By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley brawl: WWE saved the best of the build for last. The previous segments with the two men tearing each other down and looking like egotistical morons in tag team matches did nothing to sell me on their match at Extreme Rules. The pull-apart brawl was a significant upgrade and did a good job of establishing an intense rivalry between the two. The company took a match that held very little appeal for this viewer and made it feel like one of the most significant matches on the pay-per-view lineup all in one night.
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre: A very good main event. It’s encouraging to hear the way the broadcast team is gushing over McIntyre as it leaves me hopeful that the company has big plans for him despite the oddball decision to put him in a tag team with Dolph Ziggler. Establishing the duo as singles wrestlers is helping the situation and I continue to hold out hope that they will actually form a heel faction even if that traditionally hasn’t been a Vince McMahon staple. I really liked the added stipulation that McIntyre would be banned from ringside on Sunday if he lost the match. It gave the match an extra hook and didn’t tip off the outcome in any way.
Nia Jax and Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James: The match turned out to be a strong showcase for Jax, who showed good fire and was well received by the Boston crowd. The immediate post match attack by Bliss helped establish the Extreme Rules match, and Jax breaking the kendo stick without getting her hands on Bliss was well done. It is odd that Ronda Rousey sitting in the front row received so much hype from the broadcast team, yet wasn’t really a topic of conversation for the champion or the challenger.
Finn Balor and Bobby Roode vs. Elias and Baron Corbin: A good time filling tag match that showcased the Corbin and Balor feud heading into their match on Sunday. Roode was the right guy to take the pin in that his one note character is running out of steam. He’s a talented guy and one can only hope that they intend to turn him heel soon. The Elias musical performance that preceded the match was entertaining in that it was fun to see the crowd hanging on his every word to taking so much offense when he insulted their accent. The Itsy Bitsy Spider silliness will quickly be forgotten. The bigger problem with the Balor vs. Corbin feud is that it’s somehow shifted to featuring the same little man vs. big man verbiage that was just saw with Daniel Bryan and Big Cass.
Mojo Rawley vs. No Way Jose: A minor Hit for creative avoiding the usual parity booking trap by having Rawley win the rematch. WWE has only shown a portion of the Rosebud Reject entrance the last two weeks. Here’s hoping they come to their senses and realize that it’s doing more harm than good to Jose and completely scrap it. Jose is a good mid-card heel who simply doesn’t need the silly dancing sidekicks.
Ember Moon vs. Liv Morgan: Another minor Hit for creative avoiding the parity booking trap by having Moon beat Morgan in back to back weeks. Morgan continues to show signs of improvement on the main roster. Meanwhile, Moon is a star, but I get the sense that creative isn’t really sure where to go with her given the crowded title picture and with Sasha Banks and Bayley doing whatever it is they are doing. There just aren’t any obvious meaningful opponents for Moon at the moment.
WWE Raw Misses
Brock Lesnar appearing at UFC 226 goes unmentioned: The biggest WWE related story of the weekend was its Universal Champion making a surprise appearance after the UFC 226 main event. The story was covered by the WWE website and yet for some reason it went completely unmentioned on Raw. I didn’t expect the company to dedicate a ton of time to it when they had a pay-per-view to promote, but completely ignoring the situation was absurd and even insulting to the viewers.
Braun Strowman and Kevin Owens: What has Kevin Owens done since returning to Raw to justify the ongoing beatings from Strowman that continue to be fully endorsed by babyface authority figure Kurt Angle? Owens has no heat going into the cage match, which feels like it’s all about the comedy value of watching Strowman destroy him again. Fans love the big Strowman stunts, but it’s hard not to think that the cage match would feel more important if Owens had somehow escaped the wrath of Strowman in the weeks leading up to it and this was framed as Strowman finally getting his hands on him.
Sasha Banks and Bayley: A new therapist in the same office led to absolutely nothing. I had to laugh when Jonathan Coachman questioned if the two of them realized that their careers could be on the line if they don’t make peace. What?!? I assume that Coachman was fed that line, but why in the world would Banks and Bayley be required to be friends in order to maintain their employment? None of this makes any sense.
Matt Hardy, Bray Wyatt, and The B-Team: A minor Miss for the ongoing issue of not knowing which team the company wants fans to cheer. The B-Team feel like the lovable losers that fans can rally behind now that they are winning and yet Hardy and Wyatt also seem to be babyfaces.