By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman for the Raw Tag Titles: The storytelling that is clearly leading to Rollins vs. Strowman continues with the duo winning the tag titles. The Rollins and Strowman reign presumably won’t last long and there’s a good chance the tag titles go back to Gallows and Anderson.
Rey Mysterio and Dominic: Mysterio showed good emotion while setting up his retirement announcement, which led to his son stopping him and telling him that he wants to team with him before he hangs up his mask. I could see this being either a straight forward angle that results in the father and son teaming together or even Dom launching his own career by turning on his father, perhaps in favor of being part of the Andrade act. Either way, it was a well done angle and one of Rey’s best moments on the mic.
The Fiend attacks Jerry Lawler: I like the way Lawler left the ring to avoid The Fiend. It makes it seem like his character has been paying attention to the show and made the attack feel less formula. Lawler’s decision to exit via the stage elicited the same type of reaction I have have while watching horror movie characters make failed attempts to elude the masked killer. “No, dummy, don’t got to the the stage!”
Roman Reigns vs. Dolph Ziggler: It was good to see Reigns show some fire on the stage during his entrance. It’s so much better than having him walk out and immediately look around the building with a blank look on his face. The actual match was entertaining even though it was hard to take any near falls seriously that involved Ziggler nearly pinning Reigns. Still, it was a well worked match that got the show off to a strong start.
Ricochet and The Miz vs. Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin: A King of the Ring preview in that Ricochet vs. McIntyre and Miz vs. Corbin are set for next week’s opening round matches. The most encouraging thing about the match was Corbin ditching his bad wedding bartender outfit. I was actually surprised to see him lose in his return after some time off television, but it’s possible that he’ll be getting some KOTR wins in the weeks ahead to make up for it. By the way, Michael Cole, Renee Young, and Booker T predicting a McIntyre tournament win was enough to make me reconsider my own McIntyre prediction. Long live King Andrade.
Samoa Joe vs. Cesaro in a King of the Ring match: A minor Hit for a decent match even if it did feel a little underwhelming given the level of talent involved.
Big E and Xavier Woods vs. The Revival in a non-title match: The Revival and Randy Orton alliance is off to a solid start with the creative forces doing a good job of putting heat on all three heels. I still fear that this ends with The Revival taking RKO’s from Orton, but it’s solid in the meantime in that it sets up the obvious WWE Championship and Smackdown Tag Title pay-per-view matches and a likely six-man tag match for television.
WWE Raw Hits
Sasha Banks and Natalya: WWE continues their attempt to exploit the death of Jim Neidhart. It’s tacky and it’s not working. The fans turned on the Natalya character in Canada last week, and the “What?” chants were starting again last night as she brought up that last week was the anniversary of her father’s death. Sasha telling Natalya to go to hell and say hi to her father was gross. It doesn’t put heat on Banks, it puts heat on the company. In fact, that line made me stop thinking about Banks and Natalya entirely, as my focus shifted to just how shameless the company can be.
AJ Styles vs. Braun Strowman for the U.S. Championship: The heavily hyped match lasted less than two minutes and ended in a DQ. WWE made up for it by having the match serve as a set up for the match that resulted in Strowman and Rollins winning the Raw Tag Titles.
Elias and R-Truth’s 24/7 skit: R-Truth being disguised as Elias’s musical tech could be seen coming a mile away. A lot of that obvious humor has worked well for Truth so far. Was this an off night or have we reached a point where the audience has grown tired of seeing variations of the same old joke?
Sami Zayn vs. Cedric Alexander in a King of the Ring match: Make us care about Alexander. Yes, he’s a very good wrestler, but they have to tell viewers who he is and what makes him tick. Zayn’s early exit from the tournament was disappointing. They are acknowledging all of his losses and I’m curious to see where that leads. It’s possible the live crowd got an early preview. Dot Net Member Nathan Timm wrote in his on-site report that Zayn threw a big tantrum during the commercial break. Will that become part of his on-air act or was this just something to fill time for the live crowd during the break? Will Zack Sabre Jr. have competition for best post match tantrums?
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in a non-title match: The Bliss and Cross dynamic was really fun when Bliss was manipulating the naive newcomer. Things took a turn that resulted in Bliss and Cross becoming legitimate friends and winning the tag titles. The storytelling hasn’t been nearly as good since then and the live crowds seem unsure whether to cheer or boo the duo, which has led to fans sitting on their hands during their matches.