By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins and AJ Styles contract signing for WWE Money in the Bank: The best segment of the night. The wrestlers started off treating one another with respect and did a nice job of building tension as they moved forward. This is more than just a respectful handshake match. Styles punching Rollins put this over the top and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do over the next couple of weeks to add to the intensity between the two.
Becky Lynch and Lacey Evans: There was a change for the better in Lynch’s promo this week. They had her put over the Superstar Shakeup in a groan moment last week, and she ended up being dismissive of both of her Money in the Bank opponents. She did a much better job this week of playing to a crowd that loved her, and she wisely put over both of her opponents while still showing the confidence and bravado that viewers expect from The Man persona. The Evans pull apart brawl was well done and I continue to look forward to seeing how Lacey performs in the biggest match of her career.
Braun Strowman and Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin: A minor Hit for an entertaining match that went on a bit longer than it needed to. It was encouraging to see friction between McIntyre and Corbin, as the last thing Raw needs is more of their alliance with Bobby Lashley. Ricochet got a bounce back win after being inexplicably pinned by Robert Roode’s mustache last week. By the way, where was Roode this week?
Bobby Lashley vs. The Miz: A minor Hit for a decent angle with Shane McMahon taunting Miz. It’s still weird seeing longtime chickenshit heel Miz hold his own with a powerhouse like Lashley, but the live crowds seem to be having less of an issue with it than I given their favorable reactions for Miz.
Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse: The second installment was similar to the first in that it was compelling and left me curious to see where it goes next. I just can’t shake the sense of dread that no matter how good the vignettes are, there’s no reason to believe Vince McMahon will make this character work once Wyatt starts to wrestle. After all, Vince was handed a terrific cult leader, master manipulator character when Wyatt first arrived on the main roster, and Vince turned it into hokey supernatural nonsense.
WWE Raw Misses
Vince McMahon’s creative: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson moved to Raw without explanation two weeks after the Superstar Shakeup. Go play minor league football big shot. Alexa Bliss’s borrowed shoes slip off and lead to her losing a match. Step aside. Dash Wilder shaved Scott Dawson’s back while the Usos giggled. Retire. Raw has become a three-hour chore to watch. Sure, there are a few entertaining moments along the way, but the show is needlessly long and filled with awful, lazy storytelling. Raw was the standard bearer for pro wrestling television shows for many, many years. It’s currently among my least favorite pro wrestling television shows. Meanwhile, there are rumors of Smackdown becoming a three-hour show once it moves to Fox in October. Are you kidding me? Hey, Fox executives, have you paid any attention to how bad Raw has become? You really want to add another hour to Vince’s plate? Rather than ruin your prized acquisition and make it the opposite of “DVR proof”, play it smart by acquiring the rights to NXT and air that on FS1 instead.
Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio in a non-title match: More of an in the middle than a true miss, but it did feel like a lost opportunity. If Raw were a well written show rather than a hot mess that is booked on the fly, there would have been a storyline build to this match coming out of WrestleMania. Joe could have gloated about the win all month. Mysterio could have questioned himself while selling the agony of being defeated so quickly on WWE’s biggest stage. In other words, this could have been built up a meaningful rematch rather than something that just developed during one show. Joe cut his usual badass pre-match promo only to once again come off like he’s more bark than bite when he lost yet another non-title match. Mysterio gained a little something from this, but I can’t help but feeling like this match should have meant more.
Alexa Bliss announces the Money in the Bank ladder match entrants: The announcement of the entrants felt completely random. WWE seems to be playing to the audience that watches their product casually. Passionate WWE fans want logic. They want to know why these eight wrestlers were selected for their respective ladder matches. But either that’s too much work for Vince McMahon or he just doesn’t think people care.
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi: Bliss’s oversized borrowed shoes were directly responsible for her losing the match. I don’t know if this would have been laughed out of the WCW Thunder writing room during the company’s dying days or considered a brilliant idea. Either way, it’s not good.
Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder vs. The Revival in a non-title match: Hawkins and Ryder winning the tag titles in New York was cute. The thrill is already gone. I’m already bored by watching the new champions score flukey pins over The Revival and it’s not like there are other potential matches for Hawkins and Ryder that look enticing. They are a talented duo, but it’s hard to flip the switch after seeing them booked like scrubs for so many years.
The Viking Raiders vs. Lucha House Party: The live crowds have sat in silence as the Viking Raiders have destroyed Lucha House Party over the last two weeks. I suspect the Viking Raiders will eventually be just fine and are probably next in line for the tag titles, but they are off to a slow start. It doesn’t help that LHP have been cemented as one dimensional undercard scrubs. They are three talented guys, but the only thing that main roster fans know about them is that they like to say “lucha” repeatedly. There’s no connection with fans, so it’s only natural that fans sit on their hands while the trio is being destroyed.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Dave Lagana discussing the NWA Crockett Cup pay-per-view, the NWA’s relationship with Ring of Honor, the future of the NWA, and more.