By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt: What a difference a good segment can make. I was bored by the thought of the feud at this time last week. Wyatt had fallen into the trap of delivering promos that felt like he was speaking randomly and could have inserted the name of any opponent in. In this case, Wyatt’s promo was specific to Rollins and played off of Seth’s comments. It was a big change for the better and breathed some life into their program.
Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns: A good match that played to a surprisingly lifeless crowd until the closing minutes of the match. The distraction finish used here and in Joe’s recent Raw match with Seth Rollins were similar, but this one played out much better in that they managed to establish Joe as being highly competitive with Reigns in that he took some of his bigger moves and still managed to kick out and return the favor. Thus, when Reigns backed into the corner and set up for one of his signature moves, it didn’t seem like a foregone conclusion that his character would have connected or scored the pin had Braun Strowman not provided the distraction. Strowman’s return was also a Hit and it sets up a terrific one-two punch with Brock Lesnar vs. Joe and Reigns vs. Strowman at the Great Balls of Fire event.
Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson: A good television opening match. It was hard not to feel a big disappointed in terms of how big this match would have felt a couple of years ago before Gallows and Anderson signed with WWE and were turned into an undercard act. They are capable of more and deserve better. That said, the match was entertaining and the crowd was hot for the Hardys.
Elias Samson: It was a good night for Samson, who strayed away from the song of the week about the random host city and instead drew heat by demanding silence from the crowd as he tuned his guitar. His segments with Finn Balor were well done. It is a bit concerning that they appear to be setting up a Samson and Balor feud, as both guys feel like they need wins and momentum. Either way, I have enjoyed Samson on the main roster thus far more than I ever did in NXT.
Finn Balor vs. Bo Dallas: Dallas stood out in a positive way with his improved look and aggressive style. I was actually speculating that he might be a good fit with Bray Wyatt, but instead he’s playing a role as an entourage member for The Miz.
Miz TV with Maryse: A minor Hit for the ongoing issues between Miz and Maryse. It’s nice to see them come up with something for Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Here’s hoping they come up with fresh opponents for Miz and Ambrose, as the feud has more than run its course.
WWE Raw Misses
Big Cass reveal: First off, the performance of Big Cass was a solid Hit. He delivered his promo with confidence and got his heel run off to a good start. The Miss is for the overall segment. Kurt Angle should stick to pro wrestling because he won’t make it as a private investigator. Angle promised that the mystery would be solved by the end of the night, yet for some reason they had Corey Graves stand up and play the role of the guy who cracked the case via security camera footage. One of the issues with Cass turning is that it’s hard not to agree with his logic. Enzo Amore was a pain in his ass in the storylines. I was actually hoping that when the time came for Cass to turn, Enzo would actually serve as his heel mouthpiece. Cass should do well in his role. I’m not as optimistic about Enzo flying solo, especially once they get through the obligatory feud with Cass. Enzo’s gift of gab will help him, but it will be interesting to see if he can improve his in-ring game.
Akira Tozawa vs. TJP: A good match, but it felt like they were trying to distract viewers from the match by focussing so heavily on Titus O’Neil’s antics and by having Neville come out to scout Tozawa. I’m still not sure why they think it’s a good idea to attach undercard Titus to Tozawa at the same time they are trying to elevate Tozawa into the number one contender role. It’s an oddball pairing that seems to be doing more harm than good.
Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews in a non-title match: Titus is recruiting Tozawa and now teaming with Crews against the heel tag champions. Does this mean Titus is a babyface now? The Titus Brand silliness was a turnoff in one segment per week, and now it seems like WWE is doubling down on it by including him in the cruiserweight division via Tozawa.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax: Creative seems to be trying to get all of the Raw women on the television show, but they are not doing it by featuring more women’s matches and storylines. Rather, they are cramming them all into the same segment in a way that doesn’t seem to be benefitting anyone in particular.