By Jason Powell
Check out my free audio review of this edition of WWE Raw at PWAudio.net.
WWE Raw Hits
Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Jason Jordan: Creative and the producers did a terrific job with the Jordan character this week. Jordan’s overconfident lines and the way they embarrassed Reigns and Rollins were gems. Meanwhile, the match was laid out with two key spots that resulted in Jordan costing his team the match and they were executed perfectly. Balor Club ended up scoring a needed win as the company attempts to establish them as a trio, but the real star of the match was Jordan. I want to be excited by Balor, Gallows, and Anderson teaming together again, but the company needs to give Gallows and Anderson some meaningful wins to help make fans forget how poorly they’ve been booked throughout their WWE run. I assume Balor Club will end up being heels because if Balor’s giddy grin isn’t heelish then I don’t know what is.
Braun Strowman, Brock Lesnar, and Kane: Strowman made the best use of a grappling hook I’ve seen since Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. This wasn’t the greatest of his over the top stunts, but hopefully that the idea is to make it seem like Lesnar is injured and vulnerable heading into his title defense at the Royal Rumble. There’s still no reason to think that the end result won’t be Lesnar beating Kane to retain the WWE Universal Championship, but hopefully they intend to at least play up the possibility of an injured Lesnar losing his title since damn near everyone assumes he will retain his championship at this point.
Matt Hardy vs. Curt Hawkins: A solid first in-ring outing for the Woken character. The post match angle with Bray Wyatt coming out and having a “Battle Laugh” with Hardy was more of the same as creative seems enamored with Hardy’s maniacal laugh. I continue to hope that they intend to send a camera crew to Cameron, North Carolina, where the best of the Broken Universe occurred.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville: There’s a risk of this coming off like parity booking, yet it felt like the babyface duo needed a win. Rose and Deville were given a lot of offense and the broadcast team gave heavy praise to the heels to help soften the blow of their loss.
Samoa Joe vs. Rhyno: A bounce back win for Joe following his loss to Roman Reigns last week. I watched the match again after WWE claimed that Joe suffered an injury that will keep him out of the Mixed Match Challenge. Joe entered the match with his elbow heavily taped (perhaps to sell his match with Reigns), but he showed no signs of being injured, so hopefully this is just a storyline injury created to pull him from the Mixed Match Challenge. By the way, I like the Rumble match teaser with Joe saying that John Cena will be the first man he eliminates from the match. It would be nice to see Joe get a measure of revenge for Cena’s oddly easy elimination of him from the Survivor Series match.
Enzo Amore vs. Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: A minor Hit for the finish keeping the feud alive with Amore taking a count-out loss. It will be interesting to see if they play this up as a legitimate injury or if they do something to show that Enzo was faking the injury to save his title.
WWE Raw Misses
Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews: I wouldn’t mind an upset win if I thought the team scoring the upset had some upside. Sure, Crews may have some upside as a singles wrestler, but the Titus Worldwide schtick does nothing for me. Titus has a good personality. I’ve just never understood why creative believes fans will get behind his wonky undercard management service gimmick.
The Miz returns: A minor Miss while also taking a wait and see approach. It was refreshing to see WWE treat Miz like a star with the video package that set up his return on both shows last week. The broadcast team played it straight rather than acting like Miz was being overhyped as they often did during his pest heel days. So what’s the problem? It felt like more of the same when Miz announced his intention to go after the Intercontinental Title again. Here’s where the wait and see comes into play. I hope they have a fresh idea in mind. Elias has been lingering around Miztourage and perhaps that will lead to Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas walking with Elias as his lackeys and thus setting up a Miz babyface turn. The idea of a babyface Miz chasing heel Elias for the Intercontinental Championship is far more appealing than yet another heel Miz title reign. Of course, they have to come up with a way to get the title off Roman Reigns and onto Elias in order for that to happen. And here’s hoping they do. Reigns doesn’t need the IC Championship heading into WrestleMania.
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