By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Battle Royal for the WWE Universal Championship match at SummerSlam: A well worked and planned battle royal that held my interest. This wasn’t a punch and kick battle royal. Even moments such as Sami Zayn’s elimination had some thought put into them and turned out to be entertaining. Seth Rollins beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania thanks to a nut shot. So perhaps they will get it right this time by booking Rollins to get a more impressive win. Still, there always seems to be a “been there and done that” cloud hanging over the WWE Universal Title picture. The only realistic alternatives to win the battle royal seemed to be Roman Reigns or Braun Strowman, and the idea of Lesnar facing either man again felt flat. So perhaps Rollins was the right choice out of the ten entrants. They have some work to do to heat this match up between now and SummerSlam, but one thing the match has going for it is that it doesn’t feel as predictable as most of the Universal Title matches.
Bray Wyatt attacks Finn Balor: There’s no telling whether Vince McMahon will do right by Wyatt and his new “Fiend” persona over the long haul, but the attack on Finn Balor, the laughter, and the lighting all made for a strong return. The Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor match that preceded the attack was more of an in the middle. Joe got a bounce back win after losing to Kofi Kingston on Sunday, but in the spirit of 50/50 booking, Balor got the better of Joe and even hit his Coup de Grace finisher on him.
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. Lucha House Party: Outside interference triggered a disqualification for years, but suddenly its grounds for a restart on a WWE television. Strange. Putting Vince McMahon’s elderly edict quirks aside, this was a solid showcase for The Club. So while I rolled my eyes at the restart, I liked the fire that Ricochet showed while seeing revenge on Styles.
Cedric Alexander vs. Drew McIntyre: A nice win to put Alexander back on the Raw map. I just hope they have a plan for McIntyre, who should be a real player in the main event picture. Sure, he worked with Undertaker, but he did so as Shane McMahon’s sidekick. Yes, he’s worked with Roman Reigns, but lost every time while Shane McMahon was actually booked to beat Reigns.
Zack Ryder vs. Mike Kanellis: A quick finish that made sense. The hometown wrestler got a rare win as they continue to put Mike in positions for his wife to emasculate him. I don’t know where it’s going, but this was quick and easy to follow.
WWE Raw Misses
Ricochet and The Usos vs. Robert Roode and The Revival in a best of three falls match: The usual Hit worthy work from these wrestlers was bogged down by the now all too familiar pattern of fake feeling quick falls as Vince McMahon continues to avoid having wrestling matches continue during commercial breaks. How are viewers supposed to take the tag team champions seriously when they keep losing falls so quickly in these matches? I get the idea of having vulnerable champions, but this is ridiculous. Ricochet had another good spotlight match and the post match scene with The Club wiping him out again was well done.
Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi vs. Carmella in a four-way elimination match for a Raw Women’s Championship match at SummerSlam: Sure, this was an elimination match so they could do the restart, but these characters needed to win more than a single fall to earn a title match. After all, Bliss failed to beat Bayley when she and Nikki Cross had the handicap match advantage, and the other three women tend to lose as many matches as they win. But this match simply overstayed its welcome and they lost the live crowd. On the plus side, the post match verbal exchange between Lynch and Natalya was well done in that it established they are going to fight rather than have a friendly match.
The Viking Raiders squash match: The weekly squash matches played to another quiet crowd and I continue to believe their viking cosplay gimmick is damaging.