By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt: The hottest act in pro wrestling was spotlighted consistently throughout the night. And with a soft main event of Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Roode, creative wisely made it clear that Wyatt would be appearing. Will Wyatt win the WWE Championship? Fox is advertising Becky Lynch in all of their Smackdown advertising. If Lynch goes to Smackdown then logic would seem to suggest that Rollins would do the same. Granted, they could have the WWE Universal Championship and WWE Championship change brands, but that still leaves the tricky task of coming up with a finish that results in Rollins beating Wyatt in their Hell in a Cell match without damaging the company’s fastest rising star.
Kane: I’m not big on the WWE 24/7 silliness, but it was fun to see Mayor Glenn Jacobs get his brief run with the title. Better yet, it left me assuming that this was all we’d see of Jacobs, so it was a nice surprise when he put on the Kane mask and took the Mandible Claw from The Fiend at the end of the night.
AOP video package: A strong reset for the talented tag team. Akam and Rezar struggled on the mic when Paul Ellering was dropped from their act, but they did a very good job in the sit-down environment. I want to be excited about AOP returning and what it could mean to the tag team division, but it’s tough when the same show featured the new tag champions from each brand manhandled by a single wrestler.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley in a non-title match: A good match with a storyline injury that protected the WWE Women’s Tag Champions by giving them an out for losing. Banks and Bayley are doing strong work as heels. Corey Graves stating that he’s over Bliss is sadly the best clue we’ve been given as to whether Bliss and Cross are heels or babyfaces.
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. Cedric Alexander and The Viking Raiders: It was a rough couple of nights for Alexander. Styles could have pinned him on Sunday, but opted to pick him up to dish out more punishment and then went on to pin him clean. WWE followed up by having Styles pin Alexander clean in this six-man tag match and even felt the need to follow up by having Styles perform a Styles Clash from the middle on Alexander afterward. Are they writing out Alexander before shipping him to NXT? If not, what the hell is this? Putting all of that aside, it was a quality match and it was nice to see The OC go over strong.
Baron Corbin vs. Chad Gable in the King of the Ring tournament final: A minor Hit. The match was well worked and Corbin going over was the right choice between the two wrestlers in the finals. I want to like Gable. I enjoy his in-ring work and it’s been frustrating that WWE has done so little with him. But new Chad Gable is awful. He’s the butt of short jokes and he always responds by hanging his head in sadness. Send this poor guy back to NXT where they will showcase him properly. And here’s hoping that Corbin doesn’t move into full blown WWE King mode. He finally ditched the bad wedding bartender shirt in favor of the Dean Ambrose look and it’s helped. The last thing he needs is to spout all of the cliche WWE royalty lines that seem to be free now that Charlotte Flair appears to be working as a babyface. WWE finally has a decent thing going with Corbin. Here’s hoping they don’t ruin it.
Lacey Evans vs. Dana Brooke: A minor Hit simply for WWE creative booking an actual women’s feud (Evans vs. Natalya) that doesn’t involve a title. The women who aren’t in the title picture are typically left on the sideline and so even though the actual feud doesn’t do much for me, it’s a plus that creative is expanding the storylines beyond the title picture. If they book this feud properly, the winner of the feud could be set up to be a challenger for one of the champions.
WWE Raw Misses
Rusev’s return: Rusev is in great shape and it’s good to see him back on television. The praise ends there. The oddball reintroduction of Rusev as part of Maria’s pregnancy angle was awful. And it’s not like there’s any reason to suspect that Rusev will be portrayed as the father of Maria’s child, but beating up Mike Kanellis moments after he was beaten up by Ricochet was just a sad and forgettable way for Rusev to return.
Seth Rollins vs. Robert Roode in a non-title match: WWE wisely made it clear that Bray Wyatt would make an appearance during or after the match, but that doesn’t change the fact that this was a weak television main event. I was actually shocked that Rollins didn’t get his pinfall win back after putting over Roode in the tag title match the night before. Roode was spared when Braun Strowman beat up the rest of the tag team champions and he was spared again from taking a pinfall loss in the main event when Dolph Ziggler interfered for the DQ. It’s strange that creative went to such lengths to protect a guy they have no plans for as a singles wrestler, yet they don’t do a good job of protecting many of the singles wrestlers they actually do have plans for.
Maria’s gender reveal party: Hokey comedy and an anticlimactic announcement. It was all just a setup for Maria to verbally destroy her husband again, which felt repetitive even though we haven’t been seeing this on a weekly basis.
Rey Mysterio vs. Cesaro: Sure, it was a well worked match. Big deal. Cesaro is booked to lose to everyone and therefore it doesn’t mean anything when someone beats him. And it’s a shame because there’s no reason that Cesaro couldn’t be a real player in the secondary championship mix at the very least.
Braun Strowman destroys the new tag team champions: WWE has a crew of wrestlers who chase around the WWE 24/7 Championship. Why not have Braun destroy some of those wrestlers rather than making both sets of tag team champions look weak?
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Allysin Kay discussing Friday's NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, Melina dropping an unexpected f-bomb on NWA Powerrr, the WWE Mae Young Classic experience, her time as Sienna in Impact Wrestling, working in Japan, the Tessa Blanchard controversy, and more...