By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin: This was essentially a repeat of Corbin’s “match” with Braun Strowman from Sunday’s TLC, as Angle was joined by Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, Apollo Crews, and even referee Heath Slater in giving Corbin his comeuppance. I have no problem with that since it was logical to give the television audience a satisfying payoff to the dreadful story that was Corbin’s reign as the general manager.
The Revival vs. AOP vs. B-Team vs. Lucha House Party: A minor Hit for The Revival getting the win after Seth Rollins praised them in his “Raw Sucks” promo. And bonus points for the announcement that the McMahons did away with the ridiculous Lucha House Rules gimmick. Now if only they would tweak the LHP act so that they continue to cater to kids without turning off adults by being so corny.
WWE Raw Misses
The McMahon Family returns and promises changes: A crowd pleasing segment thanks to the McMahon family star power and yet I came out of this segment with no real confidence that significant change is coming. Sure, the McMahons will apparently be appearing on television more often and it seems like they intend to play it straight at least to begin with (we’ll see how long that lasts). They promised new stars and announced six wrestlers who will be coming up from NXT. Only time will tell whether Vince McMahon realizes that his booking is the real problem. NXT has provided Vince with good, new talent for years now and he’s squandered most of it. Here’s hoping he gives the product a real shakeup. Pull back on the sports entertainment silliness and give people a smarter, more sports-like product where wins and losses actually matter, and the wrestlers are the stars rather than the company and the family that runs it. Basically, sit down and watch a few hours of NXT television or just hand over the creative reigns to Paul Levesque. I sincerely hope that Vince recognizes that he’s the problem and intends to change. He’s the most successful pro wrestling promoter in history, but he’s lost his way creatively. Vince stated during his promo that he can’t do it all on his own anymore. One can only hope that this was an honest statement and not just a line designed to set up the introduction of the McMahon family members. Based on the rest of Raw, I have my doubts.
Natalya vs. Alicia Fox vs. Dana Brooke vs. Bayley vs. Mickie James vs. Ember Moon vs. Ruby Riott vs. Sasha Banks in a gauntlet match: WWE gave the entire third hour to the women with the Ronda Rousey promo followed by the gauntlet match. The open challenge issued by Rousey was fine, but I hope this is the last time she attempts to define what makes a champion. The backstage shot that followed the open challenge and showed the women bickering at the Gorilla position was eye rolling material, and Stephanie McMahon barking “come with me” and having the women immediately fall silent and follow her lead was stomach turning. It was nice to hear Stephanie claim she’s not playing favorites, but then picking Bayley and Alicia Fox to start a gauntlet match seemed to counter this statement immediately. The actual match had some good moments, but it just went on forever. I had no expectation of this being the show closing match when it started and was actually disappointment once I finally came to the conclusion that it really was the show’s final segment. It’s not the the women are incapable of filling the time, it’s that the match featured undercard players and some of the most misused and abused talents in all of WWE.
Finn Balor vs. Dolph Ziggler: Apparently Vince McMahon’s changes don’t include holding matches without announced finishes. Drew McIntyre interfering in this match should not have surprised anyone. And while the match quality should be good, it’s hard to be excited about an oddball three-way feud with nothing at stake.
Dean Ambrose vs. Tyler Breeze for the Intercontinental Championship: I’m begging for a mini web documentary that shows Breeze camping out by the Gorilla position at NXT and Raw for weeks in hopes of someone issuing an open challenge. And please let that footage include a frantic Breeze racing to Gorilla only to find out that he was just seconds late to accept Ronda Rousey’s open challenge. Anyway, the match was fine. The real issue was the predictability of Seth Rollins being dressed up as one of Ambrose’s swat team members. Don’t send the message of change and then run the same tired play again.
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