By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship: A pay-per-view caliber match in terms of length and match quality. Rollins continues to be the most consistent in-ring performer in WWE, and it was nice to see Owens get back to doing what he does best after spending months taking over the top bumps for Braun Strowman.
Trish Stratus and Elias: A fun and unexpected segment with Trish making the surprise return. The verbal exchange was filled with fun jabs and Trish always fired back with the better insult. She would not have been awarded the win on Roast Battle, as her response to Elias saying he doesn’t date sixty year-olds was a slap to his face, which is grounds for disqualification. Anyway, Trish looked great (and I said the same thing about Dean Ambrose when he returned so spare me any sexist line accusations) and I’m anxious to see her in-ring return at WWE Evolution.
Kevin Owens quits: An interesting hook in terms of figuring out where they go from here. The respectful nod from Rollins following their match left me hopeful that Owens is on the verge of a babyface turn. On the flip side, Dot Net reader Robby Hinson submitted an interesting prediction via Twitter. Now that Strowman has handed over the Money in the Bank contract, Robby predicts that Baron Corbin will give it to Owens, who will cash in and win the WWE Universal Championship. My guess is that they had Strowman turn over the MITB contract to explain why he didn’t simply cash in on Reigns at the end of the show, but Robby’s prediction is intriguing and would get the company out of booking a winner between Reigns and Strowman at Hell in a Cell. I assume there’s some storyline reason for Corbin being named acting general manager and perhaps this is it. I thought the plan might be to give Brock Lesnar his rematch at Hell in a Cell and I suppose it technically still could be if they want to go with a Triple Threat, but my guess is they stick with the advertised singles match.
B-Team vs. The Revival in a non-title match: A minor Hit for the Revival going over and getting another tag title shot next week. I’m ready for a title change. The B-Team act is undercard fun, but the company needs to start doing a better job with the Raw tag team division. Everything about it feels undercard and that could change if they commit to The Revival as strong tag champions. An eventual title chase for a babyface Authors of Pain could be just the spark the tag division needs.
Natalya vs. Alicia Fox: Natalya paying tribute to her late father Jim Neidhart in her first television match since his death was a nice moment.
WWE Raw Misses
Braun Strowman turns heel: Vince McMahon’s obsession with making you love Roman Reigns may never end. Strowman will be a fine heel and his alliance with Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler will lead to some entertaining matches with The Shield. Ultimately, though, I don’t feel the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to turning one of the most popular wrestlers on the brand when you are left with a babyface champion who is only cheered at television events when he teams with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose or the company goes to great lengths to manipulate the live crowds.
Baron Corbin vs. Finn Balor: Make it stop. This feud has completely run its course and it’s time to move on.
Dean Ambrose vs. Jinder Mahal: Mahal’s peace loving heel act is so DOA that it brought down Ambrose with him for the night. One can only assume that Vince McMahon is annoyed by peace loving types who do breathing exercises and speak of tranquility. And the character is slightly annoying, but it’s annoying in a way that garners channel changing heat rather than real heat.
Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke: You know creative is bankrupt when it comes to ideas for Banks and Bayley when the storyline focus of Sasha’s match was Titus Worldwide.
Bobby Lashley vs. The Ascension: I felt bad for the broadcast team in that they had to act like the only people in the world who were surprised to see Lashley win this handicap match. Lashley continues to be a flat babyface. It’s a shame to think that Raw could actually have a decent heel roster if they would stop miscasting Lashley and even Bobby Roode.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...