By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe: It’s rarely pleasing to have a match end without an announced finish, but Braun Strowman showing up and attacking both men made this a rare exception. Strowman continues to be the hottest act in the company, and the Raw title picture looks great with Brock Lesnar as champion with three strong contenders. It will be interesting to see if they end up going with a four-way at SummerSlam. As much as I normally prefer singles matches, this is also an exception in that Lesnar, Strowman, Reigns, and Joe meeting in the same ring is a great spectacle and a worthy main event match for the company’s biggest show of the summer.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose: Rollins showed good emotion while finally apologizing to Ambrose for turning on him. The fans are anxious to see a Shield reunion, and WWE would be wise to have Reigns address this in some fashion to lower the expectations of fans if they are not building to the full fledged reunion in the very near future. Perhaps it’s as simple as Reigns saying that Rollins and Ambrose need to work out their own issues while he focusses on the Universal Championship. Meanwhile, The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel had their best night together. The serious attack of the babyfaces was well done. Miz is a great performer and he’ll obviously handle the bulk of the mic work for his trio, but I hope they also find ways to establish actual characters for his sidekicks.
The Hardy Boyz vs. The Revival: I had storms in my area that led to losing my satellite signal during the match. I was hoping to watch it in full via Youtube, but WWE only aired a portion of the match. With that said, I like the decision to put over The Revival. Obviously, it could play into the Hardy Boyz slipping into their Broken ways if they can get the IP rights from Anthem. Either way, they helped establish The Revival over the last two weeks and even gave a win to the criminally underutilized Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson last week.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley in a non-title match: Bayley seems to be gaining momentum after creative completely lost their way with her character. The involvement of Nia Jax was a bit puzzling in that she’s played the role of protector for Bliss before, but that storyline seemed to end when they had their match, so they have yet to really establish why she is helping the Raw Women’s Champion again. Even so, Sasha Banks helping Bayley by fighting off Jax gave Bayley another win over Bliss and set the stage for next week’s No. 1 contender match. I thought we might be getting a four-way for the title at SummerSlam, but having Jax interfere in the Banks vs. Bayley match would feel too similar to Strowman interfering in the Reigns vs. Joe match.
Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson: An entertaining match with Samson finally putting his guitar to use in the hometown of Double J. Perhaps he should have visited Jeff Jarrett for tips on how to deliver the guitar shot, as he ended up hitting Balor on the side of the head and sliced him open in the process. The announcement of the No DQ match for next week was a nice touch. I wish they had waited a week to have Bray Wyatt show interest in Balor. While there’s no way of knowing how Balor vs. Samson will play out, now the guard of viewers will be up for Wyatt interference or at least a post match attack on Balor.
Big Cass, Enzo Amore, and Big Show: Enzo continues to deliver quality promos even if he typically overstays his welcome by a couple minutes. I can’t help but wonder if things would have played out differently had Enzo had been given this type of promo time when he and Cass were teaming. They mostly did their entrance schtick and we rarely heard Enzo speak so passionately about their tag team feuds. It was Cass’s week to stand tall over Big Show after being roughed up by him last week, and that part of the angle came off well.
Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari: I have no idea why WWE is suddenly obsessed with Hassan Yazdani, but it was a pleasant surprise to see an unexpected finish in a cruiserweight match on Raw. Daivari’s targeting of the shoulder combined with Tozawa’s effective selling made the ref stoppage finish work. The idea that it was Titus O’Neil asking for the referee to stop the match is an interesting twist. Titus has toned down most of the cheesy elements of his character (now scrap him leading theTitus Worldwide chant) and it will be interesting to see where Tozawa’s frustration with him calling off the match leads.
WWE Raw Misses
Jason Jordan introduced as Kurt Angle’s son: I’m not opposed to Jordan being cast in the role as Angle’s biological son, though I can’t help but wonder if Chad Gable would have been a better fit simply because of his personality and promo ability. Even so, the real issue with the angle was that it lacked sizzle. It was just to cut and dry. Angle introduced Jordan as his son, they hugged, and that was it. It was hard not to be left wanting more from WWE’s big mystery reveal segment. I expected more of a circus atmosphere with interruptions and swerves before they actually delivered the payoff. The angle came off flat and uninspired, and that’s coming from someone who enjoyed the hell out of the American Alpha tag team. Imagine what casual viewers who only know Alpha from their main roster run are thinking. They have no reason to be excited by Jordan, whose recent Smackdown appearances have included him shaking his Gable’s hand on the stage and then having a forgettable appearance in the Independence Day battle royal. Still, I am looking forward to seeing where it goes from here. My guess is that this is ultimately revealed as a ruse orchestrated by Stephanie McMahon and/or Triple H, the only characters in WWE who are portrayed as intelligent enough to pull off something like this. Just once I’d love it if supposed master of the mind games Bray Wyatt was cast as the puppet master. If this is a Hunter angle, I hope that Jordan somehow benefits from this long term and isn’t just a forgotten pawn when they get around to booking Triple H vs. Angle. By the way, will Smackdown get a Raw wrestler in return for Jordan moving to Raw?
Mustafa Ali and Jack Gallagher vs. Brian Kendrick and Drew Gulak: This was fine for a two minute match, but the lack of time the wrestlers received made it completely forgettable. On a positive note, WWE did a better job of hyping the 205 Live show on Raw this week.