By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net Members are listening to the 66-minute WWE Hell in a Cell audio review hosted by Jake Barnett and I, my 45-minute audio review of last night’s Raw, and they will hear my audio review of Smackdown this evening. Join us on our ad-free website via PWMembership.net.
WWE Raw Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Baron Corbin for the WWE Universal Championship: The first part of the match was painful and failed to play into the story that Reigns was injured coming out of Hell in a Cell. It was little more than Reigns dominating and Corbin rolling to ringside to avoid his big moves. It picked up nicely once Corbin called for the restart as a no disqualification match. The outside interference by Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, and Dolph Ziggler put Reigns in a position of peril and made for a good close to the show.
Undertaker promo: Taker vs. Triple H started as a “last time ever” match that no one really asked for, but their mic work on Raw and the involvement of Shawn Michaels has successfully created the big match feel.
Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre: A good show opening match with the pleasant surprise of the heel going over clean. McIntyre is a future singles main eventer (ideally as a babyface). The company has done a nice job of protecting him thus far and giving him a win over an established top babyface is another sign that company officials recognize his upside.
Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship: This was about half the length of a typical Rollins vs. Ziggler match. Still, they filled the time they had nicely. That said, I couldn’t help but feel like they could have used the story of Rollins being injured to move the IC Title to someone else. Rollins has been a good champion, but do we really need to have all of the men’s titles tied up in the Shield vs. Strowman, McIntyre, and Ziggler feud?
Nia Jax and Ember Moon vs. Mickie James and Alicia Fox: A nice return match for Jax, who had a really nice offensive sequence once she took a hot tag from Moon. In fact, it’s too bad that the match didn’t end with that sequence because they had the live crowd at its match peak. By the way, why did the referee stop his count when James was covering Moon? He had a better view than we did at home, but it didn’t seem like Moon’s shoulder was up.
Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush) vs. Elias: The match left me with mixed feelings. The Lashley and Rush pairing is intriguing even though I believe it would be more successful if they were heels. Still, Rush came off well and the crowd was responsive when he avoided Kevin Owens and Elias. And while that part of it was good for Rush, it wasn’t exactly a big bounce back moment the heels. The Shield destroyed nearly every heel not named Strowman, McIntyre, or Ziggler last week. Owens was on the wrong side of that attack and no attempt was made to get his heat back.
Ronda Rousey, The Bellas, and Riott Squad: A minor Hit. Rousey issued the open challenge that Natalya was apparently going to accept. Riott Squad laid out Natalya, and this turned into a quick angle to set up Rousey and The Bellas vs. Riott Squad for the Super Show-Down event. It’s telling that there was no update on Natalya coming out of this match.
WWE Raw Misses
WWE promotional overkill: Super Show-Down, Evolution, Crown Jewel, Smackdown, Mixed Match Challenge, 205 Live, NXT, The Mae Young Classic, and Total Divas. Throw in multiple charity spots, the Hispanic Heritage month video, and hype for latest The Marine film and Raw was filled with more advertising than a NASCAR vehicle.
Baron Corbin main event build: The idea was that Corbin knew Reigns was nursing injuries and picked his spot to abuse his power by booking himself in a title match. Creative was clearly aware that viewers wouldn’t view Corbin as a real threat to Reigns under normal circumstances, so they came up with a story that attempted to make Reigns seem vulnerable. So why in the world would they script Reigns to essentially roll his eyes at the thought of Corbin beating him, then follow it up by having Strowman tell Corbin that he sucks to his face? Both of those segments felt counterproductive and nothing in the first part of the match played into this story either.
Chad Gable vs. Viktor: A good from a match quality standpoint, but nothing screams enhancement match and it’s safe to turn the channel quite like The Ascension. Is anyone looking forward to the possibility of a Bobby Roode vs. Konnor match next week?
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke: A filler match. All of that bickering between Bayley and Sasha Banks led to a forgettable reconciliation and nothing more. Hey, where are all of the Sasha and Bayley truthers who raved about that bizarre storyline and were confident that it was going to lead to big things? They are two extremely talented wrestlers who have been booked horribly throughout most of their time on the main roster.
AOP squash: A minor Miss. AOP went through this squash match phase once and then had a forgettable feud with Titus Worldwide. AOP added Drake Maverick as a manager and now they are back to squash matches. It’s a bit of a reset and while they look dominant and destructive, it feels a bit repetitive. Here’s hoping the creative forces have a real plan for the duo once they start working with main roster teams again.