By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Chris Jericho and A.J. Lee returns: I love a good surprise. Many of us were spoiled by the frequency of wrestler jumps and surprise returns during the Monday Night War, but it's simply not as easy to pull of in 2014. The fact that we actually got two surprise returns (and Miz) in one night made for a really fun night of Raw. I love that Jericho is back to work with Bray Wyatt. They may trade wins or Wyatt may win all of their in-ring encounters, but you know that Jericho didn't come back to put himself over. He's back to elevate Wyatt and because he believes there's a good story to tell. Lee's return came amidst pregnancy rumors from gossip sites and with uncertainty regarding her standing with the company that was caused by her relationship with C.M. Punk and his own ongoing uncertainty the company. I was worried about WWE's direction going into the Battleground pay-per-view, but these returns breathed new life into the product and now have me feeling optimistic about Battleground and especially SummerSlam.
The Wyatt Family vs. Sheamus and The Uso Brothers: Another strong six-man tag match from these teams. The Wyatt Family got the win they needed coming out of their losing effort at the pay-per-view. They also had their strong moment later in the show when they put the boots to Jericho. The Uso Brothers are awesome, but WWE is running out of tag teams quickly. They can always put a couple of singles wrestlers together to form a makeshift tag team, but here's hoping there is some emphasis placed on developing tag teams in developmental.
John Cena and Roman Reigns vs. Kane and Randy Orton: The appeal of the match was seeing whether Cena and Reigns could coexist now that they are both in the four-way match at Battleground. I liked the storytelling with Kane trying to take out Cena so that Seth Rollins could cash in. I love the idea of Dean Ambrose threatening to spoil Rollins' cash-in attempts and the promo he delivered. However, I actually wish that promo would have occurred next week simply because it hurt what should have been great drama when Rollins came out to cash in on Cena. It was still a strong segment and Ambrose is clearly clicking with the fans, while Rollins continues to settle in nicely as a heel.
Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter vs. Rusev and Lana: The Real Americans stepping up to the Russian/Bulgarian couple was great. It's easy to cheer for Zeb because his character has been so comedic regardless of where you lean politically. Swagger showed good intensity during the segment in that he looked like a guy who wanted a fight.
Bo Dallas's moment of silence: Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person laughing at Bo's antics. The ridiculously long moment of silence cracked me up, yet the live crowd didn't seem amused. Screw them. The Bo Dallas act continues to be a Hit in my book.
Seth Rollins vs. Rob Van Dam: A good match. RVD loses a lot these days, yet it still felt like Rollins gained something by winning this match.
Cameron and Naomi: Cameron continues to play her heel role well. I still have all the same concerns about her being able to hold up her end in the ring, but I am impressed by the way she is playing her part. If nothing else, it's encouraging to see a Divas' storyline beyond the usual champion vs. challenger of the month.
WWE Raw Misses
Roman Reigns in the Battleground main event: I came out of Money in the Bank very curious to see what the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Battleground would be. Cena appears to have a date with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, so it seems like the outcome of his match at Battleground is very predictable. Therefore, I didn't want to see one of the younger stars fed to him in such an obvious situation, nor did I want to see him face one of the usual suspects such as Randy Orton or Kane in a singles match. I came away from Raw satisfied with the idea of the four-way match, yet shaking my head at the huge logic gap that was left when Roman Reigns was given a title match. This is the same guy who spiked the drink of Stephanie McMahon just to get into the MITB qualifier battle royal. Why would he suddenly be rewarded with a title shot? Why wouldn't Triple H put Cena in a four-way against Orton, Kane, and Seth Rollins or even himself? Triple H will probably do his best to fill the hole in his weekly interview with Michael Cole or in a television promo. While I appreciate that someone is trying to explain away these gaps, I wish the writing was strong enough that it wasn't necessary.
A.J. Lee wins the Divas Championship: As cool as it was to see Lee's surprise return, it was confusing to see Paige apparently turn heel out of nowhere and for Lee to seemingly be cast as a babyface. I don't mind the role reversals, but I do not like that it was so sudden with Paige. I was not a fan of Paige capturing the Divas Championship in her first night because I wanted her to go into chase mode. Obviously, it turned out that the move was perfectly logical due to Lee going on hiatus. In this case, I will only understand the title change if Paige is the one going on hiatus. Why not reverse the roles and build up to a real title match? Why not take viewers on a journey with Lee where she actually has to chase the heel champion?
Bad News Barrett stripped, new IC Champ to be determined via battle royal: Obviously, the severity of the injury forced WWE to take the title away from Barrett, but I felt like this should have been treated like a major moment that was addressed early in the show. Worse yet, I hate the idea of a battle royal determining the new champion. Sure, we just had a No. 1 contenders tournament, but I wish they would have come up with something more creative than a battle royal. Why not a one night tournament that airs exclusively as a WWE Network special?
Goldust and Stardust vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel: It feels like these teams have had more matches than McDonalds has served customers. There was nothing wrong with the match aside from the fact that I'm just bored with watching these teams work against one another. I do find it interesting that Ryback is encouraging the Feed Me More chants. He mentioned during a WrestleMania week show on the WWE Network that he would go back to that persona again someday and this left me wondering whether he is moving in that direction.
Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston: A minor Miss. Kingston gets the upset win during a commercial break and then Cesaro beat the hell out of him. I'm not sure what was really accomplished here since Cesaro lost something by losing, and then whatever Kofi gained was erased when Cesaro destroyed him. I guess we'll see where it goes.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango: A minor Miss. I guess Summer Rae is the babyface now that she's making out with Dolph Ziggler, but keep in mind that she only did so because she was trying to get under the skin of the heel who just jilted her at the pay-per-view.