By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Goldberg’s return: The return of Bill Goldberg after a 12-year absence from WWE television could not have gone better. The live crowd treated him like a returning mega star, and Goldberg delivered the best promo of his career. It didn’t come off like he was given a bunch of scripted lines to recite. Rather, it seemed like he went out there and spoke from the heart and played off the crowd before delivering the big line at the end about Brock Lesnar not only being next, but also being last, signifying that this will be Goldberg’s final match. I assumed Goldberg wouldn’t say much because he was never known for delivering strong promos, but he spent a lot of time with a mic in his hand and this was a home run segment.
Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho: The real story was the ongoing saga of the Jericho and Kevin Owens friendship. Owens once again cost Jericho the match, leaving me believing that Jericho will still end up being added to the Hell in a Cell match. After all, they seem to be spending more time focussing on Jericho and Owens than they are on Rollins and Owens. My guess is that Jericho wins next week’s Triple Threat match and that earns him a spot in the HIAC match. The question of what his character would do is far more compelling than the current feud between Owens and Rollins.
Braun Strowman vs. The Mile High Trio: The best Strowman squash match to date. The highlight was Strowman sending one of the enhancement wrestlers flying high over the top rope before making a crash landing onto his partners at ringside. I also liked the way he chased down a smaller and quicker man and that Corey Graves was right there to put that over on commentary. The post match angle with Sami Zayn sets the table for what could be a fun David vs. Goliath feud.
Charlotte interview: This was the better of the two sit-down interviews with Lita. Charlotte was so condescending and confident. She has become an excellent promo and is one of the better heels in the business.
Sheamus vs. Big E: I got a bigger kick out of Sheamus’s Facebook game last week than watching Cesaro turn the tables this week, but there’s no denying that the live crowd ate it up. I can’t help but wonder if WWE would have been better off having Sheamus and Cesaro learn quickly that they are a badass tag team despite their differences. They could have been beating teams and establishing credibility heading into their tag title match. I assume they will beat New Day next week in an attempt to develop some late credibility. If Sheamus and Cesaro actually lose next week, then my guard will be up for an upset tag title win at the pay-per-view.
Brian Kendrick, Drew Gulak, and Anthony Nese vs. TJ Perkins, Cedric Alexander, and Rich Swann: A minor Hit for the in-ring action and the continued strong work of Kendrick. I love the way his character tagged himself into the match so that he could get the glory by locking Swann in Captain’s Hook for the submission win (even though it took an eternity for Swann to tap out). Swann continues to shine as the most charismatic babyface in the division despite losing most of his matches, and Perkins appears to be winning over fans slowly but surely.
WWE Raw Misses
R-Truth, Goldust, and Mark Henry vs. Titus O’Neil and The Shining Stars: It’s insulting to see the Shining Stars pimping timeshares and selling fake wristwatches. Sadly, this con bit is actually better than their Puerto Rico tourism gimmick. I never thought I’d see the day when there would be a match that carried the stipulation that the babyfaces had to buy fake Rolexes if they lost.
Rusev and Roman Reigns: WWE went back to the idea of boring the crowd to sleep with a long Rusev and Lana segment in order to get the favorable reaction they so desperately crave for Reigns. It worked, but does it really change anything? Rusev finally got some level of heat for attacking Reigns and leaving him lying, but it continues to feel like this feud is running on fumes rather than building to its peak heading into Hell in a Cell.
Bo Dallas vs. Neville: I’m cool with the move to give Bo Dallas a mean streak. Unfortunately, there’s only so serious fans can take a guy who carries a mock campaign sign and rhymes all of his lines. Meanwhile, I was left feeling bad for Neville, who deserves so much better than he’s getting on Raw. Can’t they just claim that his contract expired too so that he can move to Smackdown and be a player? Forget the idea of adding him to the cruiserweight division. Smackdown needs depth and star power and he could provide both if he were given a real opportunity. Neville getting on a roll and then challenge AJ Styles sounds like a lot of fun to me.
Dana Brooke vs. Bayley: A poor match with a clunky finish. It appeared Dana was supposed to get the pin while using the ropes for leverage. She reached her foot out to find the ropes, but she was too far away and instead got the clean win. I’m ready for Bayley to get her win back and move on. Brooke continues to be a better personality than she is a wrestler at this point in her career.
Big Cass vs. Karl Anderson: One step forward and two steps back for Anderson and Luke Gallows. I got my hopes up when they dropped the silly comedy schtick and started kicking ass. That lasted all of two weeks and then they lost to New Day again. Sure, they jumped Enzo Amore and Big Cass, but then we saw Cass destroy Anderson in this match. The formula is tired. Anderson and Gallows lay out an opposing team once a month and fans get excited by the possibility that creative is finally getting behind them. They have an actual match and the team they laid out beats them.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...