By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Braun Strowman vs. Dean Ambrose: A minor Hit for a decent match. I was actually hoping for a big stunt from Strowman following his clean loss to Brock Lesnar at No Mercy. Sure, he roughed up Curt Hawkins, but that attack wasn’t nearly as memorable as some of the other stunts he’s done in the past.
Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus: A fun four-minute television match. They weren’t out there long, but they made the most of their time. It was an odd call to announce the Rollins vs. Braun Strowman match for next week before this match. By doing so, it needlessly set the expectation that Rollins would win this match so that he was strong heading into next week. Major props to Cesaro for just appearing at ringside despite the dental damage he is clearly suffering through.
Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Emma: Creative seemed to think that the Bayley and Banks exchanges in the five-way No Mercy match were a bigger deal than the fans did. The tension between the two during their backstage segment was well played by both women, yet Bayley unintentionally framed this well by saying that it was every woman for herself during the five-way. In other words, there was no reason for the tension. That said, it’s possible this segment was a necessary part of a longer storyline, so we’ll see where it goes. The actual match was entertaining with the babyface duo getting the win over the weak link on the heel team while the dominant Jax was protected.
Jason Jordan and Matt Hardy vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas: A minor Hit for a decent show opening match. But was it really a good idea to go with Miztourage early in the show when some viewers were choosing between sticking with Raw and flipping to Monday Night Football?
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: This show gets my vote for the dullest edition of Raw in 2017. It doesn’t help that the company didn’t have access to Brock Lesnar or John Cena a night after their big pay-per-view matches. There will be plenty of times when neither man will be present and one can only hope that those shows won’t be as uneventful as this one.
Enzo Amore and Neville segment: Placing the cruiserweight wrestlers in the Raw main event segment is clearly the company’s attempt to give the division a spark. Unfortunately, it was more of the same with the champion and his challenger featured while the other cruiserweights felt like, well, the other cruiserweights. In this case, other the other cruiserweights just stood on the stage and took Enzo’s insult comedy jabs. Sure, they prevented him from leaving, but they all looked like chumps for just standing there and taking the verbal abuse while Neville’s character was the only one with enough of a spine to defy the unintentionally hysterical “no contact” paperwork that Enzo presented as if it was a park permit. None of this left me more anxious to see 205 Live or future cruiserweight segments. Rather, I came away hoping that Angle will ban Neville from the division so that he can escape this mess and move up to the secondary title picture on Raw or Smackdown where he belongs.
The Miz vs. Roman Reigns: A good effort from both men, but Miz has been positioned as a pest heel since moving to Raw so it’s hard to take his character as a serious threat to Reigns or other main eventers. Along the same lines, one can only hope that the reunited Shield’s first match is not against Miztourage. Everything seemed to point in that direction and perhaps it would be fine if they attempt to pop a rating by going with that match on Raw only to set up a bigger pay-per-view match (Braun Strowman, Sheamus, and Cesaro). I realize The Shield reunion is the attraction. At the same time, The Rock returning to team with John Cena was also a big attraction at Survivor Series 2011, but their match against R-Truth and The Miz didn’t generate as much excitement as it should have (only 36,000 more pay-per-view buys than the 2010 Survivor Series) because no one took their opponents seriously. By the way, how bad did Ambrose and Rollins look for not coming out to save Reigns from that never ending beatdown from Miztourage?
Finn Balor vs. Goldust: Goldust turned babyface and worked as Dustin Rhodes only to go back to being heel Goldust a week later. Sadly, he’s positioned as a glorified enhancement wrestler at this point and so there was no doubt as to which wrestler would go over. Bray Wyatt’s latest mind games after the match means that WWE isn’t finished with his feud with Balor yet. They had a good match at No Mercy, but this feels like yet another Wyatt feud that is overstaying its welcome. At this point, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Wyatt put his cult leader spell on Goldust with the plan of turning them into a tag team for an eventual feud with Ambrose and Rollins.
Elias vs. Apollo Crews: Did we really need a rematch from the Kickoff Show? Is anyone excited about Elias facing Titus O’Neil? Elias has been a pleasant surprise on the main roster, but it doesn’t feel like creative has anything planned for him beyond undercard feuds.