Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: Kevin Owens wins the WWE Universal Championship, Triple H returns to TV, Bayley and New Day vs. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and Dana Brooke, Stephanie McMahon and Paul Heyman, Chris Jericho vs. Neville

newrawlogo1By Jason Powell

WWE Raw Hits

Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Big Cass: A terrific four-way match with good action and plenty of drama. The payoff of Owens winning the championship was excellent. It was the right move for WWE to make in that it gives them someone fresh and seemingly vulnerable on top heading into the Monday Night Football season. WWE wanted to send the message of change by having Finn Balor and Sasha Banks win the top championships of their respective divisions, and they were dealt a tough hand when both wrestlers went down with injuries. As much as it felt like Owens was the right choice going into the match, I still couldn’t shake the belief that WWE would go with one of the usual suspects in Rollins or Reigns. Instead, they doubled down on the change vibe by going with Owens. It was a good move for the company and a great moment for Owens and his longtime fans.

Triple H: As much as I fear that Raw is going to be dominated by whatever the story is between Hunter and Stephanie, Hunter’s surprise return at the end of the show was completely unexpected and creates some very interesting storyline possibilities. Hunter attacking Reigns was a receipt for WrestleMania, but why did he take out Rollins and essentially hand the title to Owens? Is Seth turning babyface? Is Hunter going to be a babyface in a feud with his heel wife? Readers have asked if there’s a chance that Hunter is leading an NXT invasion. I hope not. I wouldn’t mind Hunter leading a small group of former NXT wrestlers, but I have no desire to see a roster splitting faction war, nor do I believe that’s where they are going. That said, at this point I have no clue where any of this is going and that’s a good thing. It’s so much more exciting than Reigns or Rollins winning the championship and feuding with one another again.

Opening segment with the four-way participants: A good way to showcase the main event, the new championship, and the personalities involved. The video packages for each wrestler that played throughout the show were also helpful in that regard.

Chris Jericho vs. Neville: A good opening match with Neville showing incredible athleticism. In an era where we see so many high spots in pro wrestling, Neville still manages stand out with his seemingly effortless execution of his acrobatic moveset. Meanwhile, Jericho is doing a terrific job as the snobby heel and he just strikes me as a guy who is having a blast playing his character. Of course, I am also curious to see how the Jericho character reacts now that his “friend” Kevin Owens won the championship. Jericho predicted that Owens would win, but will the Jericho character’s ego be able to handle it now that Owens actually did?

Sheamus vs. Cesaro: The big spot at the end of the match with Sheamus backdropping Cesaro into the side of the new ring post was creative. The heel jumping out to the 2-0 advantage is pretty standard in best of sevens, but I am still engaged in the series. I also liked Cesaro venting on the pre-show about not being included in the qualifying matches last week. Cesaro continues to vent about his character being wronged and it will be interesting to see where it goes.

WWE Raw Misses

Stephanie McMahon and Paul Heyman: I loved the idea of Stephanie McMahon fining Brock Lesnar just $500 for his SummerSlam antics. I was hopeful that she was going to take it a step further by collecting the fine money from Heyman, only to hand it back to him after announcing that she was giving Lesnar a $500 bonus for having the best match at SummerSlam. Instead of having Stephanie being openly anti-Shane McMahon, they went with some weird combination of Stephanie’s rah-rah women’s revolution speech, Heyman getting cocky, Stephanie flexing her muscle with Heyman, and Heyman apparently talking his way out of any punishment and then acting like he outsmarted Stephanie as he flashed a sly smile afterward. When it was all said and done, I had no idea what I was supposed to feel about the segment and not in a good thought provoking way, but rather in a “what the hell was that?” way.

Bayley and New Day vs. Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Dana Brooke: The latest Anderson and Gallows promo/skit did nothing for me, but at least they are done telling nut jokes. Why can’t these guys just be a badass heel tag team? I actually like the idea of Brooke adding some spice to their act, but it seemed like this was a one off given that she is still aligned with Charlotte. The most concerning aspect was the way Bayley was positioned. It was cool to see her act awestruck by New Day backstage because that’s true to her fangirl character. Unfortunately, it seemed to stop there, as Bayley acted way too confident in her second match on the main roster for my taste. I don’t expect WWE to hit the reset button and start over with her NXT character, but I hope they would incorporate some of the shyness and lovable lack of confidence that helped her connect with fans in the first place. Yes, her character developed confidence in NXT, but it’s perfectly logical for her character to be a bit overwhelmed now that she’s on the main roster and surrounded by her heroes.

Braun Strowman vs. Americo: I have officially reached the point of boredom with Strowman’s weekly squash wins. Part of the problem is that we are seeing the same formula with Nia Jax, complete with the enhancement wrestler being interviewed beforehand. I have found it more effective with Jax than Strowman thus far, though perhaps that’s because I have higher hopes for Jax in her division than I do for Strowman in his.

Sami Zayn vs. Jinder Mahal: A minor Miss for what felt like a missed opportunity. It was good to see Zayn continuing to sell the ankle injury from last week, but they had a chance to play it up more by having him work a competitive match with someone a little higher on the food chain. Instead, I never had a doubt that Zayn was going to win this match over Mahal, who didn’t even get a televised entrance.

Titus O’Neil vs. Darren Young: The flattest program in all of WWE continues to waste time on Raw.


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