By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net Members are listening to my weekly same night audio review of WWE Raw. The member also hear audio reviews of AEW Dynamite, NXT on USA Network, WWE Friday Night Smackdown, NXT UK, ROH, Impact Wrestling, and MLW Fusion along with our other audio content. Join us on the ad-free version of the website via PWMembership.net.
WWE Raw Hits
Becky Lynch and Shayna Baszler: This was my favorite WWE television segment in recent memory. I love the way they remained calm while still generating the feeling that there was major tension between them. Lynch and Baszler both had good lines and they each came away looking extremely confident. It will be interesting if creative can find a way to make the masses feel like Bayley is more than just a third wheel in the Survivor Series Triple Threat match. Either way, this segment completely sold me on the first match involving Lynch and Baszler.
Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, and Rey Mysterio: Heyman delivered a strong promo that set the tone for the Lesnar carnage that followed during his “hunt” for Mysterio. It was nice to see Dio Maddin come to the defense of Jerry Lawler. Even though Maddin was quickly put through the table by an F5, it still showed viewers who know very little about him that he’s a stand-up guy. Mysterio attacking Lesnar was also well done and it will be interesting to see if Brock continues to play up the knee injury in an attempt to make Mysterio feel like an actual threat to win. The size difference and Lesnar’s history of domination will make that difficult, but Mysterio has done a very good job on the mic and this match is much more appealing than Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez was. For that matter, it’s a welcome change from the damaging WWE Universal Champion vs. WWE Champion approach that they have been taking at Survivor Series.
Adam Cole vs. Seth Rollins for the NXT Championship: A minor Hit for the match quality. This was a dream match for some fans and yet the live crowd just sat on their hands. WWE aired a video package on Cole, but perhaps it would work better if he was given a promo that would help clarify what they want the fans to think of him. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the in-ring meeting between Triple H and Rollins that preceded the match and played on the history between the two. Triple H inviting Rollins to rejoin NXT was an interesting to development, though I assume that Undisputed Era interfering in the main event while Triple H stood by means that it wasn’t a good faith offer.
WWE Raw Misses
NXT invasion: I enjoyed the Smackdown version more than night two on Raw. It’s bizarre that Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, and Matt Riddle are preparing to face Undisputed Era in a WarGames match the night before Survivor Series and yet they were all fighting side by side out of brand loyalty during the show closing angle. Worse yet, the NXT wrestlers came off as heels. Obviously, appearing on Raw and Smackdown is great exposure for the NXT wrestlers and the brand itself as they battle AEW Dynamite on Wednesday nights, but it seems odd to cast them all as invading heels.
Asuka and Kairi Sane vs. Charlotte Flair and Natalya in a non-title match: A needlessly long match that followed WWE’s overused formula of having secondary or tag team champions lose non-title matches to set up a future title match. This is something that should happen a couple times a year. It should be a big moment when champions to lose in non-title matches, not something that happens so frequently that fans recognize the formula and just assume that the champions will lose.
Drew McIntyre vs. Rusev: The match itself was fine, but it’s sad to see McIntyre spin his wheels. He’s typically protected by either winning matches or losing in DQ fashion, but it never seems to lead to anything. Meanwhile, the continuation of the Team Hogan vs. Team Flair rivalry was odd albeit unexpected.
Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander: The presentation of this match was lousy with both guys already being in the ring coming out of a break and the announcers plugging WWE Backstage once the match started. I wish they would have trimmed five minutes from the women’s tag match and given the time to this match. Murphy and Alexander have proven that they can win over unfamiliar live crowds with their strong in-ring work if they are given enough time. Murphy’s push is starting to feel like Drew McIntyre’s in that they seem to be trying to protect him, yet there’s nothing that indicates they have a real plan in place for him.
Humberto Carrillo and The Street Profits vs. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson: The Street Profits died a sad death with their pre-match mic work. I have no idea why Montez Ford would deliver a Shane McMahon style “best in the world” when that’s been something used for heat. I also have no idea why Carrillo lost again. The six-man tag match felt like a logical place to give Carrillo a win over one of The OC members, but instead he lost yet another match to Styles. It doesn’t seem like the live crowds are rallying behind Carrillo for coming close to beating Styles. Rather, it feels like they’ve already lost faith in him.
Andrade and Zelina Vega vs. Sin Cara and Catalina: Sin Cara and Catalina looked rough after Sin Cara lost to Andrade during Catalina’s debut last week, then the company followed up by having them drop this mixed tag match. It was also a rough night for Catalina, who landed on the knees of Vega while performing a clunky cross body block from the ropes.
The Viking Raiders vs. The Polo Boys: The Viking Raiders beat up two guys dressed in baseball gear last week and then beat up two preppy guys last night. WWE tried to get a rise out of the fans in attendance and it didn’t work in either case, nor did these wins do anything for the Viking Raiders.