By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
AJ Styles vs. Keith Lee vs. Riddle in a Triple Threat for a shot at the WWE Championship at WWE TLC: A Hit for a solid match. But the new Riddle character is awful. He’s R-Truth minus the charm. Babyfaces walk away to avoid having conversations with him, and it’s hard to blame the heels who mock or even attack him. I was hoping that Lee would win this match to set up a full length pay-per-view match against Drew McIntyre at WWE TLC. Rather, WWE took the predictable route by going with the veteran. On the bright side, McIntyre vs. Styles looks really good on paper. Here’s hoping that they don’t get saddled with a bad TLC gimmick match.
A Moment of Bliss with Alexa Bliss, Randy Orton, and The Fiend: I still have no clue whether creative wants us to side with Orton or The Fiend, but I also can’t deny that the segment was compelling.
Xavier Woods vs. Cedric Alexander: A good match that could have used more time. It looks like the plan is to circle back to yet another rematch with Woods and Kofi Kingston defending the Raw Tag Titles against Alexander and Shelton Benjamin despite the fact that the New Day duo has already beaten the challengers twice.
WWE Raw Misses
Drew McIntyre and Sheamus vs. The Miz and John Morrison: McIntyre’s line about how the Money in the Bank contract is the only thing keeping Miz relevant hit too close to home. Miz and Morrison are talented guys who should mean a lot more than they do. They are pest heels who lost constantly, which really defeats the purpose. But WWE just keeps putting them in television main events. WWE tried to give this a hook with the possibilities of Sheamus turning on McIntyre or Miz cashing in the MITB contract, but it just wasn’t enough. The show closing gag with AJ Styles talking trash while Omos carried him off gave off a Cameron Grimes vibe. This would have been fine if Styles were clowning around in a mid-card program, but it’s not what I want to see from him heading into a WWE Championship match at the pay-per-view. I wish the creative forces dedicated more time to putting heat on the heels rather than coming up with ways to make them comedic.
Ricochet vs. Slapjack: Retribution went from trying to take down WWE to simply feuding with Ricochet. Retribution should follow in the footsteps of the Raw Underground concept that debuted the same night the faction did by simply disappearing without explanation. There’s no saving this. Pull the plug and give everyone involved a fresh start and a real chance to get over.
Jeff Hardy vs. Elias in a Symphony of Destruction match: Hardy continues to feel wasted in this needless feud. Elias is ice cold because the company made no changes to his act coming off of his injury layoff. The finish of the match was frightening, as Hardy performed a Swanton Bomb from the top rope that drove Elias through a table on the floor, then slammed his head on the bottom ring step in the process. Hardy seemed to be okay after the match and hopefully that’s still the case today.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka and Lana in a non-title match: Nine table spots later and Lana remains an unlikable babyface. Meanwhile, Asuka has already plowed through all of her singles challengers and has no one to defend the Raw Women’s Championship against. And it’s not like creative is using the time that Asuka is wasting in this tag team feud to build up a challenger. That probably means that either Jax or Baszler will be next in line unless Charlotte Flair is coming back.
Reckoning vs. Dana Brooke: It doesn’t get much worse than losing to Brooke in a debut match. I felt bad for the broadcast team. It’s bad enough that they have to pretend like they don’t recognize Mia Yim when she has the Reckoning mask on, but the damn thing fell off seconds into the match and they still had to act like they’d never seen her before. This match becomes a Hit if it somehow leads to Yim leaving Retribution and the bad Reckoning gimmick behind. Mustafa Ali scolded her for losing, so hopefully that will lead to a breakup and wasn’t just an attempt to further cement him as the faction leader.