By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre vs. Angel Garza in a non-title match: It was another good night for McIntyre, who continues to make the best of the empty venue setting by including some playful one-liners during his matches. McIntyre is off to a good start as champion even if the circumstances are awful. I just wonder how many viewers stuck around to watch McIntyre face a guy who was so fearful of him that he declined to take advantage of a potential three-on-one attack in the opening segment.
Rey Mysterio vs. Murphy in a Money in the Bank qualifying match: My favorite match of the night. It’s hard to fill 15 minutes in an empty venue, but these two pulled it off nicely. I also liked the call by Tom Phillips during the match, as he played up Mysterio’s hand injury while questioning whether it was severe enough to prevent him from performing his 619 move.
U.S. Champion Andrade vs. Akira Tozawa in a non-title match: My second favorite match of the night. Tozawa looked great in defeat, which is important given that he won the opening match of the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship tournament. Zelina Vega delivered strong mic work throughout the night and was especially good at expressing concern for Andrade when he was selling for Tozawa and then turning on a dime by acting as cocky as ever once he got the win.
Aleister Black vs. Austin Theory in a Money in the Bank qualifying match: Another quality match with the expected outcome. Putting Black in the MITB match was a no-brainer and thus I’m not suggesting that Theory should have won this match, but it was another rough night for Vega’s new trio. Hopefully the creative forces have a plan in place for them to bounce back in a big way soon.
Shayna Baszler vs. Indi Hartwell: Baszler breaking arms is so much better than Baszler biting Becky Lynch. The real key to the arm breaking is the callous indifference that she conveyed when she was asked about what she did to Sarah Logan. Baszler doubling down by doing the same thing to Hartwell and then attacking her after the match was really well done.
Apollo Crews vs. MVP in a Money in the Bank qualifying match: A soft Hit for Crews getting the expected win. Crews needs wins in order to make fans take him seriously. Once they do, WWE needs to establish his character. NXT had a terrific video series on him back in the day, but fans of the main roster know him as the guy who loses as often as he smiles.
Seth Rollins promo: A good promo, presumably delivered from his home based on the sound quality. And the sound quality flaws are perfectly fine right now. Fans are used to seeing similar Skype feeds on news programs, talkshows, etc.
NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Kayden Carter in a non-title match: I continue to enjoy the way Carter puts up a good fight even though she loses more than she wins. It’s consistent with the role she plays in NXT.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: While the show featured more Hits than Misses, it really suffered from being far too predictable. Granted, you can typically predict the winner of the vast majority of WWE television matches during normal times, but these are not normal times and thus the normal approach doesn’t work. Featuring predictable matches and very few storyline developments in a drab setting just doesn’t make for good television. And the scary part is that Raw benefitted from having MITB qualifying matches over the last two weeks in that those matches had something at stake. Once they go through the rest of the qualifiers on Smackdown, will WWE do anything to shake things up or will they continue to stick with a television formula that is losing viewers by the week?
Liv Morgan vs. Ruby Riott: A soft Miss. The in-ring action was solid and I really liked Morgan’s finisher. The issue is that Riott Squad was never booked to be a strong unit and leader Riott lost more matches than she won, so it really doesn’t give Morgan much of a boost to beat her. It’s a shame because Riott is especially talented and Morgan has shown real improvement since returning to television.
Nia Jax vs. Kairi Sane: Jax destroyed Sane last week and I didn’t understand why they felt the need to have a rematch, especially when both women are heels and fans at home have no rooting interest.
Carpool Karaoke with the Viking Raiders: Who actually thought this was a good idea?
Ricochet and Cedric Alexander vs. Brendan Vink and Shane Thorne: More of an in the middle than a Hit or a Miss. The match spotlighted Ricochet and Alexander and gave them a needed win, but it’s not like beating Vink and Thorne will provide them with much of a boost.