By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to my 50-minute Q&A audio show from Monday featuring my answers to their pro wrestling (and some non-wrestling) questions. The members will be listening to the Dot Net Countdown featuring Will Pruett and Jake Barnett on Wednesday. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by visiting the Dot Net Membership Signup Page.
WWE Raw Hits
Roman Reigns and John Cena: The Reigns promo was excellent. He had more time to fill than usual, but the verbiage remained true to the coolness of his persona. The jab at Cena followed by Cena's face-to-face response later in the show were effective in building anticipation for their showdown in the Fatal Four-Way main event of Battleground. The show closing angle did not hit home like it should have, but there's no denying that it felt like a moment whenever the two of them were in the same camera shot.
Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose: A good match with one botched spot. I'm not sure what happened when Ambrose leapt off the top rope and Orton had his back to him, but they recovered quickly and it did not ruin the otherwise entertaining brawl. I had no problem with Ambrose losing clean. Orton actually needed the win more than Ambrose. As much as I know there are fans who feel the company should go all the way with Ambrose right now, clearly the plan is to push Reigns to the moon. Ambrose needs to be kept strong, but I have no doubt that he is over enough and has such amazing mic skills that he won't lose anything despite being pinned here. Meanwhile, Orton looks stronger than he did coming into this show, which is necessary with him in the Battleground main event.
The Uso Brothers vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan: Another strong match from these teams. The live crowd was hot from the moment the introductions started. Their previous work has the fans amped with anticipation, which creates an excellent atmosphere for their matches. I thought we might get a Jericho and Uso Brothers vs. Wyatt Family six-man tag match at Battleground, but the non-title win for Harper and Rowan has me wondering if we're going to get another tag title match at Battleground. By the way, I really liked the straight forward call from Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler during this match.
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins: Another good night for Rollins, who is settling in nicely as a heel. I loved his backstage exchange with Randy Orton and Kane, as it established that he is just as cocky and arrogant as anyone in the company. Rollins and Cena worked well together and I suspect their future matches will only get better.
Chris Jericho, The Miz, and Bray Wyatt: A solid week two of the storyline between Jericho and Wyatt. Miz feels like a mid-card performer with a recycled mid-card gimmick, yet I will take this over the same old Miz persona that we saw for far too long. The focus is clearly on Jericho and Wyatt, but I am curious to see whether Jericho can somehow elevate Miz during this run.
A.J. Lee and Paige vs. Cameron and Naomi: A rare Divas tag match that jumped out on paper due to the dynamic between the two teams. I would like to hear more from A.J. It appears she is the babyface, yet she seems to be playing the same character that made her such a strong heel. Why should fans suddenly view her differently? Granted, it doesn't seem to be a problem right now because the fans are into her as the returning star, but it would still help the story and her character if there was some explanation for where she was, why she is back, and some sign that she has changed her ways. That said, I like the way Paige is being overly nice to A.J. and that they seem to be taking their time building up to the turn. I write that fearful that they will pull the trigger next week to get A.J. vs. Paige on the Battleground card, but I really hope it's a slower build to a match that occurs no sooner than SummerSlam. The Cameron and Naomi split had a good build. Now the key for both women is the followup.
Bo Dallas vs. El Torito: Hilarious use of the Bo Dallas character. I laughed out loud when he ran over Toritio while running his victory lap and never showed even an ounce of concern. Dallas is currently at the top of my wish list for winning the Intercontinental Champion battle royal.
Rusev vs. Rob Van Dam: Decent use of Van Dam, though it would be so much more effective if we didn't see him lose so often. I was surprised that we didn't see Jack Swagger after last week's hot angle. I don't know if they held off to avoid doing the pro-America gimmick in Canada or if he wasn't allowed to enter Canada because of his past legal issues.
Bret Hart: A good appearance from Hart, who seemed more energetic and engaged than he has been in other appearances. Damien Sandow is doing the best he can with the silly comedy segments he's being given. I think fans would be more understanding of these skits if they didn't involve a wrestler who had so much more to offer than sports entertainment silliness.
WWE Network push: Finally, WWE gave their network the same level of hype that they once gave Tout. I don't know why it took so long, but it was refreshing to see them spotlight their product in such a major way.
WWE Raw Misses
Nikki Bella vs. Alicia Fox: This was doomed from the start when the referee struggled to tie Nikki's arm behind her back. It didn't help for this viewer when Justin Roberts told viewers that the match was ordered by The Authority only to have the broadcast team question whether The Authority booked the match. If WWE wants viewers to care about Nikki then they need to give them a reason. It's currently all about pity because Nikki is being punished for Brie Bella's actions, not because there's been any attempt to have Nikki make a connection with the fans.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler: The match quality was fine, but this match just screamed WWE Main Event. I was also baffled when Justin Roberts introduced the match as involving two battle royal entrants only to have the broadcast team tell viewers that the winner would get a title shot against Sheamus on WWE Main Event. Sheamus and Del Rio work well together, but it's still hard to get excited about Del Rio facing the same opponents who viewers have seen him face countless times over the years.
Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston: It's nice to see Kingston get a little love for a change, but I don't know if it should come at the expense of Cesaro. Sure, Cesaro is in a better place than Kingston, but I fear that he's losing some of his mojo by putting over everyone's favorite WWE enhancement wrestler. It's an interesting mid-card feud. The problem is that it feels like Cesaro should be working his way up the card rather than moving backwards.