By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose: No, I’m not in favor of Ambrose being scripted to exploit Roman Reigns’s leukemia battle for heat. It’s completely unnecessary and beneath two wrestlers who don’t need cheap and tacky heat to make their feud work. So this Hit is for nearly everything that didn’t involve the Reigns leukemia battle exploitation. Both men played their parts well and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing their match at TLC. Aside from the Reigns lines, the other negative of this storyline was that Renee Young said her husband is more cerebral than people give him credit for. It was a good line and I was hoping it would be proven true with Ambrose remaining one step ahead of Rollins and setting some type of trap for him. Instead, he seemed to be the only person surprised that Rollins was still in the building, and his big counter was to stand in the ring and allow Rollins to tackle him. Ambrose may have stood tall after performing a Dirty Deeds twice, but it would have been so much better if he was positioned similar to the way his wife described.
Ronda Rousey vs. Mickie James for the Raw Women’s Championship: The Hit is all about Rousey taming a crowd that turned on her the night before in the same venue. It looked like WWE had a mini crisis on their hands in terms of fans rejecting Rousey, but everyone was cheering her by the end of the segment. While I should probably be bothered by James being booked to lose quickly and decisively to Rousey, I threw my hands up on the company’s use of James a while ago. Sadly, the peak of her WWE return occurred in NXT, and she’s been treated like just another wrestler on the main roster ever since.
Braun Strowman injury angle: A minor Hit for the injury angle with Strowman and the way he now has natural opponents in Corbin, Lashley, and McIntyre (ideally in that order). On the flip side, the 30-minute elimination match ending without an actual finish brought the crowd down and set the tone for the remainder of what was mostly a dull night of television. By the way, it says a lot about where Balor and Elias stand that Balor was pinned while Elias was protected with a count-out loss.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Nia Jax and Tamina: Yes, Banks and Bayley continue to be wasted and it’s a damn shame. It’s par for the course. Clearly, the goal was to keep Jax strong and it succeeded on that level. I also liked the way she and Tamina confronted Rousey on the stage and merely intimidated her. Rousey took the big beatdown the night before, so this wasn’t the night to do another big Rousey beatdown. Am I the only one who thinks Tamina would be more effective if they kept her out of the ring and used her as a ringside enforcer for Jax?
Ruby Riott vs. Natalya: A minor Hit for the match and Natalya scoring the pin despite having a disadvantage in terms of numbers with Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan at ringside. Renee Young bringing up Natalya’s grieving mother and questioning whether the sunglasses angle was causing her to shed more tears was a big Miss.
WWE Raw Misses
Vince McMahon: Exploiting Roman Reigns’s battle with leukemia. Exploiting the death of Jim Neidhart. Stephanie McMahon dropping a line about dismemberment being a corporate liability when we are weeks removed from Crown Jewel. Dean Ambrose covering his nose with a rag and questioning what smells while in a state that being been ravaged by wildfires. Some of it was clearly intentional. Some of it may have not have been. But when Vince has no problem exploiting sickness and death, it’s hard to give him the benefit of the doubt in gray areas.
AOP vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable in a non-title match: Yes, the idea is to make it seem like Roode and Gable have a chance to defeat AOP in title matches. But the actual result was that they lowered AOP to the undercard level of the rest of the division by having them lose so early in their title reign. And was anyone other than Vince McMahon laughing even half as hard as the cornball babyface tag teams were as they mocked Drake Maverick for pissing himself?
Lucha House Party vs. The Revival: Lucha House rules allow all three members of the babyface trio to compete against regular two-man tag teams? Stupid. Continuing to waste the Revival? Asinine.
Overall show: It’s crazy how three hours can move along at a decent pace when the show is good and just how long and plodding three hours feel when the show is bad.
Check below for Monday’s ProWrestling.net Live with Jason Powell and Will Pruett taking calls and email questions coming out of WWE Survivor Series and NXT Takeover: WarGames.