By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens: A good match that received zero buildup. How could they not find time in a three-hour show to have the best talker in the company set up his main event match with Styles? The match intrigued me despite that omission because it featured two of the three men I had pegged as favorites to win the MITB match. It felt a little obvious that Styles was going to lose when they had him breakup with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows before the match, but I like that they didn’t have the duo interfere in the match and instead gave Owens a clean win. Styles will be just fine despite losing two title matches to Reigns and this match to Owens as long as he gets good creative. His breakup angle was nothing special, yet I am curious to see what happens next.
Charlotte turns on Ric Flair: The segment gets a Hit even though the story felt rushed and could have been much better if it had been given more buildup. We saw Charlotte stop her father from woooing last week and that’s the extent of the foreshadowing or storytelling that went into this move. Charlotte didn’t handle the crowd’s “What?” treatment well, but she was believable once she moved past that and vented about her father before giving him the boot. I’m not sure what to make of Dana Brooke being labeled Charlotte’s version of “Uncle Arn” because we’ve seen such a small sample size. The pairing doesn’t jump off the page at me, but I’m keeping an open mind.
Sami Zayn vs. Sheamus: A good match that gave Zayn a small boost while also establishing the frustration of Sheamus rather than treating this as just another loss. It’s worth nothing that Zayn’s win would have felt bigger if Sheamus hadn’t just lost to Dolph Ziggler on Smackdown. Still, I like that Zayn beat a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion and is in the Money in the Bank match, and I also like that Sheamus has a purpose again as the curmudgeon fighting against the new era stars.
The Miz vs. Cesaro: A minor Hit for a good match with Cesaro looking strong other than when Miz exploited his storyline shoulder injury. The match went a little longer than it needed to and that’s coming from someone who wants to see The Miz character be positioned as more than a pest heel. The broadcast team mentioned that Cesaro beat the Intercontinental Champion, but it also felt like they could have done show with a little more enthusiasm.
Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon: We didn’t see them at Extreme Rules and their appearances were brief on Raw. It feels like creative is finally showing some discipline with McMahon family members, who always work best when they are saved for key moments rather than being overexposed. I still don’t buy Stephanie’s nice girl routine, but her backstage segment with Seth Rollins had to happen to further her storyline.
WWE Raw Misses
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns: The segment itself gets a Hit because the Rollins promo was well delivered and the setup for the Money in the Bank main event was solid. The reason this is in the Miss section is because I feel that both men are miscast. Yes, Reigns playing the part of “The Guy” leads to passionate crowd reactions. Is there any reason to think that he wouldn’t elicit passionate crowd reactions if he were cast as a true heel? The fans booing him now would continue booing him, and it would be easy to turn the fans who currently cheer him against him because they tend to go with the flow. Meanwhile, Rollins returned to a hero’s welcome. The fans want to cheer the star returning from knee surgery. Sure, he was able to turn the crowd against him by rejecting their cheers and, yes, WWE desperately needs a top heel. Seth played the top heel role tremendously prior to his injury, but let’s not forget that the Rollins act was starting to lose steam prior to his injury to the point that WWE had to pull back on his long in-ring talking segments. Seth’s new slogan is “Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim.” By the end of this segment, I felt like rerun applies in that we’ve been there and done this with Rollins. If so many fans want to boo Reigns, and the masses wanted to cheer Rollins, then why fight it? Obviously, it is very early in the story and there will likely be twists and turns along the way, but in the moment I was left thinking more about what could have been. The current dynamic will work, but I do not believe it will be as big as it would have been for as long as it could have been if WWE officials gave the fans what they wanted.
Enzo Amore’s return: It was great to see Enzo return from the concussion he suffered at Payback, yet there was something underwhelming about it. The minor Miss of a segment peaked when Enzo walked onto the stage. I expected a stellar promo from Enzo, but it was only decent compared to some of his past gems. Enzo’s return should have felt like a major moment, and instead it quickly became just another segment.
Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler: Why is this still a thing? Corbin’s backstage mic work was lousy. He definitely delivered better promos late in his NXT run, so hopefully this was just an off night. Ziggler’s delivery was fine, but his line about stealing the show at the end feels so empty given that I can’t even remember the last time that I felt like a Ziggler match truly stole a show.
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler: No, this isn’t pick on Ziggler week. The in-ring work was solid, but I question the logic of putting a babyface vs. babyface match on so late in the show. The Baltimore crowd lost their enthusiasm earlier than most crowds, and I couldn’t blame them for sitting on their hands throughout most of this match. Ultimately, I like that Ambrose is in the MITB match and he and Owens are my favorites to win. WWE may see the match as a way to get him back on track, especially with his buddy Roman holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In fact, I hope they have him at least tease the possibility that he could win MITB and cash in his contract to make the MITB main event a Triple Threat. They would be crazy to go with that match without officially advertising it well in advance, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t tease the possibility.
Chris Jericho vs. Apollo Crews: The ridiculous number of bandages that Jericho wore to sell his thumbtack spot cracked me up. I still have no idea what happened when Jericho went for the Lionsault and Crews kipped up right into Jericho. Were they going for a dynamic spot or was it just miscommunication? Jericho feels cold coming out of his poorly received program with Dean Ambrose, and Apollo’s character hasn’t been established well enough for fans to rally behind him at this point. Hopefully his program with Sheamus will change that.