By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal for the Intercontinental Championship: Another quality outing for Rollins. It’s interesting that the broadcast team noted that he wants to be the fighting champion of the brand. It would be cool if they are planting the seeds for an eventual match between the fighting champion and the part-time WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar. For now, we’ll obviously be seeing Rollins feud with Elias following that big post match guitar shot that knocked Rollins off the broadcast table. It was a good angle and I’m anxious to see how Elias performs. He definitely has the gift of gab and an It Factor quality, and a feud with Rollins gives him a chance to show whether he can hold up his end in the ring.
Braun Strowman vs. Finn Balor: A good rematch from last week that made Balor look strong in that he’d hit his finisher once on Strowman and was preparing to go for it a second time when he was attacked by Kevin Owens. A different opponent may have been left looking weak in this scenario, but Strowman has been so dominant that many viewers were probably left assuming that he would have kicked out even if Balor had a second Coup de Grace. In other words, Balor looked good and Strowman lost nothing.
Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey angle: A minor Hit for Jax reverting to her heel persona heading into her title defense against Rousey. The initial angle at the NBC Upfronts was really weak because they were too chummy. They added some tension last week and Jax was back in all out heel mode this week with her destruction of the enhancement wrestler and with the insult directed at the live crowd. The segment did a good job of establishing that Jax isn’t intimidated by Rousey, which should help establish this as a showdown match.
Drew McIntyre (w/Dolph Ziggler) vs. Chad Gable: A good showcase win for McIntyre, who continues to feel wasted in the tag division on a brand that is desperate for meaningful heels. McIntyre won clean and thus there was nothing that pointed to Jason Jordan returning to reunite with Gable as American Alpha to feud with McIntyre and Ziggler. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but I haven’t seen anything in the booking that really foreshadows it. And as much as I enjoyed American Alpha, the shortage of meaningful singles heels actually leaves me hoping that Jordan will return as a singles act. He was just starting to click as an annoying heel prior to his injury and hopefully they can pick up where they left off with him.
Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Roode: A minor Hit. The right guy went over in that Owens needs more credible wins (and Roode needs a heel turn).
Raw Tag Champions Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. The Ascension in a non-title match: A minor Hit for another showcase win for Hardy and Wyatt. The Raw tag champs desperately need real rivals. Hopefully they get them next week via the tag team battle royal.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: More of an in the middle than a true Miss due to the circumstances. It was a holiday edition that aired opposite the seventh game of an NBA playoff series and the first game of the NHL Stanley Cup Final. WWE got the important business out of the way early on and then seemed to coast to the finish line with a mostly forgettable third hour. It wasn’t a fun three hours, but WWE took a logical approach given their strong competition.
The B-Team Memorial Day BBQ: A showcase of just how awful the Raw tag team division is. Granted, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, and Authors of Pain were not involved. Unfortunately, the poor Revival duo had to take part in this and their talents continue to be wasted on the main roster. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a holiday food fight. Here’s hoping there’s an even longer wait before the next one.
Gauntlet match for the final spot in the Women’s Money in the Bank match: A minor Miss for a mostly forgettable gauntlet match. The early eliminations felt rushed and yet by the time they got to Sasha Banks vs. Ruby Riott there wasn’t enough time for them to do anything that felt special.
Sami Zayn and Bobby Lashley: A minor Miss for a rather flat segment to set up their match at Money in the Bank. The actual match has a chance to be very good as you’d be hard pressed to find someone better than Zayn to make Lashley’s dominator offense look good. The problem remains that Lashley has never clicked as a babyface to the level that the company wants him to. It will be interesting to see how the Chicago crowd reacts to these two. I could see a lot of those fans siding with the heel Zayn over smiling babyface Bobby.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Todd Martin on his background, attending pro wrestling events in Japan, the NJPW G1 Tournament, why lucha libre companies haven't been as successful as NJPW in the United States, AEW optimism, covering pro wrestling and MMA, and more (68:57)...