters. By the way, the Stephanie McMahon character didn’t even bother to punish the cruiserweights who thanked Foley, which sends a bad message.

Bayley vs. Nia Jax: The lopsided loss for Bayley leaves her looking weak heading into the four-way at WrestleMania. And while I understand the logic of making the champion seem vulnerable, the build to the match has been so disjointed that it’s hard to really care about who leaves the biggest show of the year with the championship. It’s up to the women to bring people in through their work during the actual match because the creative has been far more confusing than compelling.



Readers Comments (1)

  1. Jason, you sure do have a lot of hits for a show that so many people think is getting worse by the week. You’d think it wss a late 90’s, early 2000 type show with all those hits.

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