By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman in a non-title match: The match itself was fine for the most part. Rollins did a look a little soft in that it appeared as though Strowman was on the verge of beating him when The Fiend get involved, but more on Rollins looking weak later. Even so, the match was entertaining and the non-finish was logical in that there was no reason to have either man lose on television. It will be interesting to see if this is the last Rollins vs. Strowman match for a while, as it’s possible they could end up on opposite brands once the draft takes place next month.
AJ Styles vs. Ricochet vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Robert Roode in a five-way elimination match: An entertaining match with the winner earning a title shot against Seth Rollins on next week’s “season premiere” edition. Mysterio dedicating the match to his son Dominic immediately made me assume that he was going to win the match. As such, it felt like the company needlessly foreshadowed the outcome of a match that otherwise felt fairly unpredictable.
The Viking Raiders vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson: It was a good night for the Viking Raiders. Their entrance was met with the usual sound of silence, but they won over the live crowd throughout the course of the match to the extent that there was a nice pop when they got the win. On a side note, I like the new OC music and the production of their entrance.
King Corbin vs. Chad Gable: The match dragged a bit, but the live crowd responded more to Gable the deeper the match went. Corbin’s new look is a Game of Thrones ripoff, which was essentially acknowledged by the broadcast team. It’s a shame that I was just starting to enjoy Corbin’s work after he finally ditched the bad bartender shirt, but now he’s playing the one dimensional king character. Meanwhile, any reaction that Gable gets these days are due to his in-ring work. There’s nothing to his character. He’s just a guy who finally stopped pouting when people mocked his height. That’s literally all we know about him beyond any amateur wrestling factoids the broadcast team opts to share with viewers. And if you think Gable has it bad, try coming up with some details about the Cedric Alexander character other than that the broadcast team once told us that he’s a man of few words.
Lacey Evans vs. Ember Moon: I can’t say I understand why the company continues to waste the talented and unique Moon. Nevertheless, they did a good job of showcasing Evans while furthering her feud with Natalya by once again using her Sharpshooter finisher.
Carmella wins the WWE 24/7 Championship: Carmella finally rolled up R-Truth and pinned him to win the championship. I’m not a fan of the 24/7 comedy, but even those who are had to be growing tired of Truth being chased by all the usual suspects. Carmella winning the comedy belt shakes things up a bit and lets the women have a little fun with it.
WWE Raw Misses
Seth Rollins is a coward: Rollins did a nice job of explaining why he laid motionless when Bray Wyatt attacked him last week. The gist of it was that he’d been attacked by five men and couldn’t muster up the strength to move. But he had no such excuse for lying motionless and acting petrified of The Fiend last night. After being saved from taking Strowman’s finisher and possibly losing the match, the WWE Universal Champion then cowered in fear of a man in a scary mask. Really?
Rusev vs. EC3: The match was meant to be a showcase for the returning Rusev, but I spent the entire match wondering why the company hasn’t given EC3 a chance to get over. And we’ve seen Rusev plow through undercard wrestlers in the past, and it’s disappointing that he wasn’t booked into something more meaningful upon his return.
Sasha Banks vs. Nikki Cross: A Hit for match quality, as this was a long, well worked and enjoyable match. The Miss is that the company should be making Banks look strong going into her Hell in a Cell match with Becky Lynch, not booking her to have a competitive match with someone who loses most of her singles matches. If Lynch is moving to Smackdown via the draft, the thought process may be that Banks can look a little weak now because she will be winning the Raw Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell. The problem with that approach is that what they are doing is lowering my interest level in what should be one of their bigger women’s division matches of the year.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...