By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose follow-up: Rollins handled all of the mic work and did a very nice job. I like the way he brought up his own heel turn while questioning whether it was the cause of Ambrose turning on him. Ambrose did a good job with his facial expressions and body language even though he said nothing. They kept us waiting another week for Ambrose to explain himself and that’s a nice hook for next week’s show. My only disappointment was the lack of an update on where things stand with the Raw Tag Titles, though even that is understandable given that Rollins spent this segment seeking an explanation from Ambrose.
Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman segment: A minor Hit in that the live crowd reacted overwhelmingly in favor of Strowman despite his quick flip back into a babyface role. Paul Heyman’s promo was strong and he delivered the line of the night when he said, “I couldn’t be more clairvoyant in the outcome of this match if it were predetermined.” The angle lost points with me because Strowman looked like a meathead for turning his back on Lesnar while performing the second powerslam on Baron Corbin only to take an F5. I’m still not crazy about either one of these guys winning the Universal Championship and I think it actually would have been more effective if heel Corbin had handed the championship to Lesnar last week, as that would have put Strowman in the role of the guy trying to take the title away from an undeserving champion.
Trish Stratus, Lita, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya vs. Riott Squad, Alicia Fox, and Mickie James: A nice sendoff for Trish and Lita. The live crowds were not very receptive of them heading into the Evolution event, but the Evolution crowd and this Raw crowd rallied behind them and treated them like the legends they are.
Bobby Lashley vs. Finn Balor: A minor Hit for Lashley delivering the beatdown on Balor that I was actually waiting for after their match last week. It’s odd that badass Lashley lost a match last week and was on the verge of losing this match before Lio Rush interfered, but it’s nothing that should damage him long term. Speaking of Rush, they really need to pull the plug on his obnoxious live mic gimmick during the matches. I continue to like the pairing of Rush and Lashley now that they are heels, but I view the live mic bit as bad heat and channel changing material.
WWE Raw Misses
Final hype for DX vs. Undertaker and Kane: The return of the great Shawn Michaels after an eight-year retirement should feel like a major happening. Instead, the focus has been on DX facing the Brothers of Destruction for the first time. This doesn’t feel special, it feels unnecessary and even sad. Granted, I had the same feelings when the Undertaker vs. Triple H match was initially announced for WWE Super Show-Down and their mic work and various angles eventually sold me on the match. That just hasn’t happened this time around and the HBK return to the ring feels like a real missed opportunity.
Elias vs. Jinder Mahal: Elias picking on Baron Corbin was well received, but his actual match with Mahal was about as flat as it gets. I was never a fan of Mahal’s run as WWE Champion, but I’m legitimately surprised that he’s fallen so far down the card. At the very least, I felt that his title reign made him feel meaningful and he would fall into a secondary title role or a mid-card position. At this point, he feels like one of the lowest wrestlers on the Raw heel roster. I’m even wondering how much longer the Singh Brothers will be paired with him because it seems like quite the expense for an act the company apparently has no plans for.
Nia Jax vs. Ember Moon: Everything involving these two made my head hurt. Moon came off as annoyingly heelish when she interrupted Jax’s promo. But then it was Jax who ended up taking advantage of the distraction that Tamina created by showing up at ringside. Who are we supposed to like? Either way, these characters are a mess. Moon’s look says dark and brooding, but her promos say otherwise. Jax is just all over the place and the company needs to pick a direction with her and stick with it.
Kalisto and Lince Dorado vs. The Revival: Lucha House Party came off like a gimmick for kids with the piñata and Gran Metalik’s noisemaker. And if it clicks with the kids then great, but it’s just not for me. Meanwhile, what will it take for Vince McMahon to see something in The Revival?
Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews: I was surprised that Ziggler and Drew McIntyre played such small parts on this show. At the very least, I thought they would spend a lot more time patting themselves on the back for Dean Ambrose turning on Seth Rollins. The actual match felt like filler as there was never any doubt regarding the outcome. The only interesting part of this segment was McIntyre stating that his focus will be on the WWE Universal Championship match at Crown Jewel. It’s a shame he’s not in the title match on Friday.
AOP vs. The Ascension vs. Chad Gable and Bobby Roode: It took them three weeks to follow up on the last interaction between these teams. And while Gable and Roode may have won the match, the post match attack by AOP that left both opposing teams lying put us right back where we started. What happened to Konnor’s mini-push?
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Jerry Lynn.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Frank Zarrillo discussing his film "The Wrestler: A QT Marshall Story", which includes appearances by Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Gerald Brisco, Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino, and many more, the involvement of Marshall's wife and mother, and much more. Stick around after the interview for Powell's audio review of Wednesday's AEW Dynamite television show...