By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs. Elias and Jinder Mahal: Raw got off to a good start with the follow-up to the strong Rollins and Elias angle from last week. I still couldn’t care less about the Reigns and Mahal feud aside from seeing how Chicago crowd reacts to their match at Money in the Bank, but Rollins vs. Elias for the Intercontinental Championship is intriguing. The finish of the match was perfectly logical in that it gave Elias a win over the champion while Rollins was protected via his storyline injuries.
Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens: A well worked main event even though it was hard to be excited about yet another singles match involving the MITB participants. The idea that it’s all about momentum going into MITB would work so much better if fans hadn’t been conditioned over the years to know that it doesn’t matter in the least. So Owens has appeared in two previous MITB matches (along with ladder wars in ROH) and now he’s suddenly developed a fear of heights?
Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Roode: Another “momentum” match heading into MITB. Strowman smashing the ladder was entertaining, but Roode came away from this looking weak. In fact, the broadcast team put over Strowman smashing the ladder more than they did his win over Roode. Creative did nothing to protect Roode in this match and one can only hope that they are planning to turn him heel. The timing feels right since the live crowd reacted with silence to the glorious line in his promo. Roode is a talented guy and it’s time for him to get something more than this one dimensional Glorious persona.
Curt Hawkins vs. James Hardy: Fun use of the Hawkins losing streak. WWE could get more out of it if they were consistent in featuring him on Raw and if they settled in on whether they want fans to hope he loses or rally behind him heading into an eventual streak ending win. Remember all of the wasted tacos, pancakes, and last week’s food fight if the company ever takes part in a charity food drive effort.
WWE Raw Misses
Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax vs. Natalya: It seemed like the build to Jax vs. Ronda Rousey was on track last week when Jax heeled on the fans and took liberties with an enhancement wrestler. So why was she all smiles during her ring entrance this week? And why was she apologetic for Natalya’s character blowing out her knee in a non-contact spot? And why was Rousey upset with Jax for being apologetic and checking on Natalya? I thought what happened in the ring was going to lead to Jax attacking Natalya backstage. Instead, they chose to have Rousey and Jax look awkward backstage rather than put any sense of heat on the woman who seemed like the heel just a week ago. By the way, I assume they like having Rousey on commentary because they can feed her lines through the headsets. It’s not working. She was lousy on commentary and everything involving this trio was just plain bad.
Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon vs. The Riott Squad: So the babyface trio of Banks, Moon, and Bayley (who replaced the “injured” Bliss) were upset because new heel authority figure Constable Corbin refused to allow them to get away with cheating to win a match? The babyfaces looked petty and the heel authority figure came off like the voice of reason.
Bobby Lashley and Sami Zayn: Smiling babyface Lashley continues to be a disaster. He dresses like Chubbs from Happy Gilmore and the only reaction he received was when the Texas crowd felt the need to chant USA after Zayn questioned his military background. Zayn continues to do good work as a heel and yet I can’t help but wonder how much better this feud would be if the roles were reversed and Lashley was the monster heel and Zayn was the underdog babyface.
Tag Team Battle Royal for a shot at the Raw Tag Titles: This would have been a Hit if Drew McIntyre’s frustration over Dolph Ziggler being eliminated had been directed at Ziggler in a breakup angle. Instead, they just beat up the other teams before leaving the ring. The battle royal once again spotlighted just how weak the Raw tag division is. The Revival team is completely wasted. Tyler Breeze and Fandango could be a quality heel tag team, but they are still clowning around as quirky undercard comedy guys. Sadly, the majority of the division comes off like a clown show.
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt: This felt like a greatest hits style promo even though these two have been a team for less than two months. We know how creative Hardy can be and it seems like he’s not getting a chance to work his magic. He and Wyatt are cast as babyfaces and now they’ve been set up in a title match against a fun underdog duo in the B-Team who also come off as quirky babyfaces.