By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship: A good main event and a nice hook for viewers as the company attempted to keep viewers watching all three hours. It was great to see Bryan back in the ring following an apparent injury layoff.
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre: A better match than the underwhelming WrestleMania match that was all about telling the world that Reigns was back in full force, which actually hurt Reigns in that they rushed to the finish of what could have been a compelling comeback story. I could have done without them showing that Reigns was on the verge of winning this match had there not been interference that caused the DQ. One of WWE’s many issues is that most of the heels feel inferior to the top babyfaces. Bad ass heels such as McIntyre and Samoa Joe lose far too often. So while I enjoyed this match and the main event, the finishes of both matches added to this problem.
Seth Rollins and AJ Styles vs. Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin: I came away with mixed feelings and ultimately put this in the Hit section based on match quality. It was not a good idea to send the latest message of change (they really mean it this time?) and then follow up with a Corbin match. The McMahons blamed his character for Raw’s ratings failures, and a quick look at social media will tell you that many of the company’s most passionate followers are turned off by him. But I did enjoy the dynamic between Rollins and Styles. I also liked being left with the question of whether Styles meant to hit Rollins with the Phenomenal Forearm. That said, why would the Styles character walk out on Rollins when he had plausible deniability?
Ricochet vs. Robert Roode for a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match: There were a lot of fan complaints about the lack of logic in Ricochet being named to the MITB ladder match a week after he lost to Roode, who didn’t make the ladder match cut. I still have no idea why they felt the need to have Ricochet do what an enhancement wrestler could have done for Roode, but I give them credit for attempting to cover one of the many holes.
Lars Sullivan destroys the No Way Jose and his sidekicks: I never understood why WWE felt the need to add Rosebud wannabes to No Way Jose’s act. The guy showed real charisma in NXT and would have been a fine mid-card babyface on the main roster, but they saddled him with a goof troop that ruined any chance he had of getting over. Here’s hoping this angle signifies the end of the conga dancing silliness and leads to a revamped Jose.
Lacey Evans and Lucha House Party squash matches: Rather than book main roster regulars to take quick losses, they wisely booked enhancement talent instead. Quite frankly, there’s something more appealing to me about seeing enhancement wrestlers destroyed than there is in seeing the usual main roster wrestlers lose matches.
WWE Raw Misses
WWE wild card rule: Four wrestlers each week can jump from brand to brand. I appreciate that WWE is trying to improve their ratings, but this begs the question of what purpose the brand split actually serves. Perhaps the company will have some short term ratings improvement if they play up the mystery of which wrestlers will jump brands each week, but it doesn’t strike me as a path to long term success. It’s not about firing writers and producers, blaming talent injuries, or coming up with gimmicky concepts. The reality is that Vince McMahon must improve as a booker. Vince must acknowledge that his booking has been terrible and either make fundamental changes or step aside in favor of Paul Levesque and his crew. Unfortunately, I have zero confidence that either one of those scenarios will play out.
The Usos and The Revival: Everyone assumes the Revival are being punished for not re-signing with WWE. But it actually comes off like the Usos are being punished even though they re-signed with the company. Jimmy and Jey Uso are two of the coolest guys in the company and now they have been reduced to filming a wrestler shaving the back of another wrestler and introducing the world to “Ucey Hot” cream. Despite the company’s best efforts, they are not making the Revival look bad in the eyes of the fans. Many fans will view Vince McMahon as the bad guy in all of this, and when the Revival eventually leave the company they will be viewed a sympathetic figures who were misused and abused by WWE. It’s baffling that the company is choosing to play humiliation games with two talented wrestlers while dragging down their top tag team when they could be getting a tremendous feud from these teams.
Raw Tag Champions Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder vs. The Viking Raiders in a non-title match: The Viking Raiders’ matches continue to play to silent crowds despite their impressive in-ring moveset. Perhaps the viewers are having a tough time connecting with two guys who are pretending to be Vikings in 2019 and never get a chance to explain themselves? In the case of this match, there was never a doubt regarding the outcome and hopefully this was a step toward getting the belts off Hawkins and Ryder. Raw has a loaded tag team division, but no one takes the tag team champions seriously and two of the better teams are caught up in the company’s petty punishment game.
Samoa Joe fails to destroy Dominick Mysterio: There’s a great gag in Hot Tub Time Machine where Crispin Glover plays a character who lost an arm in an accident. With the main players going back in time, they arrive before Glover lost his arm, and there are teases of Glover’s character losing his arm before it actually happens. I feel like we are being teased in the same manner whenever Joe and Dominick are in the same building. And, sure, the wait will be worth it, but when Joe confronted Dominick backstage last night I had the same reaction that Rob Corddry’s character had to one of the Glover teases (see the NSFW video below).
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Court Bauer discussing MLW’s future, pay-per-view possibilities, whether MLW talent could appear on the AAA event at MSG, Salina de la Renta serving as the executive producer for the latest MLW Fusion television show, and more.