By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte for the Raw Women’s Championship: WWE did it right. They didn’t spend the entire show reminding us of how progressive the company is by putting the women in the main event, or airing video packages that essentially give all the credit for the women’s movement to Stephanie McMahon. They simply acted like the women’s championship match belonged in the main event slot, and it certainly did. A very good match and one of the better Raw main events in recent memory. I assume Charlotte will be pointing the finger of blame at Dana Brooke, who was injured only after ignoring Charlotte calling for her to walk away from Bayley with her.
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho: I can’t give the match with New Day a Hit given that the guest stars sitting in on color commentary was too much of a distraction, but I love the build to the breakup of the best friends. Jericho’s tease of going after the Universal Championship got a huge reaction from the live crowd. His last babyface run went poorly, but he’s been so fun as a heel that it appears the fans will be with him when they pull the trigger. I love the way Owens no-sold the tease, yet immediately decided that going after the tag titles was a good idea.
TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick in a non-title match: The best showing for the cruiserweight division on Raw thus far. Kendrick continues to shine in his heel role. While it was odd to see the new champion lose to early in his run, it sets the stage for a rematch at the Hell in a Cell show.
Seth Rollins sit-down interview: Rollins still comes off a bit hypocritical in his complaints about Owens being handed the championship, but this interview did a good job of establishing himself as a babyface. He still hasn’t had that bonding moment with fans, but their reaction to him suggests that he’s starting to click as a babyface either way. By the way, is Stephanie still standing backstage with that sinister look on her face that she flashed while the camera focussed on her? They held that shot for so long that it left me wondering if Stephanie is actually a malfunctioning Westworld host.
Overall show: Raw built nicely to the main event and had less filler than usual. As I noted in my live review, I would have run the big Charlotte and Sasha Banks video package earlier in the show to further establish the main event for viewers with the goal of keeping them or at least having them flip back to see the main event. It just felt like they waited a little too long to kick in the big hype. Still, this was a better show than usual. Braun Strowman is ready to graduate from squash matches, Emma is going Emmalina, Titus O’Neil has a new gimmick, and they are trying to do something with Sheamus and Cesaro as a team. It wasn’t all successful, but at least it feels like they are putting more creative thought into the mid- and undercard rather than focussing so much on the top talent.
Roman Reigns and Rusev: A minor Hit for the build to their latest match, which appears to finally be the blowoff match. Just about the time I was encouraged by Rusev standing tall at the end, they had Reigns attack him from behind. Rusev just dropped the U.S. Title and fans will view him as a big underdog. They need to work to harder to make Rusev look like a threat to beat Reigns rather than being so focussed on making Roman look strong.
WWE Raw Misses
Sheamus and Cesaro: A minor Miss for the lack of creativity with their bickering. I still like the duo as a tag team, but it would be nice to see something other than bitching about getting lost and trying to cut in front of one another in the backstage walks. It’s not that it’s all lousy, it just feels like creative could be doing more with this.
Titus O’Neil: The grand opening of the Titus Brand resulted in a loss to Sami Zayn. I’m not suggesting that Titus should have defeated Zayn, but it’s hard to be excited about a new gimmick when the guy loses right away. That said, it’s certainly possible that this plays into whatever the gimmick is, so it’s more of a “wait and see” Miss.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. The Golden Truth: It was good to see a video package that emphasized the dominance of Gallows and Anderson. I assumed this would be a lopsided squash win. And it was for the most part, but I really could have done the moment when Gallows had to save Anderson from being pinned by R-Truth.
Rich Swann vs. Tony Nese: A minor Miss for the live crowd continuing to react only to the high spots and not to the individuals. Poor Swann was smiling and dancing and the live crowd just wasn’t responding to him prior to the match. Fortunately, I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before the fans start getting behind the infectious charisma of Swann. Meanwhile, it appears like they are slotting Nese as a heel. With Kendrick and apparently Nese, it’s encouraging to see that there will be babyfaces and heels rather than a bunch of good sports who shake hands before and after each match. So why do the cruiserweights have to play the Code of Honor game unlike the rest of the roster?