By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Bobby Lashley vs. Ricochet: The most entertaining match of the night. It looked like it was going to be all Lashley in a dominant win, but Ricochet was actually given a bit of offense and didn’t come off like a total pushover. It’s still astonishing that WWE has dropped the ball on Ricochet and there’s no indication that they intend to try again anytime soon. On the flip side, they have done a nice job of rebuilding Lashley, who feels more important now than he has at any point throughout this latest run with the company. The addition of MVP to his act has made a big difference.
Drew McIntyre and Asuka vs. Dolph Ziggler and Sasha Banks in a mixed tag match: The cold open with the women brawling was a fun way to start the show with a bang. As far as the match is concerned, the right call was made in terms of having Banks beat Asuka rather than having Ziggler beat McIntyre. I don’t think anyone views Ziggler as a threat to beat McIntyre and on pinfall wouldn’t change that. Furthermore, having Ziggler win this match could have been more damaging to McIntyre than it would have been helpful to Ziggler. I still don’t know what singles match stipulation they could possibly come up with that will make anyone believe Ziggler has a chance to win the title at the pay-per-view.
Andrade and Angel Garza vs. The Viking Raiders: A solid tag match. It seemed like Andrade and Garza were on the same page once they became a tag team, but they’re already back to bickering and only time will tell what purpose it serves. As awful as the competition skits between the Street Profits and Viking Raiders were, it looks like the Viking Raiders are coming out of this as the losers given that they lost to the Street Profits and the squabbling Andrade and Garza on back to back shows.
Seth Rollins and Murphy vs. Aleister Black and Humberto Carrillo: There was a feeling of “been there and done that” while watching the match, but it featured the usual good work from all four wrestlers. It continues to be frustrating to see Black cast as a Rey Mysterio’s buddy rather than being pushed as a high end singles attraction. Here’s hoping there’s some plan in place for him coming out of this that will justify his involvement in this storyline, but in the moment it feels like the creative forces simply don’t know what to do with him. Austin Theory’s absence was interesting to say the least, and let’s just say there are a couple of potential reasons why and neither one is good.
Big Show vs. Andrade and Angel Garza in a handicap match: Andrade and Garza were protected to some extent via their ongoing bickering, which resulted in Garza bailing and leaving Andrade to be destroyed by Big Show. If nothing else, this is better than the alternative of Big Show destroying both men at the same time. On a side note, Show continues to deliver quality promos and is being made to look strong heading into his match with Randy Orton, who was conspicuous by his absence. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not going to stop stating how irresponsible it is of WWE to book a 71 year-old man with a history of health issues in the midst of a pandemic, particularly given the recent COVID-19 outbreak at the WWE Performance Center. It’s great that WWE wants to use Ric Flair, but how about scripting his segments in a way where he can do them from home?
More spectator wrestlers wearing medical masks: WWE deserves scorn for their use of Flair, but they also deserve credit for finally allowing the spectator wrestlers to wear masks. And while not every wrestler was wearing a mask and some were inconsistent when it came to wearing one throughout the show, this was still a step in the right direction. Baby steps.
WWE Raw Misses
Akira Tozawa vs. R-Truth for the WWE 24/7 Championship: Same joke, different week, only now with insulting ninjas. Make it stop.
U.S. Champion Apollo Crews vs. MVP in a non-title match: The match was fine and I really do enjoy the ongoing storyline between Crews, MVP, and Lashley. But this was yet another case of a secondary champion losing a non-title match on television. This would have been fine if it was the first time it’s happened all year, but it feels like a bi-weekly occurrence on WWE television. It doesn’t matter who is heading up the Raw and Smackdown creative teams in title, it just keeps happening. Will Vince McMahon ever figure out how tired and damaging this overused formula is?
Ruby Riott vs. Peyton Royce: They are clearly building toward a Riott Squad reunion with Riott and Liv Morgan (who was also conspicuous by her absence), which is fine. But Riott has been really damaged and it’s going to take some time before her matches feel like they matter again. Riott is very talented and she’s deserved better than she’s received creatively, so hopefully she will end up getting a meaningful push.
Undertaker retirement claim: WWE continues to tell viewers that Mark Calaway announced his retirement during the final part of The Last Ride documentary series. It’s simply not true. Calaway said he is content if he never has another match, but he left the door open and did not announce his retirement. Taker deserves all the tributes the company wants to give him. I just wish the company would be honest like they were coming out of his WrestleMania 33 match when he symbolically left his gear in the ring. While there was naturally tons of speculation that Taker retired in that moment, WWE was crafty with their wording and never actually claimed that he had worked his final match.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...