By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton vs. Christian in an unsanctioned match: A well crafted angle with Orton issuing the challenge early in the show and then declaring that the offer only stood until the end of the night. This served as an excellent hook, as it told viewers that the angle would play out during Raw and was not something done to set up a pay-per-view match. The actual match was what it could be. Christian is not medically cleared, so the low blow from Ric Flair followed by the punt kick from Orton was a safe way to use Christian. As much as WWE’s jumping camera cuts during big moves can be annoying, it was well used for the punt kick, as it made the safe kick look good. Orton continues to shine and has done the best work of his career since the angle with Edge started. It will be interesting to see what’s next for Orton now that Edge is sidelined and Christian has presumably done as much as he can.
Drew McIntyre and R-Truth vs. Bobby Lashley and MVP for the WWE Championship: McIntyre looked like a meathead by agreeing to the stipulation that his title would be on the line only because the heels goaded him into it. Yet while I wouldn’t want to see anything like this on a regular basis, it gave an otherwise throwaway tag match some meaning. But WWE has to stop booking MVP to be beaten up so often. It should mean something when viewers finally get to see him get his rather than being a weekly occurrence.
Asuka vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka and Jax worked really well together at Backlash and again on Raw. The double count-out finish at the pay-per-view was weak, but I was fine with the fast count during the rematch on Raw, as it created a need for a third match, presumably with some type of stipulation at Extreme Rules.
U.S. Champion Apollo Crews vs. Shelton Benjamin in a non-title match: Rejoice, a secondary champion actually won a non-title match on WWE main roster television. This really shouldn’t be something that needs to be celebrated, but the company has gone completely overboard with their secondary and tag team champions losing non-title matches. The finish with Crews holding onto the rope while getting the pin is intriguing. My guess is that he was fighting fire with fire since Benjamin had just tried to pin him while using the ropes for leverage, but it plays nicely into the story of MVP courting Crews.
Kevin Owens vs. Angel Garza: Owens got his win back, yet it was done in a way that put the focus on the issues between Garza and Andrade. Zelina Vega telling her duo that they are fighting for the same thing left me wondering if they will end up becoming a regular tag team, but it’s certainly possible that they will split and feud with one another.
Seth Rollins and Dominick Mysterio: A quick angle that let Dominick get a measure of revenge for his father before he had to flee Austin Theory and Murphy. This is the one time when the plexiglass actually served as a positive for viewers, as it was fun to see Dominick escape while the heels couldn’t get to him because of the barrier.
Overall show: A solid effort. The most noticeable change was WWE saving more big matches and segments for the third hour rather than turning it into a wasteland until the main event. It will be interesting to see if that continues and what effect it will have on the viewership numbers that will be released later today.
WWE Raw Misses
Ric Flair appears: WWE isn’t making Flair do anything he doesn’t want to do, but this is another case where the company should be protecting its talent from themselves. Flair is a 71 year-old man who has experienced some major health issues. It’s always nice to see him on WWE television, but it’s just not worth the risk in the midst of a pandemic. And this is one time when Vince McMahon’s usual approach of claiming that he’s not asking talent to do anything he won’t do just doesn’t fly.
The Street Profits and Viking Raiders vs. Akira Tozawa and three ninjas: The ninja nonsense continues. I’m praying that Big Show setting up the Profits vs. Raiders in an actual tag team match for next week means this cutesy crap is over, but seeing is believing. There are some fans who enjoy it, but I also wonder how many viewers turn the channel to avoid this bad comedy.
The IIconics challenge Sasha Banks and Bayley: I guess this explains why Alexa Bliss took the pin on Sunday rather than Peyton Royce or Billie Kay. Are we supposed to view the IIconics as babyfaces? It’s hard to say because WWE doesn’t do turns like they used to. I don’t view the duo as babyfaces and thus I’m left wondering which team the company wants the fans to root for when they meet for the titles next week.