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Opening Segment – Miss: I thought I’d give the opening segment a hit. The Usos (and Solo Sequoia) got off to a great start by talking about defeating The Brawling Brutes at the Crown Jewel and taking on The New Day on SmackDown. WWE is building up to a tag team championship match where New Day is trying to stop The Usos from breaking their record-long title reign. Both Jimmy and Jay were great on the mic here. Xavier Woods was also good when he and Kofi Kingston came out to disrupt. Then Kofi started talking and she went downhill. Don’t talk about being saddled with gimmicks. Woods’ promo also had some of that inside talk, but it was more subtle. Kingston breaks character to admit that they are pretending to be positive people. That’s their whole thing. So, aren’t they really about the power of positivity? If Matt Riddle hadn’t made a random and terrible appearance, this segment could have been saved as his old stoner gimmick. That’s disappointing. Now he just repeats the lame bong hit joke over and over again. what happened Ugh.
The New Day and Puzzle Vs. The Bloodline – Hit: At least that disappointing opening segment led to a good, long opening six man tag match. There was a ton of talent in the ring with these sixes giving up more than 20 minutes. It was fun to watch from start to finish. Sequoia getting the pin on Riddle made the most sense. This kept the sequoia strong. It kept any Usos or New Days from taking a loss. And Riddle can be abandoned at this point.
Mia Yim Returns – Hit: I’m surprised Mia Yim was never hired by AEW. The OC needs a woman to work with them to face Rhea Ripley on Judgment Day. I didn’t know who WWE would use to fill that role, and I’m glad it was Yim because she was underutilized in her brief first run with WWE’s main roster as part of Retribution. The scene was solid when she returned as the OC stopped Judgment Day from answering Seth Rollins’ United States Championship Open Challenge. Rollins was happy to slyly leave the ring as the two sides fought against each other. There was also a good follow-up to this segment with two backstage interview segments later in the show.
Otis vs. Elias – Hit: The match between Otis and Elias was okay, but very underwhelming. But, I’ll give it a hit to give Otis a much-needed win since Alpha Academy has lost so many times. Elias is not someone I would protect, so I was at a loss.
War Games Set Up – Miss: Ending the feud between Damage Ctrl and Bianca Bellar in War Games makes sense. The problem is that the feud didn’t go well. No team comes together. Both groups are less than the sum of their parts. I’m glad to see Nikki Cross in the role, but I don’t know if she thinks she goes with Damage CTRL any more than three other random women. I think we will get some mystery as both teams need one or two more members before PLE. The point is that I don’t care enough about existing teams to see who gets added to them.
The Miz – Gargano – The Miz: I had mixed feelings about what happened between The Miz and Johnny Gargano. I’m glad they’re confirming what Gargano said last week about Miz and Dexter Loomis’ relationship. The problem is that Gargano is impossible. If WWE wants to confirm what happened between Miz and Loomis, why fast-forward Gargano’s part of the video and open the question of its validity? Corey Graves immediately questioned the video, and Kevin Patrick agreed. Their match did not go well. It went too far. It has to be said of Miz’s ability in the ring that he had one of the worst matches in WWE with Gargano. Both of them get the blame for all the kicks that are so light. When Graves has to admit that the super kick was more like an above average kick, you know those strikes didn’t land. The way the Miz won suggests we might get a rematch which I’m not expecting. And at some point, they have Miz Vs. Getting Loomis would require moving the program along, but Loomis isn’t officially part of WWE yet.
Cross 24/7 Title – Hit: I would have been fine with WWE ignoring the title 24/7. I had almost forgotten about it. But, the fact that Cross won it from Dana Brooke and then tried to throw it in the trash was cool. Now hopefully Hornswoggle won’t find it in the trash and bring it back in a few years.
Lashley Destroys Rollins – Hit: I assume WWE wants to make Bobby Lashley a heel and Seth Rollins a babyface at this point. If so, mission accomplished. Lashley attacked Mustafa Ali from behind while Ali was trying to claim a US Open Challenge spot. Rollins was acting like a babyface all night long, a continuation of what we saw last week. And you’d definitely expect a beatdown from the heels of the babyfaces. The beating itself was physical and memorable. WWE wants a Lashley vs. Rollins feud, and that could certainly be a good one. I’m not sure how Lashley attacking Austin Theory in the next match fits into him being a heel. Maybe he has an explanation that means he wants to beat Rollins to regain the US title.
Rollins vs. Theory – MISS: Way to kill a gimmick WWE. I know some fans are totally over the Money in the Bank gimmick, so if WWE wants to get rid of it completely, that’s fine. But, if they decided to do it again next year, it was a mistake. I don’t like the idea of Theory cashing in for the US Title instead of the World Title. The opportunity presented itself to me, he is a former US champ and often brags about being the youngest. He has tension with Rollins. Besides, who wants to try to beat the Roman kings? So an argument can be made for this cash. The biggest issue is that he failed. He tried to win a lesser title, but he couldn’t do the job either. Why not conquer him? It would have been poetic to win the title from Rollins after Lashley destroyed Rollins, Rollins won from Lashley after Brock Lesnar attacked him. Theory needs the title more than Rollins. He could feud with some babyfaces over the title while Rollins and Lashley could have personal feuds before one or both of them go back after the US title. And as I mentioned above, making Lashley look like more of a kid to prevent Theory from winning unnecessarily muddies the waters.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits and Misses Specialist, providing his perspective on Raw and SmackDown every week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catch-up: VIP – 11/11 WWE SMACKDOWN RESULTS: Keller’s recap and Usos vs. New Day with the line on record, six-pack challenge to Rossi title shot, Escobar vs. Nakamura