By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Steve Austin closes the show: It was great to see Ric Flair looking healthy. And regardless of your feelings on Hulk Hogan, he still looks amazing at age 65. But the segment gas given to Austin and deservedly so. The face of the Attitude Era makes infrequent appearances for WWE and when he does it should be booked to be as big as this felt. Austin looked great and still had the crowd eating out his hand throughout the segment.
Bray Wyatt and Mick Foley: The best segment of the night in terms of using a legend to make an active wrestler look strong. Foley can’t take bumps, but he was able take his own Mandible Claw finisher from The Fiend. I’d actually like to see Wyatt incorporate the Mandible Claw into his moveset so that he has more than one way to end a match. Foley deserves credit for doing more than just taking a legend’s bow. He swerved people leading up to the show and even during the show about wanting to get his hands on the 24/7 Title during the reunion show. Foley surely could have had his moment with the comedy title, but he did something more meaningful and more memorable.
John Cena: The return of Cena was a good way to start the show. He was showcased and didn’t stick around to be overshadowed by Steve Austin and others during the big show closing toast. The skit with the Usos and Rikishi was a little random and yet they all made it work.
WWE 24/7 Title: I came away wondering if the creative forces spent more time thinking about these segments than those that could actually make money, but they were fine lighthearted comedy bits that made good use of the legends.
Rey Mysterio vs. Sami Zayn: Pest heel Zayn did a great job of taunting the legends to set up the match. Rob Van Dam’s surprise appearance was a nice touch and it felt like they could have stopped there, but they had a lot of legends to spotlight and Sgt. Slaughter, Hurricane Helms, and Kurt Angle coming out was fine. Plus, Mysterio tipped his cap to RVD by performing his finisher on Zayn, who continues to lose nearly every match, yet still finds ways to generate heat with his mouth.
WWE Raw Misses
Modern Product: The concept is simple. Bring in the legends to bring back viewers, then give the returning viewers a hook to keep watching the current product. But there wasn’t a big angle or anything beyond the Foley and Wyatt segment that even felt like a strong effort to keep viewers coming back for more. So while it was an entertaining show and it was nice to see the legends, it still feels like Raw Reunion was a missed opportunity.
AJ Styles vs. Seth Rollins in a non-title match: WWE just couldn’t get through a Raw episode without a ridiculous restart. Anyway, the match looked great on paper, but it turned out to be nothing more than a way to set up the DX and NWO wrestlers standing tall over the modern faction. I’ve had people ask if I expected The OC to attack a group of retired wrestlers. The Dudleys put the ancient Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah through tables back in the day. And while I honestly didn’t expect to see the retired legends take a beating, I don’t see how The Club benefitted from this in any way. That said, I would like to see them use this angle to have Styles proclaim that they need another member. I don’t need The OC to become as bloated as the NWO did back in the day, but the addition of another key member or two such as Finn Balor would fun.
Becky Lynch and Natalya: The Miss is more about the limited amount of time that Lynch received on camera during the reunion edition. This show should have helped showcase some of today’s stars, but one of the company’s top modern stars and best talkers was limited to a brief talkshow segment that barely gave her a chance to speak before she had a forgettable pull-apart brawl with Natalya.
Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe: The verbal exchange that led to the match was top notch. But once the bell rang, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we’d seen the match before and we knew how it would end. And I was open to the idea of WWE surprising us by doing something different, but it was just more of the same with Reigns going over clean and Joe taking yet another loss.
The Revival vs. The Usos in a non-title match: Sure, a feel good babyface win to open a reunion show is logical. And if this was the first non-title match the tag champions had taken then it would have been fine, but this was just latest in a long series of televised losses. It’s clear that Vince McMahon and/or others in creative see Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder as vulnerable heel champions given the number of times they’ve lost on television. But that’s just not what made the duo click in NXT, and this approach hasn’t done anything to boost interest in the tag division on the main roster or the Revival vs. Usos feud.
The Viking Raiders vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder: Another squash win for the Erik and Ivar, only this time they squashed a main roster team rather than local wrestlers. The strange thing is that even on a reunion show, the Viking Raiders cosplay gimmick looked dated.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features guest Eli Drake talking about signing with the NWA, his departure from Impact Wrestling, rejecting an intergender match with Tessa Blanchard, his WWE developmental run, and much more...