By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WWE Raw Hits
Paul Heyman sit-down interview: Heyman’s performance was strong enough that it was closer to the level of acting that was on display during the season premiere of Better Call Saul than anything else on Raw. No one else in pro wrestling comes close to showing the range that Heyman has exhibited over the last two weeks alone. Heyman’s quick shift from groveling to arrogance last week was great. His performance during this week’s sit-down interview included sadness, fear, confusion, and paranoia. This was fantastic television and Heyman is one of WWE’s most valuable assets. Here’s hoping that company officials realize this and find the right role for him if Lesnar takes time away after SummerSlam.
Ronda Rousey vs. Alicia Fox: The important thing is that Rousey came off well during her first Raw match. And while that makes the segment a solid Hit, the dynamic between Rousey and Fox was ridiculous. Rousey brings a strong sense of realism with her in-ring style and believable demeanor, yet some of that was lost by having her work with the most absurdly over the top female character on the main roster. This isn’t a criticism of Fox. In fact, I don’t think the company has done enough with her over the years. Rather, it’s a criticism of Fox’s cartoonish crazy woman persona that feels more out of place than ever in today’s women’s division. Putting that aside, the segment was effective in showcasing Rousey as a badass while also playing up Alexa Bliss as the pest heel who fans want to see destroyed by Rousey at SummerSlam.
Roman Reigns sit-down interview: Reigns came off well while recapping his past matches with Brock Lesnar during the interview with Corey Graves. He pointed out that Lesnar did not beat him when they met at WrestleMania 31 (Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract), he made no excuses for his loss at WrestleMania 34, and he explained the controversial finish of their Greatest Royal Rumble match. WWE went even more overboard than usual in trying to get fans to cheer Reigns at most points this week and that’s the type of push that usually backfires with his detractors. Even so, Reigns was good in this well produced segment.
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler: A solid segment that went above and beyond to protect Rollins by having the illegal man pin him in a handicap match. All of the broadcast team discussion of Rollins needing someone to counter McIntyre being in Ziggler’s corner certainly seems to point toward the return of Dean Ambrose. What’s not so obvious is the type of role Ambrose will play whenever he returns. If Reigns isn’t turning heel (and nothing points to that at this point), then perhaps we’ll finally see Ambrose have a heel singles run and feud with both of his former Shield brothers.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan: A minor Hit for the return of Ruby Riott. Banks and Bayley are still on the same page this week. Do they face Riott Squad in a handicap match or do they bring in a third woman to help them?
Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas vs. The Revival: A minor Hit for what WWE wanted to accomplish. It would have been nice to see The Revival beat Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt and The B-Team in back to back weeks, but WWE seems to enjoy labeling The B-Team as unbeaten, so the interference by Hardy and Wyatt gave them an easy out while also setting up next week’s Triple Threat tag title match.
WWE Raw Misses
Roman Reigns vs. Baron Corbin: A minor Miss for the match dragging on while having no sense of suspense in terms of who was going to win. I get that the company wants to make Corbin look good, but it feels like the real priority should have been making Reigns look strong heading into his title match at SummerSlam. Sure, Reigns got the win, but it wasn’t the type of strong performance that gives him momentum going into SummerSlam. In fact, it felt like making Corbin look strong in defeat and filling television time were bigger priorities than making Reigns look strong in this case. Yep, mark it down, I’m grumbling about WWE not doing enough to make Reigns look strong in a segment. Meanwhile, Corbin has to do something big to get his heat back on Balor next week if they intend to bring out The Demon persona at SummerSlam. In fact, Raw better be an Empire Strikes back edition that puts major heat on several heels who were made to look bad this week.
Braun Strowman vs. Jinder Mahal: A weak night for Strowman. As much as I wanted to believe that the WWE production team was shaking up the talkshow setting, it felt fairly obvious that the Kevin Owens Show was set off to the side of the stage for a Strowman stunt of some kind. The platform tipping bit followed by Strowman being disqualified in the match and then not going on a rampage afterward felt tame by his usual standards. On a side note, the peaceful heel character that Mahal is playing is really bad. Hopefully there’s more to it than what we see now.
Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley: Rawley had been on a bit of a roll with wins over undercard wrestlers. The loss to Roode killed his momentum and sent the message that Rawley can’t hang once he’s in the ring with an opponent who is slightly higher on the food chain. It’s only one match, but it eliminated Rawley’s heat in the moment and didn’t leave me with any desire to see a rematch.
Bobby Lashley beats up Elias: Much like the previous Miss, this segment sucked the heat out of the heel while making the babyface look strong. Jacksonville was a WWE dream crowd in that they cheered loudly for most of the babyfaces to the point that they actually chanted “Bobby” during this segment. That’s nice for Lashley, and Elias is always one promo away from getting his heat back, but nothing about this segment made me want to see an actual match between them.
Rezar vs. Titus O’Neil: A minor Miss for another singles match between tag team wrestlers. You had to assume that Rezar would go over this week after Apollo Crews pinned Akam last week. If the company intends to go with The Revival as tag champs, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to position AOP as babyface challengers at some point since they are spinning their wheels as heels at the moment.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and special guest Brian Blair of the Killer Bees, who looks back on his matches at WrestleMania 2-4.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Colt Cabana on his role in ROH, the state of the independent wrestling scene, the future of his podcast, the ROH Global Wars tour, the new ROH television format, Starrcast III, and much more...