By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns in a Last Man Standing match: The opening minutes of the match gave me the feeling that the feud had been overexposed. And perhaps it has been, but the work of the wrestlers was strong enough that the second part of the match was a blast. Strowman throwing the office chair at Reigns was a great visual. The finish was odd in that the referee could have counted Strowman down and instead stopped to watch Samoa Joe get involved. That aside, it was also logical finish in that Joe gets a measure of revenge for last week. I can’t help but question whether it’s a good idea to give away this match and last week’s Triple Threat now rather than saving some of these bigger television matches for football season. Perhaps the goal is to hook viewers now with the goal of keeping them around once Monday Night Football begins, but unless they give away a Brock Lesnar match on television, I’m not sure they have any bigger television matches than the ones we’ve seen over the last two weeks.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose: The Ambrose vs. Cesaro match was a pleasant surprise in that they were given nearly 20 minutes of ring time. The thing I enjoy most about the Rollins and Ambrose pairing is the journey they are taking viewers on. These characters easily could have made peace quickly, but the creative team has shown patience by building to the moment. The live crowd was ready for it last night and were going crazy with anticipation when Ambrose finally stuck his first out, but they left the fans hanging just as Rollins left Ambrose hanging this time around. It will be interesting to see if they get on the same page next week or if Kurt Angle simply books them in the tag title match and they save the fist bump moment for SummerSlam. Either way, this has been terrific and it’s the most entertaining these characters have been in quite some time.
Brock Lesnar on Miz TV: A hot opening to the show with Lesnar destroying Miz and his cronies. It was strange that Kurt Angle was the person who introduced Lesnar and Paul Heyman considering that Heyman was so unhappy with Angle booking the four-way that he threatened that he and Lesnar will both quit if Brock loses at SummerSlam. Even so, this was a good segment and it’s a rare treat to see Lesnar get physical on Raw.
Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt: More of an in the middle than a true Hit or Miss. I’m still waiting for that moment in the build that they put real heat on Wyatt and give Balor a reason to break out his Demon persona at SummerSlam. At this point, it would feel like he’s putting on the face paint simply because it’s SummerSlam, not because the feud is so heated that the Balor character feels the need to use his alter ego. Here’s hoping we get that big heat moment on the go-home show.
WWE Raw Misses
Jason Jordan vs. Jean Pierre Goulet: This is actually a Hit if the goal was to make the Toronto crowd root against Jordan. Surely, they had to know that the Canadian crowd was going to get behind a local enhancement wrestler in a match against Kurt Angle’s red, white, and blue loving storyline son.
Big Show and Enzo Amore: This was not a great week for the Enzo and his latest seven foot friend. Enzo’s dated Austin Powers reference was an eye rolling moment, and the announcement of Enzo being put in a shark cage at SummerSlam was a head scratcher. On a positive note, it was nice to see Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson pick up another win.
Women’s Triple Threats and Bayley: The Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox vs. Emma match was the better of the two and was Hit worthy for match quality. The problem with the matches was that the outcomes of both felt like foregone conclusions. I’m actually happy they didn’t book an upset just to surprise viewers, but I also can’t say that this made for great television. Meanwhile, it was sad to see the Bayley character booed again. It’s another sign of just how poorly she has been booked since being promoted to the main roster. The NXT version of Bayley was loved by all. The main roster version of her character was booed even though she was the most sympathetic figure on the show due to the announcement that she’ll miss SummerSlam with a shoulder injury.
Akira Tozawa: Tozawa had a nice television match with Ariya Daivari, but I still can’t get past the oddball pairing with Titus O’Neil. Tozawa should feel like a true star of the cruiserweight division. Instead, he feels like an undercard wrestler because he’s stuck in an undercard goofball stable.