By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Kurt Angle vs. Drew McIntyre: As much as I would prefer to see McIntyre positioned as the top babyface, he plays a hell of a heel. McIntyre callously destroying Angle by using Angle’s own finishing moves and telling him he’s an embarrassment to his friends and family was powerful. And I loved the way McIntyre got right in Bobby Lashley’s face and stood his ground and then took out Finn Balor even prior to this match. McIntyre views everyone as an enemy and I look forward to when he cements this by giving Dolph Ziggler a Claymore Kick. On the Angle side, this was obviously positioned as a humiliating loss. As much as I’m down on WWE’s over reliance on legends, this was harsh and I hope it’s part of a bigger redemption storyline rather than a burial.
Seth Rollins vs. AOP for the Raw Tag Titles: A longer than expected match with Rollins getting in a lot of offense despite being outmanned by the heel monsters. It felt a little odd in the moment, but it wasn’t damaging to AOP long term given that the talking point coming out of this match is that they won the Raw Tag Titles. Here’s hoping that Vince McMahon won’t lose interest in the tag division now that an actual tag team holds the straps rather than a pair of singles wrestlers taking a brief detour into the tag division.
Dean Ambrose: A good post match attack from Ambrose. Sure, it’s frustrating that Ambrose hasn’t explained why he turned on Rollins, but that’s the point. He’s playing mind games with Rollins in a storyline sense and creative is keeping viewers waiting for his explanation. I will be disappointed if Ambrose never explains his actions, but it’s only been two weeks of silence so let’s see where it goes. Meanwhile, I also appreciated the simple explanation from Renee Young that there’s no reasoning with her husband right now and thus there’s no insight she can provide on his behavior. It’s an awkward position for the company to be in since they previously acknowledged that Young and Ambrose are married, but occasional statements like this one should keep most fans satisfied.
Ronda Rousey promo: Another strong promo from Rousey in response to Lynch. It’s wise to have Rousey acknowledge that she and fans like Lynch rather than acting as if Lynch is a hated heel. I’m very curious to see how the Los Angles crowd responds to both women at Survivor Series.
Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley: A minor Hit starting with the apparent scrapping of Lio Rush’s live mic during the match gimmick. The match was solid and Lashley got a needed win after losing the two previous matches. While it’s still early in their run together, we need to know more about Lashley and Rush beyond just Rush serves as his hype man. Why are they aligned? What are their goals? Heck, who is Rush (and don’t pretend like the masses know when they are clearly not watching 205 Live)?
Elias vs. Dolph Ziggler: More of an in the middle than a true Hit. Elias is really clicking as a babyface and he has tremendous upside, but his in-ring work still leaves something to be desired. As I mentioned in my live review last night, it couldn’t hurt to have him ditch the clunky work boots. Ziggler is one of the guys that WWE relies on for quality in-ring work, but he didn’t get much out of Elias in this match. Hopefully Elias finds his groove in the ring because the sky is the limit for him if he improves that part of his game.
WWE Raw Misses
Natalya, Sasha Banks, and Bayley vs. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan: The in-ring work was Hit worthy and Bayley had an especially good outing. The Miss is due to the rushed storyline of Natalya wearing her late father’s sunglasses only to have Ruby Riott destroy them. It was a bit corny to begin with, but it was ridiculous to introduce the shades on the same night they were destroyed. This would have been so much more effective if they had introduced the shades and mentioned them every week for a month before Riott destroyed them. And while I enjoyed the in-ring work, the decision to give the match nearly 20 minutes and then end it without an actual finish was absurd. I hope the live crowd loudly counting the count out sends a message that fans do care about finishes.
Nia Jax vs. Ember Moon: Moon did a really good job of selling Jax’s powerhouse offense, but the confusing mess of a storyline really hurt this match and had the fans sitting in confused silence. It started during the build to the Evolution battle royal when Moon joined Tamina in the symbolic dumping of Jax over the top rope. And then Moon came off like a pest last when she crashed Jax’s interview last week. But ultimately it was Jax who turned heel (again) by joining Tamina in attacking Moon after this match. WWE needs to stick with Jax as a heel for a long time now because her flip flopping between heel and babyface is already drawing comparisons to Big Show.
Jinder Mahal vs. Apollo Crews: The broadcast team tried to make a big deal out of Crews pinning a former WWE Champion, but it meant noting because everyone pins Mahal these days.
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