By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Ricochet and AJ Styles: It was a good night for AJ Styles and Ricochet in that the live crowd felt sympathy for Ricochet and booed Styles by the end of their segments. It is a little concerning that Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were already made to look like weak sidekicks for Styles, but it’s early in the Club’s reunion and hopefully they will eventually be made to look like a credible tag team rather than hapless lackeys.
Cesaro vs. No Way Jose: A minor Hit. Cesaro beat up Jose last week and then squashed him in this match. With so many babyface champions, WWE needs strong heels, and Cesaro, Bobby Lashley, and Samoa Joe have been made to look strong on Raw lately.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: The Mad King returns. Of course, he never really left. You just can’t convince me that this abomination of a show was Paul Heyman’s doing. It left me feeling like very little will change as long as Heyman and Eric Bischoff report to Vince McMahon, who is incapable of giving up control. Some billionaires are willing to delegate and let others handle the day to day operations of their empires, but McMahon is clearly the type who only finds joy in micromanaging everything. He’s only ceded temporary creative control when his back has been against the wall financially or while he was engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department. WWE’s numbers are down in many key areas, but this is an older and more stubborn Vince McMahon. And he can point to the company’s lucrative television deals and the millions of dollars the company brings in from running events in Saudi Arabia to justify his belief that he still has it. But he doesn’t have it and we all know it. Paul Levesque looks like the smartest guy in the company. We all wondered why he wasn’t placed in charge of Raw and/or Smackdown when Heyman and Bischoff were appointed to the executive director positions. Perhaps it’s because Levesque knows that Vince isn’t truly ready to give up creative control. So Levesque will continue to bide his time working in the only place in the company that affords true creative freedom away from the king’s madness.
Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins vs. Zelina Vega and Andrade in a mixed tag elimination match: A mixed tag team elimination match that didn’t allow the men to wrestle the women. So what in the world would have happened if Andrade had defeated Rollins, leaving Andrade and Lynch as the last two people remaining in the match? This is just another example of the creative forces failing miserably as they try to work around Vince McMahon’s edict prohibiting wrestling during commercial breaks.
The Miz, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso vs. Elias, Scott Dawson, and Dash Wilder in a best of three falls match: Speaking of which, we got another brief best of three falls match. The quick falls feel so forced that no one benefits.
Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns and Gary Garbutt/Cedrc Alexander: Gary’s name has the word “butt” in it!!! I’m sure Vince had a big ol’ belly laugh over that one. Ugh. The build to this was idiotic with Shane and McIntyre assuring the real Gary that they would find him a mask so that his appearance on worldwide television wouldn’t be a burden for him, all while the segment with Gary was airing on worldwide television. The reveal of Alexander was fine, but it went nowhere since he was booked to lose the match. In fact, I wondered why he would even remove the mask since he took the pinfall loss in just over two minutes. Hopefully they will follow up by having Shane attempt to punish Alexander, which will lead to bigger and better things for Alexander. Actually, scratch that. Here’s hoping Undertaker will Tombstone the overexposed Shane right out of the storylines on Sunday night. By the way, this was such a bad go-home edition for the Raw brand that I actually came away less enthused about Extreme Rules than I was going in.
Mike Kanellis and Maria Kanellis: Maria’s request for pickles and ice cream felt like something out of a ’70s or early ’80s sitcom. Maria is the hormonally crazed pregnant woman and Mike is her henpecked husband. I wish there was a way to fast forward to Maury Povich revealing whether Mike is the father of the baby.
The Viking Raiders vs. Colin Justin and Devin Justin: The Viking Raiders have squashed a lot of local wrestlers and it never seems to lead to an improved reaction at their next television appearance. They make their entrance to the silence, fans react a little for their power moves, and then the same scenario repeats itself the following week. Ray Rowe and Hanson are talented guys who had no problem getting fan reactions while working as War Machine or the War Raiders prior to their main roster run. Rowe had made it no secret that he is legitimately into viking culture, but it’s not something the average fan can relate to and thus their gimmick comes off as bad cosplay.
The Street Profits: If you love these guys from NXT then stop and put yourself in the position of a viewer who only watches main roster programming. Two guys from the developmental territory show up out of nowhere and get mic time to talk about nothing. They’re not setting up a future match, they’re just goofing around backstage. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins have some charisma and charm, but these segments feel completely random.
Rey Mysterio vs. Bobby Lashley: A Hit for Lashley looking strong again this week after his competitive brawl with Braun Strowman, yet a big Miss for Mysterio being the sacrificial lamb in his latest return from injury.
Paul Heyman teases Brock Lesnar: This would have been fine if I actually cared about the threat of Lesnar cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on Seth Rollins or Kofi Kingston. Sure, the live crowd will pop whenever he cashes in, but to many of us at home the thought of Lesnar cashing in on either man creates a “not this again” feeling.
Bayley and Nikki Cross: Is Bayley turning heel? She beat the hell out of the nice, gullible, and naive Nikki character. If that’s the plan then so be it. If not, then I have no idea what they were going for. There’s a way to give the Bayley character an edge without making her look like a bad person.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast With Jason Powell featuring a Dot Net Weekly combo show co-hosted by Jake Barnett with a discussion of WWE’s first week of television following the creative shakeup, MLW announcing its first pay-per-view event, and much more.