Aleister Black (artist Joel Tesch © PWTorch)
WADE KELLER PODCAST – EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN’S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
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Orton vs. Styles vs. McIntyre – HIT: This triple threat was well set up in the opening segment. That opening was solid, but not quite good enough to get a Hit. Both the talking at the start and this match followed up nicely on AJ Styles’ imitation of Randy Orton last week. Drew McIntyre’s presence was interesting to keep the Styles vs. Orton feud going since they clearly didn’t settle their issues here. They can have interaction in the Royal Rumble and continue to build to a final match between them after that (either on a big Raw, or at Elimination Chamber or whatever other PPV they have in February). This was a good match with McIntyre ultimately going over in the end. I continue to be intrigued by McIntyre’s current character, and I take away any previous objections I had to him going babyface.
Street Profits – MISS: Please put these guys in a feud with a good heel tag team and take them out of this Raw hype men role.
Charlotte vs. Logan – MISS: Sarah Logan got nothing from her pre-match attack on Charlotte Flair last week. She got even less in taking such a quick loss here. If this had been a squash match last week without trying to pretend that they were giving something to Logan, it would have been fine. But by setting it up last week without delivering enough for Logan, this became another disappointment. I still don’t know what Charlotte’s character is. She seems like a babyface in certain ways, but a babyface doesn’t order a referee to get her robe for her after the match or hold the ropes for her. That is 100% heel. And officials don’t cary robes for competitors in any sport. WWE needs to stop that crap.
Main Event Hype – HIT: We got to see two backstage segments this week with the six men who would be in the main event Fist Fight in the first hour of the show. Since the opening segment had nothing to do with the main event, it was smart to have these scenes, first with Seth Rollins talking to the Authors of Pain, second with Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and The Big Show, in the first hour of Raw. They had a chance to underscore the new rules for the match while recapping the storyline and getting over their personalities. It was all well done.
Lesnar, Heyman, Truth – HIT: Like pretty much everyone watching Raw, I did not expect R-Truth to interrupt Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar. Heyman and Lesnar were great to start the segment in the way they reacted to the fans booing them. That was followed by a typically strong promo about how Lesnar will dominate the Royal Rumble. Truth’s interruption has been polarizing. I have mixed feelings about it. Part of me says that Lesnar shouldn’t be part of anything comedic or lower card like Truth. Part of enjoyed it in the moment. It was funny. Lesnar played his part well in being amused by Truth while Heyman grew more and more agitated. I laughed when Truth undeclared himself for the Rumble when he realized it was Lesnar and not Heyman who was going to be in it. The physicality at the end worked well and set up Mojo Rawley to win the 24/7 title after the break, although I don’t really care about that.
Lashley vs. Rusev – MISS: In a vacuum, the physical wrestling action in this match between Bobby Lashley and Rusev was fine. It wasn’t great, but it was good enough. The problem is that this storyline has been so terrible, that I was looking forward to this match putting an end to it. Instead, we are getting the mixed tag match next week with Lana and Liv Morgan involved. The ending of the match was weak with Rusev allowing himself to be distracted by what was happening outside the ring. That happens far too often to WWE babyfaces.
Contract Signing – HIT: I wish WWE would do away with contract signings since it is clear that not all matches have contracts, so it doesn’t make sense. This could have just been a face to face interview conducted by Jerry “The King” Lawler instead of a contract signing and it would have been fine. Both Becky Lynch and Asuka played their roles well. The mist in Becky’s eyes was as good twist. Becky was great in selling the pain in her eyes. The fact that she was able to fight through that pain and demand a microphone was badass of her. Her promo at that point was certainly the highlight of the segment. WWE continues to do a great job of hyping this match as a major selling point for the PPV.
Andrade-Mysterio – HIT: WWE continues to do a great job of building anticipation for the next week’s show. They are doing a better job of hyping things next week than they used to do for the current week’s show. Here, Andrade and Rey Mysterio were interviewed back to back to talk about their United States Championship ladder match next week. They were both good in their delivery and it helps to make that match feel special and give us something to look forward to seeing next week.
Black vs. Murphy – HIT: I complained about WWE continuing this feud despite the fact that I was certain that a 3rd match between them would be very fun to watch. It was. They continue to have these hard hitting, physical matches. The announcers were good in talking up how Buddy Murphy felt confident that he had discovered a strategy to finally defeat Aleister Black. Lawler was great in talking about his own history of certain opponents who he had trouble with in his career. That’s a great sports-like use of the announcers that WWE is usually lacking. This also set up the twist in the main event with Murphy being despondent afterwards and just sitting at ringside after failing to beat Black again.
“Fist Fight” – HIT: I put Fist Fight in quotation marks, because it didn’t feel like a Fist Fight. I wish WWE had come up with a different name for the match, because the idea of a no DQ / No Count Out / No Pin Fall / No Submission match where the referee has to stop the match when all wrestlers from one team can no longer continue isn’t a bad idea at all. But, it didn’t seem like a fist fight. The match was short, but with the action taking place in two different places with tons of physicality, the six of them were able to pack in a ton of action into that short time. I should probably say the seven of them as Buddy Murphy got involved. That was all very well done with Rollins begging Murphy to join them and help during the match and him ultimately attacking Big Show from behind. I am intrigued by Murphy joining with the Monday Night Messiah. It makes his 3rd match against Black make more sense as it gave him a reason to join Rollins as he had this soul crushing loss. That was a very good story they told with him and I look forward to seeing where they all go from here.
CHECK OUT JASON POWELL’S ORIGINAL HITLIST ON THIS PROGRAM HERE.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.