Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt, Drew McIntyre and Sheamus vs. AJ Styles, The Miz, and John Morrison in a handicap match, U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Jeff Hardy in a non-title match

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw Hits

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt: I’m still not sure whether creative wants viewers to be siding with one heel over the other, but this feud continues to be more compelling than anything else on the tired Raw show these days. Granted, that’s not saying much, but I am enjoying their latest feud far more than their previous encounters (no slideshows, please). The production trick at the end of the show with The Fiend replacing Wyatt was a creative way to use the lack of fans in the building to the company’s advantage.

U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Jeff Hardy in a non-title match: A soft Hit for a fresh matchup. It was nice to see Hardy get a night off from the awful Elias feud. I’m not really sure why WWE didn’t make this a title match since Lashley was going over anyway, but it was still a mildly entertaining non-title match. And on this show, even mildly entertaining is good for a Hit. By the way, if the heels think Riddle is a joke and even the babyfaces are clearly annoyed by him, why do the creative forces expect viewers to find him endearing?

WWE Raw Misses

Overall show: Of all the weekly pro wrestling television shows that I cover, Raw is the least enjoyable. WWE would struggle to fill two hours of Raw these days, and their sad attempts to fill three hours is making for a painful viewing experience. The creative forces spend so much time protecting the babyfaces that most of the heels have been drained of any semblance of heat. And when those overly protected babyfaces don’t have strong heels to work with, they are going to fizzle out quickly. There was a time not all that long ago that Smackdown was the lousy show, but the Friday night series has bounced back nicely. I’d love to think that Raw could do the same, but the show is so bad right and so many of its characters are in such a bad place right now that it’s hard to imagine a quick turnaround.

Drew McIntyre and Sheamus vs. AJ Styles, The Miz, and John Morrison in a handicap match: The McIntyre and Sheamus storyline is solid, but it’s something that should be simmering on the back burner rather than overshadowing what’s happening with McIntyre and Styles heading into TLC. By the way, can someone explain why McIntyre vs. Styles is a TLC match? For that matter, can someone explain why Styles is produced to act like a pest heel than a strong heel going into his title match? Most importantly, can someone explain why we are subjected to McIntyre beating up the hapless duo of Miz and Morrison every damn week? We get it, they suck and can’t win any matches without cheating. Once creative felt the need to show us that McIntyre could beat them both in a handicap match that really should have been the end of their television feud. Instead, it just keeps dragging on, presumably because they think that Miz holding the Money in the Bank contract is a compelling hook. It’s not. I have been a Miz defender over the years, but he’s been defined down so badly that there’s zero appeal in him holding the MITB contract, let alone in the thought of him cashing in successfully.

Raw Women’s Champion Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler in a non-title match: This was just plain depressing. With the right build, Asuka vs. Baszler could be a strong title match at WrestleMania. Instead, it’s just a throwaway television match designed to push the lousy feud of Asuka and Lana challenging Baszler and Nia Jax for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles. Will this company ever take the time to build up one of the wrestlers to be a credible threat to Asuka?

Ricochet and Dana Brooke vs. Slapjack and Reckoning: Has anyone else noticed that Lana is essentially playing the same character as Brooke, who constantly tells us how hard she’s worked to prove herself in WWE? Poor Mia Yim has had two matches on Raw and she’s lost both by pinfall to Brooke. Retribution went from being rebels who were out to destroy WWE to losing throwaway television matches in record time. Give it up. It’s over. Retribution is channel changing material. Scrap this awful faction and give these wrestlers a chance to get over using their previous personas.

Kofi Kingston vs. Shelton Benjamin/Cedric Alexander matches: No, I’m not giving out a Hit just for good in-ring work. Kingston and Xavier Woods have already plowed through the soft Raw tag team division. Benjamin and Alexander felt like a fresh act that should have taken the tag titles to give Kingston and Woods a fresh team to chase. Instead, the New Day duo beat Benjamin and Alexander in back to back title matches, and now the company seems to be clumsily trying to set up the need for a third match by booking singles matches between the tag team wrestlers. And they can’t even give the heel duo a meaningful win. Rather, they had Kingston beat Benjamin clean, then booked him to lose to Alexander only after establishing that Kingston was working on a bum knee. So even when one of the heels went over, the babyface had an excuse, which negates the heat that the heels should be generating.


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