By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and Roman Reigns opening: A fantastic opening segment with Strowman interrupting Kurt Angle before he could announce the SummerSlam main event followed by Joe and Reigns stating their own cases for being No. 1 contender. I’m normally a fan of going with singles matches over Triple Threats or Four-Way matches, but this is definitely an exception. The Four-Way match feels huge and is more than worthy of the SummerSlam main event slot.
Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson in a No DQ match: A good, intense brawl between Balor and Samson that never seemed to lose the fans despite going over 18 minutes with two commercial breaks. I like the story told with Samson targeting the shoulder of Balor consistently throughout the match combined with Balor doing a really nice job of selling it. The interference by Bray Wyatt would have meant more had they not felt the need to foreshadow it last week via his promo on Balor. If the plan is for Balor to use The Demon persona at SummerSlam, then hopefully Wyatt will continue to get the better of Balor in the weeks ahead so that it feels like Balor is using his alter ego for good reason and not just because it’s a big show.
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks: The crowd was fairly quiet to start, but the women won them over with a match that started friendly and built to the point that they were trading slaps and eventually punches. The finish of the match was odd in that Bayley took a frogsplash and simply rolled over Sasha and pinned her. Bayley going over was surprising in that I didn’t know if we would actually get a clean finish, and if we did I assumed they would go with Sasha winning and then challenging Alexa Bliss. I’m curious to see if it will be business as usual between Bayley and Sasha coming out of this match or if this finally leads to a Sasha heel turn.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel: A solid match with a really good post match angle. It’s nice that Ambrose didn’t just forgive and forget after one win. Instead, he walked away from a Rollins hug and then left him hanging when he went for a fist bump. The reunion of Rollins and Ambrose felt underwhelming until this angle played out. I found it interesting that Sheamus and Cesaro were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Is this a hint that Rollins and Ambrose will challenge for the Raw Tag Titles at SummerSlam? Hopefully the fact that Sheamus and Cesaro also watched the previous tag team match isn’t a sign that they are going with yet another multi-team match designed to get everyone on the show.
Big Cass vs. Enzo Amore: A minor Hit for the match with Enzo continuing to show more heart than brains, while Cass continues to look dominant. The post match angle with Big Show featured a few too many Empire Elbows, but they are doing a solid job of setting up the likely Cass vs. Show match for SummerSlam.
Nia Jax vs. Emma: It was encouraging when Emma approached Kurt Angle and even threatened to date his son. The Emma positivity was washed away the moment Angle booked her in a match against Jax. Yet while this was not Emma’s night, it was a strong win for Jax, who received a great reaction for her summersault splash finisher.
Jason Jordan vs. Curt Hawkins: Jordan is acting like the nicest guy WWE fans have seen since Rocky Maivia. Things worked out pretty well for that Rocky guy, but only after he turned heel because the fans rejected his nice guy schtick. My guess is that the idea is for Jordan to lay it on thick now as part of a storyline that will eventually reveal that he is pulling a ruse on Angle. Either way, he made a good impression during his squash match win. I’m happy they didn’t go right to Jordan performing the Olympic Slam or the ankle lock. I’m sure they will be added to his moveset at some point, but it would be wise to save them for bigger moments.
Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson: A minor Hit for The Revival getting another momentum building win. It will be interesting to see if Gallows and Anderson were babyfaces for the match against fellow heels or if this is a new direction for them going forward. The live crowd reacted to Gallows channelling Ogre from “Revenge of the Nerds” with his “nerds” taunts, and they even reacted to being told that D.C. is a “good brother town.” I’m all for shaking things up with Gallows and Anderson given how creatively disappointing their heel run has been.
WWE Raw Misses
Announcement of Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns: The advertised main event for next week’s show is about as big as one could realistically expect the company to give away. So why did it receive the same level of fanfare than the announcement of the matches announced for tonight’s 205 Live television show? It’s certainly encouraging to see WWE advertising matches a week out, but they really should have made a huge fuss over this one.
Akira Tozawa and Titus O’Neil: Titus has gone from portraying a goofball wannabe promoter to apparently being a serious promoter who cares about the wellbeing of his clients. Neither version of his promoter gimmick has helped Tozawa or the cruiserweight division. The bright spot of the cruiserweight division at this point is Ariya Daivari, who went from being cast as a glorified enhancement wrestler to suddenly being thrust into the top mix.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Allysin Kay discussing Friday's NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, Melina dropping an unexpected f-bomb on NWA Powerrr, the WWE Mae Young Classic experience, her time as Sienna in Impact Wrestling, working in Japan, the Tessa Blanchard controversy, and more...