By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
The Street Profits vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson: The segment was odd in that they advertised a six-man tag match with a mystery partner for the Street Profits. It somehow became a standard tag match and that confusion brought things down early on. Fortunately, the Street Profits clicked thanks to their high energy entrance, solid in-ring work, and the spirited post show celebration. Did they call off the six-man tag match with Kevin Owens this week just so they could save it for next week?
WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins vs. Humberto Carrillo in a non-title match: Carrillo’s jab at Rollins for burning down Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse was unexpected and came moments after he seemed to praise Andrade and Zelina Vega. It left me wondering if he was being heelish, but Charly Caruso simply smiled and nodded along. Nevertheless, it led to a very good match with Carrillo looking strong in defeat in his main roster debut against the Universal Champion. The match also served as a safety net for Rollins, as working with a fellow babyface would have given him a bit of an out if the live crowd had rejected him.
Drew McIntyre vs. Ricochet: A very good match with McIntyre going over clean. The post match beatdown was heavy enough that I was actually wondering if the broadcast team was going to announce that Ricochet was out of the Crown Jewel match due to a storyline injury. Here’s hoping that the injury that sidelined McIntyre turns out to be a blessing in disguise. He was spinning his wheels as Shane McMahon’s henchman, but now it seems like they may actually have a real plan to move him into a top singles heel position.
Rey Mysterio, Paul Heyman, and Shelton Benjamin: Mysterio continues to deliver solid mic work, Heyman always shines on the mic, and Benjamin had one of his better verbal performances while bullying Rey. I didn’t include Cain Velasquez in the Hit because it doesn’t seem like he’s clicking. The crossover appeal isn’t as significant as WWE officials may have hoped. It doesn’t mean he can’t eventually become a player in WWE, but he’s just not a hot celebrity addition. I guess the only thing that matters to WWE in the short term is that their Saudi benefactors are pleased with Velasquez’s involvement at Crown Jewel.
Ric Flair promo: Flair’s promos bring a sense of spontaneity to the show. Everything else feels scripted and safe, whereas you never know what the hell Flair is going to say once he gets a live mic in his hand.
The Viking Raiders vs. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins in a non-title match: The Ryder and Hawkins grateful approach is a real clunker, but this was a nice showcase win for the new Rag Tag Champions.
Overall show: It wasn’t a hot show by any means, but it felt like things are actually changing. Humberto Carrillo and the Street Profits were showcased. And while I wasn’t high on the presentation in each case, things are also looking up for the Viking Raiders, AOP, Andrade and Zelina Vega, and Aleister Black.
WWE Raw Misses
Rusev, Lana, and Bobby Lashley: Lana torments Rusev on worldwide television by flaunting her sexual exploits with her new lover, and sad ass Rusev responds by smiling like a smitten teenager before saying he still hopes they can end up living happily ever after. Awful. The scene with Rusev confronting Lashley and Lana at a restaurant was a bore. No tables were broken, no food went flying, and Rusev was just hauled off by the independent wrestling police.
Andrade vs. Sin Cara: A minor Miss. It was a well worked match, but Sin Cara has been so damaged that the major takeaway was that Andrade needed twelve minutes and help from Zelina Vega to beat him.
Aleister Black vs Jason Reynolds: I’m over Black winning squash matches. I thought we were moving into second gear when he had the competitive match with Cesaro, but then Black disappeared from television. He’s back now and has reverted to talking in front of a backdrop and beating up hapless jobbers. The introductory phase has overstayed its welcome.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Brian Fritz of Sporting News and Between The Ropes discussing WrestleMania 36, WWE television from the empty WWE Performance Center, his own travel woes, NFL free agency, and more...