By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Sasha Banks vs. Ember Moon vs. Ruby Riott in a Triple Threat Money in the Bank qualifier: My favorite match of the night. Unfortunately, the live crowd got caught up in some commotion with a fan apparently being ejected and a lot of them missed a key portion of the match that started with Sasha’s big flip onto Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan at ringside. The interference by Logan and Morgan that cost Banks the match was ridiculous. I get that Triple Threat matches carry the no disqualification stipulation, but it’s asinine to think that heels can simply interfere so blatantly and babyface authority figure Kurt Angle doesn’t make changes to the format. That said, I really enjoyed the match and it’s great to see Riott thriving. It was also good to see Bayley attempt to help Banks if only because it means we are a step closer to their petulant bickering with one another being resolved in some manner.
Roman Reigns vs. Sami Zayn vs. Finn Balor in a Triple Threat Men’s Money in the Bank qualifier: A good main event that put Balor in the MITB match. It didn’t receive a lot of play from the broadcast team, but it’s interesting that Kevin Owens told Zayn that he had his back in this match and yet never came out to help him. The crowd booing Reigns was par for the course. Jinder Mahal costing him the match sets him up with an opponent that is unlikely to be cheered. However, it doesn’t mean that fans are a lock to side with Roman either. The match could be met with apathy or an absolute rebellion with fans highjacking the match. It will be very interesting to see if they actually hold this match in front of the tough Chicago crowd.
Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens in a Money in the Bank qualifier: Another win for Strowman, but it was encouraging to see Owens look more competitive than most with the big man. Owens still showed some fear and was clearly a heel before and during the match. Still, I wonder if they are about to turn him babyface via whatever they are doing with him and Sami Zayn. I’ve said for a while now that Owens has breakout babyface potential if his turn is done right. Of course, we’ve seen Owens and Zayn appear to be on the verge of a breakup many times and they’re still together, so seeing is believing at this point.
Seth Rollins vs. Mojo Rawley for the Intercontinental Championship: I was actually hoping that Bobby Lashley would follow his bizarre promo by taking up Rollins on the open challenge and doing something over the top violent during their match. I didn’t know who would actually serve as the open challenger, but Rawley stepping up felt underwhelming initially. But then Rollins and Rawley had a good match that helped Mojo gain something in defeat. This was Rawley’s best outing on WWE television. I’m curious to see if he can start to perform at this level consistently and what creative will do to follow up with him. It was a bit discouraging to hear Rollins say he wants to make the Intercontinental Title the most important belt on Raw if only because so many fans want to see him be the one to take the WWE Universal Championship from Brock Lesnar.
Jinder Mahal vs. Chad Gable: Sure, it was disappointing to see Gable follow his upset win over Mahal with a clean loss, but it was definitely the right move. Raw has a serious shortage of meaningful heels coming out of the Superstar Shakeup and they have to make an effort to get Mahal and others seem as strong as possible. It’s unfortunate that Roman Reigns, Bobby Lashley, and Bobby Roode all feel miscast as babyfaces (and there’s no doubt that Drew McIntyre could be positioned as a strong singles act as either a babyface or a heel), but it’s hard to believe that the company will budge on Reigns or do a bunch of rapid fire heel turns to solve the problem.
Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno: I still don’t understand why the company paired McIntyre and Ziggler. They can be a quality team, but it feels like a waste of McIntyre. That said, I like their finisher and the new spot with McIntyre hanging Slater upside down over the ropes to set him up for a Ziggler superkick from the floor.
Baron Corbin, Scott Dawson, and Dash Wilder vs. No Way Jose, Titus O’Neil, and Apollo Crews: A minor Hit for the company giving Corbin a win. Again, they desperately need to make their heels matter so it was a wise call to give Corbin his win back over the mid-card party guy. Here’s an idea. Move McIntyre to the singles division and give The Revival the push that they have planned for McIntyre and Ziggler.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: A lopsided count with more Hits than Misses and yet the overall show is was a Miss. As noted many times over the years, the Hit/Miss ratio isn’t always indicative of whether the overall show was good. In this case, while I can find some positives in what WWE did creatively in many cases, the overall show really dragged and exposed the brand’s lack of meaningful heels.
Bobby Lashley sit-down interview: This was one of the strangest interviews to ever appear on WWE television. Lashley’s sisters tied him to a tree and left him alone in the woods for hours? Hey, maybe that’s the tree that Braun Strowman tore down. Anyway, one of his sisters had a filthy security towel that she carried with her everywhere? His younger sister permanently scarred his face because he took the helmet that she carried with her everywhere? We all have quirky family stories, but this was one weird attempt to make a smiling babyface. Here’s hoping this somehow leads to Lashley turning heel. The guy was so effective in that role in TNA and the Raw brand is desperate for strong heels. What am I missing?
Bobby Roode vs. Elias: It was hard to stay focussed on the match. Elias is a really fun character with a lot of upside. The Glorious Roode character is getting colder by the week. The Glorious entrance theme love was fun while it lasted, but now we’re left with a flat babyface character whose only personality trait is his love of the word glorious.
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel in a non-title match: There was nothing really wrong with the match other than it felt like filler. Meanwhile, I continue to hope that Dallas and Axl become security or roadies for Elias.
Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...