By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, and Bobby Lashley: A good, notable, show closing move with Styles moving to Raw. Styles did everything there was to do on Smackdown and it was time for a change. I’m genuinely curious to see who from this match ends up being shipped to Smackdown. A strong case could be made for everyone other than perhaps Rollins, if only because he holds the WWE Universal Championship. Reigns could certainly be the big acquisition that Vince McMahon will announce on Smackdown tonight. And I’ve already listed McIntyre as my dark horse for that role if the company wants to play on Vince once dubbing him as his Chosen One. Lashley took finishers from all three babyfaces and was pinned to lose the match, which may have been his Raw sendoff. Corbin is one of those guys who always seems like he could use a change of scenery, which says a lot about his inability to click as a high level heel thus far.
The Viking Experience and The Revival vs. Aleister Black, Ricochet, Zack Ryder, and Curt Hawkins: Putting aside the bad new name for a moment, this was a strong eight-man tag match that made the team formerly known as the War Raiders shine. I was actually disappointed to learn after the show that Black and Ricochet are both staying on Raw, as I assume this means they will continue to team together rather than work as singles wrestlers. They work well together, but it still seems ass backwards to introduce the dark, brooding loner Black character as a tag team wrestler. Okay, so that name. The Viking Experience sounds like a science museum exhibit. But good luck convincing the powers that be in WWE that it’s a terrible name when it generated so much social media activity. Yes, we all know that the social media buzz was overwhelmingly negative, but that doesn’t seem to matter to WWE officials.
Sami Zayn: A great segment with Zayn hamming it up for his hometown fans before turning on them. I didn’t see this as a heel manipulating a crowd as much as I saw it as the crowd playing along. The fans gave Zayn the hometown hero’s welcome. And while there was a chance that he would give them a pass just as Daniel Bryan gave his home state fans a pass on Smackdown recently, Zayn rejected the fans and there were plenty of smiles on their faces once they started booing Zayn’s heel schtick. Either way, Zayn is off to a strong comeback from double shoulder surgery.
Finn Balor vs. Andrade in a non-title match: A good Raw debut for Andrade and Zelina Vega. More importantly, it felt like they hit the reset button on the pair following their disappointing run on Smackdown. Vega got more mic time than she ever had on Tuesday nights, and Andrade picked up a nice non-title win over the Intercontinental Champion. I was also happy to see Rey Mysterio moved to Raw, as they can heat up that unresolved Mysterio vs. Andrade feud at some point.
The Miz and Shane McMahon: Shane drew tremendous heat from the Montreal fans at the top of the show. The Miz showed good fire while attacking Shane, who will probably be spending more time on Raw until this feud concludes. By the way, if you need a reminder to change the batteries in smoke alarm, it seems safe to use The Miz changing brands in the shakeup as your trigger since he seems to move every year.
Lacey Evans vs. Natalya to become No. 1 contender to the Raw Women’s Championship: A minor Hit. Evans had a passable first match on Raw television in terms of being made to look strong, but it looked like she crushed Natalya with that moonsault landing.
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable: The Usos needed a change of scenery and I look forward to seeing them work with a new mix of tag teams on the Raw side. I wouldn’t mind seeing Roode and Gable split up in the draft. Their tag team doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. Then again, it’s not like the company did right by either guy when they were working as singles wrestlers.
Lars Sullivan attacks Rey Mysterio: Sullivan looked like a badass and he did so without performing the taxing top rope headbutt.
Becky Lynch vs. Ruby Riott: A minor Hit for a solid match. Was this the end of Riott Squad? Sarah Logan is obviously a good fit with her husband’s Viking Experience act, and Ruby Riott could use a change of scenery after playing a glorified enhancement role on Raw lately. Riott is a terrific in-ring talent who could use a reset as a solo act.
WWE Raw Misses
Superstar Shakeup format: There was more social outrage over the silliness of the Viking Experience name than the confusing mess that was the first night of the Superstar Shakeup. There was no explanation as to how the shakeup would work and the broadcast team was clearly left in the dark throughout the night. The show ended and the broadcast team and therefore viewers were left with no clue as to whether Ricochet, Aleister Black, Lars Sullivan, or EC3 were officially on Raw. This wasn’t a case of WWE trying to score website clicks, as there was no nudge for fans to visit their website to learn more about the fates of those wrestlers. Rather, WWE just randomly added the names of those wrestlers to a list on Raw talent late in the evening. The lack of fan frustration actually speaks volumes about how just low expectations have sunk for quality control with WWE’s main roster programming. The viewers who have stuck with WWE have become mostly numb to the lazily booked chaos that Vince McMahon feeds them. Sure, these viewers hope things improve and they even grumble from time to time about certain aspects of the show, but the reality has sunk for many of these viewers that nothing is going to change as long as the out of touch 73 year-old continues to head up the creative process.
Braun Strowman destroys EC3: I mistakenly assumed that this was another case of the Raw creative team writing off a wrestler who is changing brands as if they were exiting a territory. Instead, we found out after the show that EC3 is staying on the Raw brand. It’s stunning that Vince McMahon hasn’t fallen in love with EC3’s look and One Percenter gimmick. Sure, the character isn’t a Vince creation, but it’s not like an elitist heel is a difficult concept to comprehend.
The IIconics vs. Bayley and Naomi in a non-title match: A quick showcase win for Naomi when she swapped brands. Still, the bigger issue remains that while I’m happy the WWE Women’s Tag Titles exist, they haven’t made me care about the titles.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Jake Barnett looking ahead to the WWE Superstar Shakeup, discussing AEW television, and more.