By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins: I seem to be in the minority, but I actually enjoyed the gas mask gimmick. Ambrose’s promo aired at the top of the hour and I assume there were some fans who flipped over to Raw just in time to see a group of men dressed in black wearing gas masks while walking toward the ring. It was an attention grabbing moment if nothing else and I like that Ambrose is trying some new things. I’ve heard from several readers who are down on Ambrose for taking the cheap heat shortcut of insulting the host city. I don’t have a problem with this either if it keeps fans rooting against him. Ambrose should have no trouble drawing heat in a feud against Rollins, but it could be an issue down the road when he’s working with less popular babyfaces. I can’t say the feud is firing on all cylinders at the moment, but it is one of the few bright spots on the slumping Raw show.
Drake Maverick vs. Bobby Roode: A minor Hit if only because they got away from piss jokes and started framing Maverick in a way that makes fans want to see Roode get revenge. Conversely, they still haven’t hooked me on the actual AOP vs. Roode and Chad Gable feud.
Rhyno vs. Heath Slater in a loser is fired match: A minor Hit for a rushed story that will probably only last for a week assuming Baron Corbin losses his authority figure status. I assume this results in Rhyno and Slater being rehired by the new general manager. In the meantime, it’s getting a couple of well liked mid-card babyfaces back in the television mix.
Finn Balor vs. Jinder Mahal: A minor Hit more for the culmination of the way Balor was showcased throughout the night than the actual match. It’s not that it was a bad match, it’s that beating Mahal means nothing these days.
WWE Raw Misses
Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre: More of an in the middle. One of the highlights of the night yet still a flawed segment. It appears Ziggler is going to be a babyface. But it’s not because Dolph has seen the error of his ways and wants to do what’s right, it’s because McIntyre snubbed him by not including him in his highlight video. Hopefully Ziggler will address this in a promo and give fans something to rally behind. Furthermore, WWE never played up McIntyre’s streak of not being pinned or submitted since he returned to Raw until after Ziggler beat him. Why not play this up for weeks so that it actually meant something when someone beat him?
Ronda Rousey and Ember Moon vs. Nia Jax and Tamina: Hit worthy for being a solid high energy tag match, but it actually lessened my interest in seeing Rousey vs. Jax at the pay-per-view. It looked like it was going to be a solid night for Jax. I really liked the slow, deliberate promo she delivered while intimidating Charly Caruso backstage, as it was a big improvement over her usual smiling and condescending promo. Unfortunately, they lost me when Jax showed fear of Rousey during the actual match. It’s not that she tagged out of the match to play mind games with Rousey, it’s that she actually showed fear before tagging out. It’s understandable when Alexa Bliss shows fear of Rousey because it’s fitting for her character, but it’s counterproductive when the monster heel of the division backs down the way Jax did.
Sasha Banks and Bayley’s Q&A: All of this for a line to plant the idea of women’s tag titles in the heads of fans. It’s not a tough sell. Fans want women’s tag titles, but WWE seems to feel the need to replicate their women’s evolution approach with the goal of having fans start hashtags so they can say it’s something the fans were begging for. Just give us the damn women’s tag titles already. And here’s hoping this tag division is booked better than the afterthought that are the men’s tag divisions.
Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado vs. Scott Dawson: Same joke, different week.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Jonny Fairplay discussing WWE Raw’s struggles, All Elite Wrestling, Johnny Impact on Survivor, and Drake Maverick’s gimmick infringement.