By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins vs. The Miz to become No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental Title: A hot main event that managed to set up three different feuds. The in-ring action was great and this was the best that Balor has looked on television since returning from injury. Speaking of injuries, Rollins appeared to dodge a bullet with that rough landing he took on the springboard cross body block. The Miz winning was not a surprise in that he has been trading verbal jabs with Ambrose since they both arrived from Smackdown. The interference by Samoa Joe was also expected and sets up a likely Extreme Rules rematch with Rollins. Finally, Bray Wyatt told Balor a while back that he would be watching him. So all of this set up the feuds we expected to see, but the way they got there was really well done and created a hot close to the show.
Bray Wyatt and Kurt Angle: An intriguing verbal exchange with Wyatt and Angle appearing together on camera for the first time. Angle has settled in nicely into a more serious role than he was playing on his first night as general manager, and I’m genuinely curious to see where this segment leads. The abrupt ending left me wanting more.
Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Emma, and Alicia Fox vs. Bayley, Sasha Banks, Mickie James, and Dana Brooke: The women were given the better part of 30 minutes to open the show starting with the Bliss coronation that led to the match. Bliss continues to shine on the mic and it was also a pleasant surprise to see her go over Bayley again. It’s good to see the Bayley character face adversity. She was given too much too soon and the main roster creative team lost touch with that underdog character she played to perfection in NXT.
Austin Aries vs. TJ Perkins: A good match with Neville pulling the strings by planting the seeds with TJP that he had to take out Aries in order to get the number one contender status that he craves. The dynamic between Neville and TJP is interesting in that it doesn’t seem like Perkins is complete naive to Neville’s gamesmanship.
WWE Raw Misses
Sheamus, Cesaro, and The Hardys: A flat follow up to a strong beatdown angle at Payback There was nothing special about the Sheamus and Cesaro promo in terms of dialogue or delivery. The promo lacked passion and the segment concluded in forgettable fashion with the heels simply leaving the ring to avoid confrontation.
Luke Gallows vs. Enzo Amore: A minor Miss. I mentioned in my Payback Hit List that I couldn’t shake the feeling that regardless of which team lost the Kickoff Show match on Sunday, they would turn around and win a rematch on Raw. I was half right.
Rich Swann, Akira Tozawa, and Jack Gallagher vs. Noam Dar, Brian Kendrick, and Tony Nese: The match quality was certainly Hit worthy. Unfortunately, the live crowds continue to react to big moves rather than the cruiserweight personalities. It feels like many of these wrestlers have received enough television time to be more over than they are. That said, I don’t blame the talent, I blame the creative approach to the division and the just plain boring 205 Live show. By the way, did Michael Cole really tell us that 205 Live is all about Jack Gallagher handing out umbrellas to his tag team partners?
Heath Slater vs. Apollo Crews: A minor Miss for the sudden pairing of Titus and Crews. Granted, we’ve seen Titus recruiting Crews to his brand in recent weeks, but it always felt like Crews was rolling his eyes and blowing him off. Suddenly, Titus was in Apollo’s corner and seemingly with his blessing.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Frank Zarrillo discussing his film "The Wrestler: A QT Marshall Story", which includes appearances by Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Gerald Brisco, Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino, and many more, the involvement of Marshall's wife and mother, and much more. Stick around after the interview for Powell's audio review of Wednesday's AEW Dynamite television show...