By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Brock Lesnar attacks Seth Rollins: A strong beatdown angle with Lesnar destroying Rollins just a couple weeks before SummerSlam. The beating was so severe that it left me wondering if Rollins will work the match or if this is an out for him losing, though my guess remains that they are stacking the odds against him with the idea being that it will mean more when he beats Lesnar to regain the championship. I liked the angle, but I can’t ignore the sense of deja vu it created, as it feels like we saw a similar approach going into their WrestleMania match.
Show closing brawl with Roman Reigns, The Usos, and Cedric Alexander vs. Samoa Joe, Drew McIntyre, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson: The Hit goes for the action and the general idea of closing the show with a well laid out big brawl. Yet while it worked in the moment, it also added the ongoing problem that most of the company’s heels are booked to be be weak. We’ve seen Reigns beat Joe and McIntyre multiple times already. Heck, we saw Reigns beat Joe last week. And say what you will about Roman’s shortcomings, but one of the reasons he’s stuck in neutral is that he’s booked to be so dominant over everyone other than Brock Lesnar and, well, Shane McMahon. It doesn’t mean anything to see Reigns beat up Joe, McIntyre, or any other heel on the roster because he’s done it all before and Vince McMahon just refuses to try anything that make Reigns look strong at every turn.
Ricochet vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. Andrade in a gauntlet match for a U.S. Title shot at SummerSlam: More good than bad. It was nice to see the match continue during the first commercial break. Hopefully this means Vince McMahon is pulling back on his poorly implemented edict. It was also nice to see so much wrestling over the 30-plus minutes the gauntlet match spanned. Ricochet winning was highly predictable, as viewers know that WWE creative doesn’t hit the pause button on feuds, and Ricochet was the only person in the match who had a current issue with Styles. It was also odd that Ricochet was given the easy path to victory in that he was the final entrant in the gauntlet match. Overall, though, I enjoyed the in-ring action.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. The Revival vs. The Usos for the Raw Tag Titles: WWE opted to beef up The OC faction by making Gallows and Anderson seem like more than just henchmen for AJ Styles. And I’m all for it as long as they keep their momentum going. If Gallows and Anderson become the latest heel tag champions to lose a bunch of televised non-title matches then they’ll end up spinning their wheels just like The Revival did. By the way, the Styles post match celebration was one of the strangest scenes ever and is worth going back to watch if you weren’t paying attention. Styles stood on top of a table and picked up a sealed bottle of champagne and acted like the was going to spray it, then put it down in favor of celebrating with a tray of shrimp in hand.
Maria Kanellis wins the WWE 24/7 Title: This is great if she’s going on maternity leave and taking the comedy belt with her. Wait, that’s not happening? This is in the wrong section. Sorry, the 24/7 silliness just isn’t for me even though Maria is doing a good job as the over the top emasculating wife.
WWE Raw Misses
Dolph Ziggler and Shawn Michaels: WWE went ridiculously overboard by having Seth Rollins and the broadcast team play up their disdain for Ziggler superkicking Michaels. Where was the outrage for Bray Wyatt attacking Mick Foley last week? And if WWE’s creative forces want to make it seem shameful for modern wrestlers to attack legends, then how about not having babyface Becky Lynch kick Fit Finlay on the same damn show?
Becky Lynch and Natalya: Becky kicking Finlay and attacking Natalya during the pre-show training session was strange, and Natalya returning the favor by putting Lynch in a Sharpshooter after her matches with Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross wasn’t much better. I suspect that WWE is trying to avoid making either woman look like the true heel with the idea being that they want to give Canadian fans reasons to cheer Natalya, while giving the rest of the world reasons to cheer Lynch. It’s not worth it. The Canadian fans who opt to cheer Natalya at SummerSlam in Toronto are going to do so regardless of whether she’s cast a heel or a babyface, so all of this just comes off awkward and unnecessary.
R-Truth and Carmella vs. Drake Maverick and Renee Michelle in a mosh pit mixed tag match for the WWE 24/7 Championship: It wasn’t a lumberjack match, it was a mosh pit mixed tag match. Why? Because the lumberjacks carried Maverick in mosh pit style before throwing him back inside the ring. I guess the fictional matchmaker is a soothsayer in that he/she somehow knew that the lumberjacks would do this.
The Viking Raiders vs. Cole Carter and Johnny James: The average fan just can’t relate to the idea of Ray Rowe and Hanson coming off like Viking cosplayers regardless of the fact that their affection for viking culture seems genuine.