By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Elias for the Intercontinental Championship: An entertaining match with some quality near falls for the challenger. Elias gained something in defeat. He didn’t seem the least bit out of place while in the ring with a main eventer, and it was cool that he broke out a top rope elbow drop in a big match. I love the addition of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel to Elias’s act even as a short-term move. It creates some fun storyline possibilities for The Miz and Elias once Miz returns from filming The Marine 27 (or whatever the count is up to). Will this lead to a Miz babyface turn? His last babyface run was disappointing in that he still came off like a pest heel more than a true babyface, so hopefully some changes would be made this time around. It was a good night for Reigns overall in that he got more cheers than boos despite flying solo.
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro: A long and entertaining match that was slotted perfectly. My first thought was that it was a mistake to tell viewers early in the show that there would not be a Shield appearance due to Dean Ambrose being on his honeymoon. However, this match needed to be in the opening slot. The same match likely would have been greeted with a less enthusiastic crowd response had it taken place later in the night as we’ve seen with other time filling singles matches involving tag team wrestlers that fall flat while airing in the middle of the show.
Absolution: A minor Hit for a quality follow-up to their debut last week. It was wise to go with the beatdown angle rather than giving away their first match as advertised. It is a bit concerning that Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville are being slotted as minions who idolize Paige. While there’s no doubt that Paige should be the featured player of the trio, hopefully Rose and Deville will be positioned as strong wrestlers with their own personals and not just as hero worshiping sidekicks.
Bray Wyatt vs. Matt Hardy: Hardy’s post match “Delete” gestures and the story the broadcast team told about his demeanor and frustration set the stage for a Broken or Woken Matt in WWE. Did Anthem finally do right by the Hardys? Is it a coincidence that Matt was in the ring with Wyatt when he started to go down this road?
Kane vs. Jason Jordan: The Hit goes for Jordan once again playing up the knee injury only after a monster opponent took offensive control. The post match attack by Kane targeting Jordan’s bad knee was a good move as it gives Jordan plausible deniability. That’s important for Kurt Angle’s character as he would look bad if Jordan’s manipulations were completely obvious to everyone but him. Granted, most fans already seem to see through Jordan’s character, but at least Angle can point to this attack while buying his storyline son’s story.
Samoa Joe vs. Titus O’Neil: A minor Hit. The match was more competitive than expected, but Joe was dominant over both Titus and Apollo Crews in the end. It was a good night for Joe, who had yet another convincing beatdown when he attacked Roman Reigns after the Intercontinental Title match. Joe is the best in the business when it comes to delivering believable beatdowns. They look good from a physicality standpoint and he enhances them with his words and intensity.
Akira Tozawa vs. Noam Dar vs. Rich Swann vs. Ariya Daivari in a four-way qualifier: A minor Hit. If nothing else, it’s nice that we’re getting three weeks of meaningful cruiserweight matches thanks to this four-way and next week’s four-way leading to a No. 1 contenders match.
WWE Raw Misses
Braun Strowman and Kane: A flat finish to the show and a weak follow-up to last week’s angle. Strowman got total revenge on Kane for last week and even doubled up on the chair to the throat move that Kane used to injure him. None of this left me anxious to see where they go from here. In fact, I’m hoping that the feud wraps up sooner rather than later. It’s worth noting that this was merely a solid show and not anything special despite the lopsided Hit count. It was good to see that every segment seemed to have a purpose and they weren’t just filling time.