By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Undertaker and Shawn Michaels: The legends stole the show with a tease of a match that I’m not even sure I really want to see. Don’t get me wrong, if the match is announced then I have no doubt that I’ll get on board, but there’s something special about Michaels being that rare wrestler who lived up to his retirement match stipulation. And even if HBK does return, I can’t say that Taker is the opponent that I had in mind for him despite the obvious storyline history. Putting that aside, this was an excellent verbal exchange. And while the buzz coming out of this angle was for a match that may or may not happen, it also made me care more about the Undertaker vs. Triple H match. The idea of Taker and Hunter meeting for the last time didn’t jump off the page at me no mater how many legends offered predictions via Skype. But by making it feel like their match could potentially lead to something involving Taker and Michaels, Taker vs. Triple H suddenly feels more meaningful.
Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas vs. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler for the Raw Tag Titles: A minor Hit for McIntyre and Ziggler winning the Raw Tag Titles. The obvious issue is this creates is that the company has tied up the Universal Championship, the Raw Tag Titles, and the Intercontinental Championship in the Shield vs. Braun Strowman, McIntyre, and Ziggler feud. I was actually hoping that The Revival would win the tag straps in an attempt to breathe some life into the flat tag division. Instead, it feels like they put the tag titles on McIntyre and Ziggler to give Rollins and Ambrose something to chase. And while that helps that feud, I fear that it will actually be damaging to the real tag teams.
Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya: A minor Hit. Bliss got a needed win while introducing a hammy version of the armbar (she needed help from Mickie James and Alicia Fox to make it work). Even so, I was on the verge of giving this a full Hit when it seemed like they were going to put some heat on Bliss. Instead, they had Ronda Rousey fight back and clear her from the ring. Bliss is viewed by the fans as a massive underdog in their rematch at WWE Hell in a Cell. As such, Bliss needed all the heat she could get.
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. The Ascension: A minor Hit for Gable shining down the stretch of the match. That said, I’m not sold on Roode and Gable as a team. It’s obviously early in their run and perhaps they will develop chemistry together, but they just come off as mismatched to the point that I was left wondering if they were put together with the short-term plan of breaking them up to feud against one another. By the way, what happened to Mojo Rawley? It looked like creative was getting behind his heel act and then he lost matches to Roode and disappeared from Raw.
WWE Raw Misses
Braun Strowman vs. Finn Balor: The match was an upgrade over the teased and tired Balor vs. Baron Corbin match. Had you told me a month ago that Balor was going to headline the two shows coming out of SummerSlam, I would have assumed things were looking up for him. Instead, he’s lost matches to Reigns and Strowman, which defines him as a mid-card guy who can’t hang with the big boys. I would love to see Baron Corbin trade Balor to Smackdown where he would be a better fit. Plus, it would make sense for the Corbin character to want to get rid of his nemesis.
The Shield: Nearly everything on Raw feels like it’s being done to benefit The Shield and, more specifically, Roman Reigns. The arrest and return from jail angle was campy and intelligence insulting. The arrest for starting a wrestling brawl was stupid even by heel authority figure standards. The trio returning in a police transport vehicle was classic WWE and yet ridiculous all at the same time. This is the type of thing that WWE defenders will identify as the company writing for children rather than adults. Yes, you can write for kids, but when the vast majority of your viewers are adults then logic says you don’t insult their intelligence. Why not simply say they were released on their own recognizance rather than claim they appeared in front of a judge on Labor Day night? Why not make it seem like the police knew the charges were ridiculous and therefore they drove the trio back to the building? And the idea of the entire heel roster attacking the trio and leaving them lying was just too much. Can Vince McMahon be bothered to at least blame Baron Corbin somehow for distracting the babyfaces backstage while all of this was going on? Speaking of Vince, what else can he do to prop up Roman Reigns if reuniting The Shield, turning Strowman heel, and pitting the entire heel roster against him fails to turn the fans in his favor? This all feels so sad and desperate.
Nikki Bell and Brie Bella vs. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan: Who thought it was a good idea to give the Bellas over eleven minutes in their return match? This was a clunky mess with both of Brie Bellas dives looking terrible (though I suspect she was expecting someone to hit her from the floor the first time). Here’s hoping that the Bellas being nice to Ronda Rousey is setting up a heel turn for the duo.
Authors of Pain and Drake Maverick: A minor Miss for an oddball pairing. The former Rockstar Spud is a terrific talker and the AOP promos show that they need a mouthpiece. I can’t rule out the possibility of this clicking in time, but the idea of putting Maverick in the matching AOP gear was not a good one.
Bobby Lashley, Jinder Mahal, and Kevin Owens: Owens announcing that he quit last week led to a lot of fun speculation. As far fetched as it may have been, fans even wondered if Owens would show up at All In with WWE’s blessing. I wondered if KO would return as a babyface. I don’t think anyone predicted that he would show up and attack Bobby Lashley and then go on to help his bully beat up The Shield just one week after he quit. What a letdown. Meanwhile, the meditating Mahal character is insufferable, and Lashley continues to be miscast as a babyface.
Ember Moon and Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley: All the bickering, brawling, and the eventual Banks and Bayley reunion led to absolutely nothing. And now they and the talented Moon were side players in a match designed to spotlight the apparent breakup of the bad Titus Worldwide act.