By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
The Drew McIntyre and AJ Styles ascension ceremony: They got over the story that McIntyre could be facing Styles, Omos, The Miz, and John Morrison rather than just Styles at TLC. It’s actually sad that WWE creative failed to build up Styles enough to make him feel like a credible challenger on his own, but at least they put some heat on him heading into the pay-per-view while creating a scenario where McIntyre’s title reign could be in jeopardy.
“The Hurt Business” Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin vs. Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Jeff Hardy: The best match of the night and it filled a lot of time. Sadly, filling time is what so much of Raw feels like it’s about these days. It’s a show written by people who are just throwing their hands up while giving their crazy old boss what he wants rather than what they know would make for better television. It’s hard to blame them. The crazy old boss is going to do whatever he wants anyway, so why risk your employment by fighting for change that he’ll never sign off on, especially in a year where so many have been terminated or furloughed?
WWE Raw Misses
The Miz and John Morrison: WWE is in desperate need of meaningful heels, yet they continue to book Miz and Morrison as two of the biggest losers in the entire business. Worse yet, they keep putting them all over television in bad talkshow segments and main event matches. If wasn’t my job, I would have turned the channel when Raw opened with the Dirt Sheet segment. I’ve been higher than many on Miz’s mic heel work over the years, but both men have been beaten down to the point that there’s no way to take them seriously, even with Miz holding the Money in the Bank contract. It’s so bad that when they beat Keith Lee in a handicap match, the broadcast team sold it as an upset. Think about that for a minute.
Bray Wyatt’s field trip: As a viewer who wants logic in pro wrestling, I can rationalize the Firefly Funhouse madness of the puppets as being part of Wyatt’s mind games. But watching even the childlike R-Truth and Riddle characters interact with the puppets while backstage at Raw was about as corny as it gets. The hide and seek game between Wyatt and Randy Orton had potential, but it ultimately felt formula. You had to know exactly what was going to happen once Orton shoved Wyatt into the create. Orton setting the create on fire wasn’t enough to distract from just how predictable The Fiend’s latest appearance was.
AJ Styles vs. Sheamus: A decent match that overstayed its welcome and probably should not have been booked in the first place. Styles needed a clean and decisive win over someone heading into TLC, but WWE is trying to build up Sheamus for an eventual program with Drew McIntyre. As such, Styles had to work a more competitive match that didn’t help either man. If there’s some type of an agreement between the McIntyre and Sheamus characters that they want to go it alone during their matches, then it really needs to be emphasized every week, because McIntyre looks like an asshole for continuing to allow his buddy to be outnumbered.
Nia Jax vs. Lana: For a monster heel tag team, Jax and Shayna Baszler sure do lose a lot. I guess this was Lana’s moment since they pulled her from the tag team match at TLC. The company booked her to take nine bumps through the broadcast table only to pull her from the match on the go-home show. Strange.
Shayna Baszler vs. Dana Brooke: Badass Baszler needed Jax to interfere to save her from Dana F’n Brooke. Enough said.
Ricochet vs. Mace: Ricochet got out of his numbers disadvantage feud with The Hurt Business to enter a numbers disadvantage feud with Retribution. WWE continues to waste Ricochet on the main roster, and they stubbornly move forward with the terrible Retribution faction. Retribution initially vowed to destroy WWE. Now their only purpose seems to be feuding with someone their leader wants to join the faction. It’s awful. Give it up already.
Riddle: Riddle’s match with MVP went the way that it needed to with Riddle going over strong. The problem is that the main roster Riddle character is insufferable. Do we really need a second R-Truth character on the same brand?
Elias and Jaxson Ryker: Do they really think that they can heat up the tired Elias act by adding Ryker to his act? I guess I should at least applaud the recognition that Elias’s act needed something new. The Elias character was tired before he took time away due to injury. Rather than use that time to retool the character, he came back doing the same part-time musician schtick. Sure, eager live crowds will chant along with his catchphrases once things get back to normal, but the act is ice cold if you suffer through the Raw television show every week.