By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins: It was a good night for the new WWE Universal Champion. Rollins delivered a strong promo and did a nice job of making the fans feel like they are part of his success. He also received a strong endorsement from Steve Austin, which came off as genuine because Austin brought up past criticisms about not understanding who the Rollins character was, then said he connected with him following a recent Rollins’ promo. Seth received some boos during his entrance at SummerSlam and appeared to be the wrong more or two away from that spreading. But the right moves were made on Sunday and Monday night and Rollins seems to be back in the good graces of the fans. Braun Strowman helping Rollins by fighting off The OC after the latest champion vs. champion main event was an interesting development. Keep in mind that Vince McMahon turned Braun Strowman late last year only to turn him back again when Roman Reigns announced that he was taking time off to receive leukemia treatment. One way or another, I suspect they are working toward Rollins vs. Strowman.
Sasha Banks returns: A strong return that set up the long awaited main roster heel run for The Boss character. Banks is the strong heel challenger that Becky Lynch desperately needs. This should be a money feud if it’s well booked. And while this feud is playing out, is it too much to ask that the creative forces actually think ahead and start grooming future opponents for both women? They had to call up Lacey Evans from NXT to feud with Lynch because so many of the women on the main roster were damaged by bad booking, and then they just pulled Natalya from the undercard purgatory without building her up in any meaningful way even though SummerSlam was on the books for Toronto for over a year. On a side note, I don’t blame the Toronto crowd in any way for turning on Natalya after she was once again scripted to use her father’s death to garner sympathy.
King of the Ring tournament announced: While the threat of a heel winner playing a bad one dimensional king persona is worrisome, I like the idea of bringing back the tournament and having it play out on television (perhaps the finals will be at the pay-per-view). It will be nice to see some television matches that feel like they actually matter, and it’s a good field of wrestlers who could deliver some strong matches if they are given enough television time.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Asuka and Kairi Sane for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: A Hit for match quality. Unfortunately, the live crowd once again seemed unsure whether they are supposed to cheer or boo Bliss and Cross. By the way, it’s sad to see Asuka still spinning her wheels. Her WWE career was booked right off a cliff since she lost to Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 34.
Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio in a best of three falls match: Andrade followed up his win over Mysterio by actually sweeping him in a best of three falls match. WWE desperately needs to build heel challengers for Seth Rollins and Kofi Kingston, so this is a step in the right direction. Meanwhile, they are telling a story with Mysterio questioning himself due to his recent losing ways. I’m genuinely curious to see where his storyline leads.
Drew McIntyre vs. Cedric Alexander: A really good television match. McIntyre is at the top of my list for heels the company should be building up in a major way. And while I also enjoy the work of Alexander and would like to see him featured more prominently, it would have been a mistake for him to have been booked to win this feud given the company’s shortage of meaningful heels.
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler: A soft Hit for Miz getting the decisive win. Ziggler losing is always a good thing because it means we’re not subjected to a second dose of his sickening theme song.
WWE Raw Misses
The Fiend: Bray Wyatt’s new persona had a red hot debut at SummerSlam and there was zero followup on Raw. It was as if it never even happened. I don’t know if the plan is for The Fiend to be more of a special attraction type or if they were saving him for tonight’s Smackdown, but it’s bizarre that they didn’t at least make a big fuss over the persona’s memorable appearance.
Ricochet vs. Elias: A clunky match with an oddball finish. I’m not sure if the referee screwed up or if this was by design, but it was a mess either way.
Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn: A minor Miss. It was sad to watch this match if you stop and think about how great it actually could be if Sami were booked as more than a pest heel who loses every week. And Zayn is doing a great job in his role, but he’s booked to lose every match, presumably because the creatives forces believe he’s a good enough talker to get his heat back. And he is, but I continue to wonder what might happen if they actually got behind his character and booked him to win some matches.
Robert Roode vs. No Way Jose: The creative forces were smart enough to give viewers a hook of a Paul Heyman promo right before this brief match. But I’m just not sure what purpose this match actually served beyond having Roode work in front of his home country crowd. I hope there’s more to it than that because I like Roode and feel he’s been underutilized. For that matter, I hope Corey Graves stating that Jose is talented but gets lost in the shuffle due to the conga line gimmick means the end is near for his goof troop of Rosebud Rejects.
The Viking Raiders squash of the week: More of the same with impressive power moves playing to a quiet crowd. That could change even if only for a week if they work in front of the Minnesota Vikings loving crowd in St. Paul next week. Skol!